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V.I. It is generally allowed, that David composed this highly instructive Psalm : and it is most probable, that he committed to writing, in a detached manner, the several reflections, maxims, and ejaculations, contained in it, as they occurred to his mind, amidst the varied scenes of his eventful life ; and that, towards the close of it, he collected them into order, for the benefit of his people, and that of the church in every age. The psalm consists of twenty-two sections, (each containing eight verses,) according to the number of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet : and every verse in each section, in the original, begins with that letter which stands as the title of it. It may be supposed that this arrangement was formed, principally, to assist the memory of the reader. The psalm may be considered in a special manner as the touchstone of genuine experience : and as far as any man’s views, desires, purposes, and affections, coincide with those of the Psalmist, he may be sure, that they come from the influence of the sanctifying Spirit; but no further. The reader’s thoughts indeed will frequently be led to the Saviour himself; because he was perfectly, what believers are in a measure : and their conformity to him is the evidence of their interest in his divine righteousness. The word of God, under different terms, according to the several parts of which it is composed, is mentioned in almost every verse. He meditated ’ on the excellence of God’s laws, ’ and the happiness of those that kept them, and the com’ fort they were to him in his affliction, which he found to ’ be so sweet and so great, that he begs of God little else, ’ but that he might be more and more in love with them ; ’ which were already so much his delight, that he mentions ’ them under one name or other in every verse of the ’ Psalm, none excepted but one, v: 122.’ Bp. Patrick.
Sometimes, indeed, the connexion will lead the attentive reader to think more of one part than of others : but in general " the oracles of God," as then extant, are intended ; and it is probable, that the word was commonly selected, which best suited the metrical arrangement. Six or seven distinct words are used in the first section of eight verses, viz. Law, testimonies, precepts, statutes, commandments, judgments, and ways. Most or all of these terms have been already explained ; but in some instances, it will be necessary again to consider them, along with the context. (Notes, Psalms 19:7-11. Psalms 25:10. Psalms 93:5. Exodus 21:1. Deuteronomy 6:1
(Notes, Psalms 1:1-3. Psalms 32:1-2
V. 2, 3. The " testimonies" of God are the declarations of his truth and will, however attested ; whether by express declarations, or by instituted ordinances, as pledges of his love to his upright worshippers : and those who credit his word, and attend on his ordinances, and thus seek him with an undivided heart, are happy, and shall be happy. (Notes, 129. Isaiah 8:20. 1 John 5:9-13.) " Assuredly they practise no iniquity ; they walk in his ways." They walk in wisdom, and " her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." (Note, Proverbs 3:16-17) ’ They will not be tempted to do an evil action, ’ though it were to gain the greatest good in the world.’ Bp. Patrick. ’ Enroll us, O Lord, in the happy number ’ of these thy servants ; pardon our offences ; give us a ’ new nature, averse from sin, and inclined to sanctity ; and ’ guard us, that the wicked one touch us not.’ Bp. Home.
V. 4. What then does God command us, but diligently to do those very things, in which true happiness is to be found ? What does he forbid us, but to make ourselves and others miserable ? (Marg. Ref. f.)
V. 5. ’ David acknowledgeth his imperfection, desiring ’ God to reform it, that his life might be conformable to ’ God’s word.’ (Notes, Psalms 19:7-14.)’ The faithful soul, enraptured with the contemplation of that blessedness, ’ which is the consequence of serving God, but conscious, ’ at the same time, of an inability to attain it, sighs after ’ the refreshing and strengthening influences of divine grace. She beholdeth her Saviour afar off; she beholdeth the beauty and glorious majesty of his heavenly kingdom ; she beholdeth the way which leads to it ; but she hath not power to walk therein. This consideration causeth her to groan earnestly within herself, ...and at length to breathe forth a wish, that the Spirit of truth and love would fix and establish her in a holy course thinking, speaking, and acting upon all occasions; ’ would prevent her from turning aside out of it, to the ’ right hand or to the left.’ Bp. Home. The sudden transition, from the preceding reflections to this fervent ejaculation, is very beautiful : and in what respect does this differ from that experience, which St. Paul enlarges upon in the seventh of Romans ? (Notes and P. O. Romans 7:13-25.)
V. 6. ’ All the commandments have the same Author and the same sanction. He who thinketh to atone for ’one, by the observation of another, ...is a hypocrite, ’ and, unless he repent, will be brought to shame, if not ’ before men here, yet before men and angels hereafter.’ Bp. Home. Notwithstanding manifold imperfections, that man will never be thus put to shame, who unreservedly has respect to all God’s commandments, as the rule of his conduct, and humbly repents of every deviation from them. (Notes,Psalms 119:31
V. 7 ’ The scriptures are styled God’s " righteous judgments," as containing an account of his decrees and determinations concerning us, with a history of cases and ’ precedents, entered upon record for our admonition. By ’ these we are to form our opinion, and regulate our conduct : and when we shall have so learned these, as to ’ walk according to them, we shall praise God with an ’ upright heart.’ Bp. Home. (Marg. Ref. Note, 171.)
V. 8. ’ He refuseth not to be tried with temptations ; ’ but he feareth to faint, if God succour not his infirmity ’ in time.’ ’ It is my leading desire and fixed purpose to keep thy statutes, O do not leave me without help, to be overcome by temptation, or to sink under discouragement.’ (Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalms 119:106
It is the will of God that we should wisely seek our own happiness : our self-love indeed should be properly directed and subordinated ; but it cannot and ought not to be extirpated. Experience, as well as the sacred Scriptures, testifies, that " blessed are the undefiled in the way, " who walk in the law of the LORD." Had sin never existed, misery had been unknown : and now that the way of pardon and reconciliation has been opened by the Lord Jesus Christ, we re-ascend to felicity, in proportion as we are renewed to holiness : and it is our highest privilege on earth to commune with God, and bear his image ; to attend on his ordinances, rely on his promises, and, avoiding all iniquity, to " walk in his ways." Believers are indeed not exposed to the condemning sentence of the law : yet the Lord " hath commanded them to keep his " precepts diligently ; " and their obligations to obedience are increased in proportion to the mercies which they have received. This grateful obedience also corresponds to the dispositions of their renewed hearts. The genuine disciple could not rely on the righteousness of Christ for justification, did he not see that excellency and beauty in it, which make him long to transcribe it in his own conduct, and to have his soul cast into the very mould of it. (Note, Psalms 85:10-13.) His heart consents to every precept of the holy law that it is good : he would not have one of them repealed, mitigated, or altered; (Notes, 128. Romans 7:7-12 ;) he only grieves that he no more comes up to this perfect standard, and, with many a sigh, he says to the Lord, " Oh, that my ways were directed to keep thy " statutes ! " He knows, that if a man respects only some of the commandments, and expects by one instance of obedience to purchase an indulgence for disobedience in another, his hypocrisy will be detected by his partiality ; and that if he be not made ashamed in this world, everlasting contempt will be his portion. (Note, Daniel 12:2-3.) Therefore he desires to " have respect unto all God’s " commandments." And as he could have no confidence before the mercy-seat now, so he could not hope to stand with confidence before the judgment-seat at last, if he allowed himself to despise or violate one of them. This man therefore will not only pray to be directed, and enabled to obey as far as he knows the will of God ; but to be taught it, in all those things which have hitherto been concealed from him : and he is disposed " with upright" ness of heart," to praise the Lord for every new discovery which he makes in his righteous judgments. His desire and purpose are to keep the statutes of God, and his dependence is upon him to enable him, and comfort him in so doing. The Lord may, indeed, and often will, leave such a servant to feel his own weakness, when struggling with difficulties and temptations ; yet he will hear his prayer, when he earnestly intreats him that he would not utterly and finally forsake him. (Note, 2 Corinthians 12:1-21:
V. 9. Many maxims and rules have oeen laid down, for regulating the manners, and forming the principles, of. young persons : but a constant attention to their conduct, and an habitual comparison of their opinions, words, tempers, affections, and actions, with the sacred scriptures, so as to aim daily at nearer and nearer conformity, is of itself sufficient ; and without this, all else is totally inadequate. We may suppose that David made this inquiry for his own use, in the dangerous and important season of youth; and then published it in his old age for the benefit of others. (Notes, Psalms 34:11-14. Ecclesiastes 11:1
V. 10. Notes,Psalms 119:2-3
V. 11. David treasured up the truths, promises, precepts, and instructions of the sacred oracles, in his memory ; and endeavoured to form his judgment, to direct his conscience, and to regulate his affections, according to them : and having thus lodged them in his heart, they were securely hidden from every enemy, nor could he be robbed of them. Thus he used the Scriptures as his antidote against the contagion of temptation and sin. (Marg. Ref. Note, Colossians 3:16-17.) ’ From the " heart are the ’ " issues of life," the thoughts, the words, and the ac’ tions : when God ruleth the heart by his word and Spirit, ’ these become his subjects ; then " the kingdom of heaven ’ " is within us," and all is obedience, peace, and love.’ Bp. Home. (Note, Proverbs 4:23.)
V. 12. ’ Thou art perfectly holy and perfectly happy ; O teach me thy statutes, that I may be partaker of thy holiness and happiness.’
V. 13. (Note, 46.) ’ "Out of the abundance of the ’ " heart the mouth speaketh ; " and the stream will al’ ways shew the nature of the fountain. When we make ’ the Scriptures the subject of our conversation, we glorify ’ God, we edify our neighbours, and we improve ourselves." Bp. Home. (Note, Deuteronomy 6:7-9) Judgments.] This word seems to mean the decisions formed and made by
the infinite wisdom and justice of God, whether they concern truths, facts, duties, or persons. By these decisions we ought to judge, and by them we shall be judged.(Notes,Psalms 119:66
V. 14. ’ Truth and holiness afford to the sincere believer a pleasure more exquisite, as well as more solid ’ and enduring, than that which a miser feels at the acquisition of. his darling wealth. ...The true riches we may ’ always acquire, and surely as much as the heaven is ’ higher than the earth, so much are heavenly joys above earthly, in kind, degree, and duration.’ Bp. Home. As much as, &c.] Or, As in all riches. ’ Thy testimonies are to me, what all riches are to worldly men, and far better.’
V. 15. ’ Meditation is that exercise of the mind, whereby it recalls a known truth, as some kinds of creatures 4 do their food, to be ruminated upon, until the nutritious parts are extracted, and fitted for the purposes of ’ life.’ Bp. Home. (Notes,Psalms 119:6
V. 16. Notes,Psalms 119:14
V. I7. " Recompense thy servant ; I will live and keep " thy word." Or, " Confer a favour on thy servant, that " I may live and keep thy word." The verse may be understood either way. ’ He sheweth that we ought not to ’ desire to live, but to serve God.’ If the Lord communicate to us spiritual life abundantly, we shall be proportionally obedient to his word ; and this will be both an additional obligation conferred on us, and a gracious recompence of our imperfect services hitherto. (Notes,Psalms 119:132-133. Psalms 13:5-6. Psalms 116:7-9.)
V. 18. " Reveal," (marg.) or unveil " mine eyes, &c." (Note, 2 Corinthians 3:12-16.) The moral law of God shewed the Israelites their need of a Saviour; and it also displays the holiness of God, the nature of heavenly happiness in conformity to him, and the believer’s path through this evil world. (Note, Exodus 20:1 .) But under the ceremonial law, the wonders of redeeming love were veiled. Believers among the Israelites well knew, that the external institutions of the law typified some deep and spiritual mysteries : and they understood them, in proportion to their degree of divine illumination, and as far as it was necessary for their support, comfort, and direction in the path of life ; yet probably with much less distinctness, than real Christians now do. (Notes, Matthew 13:16-17. Luke 10:23-24. 1 Peter 1:10-12.) But under every dispensation, the veil of prejudice, pride, and carnal affections, must be removed from the heart of fallen man, or he will never understand the nature and glory of divine truth. If the word of God be the instruction, the Spirit of God must be the Teacher. For this divine teaching the Psalmist prayed, that he might be enabled to see more and more of those wonderful works and perfections of God, of which even his present imperfect discoveries filled his soul with devout admiration, adoration, and holy joy.
