The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
~ Lamentations 3:24
I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.
~ Psalm 119:106
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
~ Hebrews 10:22
With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
~ Psalm 119:10
In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
~ Psalm 56:4
Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.
~ Lamentations 3:40
And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
~ Joel 2:13
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
~ Ecclesiastes 9:10
To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
~ Galatians 1:16
And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness.
~ Hosea 6:9
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.
~ Psalm 119:176
An Exposition on Psalm 119:57-61, by Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The following contains an excerpt from his work, “Treasury of David”.
CHETH. Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words. I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word. I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments. The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law. At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments. I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts. The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes.
~ Psalm 119:57-64
In this section the Psalmist seems to take firm hold upon God himself; appropriating him (Psalms 119:57), crying out for him (Psalms 119:58), returning to him (Psalms 119:59), solacing himself in him (Psalms 119:61-62), associating with his people (Psalms 119:63), and sighing for personal experience of his goodness (Psalms 119:64). Note how the first verse of this octave is linked to the last of the former one, of which indeed it is an expanded repetition. “This I had because I kept thy precepts. Thou art my portion, O Lord: I have said that I would keep thy words.”
Ver. 57. Thou art my portion, O LORD. A broken sentence. The translators have mended it by insertions, but perhaps it had been better to have left it alone, and then it would have appeared as an exclamation, “My portion, O Lord!” The poet is lost in wonder while he sees that the great and glorious God is all his own! Well might he be so, for there is no possession like Jehovah himself. The form of the sentence expresses joyous recognition and appropriation, “My portion, O Jehovah!” David had often seen the prey divided, and heard the victors shouting over it; here he rejoices as one who seizes his share of the spoil; he chooses the Lord to be his part of the treasure. Like the Levites, he took God to be his portion, and left other matters to those who coveted them. This is a large and lasting heritage, for it includes all, and more than all, and it outlasts all; and yet no man chooses it for himself until God has chosen and renewed him. Who that is truly wise could hesitate for a moment when the infinitely blessed God is set before him to be the object of his choice? David leaped at the opportunity, and grasped the priceless boon. Our author here dares exhibit the title deeds of his portion before the eye of the Lord himself, for he addresses his joyful utterance directly to God whom he boldly calls his own. With much else to choose from, for he was a king, and a man of great resources, Ire deliberately turns from all the treasures of the world, and declares that the Lord, even Jehovah, is his portion.
I have said that I would keep thy words. We cannot always look back with comfort upon what we have said, but in this instance David had spoken wisely and well. He had declared his choice: he preferred the word of God to the wealth of worldlings. It was his firm resolve to keep that is, treasure up and observe the words of his God, and as he had aforetime solemnly expressed it in the presence of the Lord himself, so here he confesses the binding obligation of his former vow. Jesus said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words, “and this is a case which he might have quoted as an illustration; for the Psalmist’s love to God as his portion led to his keeping the words of God. David took God to be his Prince as well as his Portion. He was confident as to his interest in God, and therefore he was resolute in his obedience to him. Full assurance is a powerful source of holiness. The very words of God are to be stored up; for whether they relate to doctrine, promise, or precept, they are most precious. When the heart is determined to keep these words, and has registered its purpose in the court of heaven, it is prepared for all the temptations and trials that may befall it; for, with God as its heritage, it is always in good case.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
This begins a new division of the Psalm, indicated by the Hebrew letter Cheth, which may be represented in English by hh. Albert Barnes.
Ver. 57-64. In this section David laboureth to confirm his faith, and to comfort himself in the certainty of his regeneration, by eight properties of a sound believer, or eight marks of a new creature. The first whereof is his choosing of God for his portion. Whence learn,
1. Such as God hath chosen and effectually called, they get grace to make God their choice, their delight, and their portion; and such as have chosen God for their portion have an evidence of their regeneration and election also; for here David maketh this a mark of his regeneration: Thou art my portion.
2. It is another mark of regeneration, after believing in God, and choosing him for our portion, to resolve to bring forth the fruits of faith in new obedience, as David did: I have said that I would keep thy words.
3. As it is usual for God’s children, now and then because of sin falling out, to be exercised with a sense of God’s displeasure, so it is a mark of a new creature not to lie stupid and senseless under this exercise, but to deal with God earnestly, for restoring the sense of reconciliation, and giving new experience of his mercy, as the Psalmist did; I intreated thy favour with my whole heart; and this is the third evidence of a new creature.
4. The penitent believer hath the word of grace and the covenant of God for his assurance to be heard when he seeketh mercy: Be merciful unto me according to thy word.
