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This psalm containeth sundry prayers, praises, and professions of obedience.
THIS psalm is supposed to have been written by David under the reign of Saul, in which he was frequently persecuted, but in which also he had some quiet intervals; (see Psalms 119:54.) when he had leisure to write so long a composition, and one laboured with so much art. For, though written under the infallible inspiration of the Divine Spirit, there is great labour manifested in it. It is not only divided into as many parts as there are letters in the Hebrew Alphabet, but likewise each of these parts is divided into eight verses, and every one of these verses begins with that letter of the alphabet which forms the title of the part. Thus each of the eight verses in the first part, termed aleph, begins with an aleph, as those do in the second part, named beth, with a beth. For this reason, in the Massora, this psalm is stiled, "The Great Alphabet." It is further remarkable, that in all these verses, except one or two, there is some word or other which signifies the law of God. There are ten words which are used for this purpose promiscuously in this composition, namely, the law, the ways, the testimonies, the commandments, the precepts, the word, the judgments, the righteousness, the statutes, and the truth of God. The psalm contains a great many pious reflections and excellent rules, without any great connection or dependance on each other; tending principally to set forth the excellence of the divine laws: and this want of connection, probably, was the reason why the psalm was written in this alphabetical method; that the initial letters might be a help to the memory, of those who were to learn it in the original.
Psalms 119:3. They also do no iniquity— Or, That also do no iniquity; that walk in his ways. For they commit no iniquity who walk in his ways. Green and Mudge.
Psalms 119:5-6. O that my ways— The word here principally signifies, the motions and inclinations of the mind and heart, upon which all our actions depend. When I have respect unto, in the next verse, is rendered by Mudge, When I keep my eye upon. The original imports a strong application of the mind and heart to the word of God, as opposed to a light and momentary regard, which is only the effect of curiosity, or of mere custom. See James 1:25.
Psalms 119:7. I will praise thee, &c.— I do homage to thee in honesty of heart, when I am learning the judgments of thy righteousness. This expresses the rapture that he is in when learning the laws of God. He cannot, in the sincerity of his soul, refrain from doing homage to God: Mudge; who instead of the word utterly in the next verse, after the original, reads, to any great degree, and so Psalms 119:43. This petition, possibly, refers to what is said, 1 Samuel 20:1.
Psalms 119:9. Wherewithal shall a young man— Or, Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way, that he may observe thy word? The original word זכה zakkah, rendered, cleanse, signifies to make clean, purify. See Psalms 73:13. 2 Samuel 11:4. But, on the whole, I consider our version as more elegant than the other given above, because it contains a fine and satisfactory answer to the question in the former clause. Have I hid, in the 11th verse, signifies, treasured up, like something of inestimable value: it may be read, Have I laid up within, &c.
Psalms 119:12. Blessed art thou, O Lord— The meaning seems to be this, "Thou, O Jehovah, art blessed; i.e. the supreme God, to whom I acknowledge all blessing and adoration to be due. Teach me therefore thy ordinances, as being the only laws, to which we owe all obedience."
Psalms 119:13. With my lips, &c.— With my lips do I recount, &c. This means, that he repeats over and learns by heart all God's laws. Mudge.
Psalms 119:17. Deal bountifully with thy servant— The original word גמל gamal, signifies either to do good, or to render or return good: If we understand it in this latter sense, this return must be here considered as a reward, not of merit but of mercy.
Psalms 119:18. Open thou mine eyes— That is, "Illuminate the eyes of my mind by thy grace, that I may clearly discern the admirable wisdom hidden in thy law;" for the Hebrew word נפלאות niphlaoth, rendered wondrous things, signifies hidden wonders. The distressed circumstances of the Psalmist, when compared with the magnificent promises made in the law to the righteous, might fill him with perplexity; and as he was unable to reconcile his condition with the letter of the law, he might possibly address God for illumination in this point, which was to him otherwise inexplicable, and, what he elegantly stiles it, a hidden wonder. See Mr. Boyle on the Stile of the Sacred Scripture. I am a stranger in the earth, in the next verse, would be better rendered, I am a stranger in the land, as being forced to wander from place to place. See 1 Samuel 23:13.
Psalms 119:20. My soul breaketh, &c.— This may be rendered, is taken up, or wholly employed, in longing for, or love to thy judgments.
Psalms 119:21. Thou hast rebuked the proud, &c.— Thou rebukest the proud; cursed are they that stray from thy commandments. Houb. and Mudge. The proud in this psalm mean the atheistical contemptuous disregarders of God and his laws.
Psalms 119:23. Princes also did sit and speak— Though princes are continually consulting against me, thy servant will make thy ordinances his theme: Psalms 119:24. For thy testimonies are my delight, thy statutes my counsellors. See Mudge, Houbigant, and Psalms 50:20.
Psalms 119:26. I have declared my ways— I recount over my ways when thou afflictest me. Mudge. Affliction made him reflect on his ways, and gave him sufficient reason to pray to God to teach him his ordinances.
Psalms 119:28. My soul melteth, &c.— Or, My soul droppeth for heaviness; raise thou me, &c. It has been thought by some, that David utters this sad complaint in compunction for the guilt of his supposed deceit, and the consequences of that deceit, at Nob: But Dr. Delaney vindicates him entirely from any such charge. See Life of David, b. 1 Chronicles 11:0.
Psalms 119:32. When thou shalt enlarge my heart— For thou enlargest my heart. Mudge. Or, Because thou hast dilated my heart. This seems to come from one who feels his heart expanded, after some distress and heaviness which had contracted it. This gives him spirits.
Psalms 119:33. Unto the end— Quite through; the Hebrew is, עקב eikeb, to the heel. The force of the words seems to be, "Quite through, from head to foot." Mudge.
Psalms 119:36. Not to covetousness— That is, an immoderate desire of worldly goods.
Psalms 119:38. Stablish thy word unto thy servant— Make good thy word unto thy servant; which will issue in thy fear. Which will be thy fear; i.e. thy honour; it will turn to thy honour. There is mercy with thee, therefore shalt thou be feared; i.e. honoured; this would be a foundation of homage to God. So here God's fidelity would make him feared, and gain him honour and homage. Mudge.
Psalms 119:43. Take not thy word of truth utterly, &c.— The judgments of God were that word of truth in which he trusted: to pray God, therefore, not to take them out of his mouth, is the same as to pray that God would act agreeably to his word; for otherwise he could no longer, with any grace, make use of it, or derive any consolation from it. Mudge.
Psalms 119:45. And I will walk at liberty— That is, "Having then no such incumbrances upon me as I now have in these straits and difficulties, I will do my duty with the greater cheerfulness and joy." See Psalms 119:32.
Psalms 119:46. I will speak, &c.— Dr. Delaney supposes that here is an immediate reference to Achish, king of Gath, whom he apprehends to have been instructed in religion by David. See Life of David, b. i. c. 24.
Psalms 119:48. My hands also will I lift up— That is, says Mudge, "I will hold up my hands to receive God's law into them: I will be always reading it.'' Others think that the meaning is, "I will exemplify my love of thy commandments by a diligent and zealous practice of them." Thus, by lifting up the hands, is frequently meant the setting about any action, especially of weight and importance. See Genesis 41:44.Psalms 10:12; Psalms 10:12.Hebrews 12:12; Hebrews 12:12.
Psalms 119:49. Remember the word unto thy servant— i.e. "Be pleased, therefore, in due time to perform the promise which thou hast long ago made me, and concerning the performance whereof thou hast given me an assured hope." See 2 Samuel 5:0 and 1 Samuel 11:13.
Psalms 119:54. In the house of my pilgrimage— According to the original, The house of my pilgrimages: that is, "Whatever places I have wandered to, during Saul's persecution of me."
Psalms 119:56. This I had, &c.— That is, "this sweet composure of mind, this cheerfulness of spirit, under all these afflictions."
Psalms 119:61. The bands of the wicked, &c.— The troops, &c. "I have been beset with troops of wicked men, who stripped me of all I had." Houbigant, after the LXX and Vulgate, reads, The cords or snares of the wicked have bound, or entangled me. See 1 Samuel 23:26.
Psalms 119:66. Teach me good judgment— The Hebrew words properly signify, a goodness of taste, with relation to the palate; and it is only figuratively, and by way of analogy, that they signify a goodness of judgment, or the good sense and discernment of the mind.
Psalms 119:70. Their heart is as fat as grease— Or, Is gross, as with fat. Or, Gross as fat. Houb. By this fatness of the heart, stupidity, dullness, and earthly-mindedness are designed, as pinguis Minerva signifies among the Latins. The lean, membraneous parts, are, according to the naturalists, the only sensitive ones. It has been well observed, that the translation of this place in our Liturgy, Their heart is as fat as brawn, is very improper; because, swine's flesh not being eaten among the Jews, they could have no knowledge of brawn; nor is there a word in their language to express it.
Psalms 119:78. For they dealt perversely with me— For they causelessly wrest my steps. The original has the signification of perverting, or wresting the steps of any one so as to throw him down, or trip up his heels. "Let the proud be disappointed, who endeavour to trip me up without cause." Mudge.
Psalms 119:79. Let those that fear thee, &c.— The sense of this is much the same with that of the 74th verse; that good men, seeing what God had done for them, should turn themselves to him, take encouragement from him, and recognize the righteousness of God's laws, which protected his friends.