V. 19-21. These verses contain arguments, with which the Psalmist enforced his plea for divine teaching. Being a stranger on earth, and journeying to his eternal home, he knew that he should lose his way, if the testimonies and commandments of God were unknown to him, or mistaken by him. (Notes, 54- 56. Psalms 39:12. Genesis 47:9. Hebrews 11:13-16. 1 Peter 2:11.) He had been led to desire the knowledge of the truths and precepts of revelation, with such intenseness, that his soul was constantly ready to break, or faint, when at any time he dreaded being left in ignorance, or bewildered in error. (Notes, Psalms 119:40
V. 22. ’ Remove from me that disgrace and shame, unto which they expose me as a traitor to my king and ’ country ; for I am not guilty of any such wickedness, but ’ carefully observe thy testimonies.’ Bp. Patrick. (Notes, 39- 42. Psalms 7:3-11. Psalms 25:2-3. Psalms 39:7-8. Psalms 123:3-4.)
V. 23. Saul and his courtiers, sitting in council, and speaking all manner of evil falsely against David, and conspiring together to take away his life ; while he was praying, and meditating on the word of God, that he might learn and practise his duty towards them and all men, and might find comfort from the precious promises ; were a type of the Jewish sanhedrim, consulting together to put Jesus to death ; while employed through the day in healing and teaching the people, and doing all manner of good to all who were willing to receive benefit by him ; and spending
the hours of the night, or part of them, in prayer and supplication. (Mars. Ref. Note. 15.)
V. 24. The Psalmist not only found his joy and comfort in the sure testimonies of God, but he made them his counsellors, or ’ the men of his counsel ; ’ (marg.) and closely adhered to their decisions, as princes do to the unanimous opinion of their most approved advisers. (Notes, 14. 105.)
The season of youth is peculiarly dangerous and important : the comfort and usefulness of future life in general greatly depend on our conduct, when the passions are most strong, and we are most destitute of knowledge and experience : and the hopes of the church and of society, for a succession of useful members, are placed upon the rising generation. Every one ought, therefore, to contribute all that is in his power, to preserve young persons from the fatal effects of their own head-strong passions, of an ensnaring world, and of artful seducers ; that they may not
early contract bad habits, and form ruinous connexions. And when young persons are convinced of the desirableness of having their way made and preserved pure from the pollution of sin ; their general rule is, to take heed to it according to the precepts, cautions, and encouragements of the word of God. Thus David from his youth sought the Lord with his whole heart ; and in answer to his prayers he was not left to " wander from his commandments : " he deposited the sacred scriptures in his inmost soul, and was by them kept from sinning against God. Let every
youthful reader copy this example ; yea, let us all he thus followers of him, and of the Lord Jesus. As God is both perfectly holy and perfectly happy, and as his blessedness is the result of his infinite excellency ; how absurd must it be to expect happiness by being contrary to him, and rebelling against him ! Rather let this be our plea with him to teach us his statutes, that, being partakers of his holiness, we may also participate his blessedness : and then we may, with propriety and efficacy, " declare the " judgments of his mouth," for the instruction of others also. (Notes, Psalms 37:29-31.) For the experienced believer finds far greater joy in the ways of his testimonies, than wealth can confer : and these are the only joys and riches, which are universally attainable by all who covet and seek them. But then we must frequently meditate upon the precepts of our God, reduce our knowledge to practice, and have respect to all his ways : and if we be careful not to forget any part of his word, we shall soon delight ourselves in his ordinances and commandments. The Lord deals very bountifully with all his servants ; who, being delivered from the wrath to come, and raised from the death of sin, find true life and enjoyment in keeping hi* word : but they need more and more mercies, and long for still more complete divine illumination. Every discovery, which they make of the wondrous things revealed in the scriptures, increases their earnest desire of having the eyes of their understanding opened to clearer perceptions of divine truths : and every lively emotion of love and gratitude makes them long and pray for more fervent affections. As perfect knowledge and love are reserved for their portion in heaven, they feel themselves " strangers " on earth : " they fear missing their way, even in part, lest they should lose the solace of walking with God, by erring from his commandments. Their anxiety on this account often interrupts their enjoyment, and makes them " groan, being burdened : " especially, if darkness and temptation so oppress their minds, as to render them afraid of having their portion with the proud and impenitent, whom God resists. This is the reproach which they most dread ; though the contempt and calumny of men are sometimes very distressing to their minds, and excite prayers for the removal of them. But when either princes or peasants speak against them ; as the servants of God, they would be occupied in meditation on the scriptures, not only because " their delight is in his testimonies," but because they desire from thence to be counselled how to behave ; in order that by well doing they may put to silence those, who would falsely accuse them : and in every trouble and perplexity, they make them their " delight and their counsellers." Such are the desires, purposes, and experiences of the true Christian, in proportion to his degree of knowledge and grace. May the Lord help us to look in this glass, that we may know what we are ; and that we may be directed, in exercising repentance of sin and faith in Christ, and ’ in amending our lives, according to his ’ holy word.’ And may we learn to avoid all altercation with our revilers ; who cannot injure us, except they interrupt our devotions, or ruffle our tempers, or induce us to sin against God. ’
V. 25. Many understand this verse, merely as a complaint on account of deep affliction, and peril of death, and as a prayer for the preservation of life. (Marg. Ref.) Yet it is evident that the Psalmist was conscious, that, compared with his better judgment and the perfect standard of duty, his affections were exceedingly apt to cleave . to worldly objects, which are but dust; and that he prayed for enlivening grace to render him more spiritually-minded. (Notes, Matthew 16:21-23
V. 26. (Marg. Ref.) ’ We should freely and ingenuously declare to God in prayer our sins, our temptations, ’ our sorrows, and our undertakings : it argues love, confidence, and sincerity so to do ; it is a means of acquaint’ ing us with our own state, of which generally we are ’ ignorant; and it will not fail to procure those aids from ’ above, of which we stand in need. God will hear us ; ’ he will pardon our offences, strengthen us in our trials, ’ dispel our grief, and " prosper the work of our hands ’ " upon us." ’ Bp. Home. It is worthy of special notice, how often, and in what varied connexions, David, in this Psalm, prays to be taught the statutes of God ; though he seems to have been more intimately acquainted with the sacred oracles, as then extant, than almost any other man was : but he knew, that divine teaching alone could enable him rightly to understand the scriptures, and to apply general rules to all the variety of particular cases, which occurred in the course of his life. (Note, 12.)
V. 27. Marg. Ref. 13. Notes, Ixxi. 16-18.
V. 28. (Marg. Ref.) Heaviness."] David’s heaviness might in part arise from his outward trials : but he seems to have spoken as one distressed in mind, because he got no more ground against sin, and as needing strength to resist temptation. " Lift me up according to thy word." ’ Let us not marvel, if sin bring us to the knowledge of ’ sorrow, since he who " knew no sin," was yet, on our ’ account, so intimately " acquainted with grief." In the ’ garden, his soul melted for heaviness. ...Our transgressions deserve an eternity of sorrow : let us not therefore repine at any portion of it, that may fall to our share ’ in time. No, blessed Jesus, let us suffer with thee, as ’ both a means and a pledge of our future glorification with ’ thee. Only " strengthen us, according to " the promises ’ in " thy word." ’ Bp. Home.
V. 29, 30. " The way of lying," and " the way of " truth," are here opposed to each other. " The way of " truth " means, that true way which God has revealed, by which we may come to him and walk with him. The " way of lying " means, therefore, all those false ways, by which men deceive themselves and others, or are deceived oy Satan and his instruments. False doctrine, hypocrisy, and whatever is contrary to the faith and holiness of the gospel, are intended by the way of lying. (Marg. Ref. Notes,Psalms 119:104
V. 31. The word, rendered " stuck," is the same as is before translated, " cleaveth : " (Note, 25 :) and the conflict between grace cleaving to the Lord’s testimonies, and the remainder of in-dwelling sin " cleaving to the dust," is best understood by those who " delight in the law of " God after the inward man, but find another law in their " members warring against the law of their mind," so that they " cannot do the things that they would." (Notes, 1- 5. Romans 7:13-25. Galatians 5:16-18.) The Psalmist, however, adhered to the testimonies of God so closely, notwithstanding this inward conflict, that neither temptations nor persecutions could induce him to draw back. So also did the apostle, and so do all that " delight in the law of " God." (Note, Acts 11:23-24.) ’ Hitherto I have kept ’ my resolution, and never started from thy testimonies. ’ Preserve me, good Lord, that I may not hereafter disgrace myself, by doing any thing contrary to them.’ Bp.
V. 32. " I will run the way of thy commandments ; for " thou wilt enlarge my heart." This is the most literal rendering. ’ By this he sheweth, that we can neithei ’ choose good, cleave to God’s word, nor run forward in ’ his way, except he make our hearts large to receive grace, ’ and willing to obey.’ (Notes, 45. Song of Solomon 1:4. Luke 1:46-55. John 6:41-46
V. 33. Those, who are taught by the Lord " the way " of his statutes," will keep it to the end : and the reason why so many draw back is intimated ; namely, they have only been taught by men. (Note, 1 John 2:18-19.) ’ He ’ sheweth that he cannot follow on to the end, except God ’ teach him oft times, and lead him forward.’
V. 34. ’ Much " understanding" is needful, in order to ’ the observation of the law ; that we may know what is ’ commanded, and what is forbidden, and how far ; that we ’ may avoid the snares laid for us in the way of duty ; that ’ we may respect things according to their due rank and ’ worth ; that we may do good works in their proper time, ’ place, and manner ; above all, that the affections may be ’ directed by the judgment, and not the judgment by the ’ affections.’ Dp. Home. " With my whole heart," ’ not only ’ in outward conversation, but also with inward affection.’
(Notes, 10. Proverbs 2:1-6. Philippians 1:9-11. James 3:13-18.)
V. 35. Delight.] ’ Happy the soul, that can say to ’ God, " Therein do 1 delight." ’ Bp. Home. The character, described in the seventh of Romans, says, " I de" light in the law of God, after the inward man ; " and the longings and prayers of the man after God’s own heart, continually remind us of the struggles and complaints, spoken of in that well known portion of holy writ.
(Notes, 5. Romans 7:9-25.)
V. 36. In proportion as the heart is inclined by divine grace, to " the testimonies of God ; " to ’ desire what he ’ promises, and love what he commands,’ the inclination, or propensity, to covetousness must be mortified : and when tne Lord leaves a man to himself, his heart will of course be inclined to evil, and idolatrously to seek happiness in worldly things.
(Notes, Exodus 20:3-17 1 Kings 21:17. P. O. Notes, Romans 7:7-8. 1 John 2:15-17.)
’ Hereby meaning all other vices, because that covetousness is the root of all evil.’ (Note, 1 Timothy 6:6-10.) ’ Incline my heart always to seek its contentment in thy ’ testimonies ; and suffer it not to be drawn away by the ’ desire of worldly goods, which, having no measure, is ’ never satisfied.’ Bp. Patrick.