5. The searching in what condition we are in, and examination of our ways according to the word, and renewing of repentance, with an endeavour of amendment, is a fourth mark of a new creature: I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
6. When we do see our sin we are naturally slow to amend our doings; but the sooner we turn us to the way of God’s obedience, we speed the better, and the more speedy the reforming of our life be, the more sound mark is it of a new creature: I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.
7. Enduring of persecution and spoiling of our goods, for adhering to God’s word, without forsaking of his cause, is a fifth mark of a new creature: The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.
8. As it is the lot of God’s children who resolve to be godly, to suffer persecution, and to be forced either to lose their temporal goods or else to lose a good cause and a good conscience; so it is the wisdom of the godly to remember what the Lord’s word requireth of us and speaketh unto us, and this shall comfort our conscience more than the loss of things temporal can trouble our minds: The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.
9. A sixth mark of a new creature is, to be so far from fretting under hard exercise as to thank God in secret cheerfully for his gracious word, and for all the passages of his providence, where none seeth us, and where there is no hazard of ostentation: At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.
10. A seventh mark of a renewed creature is, to associate ourselves and keep communion with such as are truly gracious, and do fear God indeed, as we are able to discern them: I am a companion of all them that fear thee.
11. The fear of God is evidenced by believing and obeying the doctrine and direction of the Scripture, and no other ways: I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.
12. The eighth mark of a new creature is, not to rest in any measure of renovation, but earnestly to deal with God for the increase of saving knowledge, and fruitful obedience of it; for, Teach me thy statutes, is the prayer of the man of God, in whom all the former marks are found.
13. As the whole of the creatures are witnesses of God’s bounty to man, and partakers of that bounty themselves, so are they pawns of God’s pleasure to bestow upon his servants greater gifts than these, even the increase of sanctification, in further illumination of mind and reformation of life: for this the Psalmist useth for an argument to be more and more sanctified: The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes. David Dickson.
Ver. 57. Thou art my portion, O LORD. The sincerity of this claim may be gathered, because he speaks by way of address to God. He doth not say barely, “He is my portion”; but challengeth God to his face:
Thou art my portion, O LORD. Elsewhere it is said, “The Lord is my portion, saith my soul” (Lamentations 3:24). There he doth not speak it by way of address to God, but he adds, “saith my soul”; but here to God himself, who knows the secrets of the heart. To speak thus of God to God, argues our sincerity, when to God’s face we avow our trust and choice; as Peter, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee” (John 21:17). Thomas Manton.
Ver. 57. Thou art my portion, O LORD. Luther counsels every Christian to answer all temptations with this short saying, “Christianus sum, “I am a Christian; and I would counsel every Christian to answer all temptations with this short saying, “The Lord is my portion.” O Christian, when Satan or the world shall tempt thee with honours, answer, “The Lord is my portion”; when they shall tempt thee with riches, answer, “The Lord is my portion”; when they shall tempt thee with preferments, answer, “The Lord is my portion”; and when they shall tempt thee with the favours of great ones, answer, “The Lord is my portion”; yea, and when this persecuting world shall threaten thee with the loss of thy estate, answer, “The Lord is my portion”: and when they shall threaten thee with the loss of thy liberty, answer, “The Lord is my portion”; and when they shall threaten thee with the loss of friends, answer, “The Lord is my portion”; and when they shall threaten thee with the loss of life, answer, “The Lord is my portion.” O, sir, if Satan should come to thee with an apple, as once he did to Eve, tell him that “the Lord is your portion”; or with a grape, as once he did to Noah, tell him that “the Lord is your portion”; or with a change of raiment, as once he did to Gehazi, tell him that “the Lord is your portion”; or with a wedge of gold, as once he did to Achan, tell him that “the Lord is your portion”; or with a bag of money, as once he did to Judas, tell him that “the Lord is your portion”; or with a crown, a kingdom, as once he did to Moses, tell him that “the Lord is your portion.” Thomas Brooks.
Ver. 57. Thou art my portion, O LORD. God is all sufficient; get him for your “portion”, and you have all; then you have infinite wisdom to direct you, infinite knowledge to teach you, infinite mercy to pity, and save you, infinite love to care and comfort you, and infinite power to protect and keep you. If God be yours, all his attributes are yours; all his creatures, all his works of providence, shall do you good, as you have need of them. He is an eternal, full, satisfactory portion. He is an ever living, ever loving, ever present friend; and without him you are a cursed creature in every condition, and all things will work against you. John Mason, 1694.
