13. But as for me, when they were sick,

David speaks of his actions when these men who oppressed him now had faced times of trouble of their own in the past. His response had been to mourn for these men. Again, though we cannot be certain, this certainly sounds like David’s enemies here are those who had been close to him in the past. If this was not Saul and his followers, it seems likely that this speaks of men like Ahithophel, who had been David’s friend and counselor, but who turned against David in Absalom’s rebellion.

My clothing was sackcloth;

David speaks of how he had sorrowed when these men were sick in the past, for sackcloth was the great outward symbol of mourning in their culture. These were men David had cared about, who now fought against him. Perhaps they were members of his own court who had now turned upon him.

I humbled myself with fasting;

This had been David’s actions on their behalf. He had been there for them when they needed it, making request for them on the great day of Israel’s fast before the LORD.

And my prayer would return to my own heart.

What this means exactly it is hard to say. Perhaps the LORD knew that these men only pretended love for David, so he means that the LORD returned his prayer to him because He knew of their treachery. It seems to me more likely, though, that David means his own prayer to God to affect His actions toward these men returned to his own heart as well, as he desired deeply the good of these men.

14.  I paced about as though he were my friend or brother;

David had been deeply concerned about the sickness of this man, as if he had been his own friend or brother. Perhaps he did consider this man his friend, although in the end he discovered that he was not. We know that David was a deeply emotional man, and he recounts how he had been moved by the illness of this man who now had for no reason whatsoever turned against him.
I bowed down heavily, as one who mourns for his mother.

David had mourned the possible loss of this man by illness, even as one might mourn for his mother. David is speaking by inspiration here, so we know he is not lying or making things up. He truly had been greatly moved by the sickness of the man who had now betrayed him.

15.  But in my adversity they rejoiced

How things turned around when it was David who was in difficulty! Now, those whom he had felt so tenderly for had turned against him. Now, those whom he had worked so hard to benefit were seeking to benefit themselves at David’s expense. Instead of mourning to see David in dire circumstances, they were rejoicing at his plight. How sad it is when our acts of kindness and love are so heartlessly rejected! Our Lord Jesus must have felt this same way when those He loved and came to help turned so violently against Him.

And gathered together;

They did not just rejoice in his adversity, but also gathered together to do something about it, and to attack David while he was down.

Attackers gathered against me,

This word given as “attackers” really refers to the mass of people. We might call them the “rabble.” These were not noble or honorable people, but just the rabble of people who had gathered against David. Again, this could refer to the time of Saul, but it seems to fit better that David was talking about the revolt under Absalom, when the rabble of people turned against him. Yet this also reminds us of what happened to the Lord Jesus, when at Pilate’s judgment hall the rabble of people gathered against Him and desired a murderer rather than their Lord.

And I did not know it;

David had been all unaware of this plot until it came to fruition.

They tore at me and did not cease;

With their words they tore at David, seeking to bring him down to destruction, without ceasing. How unfair this was, to do to the king who had never wanted anything but to rule his people under God with justice and equity!

16.  With ungodly mockers at feasts
The reference here seems to be to people who kept the LORD’s feasts, but who made a joke out of them. They were keeping the commandments of the LORD outwardly, but they had no real respect or reverence for what God had given them.

They gnashed at me with their teeth.

Like the mockers who kept the feasts to look good outwardly but mocked at them inwardly, so these men had acted like David’s friend outwardly, but inwardly they had gnashed their teeth at him, wanting nothing more than to see him fall into adversity, as had now occurred.

17.  Lord, how long will You look on?

David asks the LORD how long He will just look on and do nothing about this? The LORD has allowed this to happen, but David longs for Him to step in and administer justice towards him. How often we feel the same way in our day! Wickedness and sin rise up on every hand, and the LORD looks on and does nothing to stop it. We know that that is the way He must act in the dispensation of grace. Yet we, too, long for the time to come when He will cease to just look on, and instead will act to bring about His will on earth.

The word “Lord” here is not capitalized, showing that it is the Hebrew word Adonai, rather than the word Yahweh. Yet this is one of the passages where the Sopherim, the group of Jews who were self-appointed “editors” of the Old Testament, decided to change the word Yahweh to Adonai. It is likely they didn’t like the thought of Yahweh “looking” at something, as if he had eyes. Yet this word should be Yahweh, for that is what God wrote here. How little concept they had of the Lord Jesus Christ, the One Who did have eyes, and even a human body, and yet was Yahweh Himself!

Rescue me from their destructions,

David calls upon the LORD to stop just looking on, and to rescue him from the destruction these men had planned for him.

My precious life from the lions.

David describes these men as lions, seeking his life, and pleads with the LORD to rescue him from the death they had planned for him.

18.  I will give You thanks in the great assembly;

David promises what he will do when the LORD rescues him. He will give Him thanks in the great assembly. The word “assembly” here is the Hebrew word kahal, which is the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek word ekklesia. It is among the great kahal, the assembly of rulers over Israel, that David would offer thanks unto the LORD.

I will praise You among many people.

Among mighty people David will offer his thanks to the LORD. He will not keep it quiet when He delivers him! So we should not keep quiet the many great things that the LORD has done for us, in saving us and bringing us to himself.

19.  Let them not rejoice over me who are wrongfully my enemies;

David again calls upon the LORD for help, urging Him not to allow those who hate him without a cause to rejoice over him. This rejoicing would be if they managed to get the victory over him. David desires that the LORD not allow this to happen.