V. 37. ’ Help me to overlook those worldly honours ’ and fading beauties, which we are apt to behold with too ’ much admiration ; and with lively affections and vigorous ’ endeavours, to persist in the pursuit of thy favour, in the ’ way thou hast set before me.’ Bp. Patrick. The eyes seem put for all the senses, which are the inlets of temptation to the heart, and through which every kind of concupiscence is excited. (Notes, Genesis 3:6. Joshua 7:21. 2 Samuel 11:15. Job 31:1-4
V. 38. The promises given in the word of God, especially relate to the preservation and sanctification of the true believer. David, being conscious that he was the Lord’s servant, and greatly afraid of offending or forsaking him, prayed to have these promises stablislied, or performed, to his soul ; that the effects of the deceitfulness of his heart, and of the force of temptation, might be prevented. (Notes, 49. 2 Samuel 7:26-29.)
V. 39. ’ Let me not fall to thy dishonour ; but let my ’ heart still delight in thy gracious word.’ The Excellency of the judgments, decisions, maxims, and precepts of the sacred word, aggravates the guilt and disgrace of acting contrary to them ; and this seems to have been the reproach of which David was especially afraid.
(Notes, 22. 2 Samuel 12:14. Matthew 18:7-9. 1 Timothy 3:7. Titus 2:7-8. 1 Peter 4:12-16.)
V. 40. Notes, 5. 19- 21. ’ Doth not my heart thy precepts love, ’ And long to see thy face? ’ And yet how slow my spirits move, ’ Without enlivening grace ! ’ Wattt,
V. 41, 42. ’ He sheweth that God’s mercy and love is ’ the first cause of our salvation. By trusting in God’s ’ word he assureth himself to be able to confute the slan’ ders of his adversaries.’ When David was driven away by Absalom, Shimei loaded him with reproaches ; as if God had rejected him for his crimes, and as if his confidence in God had been presumptuous. (Note, 2 Samuel 16:5-14.) When Christ was nailed to the cross, the chief priests reviled him, saying, " He trusted in God : let " him deliver him now, if he will have him ; for he said, " I am the Son of God." (Note, Matthew 27:39-44.) But the restoration of David to his throne, and the resurrection of Christ from the dead, furnished a sufficient answer to these reproaches : and the complete salvation of true believers will for ever silence and put to shame all those, who have derided and slandered them, during their trials and difficulties. (Marg. Ref. Notes,Psalms 119:38
V. 43. When David was left in uncertainty and distress about his personal concerns, his confidence in discoursing upon the truths of the scriptures, and the faithfulness of God to his promises, was abated : lie therefore prayed that he might not be so far discouraged, as to be entirely put V) silence on these favourite topicks; (Notes, 46. Psalms 51:12-15
V. 44. The language of this verse is peculiarly emphatical. Perfect obedience will constitute a large proportion of heavenly happiness to all eternity, and the nearer we approach to it. on earth, the more we anticipate the felicity of heaven. (Notes, John 8:30-36. 2 Peter 2:18-19. Revelation 7:13-17
V. 45. " I will walk about with enlargement." (Marg.) As a man who, when confined in a prison, could only walk about in its contracted precincts ; but, being liberated, he walks at large, and goes to whatever place he pleases. (Notes, 32. 2 Samuel 22:20.) The service of God is perfect freedom ; every deviation is proportionable slavery to sin and Satan. ’ It is not liberty, no, nor a kingdom ’ that 1 seek, so much as better advantages to fulfil thy ’ precepts.’ Bp. Patrick.
V. 46. David, before his accession to the throne, was often in the presence of Saul, and of Achish king of Gath, and afterwards he became a companion of kings : but he was determined in no case to conceal his religion, or to be ashamed of speaking his whole mind before them on that most interesting subject. ’ If he,’ (the servant of God,) ’ " walketh at liberty," he will speak of God’s testimonies, ’ with due reverence to the person and authority of his ’ prince, but as one who is neither afraid nor " ashamed," ’ to declare the whole counsel of heaven to any being upon ’ earth.’ Bp. Home. (Notes, Psalms 138:1. Matthew 10:16-20
V. 47. (16. Notes Psalms 119:24
V. 48. To " lift up the hands " implies earnestness and encouragement in any business : thus David purposed to take courage, and be very earnest in keeping God’s commandments. (Marg. Ref. Notes, 15. Psalms 1:1-3.)
V. 25- 48.
While " the children of this world " cleave wholly to the dust of the earth as their portion, and are neither alarmed nor humbled on that account ; " the children of light " are often greatly burdened, because of the remains of carnal aftections in their hearts. Their judgment and choice lead them to ’ seek those things which are above:" yet they feel that their souls often grovel here on earth ; and while others perhaps think that they are soaring to the very heavens in faith and love, they are complaining before God, that " their souls cleave to the dust ; " and beseeching him to enliven their affections, and invigorate their endeavours, that they may rise superior to worldly cares and interests, and be more entirely taken up about the infinitely important concerns of eternity. And his word encourages these good desires which he has planted in our hearts ; and by his grace he will answer them. The experienced believer communes with God in the confidence of faith and love: he unreservedly declares before him all his ways, and all the difficulties and perplexities with which he meets ; nay, he confesses before him, without desiring to conceal or palliate any thing, all the sins of his life and of his heart; and the consciousness of this being his habitual practice, encourages his hope of pardon and assistance from his heavenly Father. When we indeed heartily desire to obey the precepts of our God, we may be sure that he will hear our prayers to be made acquainted with them : and with all our external advantages we still need this divine teaching; for otherwise our natural pride, self-love, and love of sin, together with our contracted prejudices, will close our minds against the truth, and involve us in error and uncertainty. Those who most delight in serving God, and in speaking of his wondrous works, may for a season be in great heaviness, and their souls be even " melted within " them " through manifold temptations : but they will pray, and the Lord will hear ; and he has promised that " as their day is, so shall their strength be." ’Having chosen the way of truth, and laid the scriptures before us as our rule, we may pray in faith to be kept at a distance from all false doctrine and hypocrisy, and to be graciously led into a fuller knowledge of the divine will : and sincerity in our hearts, towards God, will best preserve us from all dissimulation in our dealings with men. When we have entered upon this course of life, we must persevere in it : and the Lord will never suffer those to be put to shame, who " have stuck to his testimonies," stedfastly professing his truth, and doing his will, without being moved by the frowns or smiles of the world to turn aside from him. But though the believer habitually travels the way to heaven ; yet he is often grieved to find that he pets on no faster : and he still prays to be set at liberty from every remainder of the bondage of sin, " that he may run " the way of God’s commandments with an enlarged " heart." He desires to proceed with increasing speed, even unto the end ; he wants knowledge in order to practise ; he measures the degree of men’s wisdom by that of their piety and obedience to God; he prays to be made ’ of ’ good understanding in the way of godliness ; ’ and to be inclined and enabled to walk in it, not only because it is the path of duty, but because he delights in it. Yet he still feels his heart capable of entertaining an inordinate desire after worldly things, and of coveting wealth by which they may all be purchased. Against these emotions of covetousness he watches; and he prays unto his God not to permit his heart to be in any degree inclined to it.
He knows that all below is vanity and vexation of spirit ; but he fears lest through the outward senses concupiscence should be excited in his heart: and therefore he intreats the Lord to " turn away his eyes " from vanity, and to close all his senses against every object, which can pollute his imagination, or kindle forbidden desires in his heart ; or which might cause him to loiter in that way, in which he would be quickened, and not retarded. He therefore pleads the promises of God, and desires that they may be confirmed and fulfilled to him ; as one who would devote himself to the fear and worship of his name : and he prays to be delivered from the reproach of hypocrisy or apostasy, or a disgraceful walk, which he more dreads than the contempt of men. Knowing that all the judgments of God are just and good, he above all things dreads falling under his rebuke or condemnation ; and to be assured of escaping them, he longs after his precepts, and to make progress in his righteousness. But when he has done all, he feels himself to be a poor sinful creature : his only dependence still is upon the rich mercies of God ; and he desires the salvation which is promised in his word. Every present deliverance from sin and trouble serves to silence the reproaches of his calumniators: and he knows that when his salvation shall be completed, every accuser will be answered, and every aspersion wiped from his character. (Note,
V. 49. The Psalmist may perhaps here especially mean, the promise of the kingdom over Israel to himself and his posterity, which God had made to him, when he thought of no such thing ; and thus raised in him expectations, which subsequent events threatened to frustrate. But the same plea is good, as to any expectation which is clearly grounded on the word of God : ’ Remember, O Lord, that thou hast given this promise, and encouraged my hope in it : and, whatever appearances may be, I must wait and pray for the accomplishment of it: for thou wilt never disappoint the expectation, which thy own word hath excited.’ (Marg. Ref. Notes, Genesis 32:9-12.)
V. 50 -53. Some render these verses in connexion, as follows : " This is my comfort in my affliction : that thy " word quickens" or enlivens " me ; that, while the proud " exceedingly deride me, I do not decline from thy law ; " that I remember thy righteous judgments of old, and " thence encourage myself; that the tempest arises against " me from the wicked, who forsake thy law." The effect of the sacred word in animating the Psalmist’s hope, zeal, and diligence ; his consciousness of adhering to the commands of God, though "filled with the contempt of ’the " scornful ; " his meditation on the righteous judgments of God on his enemies, and his interpositions in behalf of his servants in former ages ; and the evidently wicked character of his furious persecutors, combined to encourage his hope of a happy event to his distresses. (Notes,Psalms 77:5-13. Psalms 94:19-21. Romans 5:3-5.) Or, the " horror" which he felt, when he reflected on the doom that awaited the wicked, was " a testimony of his conscience," that he was actuated by a spirit of love, and not of revenge ; and thus proved a source of comfort to him. (Marg. Ref. Notes,Psalms 119:136
V. 54- 56. The Psalmist in these verses still seems to be pointing out the sources of his consolation. In his wanderings from place to place like a weary pilgrim, wherever he pitched his tent, he solaced himself, by composing and singing hymns and psalms, in praise of the statutes and ordinances of God. (Notes, 19- 21. Hebrews 11:8-10
V. 57- 63. In the former section, the Psalmist stated the chief sources of his consolation : in this, he expresses his full confidence, that God was his " Portion ; " and ’ the reason of this hope that was in him." (Note, 1 Peter 3:13-16.) He had formed and avowed his purpose of adhering to the words of God, keeping them as his valued treasure, and observing them in his habitual conduct. (Marg. Ref. Notes,Psalms 119:106
(Notes, 1 Chronicles 28:9. John 17:1-3. Galatians 4:8-11.)
V. 65. (Notes, Psalms 13:5-6. Psalms 23:5-6. Psalms 138:2-3. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.) Recollecting, and thankfully acknowledging the mercies of God to us in times past, should always accompany our prayers ; and this will increase our confidence as to the future.
V. 66. This verse may literally be rendered, " Teach " me goodness, judgment, and knowledge ; for I have believed thy commandments." ’ Thou hast shewn great kindness to me, O Lord, teach me to imitate thy goodness.’ ’The word Drs, which is here translated "judgment," signifies bodily taste, and that faculty in the ’ mind which answers to it; the faculty of discerning, ’ distinguishing, and judging rightly of things moral and ; spiritual ; as the palate doth of meats, their different ’ flavours and qualities. Without this taste, or discretion, ’ we mistake falsehood for truth in our studies, and wrong ’ for right in our practice ; superstition and enthusiasm ’ may pass with us for religion, or else licentiousness may ’ intrude itself upon us under the name and notion of liberty : in a word, our learning and knowledge prove useless, if not prejudicial to us. A sound mind, therefore, ’ should, above all things, be desired of God in our ’ prayers.’ Bp. Home. (Notes, Job 12:11-12
V. 67 ’ The use of God’s rods is to call us home to ’ God. ... He confesseth, that before he was chastened, lie was rebellious, as man by nature is.