Ver. 57. Thou art my portion, O LORD. If there was a moment in the life of David in which one might feel inclined to envy him, it would not be in that flush of youthful victory, when Goliath lay prostrate at his feet, nor in that hour of even greater triumph, when the damsels of Israel sang his praise in the dance, saying, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands”; it would not be on that royal day, when his undisputed claim to the throne of Israel was acknowledged on every side and by every tribe; but it would be in that moment when, with a loving and trustful heart, he looked up to God and said, “Thou art my portion.” In a later Psalm (142), which bears with it as its title, “A prayer of David, when he was in the cave, “we have the very same expression: “I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.” It adds immeasurably to such an expression, if we believe it to have been uttered at a time when every other possession and inheritance was taken from him, and the Lord alone was his portion. Barton Bouchier.
Ver. 57. He is an exceedingly covetous fellow to whom God is not sufficient; and he is an exceeding fool to whom the world is sufficient. For God is all inexhaustible treasury of all riches, sufficing innumerable men; while the world has mere trifles and fascinations to offer, and leads the soul into deep and sorrowful poverty. Thomas Le Blanc.
Ver. 57. They who are without an ample patrimony in this life, may make to themselves a portion in heavenly blessedness. Solomon Gessler.
Ver. 57. I have said that I would keep thy words. This he brings in by way of proving that which he said in the former words. Many will say with David, that God is their portion; but here is the point: how do they prove it? If God were their portion, they would love him; if they loved him they would love his word; if they loved his word they would live by it and make it the rule of their life. William Cowper.
Ver. 57. I have said that I would keep thy words. He was resolved to keep his commandments, lay up his promises, observe his ordinances, profess and retain a belief in his doctrines. John, Gill.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
Outlines Upon Keywords of the Psalm, By Pastor C. A. Davis.
Verse 57-64. The believer’s portion. The Lord is the believer’s portion (Psalms 119:57); heartily sought (Psalms 119:58-60); remaining though all else be taken away (Psalms 119:61); causing joy even at midnight (Psalms 119:62), and the selection of congenial company (Psalms 119:63-64).
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
1. The infinite possession: “Thou art my portion, O LORD.” Notice
(a) A clear distinction made by the Psalmist between his
portion and that of the ungodly here and hereafter:
See Psalms 48:2.
(b) positive claim: “Thou art my portion, O LORD.” This
“portion” is boundless, abiding, appropriate, satisfying,
elevating, all of grace.
2. The appropriate resolution: “I have said that I would keep thy words.”
(a) Notice the preface: “I have said.”
(b) The link between the portion possessed and the
(c) The work of keeping God’s words. Keep him who is the
Word Christ Jesus. Keep the word of the gospel
doctrines, precepts, promises (kept in the heart to comfort
the believer). This blessed subject suggests a solemn
contrast. See the portion of that servant who did not keep
his Lord’s word: Matthew 24:48-51 See “Spurgeon’s Sermons, ”
No. 1372: “God our Portion, and his Word our Treasure.”
Ver. 57 (first clause). The believer’s portion.
1. Show the validity of his claim: “my.”
(a) A gift by covenant: Hebrews 8:10-13.
(b) Involved in joint heirship with Christ: Romans 8:17.
(c) Confirmed by the experience of faith.
2. Survey the superlative value of his possession: “The Lord.”
(a) Absolutely good.
(b) Infinitely precious.
(c) Inexhaustibly full.
(d) Everlastingly sure.
3. Suggest a method of deriving the greatest present advantage from it.
(a) Meditate much upon God, under the conviction that he is
(b) Carry all cares to him, and cast every burden on him.
(c) Refer every temptation to the word of his law, and
every doubt to the word of his promise.
(d) Draw largely upon his riches to meet every need as it
arises. John Field, of Sevenoaks, 1882.
Ver. 57-58. The believer’s estate, profession, and petition.
Ver. 58. I intreated thy favour with my whole heart. A fully assured possession of God does not set aside prayer, but rather urges us to it; he who knows God to be his God will seek his face, longing for his presence. Seeking God’s presence is the idea conveyed by the marginal reading, “thy face, “and this is true to the Hebrew. The presence of God is the highest form of his favour, and therefore it is the most urgent desire of gracious souls: the light of his countenance gives us an antepast of heaven. O that we always enjoyed it! The good man entreated God’s smile as one who begged for his life, and the entire strength of his desire went with the entreaty. Such eager pleadings are sure of success; that which comes from our heart will certainly go to God’s heart. The whole of God’s favours are ready for those who seek them with their whole hearts.
