John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 119
This psalm is generally thought to be written by David, but when is uncertain; very probably towards the decline of life; and, as some think, for the sake or his son Solomon. It seems to be a collection of observations on the word of God and its precepts, the usefulness and excellency of it, he had made in the course of his life; interspersed with various petitions for the grace of God, to enable him to observe it. The psalm is a very extraordinary one; partly on account of the unusual length of it, it being more than double the length of the longest psalm in the whole book; and partly on account of its curious composition. It consists of twenty two parts, according to the number of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet; the names of which letters stand between each part; and every part consists of eight verses, all of which begin with the same letter: thus, for instance, the first eight verses begin with the letter א, "aleph", and the second eight verses begin with the letter ב, "beth", and so on throughout; hence the Masorah calls this psalm the Great Alphabet. This the psalmist did, perhaps to excite attention to what he said, and also to help the memory. And it is observable that there are very few verses in the whole, not more than one or two, but what has something in it concerning the word of God, and its precepts and ordinances; there are nine or ten different words used relative to it, which signify much one and the same thing; as laws, statutes, judgments, testimonies, &c. Luther
ALEPH.--The First Part.
ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way,.... Who are in the right way to heaven and happiness, which is Jesus Christ; the strait gate, and narrow way to eternal life; the only true way of life and salvation, in which way believers walk by faith. All out of this way are altogether become filthy; but all in this way are clean, even every bit: they are without spot and blemish, blameless and unreproveable, and without fault, before the throne of God and in his sight; being washed from their sins in the blood of the Lamb, and clothed with his righteousness; and even "perfect" and complete in him, as the Targum renders the word. These are also found in the way of their duty, and walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless before men, and are sincere and upright in the sight of God; and are upon all accounts happy persons:
who walk in the law of the Lord: within the boundaries and limits of it, according to its direction, as it is a rule of walk and conversation in the hands of Christ the Lawgiver; and who continue to walk in it, as in a pleasant path, with great delight; and cheerfully obey its precepts, as influenced by the love of God, and assisted by the Spirit and grace of Christ. The word "law", or "doctrine", as it signifies, may design every revelation of the divine will; and even the doctrine of Christ, which believers should abide in, and not transgress; and should walk uprightly according to the truth of it, and as becomes it, and as they are enabled to do.
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies,.... The whole word of God, the Scriptures of truth, are his testimonies: they testify of the mind of God, and of his love and grace in the method of salvation by Christ; they testify of Christ, his person, offices, and grace; of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow; and of all the happiness that comes to the people of God thereby. The law is called a testimony, which being put into the ark, that had the name of the ark of the testimony. This is a testimony of the perfections of God, his holiness, justice, and goodness displayed in it; and of his good and perfect will, what should or should not be done. The Gospel is the testimony of Christ, of what he is, has done and suffered for his people, and of the blessings of grace by him; the ordinances of it, baptism and the Lord's supper, testify of the love of God, and grace of Christ; and all these good men keep: they keep the Scriptures as a sacred "depositum"; they hold fast the faithful word of the Gospel, that no man take it from them; and are desirous of observing both the law of God, as in the hands of Christ; and the ordinances of the Gospel, as delivered by him, from a principle of love to him; and such are happy persons in life, at death, and to all eternity;
and that seek him with the whole heart; that is, that seek the Lord by prayer and supplication, with a true heart, and in sincerity; that seek to know more of him, and that in good earnest; that seek for communion and fellowship with him, with the Spirit within them, with all their heart and soul; that seek Christ, and God in Christ, his kingdom, and his righteousness, and that in the first place, early, earnestly, and diligently. The Targum is,
"they seek his doctrine with the whole heart.'
They also do no iniquity,.... Not that they are free from indwelling sin, nor from the acts of sin, nor that what they do are not sins; but they do not make a trade of sinning, it is not the course of their lives; nor do they do iniquity with that ease and pleasure, without reluctance and remorse, as others do: or rather as new creatures, as born again, they do not and cannot commit sin; for the new man is pure, spiritual, and holy; and nothing can come out of that, or be done by it, which is the contrary. This is a distinct I from the old man, or corrupt nature, to which all the actions of sin are to be ascribed; see 1 John 3:9;
they walk in his ways; in the ways of God and Christ, into which they are guided and directed, and where they are kept, and in which they find both pleasure and profit. Here end the descriptive characters of good and happy men.
Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. Here, and in the following verses, the psalmist expresses his great regard to the precepts, commandments, statutes, and judgments of God; and that as such, because they were commanded by him; were not the precepts of men, but the commands of God; who had a right to command, as Creator, Preserver, Redeemer, and King; and whose commands are not to be reckoned as indifferent things, that are at the option and choice of a creature, to be done or let alone at his pleasure; but are what God has enjoined, and are binding upon men; and which love should and does constrain the saints to have a regard unto, and to keep them diligently or vehemently; with all a man's might and strength, as the word is used in Deuteronomy 6:5. These are not at any time to be dispensed with, but, to be kept always constantly and steadily.
O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! The psalmist, sensible of his own inability, as every good man is, to keep the commands of God, prays for grace, direction, and assistance in it; that the ways of his mind, his thoughts, affections, and inclinations, might be directed to an observance of the divine precepts; knowing he could not command his thoughts, raise his affections, dispose his mind, and incline his heart thereunto; and finding a backwardness to religious exercises and spiritual duties, and that the ways and actions of his life might be guided to the same; being sensible he could not take one step aright without God and Christ; that the way of man is not in himself, and that it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps; that a good man's steps are ordered by the Lord, and he directs his paths: besides the direction of the word, there is need of the Spirit and grace of God, to cause a person to walk in his statutes, and to keep his judgments, and do them; see Jeremiah 10:23.
Then shall I not be ashamed,.... Of hope in God, of a profession of faith in him, and of a conversation agreeable to it before men; nor of appearing before God in his house, worshipping him there; nor at the throne of his grace, nor at the day of judgment, and before Christ at his coming;
when I have respect unto all thy commandments; or "look"
I will praise thee with uprightness of heart,.... In the most sincere manner, in the most affectionate way, with the whole heart; sensible of great favours received, and great obligations laid under; see Psalm 9:1;
when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments; or, "the judgments of thy righteousness"
I will keep thy statutes,.... This is a resolution taken up in the strength of divine grace, to answer the end of learning the judgments of God; which he did, not merely to have a notional knowledge of them, but to put them in practice; and not that he thought he could perfectly keep them, but was desirous of observing them in the best manner he could, as assisted by the grace of God; from love to God, in the faith and name of Christ, and with a view to the glory of God; without dependence upon them for life and salvation;
O forsake me not utterly; totally and finally, or not at all; otherwise as if he should say, I shall never be able to keep thy statutes; so sensible was he of the necessity of the divine Presence and grace, to assist him in the observance of them: or, "for ever", as Ben Balaam interprets it, and so the Ethiopic version; R. Moses reads the words, "O forsake me not", in a parenthesis, and joins the rest thus, "I will keep thy statutes vehemently"; or with all my strength and might; and so Kimchi reads them: but such an interpretation is very forced, and contrary to the accents.
BETH.--The Second Part.
BETH. Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way?.... Some think David means himself, and that he was a young man when he wrote this psalm; and which they think is confirmed by Psalm 119:100; but neither of them seem conclusive; rather any young man is meant, and who is particularly mentioned, because young men are liable to sins and snares, to carnal lusts and sensual pleasures, which are of a defiling nature. Some are of opinion that a young man, or babe in Christ, is intended, that needs direction in his way, and instruction about the manner of cleansing it. But the former sense seems best, and expresses the concern of the psalmist for the education and right information of youth; which is a matter of great moment and advantage to families, neighbourhoods, and commonwealths. The question supposes the young man to be impure, as every man is by birth, being conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity; is a transgressor from the womb, and his heart, ways, and actions, evil from his youth: and the difficulty is, how he shall be cleansed; how one so impure in his nature, heart, and ways, can be just with God, or become undefiled in the way, as in Psalm 119:1; to which some reference may be had: or how he can have his heart made pure, or a clean one be created in him; or how his way, life, and conversation, may be corrected, reformed, and amended. The answer is,
by taking heed thereto according to thy word; that is, to his way and course of life, and steering it according to the direction of the word of God. But I think the words may be better rendered and supplied thus, "by observing what is according to thy word"
With my whole heart have I sought thee,.... Not himself, his own honour and applause, as formal worshippers and self-righteous persons do; but the Lord and his glory, his face, his presence, and communion with him, his grace, and fresh supplies of it, to help in time of need; his doctrine, as the Targum; and to know more of it, and of him, and of his mind and will; and this he did in the most sincere manner, with all his heart and soul. The character of the good man, in Psalm 119:2; the psalmist applies to himself; see Isaiah 26:9; and uses it as an argument to obtain the following request:
O let me not wander from thy commandments; the way of them. Good men are apt to go astray, as David, Psalm 119:176; their hearts, their affections, and their feet, wander from, the way of their duty: there are many things which lead them aside, and cause them to turn to the right hand or the left, at least solicit them to do so; as a corrupt nature, an evil heart, a body of sin and death, the snares of the world, and the temptations of Satan; and, what is worst of all, when God leaves them to themselves, withdraws the influences of his grace, and brings them into such circumstances as expose them to going astray, which the psalmist here deprecates; "suffer me not to wander", but uphold my goings in thy ways; preserve me by thy grace, and keep me by thy power; hold me by thy right hand, and guide and direct me. Or, "cause me not to wander"
Thy word have I hid in mine heart,.... Not only heard and read it, but received it into his affections; mixed it with faith, laid it up in his mind and memory for future use; preserved it in his heart as a choice treasure, where it might dwell richly, and be of service to him on many occasions; and particularly be of the following use:
that I might not sin against thee; the word of God is a most powerful antidote against sin, when it has a place in the heart; not only the precepts of it forbid sin, but the promises of it influence and engage to purity of heart and life, and to the perfecting of holiness in the fear of the Lord; and all the doctrines of grace in it effectually teach the saints to deny all sin and worldly lusts, and to live a holy life and conversation; see 2 Corinthians 7:1.
Blessed art thou, O Lord,.... In himself, in his nature, persons, and perfections; the fountain of all happiness to angels and men, in time and to eternity; to whom all blessing, honour, and glory, are to be given. The psalmist takes this method of praising and ascribing blessing to God, for what he had received from him; particularly for teaching him what he had learned, Psalm 119:7; in hopes of succeeding in his following request:
teach me thy statutes; the knowledge of the best is imperfect. Good men desire to know more of God, of his mind and will, even of his revealed will; and that they may have grace and strength to act in conformity to it; for it is not the bare theory of things they desire to be taught, but the practice of them; and though ministers, and the ministry of the word, and administration of ordinances, may be and are means of teaching; yet there is none teaches like the Lord, Father, Son, and Spirit. The Targum and Syriac versions render it, "teach me thy decrees".
With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. Not the judgments of his hand, what he executes on an ungodly world; nor the intricate dispensations of his providence; those judgments of his now unsearchable, though before long will be manifest; these the psalmist could not declare: but the revelation of the will of God, what his mouth has uttered, doctrines and precepts of righteousness and truth; these, though David had them in his heart, he did not conceal them from men; but out of the abundant experience he had of them in his heart, his lips spake of them, of their nature and excellency, and usefulness unto others: and whereas he desired to be instructed more and more in them, it was in order to teach them, and declare them to others; even all of them, in the most sincere and impartial manner; see Acts 20:27.
I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies,.... The way which the Scriptures, that testify of God and Christ, direct unto; and the principal way is Christ himself, the only way of life and salvation; in which believers walk and go on rejoicing; rejoicing in his person, offices, grace, righteousness, and salvation: the lesser ways the Scriptures point unto are the ways of duty and paths of ordinances; in which truly gracious souls find a great deal of peace, pleasure, and delight;
as much as in all riches; or, "as above all riches"
I will meditate in thy precepts,.... In his own mind; revolve them in his thoughts; consider well the nature, excellency, usefulness, and importance of them, and the obligations he lay under to observe them. The Targum is,
"I will speak of thy precepts;'
in conversation to others, and recommend them to them; so the Arabic version:
and have respect unto thy ways; or "look"
I will delight myself in thy statutes,.... In looking over them; in meditating on them; in obeying them, and walking according to them; as every good man does delight in the law of the Lord, after the inward man, Romans 7:22; see Psalm 119:24;
I will not forget thy word: he took all proper methods to fix it in his memory; he laid it up in his mind; he meditated upon it in his heart, and he talked of it with his lips, Psalm 119:11.
GIMEL.--The Third Part.
GIMEL. Deal bountifully with thy servant,.... Which character is mentioned, not by way of plea or argument for favour, but as expressive of modesty, sense of duty, and obligation to it. He pleads not his services by way of merit; but prays that God would deal bountifully with him, in a way of grace and mercy: or "render good" unto him, as the Targum; bestow it on him as a free gift. The Lord deals bountifully with men, when he gives himself unto them as their portion and inheritance; his Son, and all things along with him; his Spirit, and the graces of it; and every daily needful supply of grace;
that I may live, and keep thy word; life natural is the bounty of God; he grants life and favour, he grants life as a favour, and all the mercies and blessings of it; and through the gracious dealings of God with his people, they live spiritually and live comfortably; in his favour is life; the life of faith is encouraged and invigorated in them by it; and eternal life is the free gift and bounty of God through Christ, by whom they have both a right unto it and meetness for it: and the desire of good men to live in this world is not to indulge themselves in carnal lusts and pleasures; not to live to themselves, nor to the lusts of the flesh, nor to the will of men; but to live soberly, righteously, and godly; to live by faith in Christ, and in hope of eternal life through him; and while they live to keep the word of God, and not forget it, as Aben Ezra interprets it, to lay it up for their own use, and preserve it for others, and observe its instructions, cautions, and directions.
Open thou mine eyes,.... The eyes of my heart or understanding, as Kimchi; or, "reveal mine eyes"
that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law; the law strictly taken, which had great and excellent things in it; and was wonderful for the compendiousness of it; for the justice, holiness, and equity of its precepts; especially for its spirituality, and above all for Christ, being the end of it; the two last more particularly could only be discerned by a spiritual man: or rather the five books of Moses, the almost only Scriptures extant in David's time, in which there were many wonderful things concerning Christ; some delivered by way of promise and prophecy of him, under the characters of the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the Shiloh, and the great Prophet; and many others in dark figures, types, and shadows, which required a spiritual sight to look into; of which the rock and manna, the brasen serpent, passover, &c. are instances: but rather, as the word "law" signifies "doctrine", the doctrine of the Gospel may be meant; which contains mysteries in it, respecting the trinity of Persons in the Godhead, the person of Christ, his incarnation, sufferings and death; the blessings of grace through him; the doctrines of peace, pardon, righteousness, eternal life, and the resurrection of the dead; with many others.
I am a stranger in the earth,.... As all his fathers were, and all the saints are; not to divine and spiritual things; to God, and communion with him; to Christ, and the knowledge of him; to the Spirit, and his operations in their hearts; to their own hearts, and the plague of them; to the Gospel, and its truths; nor to the people of God, and fellowship with them: but to the world, among whom they are, not being known, valued, and respected by them; and they also behaving as strangers to the world, having no fellowship with them in their sinful works; as also not being natives here, but belonging to another city and country, an heavenly one; see 1 Chronicles 29:15;
hide not thy commandments from me; the doctrines of the Gospel, the word which God has commanded to a thousand generations; which is pure, and enlightens the eyes, and so needful to strangers in their pilgrimage, Psalm 19:8; which God sometimes hides from the wise and prudent, and which the psalmist here deprecates with respect to himself, Matthew 11:25. Or the precepts of the world may be meant, which are a light to the feet, and a lamp to the paths, a good direction to travellers and strangers in the way: David, being such an one, prayed that these might not be hid from him, but be showed unto him; that he might know his way, and not go out of it; but walk as a child of light, wisely and circumspectly.
My soul breaketh for the longing,.... His heart was just ready to break, and his soul fainted; he was ready to die, through a vehement desire of enjoying the object longed for, after mentioned; "hope deferred makes the heart sick", Proverbs 13:1; the phrase is expressive of the greatness, vehemence, and eagerness of his mind after the thing he desired, which follows:
that it hath unto thy judgments at all times; not the judgments of God on wicked men, though these are desirable for the glorifying of his justice; nor his dark dispensations of providence, though good men cannot but desire and long for the time when these judgments shall be made manifest: but rather the righteous laws and precepts of God are designed, which he desired to have a more perfect knowledge of, and yield a more constant obedience unto; or, best of all, the doctrines of grace and righteousness, that should be more clearly revealed in the times of the Messiah; who was to set judgment in the earth, his Gospel; and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and glorify the justice of God; than which nothing was more earnestly and importunately wished and longed for by Old Testament saints; see Psalm 119:81.