’ (Marg. Ref. Notes, 75. Psalms 73:5-9; 2 Chronicles 33:9-19. Job 5:17. Jeremiah 31:18-20. Hebrews 12:4-13.)
V. 68. ’ Thou art kind, O Lord, and in thy kindness teach me thy statutes.’ Sept. ’ Thou art, in thy own nature, kind and good, ... who designest our good, even when thou afflictest us : take what methods thou pleasest with me, only teach me effectually to do as thou wouldest have me.’ Bp. Patrick. The Psalmist seems to say, ’Thou art so good, that I shall consider the sharpest afflictions as M nt in kindness, in order to teach me thy statutes.’ (Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalms 94:12-14. 2 Samuel 22:36. .Proverbs 27:6. P. O. Matthew 14:22-36.)
V. 69. (Marg-. Ref. Notes,Psalms 119:23
V. 70. The fat in animals is supposed to be without feeling. That insensibility of heart to God’s promises, threatenings, and judgments, and to the concerns of other men, which results from indulged luxury, lust, or avarice, is aptly described by this similitude. (Note,
V. 71. Notes,Psalms 119:67
V. 72. (Marg. Ref. q. Notes, Psalms 119:14
The Lord himself teaches and enables his servants to rely on his word : yet he often delays to answer their expectations, in order to excite their desires, to exercise their faith, to prove their sincerity, and to perfect their patience. This leads them by prayer to remind him of his promises, and humbly to plead for the accomplishment of them. Thus they often find the sweetest comforts when they are most afflicted : for as the sacred word was the instrument, by which they were " quickened when dead in trespasses " and sins ; " so the Comforter revives and cheers them, when they are ready to faint under trials, by giving them cordials from the same unfailing resource.- -Infidels, Pharisees, covetous men, libertines, and all the sons of pride and rebellion, will deride as visionaries and enthusiasts those, who thus speak of communion with God and joy in him : but we must not on that account " decline from his " word." (Note, 1 John 1:3-4.) The remembrance of his judgments of old on the despisers of his servants, and his deliverance of them from trouble, may give us com- fort under such contempt : and the prospect of that perdition which awaits the impenitent, may well fill us with horror whenever we think of them, and turn all our resentment into compassion and prayers for them. The believer dwells on earth, in the body, as in " the house of his pilgrimage ; " ere long he will be " absent from the body and " present with the Lord : " in the mean time the word and works of God supply him with subjects for joyful meditation and grateful praise. In the season of affliction, and in the silent hours of the night, he remembers the name of his God, and is thus animated to cheerful obedience : and the Lord graciously recompenses these services, by rendering the observance of his precepts daily more easy and pleasant. Who can be sufficiently thankful, that sinners, when penitent, may rejoice in the infinite and all sufficient God, and hope that he will, to all eternity, employ his perfections in rendering them happy ! But what words can express the folly and madness of those, who prefer this present world as their portion, though it is connected with the everlasting wrath of God ! Yet so depraved is man, that we are all disposed to make this wretched choice ; and special grace alone can enable us to say from our experience, " Thou art my Portion, O LORD ; I have said, that " I will keep thy words." Yet surely the favour of the Almighty is worthy of being " intreated with our whole " heart;" we cannot be too instant with him to be "merciful unto us according to his word : " and no one ever thus intreated him in vain. We should frequently think on our ways, and review our past and present conduct with great accuracy, comparing all our thoughts, words, and works with the law of God ; if we would either perceive our urgent want of the salvation of the gospel, or our need of repentance, and of turning our feet into the ways of holy obedience. (Note, James 1:22-25.) As the interests of eternity are at stake, it behoves sinners to make haste and not delay, to escape from the brink of that tremendous precipice, on which they have long trifled ; and the believer will be equally in haste to obtain assurance of his safety, and to glorify his God by keeping his commandments. If the wicked combine to defraud us of our property, and " the proud forge lies" against us; we should be rendered the more obedient and attentive to the precepts of God, that we may ensure the true riches, and live down calumny. It argues much grace, when we can be cheerful and thankful under great injuries, without being interrupted, by regretting our losses, or resenting ill usage, from praising the Lord for all his righteous judgments; and when troubles and dangers, which break our rest, only make us solace ourselves the more with thankfulness for our remaining unmerited mercies. The more the wicked hate God’s people, the greater union should subsist among them ; that they may comfort, and edify, and pray for each other. ’.Note, John 15:17-21.) Thus the communion of saints assists, as well as evidences, their communion with God. In this grand concern, party-distinctions and other discriminations should be but little regarded: for were we all like our Master, even the saint upon a throne would associate with the saint in a cottage, without deducting from his real dignity, and without leading his poor brother to neglect the duties of his inferior station : and we should all prefer the company of the meanest and simplest who fear God and keep his precepts, to that of the most polished, ingenious, or honourable of the ungodly. As the earth is filled with the unmerited blessings of Providence, and with the glad tidings of free salvation; we should be instant in prayer to be taught the statutes of the Lord, that our hearts also may be tilled with his mercy, grace, and peace : and repetitions in our requests will not be condemned, unless they are vain and unmeaning. (Note, Matthew 6:7-8.) Every past mercy of God to his servants, according to his word, encourages them to pray for more wisdom and grace ; that " their love may abound more " and more in knowledge and in all judgment;" and that having believed, they may experience the happiness of keeping God’s commandments. To the reproach of our fallen nature, prosperity commonly produces ungodliness; and adversity is the frequent means of exciting men to the consideration of religious subjects. Many have said, " Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now I have kept " thy word: " and, " It was good for me, that I was afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes." This should reconcile the afflicted to their trials, and teach them to improve them ; and it should lead us all to leave our concerns to the disposal of God, seeing we know not what is good for us. For it is infinitely better to learn by sufferings to delight in God’s word, and to value it " more than thou" sands of gold and silver ; " than by prosperity to grow callous, and ripe for eternal destruction. But how dreadful is the case of those who are hardened in sin, even in the furnace of affliction ! Let us then still beseech our God, " who is good, and doeth good," to teach us his statutes, and to incline our hearts to faith, obedience with the patience of hope, and submission to his holy will.
V. 73 " Thy hands have made and established me : " make me wise, and I shall learn thy commandments ; " and thus be capable of answering the grand purpose of my creation.’ (Marg. Ref. Notes,Psalms 119:124-125, Psalms 100:3. Psalms 139:13-18. Job 10:8-13.)
V. 74. ’ It will be a great comfort and encouragement ’ to all good men, when they see me delivered out of all ’ these troubles : for thereby they will be confirmed in their ’ belief of thy faithfulness to thy promises ; on which, it ’ will appear, that I have not vainly depended, though I ’ stay long for the performance.’ Bp. Patrick. David’s cheerfulness under his trials, also, was suited to comfort the hearts of those pious persons who witnessed it. (Notes, Psalms 32:6-7 - Psalms 34:4-6.)
V. 75. ’ All these dispensations of thy Providence, in ’ the heavy afflictions which have befallen me, are per’ fectly righteous, and will only make thy truth and faith’ fulness at last the more illustrious.’ Bp. Patrick. (Notes, Deuteronomy 32:3-4. Jeremiah 12:1-4. Lamentations 3:21-36.) It should also be noted, that chastening is a promised blessing to the children of God ; who are bound to own the
fulfilment of the promise, while enduring the salutary discipline. (Psalms 119:71. Notes,Psalms 119:67-68.)
V. 76. The persuasion that sin is pardoned and God reconciled ; with peace, in the heart and conscience by the power of the Holy Spirit, according to the promises of Scripture ; will make the believer comfortable even before his trials are removed. For this David prayed, as well as for deliverance. (Notes,Psalms 119:41-42. Psalms 25:10-11. Psalms 106:4-5.)
V. 77 Without pardoning mercy, the sinner remains under the sentence of eternal punishment ; and without experiencing the tender compassion of God, the believer has little enjoyment of life here, or hope of eternal life hereafter : but those who now delight in the law of God, will surely at last rejoice in his tender mercies. (Marg. Ref. Notes, Jeremiah 31:33-34. Romans 7:22-25.)
V. 78, 79. Or, " The proud shall be ashamed, &c." " Those who fear thee, and have known thy testimonies, " shall be turned to me." (Notes,Psalms 119:19-23
V. 80. The word rendered " sound," signifies perfections. Soundness of heart denotes strict integrity and sincerity, in professed dependence on God and devotedness to him ; and this is opposed to every kind and degree of hypo :risy or indecision : as the vigorous appearance, which springs from a firm and healthy constitution, differs from that corpulency and florid complexion, frequently attending some fatal diseases, or a decay of the vital parts. (Notes, Psalms 25:21. Psalms 26:9-11. John 1:47-51. James 1:5-8. 1 John 2:26-29
V. 81, 82. Some think that David here spoke the language of the ancient church, as waiting for the coming of the promised Messiah, " the Salvation of God," and the Consolation of Israel. But he seems rather to have expressed the state of his mind ; while he expected to be delivered by his merciful God, from his sins, his foes, and his fears. Nothing short of this could satisfy his soul : for this he longed, and hoped on the ground of God’s promises. But " hope deferred made his heart sick" and faint and his eyes were fatigued, and failed, in looking out for the tokens and comforts of this expected salvation ; as all know to be the case, when they long and look in vain, for the arrival of some expected and much loved friend. (Notes,Psalms 119:19-21
V. 83. Bottles made of skins would shrivel up, and become unsightly and useless, by hanging in the heat and smoke. Thus David seemed to himself to have become useless and despicable, through the infirmities of age, and his manifold trials and sufferings. (Notes, Psalms 102:3-11. Job 30:25-31. Matthew 9:16-17.) ’ My skin ... is shrivelled ’ up with toil and grief; and yet I have never taken any ’ unlawful course to rid myself of all this misery.’ Bp. Patrick.
V. 84. David here either enquired how long the Lord would permit his servant to be thus afflicted; or, whether he meant him to spend all his remaining days under persecution ; and to close his life, without seeing God arise to plead his cause, and avenge him on his unrighteous persecutors. (Notes,Psalms 89:46-48. Psalms 90:13-17.) The time seemed long, from Samuel’s anointing David to the kingdom, till God, by inflicting judgment on his persecutors, fulfilled his promises : especially as it was spent in very great dangers and hardships. (Marg. Ref.)
V. 85. In order to take the wild beasts, in those countries where they abound, they dig deep pits, and cover them over carefully with turf, supported by slender twigs : and the wild beasts attempting to walk over these pits fall in, and are taken alive. Thus David’s enemies employed craft, as well as power, for his ruin ; without regard to the law of God, nay, in direct contempt of it.
(Notes,Psalms 119:78-79. Psalms 7:14-16. Psalms 35:4-9. Psalms 36:10-11. Proverbs 16:27. Jeremiah 18:19-20.)
V. 86. The Psalmist contrasts the commandments of God, as requiring truth and faithfulness ; with the unfaithful and iniquitous conduct of his persecutors : and this encourages his hope and prayer for deliverance. " All " thy commandments are truth."
