I have preceded each verse exposition by adding the appropriate verse.
The preceding expositions from Spurgeon on the Psalms can be found under the “Category” entitled the Treasury of David.
Verse 1: ”O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me;”
The poor broken hearted father complains of the multitude of his enemies: and if you turn to 2 Samuel 15:12 , you will find it written that “the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom,” while the troops of David constantly diminished!
Lord how are they increased that trouble me! Here is a note of exclamation to express the wonder of woe which amazed and perplexed the fugitive father. Alas! I see no limit to my misery, for my troubles are enlarged! There was enough at first to sink me very low; but lo! my enemies multiply. When Absalom, my darling, is in rebellion against me, it is enough to break my heart; but lo! Ahithophel hath forsaken me, my faithful counsellors have turned their backs on me; lo! my generals and soldiers have deserted my standard. “How are they increased that trouble me!” Troubles always come in flocks. Sorrow hath a numerous family.
Many are they that rise up against me. Their hosts are far superior to mine! Their numbers are too great for my reckoning!
Let us here recall to our memory the innumerable host which beset our Divine Redeemer. The legions of our sins, the armies of fiends, the crowd of bodily pains, the host of spiritual sorrows, and all the allies of death and hell, set themselves in battle against the Son of Man. O how precious to know and believe that he has routed their hosts, and trodden them down in his anger! They who would have troubled us he has removed into captivity, and those who would have risen up against us he has laid low. The dragon lost his sting when he dashed it into the soul of Jesus.
Verse 2: “many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. Selah“
David complains before his loving God of the worst weapon of his enemies’ attacks, and the bitterest drop of his distresses. “Oh!” saith David, many there be that say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Some of his distrustful friends said this sorrowfully, but his enemies exultingly boasted of it, and longed to see their words proved by his total destruction. This was the most unkind cut of all, when they declared that his God had forsaken him. Yet David knew in his own conscience that he had given them some ground for this exclamation, for he had committed sin against God in the very light of day. Then they flung his crime with Bathsheba into his face, and they said, “Go up, thou bloody man; God hath forsaken thee and left thee.” Shimei cursed him, and swore at him to his very face, for he was bold because of his backers, since multitudes of the men of Belial thought of David in like fashion. Doubtless, David felt this infernal suggestion to be staggering to his faith. If all the trials which come from heaven, all the temptations which ascend from hell, and all the crosses which arise from earth, could be mixed and pressed together, they would not make a trial so terrible as that which is contained in this verse. It is the most bitter of all afflictions to be led to fear that there is no help for us in God. And yet remember our most blessed Saviour had to endure this in the deepest degree when he cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” He knew full well what is was to walk in darkness and to see no light. This was the curse of the curse. This was the wormwood mingled with the gall. To be deserted of his Father was worse than to be the despised of men. Surely we should love him who suffered this bitterest of temptations and trials for our sake. It will be a delightful and instructive exercise for the loving heart to mark the Lord in his agonies as here pourtrayed, for there is here, and in very many other Psalms, far more of David’s Lord than of David himself.
This is a musical pause; the precise meaning of which is not known. Some think it simply a rest, a pause in the music; others say it means, “Lift up the strain — sing more loudly — pitch the tune upon a higher key — there is nobler matter to come, therefore retune your harps.” Harp strings soon get out of order and need to be screwed up again to their proper tightness, and certainly our heart strings are evermore getting out of tune, Let “Selah” teach us to pray
“O may my heart in tune be found Like David’s harp of solemn sound.”
At least we may learn that wherever we see “Selah,” we should look upon it as a note of observation. Let us read the passage which precedes and succeeds it with greater earnestness, for surely there is always something excellent where we are required to rest and pause and meditate, or when we are required to lift up our hearts in grateful song. “SELAH.”