Thou hast rebuked the proud,.... Which some understand of the fallen angels, who, in proud wrath, left their habitations, because they would not be subject to the Son of God in human nature; wherefore he scattered them in the imaginations of their hearts, and cast down these mighty ones into hell, where they are reserved in chains of darkness to the judgment of the great day. Others of the Scribes and Pharisees in Christ's time, this psalm being suited, as is thought, to Gospel times; who were proud of their own righteousness, and despised others less holy than themselves; and submitted not to the righteousness of Christ, whom he often rebuked, and at last punished. Rather all proud atheistical persons, profane and wicked men, are meant; who, Pharaoh like, say, who is the Lord that we should obey him? who reckon, their tongues to be their own, and employ them both against God and men, and regard neither: these God resists, sets himself against, and sooner or later severely punishes; for in the things they deal proudly he is above them, Exodus 18:11;
that are cursed which do err from thy commandments; according to the law of God, being transgressors of it, and will hear the awful sentence, "go, ye cursed", Matthew 25:41. The Targum, Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, join this with the next clause: "cursed are they which do err from thy commandments"; from the way of them, not observing them; from the end of them, Christ, not looking to him for righteousness.
Remove from me reproach and contempt,.... Or, "roll it from me"
for I have kept that testimonies; which was the reason why he was reproached and despised; for having a regard to the word of God, and embracing and professing the doctrines of it. Thus the word of the Lord was made a reproach to Jeremiah, or he was reproached for delivering it; as many good men have been vilified, and have suffered for the testimony of Jesus, Jeremiah 20:8; and for walking according to the directions, of it; wicked men thinking it strange they do not run into the same excess of not with them, and therefore speak evil of them, 1 Peter 4:3.
Princes also did sit and speak against me,.... The princes in the court of Saul, who suggested to him that David sought his hurt; the princes of his own court, Absalom, his own son, a prince of the blood, and Ahithophel, a counsellor of state: or the princes of the Gentiles, as Jarchi; so the princes of the Philistines spake against him in a very disdainful manner, "make this fellow return to his place again", 1 Samuel 29:4. Such as these might speak against him, as they sat and rode in their chariots; when at their tables, conversing together; or at their council boards, forming schemes against him: the phrase denotes their constant practice, as Kimchi observes; see Psalm 50:20; herein David was a type of Christ, whom the princes of this world conspired against, and whose life they took away, Psalm 2:2;
but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes; what the princes did or said against him did not divert his mind, or take off his thoughts from the word of God, and the ordinances of it; he thought of them, he spoke and discoursed of them; he declared them, as the word
Thy testimonies also are my delight,.... Or "delights"
and my counsellors; or, "the men of my counsel"
DALETH.--The Fourth Part.
DALETH. My soul cleaveth unto the dust,.... Either to the dust of death, having the sentence of it; being almost in despair of life, upon the brink of the grave seemingly, and free among the dead: or in a very low estate of mind, in great dejection and humiliation, rolling himself in the dust, and putting his mouth in it; if there might be any hope of deliverance; but despairing of it, unless the Lord appeared; or finding a proneness in him to the corruption of nature, the body of sin and death, which was very powerful and prevalent, ensnaring and captivating; and particularly to worldly things, comparable to dust, for their lightness, emptiness, and unprofitableness; which often have an undue influence on good men, and to which their affections are too much glued; and which greatly affect the exercise of grace and religious duties, and bring a deadness upon the soul, and make the following: petition necessary:
quicken thou me according to thy word; such who are quickened together with Christ, and who are quickened by his Spirit and grace, when they were dead in trespasses and sins, have often need to be quickened again, and to have the work of grace revived in them; which is done when grace is drawn forth into lively exercise, and which is necessary to the performance of duty; and this is done both by means of the word of God, which, as it is used for the quickening dead sinners, so for the reviving of drooping saints; see Psalm 119:50. And according to his word of promise, who has promised never to leave his people, nor forsake the work of his hand, but perform it until the day of Christ; Jarchi and Kimchi think reference is had to the promise in 2 Samuel 12:13; and Aben Ezra to Deuteronomy 32:39.
I have declared my ways,.... That is, to the Lord; either the ways he had chose and desired to walk in, and not wander from, and therefore entreated help and assistance, guidance and direction, in them; or his sinful ways and actions, which he acknowledged and confessed, lamented and bewailed, and entreated the forgiveness of; or all his counsels and cares, his affairs and business, in which he was concerned, and which he declared and committed to the Lord, to be directed and assisted in; or all his wants and necessities, which he spread before him at the throne of grace; which he did not as though the Lord was ignorant of these things, but partly as knowing it was the will of God that he should be inquired of by his people, to do the things for them they want; and partly to ease his own mind, and encourage his faith and hope in the Lord;
and thou heardest me: and directed him in the way he should go, and what he should do; forgave him his sins, and supplied his wants;
teach me thy statutes; which he desired to learn and obey, in gratitude for being heard and answered by him; See Gill on Psalm 119:12;
Make me to understand the way of thy precepts,.... The meaning of them, to have a more comprehensive, clear, and distinct knowledge of them; and to be led into the way they direct unto, and walk therein;
so shall I talk of thy wondrous works; the works of creation, providence, redemption, and grace; with more knowledge and understanding, with more spirit and cheerfulness, with more readiness and liberty, more to his own satisfaction, and for the good of others: or, "meditate on thy wondrous works"
My soul melteth for heaviness,.... Like wax before the sun or fire; or flows like water; drops
strengthen thou me according unto thy word; to oppose corruptions, withstand temptations, bear up under trials and afflictions, and do the will of God. And the word of God is a means of strengthening his people to do these things; it is the spiritual bread which strengthens man's heart, and in the strength of which, like Elijah, he walks many days, and goes from strength to strength: and there are many gracious words of promise, which may be pleaded with God to this purpose; that he will help, strengthen, and uphold his people; that he will renew their strength, and that as their day is their strength shall be.
Remove from me the way of lying,.... Not the sin of lying to men, and a course of it, which David was not addicted to; but a "false way", or "way of falsehood"
and grant me thy law graciously; not the fiery law, which works wrath, curses and condemns; the voice of words, which they that heard entreated they might hear no more; and which to have is no act of grace and favour, unless as fulfilled in Christ, and as it is a rule of walk and conversation in his hands: but rather "doctrine", as the word signifies; the doctrine of the Gospel, the law or doctrine of faith; which to have and understand is a gift of grace; it is the Gospel of the grace of God, the grace of God itself; and instructs in it, and shows that salvation is purely by it.
I have chosen the way of truth,.... Christ, who is the way and the truth, the true way to God and to eternal happiness; and to choose him is to choose the good part, which shall never be taken away; and which choice is made, not by the free will of man, as left to itself, but under the influence and by the direction of the Spirit and grace of God; whereby a soul sees a preferableness in Christ to every thing else, and which determines the choice of him: or, "the way of faith", as the Targum; the doctrine of faith, particularly the doctrine of justification by faith in the righteousness of Christ; also each of the truths of the Gospel, a way in which believers walk with pleasure and by choice; as being preferable to, and more desirable by them, than thousands of gold and silver;
thy judgments have I laid before me; to be looked at continually, as being exceeding amiable and lovely, and having a strong affection for them; and as a copy to write after, and a rule to walk by.
I have stuck unto thy testimonies,.... The word of God, the Scriptures of truth, and the doctrines contained in them. These he closely adhered to, was glued unto them as it were; having firmly believed them, he steadfastly professed them; nor could he be moved from them by any temptations whatever, notwithstanding the reproach cast upon them and him for their sake, or the opposition made unto them;
O Lord, put me not to shame: or let me not be ashamed of the choice I have made, of the testimonies I adhere unto, of my hope and confidence in the Lord and his word; or suffer me not to do anything, any sinful action, that may expose me to shame and contempt.
I will run the way of thy commandments,.... Not only walk but run in it; which is expressive of great affection to the commands of God, of great readiness and cheerfulness, of great haste and swiftness in the way of them, and of great delight and pleasure therein;
when thou shall enlarge my heart; with the knowledge of God, his word, ways, worship, and ordinances; with his love more fully made known, and with an increase of love to him; with the fear of him, and a flow of spiritual joy and peace; and when delivered from straits and difficulties, from weights and pressures, and everything that may hinder walking or running; and being in circumstances which may lead and encourage to the one as to the other; see 1 Kings 4:29, Isaiah 60:5.
HE.--The Fifth Part.
HE. Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes,.... Which they point unto, and direct to walk in; not only the statutes and ordinances themselves, the theory of them, but the practice of them. This is taught in the word, and by the ministers of it; but none so effectually teach as the Lord himself, Isaiah 2:3;
and I shall keep it unto the end; keep the way unto the end of it: or rather to the end of life, all my days, and never depart out of it, or turn to the right hand or the left; but walk on in it as long as I live: or, "I shall observe it, even the end"
"and I will keep unto perfection;'
which cannot be done by sinful man.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law,.... A spiritual understanding; an understanding of the law, the perfection, purity, holiness, and spirituality of it; an understanding of the Gospel, and of Christ and the things of Christ; from whom grace and strength are to be had for the due observance of the law, as in his hands; which understanding must be given, and is a gift of pure, free, rich grace, to such who have it; though they cannot keep the law perfectly, as no mere man can, yet will keep it spiritually, from a principle of love and gratitude, and with a view to the glory of God and Christ, 1 John 5:20;
yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart; not only externally, and to be seen of men, and get applause from them; but doing the will of God from the heart, and with a good will and heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men; with a sincere affection for him, and with a single eye to his glory, Ephesians 6:6.
Make me to go in the path of thy commandments,.... Lead, guide, direct me in the path, and use me to it; work in me both to will and to do; give both ability and a willing mind to walk therein; by granting fresh supplies of grace, and more spiritual strength; by drawing with the cords of love, and by putting in him the good spirit of grace, to cause to walk in the statutes of the Lord, and keep his judgments and do them, Ezekiel 36:27;
for therein do I delight; in the law of God, after the inward man; in the commandments of Christ, which are not grievous; in wisdom's ways and paths, which are pleasantness and peace.
Incline my heart unto thy testimonies,.... To read the word of God, to hear it opened and explained, to observe and keep the things contained in it; to which there is a disinclination in men naturally: but the Lord, who fashions the hearts of men, and has them in his hands, can bend and incline them by his efficacious grace to regard these his testimonies; which, as Aben Ezra observes, are more precious than all substance, and so are opposed to what follows:
and not to covetousness; not to mammon or money, as the Targum; the love of it, which is the root of all evil, and very pernicious and harmful; in hearing the word it chokes it, and makes it unfruitful, 1 Timothy 6:9. Not that God inclines the heart to evil, as he does to good; but he may suffer the heart to be inclined, and may leave a man to the natural inclinations of his heart, and to the temptations of Satan, and the snares of the world, which may have great influence upon him; and this is what is here deprecated; see Psalm 141:4.
Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity,.... As the things of this world, the riches, honours, and pleasures of it, which are all vanity and vexation of spirit; and yet these catch the eye, and allure the heart: and all false doctrines, glided over with the specious pretence of truth; and all false worship and superstition, set off with pomp and pageantry, with which the eyes of the body or the eyes of the mind are taken, and by which the heart is ensnared; and therefore it is desirable to have the eyes turned away from such objects unto better;
and quicken thou me in thy way; so as to walk and even run in the path of truth, in the way of true religion and godliness; and, instead of looking upon vanity, press towards the mark for the prize; keep Christ in view, while running the race; and look to things unseen, and not things that are seen; and set the affections on things above, and serve the Lord fervently; all which is done when God quickens the hearts of his people, and the graces of his Spirit in them.
Stablish thy word unto thy servant,.... Either God's word of promise, which never fails, is firm and stable in Christ; and the sense is, that God would assure him of the fulfilment of it, and give him a strong faith and firm belief of it; for otherwise the word of the Lord cannot be surer or more stable than it is: or else the word of his grace; and then the sense is, that he might be established in it, and the truths of it, and be established by it; for the word is a means of establishment, and a good thing it is to have the heart established with grace, with the doctrine of grace, Hebrews 13:9;
who is devoted to thy fear; who served the Lord with reverence and godly fear; who feared the Lord and his goodness; that grace being a reigning one in his heart, and ever before his eyes. Or, "which is unto thy fear"
Turn away my reproach which I fear,.... Either for the sake of religion, which was disagreeable to him; and he might be afraid it would be too heavy for him to bear, and be a temptation to him to forsake the good ways of God: or rather by reason of sin, which brings a reproach on good men; and causes the enemy to speak reproachfully, and is therefore dreaded by them who desire to be kept from sin, for that reason as well as others; see Psalm 39:8. Jarchi and Kimchi think that David has some reference to his sins, in the case of Uriah and Bathsheba; lest they should be a perpetual reproach on his name and family, which he greatly feared;
for thy judgments are good; the laws of God, and punishment of sin according to them; the Scriptures, and the doctrines contained in them; the ways of God, and true religion; which are evil spoken of, through the sins of the professors of them.
Behold, I have longed after thy precepts,.... After a greater degree of knowledge of them, and an opportunity of hearing them explained and enforced, and of yielding obedience to them; see Psalm 119:7;
quicken me in thy righteousness: in the way of righteousness, according to the word of righteousness, the Gospel, and with the righteousness of Christ revealed in it; and which is unto life, and quickens and comforts the heart, and from whence abundance of peace and joy flows.
VAU.--The Sixth Part.
VAU. Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord,.... Meaning not his providential mercies, but his special mercies and favours; his mercies of old, which were upon his heart and thoughts from everlasting; the sure mercies of David, or the blessings of the everlasting covenant; the spiritual blessings, wherewith the saints are blessed in Christ; the grace that was given to them in him, before the world was: these are desired by the psalmist to be remembered, shown, communicated, and applied unto him, and, as it were, that they might come into his heart and soul; which is done when the love of God is shed abroad there, when full flows of it come in, and all grace is made to abound, and every want is supplied;
even thy salvation, according to thy word; not temporal, but spiritual and eternal salvation; which God has appointed his people to, secured for them in covenant, promised them in Christ, whom he sent to work it out, and which is in him; and which in the effectual calling comes to the soul, being brought near and applied to a sensible sinner by the Spirit of God. Here a fresh view of interest in it, a fresh visit with it, and a restoration of the joys of it, are desired; and which salvation flows from the abundant mercy and free favour of God in Christ; and is, according to his word of promise, spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets, from the beginning of the world; and may here respect the particular word of promise made to David, that God would put away his sin, and save him, and that he should not die, 2 Samuel 12:13; or his word of promise in general, to all that seek and call upon the Lord, that they shall find grace and mercy, and be saved everlastingly.
So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me,.... Saying there is no help and salvation for him in God; asking where is his God, in whom he trusted? and where is the promise of salvation, on which he depended? To which an easy and ready answer might be given, when the mercies and salvation of God came unto him, and he clearly appeared to be interested in them; see Psalm 3:2;
for I trust in thy word: in Christ the essential Word, the object of trust and confidence; or in the written word, it being divinely inspired and dictated by the Spirit of God, and so to be depended on as true and faithful; or rather God's word of promise concerning mercy, grace, and salvation, which God that has made is faithful and able to perform, as may be believed.
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,.... The Scriptures, which are by divine inspiration, come from the God of truth, contain nothing but truth in them, and are called "the Scriptures of truth", Daniel 10:21. Or the Gospel, which is often so called, Ephesians 1:13; This comes from God, who cannot lie, and is a declaration of his mind and will concerning the salvation of men; in which Christ, who is the truth, is concerned, being the author, preacher, and substance of it; into which the Spirit of truth leads men, and makes it useful and effectual; which has many eminent and important truths in it, and nothing but truth, and stands opposed to the law, which is typical and shadowy, and to everything that is a falsehood and a lie. This the psalmist desires might not be taken out of his mouth, but kept in it as a sweet morsel there, rolled under his tongue; be eaten and fed upon by him, and be the rejoicing of his heart. Or his sense is, that he might not be left under a temptation to conceal, drop, or deny the word of truth, or be ashamed to own and confess it before men; but at all times, and upon all occasions, publicly declare it, and his faith in it: at least he desires that it might not "utterly" cease from him, or be wholly neglected by him, and he entirely apostatize. Some join the word rendered "utterly", and which signifies "exceedingly", with "the word of truth", thus: "take not out of my mouth the word of truth, which is exceedingly so"; that is, exceedingly true, to the highest degree
for I have hoped in thy judgments; or, "have waited for thy judgments"
So shall I keep thy law continually,.... Which denotes not the perfection of keeping the law, but the constancy of it: the psalmist was persuaded, that so long as he had the word of truth in his mouth, and the judgments of God in his view, he should be diligent and constant in the discharge of his duty, which these directed and encouraged him unto;
for ever and ever; in this life and that to come; when the law of God will be kept, and his will done perfectly by the saints, as it now is by the angels in heaven; or this may be connected with the law of God; which law is for ever and ever, being of eternal duration and obligation. The whole may be understood of the law of faith, or doctrine of the Gospel, and be rendered, "so shall I observe thy doctrine continually"; contained in the word of truth; which doctrine is for ever and ever, it is the everlasting Gospel.