V. 87. (Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalms 94:16-18. Psalms 124:1-3. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.) David, when persecuted by Saul, narrowly escaped with his life : yet he adhered to the precepts of God, and would not injure Saul, when he had him
V. 88. ’ Preserve my life, raise me from this death-like condition, animate me by thy grace ; that I may keep thy testimonies.’ (Notes,Psalms 119:25
V. 89, 90. Or, " Thou art for ever, O LORD ; thy " word, &c." The word of God is as unchangeable and everlasting as his own existence. It is established " in the " heavens," beyond the reach of the revolutions of this lower world : and its accomplishment is as certain, as the motions of the heavenly bodies, which are not at all affected by the convulsions and vicissitudes of the earth and its inhaoitants. (Marg. Ref. Notes, Colossians 3:1-4. 1 Peter 1:3-5.)
V. 91. The heavens and earth, and all the hosts of them, still keep their station or perform their courses, according to the original appointment of the Creator: and shall man, who alone is endued with reason and formed for immortality, be single in rebellion against him? (Notes, Genesis 8:20-22
V. 92. David delighted to study the word of God : he took pleasure in the truths, promises, and precepts contained in it : and thus he was preserved from sinking under the weight of his troubles. He was directed how to act in the most difficult circumstances, and escape the destructive machinations of his enemies ; and he derived encouragement from the word of God in the most afflictive situations.
(Notes, Psalms 27:13. Psalms 94:16-19.)
V. 93. The benefit which the Psalmist had hitherto derived from the precepts of the sacred word, by means of which he had been made alive to God, and animated in his service, greatly endeared them to him ; and having his them in his heart, he was persuaded he should never forget them. ’God relieveth and " quickeneth " us, some’ times with one part of his word, sometimes with another. ’ Now when we have found ourselves thus benefited, at ’ any time, by a particular passage of holy writ, we ’ should " never forget," but remember and treasure it ’ up in our minds, against a like occasion, when the ’ same affliction or temptation may again befall us.’ Bp. Home. (Notes,Psalms 119:50-53. James 1:16-18
V. 94. ’ He proveth by effect, that he is God’s child ; ’ because he seeketh to understand his word.’ ’ Let it be remembered, that no man can say to God, with a good conscience, " I am thine;" unless he can also go on and say, " 1 have sought thy precepts ; " I desire to serve, and obey thee alone: ... since, after all, " his servants we are to whom we obey : " and if sin be our master, ’ how can we say to a Master, whose interest is directly ’ opposite, " I am thine ? " ’ Bp.Horne. (Psalms 119:173-174. Note,Psalms 119:159
V. 95. Amidst the virulent persecution of the wicked, the Psalmist considered and meditated on the sure testimonies of God, or his truths and promises ; till his fears were allayed, and his heart was established in confidence and obedience. (Notes,Psalms 119:2-3
V. 96. ’ David in his time had seen Goliath the strongest overcome, Asahel the swiftest overtaken, Ahithophel the wisest befooled, and Absalom the fairest deformed.’ Henry. He had seen the vanity of all created good ; the vexation of that estate which men account the summit of earthly bliss; the imperfection of the most accomplished human characters ; the wretched close of the most prosperous lives ; and the miserable disappointment of those, who trusted in men, or idolized earthly possessions and enjoyments. The more he was acquainted with men and worldly things, the deeper was his conviction, that the former were imperfect at best, and the latter wholly insufficient to make him happy : but the fuller knowledge he attained of the sacred Scriptures, the more excellent, extensive, and complete they appeared ; a perfect rule for his conduct and ground for his hope, a guide to happiness, and a source of present comfort. Or, the passage may mean, that the more fully the Psalmist understood the extent, spirituality, and excellence of the divine law ; the more clearly he discerned the imperfection of all human obedience. " By the law is the knowledge of sin ; " the breadth of the commandment shews the scantiness of man’s best righteousness, and recommends the righteousness of the Redeemer, as alone commensurate with its extensive and holy requirements: (Notes, Mark 12:28-34. Romans 3:19-20
The Lord has " made us and fashioned us" capable, by the faculties of our rational souls, of knowing, loving, worshipping and enjoying him ; but we are as fallen creatures become incapable, by the blindness of our understandings, and the depravity of our hearts, of this employment and felicity. Yet the gospel opens a way for our recovery to the image of God, and the capacity of his service and favour : we ought therefore continually to beseech him by his Holy Spirit, to give us understanding, that we may learn and do his will ; and our prayers will be prevalent, when they spring from a humble desire of being enabled by his grace, to answer the end of our creation and redemption. Those, who fear and serve God, love to associate together, and to converse concerning their common faith and hope in his word : hut they are especially rejoiced, when they see such as have trusted in the promises of God under very severe trials, and have been delivered ; because this relieves their fears and encourages their hopes. (Note, Psalms 34:4-6.) It is easy to acknowledge that " all the judgments of God are right," with reference to others : but to be fully assured of this truth, when his afflicting hand lies heavy on us ; and to allow his wisdom, justice, goodness, and faithfulness, under our acutest sufferings, is no common attainment even among true believers : and as far as this assurance prevails, we shall be preserved from repining, and rendered thankful and submissive under every trial. It is, however, evident, not only that God is faithful and merciful, though he afflict his people : but that " he afflicts them in faithfulness and " mercy ; " such loving corrections are promised in his covenant, and without them we should be ruined. But, while we are taking these needful, but unpleasant medicines ; we may beg of the Lord that his merciful kindness may be for our comfort : and faith, patience, and prayer, will surely make way for the consolations of the Holy Spirit. The abundant mercies and tender compassions of our Father come to all, who trust in him and delight in his law : and they shall neither sink in trouble, nor be finally baffled by temptation ; for as their Redeemer lives, they shall live also, even for ever and ever. The pride and blasphemy, the perverseness, iniquity, oppression, and deceit of the enemies of God, are certain fore-runners of their confusion and destruction : and while his servants " meditate on his testimonies," they may despise the boastings, menaces, and insults of those, who hate them for righteousness’ sake. Indeed it is best, in such circumstances, to live retired, and to commune with our God, our Bible, and our own hearts ; lest we be engaged in contentions, which produce only sin and sorrow. But when those who " fear God, and have known his righteous " judgments," imbibe jealousies and prejudices, and be-
come reserved, or oppose us, the trial is very heavy. We ought, however, to examine our conduct, and be humbled for those sins and indiscretions, which may have occasioned this unfavourable opinion concerning us : and we should then apply to him, who has all hearts in his hand, beseeching him to turn them unto us, that they may counsel and comfort us in our difficulties. Above all, we should pray for " a sound heart " in God’s statutes : and then all aspersions or suspicious appearances will vanish in due time, and our disgrace will terminate in honour, either here or in ;i better world. (Notes, Psalms 37:5-8
V. 97 ’ He sheweth that we cannot love God’s word, except we exercise ourselves therein, and practise it.’
V. 98 -100. ’ The " commandments " of God were ’ " ever with " David ; the " testimonies " of God were his ’ " meditation," and " the precepts " of God it was his care ’ to " observe : " therefore his wisdom exceeded the policy ’ of his " enemies," the learning of his " teachers," and ’ the experience of the " ancients." ’ Bp. Horne. In David’s circumstances, it was hardly possible that he should not be conscious of this ; seeing every day’s experience and observation confirmed it. In judging thus, he thought " soberly of himself and as he ought to think ; " unless he " would call good evil, and evil good, and put " light for darkness, and darkness for light : " (Note,
V. 101. Notes,Psalms 119:57-63
V. 102. (Note, 33.) ’ Perseverance is the effect of instruction from above, by the Spirit through the word : ’ and our heavenly Teacher differeth from all others in this, ’ that, with the lesson, he bestoweth on the scholar both ’ a disposition to learn, and an ability to perform.’ Bp. Horne. (Notes, 2 Samuel 22:21-28. Jeremiah 32:39-41. Matthew 11:28-30. John 6:41-46. 1 John 2:18-25.)
V. 103. ’ The soul has its " taste," as well as the body ; ’ and that taste is then in right order, when the " words " ’ of scripture are " sweet " to the soul, as " honey " is ’ to the mouth. If they are not always so, it is because ’ our taste is vitiated by the world and the flesh.’ Bp. Horne.
Marg. Ref. Notes, 66. Psalms 19:7-11. Job 23:1-2
V. 104. A full and clear knowledge of the precepts of the divine law, in their extent, spirituality, and excellence, is an introduction to a right understanding of the gospel, and indeed of the whole scripture ; it is the best preservative from heresies and delusions, almost all of which may be traced to errors or ignorance in this respect : and where the heart, as well as the mind, has learned the precepts of God, a holy taste, as well as a sound judgment, will be the sure effect ; and every false and evil way will be hated and shunned.
(Notes, Psalms 97:10. Exodus 20:1. Proverbs 8:13. Amos 5:14-15.)
V. 105. ’ The word of God discovereth to us our errors ; ’ it sheweth us where we lost our way, and how we may ’ recover it again. If we take this " lamp " in our hand, ’ it will not only point out our course in general, but also ’ direct us in every step, and guide our " feet " into the " path " of holiness and peace.’ Bp. Home. The metaphor is taken from a man walking on a dangerous road, in the dark, except as he sees by a lamp, or lantern, where to set his feet, step by step, as he proceeds : but taking heed to his way by this friendly light, he passes on safely, and even comfortably, where otherwise he must have fallen into mischief or destruction. Such is this world and our passage through it ; such is man without revelation, or with revelation and without faith ; and such is the use which true faith makes of revelation.
(Notes, Psalms 43:2-3. Proverbs 6:23
V. 106. David had bound his soul with a most solemn vow, to live devoted to God and obedient to his commandments. The preventing grace of God had inclined his heart to this ; he doubtless depended on his continued help (or ability to perform his vow : and the obedience, to which he thus bound himself, was that of a sinner under a dispensation of mercy, and of a believer who is interested in the covenant of grace. Such a solemn vow is implied in baptism, in bringing our children to be baptized, and in our attendance on the Lord’s table : and these publick solem-
nities should be preceded by those secret transactions, between God and our souls, in which we accept of his proffered benefits, and yield up ourselves to his service.
(Notes,Psalms 56:12. Psalms 116:13. 2 Chronicles 15:12-15. Nehemiah 10:29. Matthew 19:13-15. P. O.)
V. 107. ’ The faithful servants of God may be " afflicted ’ " ...very much :" but let them consider, that by afflictions their corruptions are purged away, their faith is ’ tried, their patience perfected, their brethren are edified, ’ and their Master is glorified. Let them still firmly rely ’ on the divine promise of grace and salvation, still humbly ’ pray for its accomplishment in themselves : " quicken ’ " me, O LORD, according to thy word." ’ Bp. Home. (Marg. Ref. Notes,Psalms 119:25
V. 108. Praise and thanksgiving, with other devotional exercises, are the free-will-offerings of the mouth, which are rcceptable to God through the sacrifice and mediation of Christ : and David, in his afflictions, could present no other oblations.
(Notes, Numbers 29:39. Hosea 14:1-3. Colossians 3:16-17. Hebrews 13:15-16. 1 Peter 2:4-6.)
V. 109. (Marg. Ref. r.) David’s life was continually in danger ; and he was required at all times to exert himself, and use the greatest precaution, in warding off the assaults of his persecutors : but he did not forget, and purposed not to violate, the law of God, even in order to self-preservation.
V. 110. ’ They that make no conscience of their actions, ’ have contrived a subtle plot to ruin me : but I have never ’ stepped out of the way of thy precepts, to avoid the snares ’ they have laid for me.’ Bp. Patrick. (Notes, 85. 1 Samuel 18:17-30. Jeremiah 18:18. Daniel 6:4-11.)
V. 111. By faith receiving the truths which God had attested, and embracing the promises he had given, and thus walking with him in his commandments and ordinances, formed that life, which David deliberately chose to lead on earth, as introductory to his everlasting heritage in heaven : and the rejoicing of his soul in the exercise of faith, hope, love, and other pious affections, here below, was an earnest and pledge of those unalloyed pleasures, reserved for him in the future world.