Be merciful unto me according to thy word. He has entreated favour, and the form in which he most needs it is that of mercy, for he is more a sinner than anything else. He asks nothing beyond the promise, he only begs for such mercy as the word reveals. And what more could he want or wish for? God has revealed such an infinity of mercy in his word that it would be impossible to conceive of more. See how the Psalmist dwells upon favour and mercy, he never dreams of merit. He does not demand, but entreat; for he feels his own unworthiness. Note how he remains a suppliant, though he knows that he has all things in his God. God is his portion, and yet he begs for a look at his face. The idea of any other standing before God than that of an undeserving but favoured one never entered his head. Here we have his “Be merciful unto me” rising with as much intensity of humble pleading as if he still remained among the most trembling of penitents. The confidence of faith makes us bold in prayer, but it never teaches us to live without prayer, or justifies us in being other than humble beggars at mercy’s gate.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Ver. 58. I entreated thy favour, or; I seek thy face. To seek the face is to come into the presence. Thus the Hebrews speak when desirous of expressing that familiar intercourse to which God admits his people when he bids them make known their requests. It is truly the same as speaking face to face with God. Franciscus Vatablus, 1545.
Ver. 58. I entreated thy favour with my whole heart I have often remarked how graciously and lovingly the Lord delights to return an answer to prayer in the very words that have gone up before him, as if to assure us that they have reached his ear, and been speeded back again from him laden with increase. “I entreated thy favour with my whole heart.” Hear the Lord’s answer to his praying people: “I will rejoice over them to do them good assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.” Barton Bouchier.
Ver. 58. With my whole heart. The Hebrew expresses great earnestness and humility in supplication. A. R. Fausset.
Ver. 58. With my whole heart. Prayer is chiefly a heart work. God heareth the heart without the mouth, but never heareth the mouth acceptably without the heart. Walter Marshall.
Ver. 58. Be merciful unto me, etc. He protested before that he sought the Lord with his whole heart, and now he prayeth that he may find mercy. So indeed it shall be; boldly may that man look for mercy at God’s hand who seeks him truly. Mercy and truth are wont to meet together, and embrace one another: where truth is in the soul to seek, there cannot but be mercy in God to embrace. If truth be in us to confess our sins and forsake them, we shall find mercy in God to pardon and forgive them. William Cowper.
Ver. 58. According to thy word. He prayeth not for what he lusteth after, but for that which the Lord promised; for St. James saith, “You pray and have not, “etc., and this is the cause, that we have not the thing we pray for, because we pray not according to the word. His word must be the rule of our prayers, and then we shall receive; as Solomon prayed and obtained. God hath promised forgiveness of sins, the knowledge of his word, and many other blessings. If we have these, let not our hearts be set on other things. Richard Greenham.
Ver. 58. According to thy word. The Word of God may be divided into three parts; into commandments, threatenings, and promises; and though a Christian must not neglect the commanding and threatening word, yet if ever he would make the Word a channel for Divine comfort, he must study the promising word; for the promises are a Christian’s magna charta for heaven. All comfort must be built upon a Scripture promise, else it is presumption, not true comfort. The promises are pabulum fidei, et anima fidei, the food of faith, and the soul of faith. As faith is the life of a Christian, so the promises are the life of faith: faith is a dead faith if it hath no promise to quicken it. As the promises are of no use without faith to apply them, so faith is of no use without a promise to lay hold on. Edmund Calamy.
Ver. 58. The rule and ground of confidence is, “according to thy word.” God’s word is the rule of our confidence; for therein is God’s stated course. If we would have favour and mercy from God, it must be upon his own terms. God will accept of us in Christ, if we repent, believe, and obey, and seek his favour diligently: he will not deny those who seek, ask, knock. Many would have mercy, but will not observe God’s direction. We must ask according to God’s will, not without a promise, nor against a command. God is made a voluntary debtor by his promise. These are notable props of faith, when we are encouraged to seek by the offer, and urged to apply by the promise. We thrive no more in a comfortable sense of God’s love, because we take not this course. Thomas Manton.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
Ver. 58. The soul’s sunshine.
1. God’s favour the one thing needful.
2. Wholeheartedness the one mode of entreating it.
3. Covenant mercy the one plea for obtaining it. C.A.D.
Ver. 58. We may learn how a seeker may come to enjoy saving favour, by a careful study of
1. The Profession: “I intreated thy favour with my whole heart.”
(a) What he did: “I intreated.” Heb. “I painfully sought
thy face.” Earnest desire. Importunate supplication.