Psalms 119:82. Mine eyes fail— That is with attentively looking around me, to see from whence that promised deliverance will come. A bottle in the smoke, Psa 119:83 means a bottle of skin or leather, (the only bottles then in use,) which being hung up in the smoke, and by that means parched and dry, aptly represents one worn out and dried up with long suspence and expectation. The author of the Observations, however, gives a different interpretation. He observes, that leathern bottles were a necessary part of the furniture of an Arab tent; and out of them they frequently drink. These are very uncouth drinking vessels, in comparison of cups of silver or gold, such as were anciently used in the courts of princes; agreeably to what we read in 1Ki 10:21 where we are told that the magnificence of Solomon suffered no drinking-vessels in his palace which were not of gold; none of silver, it being nothing accounted of in his days; whereas it should seem in the preceding reigns, cups of silver, as well as of gold, were used in the royal houses. And to the difference between these vessels of silver or of gold, and these goat-skin bottles, the Psalmist seems to refer when he says, I am become like a bottle in the smoke; "My appearance in my present state is as different from what it was when I dwelt at court, as the furniture of a palace differs from that of a poor Arab's tent, among whom I dwell (and which was remarkably smoky)." Just thus the prophet laments that the precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, or vessels of fine gold, sunk in their estimation, and were considered as no better than earthen pitchers, the works of the hands of the potter. Lamentations 4:2.
Psalms 119:84. How many are the days of thy servant— That is, "how long shall the days of that trouble and affliction last, which I am now forced to endure under the persecutions of Saul?"
Psalms 119:85. The proud, &c.— If we understand the latter clause of this verse to refer to pits, the meaning is, "which insidious designs against an innocent person are not after thy law." But Mudge renders it thus: The proud dig pits for me, who are not according to thy law: i.e. who act and behave without any regard to it; who have renounced all conformity to it. See Psalms 119:150. Houbigant, instead of pits, reads words or discourses. The proud have agitated discourses, concerning me, which are not according to thy law.
Psalms 119:87. They had almost consumed me upon earth— They had almost destroyed me in the land: The Land of Judah. See 1 Samuel 23:26.
Psalms 119:89-90. For ever, O Lord, thy word, &c.— Or, Thou art for ever, O Lord; thy word, &c. Mudge renders it, Thy word, O Lord, is for ever; firmly fixed in heaven. God's word, and his truth or faithfulness, upon which his laws are founded, are as fixed as the heaven and the earth; for they owe their durableness to the same word and truth.
Psalms 119:96. I have seen an end of all perfection— i.e. "I have observed that all human things, how complete soever they may seem, such as wisdom and policy, and riches and power, are exceeding frail, and soon come to an end:" but thy commandment is exceeding broad: that is, The observance of thy commandments gives durable satisfaction here, and the good effects of it will extend themselves to all eternity." Green renders the first clause; I have seen bounds, and an end to every thing, &c. "I have seen that all human wisdom is limited; but that of thy commandments is infinite."
Psalms 119:98. For they are ever with me— For they (i.e. thy commandments) are ever with me, always before me, to direct and advise me in right, to exhort and restrain me from wrong. For the same reason Psalms 119:99, I have more understanding than all my teachers: All those doctors of the law, of whom I have formerly learned; all those ancients, Psa 119:100 those elders and grave counsellors, who perhaps rely more on their own wisdom and sagacity, than on that wisdom which springs from a meditation on thy truth. Such meditation, such an employment of parts, says Mr. Boyle, often invites God to increase them; as he who had most talents committed to him, was, for improving them to his Lord's service, trusted with more.
Psalms 119:109. My soul is continually in my hand— See Job 13:14. Some copies read thy hand, and they are followed by Appolinarius, and the Ethiopic and Arabic versions: but the present seems the more proper reading, as the expression denotes a state of constant danger. See 1 Samuel 28:21.
Psalms 119:113. I hate wild imaginations— The original word סעפים seiaphiim, signifies the shootings or branchings of the mind, all wild roving fancies, (such was the heathen theology) in opposition to the truth and solidity of the law. Mudge.
Psalms 119:114. Hiding-place— Or, Covert.
Psalms 119:117. I will have respect unto— Or, I shall delight myself in.
Psalms 119:118. For their deceit is falsehood— For their falsehood shall prove a lie: their falsehood to God, in abandoning his law, shall deceive them. Mudge. Some render the words, For their cunning is falsehood, but Houbigant, For their elation is vain.
Psalms 119:119. Thou puttest away, &c.— Thou causest all the wicked of the earth to sink like dross. Mudge. Or, Thou destroyest the dross, all the wicked of the earth; therefore, &c.
Psalms 119:121. Leave me not— Thou wilt not leave me. Mudge.
Psalms 119:126. It is time for thee, Lord, to work— Or as some render it, It is time to perform to the Lord. Or, it is time to execute judgment. Bishop Hare. The phrase as it stands in our version, means the same as the last reading. "It is time for thee to display thy power in the deliverance of me, and in the destruction of my enemies; who, as far as they can, have made void thy law, by not only transgressing, but also rejecting it; as if they could wholly lay aside not only the duties, but also the penalties annexed to the breach of it."
Psalms 119:128. Therefore I esteem, &c.— Therefore I keep straight on, according to all thy commandments: every false part I hate. See Houbigant and Mudge. But some render it, Therefore all thy precepts, even all, have I approved; and I hate, &c.
Psalms 119:129. Thy testimonies are wonderful— Namely, on account of the excellent wisdom contained in them. Mudge renders the first clause of the next verse thus: The opening of thy words causeth a light: "Thy words are no sooner opened, than there streams a light from them." The 131st verse should be rendered, I lay open my mouth to draw in my breath; for, &c. which expresses the great vehemence of his desire.
Psalms 119:136. Rivers of waters run down mine eyes— Mine eyes run down streams of water. The genius of the language requires that it be so translated; not streams of water come down mine eyes. See Houb. and Mudge. Schultens reads, Mine eyes are [as it were] drenched in rivers of waters.
Psalms 119:139. My zeal hath consumed me— See Psalms 69:9. "My zeal towards thy law, which my enemies violate and contemn." The original of very pure, in the next verse, is, tried in the fire; an allusion to metals, which are perfectly refined in the furnace and purified from all dross. Thus, in a spiritual sense, God's word is very pure; i.e. perfectly good, without any mixture of error, or indulgence of vice.
Psalms 119:148. Mine eyes prevent the night-watches— The Jews anciently divided the night into three watches, which began at what we now call six of the clock in the evening, and consisted each of four hours: the Romans afterwards introduced among them the custom of dividing it into four watches; consisting of three hours each, as well as of dividing the day and the night into twelve hours a-piece. David intimates, that he meditated on God not only in the day-time, but also in the several divisions of the night, wherein different soldiers, or different parties of soldiers, were appointed to watch or keep guard. In all these, or at least during a considerable part of each of these, he was thus wakeful and contemplative. See Psalms 63:6. It may be proper just to observe, that there is nothing for night in the Hebrew. The word signifies watches in general. See Exodus 16:24.
Psalms 119:150. They draw nigh, &c.— They draw near that pursue me with malicious subtlety: Men far removed from thy law.—Ver. 151. Do thou draw near, O Lord, since all, &c.
Psalms 119:160. Thy word is true— The beginning of thy word was truth; and to everlasting shall every judgment of thy righteousness be so. "God's word, and every article, of his law, was, and ever will be truth, first and last: what he spoke first was truth, and so will be every determination of his to the end of the world." Houbigant and Mudge.
Psalms 119:161. Princes— The rulers and prime ministers of thy kingdom. But my heart standeth in awe; namely, so as to do nothing contrary to thy word in my own vindication. See 1 Samuel 24:6; 1 Samuel 26:9.
Psalms 119:164. Seven times a day do I praise thee— That is, probably, several times: a determinate number for an indeterminate, as is common in scripture.
Psalms 119:165. Nothing shall offend them— Or, according to the original, There is no scandal to them: i.e. "They shall fall upon no stumbling-block, into no snare which their enemies lay for them;" or, "They shall be in no danger from those snares and temptations which the world is full of, and which frequently bring other men to sin and ruin."
Psalms 119:168. For all my ways are before thee— What is the meaning of a man's ways being before God, will best be known by parallel phrases; such as walking before God, or in his sight; which signify to live piously, so as in be approved by him. Here then, though it is certain that all men's actions are seen by God; yet their ways being before him, will best be interpreted by, their walking or living piously.
Psalms 119:171. My lips shall utter praise— A praise, or a hymn of praise; for so it corresponds in rite next verse; My tongue shall sing thy word.
Psalms 119:176. I have gone astray, &c.— "I have wandered like a sheep which is lost, driven from place to place during these tedious persecutions;" seek thy servant; that is, "Be thou pleased, like a careful shepherd, to look after me, and to put me in the right way of escaping all the dangers to which I am exposed, and of recovering my liberty, rest, and peace."
Admirable and most affecting, says Mr. Fenwick, are all the parts of this psalm. It first declares the blessedness of all who sincerely walk in the law of the Lord; and then proceeds to the most earnest and devout breathings for grace and power to do it in all circumstances. The whole seems to breathe the spirit, and to be fitted for the mouth of our ever-blessed and adorable Head; as being every where adorned with that humility, meekness, compassion to the souls of men, and fervent love to the law of God, of which he vouchsafed to be the great example, when he came humbling himself in the form of a servant. And besides, there are several expressions in it, which, in their full and proper sense, could suit no mouth but his. These, if devoutly observed, may help us to find him speaking to our hearts, in every part of it; filling them with charity, and a true cordial love to that whole mystical body for which he came to make intercession, and did it always as for himself, and his own soul. It only wants to be considered therefore as a pattern and most affecting example, given by their glorious head to every member of that body—as what should lead them to exercise their hearts in such devout aspirations; to unite their spirit and their prayers to his: striving to attain, according to our measure, the like devout and heavenly affections. Viewed in this light, it would lead us to adore his mercy, in condescending to come and make himself our pattern and great example; fulfilling all righteousness, and all that the prophets had spoken concerning him.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, While happiness is the universal pursuit, we might wonder to hear the general murmur of disappointment, and to see those who have most earnestly engaged in the search as far removed from it as at the beginning: the reason is, men mistake essentially; and, not knowing where the true joy is to be found, continue seeking rest and finding none. The Psalmist here therefore points out the way, and they who are wise to follow him perseveringly, will find therein happiness present and eternal.
