Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me. (Ps 142:7)
[all definitions from the Hebrew Masoretic text except where noted otherwise]
[Deliver] (me) from [a shutting up] [that I may revere or worship with extended hands] (namely) thy [name: Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) “God’s titles, his attributes, his will or purpose, his honor and glory, his word, his grace, his wisdom, power and goodness, his worship or service, or God himself”]: the [righteous: according to Thomas Wilson’s Christian Dictionary (1612): “Such as hath Christ his Iustice by faith, put vpon them, and are by his spirite framed to vprightnesse of heart and manners”] shall [enclose me protectively]; for thou shalt [recompense] me (bountifully).
First, I would never want to “rewrite” or retranslate anything in the King James Bible. It is not needed. Sir Lancelot Andrewes and crew (roughly 50 translators, maybe more) were much better-versed in any of the biblical languages and the King’s English than ever I could be. Still, I love to break open each one of these lines of Scripture, as the cracking of an egg shell for the yolk to fall on the pan for culinary delight, that I may be better equipped to see the Word grow in me and become converted into the energy of application and anointing.
That said, we can begin today’s meditation. David, who wrote this psalm around the time of his contests with Saul, felt the hand of the Lord’s deliverance upon him. That he was no longer “shut up” in a cave or in hiding somewhere without the kingdom. The fact that he was being rescued from grave danger (at the hands of Saul, who had lost his anointing and had become insanely driven to kill David) gave him the impetus to recognize the true reason for his emancipation: to be better able to revere or worship with raised holy hands, the Lord God: His Name, His attributes, will or purpose; His honor, glory, word, grace, wisdom, power, goodness, worship, service, or just God Himself. This definition of “name” from the Noah Webster’s definition (shown above) gives us perhaps the most assiduous explanation of praise outside of Scripture. Praise is not just thanking God for answered prayers, but loving Him for whom He truly is.
The “righteous” protect us from harm, perhaps as God’s agents. But first, what exactly makes a righteous man? Thomas Wilson described “righteous” (used as a noun here) so adroitly a mere year after the first King James Bible rolled off the presses as, a person who has “Christ’s justice by faith put upon him and is, by Christ’s spirit, framed to uprightness of heart and manners.” Now, the righteous shall encircle me and protect me from harm. A word or two about shall: Shall doesn’t just mean will, it implies a legal mandate, this one stemming from God’s divine deliverance and being surrounded by other faithful people. Bottom line: Other faithful Christians protect me from evil. That is part of God’s plan for me. That is why I must “hang out” with other God-fearing Christians.
Closing the psalm is a bold statement of faith: God shall recompense, or repay, my faith, bountifully, as the rewarding fruit because I have chosen to live righteously by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, it is not just one piece of fruit, it is a whole wagonload of them. God’s rescue and his continued protection of me by other of God’s people constitutes a huge blessing and a whole lotta fruit. In that way, this one line from the Psalter is both a praise and a thanksgiving, because it both identifies, worships and thanks God for his bounty.