(Notes, Psalms 119:14
V. 112. ’ The inclination of the heart to good is the ’ work of God : but man is, nevertheless, in this, as in ’ other instances, said to perform it, when he listens to the ’ call, and obeys the motions of his grace. We are not to ’ judge of ourselves by what we sometimes say and do ; but ’ by the general disposition and tendency of the heart and ’ its affections.’
Bp. Home. Notes, 32. 44. Romans 8:12-13. Philippians 2:12-13.)
V. 113. The word vain is not in the original ; and some render the verse, " I hate other thoughts ; but thy law do " I love." Those " thoughts," however, which the Psalmist hated, doubtless were vain or evil, and therefore contrary to the law which he loved. ’ Love and hatred are the two ’ great and influencing affections of the human mind. Since ’ the fall, they have been misplaced. By nature we love ’ vain thoughts, and hale the law of God. " The carnal ’ " mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the ’ " law of God, neither indeed can be." Romans 8:7 - But ’ in the renewed mind the case is altered ; its " delight is in ’ " the law of God ; " and therefore it cannot bear " vain ’ " thoughts," which are contrary to that law, and exalt themselves against it. Thoughts are often said to be free : ’ from human censure they are, but not from the cognizance and judgment of the Omniscient. The mind should ’ be well furnished with proper materials, on which to employ itself. We shall then be secured against the incursions of rambling, conceited, worldly, impure, and revengeful thoughts, which otherwise will devour half our time, and appear against us, to our unspeakable amazement, ... when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed.’ Bp. Home. In those vacant hours, which are spared from business, pleasure, company, and sleep, and which are spent in solitude, at home or abroad ; unprofitable, proud, covetous, sensual, envious, or malicious imaginations, occupy the minds of ungodly men, and often infect their very dreams. These are not only sinful in themselves, indicating the state of their hearts, and as such will be brought into the account at the day of judgment; but they excite the dormant corruptions, and lead to more open and gross violations of the holy law. The carnal mind welcomes and delights to dwell upon these congenial imaginations, and to solace itself by ideal indulgences, when opportunity of other gratification is not presented, or when a man dares not commit the actual transgression. But the spiritual mind recoils at them : such thoughts will intrude from time to time, but they are unwelcome and distressing, and are immediately thrust out ; while other subjects, from the word of God, are stored up in readiness to occupy the mind more profitably and pleasantly, during the hours of leisure and retirement. (Notes, Ixvi. 18, 19. Jeremiah 4:14.) There is no better test of our true character, than the habitual effect of " vain thoughts " upon our minds ; whether we love and indulge them, or abhor, and watch and pray against them. And by enquiring, to what subjects we habitually and allowedly revert, when present circumstances do not impose any one upon us, we may discover the prevalent disposition of our heart, whether we be carnal or spiritual ; and may also learn whether pride, malice, avarice, ambition, or sensuality, be the predominant corruption in our souls. ’ Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts, by the inspiration of ’ thy Holy Spirit.’ Liturgy.
V. 114, 115. (Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalms 32:6-7. Psalms 90:1-2. Psalms 91:1-2. Psalms 139:19-22. Proverbs 13:20
V. 116, 117. (Note, 106.) < He desireth God’s contnual assistance, lest he should faint in this race which he had begun.’ The Psalmist formed his purposes, under a Consciousness of his weakness, and of the power of temptation, and in dependence on the promises of God. He therefore " watched and prayed, lest he should enter into " temptation," knowing that, " though the spirit was will" ing, the flesh was weak." (Notes, Psalms 51:11-13. 2 Samuel 11:1-5. Matthew 26:40-41.) " Uphold me, and I shall live, &c." " Hold thou me up, and I shall be saved." His spiritual and eternal life and salvation, as well as his perseverance in obedience, could only be secured by the supports of divine grace. Ashamed, &c.
V. 118. Ungodly men, when endeavouring to deceive . others, impose on themselves ; and their boasted proficiency in worldly wisdom, their deep laid stratagems, and all their crooked politicks, at length disappoint their expectations, and leave them to hopeless contempt and misery. (Notes, Job 5:11-16. Ephesians 4:20-24. 2 Timothy 3:10-13.)
V. 119. (Notes, Jeremiah 6:27-30. Exodus 22:18-22.
V. 120. (Notes,Psalms 119:50-53. Leviticus 10:13. 2 Samuel 6:8-9
When grace is in lively exercise, the thirst and the relish for " the sincere milk of the word " of God become exceedingly strong, and shew themselves by a daily and constant meditation on it, in all the intervals of needful business and conversation : and if the Lord has thus disposed our souls to love, study, and keep his truths, testimonies, and precepts ; he will give us true wisdom. The diligent believer will after a time " have the word of Christ dwell" ing richly " and abundantly in his memory, judgment, and affections : and, having it ever with him, he will be wiser than his most sagacious enemies ; and able to discern, escape, or profit by all their machinations, and even to baffle every temptation of his most subtle adversary the devil. (P. 0." Matthew 4:14. Notes, Ephesians 6:14-17. Colossians 3:16-17 Nay, the simplest Christian, who by faith and prayer appropriates the information conveyed to him in the scriptures of truth, will soon surpass, in useful knowledge and practical wisdom, the most learned teachers, the most renowned fathers, and the most aged and experienced persons, who, " leaning to their own understandings," reject the Oracles of God, or are but superficially acquainted with them : for these are far surer guides to truth, than doctors, councils, or synods, ancient or modern. It will not indeed readily occur to the mind of a humble Christian, that he is thus wiser than his seniors and superiors ; and he will suspect and fear the thought, when it presents itself: yet, daily reading his Bible, he must perceive how men deviate from that unerring standard of truth and wisdom, and run into error and delusion; he cannot, without ingratitude, deny what the Lord has taught him ; nor dares he, in an affected and " voluntary humility," " call darkness light, " and light darkness," or prefer human conjectures to the decisions of the only wise God. But, " who is a wise " man, and endued with knowledge among us ? Let him " shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom." If the Lord has indeed taught us, we " refrain our feet from every evil way, that we may keep " his word;" nor shall we depart from his judgments all our days. Our souls relish the words of God, more than the mouth does the sweetness of honey ; and in proportion as, through his precepts, " we get understanding," we shall hate and shun every way of sin and of hypocrisy. We do not use our knowledge ostentatiously, and to gain applause : but, knowing what a dark and perilous path we tread, and how important each of our steps is to ourselves and to others, we use the word of God as a lamp, which we carry in our hands, that we may not stumble, be ensnared, or defiled ; and that we may not only not quite miss our way, but may proceed uniformly with credit and comfort. Depending on the promised grace of God, the true Christian solemnly vows to " keep his righteous judgments," and he determines to perform his vows. He is often greatly afflicted ; but it chiefly grieves him, that " he " cannot do the things that he would : " and his longing Desire, to become more holy, dictates his daily prayers for quickening grace. He offers the free-will-offerings of his mouth, his grateful praises for former mercies, united with supplications for further instruction and assistance ; and lie depends only on mercy for the acceptance of his defective and defiled services If we are indeed thus " led " by the Spirit," neither enemies nor dangers will induce us to forget the law of our God, or to " wander from his " precepts : " but we shall choose his testimonies as our < ternal heritage, and find his service our present rejoicing, even in the midst of tribulation and persecution ; and we shall bestow pains, as well as pray, that our hearts may be inclined to perform God’s " statutes alway, even unto the " end." In proportion as we are thus spiritually-minded, we shall hate all sinful thoughts, and delight in heavenly meditations ; and shall flee to the Lord as our Hiding-place and Shield, from the incursions of vain imaginations and satanical suggestions, as much as for protection from outward violence, hoping in his word for deliverance from them all. Would we make progress in thus keeping God’s commandments, we must separate from evil-doers, and even drive them from our company, if they will intrude ; unless we mean to sacrifice conscience to courtesy, which king David would not do. We must also rely entirely on the upholding of divine grace; or we shall never be sate, or able to have continual respect to all the Lord’s statutes : but in this simplicity of intention and dependence, we shall be held up and live, and never be ashamed of our hope. Every affection of the soul must be engaged in keeping us stedfast in the ways of God. We must be allured by hope, and constrained by love, and even moved by fear. And it will be profitable for us, often and seriously to consider the contempt and misery, which are poured upon the wicked, and prepared for them ; for assuredly they will be trodden down like mire, and " put " away like dross," or " driven like chaff" into " unquench" able fire : " and these reflections on the doom of hypocrites and apostates, will induce us to cleave more steadily in love to the testimonies of God. But if such subjects made David exclaim, " My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, " and I am afraid of thy judgments : " surely we, who fall so far below him in devout affections, should " fear, lest " a promise being left us of entering into " heavenly " rest, " any of us should seem to come short of it " (Note, Hebrews 4:1-2.)
V. 121, 122. Conscious of having adhered to justice and equity, even towards his persecutors, the Psalmist appeals to God from their unrighteous decisions : and he prays that he may not be left in the hands of his proud oppressors ; but that the Lord himself would become, his Surety. (Notes, Psalms 7:3-11. 2 Samuel 22:21-28. 2 Corinthians 1:12-14.) ’ Put thyself between mine enemies and me, ’ as if thou wert my pledge.’ As a rich person, by becoming surety for a poor man, rescues him from oppression or imprisonment ; so the Lord delivers his servants from their enemies and from impending ruin, by undertaking their cause. Christ, our Surety, having paid our debt and ransom, rescues us from merited condemnation, and engages for all the blessings of complete salvation to every true believer. (Note, Hebrews 7:20-22.)
Be surety. (122) Hezekiah uses the same word in the passage rendered, " O Lord, I am oppressed, undertake for me." (Note,
V. 123. Notes,Psalms 119:81-82.Psalms 59:13
V. 124, 125. ’I am devoted to thy service, and de’ signed by thee to a high employment : enlighten my un’ derstanding therefore, that I may fully know my duty.’ Bp. Patrick. These repeated petitions no doubt were recollected by Solomon, when he prayed to the same effect. (Note, 1 Kings 3:5-14. P. O. 1-15.)
V. 126. (Marg. Ref.) They "make void the law of " God," who deny its obligation and authority, who obscure or explain away its meaning, and who render it of none effect by their traditions, or by their lives. (Notes, Jeremiah 8:8-9.
V. 127. ’As the wickedness of those increaseth, who " make void the divine law;" the zeal and love of believers should increase in proportion, to stem the torrent : and this may be done, to a surprising degree, by a few persons, who, after the example of the first Christmas, can forsake all to follow their Master; who have the sense and the courage to prefer truth, wisdom, holiness, and heaven, to falsehood, folly, sin, and the world ; ".lio can resolutely reject the glittering temptation, and say, without hypocrisy, to their God, " I love thy commandments above gold, yea, above fine gold." ’ Bp. Home, (Psalms 119:72. Notes, Psalms 119:14
V. 128. ’The more I consider them, the more I approve every one of them, ... and abhor all those base and ’ dishonest ways, whereby others study to advance thernselves to riches and honours.’ Bp. Patrick. (Notes,Psalms 119:29-30. Proverbs 30:5-6.) ’ For the same reason that the ’ children of God, in the worst of times, " love his commandments," they love them all; not observing such only as they can observe without giving offence, but regardless of the censures of the world, doing their duty ’ in every particular ; not " hating " some " evil ways," ’ and at the same time walking in others, but extending ’ and manifesting their aversion to all alike.’ Bp. Home. (Notes, John 15:12-16
V. 129. The discoveries which the word of God makes of the mysteries of his nature, the perfections of his character, and the power of his works, and likewise of the invisible and eternal world, are suited to excite the highest wonder and astonishment. The harmony of the divine attributes in the mystery of redemption ; the way of a sinner’s acceptance; and the method of speaking peace to his conscience, without giving the least encouragement to sin ; the rule and example of obedience, and all the motives and obligations to it ; are most worthy of our admiration, love, and gratitude : and it is owing entirely, either to the depravity of our hearts, or to the familiarity of our thoughts with these subjects, that we are no more affected by them.