1. He describes the truly happy. They are undefiled in the way; found in Christ the way to glory, washed in his blood from every spot of sin, and sincere in their desire to please God in all things; and walk in the law of the Lord, guided by it as their rule of duty: they keep his testimonies, his revealed will, as a sacred deposit, solicitous to obey the commands, and observe the instituted ordinances, without daring to add thereto, or diminish therefrom, and seek him with the whole heart, in ceaseless prayer looking for strength and help from him; cleaving to him with undivided affection, and desiring daily to love him more, and serve him better. They also do no iniquity, they have no allowed guile, nor make sin their practice or delight; and their new man, the divine nature of which they have partaken, doth not commit sin: they walk in his ways, whatever trials, temptations, and allurements would discourage or ensnare them; they make strait paths for their feet, and turn not aside to the right hand or the left. My soul say, Is this character thine!
2. He prays, according to God's commands, that he may be able to approve himself faithful. Thou hast commanded us, and thy authority is sovereign, thy title to our obedience unquestionable, as the Creator, Preserver, and above all the Redeemer of man, and therefore we are bound to keep thy precepts diligently, with that ardour, perseverance, and fidelity, which is so much our duty. O then that my ways were made so direct, will every true-hearted believer say with the Psalmist, to keep thy statutes! More than human strength is necessary to enable us to walk and please God; and therefore to him must our prayer be directed, that he may lead us in the way that he commands, and write on our hearts the law that he enjoins.
3. He promises himself the comfort of such a conduct. Then shall I not be ashamed, either of my hope towards God, as delusive, or of appearing before him in his worship, or of my profession before men, when I have respect unto all thy commandments, look at them as my directory, esteem them all to be right, and, without reserve or exception, desire to have my will and ways conformed thereunto; for this is our rejoicing, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity, and godly sincerity, we have our conversation in the world.
4. He resolves to praise God with uprightness of heart, when he shall have learned his righteous judgments, or the judgments of his righteousness, his commandments, which are altogether righteous, or the dispensations of his providence, which are conformable to the strictest justice. Much he had known, more he had yet to learn, and all would serve to minister matter for his praises.
5. He purposes, through God's grace, to approve his fidelity unshaken. I will keep thy statutes; such is my fixed desire and design: O forsake me not utterly; if but a moment left of thee, I cannot stand upright; if forsaken by thee, I instantly must prove an apostate; but leave me not, Lord, and then I shall walk and not be weary, and run and not be faint. May my soul thus ever purpose and pray!
2nd, Youth is the time to serve the Lord; and happy they who seek him early.
1. The question is put, Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way? the way of all flesh is corrupt and polluted; and young persons exposed to especial temptations from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul, defile the conscience, and plunge them into perdition and destruction; great need therefore have they to inquire how they may be preserved from the pollutions of the world.
2. The answer is given. By taking heed thereto according to thy word, or by observing what is according to thy word; this chart will enable him to steer clear of the rocks, on which others make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience.
3. David professes his own attachment to God, and prays for wisdom, direction, and support. With my whole heart have I sought thee; thy word to teach, thy grace to guide me: O let me not wander, as my poor sinful heart is too prone to do, from thy commandments. A child of God is ever jealous, knowing his weakness, lest his heart should err from the way; and therefore, to prevent it, he desires to say with David, Thy word have I hid within my heart, mixed with faith, fixed in my memory, and treasured up as the most valuable possession, and the grand preservative, that I might not sin against thee; having an answer ready to every temptation, and a constant warning from it of the evil, danger, and baseness of sin. Blessed art thou, O Lord! for all thou hast done for me; infinitely blessed in thyself, thou dost delight to bless thy people: teach me thy statutes, all that I yet know is very imperfect, my own researches are weak and poor; thou, Lord, must teach me, or I shall never know as I ought to know, or be truly wise unto full salvation.
4. He reflects with satisfaction on the past. With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth; telling of God's word, its doctrines and precepts; exhorting others to all holy obedience, and speaking his own experience of the excellence of the good ways of God. I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as my supreme happiness and delight, as much as any worldling doth in all his riches, or above all riches, counting them but dung and loss, compared with a sense of God's love, the unsearchable riches of Christ, the inestimably precious promises, and the joy arising from a constant adherence to him.
5. He resolves from the past experience of the blessedness of the ways of God, to persevere in them. I will meditate in thy precepts, with them shall my thoughts be occupied rising up and lying down; and, inwardly digested, they shall not only be stored up in the memory, but afford the most sweet refreshment to my soul; and have respect unto thy ways, or look unto them, as the traveller eyes the path before him, careful not to deviate from the right way. I will delight myself in thy statutes; they have been my joy; and every day the more I know of them, the father I walk in them, the greater my delight shall be: I will not forget thy word, ever upon my heart I will keep it, ready to answer every emergence, to warn me when I err, to direct me when I doubt, to strengthen me when I am tempted, to comfort me when I am dejected, to recover me when I am fallen, and to preserve me when I stand. Reader, with self-application inquire into thy experience, and see how far it corresponds with that of the blessed Psalmist.
3rd, We have,
1. The Psalmist's prayer. Deal bountifully with thy servant; every blessing that we can hope for, comes from the mere bounty of God, who giveth liberally to those who ask him, and upbraideth not; as his servants we must depend upon him, and shall be directed and supported by him; that I may live; by sin our natural life is forfeited, our souls sunk in spiritual death, and liable to eternal death; well may we therefore cry, That I may live, spiritually by the quickening power of Jesus, eternally through the free gift of God, and temporally as long as it shall be for God's glory; this being the only purpose for which a good man wishes to be here: that I may keep thy word, faithful myself, zealous to spread the knowledge of it, and to preserve it pure and uncorrupt from every adulteration: and that I may do so, Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law; we are by nature blind to spiritual objects; the wonders of God's word are far beyond the keenest eye of enlightened reason, 1 Corinthians 11:14. Till Jesus opens our understandings, we cannot understand the scriptures aright, Luke 24:4-5.; but in his light, we shall see light, behold the mystery unfolded, a righteous God just in pardoning, a holy law magnified to the uttermost, Christ the end of it for righteousness to the sinner, and the guilty and helpless pardoned, and saved both from the condemnation and the bondage of the law. Lord, may I see daily more distinctly and clearly these wondrous things!
2. He pleads with God. I am a stranger in the earth, my abode is short here, and quickly I am to pass from this changing scene, having here no abiding city, therefore hide not thy commandments from me, but shew me how to act in this land of my pilgrimage, guide me safely through it, and teach me the nearest road to that eternal home whither I desire to go. Note; (1.) It is a reflection we should often make, that we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth, that as such our affections may be disengaged from it. (2.) They who are most habitually living under the influence of this truth, will be most importunate to obtain strength and support from God in their journey through time into eternity, that they may never think of taking up their rest in this strange and polluted land.
3. He professes his eager longings after God's word, to know it more fully, to obey it more zealously: his soul breaks with the vehemence of the desire, and at all times; it was not a sudden fit of devotion, but his habitual temper. Ah! how unlike him are too many of us!
4. He gives the character, and denounces the condemnation, of the wicked. They are proud, impiously rejecting God's government, despising his law, and contemning his threatenings; or they are vainly puffed up with the conceit of their own goodness and excellency above other men; of all sins, perhaps, in God's sight the most abominable. They err from thy commandments; whether openly profane, or proudly self-righteous, they alike fatally err, and the wrath of God abideth on them; they are cursed, the rebukes of God pursue them; as the rebellious and proud of old have felt, whether angels or men; and as to eternity will be proved, when the Judge of quick and dead shall finally determine the sinner's everlasting doom.
5. He begs to be preserved from the reproach and revilings of men, for such have ever been the lot, more or less, of the best and greatest saints of God; let us then never think it strange to share with them. Remove it, or roll it from me, as a heavy load, for I have kept thy testimonies: this is the cause for which I suffer, for my fidelity; and suffer what I may, to thy testimonies will I still adhere, in spite of all the scorn and opposition even of the greatest. Princes also did sit and speak against me; the great men of Saul's court against David, and the rulers against Christ, 1 Corinthians 2:8. And thus the mighty and noble have too generally done against the poor and despised followers of Jesus; but may we ever be enabled to say with the Psalmist, Thy servant did meditate in thy statutes; inattentive to their revilings, undisturbed in his meditations, and steadily persevering in the path of duty. Nay,
6. He still found in the law of God his supreme delight. Thy testimonies also are my delight; in them I find a joy which the world can neither give nor take away: nay, as our tribulations abound, our consolations will usually abound also; so that the world's enmity contributes but the more to our comfort; and my counsellors, or the men of my counsel; he consulted not with flesh and blood, but with better advisers, the scriptures of truth; and we are then sure that we are right, when God's word is thus our constant guide and rule, and shall ever find the comfort of following its blessed directions.
4th, We have,
1. The Psalmist's complaint, and humble plea; for every believing soul must expect to meet with trials. My soul cleaveth unto the dust; sunk under disease of body, or dejection of mind, and ready to drop into the grave; or feeling the vile affections of a fallen nature, attached to some earthly good, light, vain, and unsatisfactory, as the dust the wind scattereth. Ah, Lord! how often does this foolish heart of mine thus cleave to the dust! Quicken thou me; restore my body to health, raise up my drooping spirits, and especially enliven my dead heart, that in warm affections it may ascend to thee, and leave this vile earth, and all things in it, far behind; according to thy word, on the promises of which I place my dependance, and thence draw my encouragement to pray, and expect an answer of peace.