Painful sorrow for sin.
(b) How he did it: “With my whole heart.” The intellect,
affections, will, all engaged and concentrating effort.
Otherwise, seeking is solemn trifling. This only worthy of
our purpose, pleasing to God, and successful.
(c) The evidence that we are doing it. Frequent prayer,
searching the word, often enquiring. The first and main
business Giving up for Christ.
2. The Petition: “Be merciful unto me.”
(a) God’s favour to be expected on the terms of mercy only.
(b) Happily, this is a prayer every sinner can and should
(c) Blessedly true it is, that it never fails.
3. The Plea: “According to thy word.”
(a) A plea that cannot be gainsaid is a great thing in an
(b) The promise of God is just such a plea.
(c) Seek it out, lay hold of it, and urge it. J.F.
Ver. 59. I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. While studying the word he was led to study his own life, and this caused a mighty revolution. He came to the word, and then he came to himself, and this made him arise and go to his Father. Consideration is the commencement of conversion: first we think and then we turn. When the mind repents of ill ways the feet are soon led into good ways; but there will be no repenting until there is deep, earnest thought. Many men are averse to thought of any kind, and as to thought upon their ways, they cannot endure it, for their ways will not bear thinking of. David’s ways had not been all that he could have wished them to be, and so his thoughts were sobered over with the pale cast of regret; but he did not end with idle lamentations, he set about a practical amendment; he turned and returned, he sought the testimonies of the Lord, and hastened to enjoy once more the conscious favour of his heavenly friend. Action without thought is folly, and thought without action is sloth: to think carefully and then to act promptly is a happy combination. He had entreated for renewed fellowship, and now he proved the genuineness of his desire by renewed obedience. If we are in the dark, and mourn an absent God, our wisest method will be not so much to think upon our sorrows as upon our ways: though we cannot turn the course of providence, we can turn the way of our walking, and this will soon mend matters. If we can get our feet right as to holy walking, we shall soon get our hearts right as to happy living. God will turn to his saints when they turn to him; yea, he has already favoured them with the light of his face when they begin to think and turn.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Ver. 59. I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. The transition which is made in the text from the occasion of this alteration, “I thought on my ways, “to the change itself, is very lofty and elegant. He does not tell us that, after a review of them, he saw the folly and danger of sin, the debasedness of its pleasures, and the poison of its delights; or that, upon a search into God’s law, he was convinced that what he imagined so severe, rigid, and frightful before, was now all amiable and lovely; no, but immediately adds, “I turned my feet unto thy testimonies”; than which I can conceive nothing more noble or strong; for it emphatically says, that there was no need to express the appearance his ways had when once he thought upon them. What must be the consequence of his deliberation was so plain, namely, that sin never prevails but where it is masked over with some false beauties, and the inconsiderate, foolish sinner credulously gives ear to its enchantments, and is not at pains and care to enquire into them; for a deep, thorough search would soon discover that its fairest appearances are but lying vanities, and that he who is captivated with that empty show is in the same circumstances with a person in a dream, who can please himself with his fancy only while asleep, and that his awakening out of it no sooner or more certainly discovers the cheat, than a serious thinking upon the ways of iniquity and rebellion against God will manifest the fatal madness of men in ever pursuing them. William Dunlop, 1692-1720.
Ver. 59. I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. Some translate the original, I looked on both sides upon my ways, I considered them every way, “and turned my feet unto thy testimonies” I considered that I was wandering like a lost sheep, and then I returned. George Swinnock.
Ver. 59. I thought on my ways, etc. The Hebrew word but that is here used for thinking, signifies to think on a man’s ways accurately, advisedly, seriously, studiously, curiously. This holy man of God thought exactly and curiously on all his purposes and practices, on all his doings and sayings, on all his words and works, and finding too many of them to be short of the rule, yea, to be against the rule, he turned his feet to God’s testimonies; having found out his errors, upon a diligent search, a strict scrutiny, he turned over a new leaf, and framed his course more exactly by rule. O Christians, you must look as well to your spiritual wants as to your spiritual enjoyments; you must look as well to your layings out as to your layings up; you must look as well forward to what you should be, as backward to what you are. Certainly that Christian will never be eminent in holiness that hath many eyes to behold a little holiness, and never an eye to see his further want of holiness. Thomas Brooks.
