Psalm 27:13
I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
27:7-14 Wherever the believer is, he can find a way to the throne of grace by prayer. God calls us by his Spirit, by his word, by his worship, and by special providences, merciful and afflicting. When we are foolishly making court to lying vanities, God is, in love to us, calling us to seek our own mercies in him. The call is general, Seek ye my face; but we must apply it to ourselves, I will seek it. The word does us no good, when we do not ourselves accept the exhortation: a gracious heart readily answers to the call of a gracious God, being made willing in the day of his power. The psalmist requests the favour of the Lord; the continuance of his presence with him; the benefit of Divine guidance, and the benefit of Divine protection. God's time to help those that trust in him, is, when all other helpers fail. He is a surer and better Friend than earthly parents are, or can be. What was the belief which supported the psalmist? That he should see the goodness of the Lord. There is nothing like the believing hope of eternal life, the foresights of that glory, and foretastes of those pleasures, to keep us from fainting under all calamities. In the mean time he should be strengthened to bear up under his burdens. Let us look unto the suffering Saviour, and pray in faith, not to be delivered into the hands of our enemies. Let us encourage each other to wait on the Lord, with patient expectation, and fervent prayer.I had fainted, unless I had believed - The words "I had fainted" are supplied by the translators, but they undoubtedly express the true sense of the passage. The psalmist refers to the state of mind produced by the efforts of his enemies to destroy him, as mentioned in Psalm 27:12. So numerous, mighty, and formidable were they, that he says his only support was his faith in God; his belief that he would yet be permitted to see the goodness of God upon the earth. In this time of perplexity and trial he had confidence in God, and believed that He would uphold him, and would permit him to see the evidences of His goodness and mercy while yet on the earth. What was the ground of this confidence he does not say, but he had the fullest belief that this would be so. He may have had some special assurance of it, or he may have had a deep internal conviction of it, sufficient to calm his mind; but whatever was the source of this confidence it was that which sustained him. A similar state of feeling is indicated in the remarkable passage in Job, Job 19:25-27. See the notes at that passage.

To see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living - That is, that I should "live," and yet see and enjoy the tokens of the divine favor here upon the earth.

I had fainted,.... When false witnesses rose up against him, and threatened to take away his life, and the life of his friends, in the most barbarous and cruel manner: the people of God are subject to faintings, in the present state of things; by reason of afflictions; because of the nature, number, and continuance of them; and especially when they apprehend them to be in wrath and sore displeasure: and on account of their sins, and the corruptions of their hearts; fearing lest there should be no pardon for them; or that the true work of grace is not in them; or that they shall fall, to the dishonour of the name of God, and to the reproach of his, cause and interest; or that they shall perish eternally: likewise, by reason of Satan's temptations, which are sometimes so grievous, that if Christ did not pray for them, their faith would fail; and also on account of the hidings of God's face, which they cannot bear: they are sometimes ready to faint in the way of their duty, in the course of their profession, because of the difficulties and discouragements, reproaches and persecutions, they meet with; and sometimes in the expectation of blessings; and of the fulfilment of promises, and of answers of prayer, which have been long deferred. This clause is not in the original text, but is a supplement of our translators; and it is generally agreed there is a defect of expression, which must be supplied in some way or other: the Jewish interpreters generally refer it to the preceding words; one supplies thus (m), "those false witnesses would have rose up against me, and consumed me"; another (n) after this manner, "mine enemies had almost got the dominion over me"; a third (o), "I had almost perished at their sayings": and a fourth (p), "and they would have destroyed me". Perhaps it may be as well supplied from Psalm 119:92; "I should then have perished in mine affliction"; it follows,

unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living: both the providential goodness of the Lord, in supplying him with the, necessaries of life, and in delivering him out of the hands of his enemies; and his special goodness, which he has laid up in his covenant, and in his son; even all spiritual blessings in Christ, in whom he causes all his goodness to pass before his people. The psalmist believed that he should "see"; that is, enjoy all these, or whatever was needful for him; all the good things of life, all special favours; as supports under afflictions, views of pardoning grace under a sense of sin, strength against Satan's temptations, and deliverance out of them; the discoveries of the love of God, and the light of his countenance, after desertions, and divine refreshments in his house, from his word and ordinances; and at last all the glories of the other world; and faith in these things is the best antidote against faintings. By "the land of the living" may be meant either the land of Canaan, where the living God was worshipped, and living saints dwelt, in opposition to other lands, the habitations of men dead in sins; and at a distance from which David now might be; or else the world in general, in opposition to the place and state of the dead; or, as some think, heaven, or he life of the world to come, as Kimchi expresses it; and so Apollinarius paraphrases it,

"I shall see the blessed God with my eyes in the land of the blessed.''

