Where the world comes to study the Bible

Psalm 28



A Prayer for Help, and Praise For Its Answer Rejoicing in Answered Prayer Prayer for Deliverance From Personal Enemies
(A Lament)
A Prayer For Help Petition and Thanksgiving
MT Intro
A Psalm of David.
28:1-5  28:1-2 28:1-2 28:1-3 28:1
  28:3-5 28:3-5   28:3
      28:4-5 28:4
28:6-9 28:6-7 28:6-7 28:6-7 28:6
  28:8-9 28:8-9 28:8-9 28:8-9

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



 1To You, O Lord, I call;
 My rock, do not be deaf to me,
 For if You are silent to me,
 I will become like those who go down to the pit.
 2Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help,
 When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.
 3Do not drag me away with the wicked
 And with those who work iniquity,
 Who speak peace with their neighbors,
 While evil is in their hearts.
 4Requite them according to their work and according to the evil of their practices;
 Requite them according to the deeds of their hands;
 Repay them their recompense.
 5Because they do not regard the works of the Lord
 Nor the deeds of His hands,
 He will tear them down and not build them up.

28:1-5 There is some disagreement of how to divide the strophes in this Psalm (look at front page of this chapter). NASB has Ps. 28:1-5, 6-9, so I will use it. The first strophe is a lament and the second a psalm of thanksgiving.

The psalmist prays for

1. YHWH to hear him when he prays

2. YHWH not to drag him away like the wicked

In verse 4 he uses three imperatives to describe what God should do to the wicked.

1. give them (BDB 678, KB 733, Qal imperative) according to their deeds (cf. Job 34:11; Ps. 62:12; Pro. 24:12; Eccl. 12:14; Jer. 17:10; 32:19; Matt. 16:27; 25:31-46; Rom. 2:6; 14:12; 1 Cor. 3:8; 2 Cor. 5:10; Gal. 6:7-10; 2 Tim. 4:14; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 2:23; 20:12; 22:12)

2. give them according to their evil practices (verb assumed from #1)

3. give them (same verb as #1) according to their actions (lit. "work of their hands")

4. reward (BDB 996, KB 1427, Hiphil imperative) them dire reward (lit. "dealings," BDB 168)

28:1 "My rock" This imagery speaks of permanence, strength, stability, protection (see full note at Ps. 18:2).

▣ "do not. . ." These are two imperfects used in a jussive sense.

1. hear — do not be deaf, BDB 361 II, cf. Ps. 35:22; 39:12; 83:1; 109:1 (parallel to "silent," BDB 364)

2. v. 2 — do not drag me away, BDB 604 (i.e., possibly like an animal or a prisoner of war)


▣ "the pit" The term (BDB 92, cf. Ps. 88:4; 143:7; Pro. 28:17) is a synonym for Sheol. See SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead? at Ps. 1:5. It probably related to

1. a dug grave (cf. Isa. 14:9; Ezek. 32:25)

2. a hole in the hill for burial

3. an opening which goes into Sheol (cf. Ps. 30:4; Pro. 1:12; Isa. 14:15; 38:18; Ezek. 26:20)


28:2 "When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary" This gesture has several connotations.

1. an act of blessing after a sacrifice by a priest — Lev. 9:22 (i.e., some sacrifices were lifted up to YHWH)

2. an act on the part of a worshiper after a sacrifice of incense — Ps. 141:2

3. a gesture toward the sanctuary — Ps. 134:2

4. a posture of prayer, hands raised, cf. Exod. 9:29 (Moses); 1 Kgs. 8:22 (Solomon); Lam. 2:19; 3:41 (Israel); Luke 24:50 (Jesus); 1 Tim. 2:8 (believers)

5. a posture for praise, adoration, or public confession — Ps. 63:4

6. a way to show YHWH's power as His staff was lifted up in Moses' hands (cf. Exod. 17:8-12)

Here it is meant to symbolize a clean life (cf. 1 Tim. 2:8), open to God and a life that recognizes its need to receive from God (see negative usage in Ps. 44:20).

NASB"toward Your holy sanctuary"
NASB margin,
NRSV footnote"the innermost place"
NJB"Holy of Holies"
JPSOA"inner sanctuary"

This Hebrew term (BDB 184 I) basically means "back part," "innermost." In 1 Kings 6:16,19,20,21, 22,23,31; 7:49; 8:6,8 it refers to the Holy of Holies (cf. Exod. 26:31-35), where the ark of the covenant stood between Solomon's giant cherubim.

Faithful followers in the Old Covenant faced the temple (cf. 1 Kings 8, Solomon's great prayer at the dedication of the Temple) when they prayed because it was there that YHWH dwelt between the wings of the cherubim. It was where heaven and earth met. The ark of the covenant was YHWH's footstool.

However, in the New Covenant, God is present in all places (cf. John 4:20-24). The new temple is Jesus (cf. John 2:19,21)!

28:3,5 "Because. . ." Verses 3 and 5 list the activities and attitudes of the wicked (i.e., practical atheists).

