To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.
~ Jeremiah 6:10
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
~ Joshua 1:8
For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth.
~ Psalm 44:25
Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.
~ 1 Kings 8:36
O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.
~ Psalm 71:17
And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.
~ Joshua 2:11
Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
~ Proverbs 30:8
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
~ 1 Peter 2:2
Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.
~ Proverbs 23:23
Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.
~ Song of Solomon 1:4
And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.
~ Jeremiah 24:7
With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
~ Psalm 119:10
An Exposition of Psalm 119:24-32, by Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The following contains an excerpt from his work, “The Treasury of David”.
Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors. DALETH. My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word. I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes. Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works. My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word. Remove from me the way of lying: and gant me thy law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me. I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame. I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.
— Psalm 119:24-32
Ver. 24. Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors. They were not only themes for meditation, but “also” sources of delight and means of guidance. While his enemies took counsel with each other the holy man took counsel with the testimonies of God. The fowlers could not drive the bird from its nest with all their noise. It was their delight to slander and his delight to meditate. The words of the Lord serve us for many purposes; in our sorrows they are our delight, and in our difficulties they are our guide; we derive joy from them and discover wisdom in them. If we desire to find comfort in the Scriptures we must submit ourselves to their counsel, and when we follow their counsel it must not be with reluctance but with delight. This is the safest way of dealing with those who plot for our ruin; let us give more heed to the true testimonies of the Lord than to the false witness of our foes. The best answer to accusing princes is the word of the justifying King.
In Psalms 119:16 David said, “I will delight in thy statutes, “and here he says “they are my delight”: thus resolutions formed in God’s strength come to fruit, and spiritual desires ripen into actual attainments. O that it might be so with all the readers of these lines.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Ver. 24. Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors. His delight and his counsellors, that is, his delight because his counsellors; his counsellors, and therefore his delight. We know how delightful it is to any to have the advantage of good counsel, according to the perplexities and distractions in which they may be. “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel, “says Solomon, Proverbs 27:9. Now this is the sweetness of Divine communion, and of meditation on God and his word; it employs a man with seasonable counsel, which is a very great refreshment to us. T. Horton, 1673.
Ver. 24. Thy testimonies also are my delight, etc. Those that would have God’s testimonies to be their delight, must make them for their counsellors and be advised by them: and let those that take them for their counsellors in close walking, take them for their delight in comfortable walking. Matthew Henry.
Ver. 24. Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors. What could we want more in a time of difficulty than comfort and direction David had both these blessings. As the fruit of his “meditation in the Lord’s statutes, “in his distress they were his “delight”; in his seasons of perplexity they were his “counsellors, “directing his behaviour in the perfect way. Charles Bridges.
Ver. 24. My counsellors. In the Hebrew it is, “the men of my counsel, “which is fitly mentioned; for he had spoken of princes sitting in council against him. Princes do nothing without the advice of their Privy Council; a child of God hath also his Privy Council, God’s testimonies. On the one side there was Saul and his nobles and counsellors; on the other side there was David and God’s testimonies. Now, who was better furnished, think you, they to persecute and trouble him, or David how to carry himself under this trouble? Alphonsus, king of Arragon, being asked who were the best counsellors? answered, “The dead (meaning books), which cannot flatter, but do without partiality declare the truth.” Now of all such dead counsellors, God’s testimonies have the preeminence. A poor, godly man, even then when he is deserted of all, and hath nobody to plead for him, he hath his senate, and his council of state about him, the prophets and apostles, and “other holy men of God, that spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” A man so furnished, is never less alone than when alone; for he hath counsellors about him that tell him what is to be believed or done; and they are such counsellors as cannot err, as will not flatter him, nor applaud him in any sin, nor discourage or dissuade him from that which is good, whatever hazard it expose him to. And truly, if we be wise, we should choose such counsellors as these: “Thy testimonies are the men of my counsel.” Thomas Manton.
Ver. 24. My counsellors. See here a sentence worthy to be weighed of us, when David calleth the commandments of God his “counsellors.” For, in the first place, he meaneth that he might scorn all the wisdom of the most able and most expert men in the world, since he was conducted by the word of God, and governed thereby. In the second place, he meaneth that when he shall be so governed by the word of God, he would not only be truly wise, but that it would be as if he had all the wisdom of all the men in the world, yea, and a great deal more. John Calvin.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
1. He reverenced them as God’s testimonies.
2. He revelled in them as his delight.
3. He referred to them as his counsellors.
Ver. 25-32. Here, it seems to me, we have the Psalmist in trouble bewailing the bondage to earthly things in which he finds his mind to be held. His soul cleaves to the dust, melts for heaviness, and cries for enlargement from its spiritual prison. In these verses we shall see the influence of the divine word upon a heart which laments its downward tendencies, and is filled with mourning because of its deadening surroundings. The word of the Lord evidently arouses prayer (Psalms 119:25-29), confirms choice (Psalms 119:30), and inspires renewed resolve (Psalms 119:32): it is in all tribulation whether of body: or mind the surest source of help.
This portion has ‘D’ for its alphabetical letter: it sings of Depression, in the spirit of Devotion, Determination, and Dependence.
Ver. 25. My soul cleaveth unto the dust. He means in part that he was full of sorrow; for mourners in the east cast dust on their heads, and sat in ashes, and the Psalmist felt as if these ensigns of woe were glued to him, and his very soul was made to cleave to them because of his powerlessness to rise above his grief. Does he not also mean that he felt ready to die? Did he not feel his life absorbed and fast held by the grave’s mould, half choked by the death dust? It may not be straining the language if we conceive that he also felt and bemoaned his earthly mindedness and spiritual deadness. There was a tendency in his soul to cling to earth which he greatly bewailed. Whatever was the cause of his complaint, it was no surface evil, but an affair of his inmost spirit; his soul cleaved to the dust; and it was not a casual and accidental falling into the dust, but a continuous and powerful tendency, or cleaving to the earth. But what a mercy that the good man could feel and deplore whatever there was of evil in the cleaving! The serpent’s seed can find their meat in the dust, but never shall the seed of the woman be thus degraded. Many are of the earth earthy, and never lament it; only the heaven born and heaven soaring spirit pines at the thought of being fastened to this world, and bird limed by its sorrows or its pleasures.
Quicken thou me according to thy word. More life is the cure for all our ailments. Only the Lord can give it. He can bestow it, bestow it at once, and do it according to his word, without departing from the usual course of his grace, as we see it mapped out in the Scriptures. It is well to know what to pray for, David seeks quickening: one would have thought that he would have asked for comfort or upraising, but he knew that these would come out of increased life, and therefore he sought that blessing which is the root of the rest. When a person is depressed in spirit, weak, and bent towards the ground, the main thing is to increase his stamina and put more life into him; then his spirit revives, and his body becomes erect. In reviving the life, the whole man is renewed. Shaking off the dust is a little thing by itself, but when it follows upon quickening, it is a blessing of the greatest value; just as good spirits which flow from established health are among the choicest of our mercies. The phrase, “according to thy word, “means according to thy revealed way of quickening thy saints. The word of God shows us that he who first made us must keep us alive, and it tells us of the Spirit of God who through the ordinances pours fresh life into our souls; we beg the Lord to act towards us in this his own regular method of grace. Perhaps David remembered the word of the Lord in Deuteronomy 32:39, where Jehovah claims both to kill and to make alive, and he beseeches the Lord to exercise that life giving power upon his almost expiring servant. Certainly, the man of God had not so many rich promises to rest upon as we have, but even a single word was enough for him, and he right earnestly urges “according to thy word.” It is a grand thing to see a believer in the dust and yet pleading the promise, a man at the grave’s mouth crying, “quicken me, “and hoping that it shall be done.