Ver. 59. I thought on my ways. The word signifies a fixed, abiding thought. Some make it an allusion to those that work embroidery; that are very exact and careful to cover the least flaw; or to those that cast accounts. Reckon with yourselves, What do I owe? what am I worth? “I thought” not only on my wealth, as the covetous man, Psalms 69:11; but “on my ways”; not what I have, but what I do; because what we do will follow us into another world, when what we have must be left behind. Many are critical enough in their remarks upon other people’s ways that never think of their own, but “let every man prove his own work.”
This account which David here gives of himself may refer either to his constant practice every day; he reflected on his ways at night, directed his feet to God’s testimonies in the morning, and what his hand found to do that was good he did it without delay: or it may refer to his first acquaintance with God and religion, when he began to throw off the vanity of childhood and youth, and to remember his Creator; that blessed change was by the grace of God thus wrought. Note, 1. Conversion begins in serious consideration; Ezekiel 18:28; Luke 15:17. Luke 15:2. Consideration must end in a sound conversion. To what purpose have we thought on our ways, if we do not turn our feet with all speed to God’s testimonies? Matthew Henry.
Ver. 59. I thought on my ways. Be frequent in this work of serious consideration. If daily you called yourselves to an account, all acts of grace would thrive the better. Seneca asked of Sextius, Quod hodie malum sanasti? cui vitio obstitisti? You have God’s example in reviewing every day’s work, and in dealing with Adam before he slept. The man that was unclean was to wash his clothes at eventide. Thomas Manton.
Ver. 59. I thought on my ways, etc. Poisons may be made curable. Let the thoughts of old sins stir up a commotion of anger and hatred. We shiver in our spirits, and a motion in our blood, at the very thought of a bitter potion we have formerly taken. Why may we not do that spiritually, which the very frame and constitution of our bodies doth naturally, upon the calling a loathsome thing to mind? The Romans’ sins were transient, but the shame was renewed every time they reflected on them: Romans 6:21, “Whereof ye are now ashamed.” They reacted the detestation instead of the pleasure: so should the reviving of old sins in our memories be entertained with our sighs, rather than with joy. We should also manage the opportunity, so as to promote some further degrees of our conversion: “I thought or, my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.” There is not the most hellish motion, but we may strike some sparks from it, to kindle our love to God, renew our repentance, raise our thankfulness, or quicken our obedience. Stephen Charnock.
Ver. 59. And turned my feet unto thy testimonies. Mentioning this passage, Philip Henry observed, that the great turn to be made in heart and life is, from all other things to the word of God. Conversion turns us to the word of God, as our touchstone, to examine ourselves, our state, our ways, spirits, doctrines, worships, customs; as our glass, to dress by, James 1:0; as our rule to walk and work by, Galatians 6:16; as our water, to wash us, Psalms 119:9; as our fire to warm us, Luke 24:32; as our food to nourish us, Job 23:12; as our sword to fight with, Ephesians 6:13-17; as our counsellor, in all our doubts, Psalms 119:24; as our cordial, to comfort us; as our heritage, to enrich us.
Ver. 59. And turned my feet unto thy testimonies. No itinerary to the heavenly city is simpler or fuller than the ready answer made by an English prelate to a scoffer who asked him the way to heaven; “First turn to the right, and keep straight on.” Neale and Littledale.
Ver. 59. And turned. Turn to God, and he will turn to you; then you are happy, though all the world turn against you. John Mason.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
1. Self examination: “I thought on” my private “ways” my social ways my sacred ways my public ways.
2. Its advantages: “And turned my feet, “etc. G.R.
1. Unthinking and straying.
2. Thinking and turning. C.A.D.
2. Conversion. W. D.
Ver. 59. Thinking on our own ways. Enquire,
1. Why so generally neglected?
(a) Want of courage.
(b) Occupied too much.
(c) Unpleasant, and therefore the chief care of many is to
2. When is it wisely conducted?
(a) When honestly engaged in.
(b) When thoroughly carried out.
(c) When Scripture is made the referee and standard.
4. When Divine help is sought.
3. What end will it serve?
(a) Turn us from our own ways with shame and penitence.
(b) Turn us to God’s testimonies with earnestness,
reverence, and hopefulness. J.F.
1. Right thinking: “I thought on my ways.”
(a) That this thought upon his ways caused the Psalmist
dissatisfaction is evident.
(b) Right thinking upon our ways will suggest a practical
(c) The retrospect we take of our life should suggest that
any turn we make should be towards God: “Unto thy testimonies.”
(d) Right thinking also suggests that such a turning is
2. Right turning. The turn was
(e) It must be a divine work. See “Spurgeon’s Sermons, “No.
1181: “Thinking and Turning.”
