Verse 4-19. See Psalms on "Psalms 19:4" for further information.
Verse 5. The sorrows of hell compassed me about. From all sides the hell hounds barked furiously. A cordon of devils hemmed in the hunted man of God; every way of escape was closed up. Satan knows how to blockade our coasts with the iron warships of sorrow, but, blessed be God, the port of all prayer is still open, and grace can run the blockade bearing messages from earth to heaven, and blessings in return from heaven to earth.
The snares of death prevented me. The old enemy hunts for his prey, not only with the dogs of the infernal kennel, but also with the snares of deadly craft. The nets were drawn closer and closer until the contracted circle completely prevented the escape of the captive:
"About me the cords of hell were wound, And snares of death my footsteps bound."
Thus hopeless was the case of this good man, as hopeless as a case could be, so utterly desperate that none but an almighty arm could be of any service. According to the four metaphors which he employs, he was bound like a malefactor for execution; overwhelmed like a shipwrecked mariner; surrounded and standing at bay like a hunted stag; and captured in a net like a trembling bird. What more of terror and distress could meet upon one poor defenceless head?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 5. The snares of death prevented me. The word snares, signifies such traps or gins as are laid for birds and wild beasts. The English word "prevent" has changed its meaning in some measure since our authorised translation of the Bible was made. Its original meaning is to "come before." John Brown.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 4-6. Graphic picture of a distressed soul, and its resorts in the hour of extremity.
Verse 5. (first clause). The condition of a soul convinced of sin.
Verse 5. (second clause). The way in which snares and temptations are, by Satanic craft, arranged so as to forestall or prevent us.