And I will walk at liberty,.... Not in licentious way, but in Gospel liberty, under the influence of the free spirit; where is liberty, in the exercise of grace and discharge of duty. Or, "I will walk at large"
"in the breadth of the law.'
So a man walks when he walks in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord: and who also may be said to walk at large when delivered out of straits and difficulties; when he is brought into a large place, and his steps are enlarged under him; and having his heart enlarged with the love of God, and fear of him, and with spiritual joy, and having every grace in exercise, he not only walks in, but runs the way of God's commandments; see Psalm 119:32; and See Gill on Psalm 118:5;
for I seek thy precepts; out of love and affection to them, to know more of them, the mind and will of God in them, and to practise them.
I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings,.... As very likely he did before Saul and his courtiers, before the king of Achish and the princes of the Philistines, when as yet he was not a king himself; and when he was come to the throne, such kings as came to visit him, instead of talking with them about affairs of state, he spoke of the Scriptures, and of the excellent things they bear witness of; and such a practice he determined to pursue and continue in;
and will not be ashamed; of the testimonies of God, and of the truths contained in them; and of speaking of them and for them; or of being reproached and vilified on that account. So the Apostle Paul was a chosen vessel to bear the name of Christ before kings; nor was he ashamed to speak of him and of his Gospel before Nero the Roman emperor, Agrippa king of the Jews, and before Felix and Festus, Roman governors; nor ashamed of the reproaches and afflictions he endured on that account.
And I will delight myself in thy commandments,.... In perusing and practising them;
which I have loved; a good man loves the law of God, and the commandments of Christ, and delights in them after the inward man.
My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved,.... Showing by such a gesture his great esteem of them, and affection for them; stretching out his hands, and embracing them with both arms, as it were: and this being a praying gesture, 2 Timothy 2:8, may signify his earnest desire and request that he might have grace and spiritual strength to enable him to observe them; and it being used in swearing, Genesis 14:22, may express his firm resolution in the strength of divine grace to keep them; and the phrase signifying a doing or an attempt to do anything, Genesis 41:44, may denote his practical observance of the commands, his putting his hand to do them with all his might;
and I will meditate in thy statutes; and thereby get a better understanding of them, and be in a better disposition and capacity to keep them.
ZAIN.--The Seventh Part.
ZAIN. Remember the word unto thy servant,.... The word of promise made unto him, concerning establishing his house and kingdom for ever; which he desires God would show himself mindful of in fulfilling it, and renew and confirm his faith in it, and give him some fresh assurance of the performance of it, 2 Samuel 7:16. Not that God ever forgets his promise, or is unmindful of his word; but so it seems when he delays the accomplishment of it; and when unbelief prevails and doubts arise, and faith is not in lively exercise; and he has not so clear a view of the promise, and comfortable assurance of its being performed;
upon which thou hast caused me to hope; which, when first made, he received in faith, and hoped and waited for the accomplishment of. A word of promise is a good ground of hope, let it be on what account it will; whether it relates to interest in God, as a covenant God and Father; or to pardon of sin; or to salvation by Christ; or to fresh supplies of grace and strength from him; or to eternal life through him: and the hope which is exercised on the promise is not of a man's self; it is the gift of God, a good hope through grace; which the Lord, by his Spirit and power, produces, and causes to abound in, or to exercise in a comfortable manner.
This is my comfort in my affliction,.... David had his afflictions, and so has every good man; none are without; it is the will and pleasure of God that so it should be; and many are their afflictions, inward and outward: the word of God is often their comfort under them, the written word, heard or read; and especially a word of promise, powerfully applied: this is putting underneath everlasting arms, and making their bed in sickness. This either respects what goes before, concerning the word of promise hoped in, or what follows:
for thy word hath quickened me; not only had been the means of quickening him when dead in am, as it often is the means of quickening dead sinners, being the savour of life unto life; but of reviving his drooping spirits, when in affliction and distress; and of quickening the graces of the Spirit of God in him, and him to the exercise of them, when they seemed ready to die; and to the fervent and diligent discharge of duty, when listless and backward to it.
The proud have had me greatly in derision,.... Profane sinners, proud and haughty scorners, that make a jest of religion, and scoff at everything serious and good: these derided the psalmist for his piety and religion, his principles and practices; in which he was a type of Christ, who was both the song of the drunkards, and was derided by the proud and haughty Scribes and Pharisees; as all self-righteous persons are, they who trust in themselves, and despise others, Psalm 69:11;
yet have I not declined from thy law; from walking according to it, as a rule of life and conversation; from professing and maintaining the doctrine of the word, the truths of the Gospel, he had knowledge and experience of; and from going on in the ways of God and true religion he was directed in; and this testimony the Lord himself gave of him, 1 Kings 14:8 see Psalm 44:19.
I remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord,.... Either the judgments of God executed on wicked men; as the bringing a flood on the world of the ungodly; the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah; the destruction of Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea; the cutting off of the Canaanites, and dispossessing them of their land: or the providential dispensations of God towards his own people; who sometimes chastises and corrects them, and brings them very low, and then raises them up again, as in the case of Job. These things the psalmist called to remembrance, and revolved them in his mind, which gave him pleasure and comfort:
and have comforted myself; with such thoughts as these, that that God, who had cast down the mighty from their seats, and had scattered the proud in the imaginations of their hearts, and destroyed them, could easily rebuke the proud that had him in derision; and he that had shown himself so good and gracious to his people, when brought low, could raise him out of his afflictions and distresses.
Horror hath taken hold upon me,.... Trembling, sorrow, and distress, to a great degree, like a storm, or a blustering, scorching, burning wind, as the word
because of the wicked that forsake thy law: not only transgress the law of the Lord, as every man does, more or less; but wilfully and obstinately despise it, and cast it behind their backs, and live in a continued course of disobedience to it; or who apostatize from the doctrine of the word of God; wilfully deny the truth, after they have had a speculative knowledge of it, whose punishment is very grievous, Hebrews 10:26; and now partly on account of the daring impiety of wicked men, who stretch out their hands against God, and strengthen themselves against the Almighty, and run upon him, even on the thick bosses of his bucklers; because of the shocking nature of their sins, the sad examples thereby set to others, the detriment they are of to themselves, and dishonour they bring to God; and partly because of the dreadful punishment that shall be inflicted on them here, and especially hereafter, when a horrible tempest of wrath will come upon them. Hence such trembling seized the psalmist; and often so it is, that good men tremble more for the wicked than they do for themselves; see Psalm 119:120.
Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. Meaning either his unsettled state, fleeing from place to place before Saul; or, literally, his house of cedar, his court and palace, which he considered no other than as an inn he had put into upon his travels homeward; or rather the earthly house of his tabernacle, in which, as long as he continued, he was but a pilgrim and stranger; or, best of all, the whole course of his life; which Jacob calls the days of the years of his pilgrimage, Genesis 47:9; so Hipparchus the Pythagorean
I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night,.... In the night of distress and affliction, as Jarchi; or rather literally, in the night season, when on his bed and awake: while others were asleep, he revolved in his mind the greatness of the divine Being; the perfections of his nature; his wonderful works of creation, providence, and grace; his word and ordinances, by which he was made known unto the sons of men; and these he called to mind and meditated upon in the night watches, to encourage his faith and hope in the Lord, and draw out his love and affection to him;
and have kept thy law: though imperfectly, yet spiritually, sincerely, heartily, and from a principle of love and gratitude, and with a view to the glory of God, and without mercenary and sinister ends.
This I had, because I kept thy precepts. Either the comfort he had from the word, the pleasure and delight he had in it, being his songs in his pilgrimage, Psalm 119:50; see Psalm 119:165; or this knowledge of the name of God, and the remembrance of it, and his carefulness and diligence in it in the night season, were of the Lord, and gifts of his: or rather this he had from the Lord, that he kept the precepts and commands of God in the manner that he did; it was all owing to grace and strength received from him; for so the words may be rendered, "this was given unto me, that I have kept thy precepts"
CHETH.--The Eighth Part.
CHETH. Thou art my portion, O Lord,.... Which he chose and preferred to all others; to the riches, honours, and profits of this world; the grant of which was made to him in the covenant of grace; the first discovery of it was from the Lord himself; and the choice and claim were made under the influence of his grace; and a great act of faith it is to assert this, and a wonderful blessing to enjoy it. This is a large portion indeed, immense and inconceivable, soul satisfying, safe, and for ever! see Psalm 73:26;
I have said that I would keep thy words; keep his commandments, lay up his promises, observe his doctrines, profess and retain them; this he determined within himself to do, under a sense of the love of God to him, in being his portion and inheritance. Some render the words, in connection with the former, thus, "my portion, O Lord, I said, is", or "shall be, to keep thy words"
"This I said to many, perhaps they will keep thy words;'
namely, that the Lord was his portion, which he thought might induce them to an observance of them, as he had done.
I entreated thy favour with my whole heart,.... Or, "thy face"
be merciful unto me, according to thy word: have compassion on me; sympathize with me in all my troubles; grant me fresh supplies of grace; and particularly show and apply thy pardoning grace and mercy to me, according to thy word of promise in the covenant of grace, in which provision is made for forgiveness of sins; see Psalm 51:1; Aben Ezra and Kimchi think reference is had to Exodus 33:19, but rather it is to 2 Samuel 12:13.
I thought on my ways,.... What they were, whether right or wrong; whither they led, what would be the consequences of walking in them: the Septuagint and Arabic versions read, "thy ways"; no doubt the psalmist thought of both; of his own ways, in which he had walked; and of God's ways, which he directed him to walk in: and, considering the superior pleasure and profit of the latter, he preferred them to the former. The Targum is, "I thought to mend my ways", or "make them good". Hence he took the following step:
and turned my feet unto thy testimonies; betook himself to the word of God, which testifies of his will, and directs to those ways he would have his people to walk in; and he steered his course of life and actions thereby; he turned from his own ways into the ways of God; under the influence of divine grace, he turned, being turned.
I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments. As soon as he was sensible of his duty, he immediately complied with it; he consulted not with flesh and blood, but at once yielded a cheerful obedience to the commands of God. Instances of evangelical obedience of this kind we have in the three thousand converts, in Saul, and in the jailer and his house, Acts 2:41.
The bands of the wicked have robbed me,.... Very probably Saul and his ministers seized on his effects, when he fled from him; and the Amalekites plundered him of all his substance, when they took Ziklag; and Absalom and the conspirators with him robbed him, when he was obliged, because of them, to flee from his palace and court, which they entered and took possession of. But Aben Ezra rejects this sense of the word, which Jarchi and Kimchi espouse, and we follow, and renders it, "took hold of me"; and so the Targum,
"the company of the wicked were gathered together against me:'
they surrounded him and put him into fear, great numbers of them encompassing him about; see Psalm 18:4;
but I have not forgotten thy law; this was written in his heart; he kept it in his memory, and retained an affection for it; and could not be deterred from obedience to it by the numbers and violence of wicked men, who hated and persecuted him for his attachment to it.
At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee,.... Not only send up an ejaculatory thanksgiving upon his bed, but rise up from it and shake off his sleep, and in a set, serious, solemn manner, praise the Lord. This shows a great regard to him, and affection to this work, since it is with difficulty men prevail upon themselves to rise at midnight upon any occasion; at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sung praises to God, Acts 16:25;
because of thy righteous judgments; upon the wicked, as Aben Ezra; the hands and troops of them that encompassed him about, and robbed him; but God avenged him of them, and for this he gave thanks, or for such like things. Sometimes the judgments of God have been executed at midnight; as the destruction of the firstborn in Egypt, and of Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea, when Israel sang his praise, Exodus 12:29; and for the judgments of God upon antichrist the church will rejoice and give thanks, Revelation 18:20. Or rather by these may be meant the word of God, the precepts and ordinances of it, which are all just and good; such is the law of God, and such are the ordinances of Christ, Psalm 19:9.
I am a companion of all them that fear thee,.... Not of the rich and mighty, much less of the wicked and ungodly; but of such who had the true fear of God upon their hearts, and before their eyes; who feared the Lord and his goodness, and truly served and worshipped him; even "all" of these, whether poor or rich, of whatsoever condition, or of whatsoever nation, being no respecter of persons. With these he was a partner in the blessings of the covenant, in the promises of it, in the graces of the Spirit, and in a right and meetness for the same eternal glory and happiness: he went in company with them to the house of God, and joined with them in all acts of religious worship; he conversed privately with them about what God had done for the souls of him and them; he delighted in their company; he sympathized with them in their troubles; and was a companion with them in their tribulation, sorrows, and sufferings, as well as in their joys and comforts;
and of them that keep thy precepts; as all such do who truly fear the Lord; for by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil, and cannot do those things that others do; cannot allow themselves in a wilful transgression of the divine precepts; but, influenced by the fear of God, observe and keep them.
The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy,.... "Goodness" or "grace"
teach me thy statutes: as an instance of mercy, grace, and goodness; see Psalm 119:12.
TETH.--The Ninth Part.
TETH. Thou hast dealt well with thy servant,.... In a providential way, ever since he had a being; by the protection and preservation of him, by following and loading him with benefits, by raising him from a low estate to the throne of Israel, by delivering him from many dangers and enemies, and by giving him rest from them all; and in a way of special grace and mercy, by making an everlasting covenant with him, by blessing him with all spiritual blessings, by giving him an interest in salvation by Christ, and hope of eternal glory. And thus he deals with all his servants; he does all things well by them; he deals well with them even when he afflicts them; he treats them as his Davids, his beloved and chosen ones, and his children. The Syriac version renders it as a petition, "do good with thy servant"; bestow benefits on him, or deal bountifully with him, as in Psalm 119:17;
O Lord, according unto thy word; thy word of promise: providential mercies are according to promise, for godliness or goodly persons have the promise of the things of this life; and so are spiritual blessings, they are laid up in exceeding great and precious promises, which are yea and amen in Christ; and so is eternal glory and happiness; it is a promise which God, that cannot lie, made before the world began; so that there is a solid foundation laid for faith and hope as to these things; and this confirms and commends the faithfulness of God to his people.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge,.... Or, "a good taste"
for I have believed thy commandments; the whole word of God, and all that is said in it; that it is of God, is the word of God and not the word of man; and therefore he was desirous of being taught the true meaning of it, and to be experimentally acquainted with it; the word of God is called his commandment, Psalm 19:7. Or the precepts of the word; he believed these were the commandments of God, and not of men; delivered out by him, and enforced by his authority; and therefore he gave credit to them, and loved them, and desired better to understand and do them: or the promises and threatenings annexed to them, which he believed would be punctually fulfilled upon the doers or transgressors of them; and as for himself, he cheerfully yielded the obedience of faith unto them.
Before I was afflicted, I went astray,.... From God; from his word, his ways and worship; like a lost sheep from the shepherd, the fold, the flock, and the footsteps of it; see Psalm 119:176; Not that he wilfully, wickedly, maliciously, and through contempt, departed from his God; this he denies, Psalm 18:21; but through the weakness of the flesh, the prevalence of corruption, and force of temptation, and very much through a careless, heedless, and negligent frame of spirit, he got out of the right way, and wandered from it before he was well aware. The word is used of erring through ignorance, Leviticus 5:18; this was in a time of prosperity, when, though he might not, like Jeshurun, wax fat and kick, and forsake and lightly esteem the Rock of his salvation; or fall into temptations and harmful lusts, and err from the faith, and be pierced with many sorrows, as too much love of the world brings men into; yet he might become inattentive to the duties of religion, and be negligent of them, which is a common case;
but now have I kept thy word: having been afflicted with outward and inward afflictions, afflictions of body and mind; afflictions in person, in family and estate; afflictions in soul, through indwelling sin, the temptations of Satan, and the hidings of God's face: all this brought him back again to God, to his word, ways, and worship; he betook himself to reading and hearing the word, if he might find any thing to relieve and comfort him under his trials; he observed the doctrines of grace in it, and kept the precepts of it, and walked in all the commandments and ordinances of it, being restored by afflictions.
