First, you will find that almost all translate the beginning of the verse with something along the lines of My voice you shall hear in the morning. But I have two variances here where the 1599 GB and John Calvin translate it in the optative mood. They see it as expressing a wish or desire to the Lord rather than a declarative statement. In these cases we read something along the lines of O that thou wouldst hear my voice in the morning. Calvin explains it as follows, “The first sentence may also read in the future tense of the indicative mood, Thou shalt hear my prayer. But, in my opinion, the verb is rather in the optative mood, as I have translated it.” I make no attempt to definitively determine which is true or not. I know this much though, I trust the exegetical standards of Calvin and think that it makes more sense written the way he has translated it. I don’t know that the 1599 GB bolsters such a position since they were all heavily influenced personally by Calvin and it would have been strange for them to interpret it differently. Even so, to start the verse by declaring a wish or desire to the Lord and then to proceed into the object of that request seems most logical to my mind; to begin with the indicative and then to repeat it immediately thereafter seems needlessly redundant and we know that where such technique is employed in the Bible it is always there for a reason such as truly, truly.
Next we see a couple of versions that replace the word prayer where it says in the morning I will direct my prayer unto thee. Now there are still others who use the word it or me (myself) which is really no change at all and just a continuation of the previous thought. But in the RSV and
“O that thou wouldst hear my voice in the morning, O Jehovah.”
¨ Having besought God to grant his requests, he now entreats Him to make haste. Some think he alludes to the morning prayers which were wont to be joined with the daily sacrifices of the temple, according to the appointment of the law. Although I do not disapprove of this opinion, yet I have no doubt but that, constrained by the weariness of a somewhat lengthened delay, he wishes his deliverance to be hastened; as if he had said, “As soon as I awake, this will be the first subject of my thoughts. Therefore, O Lord, delay no longer the help of which I stand in need, but grant immediately my desires.” JC
¨ In the morning. This is the fittest time for intercourse with God. An hour in the morning is worth two in the evening. While the dew is on the grass, let grace drop upon the soul. Let us give God the mornings of our days and the morning of our lives. Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night.
¨ […] the morning is a proper time for prayer, both to return thanks to God for refreshing sleep and rest, for preservation from dangers by fire, by thieves and murderers, and for renewed mercies in the morning; as also to pray to God to keep from evil and dangers the day following; to give daily food, and to succeed in business and the employments of life; and for a continuation of every mercy, temporal and spiritual. God should be served and sought in the first place; and so to do looks as if God was with His people, and they with Him, when they awake in the morning. JG
¨ Morning prayer is our duty; we are fittest for prayer when we are in the most fresh, and lively, and composed frame, got clear of the slumbers of the night, revived by them, and not yet filled with the business of the day. We have then most need of prayer, considering the dangers and temptations of the day to which we are exposed, and against which we are concerned; by faith and prayer, to fetch in fresh supplies of grace. MH
“In the morning I will direct my prayer unto thee.”
¨ To direct unto God, I take to signify the same thing as to directly approach to God. Many, as if the language were elliptical, supply the words, my prayer. But in my judgment, David rather intends to declare that he was not turned hither and thither, nor drawn different ways by the temptations to which he was exposed, but that to betake himself to God was the settled order of his life. There is, in the words, an implied contrast between the rambling and uncertain movements of those who look around them for worldly helps, or depend on their own counsels, and the direct leading of faith, by which all the godly are withdrawn from the vain allurements of the world, and have recourse to God alone. The Hebrew word arac signifies to set in order or dispose… This sense is very suitable to the passage, in which David plainly declares it to be his determination not to be drawn away in any degree from his orderly course into the indirect and circuitous paths of error and sin, but to come directly to God. JC
¨ [Hermann] Hupfeld (a German theologian from the 19th century) considers the mention of the morning only as “poetical expression” and when getting rid of the meaning prima luce (first light), he also gets rid of the beautiful and obvious reference to the daily sacrifice. The verb [‘arak] is the word used of laying wood in order for the sacrifice, Lev. 1:7, and the pieces of the sacrifice, Lev. 1:8, 12, 6:5… The laying of the wood in order for the morning offering of the lamb was one of the first duties of the priest, as soon as the day began to dawn; the lamb was slain before sunrise and when the sun appeared above the horizon laid piece by piece upon the altar. The morning prayer is compared to this morning sacrifice. This is in its way also a sacrifice… As the priests, with the early morning, lay the wood and pieces of the sacrifices of the Tamid upon the altar, so he brings his prayer before God as a spiritual sacrifice… K&D, Franz Delitzsch
¨ “I will direct my prayer.” It is the word that is used for the laying in order the wood and the pieces of the victim upon the altar, and it is also used for the putting of the showbread upon the table. It means just this: “I will arrange my prayer before thee;” I will lay it out on the altar in the morning, just as the priest lays out the morning sacrifice. I will put them in order, call up all my powers, and bid them stand in their proper places, that I may pray with all my might, and pray acceptably.
¨ By the word, watch, he conveys the idea of hope and patience as well as of anxiety. As, tsapah, in Hebrew means, to wait for, as well as to look for, David, I have no doubt, intended to say, that after he had disburdened his cares into the bosom of God, he would, with an anxious mind, look out, as it were, like a sentinel, until it should appear, that in very deed God had heard him. No doubt, in the exercise of longing, there is always implied some degree of uneasiness; but he who is looking out for the grace of God with anxious desire, will wait patiently for it. JC
¨ The word implies a confident, and withal patient, expectation of relief. MP
¨ […] he brings his prayer before God as a spiritual sacrifice and looks out for an answer, perhaps as the priest looks our for fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice, or looks to the smoke to see that it rises up straight towards heaven. K&D, Franz Delitzsch
¨ Faith hath a supporting art after prayer: it supports the soul to expect a gracious answer… An unbelieving heart shoots at random, and never minds where his arrow lights, or what comes of his praying; but faith fills the soul with expectation… Now this expectation which faith raiseth in the soul after prayer, appears in the power it hath to quiet and compose the soul in the interim between the sending forth… and its return home… It gives such a being and existence to the mercy prayed for in the Christian’s soul before any likelihood of it appears to sense and reason, that the Christian can silence all his troubled thoughts with the expectation of its coming. Yea, it will make the Christian disburse his praises for the mercy long before it is received… For want of looking up many a prayer is lost. If you do not believe, why do you pray? And if you believe, why do you not expect? By praying you seem to depend on God; by not expecting, you again renounce your confidence. What is this, but to take his name in vain? O Christian, stand to your prayer in a holy expectation of what you have begged upon the credit of the promise. William Gurnall
I love this Psalm and this verse only builds upon that love. We are being instructed here to cry to the Lord and to send our prayers up to Him as spiritual sacrifices every morning. That much I am reasonably sure, that while being emboldened here, is something we all knew. But how many of us pray with the confidence spoken of in this Psalm? It’s not just that we send our prayers to heaven; it is that as we do we expect an answer. We aren’t praying to some impotent god that has no ability to care for us and to answer our prayers. We pray to the omnipotent God that is Lord and ruler over all and has the ability to answer each and every prayer we send up to Him. This gives us hope! Not hope like the world has which is nothing more than wishful thinking, a toss of the dice in a game of chance; no, this is sure hope. This is knowing that the Lord hears our prayers and will answer them and thus we can with all assurance look to heaven and wait for an answer from our mighty God. To do or to expect anything less would be down right irreligious! It doesn’t mean that every answer will be the one we wanted or the thing we thought was best for us; but the Lord does hear us, will answer us, and it will be for our good and His glory, of that much we are sure.
Robert Hawker says it well when he says,
[…] what an assurance have all the faithful of being heard, when they are led by His Spirit, act faith upon his person and meditation, and thus direct their prayer with the first morning, unto Him that proves Himself the hearer of the prayer of the poor and destitute, and despiseth not their desire. [Christian!] do put it down as a sure unerring mark, that wherever the Spirit gives grace to pray, the Lord has already come forth to answer prayer.We have hope because it does not depend on us. Not on the stability of our minds and our hearts, not on the purity of our actions, not on any one thing we do or say. It depends on Him alone and with an unwavering faith in such an awesome God there can be no other conclusion but to know that you are heard and will be answered. Beyond this though we have more benefit still! It is not just sure hope that we are given here, we are given here a reason for why we can look to God with patience. Faith in God produces hope and that hope produces patience. We may not get the answer immediately; but so what? Wait on the Lord with patience, look to Him daily and know that you will get a response; know that even the patience you have been given will produce fruit wherein ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
We serve such a beautiful God who is worthy of all praise and glory. Can we ever stop marveling at who He is and what He does for us? Even in dealing with the act of prayer, something we take for granted, there are so many levels of beauty that we may spend a lifetime seeking to uncover them all and still find that we have only just scratched the surface. With all sincerity of heart I say in closing, Soli Deo Gloria!