1. who work iniquity, Ps. 28:3

2. who speak peace to their neighbor but have evil in their hearts (see Special Topic at Ps. 4:7)

3. who do not regard the works of God, Ps. 28:5 (God's people must "regard" who He is by what He has done, cf. Deut. 32:7; Ps. 107:43; Jer. 2:10; Hos. 14:9)

4. who do not regard the deeds of God (parallel), Ps. 28:5, cf. Isa. 5:12


28:5 The last line of verse 5 tells what God will do to them (compare Jer. 1:10).

1. tear them down — BDB 248, KB 256, Qal imperfect, Ps. 28:5

2. not build them up — BDB 124, KB 139, Qal imperfect, negated, Ps. 28:5

The three imperfects of verse 5 denote the continuous actions of the wicked. Their lives are characterized by ignoring God and hurting others, therefore, God's judgments are also ongoing (i.e., perennial destruction, cf. Isa. 6:9-10; Jer. 1:10).

 6Blessed be the Lord,
 Because He has heard the voice of my supplication.
 7The Lord is my strength and my shield;
 My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
 Therefore my heart exults,
 And with my song I shall thank Him.
 8The Lord is their strength,
 And He is a saving defense to His anointed.
 9Save Your people and bless Your inheritance;
 Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.

28:6-9 A radical mood swing occurs at verse 6. This strophe spells out the reasons why YHWH is to be blessed (Ps. 28:6a).

1. He hears his prayer

2. He is both his strength and shield

3. He is his refuge

In verses 8 and 9 the focus changes from the King (i.e., "His anointed") to His covenant people. As YHWH saved the King, may he now save His people! This fluidity between the singular and plural is common in the Psalms.

▣ "Blessed be the Lord" This is a recurrent theme in the Psalms. He is blessed by His faithful followers for many reasons, but all of them come back to who He is and what He has done! This phrase became a liturgical formula (cf. Ps.18:46; 28:6; 31:21; 41:13; 66:20; 68:35; 72:18; 89:52; 106:48; 119:12; 124:6; 135:21; 144:1). Let all that has breath praise the Lord!

28:7 As verses 3 and 5 describe the wicked, verse 7 describes the faithful follower.

1. his heart trusts in Him — BDB 105, KB 1200, Qal perfect, cf. Ps. 112:7 (note the theological connection between human's trust and divine deliverance/salvation, cf. Ps. 22:4-5; 25:1-3; 28:7; 31:14-15; 86:2; see note at NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 646)

2. he is helped by God — BDB 740, KB 810, Niphal perfect

3. his heart exults — BDB 759, KB 831, Qal imperfect with waw

4. he thanks Him with song — BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperfect (continual praise)

Just a brief comment about the MT verses the LXX. There was probably a more ancient Hebrew text behind both of them. There are MSS in the DSS that follow the MT and others follow the LXX. The early church used the LXX almost exclusively. Verse 7 is a good example of their translating a different Hebrew text. The LXX has (see note in AB, p. 173)

"The Lord is my helper and my protector; in him my heart hoped,

And I was helped and my flesh revived, and from my will I shall acknowledge him."

▣ "shield" See note at Ps. 3:3.

28:8 "their" The UBS Text Project gives "to His people" a "C" rating (i.e., considerable doubt).

1. to them — למו (NKJV, JPSOA)

2. to His people — לעמו (NRSV, TEV, NJB, REB)

The Septuagint uses #2, as do some Hebrew manuscripts. Apparently one Hebrew letter has fallen out of the MT.

▣ "His anointed" See SPECIAL TOPIC: MESSIAH at Ps. 2:2. See similar usage in Ps. 18:50.

28:9 There is a series of imperatives directed in prayer to YHWH, beseeching Him to act on behalf of the covenant people.

1. save — BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative, cf. Ps. 106:47

2. bless — BDB 138, KB 159, Piel imperative

3. shepherd — BDB 944, KB 1258, Qal imperative (The NASB Study Bible [p. 765] makes the comment that "shepherd" links up with Psalm 23 and probably marks off Psalm 23-28 as a collection of psalms linked by several common themes)

4. carry (i.e., "lift up"), Piel imperative, cf. Isa. 40:11; 63:9

Several Psalms close with a corporate focus (i.e., Ps. 3:8; 15:7; 25:22; 29:11; 51:18-19; 130:8).

▣ "Your inheritance" YHWH gave a land allotment to all the nations (cf. Deut. 32:9), but the descendants of Abraham were His special people (cf. Exod. 19:5-6; 1 Kgs. 8:51; Ps. 33:12). He showed this by His promised exodus out of Egypt (cf. Gen. 15:12-21). He displayed His power and love (cf. Deut. 9:29). Moses beseeched YHWH not to judge His sinful people because the pagan nations would not understand (cf. Deut. 9:26-29). His people were meant to reveal His character to all nations (see Special Topic at the Intro. to Psalm 2). But if they continued in sin and idolatry there was rejection (cf. Ps. 106:40; Ezek. 36:22-23).

▣ "forever" See Special Topic: Forever at Psalm 9:5.


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. What is the OT view of death?

2. Is verse 4 the same truth as Gal. 6:7?

3. Is verse 5c related to Isa. 6:9-10 or Jer. 1:10?

4. Why do psalms that reflect an individual's thoughts and situation end in communal imperatives?


Report Inappropriate Ad