Psalm 28 Commentary

Psalm 28 has an overall rhetorical structure that looks like this:

lines 1-16, prayer to Yahweh

lines 17-20, talk about the wicked

lines 21-27, talk about Yahweh (center of psalm)

lines 28-29, talk about the anointed people

lines 30-33, prayer to Yahweh

As is so often the case, the enemies that David prays about are those sinning with their tongues. They seek to tear down with their mouths, making trouble for David (lines 10-12). But David lifts up his hands toward Yahweh’s debir, a word that denotes the Holy of Holies, but which means “word,” and speaks of the enthroned Word of Yahweh (line 8). (This is the Word that became flesh in John 1.)

The wicked seek their own ways and not Yahweh’s ways. Lines 13, 15, 17, and 18 contrast their works and deeds with Yahweh’s works and deeds. Lines 19-20 say that Yahweh will put forth His power and tear them down. Lines 19 and 20 rhyme in Hebrew:

9. Yehersëm

10. Vlo yivnëm

At the center, section F, is a nice thematic chiasm centering in on David’s trust. Blessing matches thanksgiving; sound of cries matches exulting heart; Yahweh as strength matches help received.

The two E sections speak of Yahweh’s power to tear down the troublemakers and to be a refuge to His anointed ones (those who are baptized, today). “Yahweh” appears five times in this psalm, and the number 5 is associated in the Bible with power, the strength of the five-fingered hand.

The final four lines seem to back out thematically from lines 1-16. It seems to me that “Save Your people” matches the curses prayed upon the troublemakers in 13-16. “Bless Your inheritance” seems to match the prayer not to be dragged away with the wicked in 9-12. “Be their Shepherd” seems to link conceptually with David’s prayer to the enthroned Word. And the final line, asking to be carried by Yahweh into the everlasting future, matches lines 1-4’s prayer not to be left in the pit of sheol.