Thou art good, and doest good,.... Essentially, originally, and only good, and the fountain of all goodness to his creatures; who does good to all men in a providential way, and especially to his own people; to whom he is good in a way of special grace and mercy, in and through his Son Jesus Christ; and even he is good to them, and does good to them, when he afflicts them; he makes their afflictions work for their good, either temporal, spiritual, or eternal;
teach me thy statutes; as a fresh instance of goodness; this had been often desired, being what lay much on his mind, and was of moment and importance; see Psalm 119:12.
The proud have forged a lie against me,.... Or, "sewed a lie to him"
but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart; observe the commands of God sincerely, heartily, and affectionately, and not in show and appearance only; and so make it evident that it was a lie that was forged against him; and this is the best way of answering such liars and defamers; see 1 Peter 3:16.
Their heart is as fat as grease,.... Or tallow, a lump of it, fat or grease congealed. That is, the heart of the above proud persons, who abounded in riches, were glutted with the things of this world; had more than heart could wish, and so became proud and haughty: or their hearts were gross, sottish, senseless, and stupid, as persons fat at heart are; or as creatures over fat, which have little or no feeling: so these had no knowledge of the law of God, no sense of their duty, no remorse of conscience for sin; their hearts were hardened, and they past feeling, and given up to a reprobate mind; see Isaiah 6:9; The Targum is,
"the imagination of their heart is become gross as fat:'
the Septuagint is, "curdled like milk"; that is, hardened, as Suidas
but I delight in thy law; after the inward man; as the apostle did, Romans 7:22; as fulfilled in Christ; as in his hands, as King and Lawgiver; as written upon his own heart; and so yielding a ready and cheerful obedience to it; he delighted in reading the law, in meditating on it, and in observing it.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted,.... The good and profit of which he had observed before; See Gill on Psalm 119:67. The following end being also answered thereby,
that I might learn thy statutes; to understand them, and to keep them. Afflictions are sometimes as a school to the people of God, in which they learn much both of their duty and of their privileges; and when they are teaching and instructive, they are for good; see Psalm 94:12.
The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. The word of God, the doctrines contained in it; which, coming out of the mouth of God, and spoken by him, carries in it weight and authority, commands reverence and respect; and ought to be considered as indeed the word of God and not of man; and so of more value than thousands of pieces of gold and silver; or, as the Targum, than a thousand talents of gold and silver. The truths and doctrines of the word of God are not only comparable to gold and silver for their intrinsic worth and value; but are preferable to them, and to be received before them: David had his thousands of gold and silver, but he esteemed the word of God above them all; and willingly suffered afflictions, that he might understand it better; see Psalm 119:127.
JOD.--The Tenth Part.
JOD. Thy hands have made me and fashioned me,.... Not the psalmist himself, nor his parents, but the Lord alone: for though parents are fathers of our flesh, they are but instruments in the hand of the Lord; though man is produced by natural generation, yet the formation and fashioning of men are as much owing to the power and wisdom of God, which are his hands, as the formation of Adam was. Job owns this in much the same words as the psalmist does, Job 10:8; see Psalm 139:13. God not only gives conception, and forms the embryo in the womb, but fashions and gives it its comely and proportionate parts. Or, "covered me"; the first word may respect conception, and this the covering of the fetus with the secundine
give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments; since he had a proper comely body, and a reasonable soul; though debased by sin, and brought into a state of ignorance, especially as to spiritual things, he desires he might have a spiritual understanding given him; of the word of God in general, the truths and doctrines of it, which are not understood by the natural man; and of the precepts of it in particular, that he might so learn them as to know the sense and meaning of them, their purity and spirituality; and so as to do them from a principle of love, in faith, and to the glory of God: for it is not a bare learning them by heart, or committing them to memory, nor a mere theory of them, but the practice of them in faith and love, which is here meant.
They that fear thee will be glad when they see me,.... In outward prosperity, delivered from all troubles, set on the throne of Israel, and at rest from all enemies round about: and in spiritual prosperity, being illuminated by the Spirit of God, having a spiritual understanding of divine things, an obedience of faith to the commands of God, in the lively exercise of grace upon him, in comfortable frames of soul, and flourishing circumstances. Now they that fear the Lord, that have the grace of fear in their hearts, and are true worshippers of God, as they delight to meet together, and are glad to see one another; so they rejoice in each other's prosperity, especially spiritual; see Psalm 34:1;
because I have hoped in thy Word; in Christ the essential Word, the hope of Israel; in the written word, which gives encouragement to hope; in the word of promise, on which he was caused to hope; and in which hope he was confirmed, and not disappointed, and so it made him not ashamed: and others rejoiced at it, because it was an encouragement to their faith and hope likewise.
I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right,.... His word, the doctrines and precepts of it, they are all consistent with the holiness and righteousness of God; and so are his judgments on wicked men, they are righteous, just, and true: God is righteous in all his ways, there is no unrighteousness in any dispensation of his; and such are his corrections of his own people, and which seem to be chiefly intended here and are so called, because they are done in judgment, with moderation and gentleness, in wisdom, and to answer the best purposes; and they are all right, for the good and profit of the people of God, that they may be partakers of his holiness, and not be condemned with the world: this the psalmist knew by experience and owned and acknowledged;
and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me; in faithfulness to himself, his covenant, and promise; that upon forsaking his law, and not walking in his statutes, he would visit sin with a rod, and transgressions with stripes, though he would not take away his lovingkindness; and in faithfulness to David, for his spiritual and eternal good, in great sincerity, heartily, cordially, with real affection and love: his rebukes were faithful; the chastisement was not above measure or desert, nor above strength to bear it; see Psalm 89:30.
Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort,.... Shown in the provision and promise of a Saviour; in the forgiveness of sins through him; a discovery and application of which yields comfort under afflictions;
according to thy word unto servant; a word of promise, in which he had assured him of his love, grace, mercy, and kindness; and that he would continue it to him, and comfort him with it: to make such a promise, and show such favour, was an instance of condescending grace to him, who was but his servant, and unworthy of his regard.
Let thy tender mercies come unto me,.... See Gill on Psalm 119:41;
that I may live; not merely corporeally; though corporeal life is a grant and favour, and the continuance of it; it is owing to the tender mercies of God that men are not consumed: but spiritually; the first principle of spiritual life is from the rich mercy and great love of God; his time of love is a time of life. Here it seems to design the lively exercise of grace, which is influenced, animated, and quickened by the love of God, as faith, hope, and love; or a living comfortably: without the love of God, and a view of it, saints look upon themselves as dead men, forgotten as they are, free among the dead, that are remembered no more; but in the favour of God is life; let but that be shown, let the tender mercies of God come in full flow into the soul, and it will be revived, and live comfortably; and such also shall live eternally, as the fruit and effect of the same love and favour;
for thy law is my delight; or "delights"
Let the proud be ashamed,.... The same persons he before speaks of as accursed, who had him in derision, and forged a lie against him. Here he prays that they might be ashamed of their scoffs and jeers, of their lies and calumnies, the evils and injuries they had done him; that they might be brought to a sense of them, and repentance for them; when they would be ashamed of them in the best manner: or that they might be disappointed of their ends, in what they had done, and so be confounded and ashamed, as men are when they cannot gain their point; or be brought to shame and confusion eternally;
for they dealt perversely with me without a cause; or, "they perverted me with falsehood"
but I will meditate in thy precepts; he was determined, in the strength of grace, that those ill usages should not take off his thoughts from religious things, or divert him from his duty to his God: none of these things moved him; he still went on in the ways of God, in his worship and service, as Daniel did, when in like circumstances.
Let those that fear thee turn unto me,.... Whose companion he was fond of being, Psalm 119:63; There were some good men, it seems, that turned from him, took the part of his enemies, and sided with them against him, which was matter of grief to him. Some think this refers to the affair of Bathsheba; when some that feared the Lord, that had been familiar with him, did not choose to keep company with him, but abstained from his conversation, having so foully sinned, and brought forth dishonour to God and on his ways. Jarchi and Kimchi both make mention of this. Now this grieved David; and he desires of all things that they would turn to him again, and favour him with their company; who were the excellent in the earth, in whom was all his delight. The Targum is,
"turn to my doctrine;'
to hear it, receive it, profess it, and abide by it;
and those that have known thy testimonies; as such as fear the Lord do: they know them, and have a spiritual understanding of what they testify of; they know them, and love them, and delight in them; they know them, and own, acknowledge, and profess them; they know them, and keep, and observe them; and an excellent character this is.
Let my heart be found in thy statutes,.... Or "perfect", and sincere: he desires that he might have a sincere regard to the ways and worship, ordinances and commands, of God; that he might have a cordial affection for them, and observe them, not in show and appearance only, but heartily as to the Lord, and in reality and truth, like an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile;
that I be not ashamed; before men, conscious of guilt; or before God, at the throne of grace; where a believer sometimes is ashamed to come, not having had that regard to the statutes of the Lord he should have had, and that he might not be ashamed before him at the last day; but have confidence, having the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, and the true grace of God implanted in him; which engaged him to a regard to all his commandments.
CAPH.--The Eleventh Part.
CAPH. My soul fainteth for thy salvation, Either for temporal salvation and deliverance from enemies; which, being promised, was expected by him from the Lord; but not coming so soon as looked for, his spirits began to sink and faint: or for spiritual and eternal salvation, for a view of interest in it, for the joys and comforts of it, and for the full possession of is in heaven; and, particularly, for the promised Messiah, the author of it, often called the Salvation of God, because prepared and appointed by him to be the author of it: of him there was a promise, which gave the Old Testament saints reason to expect him, and for him they waited; his coming they earnestly wished for, but being long deferred, were sometimes out of heart, and ready to faint, which was here David's case;
but I hope in thy word; the word of promise concerning deliverance and salvation, especially by the Messiah, which supported him, and kept him from fainting; that being firm and sure, for ever settled in heaven, and has the oath of God annexed to it, for the confirmation of it; and God is faithful that has promised, and is also able to perform; so that his word lays a solid foundation for faith and hope.
Mine eyes fail for thy word,.... Either with looking for the Messiah, the essential Word, that was to be, and afterwards was made flesh, and dwelt among men; or for the fulfilment of the word of promise, on which he was made to hope; but that being deferred; and he believing in hope against hope, and looking out continually till it was accomplished, his eyes grew weary, and failed him, and he was just ready to give up all expectation of it; see Psalm 77:8;
saying, when wilt thou comfort me? The people of God are sometimes very disconsolate, and need comforting, through the prevalence of sin, the power of Satan's temptations, the hidings of God's face, and a variety of afflictions; when they apply to God for comfort, who only can comfort them, and who has his set times to do it; but they are apt to think it long, and inquire, as David here, when it will be.
For I am become like a bottle in the smoke,.... Like a bottle made of the skins of beasts, as was usual in those times and countries: hence we read of old and new bottles, and of their rending, Judges 9:13, Matthew 9:17. Now such a bottle being hung up in a smoky chimney, would be dried and shrivelled up, and be good for nothing; so Jarchi's note is,
"like a bottle made of skin, which is dried in smoke;'
and the Targum is,
"like a bottle that hangs in smoke.'
It denotes the uncomfortable condition the psalmist was in, or at least thought himself to be in; as to be in the midst of smoke is very uncomfortable, so was he, being in darkness, and under the hidings of God's face; black and sooty, like a bottle in smoke, with sin and afflictions; like an empty bottle, had nothing in him, as he was ready to fear; or was useless as such an one, and a vessel in which there was no pleasure; like a broken one, as he elsewhere says, despised and rejected of men. It may also have respect unto the form of his body, as well as the frame of his mind; be who before was ruddy, and of a beautiful countenance, now was worn out with cares and old age, was become pale and wrinkled, and like a skin bottle shrivelled in smoke;
yet do I not forget thy statutes; he still attended to the word, worship, ways and ordinances of the Lord; hoping in due time to meet with comfort there, in which he was greatly in the right.
How many are the days of thy servant?.... If this is to be understood of the days of his life, they were very few, as the days of every man be; and if of his days of joy and comfort, peace and prosperity, they were fewer still; but if of days of adversity and affliction, which seems to be the sense, they were many indeed;
when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me? good men have their persecutors; there is a judgment that will be executed on them, if not here, yet hereafter; it is a righteous thing with God to do it; it is often deferred when the saints, through zeal for the glory of God, and the honour of his justice, as well as for their own deliverance and comfort, are at times somewhat impatient for it, and earnestly solicit it, as the psalmist here; see Revelation 6:9.
The proud have digged pits for me,.... Laid snares and temptations in his way, to draw him into sin, and so into mischief; they sought indeed to take away his life, and formed schemes for it. The allusion is to the digging of pits for the taking of wild beasts; which shows the ill opinion they had of David, and their ill usage of him; see Psalm 7:15;
which are not after thy law; no, contrary to it; which forbids the digging of a pit, and leaving it uncovered, so that a neighbour's beast might fall into it, Exodus 21:33; and if those might not be dug to the injury of beasts, then much less to the injury of men, to the hurt of the servants of the Lord, or to the shedding of innocent blood, which the law forbids.
All thy commandments are faithful,.... Or, "faithfulness"
they persecute me wrongfully; without a cause, purely out of ill will and for religion's sake; which, as it is an argument with the saints to bear persecution patiently, it is used as an argument with the Lord, to arise and appear on the behalf of his persecuted ones, as follows:
help thou me; against my persecutors, and out of their hands: God is able to help his people; he has promised to do it; it may be expected from him; and he is a present help in time of trouble. This is a suitable petition in the mouths of God's people, and should be a prayer of faith.
They had almost consumed me upon earth,.... Almost destroyed his good name, wasted his substance, took away his crown and kingdom, and even his life; it was within a little of it, his soul had almost dwelt in silence; they had almost cast him down to the ground, and left him there. But all this was only on earth; they could not reach any thing that belonged to him in heaven; not his name, which was written there in the Lamb's book of life; nor his riches and inheritance there, the never fading crown of glory laid up for him there; or that eternal life, which is hid with Christ in God for him;
but I forsook not thy precepts; did not decline the service and worship of God, nor neglect his word and ordinances, though thus persecuted, and all these things came upon him for the sake of religion; see Psalm 44:17.
Quicken me after thy lovingkindness,.... According to it, and with it; let me have some discoveries of it, and of interest in it; and that will quicken me, revive and comfort me, under all the reproaches, ill usage, and persecutions of men. The love of God shed abroad in the heart comforts and supports under all sorts of afflictions; it quickens the graces of the Spirit, and brings them forth into lively exercise, as faith, hope, and love; and to a diligent and fervent discharge of every duty: it constrains to love the Lord, and live to him, to his glory, in obedience to his will;
so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth; the word of God, which comes out of his mouth, testifies of him, and of his mind and will; and which is to be received and observed, as being greater than the testimony of men, 1 John 5:9.
LAMED.--The Twelfth Part.
LAMED. For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. The Syriac version makes two propositions of these words, rendering them thus, "for ever thou art, O Lord; and thy word stands", or "is firm in heaven": and which agrees with the accents: the first of which is expressive of the eternity and immutability of God; and the other of the stability of his word: it is true of the essential Word of God, who was with God from all eternity; in time came down from heaven indeed to earth, and did his work, and then went to heaven again; where he is and will remain, until the times of the restitution of all things. The decrees and purposes of God, what he has said in his heart that he will do, these are firm and sure; these counsels of old are faithfulness and truth; they are mountains of brass settled for ever, and more unalterable than the decrees of the Medes and Persians. The revealed will of God, his word of command, made known to angels in heaven, is regarded, hearkened to, and done by them: the word of the Gospel, published in the church, which is sometimes called heaven, is the everlasting Gospel, the word of God, which lives and abides for ever; what remains and will remain, in spite of all the opposition of men and devils. The word of promise in the covenant made in heaven is sure to all the seed; everyone of the promises is yea and amen in Christ, and as stable as the heavens, and more so; "heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away", Matthew 24:35; The firmness of God's word is seen in the upholding and continuing the heavens by the word of his power, by which they were first made; and the certainty of the divine promises is illustrated by the perpetuity of the ordinances of heaven; see Jeremiah 31:35.
Thy faithfulness is unto all generations,.... Or "to generation and generation"
thou hast established the earth, and it abideth: laid the foundation of it so firm and sure, that it cannot be removed: and though one generation has passed after another, the earth abides where it was, and will do for ever; and as firm and stable, and never failing, is the faithfulness of God, which this is designed to illustrate. So some supply it, "as thou hast established the earth", &c.
