George Booker
Psalms Studies - Book 1

Psalm 28

1. Links with the previous psalm

Psalm 27

Psalm 28

2. Structure

Prayer of dependence on God
Contrast with the godless
Afterwards: Faith has met its reward

3. Historical setting

Most probably, Absalom’s rebellion:

Unto thee will I cry, O Lord my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. David’s prayer in his sickness: cp. 41:1-5. The last phrase is very significant here — this very fate overtook Absalom: 2 Sam. 18:17.
I lift up my hands towards thy holy oracle. This may be linked with David’s flight from Jerusalem: 2 Sam. 15:24-29; 16:23.
Which speak peace, but mischief is in their hearts. The rebels, and especially the wily Ahithophel: Psa. 41:6,7; 55:21; 120:7.
Because they regard not the works of the Lord, in bringing David to the throne and making such a great promise to him.

He shall destroy them. Extraordinary confidence.
Undoubtedly added after the collapse of the rebellion.
Literally: From my song will I praise thee, i.e. David drawing strength from psalms he had composed earlier. LXX: Out of my willingness will I confess to Him: cp. Matt. 10:32 (Greek).

4. Messianic reference

Unto thee will I cry, O Lord. Compare Psa. 22:1.

Lest....I become like them that go down into the pit. The words imply the possibility of failure on Christ’s part!
I lift up my hands. As did Moses to ensure Joshua’s victory: Exod. 17:9-12. Compare also the lifting of Christ’s hands in crucifixion. And see also 1 Tim. 2:8.

Towards thy holy oracle. Hebrew debir means the inner part of the sanctuary, the Holy of Holies (Matt. 27:51). Literally, the speaking place: From here, God addressed Israel (Exod. 25:22; Num. 7:89). The Scriptures are now the oracles (i.e. the speaking place of God): Acts 7:38; Rom. 3:2; Heb. 5:12; 1 Pet. 4:11. See also Psa. 26:6; 1 Kings 6:16-19; 2 Chron. 4:20; 5:7,9.
Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts. ‘Do not allow me to succumb to the temptation to match scheming with scheming’ (Psa. 55:21; Matt. 22:16-33).
Give them according to their deeds. Quoted in Lam. 3:64; 2 Tim. 4:14. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7,8).

Render to them. Luke 19:24-27; John 11:48,50: “If we let him thus alone, the Romans will come and take away both our place (the temple) and our nation” — so they did not let him alone, yet the Romans did precisely this. “One man should die for the people, and the whole nation perish not” — so this one man did die (for the people, too!), yet the whole nation, as a nation, perished.
They regard not the words of the Lord, nor the operation of his hands. This is quoted in Isa. 5:12.

He shall destroy them, and not build them up. The Hebrew word describes the throwing down of a wall or a city: Matt. 24:2; cp. Jer. 1:10; 18:7-10; 42:10.
Note here the past, present, and future, with reference to Christ.

My heart trusted in him. This means faith, as necessary for Christ as for those who are in him.
Their strength should read: the strength of his people, as LXX. The Hebrew text has presumably lost one letter.

The saving strength of his anointed. The Hebrew text (maoz yeshua mashiach) is mighty close to saying: the strength of Jesus his Christ; cp. Psa. 18:50 (deliverance....anointed). God is the strength of Jesus Christ — His Son could achieve salvation (for himself and for us in prospect) only because he trusted perfectly in his Father’s strength.
Bless thine inheritance. In the first place, Israel is described as God’s inheritance (Deut. 4:20; 32:9), that is, His most treasured possession (cp. Exod. 19:5; Mal. 3:16,17). Secondly, the saints are likewise described (Eph. 1:11,18). Not only are the righteous God’s special inheritance or heritage, but He is theirs (Psa. 16:5,6; 73:26; Lam. 3:22-24).

Bless. In not a few places this means the forgiveness of sins: e.g. Gen. 22:18; Acts 3:25,26.

Feed really means “to shepherd” (RSV, NEB, NIV): Psa. 78:71; John 21:15; Isa. 40:11; Ezek. 34:2,3,10,13-16,23; Rev. 7:17. God is the Shepherd of Israel (Psa. 23:1,2; 80:1).

Lift them up means bear them, or “carry them” (RSV, NEB, NIV), as in Isa. 40:11; 46:3; 63:9; Luke 15:5.

5. Other details

My rock: 18:2; 19:14; 27:5.

Be not silent to me. It is not everyone who dreads the misery of a silent God: contrast 14:1/53:1 and 10:11.

Lest I become like.... may have the idiomatic meaning: ‘Lest they speak of me proverbially as....’

Pit = bor, either well or sepulchre, parallel to Sheol or the grave in 30:3 and 88:4. NEB has, poetically, “abyss”.
Other instances of uplifted hands in prayer: Exod. 9:29,33; 2 Chron. 6:12; Ezra 9:5; Job 11:13; Psa. 44:20; 68:31; 88:9; 134:2; 141:2; 143:6; Isa. 1:15. Also, instances of praying toward the Most Holy place: Dan. 6:10; l Kings 8:44,48; 2 Chron. 6:34; Psa. 5:7; 138:2; Jonah 2:4.
Draw me not away. The verb implies: with cords or a net. Compare also Psa. 10:9.

Which speak peace, but mischief is in their hearts, the mischief being war (against David), and assassination (of Jesus).
There are more imprecatory psalms than the average reader suspects. Why here? Verse 5 supplies the answer.

Endeavours. Always a bad word, in Hebrew. Note the emphasis on their deeds, their endeavors, the word of their hands; and then see the contrast in v. 5: the word of the Lord, the operation of His hands.
He is the saving strength of his anointed. Eph. 3:16 appears to look back to this: “to be strengthened with might by his Spirit”.
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