Thou, O Lord art a shield - As a shield covers and defends the body from the strokes of an adversary, so wilt thou cover and defend me from them that rise up against me.
The lifter up of mine head - Thou wilt restore me to the state from which my enemies have cast me down. This is the meaning of the phrase; and this he speaks prophetically. He was satisfied that the deliverance would take place, hence his confidence in prayer; so that we find him, with comparative unconcern, laying himself down in his bed, expecting the sure protection of the Almighty.
A Psalm of David - literally, belonging to David; that is, belonging to him as the author. This is marked in the Hebrew as the first verse, and so in the Syriac version, the Latin Vulgate, and the Septuagint, making in the Hebrew, and in each of these versions, nine verses in the psalm instead of eight, as in our translation. This may have been prefixed to the psalm by the author himself, for it was not uncommon in ancient times for an author to prefix his name to his own composition, as is commonly done by the apostle Paul in his epistles. It is not absolutely certain, however, that this was done in the Psalms by the authors themselves, but it may have been done by him who collected and arranged the Psalms, indicating the prevalent belief in regard to the authorship, and under the Spirit of inspiration.
When he fled - On the occasion of his fleeing. That is, it was composed at that time, or was subsequently composed in remembrance of it. See Introduction, Section 2.
From Absalom his son - See the introduction, Section 2.
But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me - Not only in these dangers, but in all dangers. The declaration here has a general form, as if he could trust in him at all times. It shows what his feelings were on the occasion here referred to, when dangers stood thick around him, and what his feelings habitually were in times of peril. The shield was a well-known part of ancient armor, of use, according to the ancient modes of warfare, when swords, and spears, and arrows were employed, but of use only then, since they would constitute no defense against a musket or cannonball. They were usually made of tough and thick hides, fastened to a rim, and so attached to the left arm that they could be readily thrown before the body when attacked, or so that, as they were usually held, the vital parts of the body would be protected. See the notes at Ephesians 6:14-16. From this use of the shield it was natural to speak of God as the “shield,” or the “Protector” of his people - an appellation which is often given to him in the Scriptures (Genesis 15:1; Deuteronomy 33:29; 2 Samuel 22:3; Psalm 28:7; Psalm 119:114; Psalm 144:2; Psalm 33:20; Psalm 84:11; Proverbs 30:5.
My glory - My honor, or the source of my honor. That is, he bestows upon me all the honor that I have, and it is my glory that I may put my trust in him. I regard it as an honor to be permitted, in times of danger and trouble, to rely on him - a sentiment in which every true child of God will unite.
And the lifter up of my head - The head, in time of trouble and sorrow is naturally bowed down, as if overpowered with the weight of affliction. See Psalm 35:14: “I bowed down heavily as one that mourneth for his mother;” Psalm 38:6: “I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day.” Compare Psalm 42:5; Psalm 44:25; Psalm 57:6; John 19:30. To lift up the head, therefore, or to raise one up, is to relieve his distresses, or to take away his troubles. Such a helper, David says, he had always found God to be, and he looks to him as one who is able to help him still. That is, he feels that God can so entirely take away his present griefs as to reinstate him in his former happy and honorable condition.
Christ is ready to receive all who come to Him in sincerity. But He will not tolerate one particle of pretense or hypocrisy. He is our only hope. He is our Alpha and Omega. He is our sun and our shield, our wisdom, our sanctification, our righteousness. Only by His power can our hearts be kept daily in the love of God.... HP 49.5Read in context »
Many who see not as God seeth, but view matters from man's standpoint, might reason that with David there might have been excuse for repining and that the sincerity of his repentance years before might have excepted him from present judgment.... David utters no complaint. The most eloquent psalm he ever sang was when he was climbing Mount Olivet, weeping and barefooted, yet humbled in spirit, unselfish and generous, submissive and resigned.46Letter 6, 1880. CC 181.6Read in context »