They continue this day according to thine ordinances,.... That is, the heavens and the earth do, before mentioned, just as they were from the beginning of the creation. The heavenly bodies have the same motion, magnitude, distance, and influence; the sun rises and sets as it did; the moon keeps her appointed seasons of full and change, of increase and decrease; the fixed stars retain their place, and the planets have their exact revolutions: and on earth things are as they were; seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night; thus they are at this day, and will continue, according to the wise order and appointment of God. Aben Ezra and Kimchi interpret it,
"they stand or continue unto this day to do the will of God; to execute his judgments and decrees, or observe his order and ordinances.'
for all are thy servants; or "they", or "these all"
Unless thy law had been my delights,.... Not the law of works, the voice of words, which they that heard entreated they might hear no more; which is terrible, and works wrath in the conscience; is a cursing and damning law to the transgressors of it; and so not delightful, unless as considered in the hands of Christ, the fulfilling end of it: but the law of faith, the doctrine of faith, or of justification by the righteousness of Christ, received by faith, which yields peace, joy, and comfort, even in tribulation: or the whole doctrine of the Gospel, the law of the Messiah, the isles waited for; the doctrine of peace, pardon, righteousness, and eternal life by Christ, which is exceeding delightful to sensible sinners;
I should then have perished in mine affliction; referring to some particular time of affliction he was pressed with, either through the persecution of Saul, or the conspiracy of Absalom which was very great and heavy upon him, so that he almost despaired of deliverance from it; and must have perished, not eternally, but as to his comforts: his heart would have fainted in him, and he would have sunk under the weight of the affliction, had it not been for the relief he had from the word of God, the doctrines and promises of it; he was like one in a storm, tossed with tempests, one wave after another beat upon him, and rolled over him, when he thought himself just perishing; and must have given all over for lost, had it not been for the delight and pleasure he found in reading and meditating on the sacred writings.
I will never forget thy precepts,.... Not the precepts of the moral law, though he carefully observed and attended to them, laid them up in his mind, and did not forget to keep them; but the doctrines of the word, of the word which the Lord commanded to a thousand generations; these he endeavoured to remember, and not let them slip from him, since it follows:
for with them thou hast quickened me: not with the precepts of the moral law, which cannot give life, quicken a dead sinner, nor comfort a distressed saint it is the killing letter, and the ministration of condemnation and death: but the doctrines of the word, of the Gospel, which are spirit and life; the savour of life unto life, the means of quickening dead sinners, and of reviving drooping saints; of refreshing their spirits, and cheering their souls, when in distress: and when they are made thus useful, they are not easily forgotten, they leave impressions which do not soon wear off; and besides, saints are careful to remember such words and truths, which have been of use unto them, since they may have occasion for them again.
I am thine, save me,.... From all troubles and afflictions; from all enemies, temporal and spiritual; from Satan, and his principalities and powers, from sin, and all the wretched consequences of it; from hell wrath, and damnations: salvation from all which is by Christ. And this is a prayer of faith with respect to him, founded upon his interest and property in him; whose he was by choice, by covenant, by gift, by purchase, and by grace: and this is a plea for salvation; thou hast an interest in me, I am one of thine, therefore let me not be lost or perish;
for I have sought thy precepts; to understand them better, and observe them more constantly; and which sense of interest and relation, and of salvation, will influence unto.
The wicked have waited for me to destroy me,.... This is another reason why he desires the Lord would save him; because wicked men, such who feared not God, nor regarded men, sons of Belial; such as Saul's courtiers and the conspirators with Absalom were, had laid wait and were waiting an opportunity, and were hoping and expecting to have one, that they might take away his life; destroy him out of the world, as Kimchi; or eternally, as Aben Ezra thinks; by endeavouring to draw him out of the right ways of religion and godliness, into the ways of sin and wickedness, and so ruin him for ever;
but I will consider thy testimonies; the word of God, which testified of his power and providence, employed in the protection of his people, and so an encouragement to put trust and confidence in him; and of his mind and will, with respect to the way in which he should walk; and so making these his counsellors, as he did, Psalm 119:24; and well weighing and considering in his mind what they dictated to him, he was preserved from the attempts of his enemies to destroy him, either temporally or spiritually.
I have seen an end of all perfection,.... An end, limit, or border, to every country, as the Syriac version; as there is to every kingdom and state, and to the whole world; but none to the commandment of God: or an end of all created beings, the finished works of God, the most perfect in their kind. Manythings had already fallen under the observation of the psalmist: he had seen men of the greatest strength, and of the most consummate wisdom, and that had attained to the highest degree of power and authority, of wealth and riches, and yet were all come to nothing; he had seen some of the most flourishing states and kingdoms brought to desolation; he had seen an entire end of them: he saw by the Spirit of God, and by the word of God, and faith in it, that all things would have an end, the heavens and earth, and all that is therein; for so it may be rendered, "I see an end of all perfection"
"I have seen an end of all that I have studied in and looked into.'
but thy commandment is exceeding broad; the word of God is a large field to walk and meditate in; it is sufficient to instruct all men in all ages, both with respect to doctrine and duty, and to make every man of God perfect; it has such a height and depth of doctrine and mysteries in it as can never be fully reached and fathomed, and such a breadth as is not to be measured: the fulness of the Scripture can never be exhausted; the promises of it reach to this life, and that which is to come; and the precepts of it are so large, that no works of righteousness done by men are adequate and proportionate to them; no righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ, is as large and as broad as those commandments; wherefore no perfection of righteousness is to be found in men, only in Christ; who is the perfect fulfilling end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes, Romans 10:4.
MEM.--The Thirteenth Part.
MEM. O how love I thy law!.... The whole word of God, the preceptive part of it; the commands of the moral law, which are holy, just, and good, and to be loved: but they are not loved by carnal men, whose minds are enmity to them, and therefore are not and cannot be subject to them, but despise and reject them; but to a good man, on whose heart they are written, they are delightful, and loved to admiration: though this is wholly owing to the grace of God; and marvellous it is that men so sadly depraved by sin should love the holy law of God; yet so it is, and David could appeal to God for the truth of it. So the ordinances of the Gospel, the commands of Jesus Christ, are not grievous to saints, but loved, valued, and esteemed by them; likewise the doctrinal part of the word, the truths of the Gospel, which may be more especially meant by the "thorah", or doctrine, here; which those who have had an experience of greatly love and justly value, because of the intrinsic worth of them, being comparable to gold, silver, and precious stones; and for the profit and benefit of them to their souls, they being wholesome words, soul nourishing doctrines, and so more to them than their necessary food; and for the pleasure they have in them, these being sweeter to them than the honey or honeycomb: particularly the exceeding great and precious promises of the word, which are more to be rejoiced at than a great spoil; and even the whole Gospel part of the word, that containing the doctrines of peace, pardon, righteousness, salvation, and eternal life through Christ; yea, the whole Scripture, which is both profitable and pleasant to read in, and hear explained;
it is my meditation all the day; not only in the night, when at leisure, and free from the incumbrance of business; but in the day, and while engaged in the affairs of life, yea, all the day long; see Psalm 1:2. Or, "it is my discourse"
Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies,.... David had his enemies, as every good man has: and these are often cunning and crafty ones, at least in wickedness; many of them are wise and prudent as to natural things, wiser in worldly things and political matters than the children of light, and often lay deep schemes and take crafty counsel against the saints; and yet they, by attending to the word and commands of God, and being under his direction and counsel, counterwork the designs of their enemies, and overturn their schemes and measures, which are brought to confusion; honesty being in the issue the best policy. However, the people of God are wiser than they in the best things; in the affair of salvation; in things relating to a future state, and their happiness there; which wisdom they attain unto through the Word of God, which is written for their learning; through the Scriptures, which are able to make men wise to salvation: these are the means, and no more; for it is God that is the efficient cause, or makes the means effectual, to make them wise, and wiser than others; it is owing to his divine teachings, to his Spirit and grace. The words may be rendered, "it hath made me wiser in thy commandments than mine enemies"
"by mine enemies thou hast made me wise
for they are ever with me; that is, the commandments of God, or his law, and the precepts of it; they were his privy counsellors, with whom on all occasions he consulted, and so became wiser than his enemies, and outwitted them: these were always near him, in his heart and in his mouth; he was ever thinking and speaking of them, and so did not forget the instructions they gave him; they were ever before his eyes, as the rule of his conduct.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,.... Such as had been or would have been his teachers, who were bad ones in religious matters; especially such might be the religious teachers in Saul's time, when David was a young man: as the priests, whose lips should keep knowledge, and deliver it to the people, were in the times of Malachi; and as the Scribes and Pharisees, who, sat in Moses's chair, were in Christ's time; and as those legal teachers were in the apostles' times, who would be teachers of the law, not knowing what they said, nor whereof they affirmed; such as these David exceeded in spiritual understanding. Or his good teachers are meant; and though in common it is true that "a disciple is not above his master", Matthew 10:24; yet there are sometimes instances in which scholars exceed their teachers in knowledge and learning; and this is no reproach to a master to have such scholars: no doubt Apollos so improved in knowledge as to excel Aquila and Priscilla, of whom he learned much; as the Apostle Paul excelled Ananias; and so David excelled his teachers: and which is said by him, not in an ostentatious way of himself, nor in contempt of his teachers; but to commend the word of God, the source of his knowledge; and to magnify the grace of God, to whom he attributes all his wisdom, as in Psalm 119:98. Kimchi interprets it,
"of them all I have learned and received instruction; and from them I have understood the good way, and they have taught me;'
for thy testimonies are my meditation; what he learned of his teachers he compared with the word, the Scriptures, which testify of the mind and will of God; he searched into them, he meditated upon them, and considered whether what his instructors taught him were agreeable to them or and by this means he got more understanding than they had.
I understand more than the ancients,.... Than those that had lived in ages before him; having clearer light given him, and larger discoveries made unto him, concerning the Messiah, his person and offices particularly, as it was usual for the Lord to do; or than aged men in his own time: for though wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, may be reasonably supposed to be with ancient men; who have had a long experience of things, and have had time and opportunity of making their observations, and of laying up a stock of knowledge; and this may be expected from them, and they may be applied to for it; yet this is not always the case; a younger man, as David was, may be endued with more knowledge and understanding than such; so Elihu; see Job 8:8, Job 32:6. Or, "I have got understanding by the ancients"; so Kimchi; though the other sense seems preferable;
because I keep thy precepts; keep close to the word; attend to the reading of it, and meditation on it; keep it in mind and memory, and observe to do the commands of it; and by that means obtained a good understanding, even a better one than the ancients; especially than they that were without it, or did not carefully attend unto it; see Psalm 111:10.
I have refrained my feet from every evil way,.... Of error or immorality, forbidden and condemned by the word of God; every way that is evil in itself, or leads to evil, and in which evil men walk; and though there may be many snares and temptations to walk in such a way, yet a good man cannot allow himself to walk therein, as others do; he has not so learned the word of God; he is under the influence of divine grace, and withholds himself from it; he abstains from all appearance of evil, and lays a restraint, as upon his mouth and lips, so upon his feet, or guards his walk and conversation. This shows, that as David had an affection for the word of God, and made great proficiency in knowledge by it; so it had an influence on his life and conversation, and his knowledge appeared to be not merely speculative, but practical: his end, in laying such a restraint upon his feet, was not out of vain glory, and to gain popular applause nor through fear of losing his credit among men, nor of the wrath of God; but out of love to God, and to his word, as follows:
that I might keep thy word; such was his love to it, and his regard to the honour of it; considering whose word it was, and with whose authority it was clothed, and whose glory was concerned therein; that he was careful to walk according to it, and in the way that directed to, and shun every other way.
I have not departed from thy judgments,.... From the precepts of the word, from the ways and worship and ordinances of God; he had not wickedly and on purpose departed from them; whenever he did, it was through inadvertency, the weakness of the flesh, and strength of temptation; nor from the doctrines of the word, which he held fast, knowing of whom he had learned them, as follows:
for thou hast taught me; the nature, excellency, and use of these judgments; he had taught him, by his Spirit, experimentally to understand the doctrines of the word, and practically to observe the precepts of it; and this preserved him from an apostasy from either of them.
How sweet are thy words unto my taste!.... Who had a spiritual one; and could discern perverse things, and could taste how good and gracious the Lord is: and so his words were sweet unto him; the doctrines of grace, the truths of the Gospel, were delightful and pleasant to him; like unadulterated milk, desirable by him: like good wine, that goes down sweetly; like good food, that is exceeding palatable; or like honey, and even sweeter than that, as follows. And that words "may be tasted and eaten", is not only agreeable to Scripture language, Jeremiah 15:16; but to classical writers
yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth; not only had they the nourishing nature and the refreshing virtue of honey, but the sweetness of it; yea, exceeded it in sweetness; see Psalm 19:10.
Through thy precepts I get understanding,.... Of the will of God; of his worship, the nature and manner of it; of his ordinances, their use and importance; and of his doctrines, and the excellency of them;
therefore I hate every false way; of worship; all superstition and will worship, the commandments and inventions of men, and every false doctrine; all lies in hypocrisy, for no lie is of the truth; every thing that is contrary to the word of God, and is not according to truth and godliness. The Targum is,
"I hate every lying man.'
NUN.--The Fourteenth Part.
NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,.... The same Solomon says of the law and commandment, the preceptive part of the word, Proverbs 6:23; and the Septuagint and Arabic versions render it "law" here. This shows a man what is his duty, both towards God and man; by it is the knowledge of sin: this informs what righteousness that is God requires of men; by the light of it a man sees his own deformity and infirmities, the imperfection of his obedience, and that he needs a better righteousness than his own to justify him in the sight of God; it is a rule of walk and conversation; it directs what to do, and how to walk. The Gospel part of the word is a great and glorious light; by which men come to have some knowledge of God in Christ, as a God gracious and merciful; of Christ, his person, offices, and grace; of righteousness, salvation, and eternal life by him; and it teaches men to live soberly, righteously, and godly. The whole Scripture is a light shining in a dark place; a lamp or torch to be carried in the hand of a believer, while he passes through this dark world; and is in the present state of imperfection, in which he sees things but darkly. This is the standard of faith and practice; by the light of this lamp the difference between true and false doctrine may be discerned; error and immorality may be reproved, and made manifest; the way of truth and godliness, in which a man should walk, is pointed out; and by means of it he may see and shun the stumbling blocks in his way, and escape falling into pits and ditches; it is a good light to walk and work by. The Targum is,
"thy word is as a light that shines to my feet.'
and a light unto my path; the same thing in other words. Now it should be observed, that the word of God is only so to a man whose eyes are opened and enlightened by the Spirit of God, which is usually done by means of the word; for a lamp, torch, candle, or any other light are of no use to a blind man.
I have sworn, and I will perform it,.... Or, "I have performed it"
that I will keep thy righteous judgments; the precepts of the word, the ordinances of the Lord, the doctrines of grace; all which are righteous, and to be kept, observed, and held to; though they cannot be perfectly kept unless in Christ the surety.
I am afflicted very much,.... In a temporal sense, in his body, in his family, and by his enemies; in a spiritual sense, with the corruptions of his heart, with the temptations of Satan, and with the hidings of God's face; and what with one thing or another, he was pressed above measure, and his spirits sunk under the weight of the affliction, so that he was as a dead man; and therefore prays,
quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word; See Gill on Psalm 119:25.
Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth,
O Lord,.... Not sacrifices out of his flocks and herds, such as were the voluntary and freewill offerings brought to the priests under the law, though there may be an allusion to them; nor out of his substance, such as David and his people willingly offered towards the building of the temple; but these are not the freewill offerings of his hands, but of his mouth; the spiritual sacrifices of prayer praise: prayer is an offering; see Psalm 141:2; and it is a freewill offering, when a man is assisted by the free Spirit of God, and can pour out his soul freely to the Lord, in the exercise of faith and love. Praise is an offering more pleasing to God than an ox or bullock that has horns and hoofs, because it glorifies him; and it is a freewill offering when it is of a man's own accord, comes from his heart; when he calls upon his soul, and all within him, to bless the Lord: and as every good man is desirous of having his sacrifices accepted with the Lord, so they are accepted by him when offered up through Christ, 1 Peter 2:5;
and teach me thy judgments; for though he was wiser than his enemies, and had more understanding than his teachers, or than the ancients; yet needed to be instructed more and more, and was desirous of being taught of God. This petition, or what is similar to it, is often put up.