The word rendered "unless", is one of the fifteen words which are extraordinarily pointed in the Hebrew Bible.

(m) Jarchi. (n) Aben Ezra. (o) Kimchi. (p) Abendana, Not. in Miclol Yophi in loc.

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD {h} in the land of the living.

(h) In this present life before I die, as in Isa 38:11.

13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Faintness of heart is a common infirmity; even he who slew Goliath was subject to its attacks. Faith puts its bottle of cordial to the lip of the soul, and so prevents fainting. Hope is heaven's balm for present sorrow. In this land of the dying, it is our blessedness to be looking and longing for our fair portion in the land of the living, whence the goodness of God has banished the wickedness of man, and where holy spirits charm with their society those persecuted saints who were vilified and despised among men. We must believe to see, not see to believe; we must wait the appointed time, and stay our soul's hunger with foretastes of the Lord's eternal goodness which shall soon be our feast and our song.

Vows of thanksgiving on the assumption of the answering of the prayer and the fulfilment of the thing supplicated, are very common at the close of Psalms. But in this Psalm the prayer is only just beginning at this stage. The transition is brought about by the preceding conception of the danger that threatens him from the side of his foes who are round about him. The reality, which, in the first part, is overcome and surmounted by his faith, makes itself consciously felt here. It is not to be rendered, as has been done by the Vulgate, Exaudi Domine vocem qua clamavi (rather, clamo) ad te (the introit of the Dominica exspectationis in the interval of preparation between Ascension and Pentecost). שׁמע has Dechמ, and accordingly קולי אקרא, voce mea (as in Psalm 3:5) clamo, is an adverbial clause equivalent to voce mea clamante me. In Psalm 27:8 לך cannot possibly be so rendered that ל is treated as Lamed auctoris (Dathe, Olshausen): Thine, saith my heart, is (the utterance:) seek ye may face. The declaration is opposed to this sense, thus artificially put upon it. לך אמר are undoubtedly to be construed together; and what the heart says to Jahve is not: Seek ye my face, but by reason of this, and as its echo (Calvin: velut Deo succinens): I will therefore seek Thy face. Just as in Job 42:3, a personal inference is drawn from a directly quoted saying of God. In the periodic style it would be necessary to transpose בּקּשׁוּ פּני thus: since Thou hast permitted and exhorted us, or in accordance with Thy persuasive invitation, that we should seek Thy face, I do seek Thy face (Hupfeld). There is no retrospective reference to any particular passage in the Tפra, such as Deuteronomy 4:29. The prayer is not based upon any single passage of Scripture, but upon God's commands and promises in general.
13. The strong emotion is indicated by the incomplete sentence, for which the English Version supplies a proper clause; or, omitting that, and rendering, "yet I believed," &c., the contrast of his faith and his danger is expressed.

to see—is to experience (Ps 22:17).

I had fainted, unless I had believed - The words in italics are supplied by our translators; but, far from being necessary, they injure the sense. Throw out the words I had fainted, and leave a break after the verse, and the elegant figure of the psalmist will be preserved: "Unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" - What! what, alas! should have become of me!

Dr. Hammond has observed that there is a remarkable elegance in the original, which, by the use of the beautiful figure aposiopesis, makes an abrupt breaking off in the midst of a speech. He compares it to the speech of Neptune to the winds that had raised the tempest to drown the fleet of Aeneas - Aeneid. lib. i., ver. 131.

Eurum ad se zephyrumque vocat: dehinc talia fatur;

Tantane vos generis tenuit fiducia vestri?

Jam coelum terramque, meo sine numine, venti,

Miscere, et tantas audetis tollere moles?

Quos ego-sed motos praestat componere fluctus.

To Eurus and the western blast he cried,

Does your high birth inspire this boundless pride?

Audacious winds! without a power from me,

To raise at will such mountains on the sea?

Thus to confound heaven, earth, the air, and main;

Whom I-- but, first, I'll calm the waves again.


27:13 The living - David was thus earnestly desirous of this mercy in this life, not because he placed his portion in these things; but because the truth and glory of God, were highly concerned in making good the promise of the kingdom to him.
Psalm 27:12
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