Nor let them wink with the eye who hate me without a cause.

Again it seems that winking with the eye here is a sign of their rejoicing or satisfaction in David’s final defeat. This verse is quoted in John 15:25, where it speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who was hated without cause by His enemies.

20.  For they do not speak peace,

Their words are not calculated to bring union between people, but rather strife and division.

But they devise deceitful matters

These men are plotting schemes to deceive, even as David had been deceived regarding their plans against him.

Against the quiet ones in the land.

Those who live in quietness and contentment do not know that these wicked men are plotting against them. Of course, David was one of those whom they had treated like this.

21.  They also opened their mouth wide against me,

The picture here is of these enemies opening their mouth wide to rejoice over David in the day of his calamity.

And said, “Aha, aha!

They are crying out in their perceived victory when they see the troubles they had plotted against David coming to pass.

Our eyes have seen it.”

They had seen their schemes begin to succeed, and thus are rejoicing.

22.  This You have seen, O LORD;

These men were not the only ones who had seen David’s troubles. The LORD had seen what was going on as well, and He did not approve of the actions of these ungrateful and deceitful men.

Do not keep silence.

Again, David calls upon the LORD to act against the injustice He has seen happening to David at the hands of these men.

O Lord, do not be far from me.

David desires the LORD to be near him to help him. Again, the word here was Yahweh, and the Sopherim changed it to Adonai. Why they changed this occurrence to Adonai and not the first occurrence in this verse is hard to guess. There seems to have been little rhyme or reason at times to the disrespect these men did to God’s Word.

23.  Stir up Yourself, and awake to my vindication,

David pictures the LORD here as if He were a man who had been sitting quietly by as if He were sleeping, but now stirs himself up and awakes to vindicate David. Basically, he wants the LORD to go into action. That too is what we look for today, longing for God to go into action to bring His kingdom to earth at last.

To my cause, my God and my Lord.

David knows his cause is just, so he asks his God and Lord to take up his cause and vindicate him from the false charges laid against him. God here is the usual, plural form, Elohim, whereas “Lord” actually is Adonai in this case. We could understand this as “My Creator-Judge and my Master.”

24.  Vindicate me, O LORD my God, according to Your righteousness;

Since David’s cause is just, He knows that Jehovah can be completely in accord with His righteousness and still vindicate him. This might have been true in this situation, but of course David was still a sinner, and so this only applied to this situation. Only by His grace could God vindicate David regarding everything he had ever done. Yet again, we could say that this verse applies even more to the Lord Jesus Christ than it does to David, Whom God could righteously vindicate from all charges of wrongdoing, for He truly was sinless.
And let them not rejoice over me.

By vindicating David, the LORD would stop these wicked men from their spiteful rejoicing over his calamity.

25.  Let them not say in their hearts, “Ah, so we would have it!”

David does not want these men to have this kind of satisfaction in their hearts. The word “we” is “our soul” in Hebrew, and speaks here of the desire of these men. Their desire was to see David destroyed, and if they saw this, their souls would be pleased.

Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.”

This was the fate they desired for David. They wished their campaign to be successful, and David’s death to be the result.

26.  Let them be ashamed and brought to mutual confusion

This is what David desires to see regarding these men who were his enemies. He requests that they be brought to shame and confusion, even as they had brought these things to David.

Who rejoice at my hurt;

Again, they were rejoicing at David’s hurt.

Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor

David repeats this in just slightly different words for poetic emphasis. He requests that they be covered with shame and dishonor as if these were a garment. Remember, David was God’s chosen King, set up on his throne and established by God. Those who had magnified themselves against David, therefore, had also magnified themselves against God, and so they deserved all the shame and confusion they might get.

Who exalt themselves against me.

This is what they were doing against David, though he had never done anything against them.

27.  Let them shout for joy and be glad,

David switches from speaking of those who were his enemies to speaking of those who were his friends. Many of these would have been suffering with David in the trials that he was going through, and David did not want them to have to pay further for their support of him. Rather, he wished them to experience joy and gladness together with him.

Who favor my righteous cause;

These friends of David favored his righteous cause, for they knew that his enemies had no reason for their actions against him. In Hebrew, this speaks of them favoring his justification, again because he was innocent of the accusations made against him.

And let them say continually,

Here is what he wants his friends to say, in contrast to what he did not want his enemies to be able to say in verse 25.

“Let the LORD be magnified,

David desires that his victory will first and foremost magnify the LORD. What an attitude to have! Let us each desire the same as we seek our own victories in life.

Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”

The LORD did have pleasure when David prospered, so David knew that He had no pleasure in his current, desperate situation.

28.  And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness

David, confident of the LORD’s coming deliverance of him from the danger he was in, speaks of what he will do when this comes to pass. His tongue, he promises, will speak of the LORD’s righteousness, as He will have righteously delivered him.

And of Your praise all the day long.

David will praise the LORD all the day long for delivering him from this trouble. How should we, too, praise Him all the day long for the deliverance from sin and death that He has bought for us through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus His Son!

To the Chief Musician.

Again, this psalm is dedicated to the Chief Musician, and thus is to be used for public worship and praise. No doubt David dedicated this psalm once this great difficulty he was facing was past, and the LORD had indeed delivered him out of all his troubles.