2. He casts his care upon God, proved by past experience so ready to hear and help him, for which he resolves to render continual praise. I have declared my ways; either his sinful ways which he lamented; or his distresses, which he spread before the Lord; or the holy purposes of his heart, which in prayer he had uttered to him; and thou heardest me, pardoning, pitying, relieving, confirming, strengthening me. A gracious soul has thus ever one to go to, who is as able to relieve all his wants, as he is ever ready to hear his prayer. What an unspeakable comfort! Teach me thy statutes, how I may walk and please thee, in gratitude for the mercy that I have received. Make me to understand the way of thy precepts; I want no higher teaching than thy word, opened by thy Spirit: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works; thus instructed, I shall be able to speak of them with understanding, with boldness, with delight. Note; We shall then speak of the things of God feelingly, and with effect, when we speak experimentally, from what we have known in our own souls.
3. He prays for help in his distress, and preservation of his soul from error and sin. My soul melteth, or drops, for heaviness; either through the pressures of affliction, temptation, desertion, or corruption; and, feeling his own weakness, he turns his eyes to one mighty to save; Strengthen thou me according to thy word, with such might in the inner man, that I may be able to conflict with and overcome the trials that I meet with; and this according to the promises which thou hast given me, to engage my dependence, and be my support. Remove from me the way of lying; or rather, the way of falsehood; keep me from all errors in principle and practice, that I may not deviate from the doctrines of truth, or from the instituted ordinances of worship. Grant me thy law graciously, which is the great preservative; and matter of infinite favour it is, that this blessed word is so fully made known to us, so kindly vouchsafed to us. Most inexcusable are those, who go to hell with bibles in their hands.
4. He declares what has been his choice, and what is still his purpose, and trusts that in this way he shall know no theme. I have chosen the way of truth, Christ, who is eminently the way and the truth; and his word, this he chose, convinced of the excellence of the way, and renouncing every other. Thy judgments have I laid before me, as the pattern after which I fain would fairly copy. I have stuck to thy testimonies, with unshaken steadiness, in spite of every effort of temptation to make me quit this hold. O Lord, put me not to shame; let me never be ashamed of my confidence, as disappointed of my hope; or a shame to my profession, as unfaithful; and hereunto will every believer heartily say, Amen. I will run the way of thy commandments, with cheerfulness, diligence, and delight, when thou shalt enlarge my heart; for from him all the ability is derived. It is his love shed abroad that can alone give wings to our soul, and his quickening Spirit make our feet to move swift and steady in the way to glory.
5th. A wise and gracious man was the Psalmist; but he was sensible that his attainments, both in knowledge and grace, were low in comparison to what they should be; and therefore he earnestly longed to increase in both with the increase of God. We have,
1. What he prays for. [1.] To be taught God's way, and bless with spiritual understanding. [2.] To be inclined and disposed, yea, drawn with the cords of love, and made to go in the way of God's commandments; for unless the Lord were to draw our stubborn hearts, and to impart to us of his Spirit, we should neither be able nor willing to walk before him.
2. What he promises. I will keep thy law, in the strength of the grace thou dost minister, unto the end, constantly and perseveringly; and with my whole heart, cordially, sincerely, and universally; for therein do I delight. Note; When our duty becomes our delight, then our soul truly prospers.
3. What he prays against. [1.] Covetousness, one of the most rooted and most dangerous of all evils; the love of gold, and the love of God, being utterly incompatible, and no man capable of serving two masters. [2.] Vanity, the vain pomp and glory of the world; the honours, profits, and pleasures, so tempting and ensnaring to the soul. He desires that he may be not only kept from the love of them in his heart, but removed from beholding them: for they who would abstain from evil must turn away their eyes from the temptation; for by looking, concupiscence is kindled as with a fire. [3.] Reproach, that God would turn it away. He feared it, lest the cause of God should be dishonoured thereby. For thy judgments are good, and therefore it would be grievous to hear these good ways of the Lord blasphemed, as they too often are through the falls of professors.
4. What he trusts to; the faithful promises of God. Quicken thou me in thy way; while ten thousand objects would divert me from it, and manifold temptations retard my course, let thy grace hold up my goings, and enable me to persevere vigorously and steadily. Stablish thy word; enable me to rely confidently upon it, and make me see the blessed fulfilment of it in the strength, comfort, and salvation ministered unto thy servant, my most honoured title, higher than that of Israel's king; who is devoted to thy fear and worship, to serve thee with filial awe, or which leads to thy fear, and to the honouring of thee, this being the blessed effect of that word, that it makes us jealous of offending, and takes delight in honouring God.
5. What he longed for. Thou seest my heart, and to thee I can appeal. Behold, and see, I have longed after thy precepts; that I may know them more distinctly, feel them graven upon my heart more deeply, and walk in the way of them more perfectly than I have ever yet done. Quicken me in thy righteousness, in thy righteous ways, according to thy faithful promises; and as thou hast given me to will, give me to do also of thy good pleasure.
6th, We have,
1. The prayer which he offered. [1.] Let thy mercies come also unto me; those mercies which flow from the covenant of grace, comprehending every blessing of pardon, grace, comfort, glory; even thy salvation, the fulness and perfection of it, according to thy word, which hath promised it, and therefore is the best plea to urge for the fulfilment of it. [2.] Take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth. He desired ever to feed on its sweet contents; to be speaking of the things contained therein without fear or shame; and to have an answer ready from it for every one who should ask him a reason of the hope that was in him.
2. The graces which he exercised. [1.] Faith. So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me; for I trust in thy word; in the word of promise, and therefore he doubted not but he should be able to answer the cavils of those who suggested that there was no help for him in his God; and they, beholding his salvation so unlike what they looked for, would be confounded and ashamed. [2.] Hope. I have hoped in thy judgments; either to see thine arm made bare in vindicating my wrongs, and avenging me of my enemies; or, as expressive of his unshaken hope in God's word, amidst every discouragement. [3.] Love. I have loved thy commandments, not only looked on them as my duty, but approved them as excellent, and delighted in them in the inner man as my richest treasure. My soul, is such thy state?
3. The practice that he proposed to himself, and which, happy will it be for us if we follow. So shall I keep thy law continually; affected with a sense of divine mercies, and exercising faith, hope, and love, in the gracious promises of God, and persevering in this blessed path of holiness, shall obey with constancy and for ever and ever. I will walk at liberty, with readiness and delight, delivered from the bondage of corruption, and engaged in that blessed service which is perfect freedom. Note; No slavery like sin; no liberty so invaluable as deliverance from it. Or, I will walk at large, in all the extent of God's holy will; for I seek thy precepts; I have done so, and through grace continue so to do. Nor will he only himself walk thus, but desires to make all men know, and to invite all to partake of his mercies. I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed. Note; (1.) If we are not a shame to our religion, we never need be ashamed of it. (2.) God's word is the best topic of conversation; and, though the world calls it cant to introduce that divine subject, the people of God must speak what they have known and believed, and what they delight in, and makes them happy. I will delight myself in thy commandments, as my chief joy, and lift up my hands to them, eager to climb the summit of perfection, embracing them with cordial affection, and praying for power and grace to walk more conformably thereunto: and I will meditate in thy statutes, that I may gain a more thorough acquaintance with them, and consider how I may best fulfil them. Behold, and imitate! This is the way; walk ye in it!
7th, The eyes of the servant are to the hand of his master.
1. He pleads, Remember the word upon which thou hast caused me to hope: not that God ever doth or can forget; but he will be inquired of by us, and is well-pleased to have his promises urged by us in prayer.
2. He professes the comfort he found in this word, even in his afflictions. David had a full cup of them, and every believer has his portion: but this word is a cordial for every fear, a balm for every wound. For thy word hath quickened me: it called me at first from death to life, and ever since it hath revived my fainting heart, and roused me up to fresh vigour, when my graces languished.
3. The scorn he met with was one of his troubles in which he found consolation from this word. The proud have had me greatly in derision; for no eminence of station, or purity of manners, can preserve us from the revilings of men. They who live according to God's word, may expect the laugh of fools, and the ridicule of the scorners, who think contempt of godliness to be a mark of wit and wisdom. Yet have I not declined from thy law: none of these things moved him a step out of the way of duty: he knew the value of it too well to be laughed out of his religion; and indeed they can have very little love for Christ and his ways, who cannot bear for him the smile of contempt, or the scoff of folly. I remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord; those executed on the proud, and the interpositions of his providence in behalf of his people; and have comforted myself, both in the consciousness of his simplicity and God's regard, which infinitely overpaid the world's scorn, and in the expectation that he who had formerly scattered the proud, and supported his people, would again appear for his help.
4. He expresses his dread on foreseeing the destruction of the ungodly, so terrible would it prove. Little as the wicked think of their danger, and trivial as they count their offences against God's law, a pious soul trembles for them, shocked at their impiety, grieved for the mischief they do, and with horror beholding the precipice of eternal ruin, to the brink of which they are so carelessly rushing.
5. In his lowest estate he would still rejoice. Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. This world is the strange land, through which, as pilgrims, the faithful travel, neither expecting nor seeking their rest below: they use it as their inn, and still hasten to their wished-for home; while with songs of praise they beguile the tedious hours, and from God's word encourage each other in the way.
6. By night, as well as day, God's law was the subject of his thoughts. I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night: when waking on his bed, his heart went up to heaven, and still maintained communion with God; and have kept thy law, in simplicity and godly sincerity. This I had, this comfort in the days of his pilgrimage, or this remembrance of God in the night, because I kept thy precepts; for in keeping them there is great reward. Or it may be rendered, This was given unto me, that I have kept thy precepts; it being wholly from God's grace that we are able to obey him, and to be acknowledged to his glory, not our own; for we have nothing that we have not received, and can render to him but of his own.