Note how this first verse of the 4th octonary tallies with the first of the “Quicken me.” While in a happy third (17). “That I may live”… “Quicken me.” While in a happy state he begs for bountiful dealing, and when in a forlorn condition he prays for quickening. Life is in both cases the object of pursuit: that he may have life, and have it more abundantly.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
The eight verses alphabetically arranged:
25. (D)epressed to the dust is my soul: quicken thou me according to thy word.
26. (D)eclared have I (to thee) my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes.
27. (D)eclare thou to me the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.
28. (D)ropping (marg.) is my soul for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.
29. (D)eceitful ways remove from me; and grant me thy law graciously.
30. (D)etermined have I upon the way of truth; thy judgments have I laid before me.
31. (D)eliberately I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O Lord, put me not to shame.
32. (D)ay by day I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart. Theodore Kubber.
Ver. 25. My soul cleaveth unto the dust. The Hebrew word for “cleaveth” signifies “is joined, “”has adhered, “”has overtaken, “”has taken hold, “”has joined itself.” Our soul is a polypus: as the polypus readily adheres to the rocks, so does the soul cleave to the earth; and hardly can it be torn from the place to which it has once strongly attached itself. Though thy soul be now more perfect, and escaping from the waters of sin has become a bird of heaven, be not careless; earthly things are birdlime and glue; if you rub the wings against these thou wilt be held, and joined to the earth. Thomas Le Blanc.
Ver. 25. My soul cleaveth unto the dust, etc. The word rendered “cleaveth” means to be glued to; to stick fast. It has the sense of adhering firmly to anything, so that it cannot easily be separated from it. The word “dust” here may mean either the earth, and earthly things, considered as low, base, unworthy, worldly; or it may mean the grave, as if he were near to that, and in danger of dying. De Wette understands it in the latter sense. Yet the word cleave would hardly suggest this idea; and the force of that word would be better represented by the idea that his soul, as it were, adhered to the things of earth, that it seemed to be so fastened to them so glued to them that it could not be detached from them; that his affections were low, earthly, grovelling, so as to give him deep distress, and lead him to cry to God for Life and strength that he might break away from them. Albert Barnes.
Ver. 25. My soul cleaveth unto the dust, etc. The first clause seems intended to suggest two consistent but distinct ideas, that of deep degradation, as in Psalms 44:25, and that of death, as in Psalms 22:29. The first would be more obvious in itself, and in connection with the parallel referred to; but the other seems to be indicated as the prominent idea by the correlative petition for quickening in the last clause. “Quicken, “i.e., save me alive, or restore me to life, the Hebrew word being a causative of the verb to live. Joseph Addison Alexander.
Ver. 25. My soul cleaveth to the dust, etc. In this verse, David hath a complaint; “My soul cleaveth to the dust”; and a prayer; Quicken thou me according to thy word. The prayer, being well considered, shall teach us the meaning of the complaint; that it was not, as some think, any hard bodily estate which grieved him, but a very sore spiritual oppression (as I may call it), bearing down his soul; that where he should have mounted up toward heaven, he was pressed down to the earth, and was so clogged with earthly cogitations, or affections, or perturbations, that he could not mount up. His particular temptation he expresses not; for the children of God many times are in that estate that they cannot tell their own griefs, and sometimes so troubled, that it is not expedient, albeit they might, to express them to others.
And hereof we learn, how that which the worldling counts wisdom, to the Christian is folly; what is joy to the one, is grief to the other. The joy of a worldling is to cleave unto the earth; when he gripes it surest, he thinks himself happiest, for it is his portion: to take heed to his worldly affairs, and have his mind upon them (in his estimation) is only wisdom. For the serpent’s curse is upon him, he creeps on the earth, and licks the dust all the days of his life. This is the miserable condition of the wicked, that even their heavenly soul is become earthly. Qui secundum corporis appetentiam vivit caro est, etiam anima eorum caro est; as the Lord spake of those who perished in the Deluge, that they were but flesh, no spirit in them; that is, no spiritual or heavenly motion.
But the Christian, considering that his soul is from above, sets his affection also on those things which are above: he delights to have his conversation in heaven; and it is a grief to him when he finds his motions and affections drawn down and entangled with the earth. His life is to cleave to the Lord; but it is death to him when the neck of his soul is bowed down to the yoke of the world. William Cowper.
Ver. 25. My soul cleaveth to the dust. “Look up now to the heavens.” So once spake the Lord to Abraham his friend, and he speaketh thus to us also. Alas! why must it be so always that, when we come to know ourselves even but a little, we are constantly answering with the mournful sigh, “My soul cleaveth to the dust”? Ah! that is indeed the deepest pain of a soul which has already tasted that the Lord is merciful, when, although desiring to soar on high, it sadly feels how impossible it is to rise. There is much hidden pain in every heart of man even in the spiritual life; but what can deeper grieve us than the perception that we are chained as with leaden weights to things concerning which we know that they may weary but cannot satisfy us? Nay, we could never have supposed, when we first, heard the Psalm of the Good Shepherd, that it could issue from a heart that panteth after God so often and so bitterly; we could never have imagined that it could become so cold, so dry, so dark within a heart which at an earlier period had tasted so much of the power of that which is to come. Have we not formerly, with this same Psalm, been able to vaunt, “I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches”? But afterwards, but now perhaps… Oh sad hours, when the beams of the sun within seem quenched, and nothing but a blond red disc remains! The fervency of the first love is cooled; earthly cares and sins have, as it were, attached a leaden plummet to the wings of the soul which, God knows, would fain soar upwards. We would render thanks, and scarce can pray; we would pray, and scarce can sigh. Our treasure is in heaven, but our soul cleaves to the earth; at least earth cleaves on all sides so to it, and weighs it down, that the eye merely sees the clouds, the tongue can but breathe forth complaints. Ah, so completely can the earth fetter us, that the heavens appear to be only a problem, and our old man is like the Giant of Mythology, who, cast to the ground in the exhausting combat, receives by contact with his mother earth fresh strength. Oh, were it otherwise! Shall it not at last, at last be altered?
Dost thou really desire it, thou who out of the depths of thy soul so complainest, and canst scarcely find more tears to bewail the sorrow of thy heart? Well is it for thee if the pain thou sufferest teach thee to cry to God: “Quicken thou me, according to thy word.” Yea, this is the best comfort for him who too well knows what it is to be bowed together with pain; this is the only hope for a heart which almost sinks in still despair. There is an atmosphere of life, high above this dust which streams to us from every side, and penetrates even the darkest dungeon. There is a spring of life by which the weary soul may be refreshed; and the entrance to this spring stands open, in spite of all the clouds of dust which obscure this valley of shadows here. There is a power of life which can even so completely make an end of our dead state, that we shall walk again before the face of the Lord in the land of the living, and, instead of uttering lamentation, we shall bear a song of praise upon our lips. Does not the Prince of life yet live in order also to repeat to us, “Awake and rejoice, thou that dwellest in the dust; “and the Spirit, that bloweth whither he listeth, can, will, shall he not in his own good time, with his living breath, blow from our wings the dust that cleaveth to them? But, indeed, even the gnawing pain of the soul over so much want of spirituality and dulness is ever an encouraging sign that the good work is begun in our hearts: that which is really dead shivers no more at its own cold. “My soul cleaveth to the dust, ” sayest thou, with tears? thus wouldest thou not speak except that already a higher hand between the soul and this dust had cleft a hollow which was unknown to it before. No one has less cause for despair than he who has lost hope in himself, and really learns to seek in God that, which he deeply feels, he least of all can give himself.