(Notes, 18. Psalms 139:17-18.
V. 130. The words of God enter the soul when, being read or heard, they are understood, believed, stored up in the memory, and used to regulate the judgment and conduct. They then give a satisfactory light to the mind, upon every subject on which they treat: and speedily communicate more useful knowledge upon the most important to picks, to the simplest believer, than the acutest philosophers have been able to develop through successive generations. (Note,Psalms 119:98-100.) ’ The simple idiots, that submit themselves to God, have their eyes opened, and their ’ minds illuminated, so soon as they begin to read God’s word.’ ’ Thus will they’ (the Scriptures) ’give to the ’ simple, in a few days, an understanding of those matters, which philosophers for whole centuries sought in ’vain.’ Bp. Home.
(Notes, 105. Psalms 19:7 . Psalms 93:5. Proverbs 6:23.
V. 131. As the man, who has run himself out of breath, opens his mouth to draw in the refreshing breeze, and eagerly pants for it ; so the believer, wearied with the cares of life and his conflict with sin, longs for the consolations conveyed to him by the sacred word, and stands expecting and prepared to receive them into his heart. (Notes,Psalms 119:19-21
V. 132. The love of the name, or perfections, of God, distinguishes the believer from all those who are carnally minded and enmity to God : for nothing " availeth in " Christ, but faith which worketh by love." The reconciled believer is dealt with according to the gospel of grace : the unregenerate and unbelieving according to the strict and holy law. This David understood, and prayed earnestly to be dealt with according to that gracious rule, by which the Lord pardoned and recompensed his friends ; not in that strict justice, with which he punishes his enemies.
(Notes,Psalms 119:124-125. Psalms 25:6-7 - Psalms 106:4-5.)
V. 133. The frequent ejaculatory prayers for divine teaching and upholding, and that God would not permit any sin to acquire dominion over him, shew, how much the Psalmist understood and felt his entire dependence on God, not only for providential protection, and the forgiveness of his sins ; but also as to those things, in which men in general depend on themselves, and assume the credit of any real or supposed difference, subsisting between them and others ; namely, the due exercise of their rational powers, and the right state of their hearts. ’ O God, from ’ whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just ’ works do proceed, &c.’ Liturgy. It is evident David deeply felt, that iniquity, in one form or other, would enslave him, unless God himself ordered and upheld his goings, according to the sacred word.
(Notes, Psalms 19:12-14. Romans 6:8-19
V. 136. Conformity to Christ is the standard of the believer’s growth in grace. David had " that mind in him " which was also in Jesus Christ : " his grief was therefore intense, and his tears flowed as rivers down his fun-owed cheeks, when he looked around, and saw multitudes ruining themselves and others, as well as dishonouring God, by impenitently despising and violating his holy law, and neglecting his salvation.
(53. Notes,Psalms 119:157-158. Jeremiah 9:1-2
V. 137 ’It is said of the emperor Mauritius, that ’ upon seeing all his children slain before his face, at the ’ command of that bloody tyrant and usurper, Phocas, ’ himself expecting the next stroke, ... he exclaimed aloud, ’ in these words of David, " Righteous art thou, O LORD, ’ " and upright are thy judgments." ’ Bp. Home. This story is a good exposition of the verse ; and if satisfactorily authenticated, would be a most admirable exemplification of the genuine tendency of the doctrine contained in it ; namely, confidence in God, and acquiescence in his will,
under the severest calamities. (Marg. Ref. Notes,Psalms 119:75-76.)
V. 138. " Thou hast commanded justice by thy testimonies, and truth especially." Old Version. This translation is as literal as that of the present version. The law commands perfect righteousness ; and even the gospel requires truth in the inward parts. (Note, Psalms 51:5-6.)
v. 139. The Psalmist’s ardent love to the word of God, and zeal for his glory, threw his mind into a most distressing commotion, whilst he observed how his enemies forgot and neglected the most obvious truths and precepts of Scripture. " His spirit was stirred within " him : " and he became even sick with uneasiness ; finding himself unable to stop the progress of their impiety and rebellion. In this he may be considered as a type of the Saviour. (Marg. Ref. Notes, 136. Psalms 69:8-9. John 2:13-17.)
V. 140. ’ Gold hath need to be fined; but thy word is ’ perfection itself.’ The figurative term, used in the original, denotes the purity of the sacred scriptures ; which reflect the holiness of the Lord’s character and government, and require of us purity of heart and life, and lead us to it. This purity of the scriptures the carnal mind dislikes ; but the spiritually-minded love and relish it, and they perceive it equally in the righteous precepts, as in the faithful promises ; and therefore they love the whole word of God.
(Notes, 128. Psalms 12:5-6. Proverbs 30:5-6. Romans 7:9-12
V. 142. ’Men may decree wickedness by a law; or 1 they may change their decrees, and, with them, what was ’ right to-day may be wrong to-morrow : but the law of ’ God is righteousness, and it is truth, to day and for ever.’ Bp. Home. Perhaps the everlasting righteousness of God, as a Saviour, which " is unto all and upon all that believe," is intended ; and not merely his righteousness as a Judge. His law is the truth, as the standard of right and wrong; and his testimony, as to facts, doctrines, denunciations, and promises. (Notes, Psalms 119:66
V. 143. Marg. Ref .Notes, Psalms 40:6-12. Psalms 94:19..Matthew 26:36-39.
V. 144. (Notes,Psalms 119:138
Happy is the man who, from evangelical principles, does judgment and justice to all around him ; he will have " rejoicing in the testimony of his conscience," and confidence in the mercy and truth of his God, in the midst of slander and persecution : the Lord will be his " Surety for " good," and will not leave him in the hand of any proud oppressor. Delays may try his patience, while he waits for the salvation of God, and the performance of his faithful and righteous word : but in due time the Lord will do justice between him and his enemies, and answer, yea far exceed, his largest expectations. If we are indeed become the servants of God, whether in a low or in a lofty station, he will deal with us according to his mercy : and if we desire to know his will and our duty, in that station which God has assigned us, he will " give us understanding, that " we may learn his testimonies." In proportion as we love his service and value his commandments, we shall be grieved to witness the neglect and contempt, with which they are treated : we shall be sensible that we cannot stop the progress of infidelity and immorality, or of those " damnable heresies," which " make void the holy law" of God ; and this will excite our prayers to him, to arise and work, and cause iniquity to stop its mouth. If we can say, that " we love God’s commandments more than much " fine gold," and really value the comforts and the cause of true godliness, more than our worldly interests ; and if our love to the word of God gather strength in proportion, as we see others despise and trample upon it ; we may hope to do something effectual, as instruments, by our example, prayers, influence, and talents, to stem the torrent of impiety. For we shall then venture the loss of every earthly advantage, and submit to any self-denial and suffering, in this important cause ; and shall be as zealous and active in extolling and establishing, as wicked men are in decrying and vilifying, the truths and statutes of the Lord. But those who spiritually love any of his precepts, love them all, and " esteem them all to be right:" and those who hate any false way, hate all of them, as dishonourable to God and ruinous to man. Increasing illumination, and closer meditation on divine subjects enhance the Christian’s admiration and gratitude : and the wonders of redeeming love, which " angels desire to look into," will fix the heart in the observance and adoration of them. (Note, 1 Peter 1:10-12.) When we simply receive the testimony of revelation, by faith, with a due preparation of the heart, a new light pervades the understanding, and every object assumes another appearance : every view of spiritual things, in their glory and excellency, excites more ardent desires of clearer discoveries : nor can the longing, panting, thirstings of the heaven-born soul, for more perfect knowledge and holiness, be ever satisfied till it arrives in the world above. Thus to hunger and thirst after righteousness may indeed here create uneasiness : but these desires shall be fully answered, when all of a contrary nature shall be eternally disappointed. (Notes, Matthew 5:6. 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.) The Lord regards, with tender and fatherly mercy, those who love his name : and if we cannot decide that we are of this happy number, we yet may pray to him, and say, " Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou use to do unto those that love thy name." And this will be done with more encouragement, if we can sincerely add our petitions, " that he would order our steps according to his word, and not let any iniquity have dominion " over us." When it is our aim and desire thus " to keep the precepts of God," lie will deliver us from oppression, or comfort us under it, by his presence and " the " light of his countenance ; " and will teach us more and more of his holy truth and will. But, though exempted from sorrow on our own account, we must expect to be grieved for others, whilst in this vale of tears ; nor can we do otherwise, than mourn to behold our fellow-creatures hurry, by tens of thousands, nay millions, unto eternal destruction, without being able to prevent it. It behoves us, however, to submit to the justice of God in this, as well as in other matters : this will calm the tempest of our souls ; and we shall allow his judgments to be righteous in the destruction of the wicked, though nearly connected with us, as well as in our own afflictions : and we shall be induced to cheerful obedience, and a firm reliance on his faithful promises. When our zeal is purified from bitterness, and resentment against ungodly opposers ; when it runs in the same channel with that of the Redeemer ; and when it makes us willing to renounce, venture, and suffer, for the benefit even of our persecutors ; it is good evidence that we are true Christians, and it will be very useful to others also. Happy are they who love the whole word of God, because of its purity, and its purifying influence on their hearts ; for this no unregenerate person can do. Those who are noble in this world, if strong in the grace of God, will be mean in their own eyes, and willing to be despised by others : and those who are poor and low in the world, will be great in the sight of God, if neither fear, shame, nor covetousness, render them forgetful of his precepts. These are of immutable and everlasting excellence and obligation. The law of God is the truth, the standard of holiness, and the rule of happiness. Yet the divine obedience of Christ alone forms that " everlasting righteousness," which is testified to us in Scripture, and which justifies the believing sinner. But they, who are thus justified, learn to " delight in God’s commandments," and to copy that obedience by which they are accepted : the trouble and anguish, which took hold on their consciences, end in sweet peace and confidence : they enter on a new state, bear a new character, and lead a new life. They are comforted under subsequent trials, and at length are brought forth out of them all. May the Lord give us understanding, that we may see and walk in this way of peace and salvation; that we may here live the life of faith and grace, and at length be removed to the life of glory, vision, and fruition.
V. 145, 146. ’ He sheweth, that all his affections and whole heart were bent to God-ward, for to have help in ’ his dangers.’ The Psalmist was also at least as earnest to be enabled to keep the commandments of God, as to be rescued from his sufferings ; and considered his deliverance as an introduction to his obedience, which he was fully purposed to render to the God of his salvation. (Notes,Psalms 119:10
V. 147, 148. ’ David delighted in the holy exercises of prayer and meditation ; therefore he prevented the dawning of the morning, and was beforehand with the light ’ itself; therefore his " eyes prevented the watches," that ’ is, the last of those watches, into which the night was 1 by the Jews divided : he needed not the watchman’s call, ’ but was stirring before it could be given. Climate and ’ constitution will doubtless make a difference, and claim ’ considerable allowance. But by Christians who enjoy ’ their health, in temperate weather, the sun should not ’ be suffered to shine in vain, nor the golden hours of the ’ morning to glide away unimproved.’ Bp. Home.