Ver. 60. I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments. He made all speed to get back into the royal road from which he had wandered, and to run in that road upon the King’s errands. Speed in repentance and speed in obedience are two excellent things. We are too often in haste to sin; O that we may be in a greater hurry to obey. Delay in sin is increase of sin. To be slow to keep the commands is really to break them. There is much evil in a lagging pace when God’s command is to be followed. A holy alacrity in service is much to be cultivated. It is wrought in us by the Spirit of God, and the preceding verses describe the method of it: we are made to perceive and mourn our errors, we are led to return to the right path, and then we are eager to make up for lost time by dashing forward to fulfil the precept.
Whatever may be the slips and wanderings of an honest heart, there remains enough of true life in it to produce ardent piety when once it is quickened by the visitations of God. The Psalmist entreated for mercy, and when he received it he became eager and vehement in the Lord’s ways. He had always loved them, and hence when he was enriched with grace he displayed great vivacity and delight in them. He made double speed; for positively he “made haste, “and negatively he refused to yield to any motive which suggested procrastination, he “delayed not.” Thus he made rapid advances and accomplished much service, fulfilling thereby the vow which is recorded in Psalms 119:57: “I said that I would keep thy words.” The commands which he was so eager to obey were not ordinances of man, but precepts of the Most High. Many are zealots to obey custom and society, and yet they are slack in serving God. It is a crying shame that men should be served post haste, and that God’s work should have the go by, or be performed with dreamy negligence.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Ver. 60. I made haste, and delayed not, etc. Duty discovered should instantly be discharged. There is peril attending every step which is taken in the indulgence of any known sin, or in the neglect of any acknowledged obligation. A tender conscience will not trifle with its convictions, lest the heart should be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. It is unsafe, it is unreasonable, it is highly criminal to hesitate to carry that reformation into effect which conscience dictates. He who delays when duty calls may never have it in his power to evince the sincerity of his contrition for past folly and neglect. “I made haste, “said the Psalmist, “and delayed not to keep thy commandments”; that is, being fully convinced of the necessity and excellency of obedience, I instantly resolved upon it, and immediately put it into execution. John Morison.
Ver. 60. I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments. We often hear the saying, “Second thoughts are best.” This does not hold in the religious life. In the context the Psalmist says, “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies, “that is, I did not wait to think again. In religion it may be a deadly habit to take time to reflect. Make haste. Henry Melvill.
Ver. 60. I made haste, and delayed not. When anyone is lawfully called either to the study of theology, or to the teaching it in the church, he ought not to hesitate, as Moses, or turn away, as Jonah; but, leaving all things, he should obey God who calls him; as David says, “I made haste, and delayed not.” Matthew 4:20 Luke 9:62. Solomon Gesner.
Ver. 60. I made haste, and delayed not. Sound faith is neither suspicious, nor curious; it believes what God says, without sight, without examining. For since it is impossible for God to lie (for how should truth lie?) it is fit his word be credited for itself’s sake. It must not be examined with hows and whys. That which the Psalmist says of observing the law, that must the Christian say of receiving the gospel. ynhmhmnh al, “I disputed not, “saith David; I argued not with God. The word is very elegant in the original tongue, derived in the Hebrew from the pronoun tm, which signifieth quid. Faith reasons not with God, asketh no “quids”, no “quares”, no “quomodos”, no whats, no hows, no wherefores: it moveth no questions. It meekly yields assent, and humbly says Amen to every word of God. This is the faith of which our Saviour wondered in the centurion’s story. Richard Clerke, 1634.
Ver. 60. I made haste, and delayed not. The original word, which we translate “delayed not”, is amazingly emphatic. thmhmth anw, “velo hithmahmahti”, I did not stand what what whating; or, as we used to express the same sentiment, shilly shallying with myself: I was determined, and so set out. The Hebrew word as well as the English, strongly marks indecision of mind, positive action being suspended, because the mind is so unfixed as not to be able to make a choice. Adam Clarke.
Ver. 60. Take heed of delays and procrastination, of putting it off from day to day, by saying there will be time enough hereafter; it will be time enough for me to look after heaven when I have got enough of the world; if I do it in the last year of my life, in the last month of the last year, in the last week of the last month, it will serve. O take heed of delays; this putting off repentance hath ruined thousands of souls; shun that pit into which many have fallen, shun that rock upon which many have suffered shipwreck; say with David, “I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.” James Nalton, 1664.