Yes, this is the way from the deepest pain to procure the best consolation; the humble, earnest, persevering player, that he who lives would also give life to our souls, and continue to increase it, till freed from all dryness and deadness of spirit, and uprooted from the earth, we ascend to the eternal mount of light, where at last we behold all earthly clouds beneath us. This the God of life alone can work; but he is willing nay, we have his own word as pledge, that he promises and bestows on us true life. Only, let us not forget that he who will quicken us “according” to his word, also performs this through his word. Let us then draw from out the eternally flowing fountain, and henceforth leave it unconditionally to him, how he will listen to our cry, even though he lead us through dark paths! Even through means of death God can quicken us and keep us alive. Lo, we are here; Lord, do with us as seemeth good to thee! Only let our souls live, that they may praise thee, here and eternally! J. J. Van Oosterzee (1817-1882), in “The Year of Salvation.”
Ver. 25. Cleaveth to the dust. Is weighed down by the flesh which itself is dust. James G. Murphy.
Ver. 25. The dust, is the place of the afflicted, the wounded, and the dead. Quicken me, viz., to life, peace, and joy. A. R. Fausset.
Ver. 25. Quicken thou me, etc. Seeing he was alive, how prays he that God would quicken him? I answer, The godly esteem of life, not according to that they have in their body, but in their soul. If the soul lacks the sense of mercy, and a heavenly disposition to spiritual things, they lament over it, as a dead soul: for sure it is, temporal desertions are more heavy to the godly than temporal death. According to thy word. This is a great faith, that where in respect of his present feeling he found himself dead, yet he hopes for life from God, according to his promise. Such was the faith of Abraham, who under hope, believed above hope. And truly, many times are God’s children brought to this estate, that they have nothing to uphold them but the word of God; no sense of mercy, no spiritual disposition; but on the contrary, great darkness, horrible fears and terrors. Only they are sustained by looking to the promise of God, and kept in some hope that he will restore them to life again, because it is his praise to finish the work which he begins. William Cowper.
Ver. 25. Quicken thou me. This phrase occurs nine times, and only in this Psalm. It is of great importance, as it expresses the spiritual change by which a child of Adam becomes a child of God. Its source is God; the instrument by which it is effected is the word, Psalms 119:50. James G. Murphy.
Ver. 25 Quicken thou me according to thy word. Where there is life there will be the endeavour to rise the believer will not lie prone in his aspirations after God. From the lowest depths the language of faith is heard ascending to God most high, who performeth all things for the believer. The true child cannot but look towards the loving Father, who is the Almighty, All sufficient One. Have you not found it so? But will you mark the intelligence that shines around the believer’s prayer? He prays that the Lord may quicken him according to his word. The word may be regarded in the light of the standard after which he is to be fashioned; or the Psalmist may have in view the requirements contained in the word regarding the believer’s progress; or he may be thinking of the promises found therein in behalf of the poor and needy when they apply. Indeed, all these significations may be wrapped up in the one expression “according to thy word” the standard of perfection, the requirements of the word, the promises concerning it. The great exemplar of the believer is Christ, of old it was the Christ of prophecy. Then the requirements of the Lord’s will were scattered through the word. The Psalmist, however, may be dwelling upon the large promises which the Lord hath given towards the perfecting of his people. You see after what the spiritual nature aspires. It is quite enough to the natural man or the formalist that he be as the generally well behaved and esteemed among professors the spiritual man aspires beyond he aspires after being quickened according to God’s word. Judge of yourselves. John Stephen.
Ver. 25. Quicken thou me according to thy word. By thy providence put life into my affairs, by thy grace put life into my affections; cure me of my spiritual deadness, and make me lively in my devotion. Matthew Henry.
Ver. 25. Quicken thou me according to thy word, Albeit the Lord suffer his own to lie so long low in their heavy condition of spirit, that they may seem dead; yet by faith in his word he keepeth in them so much life as doth furnish unto them prayer to God for comfort: “Quicken thou me according to thy word.” David Dickson.
Ver. 25 Quicken thou me. To whom shall the godly fly when life faileth but to that Wellspring of all life? Even as to remove cold the next way is to draw near the fire, so to dispel any death, the next way is to look to him who is our root, by whom we live this natural life. All preservatives and restoratives are nothing, all colleges of physicians are vanity, if compared with him. Other things which have not life, give life as the instruments of him who is life, as fire burneth being the instrument of heat. “When heart and flesh fail, God is the strength of my heart.” As a man can let a fire almost go out which had been kindled, and then blow it up, and by application of new fuel make it blaze as much as ever: so can God deal with this flame of life which he hath kindled. Paul Bayne.
Ver. 25. According to thy word. The word removes deadness of conscience and hardness. Is not this word a hammer to soften the heart, and is not this the immortal seed by which we are begotten again? Therefore David, finding his conscience in a dead frame, prayed, “My soul cleaveth to the dust; quicken thou me according to thy word.” The word is the first thing by which conscience is purified and set right. John Sheffield, in “A Good Conscience the Strongest Hold, “1650.
Ver. 25. According to thy word. What word doth David mean? Either the general promises in the books of Moses or Job; which intimate deliverance to the faithful observers of God’s law, or help to the miserable and distressed; or some particular promise given to him by Nathan, or others. Chrysostom saith, “Quicken me according to thy word: but it is not a word of command, but a word of promise.” Mark here, he doth not say secundum meritum meum, but, secundum verbum tuum;the hope, or that help which we expect from God, is founded upon his word; there is our security, in his promises, not in our deserving: Prommittendo se fecit debitorem, etc.
When there was so little Scripture written, yet David could find out a word for his support. Alas! in our troubles and afflictions, no promise comes to mind. As in outward things, many that have less live better than those that have abundance; so here, now Scripture is so large, we are less diligent, and therefore, though we have so many promises, we are apt to faint, we have not a word to bear us up. This word did not help David, till he had lain so long under this heavy condition, that he seemed dead. Many, when they have a promise, think presently to enjoy the comfort of it. No, waiting and striving are first necessary. We never relish the comfort of the promises till the creatures have spent their allowance, and we have been exercised. God will keep his word, and yet we must expect to be tried.
In this his dead condition, faith in God’s word kept him alive. When we have least feeling, and there is nothing left us, the word will support us: “And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief but was strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Romans 4:19-20). One way to get comfort is to plead the promise of God in prayer, Chirographa tua injiciebat tibi Domine, show him his handwriting; God is tender of his word. These arguments in prayer, are not to work upon God, but ourselves. Thomas Manton
Ver. 25. One does not wonder at the fluctuations which occur in the feelings and experience of a child of God at one time high on the mountain, near to God and communing with God, at another in the deep and dark valley. All, more or less, know these changes, and have their sorrowing as well as their rejoicing seasons. When we parted with David last, what was he telling us of his experience? that God’s testimonies were his delight and his counsellors;but now what a different strain! all joy is darkened, and his soul cleaveth to the dust. And there must have been seasons of deep depression and despondency in the heart of David given as a fugitive and wanderer from his home, hunted as a partridge upon the mountains, and holding, as he himself says, his life continually in his hands. Yet I think in this portion of the Psalm there is evidence of a deeper abasement and sorrow of heart than any mere worldly suffering could produce. He had indeed said, “I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul”; but, even in that moment of weak and murmuring faith, he knew that he was God’s anointed one to sit on the throne of Israel. But, here there is indication of sin, of grievous sin which had laid his soul low in the dust; and I think the petition in Psalms 119:29 gives us some clue to what that sin had been: “Remove me from the way of lying.” Had David you may well ask in wonder had David ever lied? had he ever deviated from the strait and honourable path of truth I am afraid we must own that he had at one time gone so near the confines of a falsehood, that he would be but a poor casuist and a worse moralist who should attempt to defend the Psalmist from the imputation. We cannot read the 27th chapter of the 1st of Samuel without owning into what a sad tissue of equivocation and deceit David was unhappily seduced. Well might his soul cleave to the dust as he reviewed that period of his career; and though grace did for him what it afterwards did for Peter, and he was plucked as a brand out of the burning, yet one can well imagine that like the Apostle afterwards, when he thought thereon he wept, and that bitterly. Barton Bouchier.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
Outlines Upon Keywords of the Psalm, By Pastor C. A. Davis.