(Notes, Mark 1:35-39. P. O. 29- 45. Note, Luke 6:12.)
V. 149. Notes, 77.Psalms 51:1-2. Quicken, &c.] ’ Give me life and animation in thy service ; according to the wise and righteous appointments of thy word.’
V. 150, 151. ’ If our enemies draw nigh to destroy us, 4 God is still nearer to preserve us.’ Bp. Home. He is indeed near, in his Providence ; but we should, with David, pray, that he may be graciously near us, to uphold us in keeping his commandments, which are truth and righteousness; as well as to protect us against those, who "follow after mischief" and "are far from his law."
(Notes, 155. Psalms 22:11-13
V. 152. ’ This hath ever been my support, long before I fell into these troubles, that whatsoever thou hast testified to be thy will and pleasure is firm and stedfast, and ’ shall never fail those that depend upon it.’ Bp. Patrick. (Notes,Psalms 119:142
V. 153. (Notes, 109. 176.) None of the afflictions, which had befallen David, rendered him forgetful of the law of God; but on the most trying emergencies, he aimed to regulate his conduct according to it : and the consciousness of this encouraged his hope, and formed a cogent plea in prayer, that the Lord would look upon his affliction and deliver him.
V. 154. The word translated " deliver me," is taken from the office of a Redeemer, or next of kin among the Israelites, to whom it belonged to redeem the inheritance, or ransom the person, of his impoverished or enslaved relative; and also to be his patron and defender against injustice and oppression, and the avenger of his blood, if he were slain.
(Notes, Leviticus 25:25-28
V. 155. " The salvation of God is nigh them that; fear " him ; ". for they seek to know and do the will of God . (Note, Ixxxv. 9 :) but, after all which has been done by the great Redeemer, or revealed and promised in scripture, or vouchsafed by a kind Providence as ’ means ’ of grace ; ’ " salvation is far from the wicked," or impenitent ; " for they seek not the statutes " of God (Notes, Luke 13:22-30. 1 Peter 4:1-19: I8- 19.) Some in-deed explain the verse of temporal deliverance, but eternal salvation is at least as tar from them. ’ Far be it froni ’ thee to afford any help to the wicked : for they have no ’ regard to thy statutes ; but seek only how they may satisfy their own lewd and cruel desires.’ Bp. Patrick:
V. 156. Notes,Psalms 119:148
V. 157, 153. (Notes,Psalms 119:23
(Note, Mark 3:1-5
V. 159. The frequent, though varied, repetition of the ejaculatory prayer, " Quicken me according to thy word," " thy judgments," " thy loving-kindness," &c. shews that the Psalmist considered it as relating to objects of the highest importance. (Note, 25.) The preservation of his temporal life, deliverance from his deep distresses, the communication of spiritual life, and preservation to eternal life; with animating, encouraging grace, and whatever was needful in order to his activity and vigour in obeying the commandments of God, amidst temptations, dangers, and sufferings, may be all considered as implied in the general term ; and sometimes one, sometimes another, to have been especially intended, according to existing circumstances.
V. 160. " The beginning of thy word is truth." (Marg.) The first promise to fallen Adam of a Redeemer, and the first promise to Abraham concerning his posterity, were truth itself. (Note, Genesis 12:1-3.) All the righteous judgments of God, whether in the declarations of his word, or in the dispensations of his providence, concur in accomplishing that truth, and form a part of that great design, which shall surely be completed and endure for ever. ’ Since thou first promisedst, even to the end, all ’ thy sayings are true.’ (Note, Psalms 138:2.)
V. 161. Saul and his princes persecuted David most unjustly : but he so reverenced the word of God, that he would not retaliate, or avenge himself upon them ; and thus he constrained Saul himself to say, " Thou art more " righteous than I."
(Marg. Ref. Notes,Psalms 119:23
V. 162. ’I take far more delight in doing thy will, and ’ in what thou has promised to do for me, than in the completest victory over all my enemies.’ Bp. Patrick.
V. 163. (Marg. Ref. Notes,Psalms 119:29-30
V. 164. " Seven times : " ’ that is, often and sundry 1 times.’ (Notes,Psalms 119:47-53. Psalms 34:1-2
V. 165. ’ Amidst the storms and tempests of the world, there is a perfect calm in the breasts of those, who not only do the will of God, but " love " to do it. They are at peace with God, by the blood of reconcilia’ tion ; at peace with themselves, by the answer of a good ’ conscience, and the subjection of those desires which ’ war against the soul ; at peace with all men, by the spirit ’ of charity ; and the whole creation is so at peace with ’ them, that " all things work together for their good." ’ No external troubles can rob them of this " great peace ; " ’ no offences or stumbling-blocks, which are thrown in ’ their way by persecution or temptation, by the malice of ’ enemies, or the apostasy of friends, by any thing they ’ see, hear of, or feel, can detain, or divert them from their ’ course. Heavenly love surmounts every obstacle, and ’ runs with delight " the way of God’s commandments." ’ Bp. Horne. This beautiful note seems indeed rather to shew what would be the case, did we perfectly love the law of God ; and were indwelling sin not only dethroned, but destroyed ; than what is generally, or perhaps in any instance, attained in this world. But love to the law of God is a sure proof of conversion, and is in ordinary cases attended by proportionable peace : all disturbance and disquietude arise from contrary sources ; and all who love the law, shall be " kept by the power of God through faith " unto salvation." Other professed Christians may be offended and fall away; but these never shall.
V. 166. ’ He sheweth that we must first have faith, ’ before we can work and please God.’ To hope, on scriptural grounds, " for the salvation of God,’ and in this hope to obey his commandments, unreservedly and habitually, forms a sure pledge of eternal felicity, and a constant preparation for death and judgment.
(Notes,Psalms 119:81-82. Genesis 49:18. Luke 2:25-32. Romans 2:7-11
V. 167,168. (Marg. Ref. Notes,Psalms 119:58
(Note, 2 Samuel 22:21-28.) All my ways, &c.] ’ 1 have no respect of men, but set * thee always before mine eyes, as the Judge of my doings.’ ’Notes, Psalms 44:17-22. Psalms 139:1-12. 1 Corinthians 4:3-5.)
V. 169, 170. ’ The Psalmist still continueth instant ’ in prayer for " understanding," to direct him in the midst of dangers and temptations, and for " deliverance " out of them all, when God shall see fit to accomplish the promises made in his " word." These are ’ blessings for which a man cannot be too frequent, or too ’ earnest, in his petitions to the throne of heaven.’ Bp. Horne.
Give me understanding, &c. (169) God has promised in his word to give wisdom to those who ask him for it ; and understanding, or wisdom, consists in having the mind enlightened, and the judgment formed, according to the truths and precepts of scripture. This is the medium through which God gives true knowledge and wisdom, and through which man must seek them ; and it is the standard by which he judges of them, and distinguishes the genuine from all counterfeits. (Notes, Psalms 111:9-10. James 1:5-8.)
V. 171. Utter.] ’The word signifieth to pour forth ’ continually.’ " My lips shall pour forth praise ; for thou " hast taught me thy statutes." This is more literal, and accords better to the context ; the same particle is rendered for in the next verse. (Marg. Ref.)
V. 173, 174. ’ Let thy divine power therefore succour me; ...for I rely on that alone, having resolved to be ’ guided wholly by thy precepts. And I have long expected with most ardent desires, thy help, O LORD, for ’ my deliverance ; delighting myself, in the mean time, ’ in thy laws.’ Bp. Patrick. The help of divine grace, in keeping the precepts of God which he had chosen, and " salvation with eternal glory," were probably more in David’s thoughts, when he presented these requests, than any temporal aid or deliverance. (Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalms 119:5
V. I75. " My soul shall live, and praise thee, and thy " judgments shell help me." The judgments of God on his enemies, the fatherly corrections of his people, the counsels of his word, and the ordinances of his house, are all helpful to the believer’s sanctification, through the efficacious teaching and assistance of the Holy Spirit. (Notes,Psalms 119:50-53
V. 176. ’ It is doubtful, whether David here speaks of ’ his misery or his sin, of his wandering as an exile, ...or ’ of his going astray from the commandments of his God.’ Bp. Horne. The simile, however, of " a lost sheep " is so generally applied to the latter case ; and the language, thus interpreted, accords so well to other parts of scripture ; ’ that it is most’ probable his past sins, and his proneness to wander, were especially meant in this concluding confession and ejaculation.
(Notes, Isaiah 53:4-6. Matthew 18:12-13. Luke 15:3-7 - John 10:14-18. 1 Peter 2:18-25.) Perhaps it was written after he had gone so far astray in the matter of Bathsheba and Uriah ; and, being deeply convinced of his guilt and misery, he felt his need of the special interposition of the good Shepherd, to bring him back to the fold of God. (Marg. Ref. Note, Psalms 23:1-3.) A sheep, wandered from the fold, cast into a pit, entangled in thorns and briers, or surrounded by beasts of prey, wounded and bruised, and wholly unable to rescue itself, or escape destruction ; had it the powers of reason and speech, and did it see the tender shepherd at a distance, might be supposed as earnestly calling to him in similar language.
’ My soul hath gone too far astray,
’ My feet too often slip ;
’ But since I’ve not forgot thy way, Restore thy wandering sheep." Dr. Waits.
Supplications " with the whole heart" differ very widely from that lip-labour, in which formalists confide ; and arc presented by those alone who long for God’s salvation, and who love his commandments, but are sensible if their inability to keep them. Great earnestness in any undertaking often interrupts our sleep : thus fervent love to the word of God, and delight in communion with him, will render us willing to deduct from the hours of rest and refreshment, rather than be prevented from attending on these needful and pleasant exercises. The Lord, indeed, Las not seen good to give us positive injunctions in these matters, and is accessible at all hours : yet we may often detect ourselves to be defective in love, gratitude, and spirituality, by our slothfulness and self-indulgence : as we have been needlessly asleep, or employed in trifles, when we might have been improving our privilege of access to the mercy-seat, and to that sacred word in which we profess to hope. This should lead us to call upon God to hear our voice, and to quicken us, according to his love, his wisdom, and his truth. When employed in the service of God, we need not fear, though " they should draw nigh " who follow after mischief, and are far from his law " in their temper and conduct ; for he is near to defend us, and will vindicate the honour of his commandments, against those who hate us for obeying them : and if we have depended on his testimonies, our constant experience will assure us, that he has " established them for ever." He considers the weight and the continuance of our afflictions, and will plead our cause and deliver us ; as we do not forget his law, but are more desirous of being invigorated in liis ways, than of exemption from trouble. But present safety, and everlasting salvation, are far from the wicked, who neither observe, nor understand, nor even seek after, the truths and statutes of the Lord : and alas ! how numerous are these careless, presumptuous transgressors ! The number, power, and malice of our persecutors, should enhance our value for the tender mercies of God, and our steady purpose not to decline from his ways. And in this frame of mind, we shall rather grieve for the transgressors who are ruining themselves, than for the uneasiness which they occasion us. Happy are they, who can appeal to God how cordially they love this law ! His grace has planted this love in their hearts ; they are interested in all his precious promises, which from the beginning have been true and faithful ; and they are brought into the way of those " righteous judgments," every one of which is immutable and endureth for ever. When princes become persecutors, their frowns and menaces prove powerful temptations to apostasy or iniquity; and desire of selfpreservation may dictate very unwarrantable measures : but those, whose " hearts stand in awe of God’s word," will rather endure the wrath of man, than break the law of their almighty Judge, and will prefer suffering to deliverance by sin.
(Notes, Jeremiah 26:12-15. Daniel 3:16-18
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Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 119". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent