Both in the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint, this psalm is ascribed to David.
The psalmist recognized YHWH as the only One who could provide dependable aid, support, and protection. Therefore, he called on him in prayer. When referring to him as “my rock,” he expressed his personal relationship to the One he beseeched as the provider of security. YHWH was like a rock or a rocky height in mountainous terrain where one would be out of harm’s way.
David’s situation evidently was perilous, serious enough for him to believe that, without divine aid, he would descend into the pit as a dead man. He pleaded that YHWH would not be deaf to his urgent request. For the Most High to be silent or not to respond would place David’s life in jeopardy.
Because his cry for help was directed solely to YHWH, he begged that his voice as a suppliant would be heard, resulting in a favorable response. There was no one else from whom he expected assistance. In an attitude of prayer, David raised his hands, probably with arms lifted up and open palms like a suppliant. The innermost part of the sanctuary would have been where the ark of the covenant (representative of YHWH’s presence) was located. Accordingly, David raised his hands in that direction.
His concern was not to share the judgment against the wicked or those engaging in corrupt practices, experiencing a premature death. He described the “workers of evil” as persons who speak “peace” or feign friendship while plotting, in their “hearts” or within themselves, to harm their fellows.
David prayed that YHWH would repay these corrupt ones according to their “work” or conduct. His appeal was that retribution be according to their bad deeds and the work of their hands, which would have been corrupt activity that disregarded the welfare of others and resulted in harm. Rightly, then, David prayed that YHWH would mete out to them what they deserved.
He believed that they merited retribution because of failing to take note of YHWH’s works. These could include his saving acts and his judgments. The work of YHWH’s hands may also refer to creative activity, for which the wicked likewise showed no regard. On account of their deliberate failure in this respect, David was confident that YHWH would tear them down, with no possibility of their ever being built up or restored.
Although initially an expression of desperate need, this psalm continues with words of confidence rooted in faith. David blessed or praised YHWH for having heard or favorably responded to his supplications, his intense entreaties. To the Almighty, he looked as the source of his strength or strengthening aid and the One who would provide protection like a shield. In YHWH, David’s heart (he in his inmost self) trusted. That trust was rewarded, for YHWH came to his aid, prompting his heart or his inmost self to exult, and he expressed thanks or praise in song.
David appreciated YHWH as the source of strength for his people as a whole, and as a refuge or protective stronghold for him as the “anointed one” or king. He concluded with a petition that reflected abiding concern for God’s people. David prayed that YHWH would save or rescue them from danger, bless them as his inheritance, and tenderly care for them like a shepherd who would carry a weak or injured sheep. David’s prayerful desire was that this would be the experience of the people for all time to come.
Instead of “my rock,” the Septuagint (in verse 1) reads “my God.”
In the Septuagint (verse 7), the Hebrew expressions “my strength” and “my shield” are rendered according to their basic significance — “my helper” and “my protector” (the shield bearer).
The Septuagint (in verse 7) does not include the point about the psalmist’s heart exulting and his giving praise in song. After the mention of having been helped, the Septuagint continues, “my flesh has been revived and, out of my [own] will, I will make acknowledgment to him.” This reading suggests that the psalmist’s weakened organism had been refreshed, motivating him to make acknowledgment of what YHWH had done for him. He did this out of his own free will.
See Psalm 1 regarding the divine name (YHWH).