My soul is continually in my hand,.... In the utmost jeopardy, always exposed to danger, ever delivered unto death; killed all the day long, or liable to be so: this is the sense of the phrase; see Judges 12:3; for what is in a man's hands may easily fall, or be taken out of them: so the Targum,
"my soul is in danger upon the back of my hands continually;'
the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, read, "in thy hands"; but wrongly;
yet do I not forget thy law; it was written on his heart, and fixed in his mind; he had a true affection for it, and a hearty desire to keep it; and no danger could divert him from his duty; as Daniel, though he carried his life in his hand, yet continued to pray to his God as usual; nor could anything move the Apostle Paul from the doctrine of the Gospel, and preaching it.
The wicked have laid a snare for me,.... To draw him into sin, and so into mischief; and even to take away his life, as they are said to dig pits for him, Psalm 119:85;
yet I erred not from thy precepts: not wilfully and wickedly, though through inadvertence and infirmity, as he often did, and every good man does; and indeed his errors are so many, that they cannot be understood and numbered. The sense is, he kept on in the way of his duty; did not desist from that, or wickedly depart from his God, and his worship, to escape the snares of bad men.
Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever,.... The Scriptures, which testify of Christ and of his grace, and of the mind and will of God, are a portion of themselves; and a goodly heritage they are, better than thousands of gold and silver, preferable to all worldly inheritances; as they have been to many, who have forsaken all for Christ and his Gospel. These, like an inheritance, have been transmitted from father to son, from one age of the church to another, in successive generations; nor shall they depart from her, nor from her seed and seed's seed, from henceforth and for ever; they are an inheritance which will continue for ever, Deuteronomy 33:4. These David chose and took, as for his counsellors, so for his portion and inheritance; and a wise and good choice he made; he chose the good part that should never be taken away; his reason for it follows:
for they are the rejoicing of my heart; the doctrines in them, the promises of them, when read or heard explained, gave him a sensible pleasure; revived his heart, and cheered his spirits, supported him under all his troubles, and caused him to go on his way rejoicing; see Jeremiah 15:16.
I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway,.... He had prayed to God to incline his heart to them, Psalm 119:36; and by the grace of God his heart was inclined to obedience to them; and nothing but that can incline the heart, which is naturally averse unto them: the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, nor can it be, until it is made so by the grace of God, Romans 8:7; and by this the psalmist had prevailed upon his heart to keep the statutes of the Lord, and do them, and that continually; for a good man is desirous of being steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord;
even unto the end; the end of life, as long as he lived. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin version render it, "for a recompence"; and the Arabic version, "for an eternal recompence"; but the Ethiopic version the reverse, "not for a recompence", or benefit: which latter is the truth, though neither of them a right version; for the statutes are to be kept, not for the sake of a recompence of reward, but from love to God, and; in duty to him, without any mercenary views; though the word does sometimes signify "a reward", and may be rendered here, "for ever there is a reward"
SAMECH.--The Fifteenth Part.
SAMECH. I hate vain thoughts,.... Or thoughts: evil thoughts are undoubtedly meant, no other can be the object of hatred to a good man; they are such as are contrary to the law of God, and forbidden by it, mentioned in the next clause as the object of love, in opposition to these; and which are abominable to God, and defiling to men; should be forsaken, need pardon; and, if not pardoned, will be brought into judgment, and there exposed, and men punished for them. There are multitudes of these rise up in the minds of men, not only bad men, but good men; even sometimes atheistical blasphemous thoughts, as well as proud, haughty, revengeful, lustful, impure, and worldly ones; which, when observed by a good man, give him great concern and uneasiness, and raise a holy indignation in him against them. The word is used for the "opinions" of men; the ambiguous, doubtful, wavering, and inconstant sentiments of the mind, 1 Kings 18:21, and is used of branches, or the tops of trees, waved with the wind to and fro: and may be applied to all heterodox opinions, human doctrines, damnable heresies; such as are inconsistent with the perfections of God, derogate from his grace, and from the person and offices of Christ; and are contrary to the word, and which are therefore rejected and abhorred by good men. The Targum is,
"I hate those who think vain thoughts;'
and so Jarchi and Aben Ezra interpret it of persons, thinkers, or devisers of evil things; and to this sense are the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions; and which is approved of by Gussetius
but thy law do I love; which forbids and condemns such vain and wicked thoughts, and requires pure and Holy Ones. Or, "thy doctrine"; which comes from God, is concerning him, and reveals his mind and will, his grace and love, to men; the doctrine of Christ, concerning his person, office, and work; the doctrine of the Scriptures, which contain the whole Gospel of Christ, as well as the law of God; the doctrine according to godliness, and which is good, sound, and wholesome, and to be received in the love of it.
Thou art my hiding place,.... From temporal calamities. The perfections of God are chambers of retreat and safety to his people, where they may hide themselves and be safe, till such calamities are over, Isaiah 26:20. And from spiritual evils; from avenging justice, from divine wrath, from the rage of Satan, and the fury of men, Isaiah 32:2; and from eternal death, and being hurt by it; the spiritual and eternal life of saints being hid with Christ in God, Colossians 3:3; see Psalm 32:7;
and my shield; to protect from all dangers, and preserve from every enemy: such are the love and grace, the power and strength, the truth and faithfulness of God; which are the saints' shield and buckler, Psalm 5:12; such also the person, blood, righteousness, and salvation of Christ, who is a sun and shield; the shield of faith, or which faith holds up and defends the soul against the attacks of a powerful enemy, Psalm 84:11;
I hope in thy Word; in Christ the Word, for acceptance and justification, for peace, pardon, and eternal salvation; all which are in him: in the word of promise, for all supplies of grace, strength, light, life, and comfort here, and for glory hereafter, contained therein; see Psalm 119:74.
Depart from me, ye evildoers,.... The same with the evil thinkers, Psalm 119:113; According to Aben Ezra, they that think evil commonly do it; as they devise it, they commit it. This describes such persons whose course of life is, and who make it their constant business to do, iniquity; such the psalmist desires to depart his presence, to keep at a distance from him, as being very disagreeable to him; and who would be a great hinderance to him in keeping the commandments of God, as follows: these same words will be spoken by David's son and antitype, at the great day of account, Matthew 7:23;
for I will keep the commandments of my God; of God who has a fight to command, and not of men, especially when opposed to the commands of God; of God, who is the covenant God and Father of his people; and whose covenant, grace, and favour, in choosing, redeeming, regenerating, and adopting them, lay them under greater obligations still to keep his commandments; and whose commandments are not grievous: and though they cannot be perfectly kept by good men, yet they are desirous of keeping them as well as they can, and determine in the strength of divine grace so to do; and which they do out of love to God, and with a view to his glory, without any selfish or mercenary ends. The Syriac version renders it, "that I may keep", &c. to which end he desires to be rid of the company of wicked men; who are both a nuisance to good men, and an hinderance in religious duties.
Uphold me according unto thy word,.... In thy ways, that my footsteps slip not; in thine arms, and with the right hand of thy righteousness, from fainting and sinking under difficulties and discouragements, in trying circumstances; and from slipping and sliding out of the way of God; and from a total and final filling away, according to thy word of promise, that, as are the days of thy people, their strength shall be; and that thou wilt never leave them nor forsake them. The Targum is,
"uphold me in thy word;'
or by thy word, either essential or written;
that I may live; meaning not corporeally, though none so live but whom the Lord upholds in life; but, spiritually, live by faith on Christ the Saviour, live comfortably on the word of promise, and live honourably, agreeably to the word of God, in all holy conversation and godliness;
and let me not be ashamed of my hope: as men are, when they are disappointed or having and enjoying what they have been hoping and waiting for; but the grace of hope makes not ashamed, nor shall those who have it ever have any reason to be ashamed of it; since it is a good hope through grace; is an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast; is upon a good foundation, Christ, and by which men are saved; and so may rejoice, in full hope of the glory of God they shall certainly enjoy.
Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe,.... As all are, and none but such, who are in the hands of Christ; enclosed in the arms of everlasting love, upheld with the right hand of Jehovah, supported by his promises and grace, surrounded by his power, sustained by his love, and preserved in Christ Jesus;
and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually; for nothing can more strongly engage a constant regard unto them than a sense of divine love, and a view of safety and security in the arms of it; or better enable to keep them than fresh communications of grace and strength: being upheld, saints hold on and out to the end; they go from strength to strength, run and are not weary, walk and faint not; and, having a supply of the Spirit, walk on in the judgments of the Lord, and keep his statutes, and do them. Or, "and I will rejoice"
Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes,.... That wander from the way of the Lord's commandments; that deviate from his precepts, go astray constantly and wilfully; a people that err in their hearts, and with all their hearts. These the Lord treads down, as mire in the streets, as grapes in a winepress; which shows his abhorrence of them, his indignation at them, and how easily they are subdued under him;
for their deceit is falsehood: or, "their hypocrisy is a lie"
Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross,.... Which is of no worth and value, useless and unprofitable; which is cast into the fire, and separated from the choice metal. This expresses the character and state of wicked men; who are of no account with God, are of no profit and advantage to him; nor to men, but harmful and pernicious; are cast into the fire of God's judgments here, and into everlasting burnings hereafter; and will be separated from the righteous, and have no part and lot with them: these seem to be hypocrites also, who have made a show of being gold and silver, when they were nothing but dross; and being reprobate silver, were rejected of God as such;
therefore I love thy testimonies; which discover such persons when brought to be tried by them; and which require purity of heart and life, and caution against evil ways and evil men, and are a means of preserving from them.
My flesh trembleth for fear of thee,.... Not for fear of the wrath of God coming down upon himself, nor for fear of eternal damnation; but for fear of what was coming upon the wicked, for their sins and transgressions. The word
and I am afraid of thy judgments; not of their coming down upon him, but upon the wicked; the thought of which is more awful to good men than to the wicked themselves; and especially when under any darkness, doubts, and fears; lest, being conscious to themselves of their own weakness, they should be left to join with the wicked in their sins, and so be partakers of their plagues.
AIN.--The Sixteenth Part.
AIN. I have done judgment and justice,.... As king of Israel; which is the character given of him, 2 Samuel 8:15; and in which he was a type of Christ, Jeremiah 23:5; and as a private person; which is everyone's duty, and every good man especially will be desirous of performing it: it is not indeed perfectly done by any, and therefore not to be trusted to; nor was it so done by David; nor did he place his confidence in it; nor did he say this in a boasting way, but in defence of himself and his innocence against those who oppressed him with their calumnies, as appears from the next clause. The Syriac version takes it to be an address to God, and as describing him, "O thou that doest judgment and justice!" to whom the following petition is directed:
leave me not to mine oppressors; David had his oppressors, as all good men have, and power was on their side; but they could do no more, nor further exercise it, than as they were permitted by the Lord; for they had no power but what was given them from above; and he applies to God, and not men, for relief; and deprecates being given up to them, and left in their hands.
Be surety for thy servant for good,.... The psalmist was, in a like case with Hezekiah, oppressed; and therefore desires the Lord would undertake for him, appear on his side, and defend him, Psalm 38:14; and if God himself is the surety of his people, and engages in their behalf, they need fear no enemy. What David prays to God to be for him, that Christ is for all his people, Hebrews 7:22. He drew nigh to God, struck hands with him, gave his word and bond to pay the debts of his people; put himself in their legal place and stead, and became responsible to law and justice for them; engaged to make satisfaction for their sins, to bring in everlasting righteousness for their justification, and to preserve and keep them, and bring them safe to eternal glory and happiness; and this was being a surety for them for good. The Syriac version is, "delight that servant with good things"; and to the same sense the Targum and Kimchi interpret it: but Jarchi and Aben Ezra take the word to have the same meaning we do; and so Aquila and Theodotion translate it: the sense Arama gives is,
"be surety for thy servant, that I may be good;'
let not the proud oppress me; the oppressors of God's people are generally proud; they are such who deal in proud wrath; it is in their pride, and owing to it, they persecute them, Psalm 10:2. This has been their character in all ages, and agrees with the man of sin and his followers, who is king over all the children of pride; but wherein such men deal proudly and oppress, God is higher than they, and therefore most proper to be applied unto.
Mine eyes fail for that salvation,.... For temporal salvation or deliverance from oppressors; and for spiritual salvation, for views of an interest in it, the joys and comforts of it; and for the Messiah, the author of it; whom he was looking wistfully for, but, not coming so soon as expected, his eyes were tired and weary, and ready to fail, and his heart to faint; See Gill on Psalm 119:81;
and for the word of thy righteousness; for the word of promise, which the righteousness or faithfulness of God was engaged to perform; or for the law of God, the rule of righteousness, and which shows what righteousness God requires; and for the bringing in of that righteousness of the Messiah, which could answer its demands; or for the Gospel, and more clear administration of it, which is called the word of righteousness, Hebrews 5:13; in which the righteousness of God is revealed; the righteousness which Christ, who is God as well as man, has wrought out; and which his Father has approved of, accepted, and imputes to his people, and justifies them with; and which word also teaches men to live soberly, righteously, and godly.
Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy,.... Which is either general and providential, and reaches to all his creatures; and according to which David had been dealt with all his days, and which he desires a continuance of: or special; and which is in Christ, and communicated through him; and in whom he deals with his people, not according to their merits, but his own mercy; by receiving and accepting them, and admitting them into his presence, and to partake of his favours, and by pardoning their sins and saving their souls; which is not by works of righteousness they have done but according to his abundant mercy; and by giving them eternal life and happiness at the great day;
and teach me thy statutes; which is often requested; and which not only shows the need of divine teachings, and the psalmist's earnest and importunate desire to have them; but also that the mercy, grace, and kindness of God, have an influence on the holy life and conversation of the saints, and do not at all encourage licentiousness.
I am thy servant,.... Not only by creation, but by grace; and as he had a work to do, he desires to know what it was; and as it was proper he should know his Master's will, he applies to him for it; using this as an argument, that he was his servant, devoted to his service, and willing to perform it to the best of his knowledge and ability; and therefore prays,
give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies; the Scriptures, which testify of the will of God; which are only rightly understood by those who have their understandings opened and enlightened; or have an understanding given them, that they may understand them, so as to receive and embrace the doctrine, and do the precepts of them: and such an understanding is the gift of God, and owing to his powerful and efficacious grace; see Luke 24:45.
It is time for thee, Lord, to work,.... To send the Messiah, to work righteousness; to fulfil the law, and vindicate the honour of it, broken by men. It was always a notion of the Jews that the time of the Messiah's coming would be when it was a time of great wickedness in the earth; and which seems to agree with the word of God, and was true in fact; see Malachi 2:17. Or to arise and have mercy on Zion, for which there is a fixed time: and its seems as if it would be when religion greatly declines, and profaneness abounds; when love is waxen cold, and there is no faith in the earth; and when the days are like those of Noah and Lot, Luke 17:26; or to take vengeance on wicked men, by sending down his judgments on them now, as well as he will punish them hereafter; for which a time is appointed, though no man knows of it. The words may be rendered, "it is time to work for the Lord"
"it is time to do the will of the Lord;'
and the Syriac and Arabic versions, "it is time to worship the Lord". It is proper, in declining times, for good men to bestir themselves and be in action, to attempt the revival of religion, to do all that in them lies to support the cause of God, and to vindicate his honour and glory;
for they have made void thy law; the whole word of God, the Scriptures; as atheists and deists, who deny the authority of them; Pharisees, who preferred their oral law to the written word, and by the traditions of the elders made it of none effect; Papists, by their unwritten traditions, and denying the common people the reading of the Scriptures in their mother tongue; and all false teachers, who wrest the Scriptures, and put false glosses on them, and handle the word of God deceitfully; and all profane sinners, who bid defiance to the law, and, as much as in them lies, abrogate it, and set up a law of their own, and frame mischief by it: or the law of faith may be meant; the Gospel of Christ, and the several truths of it, which are opposed, contradicted, and blasphemed by men of corrupt minds; and particularly the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ's righteousness; which are made void by the doctrine of works; and even the law itself is made void by the same: for not those that maintain the doctrine of Christ's righteousness, but those that establish their own, make void the law; presenting a righteousness to it, which is not answerable to its demands, Romans 3:31.
Therefore I love thy commandments,.... Because he was the Lord's servant, as Aben Ezra; or rather because the wicked made void the law. His love was the more inflamed and increased towards it by the contempt it was had in by others; he preferred it
above gold, yea, above fine gold; or gold of Phez, a place where the best gold was, as was thought: the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions render it "the topaz"; and the Syriac and Arabic versions, "precious stones" or "gems"; see Psalm 119:72.
Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right,.... He had an impartial regard to all the commandments of God; and valued one as well as another, and walked according to all of them; making no difference either in his affection or practice between one and another, as being more or less necessary, just, and right: he had an equal respect to the lighter and weightier matters of the law; and, like Zacharias and Elisabeth, walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless; looking upon them all, with respect to everything commanded or forbidden by them, to be just and equitable;
and I hate every false way; every command, institution, and ordinance of men, which are opposed to the will of God; every false way of worship, all superstition and idolatry; every false doctrine whatsoever is contrary to the testimonies and word of God: and indeed where there is a true love of the word, worship, and ordinances of God, there must be an hatred of these.
PE.--The Seventeenth Part.
PE. Thy testimonies are wonderful,.... The Scriptures, which testify of God, his mind and will, are wonderful both with respect to the author of them, the things contained in them, and the use and advantage of them. They give an account of the wonderful works of creation; of their author and matter; of the manner, order, and time of their being wrought: they relate many wonderful events of Providence, both in a way of mercy and judgment; they declare several surprising miracles, wrought by Moses and others, and exhibit many marvellous things in types and figures: are full of prophecies of extraordinary things, have been exactly accomplished, and contain many exceeding great and precious promises; and abound with doctrines abstruse and recondite, hid from the carnal sense and reason of men; the mysteries of the Gospel, and of the grace of God, such as respect the divine Persons in the Trinity; the person and grace of Christ; the wonderful love of God and Christ towards men; the amazing blessings of grace through him, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal life by him;
therefore doth my soul keep them; as a rich treasure, which he laid up in the cabinet of his heart, and preserved as what was most rare and valuable: and such are the wonderful things in the word of God; and such is the efficacy of its doctrines, and the influence the truths of it have upon the minds of gracious persons; that these engage them to keep and observe the precepts it enjoins, and that heartily and sincerely, with their whole spirit and soul.
The entrance of thy words giveth light,.... The beginning of them; the first three chapters in Genesis, what light do they give into the origin of all things; the creation of man, his state of innocence; his fall through the temptations of Satan, and his recovery and salvation by Christ, the seed of the woman, the first principles of the oracles of God, the rudiments of religion, the elements of the world, the rites of the ceremonial law, gave great light into Gospel mysteries. As soon as a man enters upon reading the Scriptures, if he has any degree of understanding of the things in them, they immediately throw light into his mind; or, however, as soon as ever the word has an entrance into the heart, and through the Spirit, power, and grace of God, makes its way and has a place there, that being opened by the Lord for that purpose, light arises in darkness. It maybe rendered, "the opening of thy words giveth light"
"the impression of thy words will enlighten those that are dark.'
Or it may intend the word that opens, as well as is opened, since it is the means of opening blind eyes; and so giving light to men to see their lost state by nature, and the suitableness of Christ as a Saviour, his fulness and grace, ability and willingness; to behold the wondrous things of the Gospel, the way they should walk in, and the duties of religion they should perform;
it giveth understanding unto the simple: who want understanding in the knowledge of divine and spiritual things, as all men do; and who are sensible of their want of it, ingenuously confess it, and are meek and humble; and so not above instruction, as proud and conceited persons are. Some render it "babes"
I opened my mouth, and panted,.... As a person out of breath does, through walking or running; he stops and pants, and opens his mouth, to draw in air to his relief: or as hungry and thirsty persons pant for food and drink, and open their mouths to receive it, before it can well be brought to them. So the psalmist panted after God, and communion with him; desired the sincere milk of the word; longed for the breasts of ordinances, and even fainted for the courts of the Lord, Psalm 42:1;
for I longed for thy commandments; for an opportunity of waiting upon God in the way of his duty; to hear his word, and attend his worship.
Look thou upon me,.... Not as in himself; a sinful creature will not bear looking upon by the Lord, especially with the strict eye of justice; but as in Christ, and clothed with his righteousness; and so not merely in a providential way, though that is a favour, but in a way of special grace and mercy. It may be rendered, "turn unto me"
and be merciful unto me; in forgiving his sins, and admitting him to communion with him: he pleads mercy, and not merit and this shows it was not any look but a look of grace and mercy he prays for;
as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name; that is, himself: such as love the Lord have favours shown them; he shows mercy to thousands of them that love him; he loves them that love him; he manifests his love to them, and admits them to great nearness to himself. David was one of these; he loved him in sincerity, and above all others and could appeal to him for the truth of it, and desires no other nor better usage than such had; and indeed a man need not desire better, since all things work for their good now, and it is not to be conceived what God has prepared for them hereafter.
Order my steps in thy word,.... Or, "by thy word"
and let not any iniquity have dominion over me; not only greater sins or presumptuous ones, very gross iniquities, as in Psalm 19:13; but lesser ones, even the least of them. It is a sad thing to be enslaved to any lust or sin, be it what it will: sin reigns over wicked men even unto death; and it oftentimes has great power over good men, puts them upon doing that which is evil, and hinders them from doing that which is good; it carries them captive, and threatens to have the ascendant over them, and rule in them, which they deprecate; and such a prayer may be the prayer of faith, since it is promised "sin shall not have the dominion over you", Romans 6:14. Kimchi interprets this of the evil imagination or corruption of nature; R. Moses understands it of a wicked man; and so the Syriac version.
Deliver me from the oppression of man,.... Of any man, of proud and haughty men, as in Psalm 119:122; the psalmist always desired rather to fall into the hands of God than into the hands of wicked men, whose tender mercies are cruel. Some render it, "from the oppression of Adam", as Jarchi observes; and Arama interprets it of the sin of Adam, and as a prayer to be delivered or redeemed from it; as the Lord's people are by the blood of Christ: Jarchi understands it of the evil imagination or corruption of nature, which oppresses men; which sense Arama also makes mention of;
so will I keep thy precepts: being delivered out of the hands of wicked men, and free from their snares and temptations; see Psalm 119:115, Luke 1:74.
Make thy face to shine upon thy servant,.... That is, lift up the light of thy countenance on me; favour me with thy gracious presence, and communion with thyself; manifest thyself unto me, and shed abroad thy love in my heart; cause the sun of righteousness to arise upon me, and commune with me, from above thy mercy seat; restore to me the joys of thy salvation, and let me have the comforts of thy good Spirit: this prayer is a part of the blessing of the high priest, Numbers 6:25;
and teach me thy statutes; the more communion a man has with God, the more desirous he is of learning and doing his will. This is a frequent petition; see Psalm 119:124.
Rivers of waters run down mine eyes,.... That is, "out of" them; as the Syriac version: or, "mine eyes let down rivers of waters"
because they keep not thy law; the persons are not mentioned, but must be understood of wicked men; whose open and impudent transgression of the law in innumerable instances, and in the most flagrant manner, gave the psalmist great distress, as it does all good men; because the law of God is despised, his authority is trampled on, his name is dishonoured, and he has not the glory which is due unto him. The gloss of Arama is,
"because Adam and Eve kept not thy law;'
which transgression brought ruin on all mankind. The Septuagint and Arabic versions very wrongly read, "because I have not kept thy law": as if his grief was on account of his own sins: and so Kimchi indeed interprets it; and both he and Ben Melech by "they" understand his eyes, from whence his tears flowed in such abundance; because they were the caterers for sin, and the cause and occasion of the transgressions of the law of God by him: and this sense is made mention of by Aben Ezra.
TZADDI.--The Eighteenth Part.
TZADDI. Righteous art thou, O Lord,.... Essentially, originally, and of himself; naturally, immutably, and universally, in all his ways and works of nature and grace; in his thoughts, purposes, counsels, and decrees; in all the dispensations of his providence; in redemption, in the justification of a sinner, in the pardon of sin, and in the gift of eternal life through Christ;
and upright are thy judgments; they are according to the rules of justice and equity; the precepts of the word, the doctrines of the Gospel, as well as the judgments of God inflicted on wicked men, and all the providential dealings of God with his people, and also the final judgment.
Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous,.... The Scriptures are holy, just, and good; and what is contained in them are according to godliness; are for instruction in righteousness, and teach men to live soberly, righteously, and godly;
and very faithful; or "true"
My zeal hath consumed me,.... Zeal for God and his glory, for his word and ordinances and worship; which is a fervour of the mind, burning love, and flaming affections for God, shown in a holy indignation against sin and sinners. This was a zeal according to knowledge, sincere and hearty, and what continued; and which was shown in embracing and defending the truths of the word, and resenting every indignity cast upon them; to such a degree, that it ate up his spirit, wore away his flesh, and almost consumed him; see Psalm 69:9;
because mine enemies have forgotten thy words; not merely through an indifference to them, and inattention in hearing them; nor through want of an earnest heed to keep and retain them; nor through negligence in laying them up, and a carelessness in making use of proper means to recollect them; but through an aversion to them, an hatred of them, and a spiteful malicious contempt of them, casting them away and despising them; which stirred up the spirit of the psalmist, and raised such an emotion in him as was almost too much for him.
Thy word is very pure,.... Or, "exceedingly purified"
therefore thy servant loveth it; that which carnal men hate the word of God for, because it forbids and condemns all impurity of flesh and spirit, all impure thoughts, words, and actions; that a good man loves it for, and which is an evidence of a sanctified heart.
I am small and despised,.... Or, "I have been"
yet do not I forget thy precepts; to observe and keep them: the ill treatment of men on account of religion did not cause him to forsake it, or to leave the ways, word, and worship of God; see Psalm 119:83.
Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,.... Or, "is for ever"
and thy law is the truth; or "thy doctrine"; or "thy word", as the Arabic version. The Scriptures are called the Scriptures of truth, Daniel 10:21 they come from the God of truth, and all that is contained in them is truth; the legal part of them is truth, and so is the Gospel; that is called the word of truth, and truth itself: it is concerning Christ, who is the truth; and it is directed into and made effectual by the Spirit of truth, and contains in it many excellent truths; and is therefore deservedly valued and esteemed by all good men; see John 17:17.
Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me,.... Or, "found me"
yet thy commandments are my delights; so far from being grievous, that they were a pleasure to him; yea, exceedingly delighted him, and cheered and refreshed his spirits amidst all his troubles.
The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting,.... Or, "for ever"
give me understanding, and I shall live; an understanding of the testimonies of the Lord, of the word of God, the law of God, and Gospel of Christ; an understanding of divine and spiritual things; a clearer and larger understanding of them, which is the gift of God; both that itself at first, and an increase of it here prayed for, the end, issue, and effect of which is life. Such live spiritually, and by faith; they live cheerfully and comfortably, and "for ever", as Aben Ezra and Kimchi repeat from the former clause: for "this is life eternal know the only true God and Jesus Christ"; or to have spiritual understanding of them, and of those things which relate to spiritual peace and comfort here, and eternal happiness hereafter, John 17:3.
KOPH.--The Nineteenth Part.
KOPH. I cried with my whole heart,.... Prayer is often expressed by crying; which sometimes signifies mental, and sometimes vocal prayer; and generally supposes the person praying to be in distress, either outward or inward. This prayer of the psalmists was hearty and cordial, not with his mouth and lips only, but with his heart also; it did not proceed from feigned lips, but was put up in sincerity and truth; yea, it was with his whole heart, with all the powers and faculties of his soul employed; his affections set on God, the desires of his soul after him, and his will submitted to his; it denotes the intenseness, earnestness, and fervency of prayer;
hear me, O Lord: the prayer he had put up, and answer it. Some persons pray, and that is enough; they do not concern themselves whether their prayers are heard or not: but David desired an answer, and looked after that;
I will keep thy statutes; not in his own strength, but in the strength of the Lord; and it is to be understood not merely as a resolution what he would do; nor as a promise, which he uses as a plea, argument, or motive to be heard; but rather it expresses the end of his being heard, or the thing for which he desires to be heard: for so it may be rendered, "that I may keep thy statutes"; hear me, and give me grace and strength to enable me to observe them.
I cried unto thee; save me,.... In his distress he cried and prayed to the Lord; and this was a principal and leading petition, that he would "save" him out of all his troubles and afflictions, and out of the hands of all his enemies; and with a temporal, spiritual, and eternal salvation which he knew he was able to do, and none else;
and I shall keep thy testimonies; such salvation will affect my heart, and the sense of it influence and engage me to have the utmost regard to the word of God, its truths and doctrines, precepts and ordinances, so as carefully to observe them.
I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried,.... That is, he awoke and got up, and prayed, before the day broke, the morning looked forth, or the sun arose: he was early as well as earnest in his supplications to God; see Psalm 5:3; as Christ, his antitype, rose early in the morning, a great while before day, and went out to a solitary place, and prayed, Mark 1:35;
I hoped in thy word; which is a great encouragement to prayer, the grace of hope itself is, though a man can only put his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope; and especially when it is grounded on the word of promise, that God will hear and answer his people, when they call upon him in a time of trouble: and particularly hope in Christ, the essential Word, is a great encouragement; many encouraging arguments to prayer are taken from the person, office, advocacy, and mediation of Jesus Christ, Hebrews 4:14.
Mine eyes prevent the night watches,.... The Targum is,
"the morning and evening watches.'
There were three of them; Kimchi interprets it of the second and third; the meaning is, that the psalmist was awake and employed in one religious exercise or another, praying, reading, or meditating; either before the watches were set, or however before the time that some of them took place, or at least before they were all over;
that I might meditate in thy word; he rose so early, in order to give himself up to meditation on the word of God; that he might be better instructed in the knowledge of divine things; that he might have solace and comfort from thence under his afflictions; and that he might be better furnished for the work of prayer; for the more familiar the word of God is to us, the better able we are to speak to God in his own language.
Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness,.... Not according to his own merits and deserts, or works of righteousness done by him, for the sake of which he did not present his supplications to God; nor according to his love to him, which often waxed cold, and he in a poor lukewarm frame of spirit; but according to the lovingkindness of God, which is always the same, and which is a great encouragement to faith and hope in prayer; that since God is gracious and merciful, kind and bountiful, plenteous in mercy, and ready to forgive, on a throne of grace, and full of love, yea, love itself, invariably the same, he will hear, and saints shall find grace and mercy to help them in time of need;
O Lord, quicken me according to thy judgment; either according to his word of promise, or according to his manner and wonted method he used towards his people; see Psalm 119:25; This is a prayer, not for the first work of quickening grace, or the first implantation of a principle of spiritual life, which the psalmist had had an experience of; but for the reviving of the work and principle in him, that he might be refreshed and comforted, and be animated and stirred up to a lively exercise of grace and performance of duty: finding himself in dead and lifeless frames, and not able to quicken himself.
They draw nigh that follow after mischief,.... Or "evil"
they are far from thy law; from the knowledge of it, of its equity and purity; and especially of its spirituality, and of its power and influence upon their minds; and so far from subjection and obedience to it; so far from it, that they treat it with the utmost contempt, cast it away from them and despise it, Romans 8:7.
Thou art near, O Lord,.... This was the comfort of the psalmist, that though his enemies drew nigh with a mischievous design upon him, yet his God was also near, and nearer than they; he was near as to relation to him, being his God and Father; near as to union, the bond of which is his everlasting love, which can never be dissolved; near as to communion, which he admits all his people to at one time or another; so that they are said to be "a people near unto the Lord"; Psalm 148:14; and near as to his gracious presence, and the divine assistance he affords; he is a present help in time of need; he is nigh to all that call on him in truth, and in all things in which they do call upon him for, Psalm 145:18;
and all thy commandments are truth; not only the precepts of the word of God, but his covenant, and the promises of it; the word which he has commanded to a thousand generations, Psalm 105:8; and even the whole word of God, doctrines and duties; see John 17:17.
Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old,.... Or, "from thy testimonies, I have known of old"
that thou hast founded them for ever; that the things contained in them are sure and certain, established and eternal truths; the moral law and the precepts of it are eternal, and of perpetual obligation; not one jot or tittle of them shall ever fail; the Gospel, and the truths of it, are everlasting, and shall ever remain; in spite of all the opposition, craft and cunning, fury and force of men, to undermine and root them out; see Psalm 119:89.
RESH.--The Twentieth Part.
RESH. Consider mine affliction, and deliver me,.... Or, "look upon mine affliction"
for I do not forget thy law: the precepts of it; to observe it as a rule of walk and conversation, as a lamp to the feet, and a light to the path, as a directory of the good and perfect will of God: or, "thy doctrine"; the doctrine of the word, the precious truths of it, which were his support under afflictions; and when either of them have a place in the heart, and are written there, they cannot easily be forgotten. This the psalmist mentions, not as if his not forgetting the law or doctrine of God was meritorious of deliverance from affliction, but as a descriptive character of such the Lord does deliver.
