Summary: The Lord is close to all that call upon Him in sincerity, and is abundantly generous to them, and has promised to help and save them.

17 Let me not be ashamed , O LORD; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed , and let them be silent in the grave.

Let me not be ashamed, O Lord

The petition is the same as in verse 1; “In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.” While my prayers are answered, let my enemies be silenced and consigned to Sheol. A similar prayer is found in Psalm 25:2-3, and Jeremiah 17:18.

“Let me not be ashamed, O Lord, for I have called upon thee”—that is, I have placed my entire confidence in thee, and in thy promises, in the time of trial; let the results show that I had good reason to trust in thee; that thy character is such that the persecuted and the afflicted may always find thee to be a safe and secure refuge. In other words, let me not be disappointed, and made "ashamed" in front of men, as if I had put my trust where no help can be found, or where there was nothing worthy of unreserved confidence.

For I have called upon thee

The Lord is close to all that call upon Him in sincerity, and is abundantly generous to them, and has promised to help and save them; but if He didn’t do it, not only would he be made ashamed, but the promise of God would seem to fail: because the psalmist does not mention any obligation on his part, nor does he claim that his prayers deserve to be answered; but he places his confidence in the promise and faithfulness of God. “I have called upon thee;” and therefore thy honor will have a shadow cast over it by my disappointment, as if You did not hear prayers, or keep Your promises, or make any difference between good and bad men. David could honestly say, “I have always been a true worshipper of You. Even when I have sinned (v. 10), my sins have not been ‘sins of unfaithfulness,’ but lapses, sins of unpremeditated yielding to temptation.

Let the wicked be ashamed

“Let the wicked be ashamed,” as they will be, sooner or later, of their wickedness, and of their false trust and confidence; of their being enraged against Christ, and their rage against His people, and their persecution of them.

“Let the wicked be ashamed”—Let them be disappointed in that on which they had put their trust; let it be seen that they, in their wicked plans, had no safe ground for confidence. They rely on their own strength; their skill; their courage; their resources; and not on God. Let it now be seen that these things constitute no safe ground for trust, and do not let others be encouraged to follow their example by any success that shall come to them and their plans.

“Let the wicked be ashamed;” frustrated in achieving their wicked plans, and worldly confidence. Seeing they are merciless and relentless in their hatred and rage against innocent and good men, cut them off by Your just judgment; and since either the righteous or the wicked must be cut off, let destruction fall upon them, who deserve it the most.

“Let the wicked be ashamed.” Bring shame upon those who are my enemies and Yours—the wicked and unrepentant generally—and, among them are my present adversaries, those who have come together in order to wage war against me.

And let them be silent in the grave

“And let them be silent in the grave,” as all are that are there; and the sense is, let them be brought to the grave, where they will be silent; that is, from their evil words and works, and particularly from burdening the saints, “There the wicked cease from turmoil, and there the weary are at rest” (Job 3:17). Some render it, “Let them be cut off by the grave.” The Hebrew for grave is “Sheol.” The more correct translation is that which is in the text, "Let them be silent." That is, let them go down to the grave—to “Sheol”—to the "underworld"—to the “land of silence.” “Sheol,” the grave, is represented as a land of “silence.” This idea is derived from "the grave," where the dead rest in silence; and the meaning here is, let them be cut off and consigned to that land of silence. Let a stop be put to their slanders (ver. 13) and lying speeches (ver. 18); let them he silenced by removal from this world to the land of the departed. Let death destroy them to the intent that they may hurt no more. It is a prayer that the wicked may not triumph. Compare:

Isaiah 14:9: “The realm of the dead below is all astir to meet you at your coming; it rouses the spirits of the departed to greet you—all those who were leaders in the world; it makes them rise from their thrones—all those who were kings over the nations.” The ghosts of the departed were regarded as weak and nerveless, in comparison with living men.

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