8th, We have,
1. Every good man's portion. Thou art my portion, O Lord: not wealth, not honours, not pleasures, not any sub-lunary good: no; these are husks, incapable of filling the boundless desires of his soul, which God alone with his love and favour can satisfy.
2. His purpose, I have said, that I would keep thy words, thy grace enabling me. All who have Christ to enjoy for their portion, cannot but yield themselves to him as their master to serve him.
3. His prayer. I entreated thy favour with my whole heart; or thy face, the light of thy countenance, which is better than life itself. Be merciful unto me; for every day we have need to cry for mercy. Blessed be his name, there is, through Jesus, mercy for the most miserable, and help for the desperate; and this according to thy word, the promises of God being ever the most prevalent plea.
4. His diligence to obey. I thought on my ways, reflected on the past, considered the path of present duty, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies, from which he has swerved: he rectified his walk, and with full purpose of heart, through grace, resolved to make straight paths for his feet, and that instantly; for delay is dangerous, and our good intentions should not be suffered to cool, but be put into immediate execution. I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments. Note; The sinner who for a moment refuses to comply with his convictions, and procrastinates, is in danger of being undone.
5. His complaint. The bands of the wicked have robbed me: united for his destruction, his enemies, who hated his good conversation, robbed him of his reputation by reproaches, and of his goods by violence, and would have robbed him of life itself; but in the midst of all he could say, I have not forgotten thy law; so as to be moved from the hope of its promises, or discouraged from obedience to its precepts. We may expect to share with the Psalmist in his sufferings; God grant we may be able to shew also our fidelity.
6. His thanksgiving. He not only prayed much, but praised too. At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee. He not only darted up a warm ejaculation, but shook off sleep, and even at midnight arose for the happy work of praise. How few have hearts so warm, as to leave their bed for such divine employment! and the matter of his song was God's righteous judgments; either those of his providence, executed on sinners, or manifested for his people's salvation; or those commands of his word, which are altogether righteous and true.
7. His company. He affected not the great, but the good; sought not the worldly wise, but the truly gracious. I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts. He loved them for what he saw of God in them, delighted in their converse, joined with them in religious exercises, communicated his own experience, inquired into theirs, and, though much his inferiors, withheld not from them the hand of fellowship, or the heart of affection; grace, like the grave, in a measure making all distinctions void among those who are one in Christ Jesus.
8. He ascribes glory to God, and directs his prayer to him. The earth, O Lord is full of thy mercy, or goodness; his providential kindness and care extending to all his works, and his special regard to the children of his grace. Teach me thy statutes, that in me another fresh instance may be given of thy mercy toward the sons of men. Note; Whatever will redound to God's glory, we may warmly urge as an argument for granting our petitions.
9th, We have,
1. David's grateful acknowledgment. Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O Lord, according unto thy word. His promises never fail; and they who trust them will own, that God doth all things well; not only above what we deserve, but exceeding all our desires.
2. His prayer and plea. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, or, a good taste, that, as the tongue distinguishes favours, so his heart might discern between good and evil, and approve the things that are excellent: for I have believed thy commandments; receiving them not as the word of man, but, as they are indeed, the word of God; and therefore he desired to have a deeper and more experimental acquaintance with them, which only God can teach.
3. He confesses his departure from God, and the blessing of affliction, which brought him back again. Before I was afflicted, I went astray. Ease, affluence, and prosperity, are strangely apt to steal away the heart from God, to make us forget that this is not our rest, and foolishly to attach our affections to the things that solicit our senses. This David found to his cost; but God visited him with the rod, kind scourge of paternal tenderness! How deeply are we indebted for it! However grievous for the time, we shall own it one of the best of blessings in disguise, when its effects are answered, and we can, by grace restored, say with the Psalmist, But now have I kept thy word: humbled into the dust, and brought back to the bosom of that Father of Mercies, from whom we had so greatly departed.
4. He ascribes glory to God. Thou art good, essentially, in thyself, and the fountain of goodness to thy creatures; and doest good to all, even to the evil and unthankful; so boundless is the emanation of his kindness. Teach me thy statutes, that in this experience of thy goodness I may have fresh cause to praise thee.
5. He lodges a complaint against the proud, and professes his own integrity. The proud have forged a lie against me; and against a lying tongue the purest innocence is no protection, Let it not seem strange, if the grossest falsehoods are spoken of us, or the most malignant interpretations made of our words and actions; it was ever so of old, and the enmity of the world against God's servants still abideth. But I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart; not discouraged from the path of duty; not vindicating himself from their calumnies, so much as living them down; while the holiness and unblameableness of his conduct might be a confutation of their falsehood, who spake evil of his good conversation in Christ. Their heart is as fat as grease, wallowing in wealth and luxury, and by indulgence of every appetite stupifying their conscience, making even their bodies lethargic, and their senses blunted. But I delight in thy law; know no pleasure equal to communion with thee; and find greater satisfaction in denying the perverse cravings of concupiscence, as that law enjoins, than they in the lawless indulgence of them.
6. In the school of affliction he had learnt wisdom, (as before, Psalms 5:6-7.) and the discipline he had there undergone was more than amply repaid in the benefits he received from an increased acquaintance with God, his word, his grace, his providences.
7. A high value did he set on God's word. The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. Vast possessions he enjoyed, immense riches he had acquired; but one page of God's book was better to him than these shining millions; one promise more valuable than the wealth of all the East. Faith, which realized to him an eternal world, and the glories there made him count every thing besides comparatively to be dung and loss. O that such a mind were in us also!
1. The Psalmist gives God the glory of his creation. Thy hands have made me, and fashioned me; the formation of our bodies in the womb being as much the work of divine power, as the making the first man out of the dust. Give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments. It is not so much our being, as our well-being, which is matter of praise. A creature apostate from God, as fallen man is become, might curse the day of his birth, unless by divine grace he was renewed in the spirit of his mind, and his soul restored to the service of God here, and made capable of the enjoyment of him for ever.
2. Others would join his praises, when they beheld God's grace shewn to him. They that fear thee, the character of those who are God's dear children, will be glad when they see me; partaking in in my prosperity, whether temporal or spiritual, as their own, and as members of the same body rejoicing with me, because I have hoped in thy word, which hath not failed; and this they see, and are encouraged to trust in the same promises.
3. He owns that, whatever afflictions he suffered, they were no more than he deserved; and that God therein had the most gracious designs towards him. I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right; all the commands of thy word, and all the dispensations of thy providence, particularly the afflictive ones which he had undergone; and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me, in consequence of his love and favour, and his covenant, wherein he had engaged to visit the iniquities of his people with the rod. Note; The darkest dispensations of Providence are but the frowns of paternal tenderness toward those who love him; and in all such cases he corrects because he loves.
4. He prays for a fresh discovery of God's merciful kindness, as a comfort to him in every affliction; a sense of this would make every burden light: and he pleads the word of truth as an argument for being heard and answered. Yea, he redoubles his prayer; Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: only for mercy can a sinner plead; only on mercy can his hope be stayed; and there is mercy, tender mercy, abounding mercy with God, for all who seek it in Jesus Christ. For thy law is my delight, or delights, what I approve as most excellent; and fain would I exercise myself in it day and night.
5. He prays for confusion or shame on his enemies, and for the company of his friends. [1.] For confusion or shame on his enemies. Vile was their character; proud and arrogant, insolent and overbearing. They dealt perversely with me; by lies sought to blacken his character, or by their snares to move him from his steadfastness: and this without a cause. It was unprovoked malice, and left them inexcusable in their iniquity. Such enemies may every pious soul expect to meet with; but they will be disappointed of their ends, and covered with shame present and eternal; while, for himself unmoved, he can say, I will meditate in thy precepts; no more diverted by their clamour and perverseness from his contemplations, than by the whistling of the winds. [2.] For the company of his friends. Their character is excellent; they fear thee, with filial reverential fear of his word and judgments, and have known thy testimonies, wise unto salvation; their understandings clear in the knowledge of the truth, and their hearts found in the practice of it; and therefore he cannot but with that they would turn unto him.
6. He prays, Let my heart be sound, or sincere, in thy statutes; in obedience to God's commands, and in observance of the instituted ordinances of his worship; that I be not ashamed; for when we are unfaithful we are ashamed to look men in the face, ashamed to appear before God, and shocked at ourselves; while conscious simplicity enables us to approach a throne of grace boldly, and our faces know no shame.
11th, We have,
1. The Psalmist's distress, and recourse to God. My soul fainteth for thy salvation, when ready to sink under the pressure of afflictions, or looking forward to the coming of the Messiah, so earnestly longed for by every pious soul; but I hope in thy word, to be delivered from all my threatening dangers, and to see the promise accomplished in the fulness of time. Mine eyes fail for thy word, weary with straining, to descry the approach of the Incarnate Word, or as ready to give up the prospect of relief, saying, When wilt thou comfort me? thus discouraged, tempted, and distressed, he was; for I am become like a bottle in the smoke, which, being made of the skins of beasts, grew shrivelled; and so emaciated and wrinkled was his once ruddy visage grown, worn down with the anguish and sorrow which preyed upon him within; yet, notwithstanding all he suffered, I do not forget thy statutes; but though thou slay me, yet will I trust in thee. Note; (1.) A sickly body, and a mind sorely harassed with temptations and afflictions, are often the lot of God's dearest children. (2.) We are apt to count every moment of trial long, and to be impatient of relief; but if we wait for it, we shall see the salvation of God. (3.) The fairest countenance, by disease, becomes quickly hagard and wrinkled: what folly to set a high value on so fading and uncertain a possession!