Ver. 25-32. Quickening. Prayed for with confession (Psalms 119:25-26). When obtained shall be talked of (Psalms 119:27). Desired for the sake of strength (Psalms 119:28), of truthfulness (Psalms 119:29-31), and of activity (Psalms 119:32).
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
1. Nature and its tendency.
2. Grace and its mode of operation.
3. Both truths in their personal application.
Ver. 25. Quicken thou me, etc.
1. There are many reasons why we should seek quickening.
(a) Because of the deadening influence of the world. “Thy
soul cleaveth, “etc.
(b) The influence of vanity (see Psalms 119:37).
(c) Because we are surrounded by deceivers (see
(d) Because of the effect of seasons of affliction upon us
(see Psalms 119:7).
2. Some of the motives for seeking quickening.
(a) Because of what you are a Christian; life seeks more
(b) Because of what you ought to be.
(c) Because of what we shall be.
(d) In order to obedience (see Psalms 119:88).
(e) For your comfort (Psalms 119:107, Psalms 119:50).
(f) As the best security against the attacks of enemies
(g) To invigorate our memories (Psalms 119:93).
(h) Consider (as a motive to seek this quickening) the
terrible consequences of losing spiritual life; or, in
other words, lacking it in its manifest display.
3. Some of the ways in which the quickening may be brought to us.
(a) It must be by the Lord himself. “Quicken me, O Lord.”
(b) By the turning of the eyes (Psalms 119:37).
(c) By the word (Psalms 119:50).
(d) By the precepts (Psalms 119:93).
(e) By affliction (Psalms 119:107).
(f) By divine comforts.
4. Enquire where are our pleas when we come before God to ask for quickening.
(a) Our necessity (Psalms 119:107, etc.).
(b) Our earnest desire (Psalms 119:40).
(c) Appeal to God’s righteousness (Psalms 119:40).
(d) To his lovingkindness (Psalms 119:88, Psalms 119:149, Psalms 119:156).
(e) The plea in the text: “according to thy word”
(Psalms 119:28, Psalms 119:107). See “Spurgeon’s Sermons, “No. 1350:
“Enlivening and Invigorating.”
Ver. 26. I have declared my ways. Open confession is good for the soul. Nothing brings more ease and more life to a man than a frank acknowledgment of the evil which has caused the sorrow and the lethargy. Such a declaration proves that the man knows his own condition, and is no longer blinded by pride. Our confessions are not meant to make God know our sins, but to make us know them.
And thou heardest me. His confession had been accepted; it was not lost labour; God had drawn near to him in it. We ought never to go from a duty till we have been accepted in it. Pardon follows upon penitent confession, and David felt that he had obtained it. It is God’s way to forgive our sinful way when we from our hearts confess the wrong.
Teach me thy statutes. Being truly sorry for his fault, and having obtained full forgiveness, he is anxious to avoid offending again, and hence he begs to be taught obedience. He was not willing to sin through ignorance, he wished to know all the mind of God by being taught it by the best of teachers. He pined after holiness. Justified men always long to be sanctified. When God forgives our sins we are all the more fearful of sinning, again. Mercy, which pardons transgression, sets us longing for grace which prevents transgression. We may boldly ask for more when God has given us much; he who has washed out the past stain will not refuse that which will preserve us from present and future defilement. This cry for teaching is frequent in the Psalm; in Psalms 119:12 it followed a sight of God, here it follows from a sight of self. Every experience should lead us thus to plead with God.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Ver. 26. I have declared my ways, etc. This verse contains a prayer, with a reason after this form: O Lord, I have oft before declared unto thee the whole state and course of my life, my wanderings, my wants, my doubts, my griefs: I hid nothing from thee, and thou, according to my necessity, didst always hear me: therefore now, Lord, I pray thee to teach me; by thy light illuminate me that I may know thy statutes and receive grace to walk in them. This is a good argument in dealing with the Lord, I have gotten many mercies and favourable answers from thee; therefore, Lord, I pray thee to give me more; for whom he loves, he loves to the end; and where he begins to show mercy he ceaseth not till he crown his children with mercy. And so gracious is he Lord, that he esteems himself to be honoured as oft as we give him the praise that we have found comfort in him, and therefore come to seek more.
Next, it is to be marked how he saith, I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: these two go well together, Mercy and Truth: truth in the heart of man confessing; mercy in God, hearing and forgiving: happy is the soul wherein these two meet together. Many there are who are destitute of this comfort; they cannot say, God hath heard me, and all because they deal not plainly and truly with the Lord in declaring their ways unto him. William Cowper.
Ver. 26. I have declared my ways. In Psalms 119:59 he thinketh upon his ways, that is, his inward imperfections and outward aberrations from the strait and straight ways of God; and here he is not ashamed to declare them, that is, to acknowledge and confess that all this came upon him because he was forgetful to do God’s will. Note the connection between this and the previous verse: My soul clave unto the dust, because I clave not to thee. Richard Greenham.
Ver. 26. I have declared my ways. ytdrm, sipparti, “I have remembered my ways”; I have searched them out; I have investigated them. And that he had earnestly prayed for pardon of what was wrong in them, is evident; for he adds, Thou heardest me. Adam Clarke.
Ver. 26. I have declared my ways, etc. Him whom thou hast heard in humble confessing of his sins, him thou must teach thy statutes. The saints lay open to God what they find, both good and evil seeking deliverance, supply, strengthening, directing: even as sick patients tell to their doctor both what good and what otherwise they perceive; or as clients lay bare their case to their counsel.
Declared. As if he had read them out of a book. The saints know their ways. A man that hath light with him seeth the way, and can tell you all about it; another is in darkness and knoweth nothing: the one taketh observation of his course, the other doth not.
Thou hast heard me. God’s goodness is seen in his hearing what we lay open before him. If great ones let a poor man tell his tale at large we count it honourable patience; but it is God’s glory to hear our wants, our weakness through sin, the invincibleness of our evils, our utter impotency in ourselves even to seek redress. That mode of procedure would lose the favour of man, but it winneth favour with God. The more humbly we confess all our wants, the more confident we may be that God will hear us. He teacheth the humble, for the humble scholar will give to his master the honour of that he learns.
I have rehearsed (said with myself) my ways; and “thou hast beard my private confession.” I have declared to others what my way is, and “thou hast heard me” so discoursing; wherefore teach me, seeing I communicate what I receive. It is a plea derived from his carefulness to learn, and from the use he had made of that he had learned. The godly, like candles, light each other. Paul Bayne.
Ver. 26. I have declared my ways. They that would speed with God, should learn this point of Christian ingenuity, unfeignedly to lay open their whole case to him. That is, to declare what they are about, the nature of their affairs, the state of their hearts, what of good or evil they find in themselves, their conflicts, supplies, distresses, hopes; this is declaring our ways the good and evil we are conscious of. As a sick patient will tell the physician how it is with him, so should we deal with God, if we would find mercy. This declaring his ways may be looked upon,
1. As an act of faith and dependence.
2. As an act of holy friendship.
3. As an act of spiritual contrition, and brokenness of heart: for this declaring must be explained according to what David meant by the expression, “My ways.”
First, By his “ways” may be meant his businesses or undertakings: I have still made them known to thee, committing them to the direction of thy providence; and so it is an act of faith and dependence, consulting with God, and acquainting him with all our desires.
Secondly, By his “ways” may be meant, all his straits, sorrows, and dangers; and so this declaration is an act of holy friendship, when a man comes as one friend to another, and acquaints God with his whole state, lays his condition before the Lord, in hope of pity and relief.
Thirdly, By “ways” is meant temptations and sins; and so this declaring is an act of spiritual contrition or brokenness of heart. Sins are properly our ways, as Ezekiel 18:25. Thomas Manton.
Ver. 26-30. The way of thy precepts. My ways. The way of lying. The way of truth. Here should be noticed the two contrasts by which the Prophet teaches what must be shunned both in life and in doctrine, and what embraced. The first respects the life of Christians, as the Prophet sets the way of God’s commandments over against his own ways, Psalms 119:26-27; and respecting these he confesses that they have pressed him down to the dust and have greatly distressed him; but respecting those he declares that they have again raised him up. He means by his own ways a depraved nature, carnal desire, and the carnal mind which is enmity against God, Romans 8:7; but by the ways of the Lord he denotes the will of God expressed in the Word. Therefore the boastings of the papists of the perfect obedience of the renewed are empty: for David, assured by having been renewed, complains bitterly and with many tears that his soul, under the intolerable weight of sins, had been brought down to the dust of death and almost suffocated; but that God had heard his prayers and brought him back to the way of his commandments. We, here, also, gather that in this life all the saints experience the wrestling and contest of the flesh and the spirit, so that they are continually compelled to mourn that their flesh turns them aside from the way of the Lord into the by paths of sin: just as Paul cries out, “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, etc. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Romans 7:23-24.
The second contrast concerneth the doctrine;for David opposes the way of lying to the way of truth. We are taught by this contrast that we should eschew false doctrine, and steadfastly adhere to divine truth. To this applies the precept of Paul, Ephesians 4:25. “Wherefore, having put away the lie, speak truth each one with his neighbour.” Further, we learn, if we hate our own ways, i.e., confess our sins to the Lord, and, trusting in the Mediator, pray for forgiveness, that God is wont to hear and mercifully to forgive our sins; as it is written, 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Solomon Gesner.
Ver. 26. Thou heardest me. Past answers to prayer should encourage us to come the more boldly to the throne of grace. Jacob never forgot the night he spent at Bethel. William S. Plumer.
Ver. 26. Teach me thy statutes. The often repetition of this one thing in this Psalm argues,
1. The necessity of this knowledge.
2. The desire he had to obtain it.
3. That such repetitions are not frivolous when they proceed from a sound heart, a zealous affection, and a consideration of the necessity of the thing prayed for.
4. That such as have most light have little in respect of what they should have.
5. As covetous men think they have never gold enough, so Christian men should think they have never knowledge enough. Richard Greenhorn.
Ver. 26. Teach me. We can never do without teaching, even in old age. Unless the Spirit of God teaches us we learn in vain. Martin Geier.
Ver. 26-27. Here is David’s earnest desire for the continuance of that intimacy that had been between him and his God; not by visions and voices from heaven, but by the Word and Spirit in an ordinary way: “Teach me thy statutes, “that is, “make me to understand the way of thy precepts.” When he knew God had heard his declaration of his ways, he doth not say, Now, Lord, tell me my lot, and let me know what the event will be; but, Now, Lord, tell me my duty, let me know what thou wouldest have me to do as the case stands. Note, Those that in all their ways acknowledge God, may pray in faith that he will direct their steps in the right way. And the surest way of keeping up our communion with God is, by learning his statutes, and walking diligently in the way of his precepts. Matthew Henry.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
Ver. 26. Confession. Absolution. Instruction.
1. The duty: “I have declared my ways” made known my experience of thy word to others.
2. Its notice by God: “Thou heardest me.”
3. Its reward. More knowledge will be given: “Teach me, “etc. G.R.
Ver. 27. Make me to understand the way of thy precepts. Give me a deep insight into the practical meaning of thy word; let me get a clear idea of the tone and tenor of thy law. Blind obedience has but small beauty; God would have us follow him with our eyes open. To obey the letter of the word is all that the ignorant can hope for; if we wish to keep God’s precepts in their spirit we must come to an understanding of them, and that can be gained nowhere but at the Lord’s hands. Our understanding needs enlightenment and direction: he who made our understanding must also make us understand. The last sentence was, “teach me thy statutes, “and the words, “make me to understand, “are an instructive enlargement and exposition of that sentence: we need to be so taught that we understand what we learn. It is to be noted that the Psalmist is not anxious to understand the prophecies, but the precepts, and he is not concerned about the subtleties of the law, but the commonplaces and everyday rules of it, which are described as “the way of thy precepts.”
So shall I talk of thy wondrous works. It is ill talking of what we do not understand. We must be taught of God till we understand, and then we may hope to communicate our knowledge to others with a hope of profiting them. Talk without intelligence is mere talk, and idle talk; but the words of the instructed are as pearls which adorn the ears of them that hear. When our heart has been opened to understand, our lips should be opened to impart knowledge; and we may hope to be taught ourselves when we feel in our hearts a willingness to teach the way of the Lord to those among whom we dwell.
Thy wondrous works. Remark that the clearest understanding does not cause us to cease from wondering at the ways and works of God. The fact is that the more we know of God’s doings the more we admire them, and the more ready we are to speak upon them. Half the wonder in the world is born of ignorance, but holy wonder is the child of understanding. When a man understands the way of the divine precepts he never talks of his own works, and as the tongue must have some theme to speak upon, he begins to extol the works of the all perfect Lord.
Some in this place read “meditate” or “muse” instead of “talk”; it is singular that the words should be so near of kin, and yet it is right that they should be, for none but foolish people will talk without thinking. If we read the passage in this sense, we take it to mean that in proportion as David understood the word of God he would meditate upon it more and more. It is usually so; the thoughtless care not to know the inner meaning of the Scriptures, while those who know them best are the very men who strive after a greater familiarity with them, and therefore give themselves up to musing upon them.
Observe the third verse of the last eight (19), and see how the sense is akin to this. There he was a stranger in the earth, and here he prays to know his way; there, too, he prayed that the word might not be hid from himself, and here he promises that he will not hide it from others.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Ver. 27. Make me to understand. Natural blindness is an obstinate disease, and hardly cured: therefore again and again we had need to pray, “Open mine eyes”; “Teach me thy statutes”; Make me to understand the way of thy precepts. Our ignorance is great even when it is cured in part. The clouds of temptation and carnal affection cause it to return upon us, so that we know not what we know. Therefore he cries, “open my eyes; cause me to understand.” Yea, the more we know the more is our ignorance discovered to us: “Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy” (Proverbs 30:2-3). “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6). Alas, a poor, little, hearsay knowledge availeth not; they abhor themselves when they have more intimate acquaintance. None so confident as a young professor that knoweth a few truths, but in a weak and imperfect manner: the more we know indeed, the more sensible we are of our ignorance, and how liable to this mistake and that, so that we dare not trust ourselves for an hour. Thomas Mantels.
Ver. 27. Understated the way… so shall I talk. We can talk with a better grace of God’s “wondrous works, “the wonders of providence, and especially the wonders of redeeming love, when we understand the way of God’s precepts, and walk in that way. Matthew Henry
Ver. 27. The way of they precepts. He desireth that God would, partly by his Spirit, partly by his ministers, partly by affliction, partly by study and labour, make him to have a right and sound understanding, not only of his statutes, but of the way of his statutes, that is, after what sort and order he may live and direct his life, according to those things which God hath commanded him in his law. Learn here how hard a thing it is for man overweening himself in his own wisdom, to know God’s will till God make him to know. Richard Greenham.
Ver. 27. So shall I talk of thy wondrous works. He that is sensible of the wondrous things that are in God’s word? will be talking of them. 1. It will be so. 2. It should be so.
1. It will be so. When the heart is deeply affected, the tongue cannot hold, but will run out in expressions of it; “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” When cheered and revived in their afflictions saints are transported with the thought of the excellency of God. “Come, and I will tell you what God hath done for my soul” (Psalms 66:15). The woman, when she had found the lost groat, calleth her neighbours to rejoice with her. He that hath but a cold knowledge, will not be so full of good discourse.
2. It should be so in a threefold respect: for the honour of God; the edification of others; and for our own profit.
(a) For the honour of God, to whom we are so much indebted,
to bring him into request with those about us.
Experience deserveth praise; when you have found the
Messiah, call another to him: “Andrew calleth Peter, and
saith unto him, We have found the Messias: and Philip
called Nathanael and saith unto him, We have found him,
of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write,
Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph”
(b) For the edification of others: “And thou, being
converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32).
True grace is communicative as fire, etc.
(c) For our own profit. He that useth his knowledge shall
have more. Whereas, on the contrary, full breasts, if
not sucked, become dry. In the dividing, the loaves
increased. All gifts, but much more spiritual, which are
the best, are improved by exercise. Thomas Manton.
Ver. 27. So shall I talk, etc. Desire of knowledge should not be for satisfying of curiosity, or for ostentation, or for worldly gain, but to edify ourselves and others in wisdom… Thy wondrous works. The works of creation, redemption and providence, either set down in Scripture, or observed in our own experience, transcend our capacity, and cannot but draw admiration from them that see them well. David Dickson.
Ver. 27. So shall I talk. It is a frequent complaint with Christians, that they are straitened in religious conversation, and often feel unable to speak “to the use of edifying, that they may minister grace to the hearers, “Ephesians 4:29. Here, then, is the secret disclosed, by which we shall be kept from the danger of dealing in unfelt truths, for “out of the abundance of the heart our mouths shall speak, “Matthew 12:34. Seek to have the heart searched, cleansed, filled with the graces of the Spirit. Humility, teachability, simplicity, will bring light unto the understanding, influence the heart, “open the lips, “and unite every member that we have in the service and praise of God. Charles Bridges.
Ver. 27. I shall talk of. There is a close affinity between all the duties of religion. The same word is rendered pray, meditate, and talk of. We think of God’s excellent majesty; we cry to him in humble prayer; we study his word until our souls are filled with gladness and admiration; and then how can we but talk of his wondrous works? William S. Plumer.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
1. A student’s prayer.
1. It deals with the main subject of the conversation which is to be that student’s occupation “the way of God’s precepts.”
2. A confession is implied: “Make me, “etc.
3. A great boon is asked to understand, to know, thy statutes.
4. The Fountain of all wisdom is applied to.
2. The occupation of the instructed man.
1. He testifies of God’s works his wondrous works Christ’s work for us; the Holy Spirit’s work in us. The wonderful character of these works of God, a wide field for devout study.
2. He speaks very plainly: “I will talk, “etc.
3. He will speak very frequently: “I will talk.”
4. He will speak to the point: “So” i.e., according to understanding.
3. The intimate relation between the prayer of the student and the pursuit that he subsequently followed. See “Spurgeon’s Sermons, “No. 1344: “The Student’s Prayer.”
Ver. 27. Education for the ministry.
1. The student at college: “Make me to understand.” His lesson. His instructor. His application.
2. The preacher at his work: “So shall I talk, “etc. His qualification. His theme. His manner. C.A.D.
Ver. 28. My soul melteth for heaviness. He was dissolving away in tears. The solid strength of his constitution was turning to liquid as if molten by the furnace heat of his afflictions. Heaviness of heart is a killing thing, and when it abounds it threatens to turn life into a long death, in which a man seems to drop away in a perpetual drip of grief. Tears are the distillation of the heart; when a man weeps he wastes away his soul. Some of us know what great heaviness means, for we have been brought under its power again and again, and often have we felt ourselves to be poured out like water, and near to being like water spilt upon the ground, never again to be gathered up. There is one good point in this downcast state, for it is better to be melted with grief than to be hardened by impenitence.
Strengthen thou me according unto thy word. He had found out an ancient promise that the saints shall be strengthened, and here he pleads it. His hope in his state of depression lies not in himself, but in his God; if he may be strengthened from on high he will yet shake off his heaviness and rise to joy again. Observe how he pleads the promise of the word, and asks for nothing more than to be dealt with after the recorded manner of the Lord of mercy. Had not Hannah sung, “He shall give strength unto his King, and exalt the horn of his anointed”? God strengthens us by infusing grace through his word: the word which creates can certainly sustain. Grace can enable us to bear the constant fret of an abiding sorrow, it can repair the decay caused by the perpetual tear drip, and give to the believer the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Let us always resort to prayer in our desponding times, for it is the surest and shortest way out of the depths. In that prayer let us plead nothing but the word of God; for there is no plea like a promise, no argument like a word from our covenant God.
Note how David records his inner soul life. In Psalms 119:20 he says, “My soul breaketh; “in Psalms 119:25, “My soul cleaveth to the dust; “and here, “My soul melteth.” Further on, in Psalms 119:81, he cries, “My soul fainteth; “in Psalms 119:109, “My soul is continually in my hand; “in Psalms 119:167, “My soul hath kept thy testimonies; ” and lastly, in Psalms 119:175, “Let my soul live.” Some people do not even know that they have a soul, and here is David all soul. What a difference there is between the spiritually living and the spiritually dead.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Ver. 28. My soul melteth for heaviness. In the original the word signifies, “droppeth away.” The Septuagint hath it thus: “My soul fell asleep through weariness.” Probably by a fault of the transcribers, putting one word for another. My soul droppeth. It may relate (1) to the plenty of his tears, as the word is used in Scripture: “My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God” (Job 16:20), or droppeth to God, the same word; so it notes his deep sorrow and sense of his condition. The like allusion is in Joshua 7:5; “The heart of the people melted, and became as water.” Or (2) it relates to his languishing under the extremity of his sorrow; as an unctuous thing wasteth by dropping, so was his soul even dropping away. Such a like expression is used in Psalms 117:96: “Their soul is melted because of trouble”; and of Jesus Christ, whose strength was exhausted by the greatness of his sorrows, it is said, Psalms 22:14, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it melteth in the midst of my bowels.” Be the allusion either to the one or to the other; either to the dropping of tears, or to the melting and wasting away of what is fat or unctuous, it notes a vehement sorrow, and brokenness of heart. So much is clear, his soul was even melting away, and unless God did help, he could hold out no longer. Thomas Manton.
Ver. 28. My soul melteth. The oldest versions make it mean to slumber (LXX enustayen, Vulg. dormitavit), which would make the clause remarkably coincident with Luke 22:45. Joseph Addison Alexander.
Ver. 28. Heaviness. There is nothing may comfort a natural man but David had it; yet cannot all these keep him from that heaviness whereunto, as witnesseth S. Peter, the children of God are subject in this life, through their manifold temptations. The men of the world are so far from this disposition, that if they have health and wealth, they marvel what it is should make a man heavy: they are not acquainted with the exercise of a feeling conscience; they know not the defects of the spiritual life, and are not grieved at them: being dead in sin they feel not that they want life; all their care is to eat and drink and make merry. But miserable are they; for in their best estate they are as oxen fed for the slaughter. Woe be to them who laugh now, they shall mourn; but blessed are they who mourn now, for they shall be comforted. William Cowper.
Ver. 28. Strengthen thou me according unto thy word. Strengthen me to do the duties, resist the temptations, and bear up under the burdens of an afflicted state, that the spirit may not fail. Matthew Henry.
Ver. 28. Strengthen thou me according unto thy word. What is that word which David pleaded? “As thy days, so shall thy strength be, ” Deuteronomy 33:25. “Will he plead against me, “said Job, “with his great power? No; but he will put strength in me, “Job 23:6. Charles Bridges.
Ver. 28. Strengthen thou me. Gesenius translates this, “Keep me alive.” Thus, ygmyq, in this verse, answers to ygyx, in the first verse. This prayer for new strength, or life, is an entreaty that the waste of life through tears might be restored by the life giving word. Frederick G. Marchant.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
Ver. 28. Heaviness, its cause, curse, and cure.
Ver. 29. Remove from me the way of lying. This is the way of sin, error, idolatry, folly, self righteousness, formalism, hypocrisy. David would not only be kept from that way, but have it kept from him; he cannot endure to have it near him, he would have it swept away from his sight. He desired to be right and upright, true and in the truth; but he feared that a measure of falsehood would cling to him unless the Lord took it away, and therefore he earnestly cried for its removal. False motives may at times sway us, and we may fall into mistaken notions of our own spiritual condition before God, which erroneous conceits may be kept up by a natural prejudice in our own layout, and so we may be confirmed in a delusion, and abide under error unless grace comes to the rescue. No true heart can rest in a false view of itself; it finds no anchorage, but is tossed to and fro till it gets into the truth and the truth into it. The true born child of heaven sighs out and cries against a lie, desiring to have it taken away as much as a man desires to be set at a distance from a venomous serpent or a raging lion.
And grant me thy law graciously. He is in a gracious state who looks upon the law itself as a gift of grace. David wishes to have the law opened up to his understanding, engraved upon his heart, and carried out in his life; for this he seeks the Lord, and pleads for it as a gracious grant. No doubt he viewed this as the only mode of deliverance from the power of falsehood: if the law be not in our hearts the lie will enter. David would seem to have remembered those times when, according to the eastern fashion, he had practised deceit for his own preservation, and he saw that he had been weak and erring on that point; therefore he was bowed down in spirit and begged to be quickened and delivered from transgressing in that manner any more. Holy men cannot review their sins without tears, nor weep over them without entreating to be saved from further offending.
There is an evident opposition between falsehood and the gracious power of God’s law. The only way to expel the lie is to accept the truth. Grace also has a clear affinity to truth: no sooner do we meet with the sound of the word “graciously” than we hear the footfall of truth: “I have chosen the way of truth.” Grace and truth are ever linked together, and a belief of the doctrines of grace is a grand preservative from deadly error.
In the fifth of the preceding octave (Psalms 119:21) David cries out against pride, and here against lying these are much the same thing. Is not pride the greatest of all lies?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Ver. 29. It says, Remove from me the way, and not me from the way; because that way of iniquity is within us, for we are born children of wrath, and the passions innate in us run to the he, and make the wretched way of crimes in our souls. Thomas Le Blanc.
Ver. 29. Remove from me the way of lying. Here he acknowledgeth that although he were already exercised in the law of God and in his knowledge, and that although he were a prophet to teach others, nevertheless he was subject to a number of wicked thoughts and imaginations which might always wickedly lead him from the right way, except God had held him with his mighty and strong hand. And this is a point which we ought here rightly to note; for we see how men greatly abuse themselves. When any of us shall have had a good beginning, we straightway think that we are at the highest; we never bethink us to pray any more to God, when once he hath showed us favour enough to serve our turns; but if we have done any small deed, we by and by lift up ourselves and wonder at our great virtues, thinking straightway that the Devil can win no more of us. This foolish arrogancy causeth God to let us go astray, so that we fall mightily, yea, that we break both arms and legs, and are in great hazard of breaking our necks. I speak not now of our natural body, but of our soul. Let us look upon David himself; for he it is that hath made proof hereof. It came to pass that he villainously and wickedly erred when he took Bathsheba the wife of his subject, Uriah, to play the whoremonger with her, that he was the cause of so execrable a murder, yea, and that of many; for he did as much as in him lay, to cause the whole army of the Lord and all the people of Israel to be utterly overthrown. See, then, the great negligence and security into which David fell; and see also wherefore he saith, “Alas, my good God, I beseech thee so to guide me, that I may forsake the way of lying.” John Calvin.
Ver. 29. Lying. A sin that David, through diffidence, fell into frequently. See 1 Samuel 21:2, 1 Samuel 21:8, where he roundly telleth three or four lies; and the like he did, 1 Samuel 27:8, 1 Samuel 27:10: this evil he saw by himself, and here prayeth against it. John Trapp.
Ver. 29. The way of lying, etc. Lying ways are all ways, except the ways of God’s commandments: reason, sense, example, custom, event, deceivable lusts, these tell a man he is safe, or that he shall repent of them, and take no hurt in the end, and they promise ease and blessedness, but perform it not. Such as desire to obey God must be kept from evil ways: we are not so sanctified but that temptation will injure our graces. As a fire in kindling, not thoroughly alight, may be quenched by a little water, so may our holiness be damped by temptation. We find within us a proneness to false ways, as candles new blown out are soon blown in again. Therefore as burnt children dread the fire, so do we fear the way of lying. God doth not suffer temptations to come into the presence of some; and in others God maketh the heart averse from sin when the temptation is present. We must come out of the ways of sin, ere we can walk in the ways of God. Paul Bayne.
Ver. 29. The way of lying. The whole life of sin is a lie from beginning to end. The word “lying” occurs eight times in this Psalm. William S. Plumer.
Ver. 29. The way of lying. By the way of lying is to be understood all that is in man’s nature, not agreeable to the word, whether it be counsels, or conclusions of the heart, or external actions; and it is called a lying way, because nature promises a good to be gotten by sin which man shall not find in it. William Cowper.
Ver. 29. The way of lying. The prophet here desireth to be confirmed by God against all corruptions in doctrine, and disorder of conversation, which Satan by his witty and wily instruments doth seek to set abroach in the world. These are called “the way of lying.”
1. Because they are invented by Satan, the father of lies.
2. They are countenanced by man’s wit, the storehouse of lies.
3. They seem to be that, which they are not, which is of the nature of lies.
4. They are contrary to God and his truth, the discoverers of lies. Richard Greenham.
Ver. 29. Grant me thy law graciously. He opposes the law of God to the way of lying. First, because it is the only rule of all truth, both in religion and manners: that which is not agreeable to it is but a lie which shall deceive men. Secondly, it destroys and shall at length utterly destroy all contrary errors. As the rod of Aaron devoured the rods of the enchanters: so the word, which is the rod of the mouth of God, shall, in the end, eat up and consume all untruths whatsoever. Thirdly, according to the sentence of this word, so shall it be unto every man; it deceives none. Men shall find by experience it is true: he who walks in a way condemned by the word, shall come to a miserable end. And, on the contrary, it cannot but be well with them who live according to this rule. William Cowper.
Ver. 29. Grant me thy law graciously. David had ever the book of the law; for every king of Israel was to have it always by him, and the Rabbis say, written with his own hand. But, “Grant me thy law graciously; “that is, he desires he might have it not only written by him, but upon him, to have it imprinted upon his heart, that he might have a heart to observe and keep it. That is the blessing he begs for, “the law”; and this is begged “graciously, “or upon terms of grace, merely according to thine own favour, and good pleasure. Here is,
1. The sin deprecated, “Remove from me the way of lying.”
2. The good supplicated and asked, “Grant me thy law graciously.”
In the first clause you have his malady, David had been enticed to a course of lying. In the second we have his remedy, and that is the law of God. Thomas Manton.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
Ver. 29. The way of lying.