Ver. 60. I made haste, and delayed not, etc. In the verse immediately preceding, the man of God speaks of repentance as the fruit of consideration and self examining: “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.” But when did he turn? for, though we see the evil of our ways, we are naturally slow to get it redressed. Therefore David did not only turn to God, but he did it speedily: we have an account of that in this verse, “I made haste, ” etc. This readiness in the work of obedience is doubly expressed; affirmatively, and negatively. Affirmatively, “I made haste”; negatively, “I delayed not.” This double expression increaseth the sense according to the manner of the Hebrews; as, “I shall not die, but live” (Psalms 118:17); that is, surely live; so here, “I made haste, and delayed not; “that is, I verily delayed not a moment; as soon as he had thought of his ways, and taken up the resolution to walk closely with God, he did put it into practice. The Septuagint read the words thus, “I was ready, and was not troubled or diverted by fear of danger.” Indeed, besides our natural slowness to good, this is one usual ground of delays; we distract ourselves with fears; and, when God hath made known his will to us in many duties, we think of tarrying till the times are more quiet, and favourable to our practice, or till our affairs are in a better posture. A good improvement may be made of that translation; but the words run better, as they run more generally, with us, “I made haste, and delayed not, ” etc.
David delayed not. When we dare not flatly deny, then we delay. Non vacat, that is the sinner’s plea, “I am not at leisure”; but, Non placet, there is the reality. They which were invited to the wedding varnished their denial over with an excuse (Matthew 22:5). Delay is a denial; for, if they were willing, there would be no excuse. To be rid of importunate and troublesome creditors, we promise them payment another time: though we know our estate will be more wasted by that time, it is but to put them off: so this delay and putting off of God is but a shift. Here is the misery, God always comes unseasonably to a carnal heart. It was the devils that said, “Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29). Good things are a torment to a carnal heart; and they always come out of time. Certainly, that is the best time when the word is pressed upon thy heart with evidence, light, and power, and when God treats with thee about thine eternal peace. Thomas Manton.
Ver. 60. Delayed. Hithmahmah;the word used of Lot’s lingering, in Genesis 19:16. William Kay.
Ver. 60. Delay in the Lord’s errands is next to disobedience, and generally springs out of it, or issues in it. “God commanded me to make haste” (2 Chronicles 35:21). Let us see to it that we can say, “I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.” Frances Ridley Havergal.
Ver. 60. Avoid all delay in the performance of this great work of believing in Christ. Until we have performed it we continue under the power of sin and Satan, and under the wrath of God; and there is nothing between hell and us besides the breath of our nostrils. It is dangerous for Lot to linger in Sodom, lest fire and brimstone come down from heaven upon him. The manslayer must fly with all haste to the city of refuge, lest the avenger of blood pursue him, while his heart is hot, and slay him. We should make haste, and not delay to keep God’s commandments. Walter Marshall.
Ver. 60. If convictions begin to work, instantly yield to their influence. If any worldly or sinful desire is touched, let this be the moment for its crucifixion. If any affection is kindled towards the Saviour, give immediate expression to its voice. If any grace is reviving, let it be called forth into instant duty. This is the best, the only, expedient to fix and detain the motion of the Spirit now striving in the heart; and who knoweth but the improvement of the present advantage, may be the moment of victory over difficulties hitherto found insuperable, and may open our path to heaven with less interruption and more steady progress? Charles Bridges.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
Ver. 60. The dangers of delay. The reasons for prompt action.
Ver. 60. A sermon to loiterers.
1. Reflection. Keeping God’s commandments is my duty; is my welfare. Commandments delayed may be never kept. Delay is in itself disobedience. Alacrity is the soul of obedience.
2. Resolve. I will make haste and delay not. C.A.D.
2. Sure. W.D.
Ver. 60. Procrastination considered in its most important application; that is, to religion.
1. This procrastination is irrational.
2. It is unpleasant, disagreeable, painful.
3. It is disgraceful.
4. It is sinful, and that is the highest degree.
5. It is dangerous. John Angell James.
Ver. 61. The bands of the wicked have robbed me. Aforetime they derided him, and now they have defrauded him. Ungodly men grow worse, aria become more and more daring, so that they go from ridicule to robbery. Much of this bold opposition arose from their being banded together: men will dare to do in company what they durst not have thought of alone. When firebrands are laid together there is no telling what a flame they will create. It seems that whole bands of men assailed this one child of God, they are cowardly enough for anything; though they could not kill him, they robbed him; the dogs of Satan will worry saints if they cannot devour them. David’s enemies did their utmost: first the serpents hissed, and then they stung. Since words availed not, the wicked fell to blows. How much the ungodly have plundered the saints in all ages, and how often have the righteous borne gladly the spoiling of their goods!