2. He pleads with God the length of his trials, the wickedness of his enemies, and his own fidelity, as arguments for present help, and for justice to be done him on his persecutors. How many are the days of thy servant? few, very few, and must they be all spent in the furnace of affliction? Lord, shorten the hour of temptation: when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me? the judgment of the sinner is near, is terrible; yet a moment, and the righteous will see it executed upon their persecutors: and this according to the highest equity, for the proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law, see Exodus 21:33-34. They pursued him as if he had been a wild beast, and with the most mischievous design sought to entrap him. All thy commandments are faithful; trusting thereon, I fear not their malice; they persecute me wrongfully, without the least provocation, with inveterate hatred, and unrelenting cruelty; and I have no power to resist them. Help thou me! all other help is vain, all other hope I disclaim, on thy everlasting arms I hang; Lord, save; or I perish. They had almost consumed me upon earth, so near they brought him to the brink of the grave; but I forsook not thy precepts; till death, determined never to quit my hold, and in death to make them my support. Note; (1.) Steady adherence to God is our grand security; from his hands none can pluck the faithful. (2.) Terrible will be the end of the ungodly, when God, the judge of all, arises to execute vengeance.
3. He prays for quickening grace. Quicken me after thy loving-kindness, let me experience the enlivening influence of thy grace, and that shall strengthen me under all my difficulties; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth; though in myself weaker than the bruised reed, yet able to do all things, thou strengthening me. Note; All is of grace: when God quickens our souls for the performance of duty, as he does the soul of every believer, it is an act of unmerited favour.
12th, We have,
1. The glory of God's word and works. For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven, or, thou art for ever, O Lord: from everlasting to everlasting, the same unchangeable Jehovah, and thy word is settled, or is firm in heaven, the decrees of it immutable, and the execution of them sure. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; and every faithful believer to the latest ages shall experience it to be so, to his everlasting joy. Thou hast established the earth, and it abideth, supported and preserved by the hand that formed it; they continue this day, the heavens and the earth, with all the vast orbs that roll in the immensity of space, according to thine ordinances; observing with exactest regularity the track marked out for them, and running with uninterrupted and abiding perseverance their appointed course: for all are thy servants, the creatures of thy hands, and obedient to thy will. Note; Men and devils are the only rebels in the whole creation of God.
2. The delight which the Psalmist took in God's law, and the support that he derived from it. Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction; the storm ran high, he was ready to despair of life, and in his spirit dejected; but in God's word a well of living waters sprung up; this revived him when fainting, strengthened him when weak, comforted him when afflicted, and may not every believer say this by experience? but for the word of gospel-grace he had sunk under his trials, and perished in despair. Abundant reason has he therefore to say, I will never forget thy precepts, for with them thou hast quickened me; not the precepts of the law, for they are a ministration of death; but the powerful word of the gospel, which is a favour of life unto life, through the ministration of the Spirit.
3. He pleads the interest that God had in him, as a reason why he should shew him his salvation. I am thine, thine by creation, thine by redemption, thine by adoption and grace, thine by choice, wholly thine, only thine. Save me from every evil of sin, or suffering; to which from the malice of earth or hell he might be exposed; for I have sought thy precepts, desired to know them, delighted to obey them, and therein approved my fidelity to thee.
4. He complains of the wicked. The wicked have waited for me to destroy me; laid snares to entangle him, waited for his halting, and purposed to kill the body; or, more terrible, by seducing him into sin, to ruin his soul; but I will consider thy testimonies, steadfast in adhering to them, notwithstanding all opposition, and by them preserved from all the snares of the ungodly.
5. He mentions his own observations confirming the excellence of God's law. I have seen an end of all perfection, all the greatness, glory, and wisdom of the world is limited, transitory, and passing away, and all the perfection that man can arrive at is infinitely short of the purity of God's law; but thy commandment is exceeding broad, beyond what created understanding ever fathomed, and proportionate and adequate to which, no works and righteousness merely human were ever found: only by Jesus Christ was it ever fully observed in the perfection of innocence.
13th, David had often spoken of his delight in God's word, and now in a rapture breaks forth, O how love I thy law, more than I am able to express; so rich are the promises contained in it, so excellent the rules prescribed by it: it is my meditation all the day; and nothing could be a stronger proof how greatly he delighted in it, than this. Several reasons he gives why he was bound thus to love and meditate in God's law.
1. Because of the wisdom that he had thereby attained. God had taught him, and no marvel his proficiency was great; he was wiser than his enemies, enabled to defeat their stratagems, and countermine their crafty designs. He had more understanding than all his teachers, either those who sat in Moses' seat, but were, as the Scribes and Pharisees in our Lord's day, very defectively versed in those scriptures which they professed to teach; or those who had in youth instructed him, whose attainments he had far outstripped. Nay, he understood more than the ancients, either the sages of his own day, or those preceding, and all this through God's commandments being ever with him; he consulted them in every circumstance, on every emergence; his meditation on them was sweet and frequent, and his adherence to them constant and sincere. Note; (1.) To practise what we know, is the speediest way to the highest attainments of spiritual wisdom. (2.) The written word of God contains more treasures of knowledge and a surer guide to glory, than all the volumes of philosophers, the decrees of councils, or the decisions of the fathers: these are fallible, and sometimes essentially erroneous; that is the voice of truth itself.
2. Because God's precepts made him refrain from and hate every evil way. The paths of sin are strewed with roses, and tempt us to turn aside, and taste those specious delights; but God's word discovers the delusion; the lurking serpent is pointed out, and the thorn which pierces at every step; and we are warned to escape from the ways of the destroyer.
3. Because by them he was kept steady in the path of duty. I have not departed from thy judgments, from the doctrines of truth, the ordinances of worship, or obedience to the commands; for thou hast taught me, and none but God can teach effectually, so as to make wise unto salvation.
4. Because of the comfort that he found in God's word. How sweet are thy words unto my taste, yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth, such consolation he drew from those breasts of gospel-grace, and every promise was as the flowers of spring, which afford sweetness to the industrious bee. And if we have but the Psalmist's spirit, we shall find the same delight in God's word, and confirm his experience by our own.
14th, We have,
1. The use of God's word. It is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. The law discovers the path of duty, points out the perfection of righteousness which God requires, convinces us of sin, and opens the corruption and deceitfulness of our hearts. The gospel holds forth Jesus, the son of righteousness; reveals the grace, mercy, and love of God manifested to sinners in their Redeemer; points to him the way, the truth, and the life; and shews us how by faith to walk in him, so as to reach at last the eternal kingdom.
2. David's solemn dedication of himself to God's service. I have sworn, and I will perform it, through divine grace, that I will keep thy righteous judgments; the promises, vows, and resolutions, indeed, made in our own strength, are vain and delusive; but the engagements that we enter into, drawn by the cords of love, supported by the Lord's power, and under a sense of our deep obligations, we shall be enabled to perform.
3. His afflicted state, and recourse to God therein. I am afflicted very much, either in body, under disease; in his circumstances, through oppression; or in his soul, under temptation: quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word, without the supports of which, I must have perished in my trouble.
4. His prayer for the acceptance of his services, and for direction in the way. Accept, I beseech thee, the free-will offerings of my mouth, O Lord; not the offerings of slain beasts, but the more pleasing oblations of the calves of the lips, the spiritual sacrifices of a grateful heart; and teach me thy judgments, for without divine teaching we can offer no acceptable service.
5. The danger to which he was exposed, and the practice that he persevered in. My soul is continually in my hand, in jeopardy every hour; for the wicked have laid a snare for me, crafty, as well as powerful, they use every method to destroy me: yet do I not forget thy law, nor err from thy precepts; neither intimidated out of his professions, nor diverted from the path of duty, nor through anxious care for his safety forgetful of God's law; nor, by any sinful contrivances to extricate himself from his difficulties, erring from the way of truth. Note; (1.) Persecution and suffering are more or less the lot of Christians in general in this wicked world. (2.) Patient perseverance will finally be crowned with success.
6. He professes his deliberate choice of God's word, as his abiding portion and joy. Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever, for the most invaluable possessions are those which are held by promise from God; they are the present rejoicing of my heart, affording a satisfaction infinitely beyond what all the things on earth can give, and not ceasing with our present transitory life, but abiding with the faithful to the days of eternity. I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes always even unto the end; not that it was of himself, but of divine grace, that he was thus disposed and enabled; and he trusted, that he who had begun would perfect what was lacking, and strengthen him to persevere even to the end.
15th, We have,
1. David's hatred of sin and love of God's law. He hated the very thoughts of evil. God, who sees them afar off, abhors them; and, if we find them rise within us, we must hate them too, and labour to smother them in the birth, before they are perfected in the act, or even quickened into desire. Note; If we watch not over our thoughts, we shall not long walk in the ways of God.
2. He professes his dependance on God. Thou art my hiding-place, whither I flee when pursued by the malice of earth or hell, and find a sure retreat; and my shield, to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one, and cover my head in the day of battle. I hope in thy word, and, having this anchor of my soul sure and steadfast, am enabled to ride out every storm.
3. He bids the evil doers depart, resolute to reject their enticements, and adhere to the commandments of his God. Note; (1.) It requires great courage to deny the solicitations of sinners. (2.) They who do not shun the company of evil doers, will not long keep from their ways. (3.) They who can truly say my God, cannot but say also, "I will keep thy commandments.
4. He prays for support from God. He felt his own weakness; he knew that, left to himself, he could not but fall, and therefore cries, Uphold me: and again, hold thou me up, as one sinking, unless the everlasting arms were under him: he grounds his prayer upon the promise, according unto thy word, and confidently trusts that thus he shall be safe, shall live the life of grace amid manifold temptations, and not be ashamed of his hope, so as to be disappointed in time or eternity; and, thus strengthened, he promises for himself, I will have respect unto thy statutes continually, strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, to persevere in the path of duty, till he should enter into the rest of glory. Lord, evermore thus hold thou up my soul!
5. He foresees and trembles at the ruin coming on the ungodly. Their character is evil: they err from thy statutes, desire not the knowledge of the truth, and wilfully turn aside. Their deceit is falsehood, they are hypocritical in their professions to God and man: they are the wicked of the earth; in their tempers and practices earthly, sensual, devilish; and their end will be according to their works. God will tread them down in his wrath, and trample them in his fury; will put them away like dross, proved vile and refuse, separated from destruction, and cast into the fiery furnace of everlasting burning: such judgments on the ungodly affected the Psalmist's heart in a double respect, as it should ours also. [1.] To fear before this holy God, trembling at the terrible situation of the ungodly, and careful to avoid every occasion that would kindle this wrath, which who for a moment can abide? [2.] To love God's testimonies the better; for in them only is the way of life, and in the path-way thereof there is no death.
16th, The Psalmist,
1. Appeals to God for his integrity, and begs him to be his protector from wrong. I have done judgment and justice; whether in his private capacity acting ever uprightly, or as the king of Israel, ministering true judgment unto the people. Leave me not to mine oppressors, for the most wicked and the most powerful can go not one step further to hurt us, than God permits. Be surety for thy servant for good, espouse my quarrel, vindicate my innocence against my accusers, and rescue me out of their hands; let not the proud oppress me. Note; The more we are conscious of our own weakness, and fly to God for help, the surer shall we stand.
2. He counts it long ere help arrives. Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness, for the fulfilment of the promise which assured him of salvation; it now seemed so long deferred, that he was ready to despair: and this hath been too often the infirmity of righteous men.
3. He prays for divine teaching. Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, for that is the only thing upon which we can rest our hopes; and teach me thy statutes, direct me in my doubts, support me under my discouragements. I am thy servant, and desire to approve my fidelity, if I knew the way; therefore give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies, and obey them.
4. He begs that God would arise for his own glory. It is time for thee, Lord, to work, to stop the torrent of ungodliness, and silence the blasphemies of the profane: for they have made void thy law, impiously casting off the cords, and bidding defiance to the Almighty; or proudly setting up a self-righteousness of their own. Note; They who rely on their own works for justification, as much make void the law, as those who daringly cast off every restraint, and indulge every lawless appetite.
5. He professes his love to God's law, and proves it in the most effectual manner—no gold so precious in his eyes. All God's precepts, concerning all things, he approved as just and good; the most difficult to be obeyed without hesitation, and none so little as to be forgotten or slighted. And he hated every false way, whether false doctrine, false worship, or false practices, he utterly abhorred them. Would to God our souls gave each day such proofs of the sincerity of our love!
17th, The Psalmist,
1. Expresses his admiration of God's testimonies, and his purpose to observe them. They are wonderful, contain astonishing discoveries of invisible things, of the mystery of God and of Christ, of the covenant of grace, of the way of godliness, and of the joys and miseries of the eternal world: therefore doth my soul keep them, locked up in my heart as the richest treasure, and with unreserved devotedness obeyed. Note; It is not commending God's word, but doing the work that it enjoins, which can shew our real esteem for it.
2. The benefit of God's word. The entrance of thy words giveth light: the first three chapters of the Bible teach us more of God's works, and man's true condition, what he was, and what he is, than all the books in the world; and when by the Spirit of God our understandings are enlightened, we immediately, on the very entrance of divine light, know more of God's grace and love than all mere human teaching ever could inform us. It giveth understanding unto the simple, makes even fools in the eyes of men wise unto salvation; and those who come to it with simplicity, and a child-like Spirit, find from every perusal increasing understanding in the things of God.
3. Like one gasping for breath, or as a person famished with hunger, the Psalmist could say, I opened my mouth and panted; for I longed for thy commandments, so intense were his desires, so fervent the breathings of his soul after God and his holy ways, and so eagerly he longed for the courts of his house, and the ordinances of his worship. Have we any thing of this sacred fervour?
4. He cries for mercy. Look upon me, not as I am of myself, the greatest of sinners, but in Jesus, my Saviour, and be merciful unto me; forgive my transgressions, and let me not meet the face of an angry, but a reconciled and pardoning God, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name; such looks of kind regard, such favours and mercies bestow upon me, for I am of that number, and hope to share with them in their blessedness. Note; If we love God in truth, we can ask for nothing that is good for us, which a God of love will not bestow.
5. He prays for direction and preservation. 1. Direction; order my steps in thy word; for we shall be able to take no step aright, unless God teach us by his Spirit, and guide us by his grace. 2. Preservation; Let not any iniquity, not the least known and allowed sin, have dominion over me, that I should obey it in the lusts thereof. Note; Nothing is so terrible in the eye of an awakened conscience, as to be brought again under the bondage of corruption and the power of sin.
6. He begs deliverance from his oppressors. Deliver me from the oppression of man, whose power he feared and whose malice he had experienced: so will I keep thy precepts with greater freedom and liberty, being rescued out of the hands of his oppressors.
7. He seeks the light of God's countenance to cheer him. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; with thy bright beams of love, make me to feel their enlivening influence, and to rejoice in the assurance of thy favour: and teach me thy statutes, that I may know them, and do them, and have joy in beholding the powerful effects of thy grace therein manifested. Note; (1.) If God smiles, it is of no consequence who frowns upon us. (2.) When we are found in the path of duty, God will meet us with the visits of his love.
8. He testifies his deep concern for the dishonour done to God, and the ruin that men bring on themselves by their iniquities. It was not a small measure of grief that oppressed him; no: Rivers of waters run down mine eyes: because they keep not thy law. Note; Every good man is a mourner in Zion; not only for his own sins, but he weeps over those that never drop a tear for themselves.
18th, The Psalmist,
1. Gives glory to God. Righteous art thou, O Lord, essentially so in himself, and in all the dispensations of his providence and grace; and upright are thy judgments, the afflictive visitations that he sends on his people, or the vengeance he executes on his enemies, all which are done with the highest equity. Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded, are righteous and very faithful, his precepts flowing from the rectitude of his nature, most fit for him to enjoin, and for us to obey; and all his promises are yea and amen in Christ Jesus to every faithful soul.
2. Great was his zeal for God. My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy word; he could not be an unconcerned spectator, and calmly behold God's authority disregarded, his word despised. That they were his enemies, he was least concerned about; that they were God's enemies, he could not bear, and therefore so zealously interested himself, that it preyed upon his spirits, and emaciated his body. Note; It is a good thing to be ever zealously affected in a good cause.
3. He highly commends God's word. Thy word is very pure, without any human mixture, holy men of old delivering it as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and its tendency being to promote purity in heart and life: therefore thy servant loveth it.
4. He complains. I am small and despised, little in my own eyes, and suffering much contempt and scorn from men, as will ever be more or less the portion of the righteous and zealous here below: yet do not I forget thy precepts, nothing moved him from his stedfast adherence to God's word and ways.
5. He exalts God's righteousness and truth. Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness; God is the same in all his glorious perfections for ever and ever; and in all his works and word he will eternally appear to be righteous; and that righteousness of his Son, manifested even to the death of the cross, which he hath provided for the justification of the sinner, is to everlasting ages the same; the hope of the faithful in time, and the sole meritorious cause of their glorification to all eternity, And thy law is the truth; like himself, who is the God of truth, one jot or tittle of whose word can never fail, until the whole be fulfilled.
6. In his trouble God's word comforted him. Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me; outward afflictions and inward grief seemed to seize him as their prey, and gracious souls have often their portion of this bitter cup: yet thy commandments are my delights, delights which can be enjoyed in the midst of sorrows, and which, as the world cannot bestow them, neither can it take them away from the faithful soul.
7. He acknowledges, as before, the everlasting righteousness of God's testimonies; and adds thereto his fervent prayer; give me understanding, and I shall live; they who know the Lord Jesus, and are acquainted with his eternal truths, and perseveringly cleave to him, live to and for God here, and will shortly live with him for ever in glory. For this is eternal life, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
19th, We have,
1. David's prayer and purpose. His prayer was earnest and importunate, and the object was salvation from the guilt, the power, the punishment of sin, and from the oppression, malice, and snares of his enemies: and, enabled in the strength of God, he resolves to keep his statutes and testimonies. Note; (1.) Cold prayers only beg denials; a few fervent words are better than a volume of mere lip-labour. (2.) We may be assured that our prayers are heard and answered, when our hearts are quickened to greater diligence in walking before God.
2. Early and late his mind was occupied in God's word. Before the dawn of day he was upon his knees; and in the night, awake upon his bed, his heart went up to God, and his word was the pleasing subject of his meditations, and the reviving hope of his soul. Note; (1.) A sleepy body is usually the proof of a sleepy soul; vigorous christians rise early, and waking redeem those hours which others dose away in useless sloth. (2.) When we begin the morning with God, we shall be enabled to see him at our right hand all the day long. (3.) The more we read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest God's word, the more confirmed will be our faith, and the more enlivened our hope.
3. He begs for quickening grace. Hear my voice according unto thy loving-kindness, for not our deserts, but his grace can alone embolden our requests. O Lord, quicken me according to thy judgment, revive my soul from its decays, its deadness and lifelessness, and according to thy promises restore me to a more enlivened temper of mind. Note; It is a heavy burden to a believer, when he perceives his heart heavy and backward in the ways of God; and he cries aloud for quickening grace.
4. In his danger the Psalmist flies to God, and from his nearness to him, and from the fidelity of his counsels, draws consolation to his soul. They draw nigh that follow after mischief, their restless hearts are ever bent on evil, and they pressed hard upon him, ready to destroy him; restrained by no fear of God, they are far from thy law, calling off all obedience to it, and careless about its threatenings: but, however sore thrust at, the Psalmist had a friend near, and able to help him. Thou art near, O Lord, ever at my right hand to save me, and all thy commandments are truth; the fulfilment of God's word his enemies sought in vain to defeat, for it is inviolably true. Concerning, or from thy testimonies, I have known of old, that thou hast founded them for ever; from earliest youth acquainted with the scripture, he knew that the truths were eternal, of perpetual obligation, and everlasting endurance; not one tittle can fail until the whole be fulfilled. Note; (1.) We may meet with much enmity in the world, and God may permit the danger to be very threatening; but it is to drive us closer to his blessed self, and engage our dependance more entirely upon him. (2.) In every trial he is near, and they who perseveringly trust him shall find his promises for ever sure: he never hath, never will, never can disappoint the hopes of the faithful soul, for he cannot deny himself.
20th, These verses contain,
1. The Psalmist's cry for help from God in his afflictions, particularly against the malice of his persecutors. Consider mine affliction, how great it is, and how weak I am to stand under it, and deliver me, for thou art able to save to the uttermost; and on thee I depend, for I do not forget thy law, neither moved by my troubles to forsake it, nor unmindful of the strength promised therein for my support. Plead my cause, as the avenger of my wrongs, and the advocate of injured innocence, and deliver me; let my accusers be put to shame, and quicken me with fresh strength and courage, to arise to walk before thee, according to thy word, my hope, and never failing refuge. Many are my persecutors; and mine enemies thrust sore at me that I may fall, yet do I not decline from thy testimonies, not ashamed to make public profession of the religion which exposes me to their malice, nor diverted from the path of duty by their opposition. Note; (1.) In every affliction it is an inestimable privilege, that we have a God to go to, in whose bosom we may pour out our complaints, with assurance of a gracious hearing and help. (2.) All who will live godly in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution: the Lord enable us neither to be ashamed nor afraid! (3.) However for a while the enemies of Christ and his people may prevail, he will arise shortly to plead his own cause, and render tribulation to those that trouble us.
2. He describes the character, and declares the hopeless state, of the ungodly. Salvation is far from the wicked, they have no part or lot in the matter, continuing obstinately impenitent; Christ, respecting them, hath died in vain; and, however they may flatter themselves with hopes of heaven, they will be terribly undeceived when they come to lift up their eyes in torment; for they seek not thy statutes, they neither know nor desire to know them, but wilfully and obstinately persevere and perish in their iniquities. Note; The day will come, when the salvation which sinners despised shall indeed be far from them, and the great gulph fixed for ever and ever.
3. He admires the riches of God's grace. Great are thy tender mercies, temporal mercies, great and numberless, but spiritual mercies in Christ still infinitely surpassing, and more inestimably great and glorious: pardon, grace, eternal life, flowing from boundless love and unmerited favour: quicken me according to thy judgments, and add this to all thy other mercies. Note; The more we contemplate the tender mercies of our God, the more shall we be overwhelmed with wonder, love, and praise.
4. He declares the pain that he felt for sinners. I beheld the transgressors with a mixture of pity and indignation, and was grieved for them, that they were so insensible of their baseness, hardened against fear, careless about the miseries they were bringing upon themselves; and for the dishonour done to God by their rebellious conduct, because they kept not thy word: a gracious heart thus bleeds for human misery; a zealous heart cannot, unmoved, look round on a world lying in wickedness. Blessed be God! the day is near when all this cause of grief and pain shall end.
5. Conscious of the simplicity of his heart, the Psalmist looks up in God. Consider how I love thy precepts, how ardently; and therefore could not but grieve to see them violated: quicken me, O Lord, according to thy loving-kindness, that I may be enabled to prove my love to them, by the enlivened diligence used in observing them. Note; The keeping of God's commandments is the only solid proof of loving them.
6. He encourages his heart in the faithfulness of God in his word. From the first promise given to Adam, one tittle hath not failed of being accomplished; and to eternity all who perseveringly trust in him shall find the word of promise sure, and those who impenitently provoke him shall feel his judgments inexorable and eternal.
21st, The Psalmist,
1. Complains to God. Princes have persecuted me without a cause, the princes of Israel under Saul and Absalom, or of the Philistines at the court of Achish. Thus was the Son of David also persecuted by the Jewish rulers; and thus have his people formerly been, and to this hour are, in many countries, oppressed by the great men of the world; and the power of magistracy often employed to crush or trouble them, though they are the quiet of the land: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word, unmoved with their persecution, and taught alone to fear him, who, when he hath killed, can cast both soul and body into hell.
2. He professes his delight in God's word, I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil; in this field are hid the inestimable treasures of grace, pardon, peace, righteousness, salvation; and he who findeth these hath indeed cause for joy. This was his happy case, and therefore he could say, Seven times a day do I praise thee, frequently, every day, not only on his knees, but at his meals, in his business, because of thy righteous judgments, the doctrines and precepts of his word, the providential mercies vouchsafed to his people, and the punishment executed on his foes, all which afforded matter for praise and joy. Note; If we do not want a heart, we never need want matter for God's praises.
3. He declares his detestation of lying or falsehood, either in his ordinary conversation, his dealings in the world, or his professions before God; or he hated every thing contrary to the truth and word of God, whether false doctrine, worship, or ways. Note; There is but one thing which we are permitted to hate, and that is sin, and there we need fear excess.
4. He professes his love to God's law. Thy law do I love, in opposition to all doctrines of lies, and practices of falsehood: and great is the blessedness thence accruing, for great peace have they which love thy law, peace with God, peace in their conscience, peace which the world can neither give nor take away; great peace, passing all understanding: and nothing shall offend them; the unfaithfulness of others shall not stagger them; and, as they would not willingly offend themselves, neither are they captious to take offence against their brethren, or rigid censurers of their conduct.
5. He professes his hope in God's salvation; a good hope, through grace, which had the most blessed influence, engaging him to purify himself as he is pure. Lord, I have hoped for thy salvation, temporal, spiritual, eternal, and this hope hath been, and continues to be, the anchor of my soul, and enables me to ride out every storm; and done thy commandments, with simplicity and godly sincerity. Note; Christian hope will ever produce holy walking.
6. He appeals to God for his simplicity. My soul hath kept thy testimonies, embraced the doctrines, obeyed the precepts, and I love them exceedingly, out of a pure heart, fervently. I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies, and this I should not dare to repeat, if conscious of known guile in sentiment or practice: for all my ways are before thee, thine eye is upon me, thou knowest the secrets of my heart, thou knowest that I love thee, and delight and desire to please thee in all things. O that there were such a heart in us! O that with confidence we could thus approach unto God in Christ!
22nd, We have,
1. The Psalmist's prayer. Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord, a poor supplicant at the footstool of thy grace, unworthy of notice, yet perishing without thy kind regard: give me understanding according to thy word, to know thy will, that I may obey it. Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word of promise, which emboldened his prayer, and which he pleaded as the ground of his confidence in God, and the argument for present help, that God's faithfulness might be magnified. Note; What we ask according to God's word, believing, we shall receive.
2. His resolution to render his grateful returns for God's mercies. My lips shall utter praise, as a copious stream gushing from a heart overflowing with gratitude, when thou hast taught me thy statutes, which will, the more I know them, enlarge my soul with love, and fill my lips with thanksgiving. My tongue shall speak of thy word, commending from experience its excellence to others, and eager to spread the knowledge of it on every side; for all thy commandments are righteousness, perfectly righteous in themselves, and the evangelical righteousness of those who observe them in love through the only meritorious righteousness of Jesus Christ, who hath fulfilled the law for us, and is the end thereof for righteousness to every believer.
3. He pleads for help from God. Let thine hand help me against my enemies of every kind, within and without; for I cannot help myself, and all human help is vain. Note; When we are in our own eyes most weak and helpless, God's strength will be made perfect in our weakness.
4. He declares what hath been his choice, his hope, and joy. I have chosen thy precepts, as my heritage for ever, approve them as most excellent, and wish to conform to them without reserve. I have longed for thy salvation, for temporal deliverance from his foes, for the coming of the expected Messiah, who should bring eternal redemption to his faithful people, for the salvation of body and soul in the day of final recompence: and thy law is my delight; he took the right way, and therefore might well hope for a blessed issue. The Lord Christ will be assuredly the author of salvation to all that obey him.
5. He prays that he may live for God's glory. Let my soul live, my natural life be prolonged, or my spirit enlivened by divine grace, and put in tune for God's present and everlasting praises, and it shall praise thee; this shall be my constant employment: and let thy judgments help me, teach me matter for my songs, and direct me in the acceptable manner. Note; Life is only desirable to a good man, that he may employ it in God's praise and service.
6. He concludes with an humbling confession, a gracious prayer, and holy profession. I have gone astray like a lost sheep, an animal stupid and foolish, the easiest to err, the last to find his way back again; such is the fit emblem of the sinner's folly, so easily turned aside, so unable to return to the God from whom he hath departed. May we not well adopt the Psalmist's acknowledgment, with grief and shame lament our sad departures from the God of our mercies, and cry with him, seek thy servant; for he is not hasty to cast us away, but, like a tender shepherd, seeks that which was lost, bringing back into the way the returning prodigal, and restoring him again to the joys of his salvation, for I do not forget thy commandments. However for a moment he seemed to be moved from his steadfastness, through the power of his enemies, or the deceitfulness of sin; he still remembered God's good ways, approved of them, and desired to walk in them as the only ways of pleasantness, and paths of peace.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 119". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent