The Zohar on Shemot - The Stone the Builders Rejected

R. Eleazar then began to discourse on the verse: “I am small and despised, yet have I not forgotten thy precepts” (Tehillim 119:141). ‘King David’, he said, ‘sometimes extols himself, saying, for instance, “and [He] whose mercy to his anointed, to David and to his seed, for evermore” (Ibid. 18:51); or, “The saying of David, the son of Yishai, and the saying of the man raised on high, the anointed of the G-d of Yaakov” (2Shmuel 23:1); and at other times he abases himself, saying, “for I am poor and needy” (Tehillim 86:1), or, as here: “I am small and despised.”

Now he also said of himself: “The stone which the builders rejected is become the chief corner-stone” (Ibid. 118:22).

The truth is that when he found himself in peace and triumphant over his enemies, he extolled himself; but when he found himself oppressed and harassed by his enemies, he abased himself and called himself the poorest and the least of men. For at one time he would prevail over his enemies, and then he would again feel their pressure; but for all that he would always obtain dominion over them, and they were never able to discomfit him.