Plead my cause, and deliver me,.... This shows that his affliction was chiefly from men, wicked, ungodly, and unreasonable men; such as were Saul and his courtiers, and a whole ungodly nation: his cause was a good one, and therefore he puts it into the hand of the Lord, and who otherwise would not have undertaken it; and this he did also because he could not plead it himself, nor any other for him but the Lord; his enemies that strove with him being so many, mighty, and crafty; see Psalm 35:1. Christ is the advocate of his people, their Redeemer, who is mighty, and thoroughly pleads their cause against the accusations of Satan, the charges of law and justice, and the condemnation of their own hearts; as well as defends their innocence from the calumnies of wicked men, and rights their wrongs, and redresses their grievances;
quicken me according to thy word; See Gill on Psalm 119:25.
Salvation is far from the wicked,.... Christ, the author of salvation, is far from them: he was far from the unbelieving Jews, even though salvation was of them, and he, the Saviour, was among them; and he is far from all unconverted persons, as to knowledge of him, faith in him, or love to him; and from all those that seek for salvation elsewhere, let them make ever such pretences to religion: the word of salvation is far from them, as Kimchi; the Gospel of salvation, which they put away from them, as the Jews did in the times of Christ and the apostles; an experimental knowledge of salvation, a sense of need of it, and an application of it, are far from them; and the enjoyment of it in heaven, which, though nearer the saints than when they first believed, is far off from the wicked, and whose damnation is near: Aben Ezra interprets it,
"the days of salvation;'
for they seek not thy statutes; either to know them, or keep them: they seek not after God, to know him, his mind and will; the language of their hearts and actions is, "depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways"; no, not of life and salvation, and therefore it must be far from them, Job 21:14.
Great are thy tender mercies, O Lord,.... Not his providential mercies only, which are many and undeserved, and constantly repeated; but his special mercies in Christ, which flow from the tenderness of his heart; and his merciful lovingkindness to his people, and which are great or many
quicken me according to that judgments; See Gill on Psalm 119:149.
Many are my persecutors and mine enemies,.... Because they were his enemies, therefore they were his persecutors; and they became enemies to him, or hated him, because of his religion, and on that account persecuted him: and this has always been the lot and case of God's people in all ages; and whose persecutors are many, even the whole world, as well as fierce and furious;
yet do I not decline from thy testimonies; from reading and hearing the word of God; and from embracing and professing the doctrines contained in it; and from the worship of God according to it, for which he was hated and persecuted: yet none of these things moved him from them, which showed that his heart was principled with the grace of God; for otherwise, when persecution arises because of the word, carnal professors are offended, and apostatize from it; see Matthew 13:22.
I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved,.... Transgressors of the law of God, profane sinners; such as among whom he dwelt in Mesech and Kedar; it grieved him when he beheld their wicked life and conversation; as Lot in Sodom; and Isaiah and Jeremiah, among persons of unclean lips, and an assembly of treacherous men: and the word here used signifies "treacherous"
"I saw them prosper, and was weary of my life;'
and refers for the sense of the word to Job 10:1; as does also Aben Ezra; but David Kimchi and the Targum interpret it "I strove", or "contended" with them; that is, with the transgressors;
because they kept not thy word: did not regard the doctrines, nor observe the precepts of it; but despised, rejected, and cast them away from them.
Consider how I love thy precepts,.... How ardently and affectionately, how cordially and sincerely, Psalm 119:127; and that was the reason why he was so grieved and distressed when wicked men transgressed and despised them;
quicken me, O Lord, according to thy loving kindness; See Gill on Psalm 119:88.
Thy word is true from the beginning,.... Every word of promise God made from the beginning of the world, and in any period of time; as to Adam, to Abraham, to the Israelites, or to any other person or persons; was true in itself, and faithfully performed, not one ever failed; particularly the promise concerning the Messiah, made to Adam in Eden; and which has been spoken of by all the prophets which have been since the world began, Genesis 3:15. Or it maybe rendered, as the Targum,
"the beginning of thy word is truth
which a man finds to be so as soon as ever he enters upon the reading of it. Some refer this to the first chapter of Genesis; others to the first part of the decalogue, concerning the unity of God and his worship; so Aben Ezra, and R. Jeshua, as cited by him, and Jarchi; the same is mentioned by Kimchi as one of the senses, though the first he gives is agreeable to our version: but there is no need to restrain the sense to those particulars, or to the first part of the Scriptures, since the whole is truth; and the meaning may be, "the sum of thy word is truth"
and everyone of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever; every precept of the word, and doctrine of it; see Psalm 119:152.
SCHIN.--The Twenty-first Part.
SCHIN. Princes have persecuted me without a cause,.... These were either the princes of the Philistines at the court of Achish; or the princes of Israel, who joined in the conspiracy with Absalom; or the princes in Saul's court, as Kimchi observes; who insinuated that David had evil designs against the king, drove him from abiding in the Lord's inheritance, and pursued him from place to place, as a partridge on the mountains, 1 Samuel 29:4; and all which was without any cause or reason on his part; and which, as it was an aggravation of the sin of his persecutors, so it was an alleviation of his affliction: in this he was, a type of Christ, against whom the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers took counsel together; Herod, Pontius Pilate, and others, the princes of this world, who crucified the Lord of glory, and hated him without a cause; who was holy and harmless, and never did any injury to any man's person or property, Psalm 2:2;
but my heart standeth in awe of thy word: not in awe of the princes, but of the word of God; he had a greater regard to that than to them: when they in effect said, "go, serve other gods", 1 Samuel 26:19; he remembered what the word of God says, "thou shall have no other gods before me", Exodus 20:3; and this was a means of preserving him from sinning. Kimchi thinks some respect is had to the word of God by Nathan the prophet, "I will raise up evil against thee out of thine house", &c. 2 Samuel 12:11; and he was afraid, on account of this word, lest he should fall into the hands of the princes: but it seems not to be an excruciating tormenting fear that is here meant; but a high regard for, and a holy reverence of the word of God, or a reverential affection for it; such as is consistent with the highest joy on account of it, as follows.
I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil. At having it, which is a distinguishing blessing; all are not favoured with it; and is an inestimable treasure, a field in which a treasure lies; which those that find rejoice at, and especially at the understanding of it, as Kimchi notes: for such only delight in it who spiritually understand it, or have an application of it to them; find it, and eat it, and then it is the joy and rejoicing of their hearts. The doctrines of it are matter of great joy, particularly which concern the grace of God, the person of Christ, and peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation by him; and each of its promises, which are exceeding great and precious; and, when opened and applied in a time of need, occasion great joy; such as is expressed at finding a great spoil, when much substance comes into the hands of the conqueror, as well as victory. The word is a part of the believer's spiritual armour, by which he overcomes his enemies; as well as it acquaints him with the conquest Christ has obtained over them, and made him a sharer in; and directs him to unsearchable riches, to things more valuable than thousands of gold and silver; so that he has great reason to rejoice at it in such a manner indeed! see Isaiah 9:2.
I hate and abhor lying,.... The sin of lying in common conversation, which owes its rise to Satan, the father of lies; is common to human nature, though very dishonourable to it; exceeding unbecoming a professor of religion; and was greatly hated by David, as it ought to be by all good men, Psalm 101:7. Or "falsehood"
but thy law do I love; because holy, just, and true; he being a regenerate man, and having it written on his heart, he loved both the precepts of the law and the doctrines of the Gospel: or, "thy doctrine"; the doctrine concerning God, his mind and will, his grace and love; see Psalm 119:97.
Seven times a day do I praise thee,.... That is, very often in a day; not a day passed over his head but he praised the Lord, and often in the day; so the phrase "seven times" is used, Psalm 12:6. Praise is comely for the saints, delightful and well pleasing to God, being offered up in faith and through Christ; and should be frequent, since our mercies, temporal and spiritual, are daily renewed; and therefore we should always, in everything, for everything, and at all seasons, give thanks to God, Ephesians 5:20, 1 Thessalonians 5:18;
because of thy righteous judgments: either upon his enemies, the persecuting princes, as Aben Ezra; so saints may and should, and will praise the Lord, for his righteous judgments on the enemies of his church and people, because not only of their deliverance from them, but because of the honour of his justice, and the glory of his name; see Revelation 18:20; or because of the word of God, the precepts, ordinances, and doctrines of it, which are all righteous; for his knowledge of them, and for the benefit and comfort received from them; see Psalm 119:7.
Great peace have they which love thy law,.... The Targum adds,
"in this world.'
Great prosperity, especially prosperity of soul, inward peace, peace of conscience, peace in Christ, and from him, flowing from his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, and a view of interest therein; which is usually enjoyed in a way of believing, and frequently had in the ways, worship, and ordinances of God. Such as love the law of God, his word, precepts, and doctrines, have a large share of it; a peace so great, that it passes the understanding of unregenerate men, and cannot be fully expressed by the saints themselves; there is none to the wicked, it is peculiar to them that love the Lord, and what belong to him: the Arabic and Ethiopic versions render it, "which love thy name";
and nothing shall offend them; the Targum is,
"in the world to come.'
Nothing shall disturb their minds, and break their peace; nothing from without, though sin, temptations, and desertions do; not outward afflictions, the reproaches and persecutions of wicked men, nor the reproof of good men; nor what God does to them in a providential way: though in the world they have tribulation, in Christ they have peace, which the world can neither give nor take away. "There is no stumbling block unto them"
Lord, I have hoped for thy salvation,.... Either temporal salvation and deliverance from enemies, and from afflictions, which God had promised, and therefore he had reason to hope for; or spiritual and eternal salvation, resolved on in the mind of God, provided in covenant, promised to be wrought out by Christ, and which since has been accomplished; and therefore there is a sufficient foundation to hope for it;
and done thy commandments: this was not the cause, ground, and foundation of his hope; for then it would not have been like an anchor, sure and steadfast, but as the hope of the hypocrite, which is as the spider's web; but this was the effect of his hope; because he had a good hope of salvation, therefore he was studiously concerned to do the commandments of God; his hope prompted him to it, and encouraged him in it; see 1 John 3:2. Kimchi's note here is a good one; "and done thy commandments", not for hope of reward; but I have done them as thy commandments are with me and I know that I shall have salvation, and I have hoped for it.
My soul hath kept thy testimonies,.... The word of God, which he kept cordially and heartily; and in his heart, laid it up there; and with his whole soul observed the doctrines and kept the precepts of it;
and I love them exceedingly; and kept them from a principle of love, and not with mercenary and selfish views; and this love was exceeding great, not cold nor lukewarm, but ardent and fervent, love in the superlative degree.
I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies,.... Both the preceptive and doctrinal part of the word, he preserved and observed both; this is repeated for the certainty of it, and to show his great affection to them;
for all my ways are before thee; this is either an appeal to God for the truth of what he had said, who saw and knew all the ways in which he walked, and which he had endeavoured should be conformable to the word of God; or it is a reason why he kept the precepts and testimonies of the Lord, because he knew his eyes were upon him; the omniscience of God had an influence over him, and caused him to be more attentive to the word, as the rule of his actions; see Psalm 139:1.
TAU.--The Twenty-second and last Part.
TAU. Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord,.... Not "my praise", as the Syriac version; but "my prayer", put up in great distress, and with great vehemence and importunity; see Psalm 119:145; and when it is desired it might "come near before" the Lord, it does not so much suppose distance of place between the petitioner and the petitioned as earth is from heaven, as Aben Ezra observes, as distance of state and condition; the petitioner being a creature, and a sinful creature, and whose sins had separated between God and him: and now the only way of access is by Christ; prayer can only pass to God through him, who is the only Mediator between God and man; by whom persons and services are brought near unto, him with acceptance. The sum of this request is, that his prayer might not be rejected and shut out; but that it might be admitted, might come up before God, and into his ears, and be regarded by him, and accepted with him;
give me understanding according to thy word; meaning not natural, but spiritual understanding; not that he was without any, as natural men are, whose understandings are darkened; for he had a large share of understanding of spiritual things; but he wanted more, he desired to know more of himself, of his wants and weaknesses; to know more of God in Christ, and of Christ, his person, offices, and grace; to know more of the doctrines of the word, and of the duties of religion; and particularly that he might have a better understanding of the business of prayer, and might know both what to pray for, and how to pray as he ought; all which is a gift from God: and he desires in all to be directed "according to the word" of God, the means of enlightening the understanding, and of increasing spiritual knowledge; or else he means the promise of God, that he would give him more knowledge and understanding; that he might be taught of God, and follow on to know him, and increase in every branch of spiritual knowledge.
Let my supplication come before thee,.... The same with his "cry" in Psalm 119:169; only expressed by another word, signifying a petition for grace and favour, in an humble and submissive manner; which it is entreated might be received and accepted, as before;
deliver me according to thy word; of promise, such as that in Psalm 50:15; meaning from all troubles and afflictions; out of the hands of all his enemies, and from the power of sin, Satan, and the world; and from all fears of wrath, ruin, and destruction. Kimchi observes, that this is not to be understood of a deliverance of the body from distress, but of the soul from the stumbling block of sin.
My lips shall utter praise,.... Like water flowing from a fountain, as the word
when thou hast taught me thy statutes: which is what the psalmist often prays for in this psalm; and signifies he should be very thankful to God for, and should sincerely praise him, could he obtain this favour; see Psalm 119:7.
My tongue shall speak of thy word,.... Of the word of God in general; of the truth of it, which he knew by certain experience; of the purity of it, tending to promote holiness of heart and life; of the power and efficacy of it, enlightening his mind, and working effectually in him; of the profit of it, to his learning, to his instruction, comfort, and refreshment; of the preciousness of it, being of more worth than thousands of gold and silver; and of the pleasantness of it, being sweeter than the honey or honeycomb, and more to be esteemed than one's necessary food; and of the promises of it in particular, of the worth and value of them, of their suitableness and use, and of the faithful fulfilment of them; and of the doctrines of the word, especially those which relate to the grace of God, and salvation by the Messiah; and also of the precepts of the word, as follows:
for all thy commandments are righteousness; not only righteous, but righteousness itself, being strictly just and equitable in the highest sense; and not only some of them, but all of them; see Psalm 119:128. Aben Ezra's paraphrase of the words is,
"I will teach the children of men thy word, that they may know that thy commandments are righteousness;'
which is not amiss: and to the same sense is Kimchi's note, who observes, that author of the Masorah interprets it of praise; as if he had said, My tongue shall praise thy word, because all of it is righteousness.
Let thine hand help me,.... Let thine hand of power help me against mine enemies, and deliver me from them; and let thine hand of providence and grace communicate to me, and supply me with and help me to everything needful for me, for body and soul; for time and eternity, all grace here, and glory hereafter; let thy right hand help me on in my way, hold and uphold me, keep and preserve me safe to heaven and happiness;
for I have chosen thy precepts; not only the good part, which shall not be taken away, and the way of truth, Psalm 119:30; but even the commandments of God, which he preferred to the commandments of men, and choose rather to obey the one than the other; having a most ardent affection for them, an high esteem of them, and a strong attachment to them; see Psalm 119:127.
I have longed for thy salvation, O Lord,.... For temporal salvation and deliverance from enemies; and for spiritual and eternal salvation by the Messiah; and for the Messiah himself, the author of it: Kimchi interprets it of the salvation of the soul in the world to come; see Psalm 119:81;
and thy law is my delight; or "delights"
Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee,.... The psalmist desires the continuance of his natural life, not for his own personal advantage, nor for the sake of his family, nor with any worldly, sinister, and selfish views; but for the glory of God, and for the sake of praising him: or his desire is, that his soul might be lively and comfortable; or that he might be in a lively and cheerful frame of spirit, and so be in fit and proper circumstances to praise the Lord; for it is the living man in both senses, natural and spiritual, that is capable of praising the Lord, Isaiah 38:19;
and let thy judgments help me; that is, to praise him: meaning either judgments on his enemies, as Aben Ezra; which furnish out matter and occasion of praise and thanksgiving; see Revelation 15:3; or the word of God, the doctrines and precepts of it; see Psalm 119:164.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep,.... In desert places, as it is the nature of sheep to do
seek thy servant; as a shepherd does his sheep when gone astray, which will not return of itself unless sought after: thou art my Shepherd, as if he should say, look me up, restore my soul; suffer me not to wander from thee, and go astray from thy word and ordinances: and when he calls himself his servant, it carries in it an argument for being looked up and sought out; since he was his servant, not by nature, but by grace; not by force, but willingly; he was his and devoted to his service. And another follows:
for I do not forget thy commandments; he retained a knowledge of them, an affection for them, and a desire to observe them; though he had gone astray from them, either in a criminal way, through the power and prevalence of sin, or against his will, through the force of persecution.
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