1. Describe the way of lying. Various paths, e.g., erroneous views of doctrine: false grounds of faith: looseness of practice: shrinking from the daily cross.
2. Show why it is thus named. It does not furnish its promised pleasures. It does not lead to its professed goal. It lies through the territory of the father of lies.
3. Notice the peculiarity in the prayer against it. Not remove me from, but remove from me: for the way of lying is within us.
4. Our deliverance from the way of lying lies with God. C.A.D.
1. The way of lying, our wish to have it removed, and the method of answer.
2. The way of truth, our choice, and the method of carrying it out.
Ver. 30. I have chosen the way of truth. As he abhorred the way of lying, so he chose the way of truth: a man must choose one or the other, for there cannot be any neutrality in the case. Men do not drop into the right way by chance; they must choose it, and continue to choose it, or they will soon wander from it. Those whom God has chosen in due time choose his way. There is a doctrinal way of truth which we ought to choose, rejecting every dogma of man’s devising; there is a ceremonial way of truth which we should follow, detesting all the forms which apostate churches have invented; and then there is a practical way of truth, the way of holiness, to which we must adhere whatever may be our temptation to forsake it. Let our election be made, and made irrevocably. Let us answer to all seducers, “I have chosen, and what I have chosen I have chosen.” O Lord, by thy grace lead us with a hearty free will to choose to do thy will; thus shall thine eternal choice of us bring forth the end which it designs.
Thy judgments have I laid before me What he had chosen he kept in mind, laying it out before his mind’s eye. Men do not become holy by a careless wish: there must be study, consideration, deliberation, and earnest enquiry, or the way of truth will be missed. The commands of God must be set before us as the mark to aim at, the model to work by, the road to walk in. If we put God’s judgments into the background we shall soon find ourselves departing from them.
Here again the sixth stanzas of the third and fourth octaves ring out a similar note. “I have kept thy testimonies” (Psalms 119:22), and “Thy judgments have I laid before me.” This is a happy confession, and there is no wonder that it is repeated.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Ver. 30. I have chosen the way of truth. Here you have the working of a gracious soul. This is more than sitting and hearing the word having no objection to what you hear. Such hearing is all that can be affirmed of the generality of gospel hearers, except we add, that none are more ready to be caught by false and easy ways of salvation, for they assent to all they hear. The man of God strikes a higher and more spiritual note he goes into the choice of the thing; he chooses the way of truth; and he cannot but choose it; it is the bent of his renewed nature, the effect indeed of all he has been pleading. How act we? The way of truth is all that God has revealed concerning his Son Jesus. The willing heart chooses this way, and all of it; the bitterness of it, the self denial of it, as well as the comfort of it; a Saviour from sin as well as a Saviour from hell; a Saviour whose Spirit can lead from prayerlessness to godliness, from idleness upon the Sabbath day to a holy keeping of that day, from self seeking to the seeking of Christ, from slack, inconsistent conduct to a careful observance of all the Lord’s will. Where God’s people meet, there such will delight to be. O for such to abound among us! John Stephen.
Ver. 30. I have chosen the way of truth. Religion is not a matter of chance, but of choice. Have we weighed things in the balance, and, upon mature deliberation, made an election, “We will have God upon any terms” Have we sat down and reckoned the cost, or what religion must cost us, the parting with our lusts; and what it may cost us, the parting with our lives? Have we resolved, through the assistance of grace, to own Christ when the swords and staves are up? and to sail with him, not only in a pleasure boat, but in a man of war? This choosing God speaks him to be ours: hypocrites profess God out of worldly design, not religious choice. Thomas Watson, in “The Morning Exercises.”
Ver. 30. I have chosen the way of truth. The choice which David makes here of God’s truth proceeds from that choice and election whereby the Lord before all time made choice of David, in Christ, to be one of his elect. For as it is true of love, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us” we could never have loved him, if first he had not loved us; so it is true of election; if he before time had not chosen us to be his people, we could never in time have chosen him to be our God. And this I mark in them who love the word of God, and delight in it, who can say out of a good heart, that the Lord is their portion and the joy of their soul: this is a sure seal of their election, imprinted by the finger of God in their heart. William Cowper.
Ver. 30. In all our religious exercises, let deliberation precede our resolution, and consideration usher in determination. David did so; and therefore he says here, I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me. Indeed, he cannot but resolve upon, and make choice of, the way of piety, who layeth before him the goodness, the rectitude and pleasantness of the way. When the prodigal considereth with himself how well his father’s servants fared, he thinketh of, yea, determines to go home: “I will arise and go to my father.” Abraham Wright, 1661.
Ver. 30. I have chosen. No man ever served the Lord but he first made choice of him to be his Master. Every man when he comes to years of discretion, so as to be master of himself, advises with himself what course he shall take, whether he will serve God or the world. Now all the saints of God have made this distinct choice; we will serve the Lord, and no other. Moses when both stood before him, the pleasures of Egypt on the one hand, and God and his people with their afflictions on the other, he chose the latter before the former, Hebrews 11:25. So David saith he did, I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me; for to choose, is, when a thing lies before a man, and he considers and takes it. So Joshua, “I and my house will serve the Lord.” John Preston, (1587-1628) in “The Golden Sceptre held forth to the Humble.” 1638.
Ver. 30. Truth. There are three kinds of truth; truth in heart, truth in word, truth in deed (2 Kings 20:3 Zechariah 8:16 Hebrews 10:22). Ayguan. From “The Preacher’s Storehouse, “by J. E. Vaux.
Ver. 30. Thy judgments. God’s word is called his judgment, because it discerns good from evil; and is not a naked sentence; but, as it points out evil, so it pronounces plagues against it, which shall be executed according to the sentence thereof. William Cowper.
Ver. 30-31. I have chosen; I have stuck. The choosing Christian is likely to be the sticking Christian; when those that are Christians by chance tack about if the wind turn. Matthew Henry.
Ver. 30. Thy judgments have I laid before me. The solid consideration that God’s word is God’s decree or judgment may guard a believer against men’s terrors and allurements, and fix him in his right choice, as here. David Dickson.
Ver. 30. Thy judgments have I laid before me. Men that mean to travel the right way will lay before them a map: so David, as his will had resolved upon the ways of truth, so he setteth before his eyes the map of the law, which did manifest this unto him, as the ship man hath his card with the compass. Paul Bayne.
Ver. 31. I have stuck unto thy testimonies, or I have cleaved, for the word is the same as in Psalms 119:25. Though cleaving to the dust of sorrow and of death, yet he kept fast hold of the divine word. This was his comfort, and his faith stuck to it, his love and his obedience held on to it, his heart and his mind abode in meditation upon it. His choice was so heartily and deliberately made that he stuck to it for life, and could not be removed from it by the reproaches of those who despised the way of the Lord. What could he have gained by quitting the sacred testimony? Say rather, what would he not have lost if he had ceased to cleave to the divine word? It is pleasant to look back upon past perseverance and to expect grace to continue equally steadfast in the future. He who has enabled us to stick to him will surely stick to us.
O LORD, put me not to shame. This would happen if God’s promises were unfulfilled, and if the heart of God’s servant were suffered to fail. This we have no reason to fear, since the Lord is faithful to his word. But it might also happen though the believer’s acting in an inconsistent manner, as David had himself once done, when he fell into the way of lying, and pretended to be a madman. If we are not true to our profession we may be left to reap the fruit of our folly, and that will be the bitter thing called “shame.” It is evident from this that a believer ought never to be ashamed, but act the part of a grave man who has done nothing to be ashamed of in believing his God, and does not mean to adopt a craven tone in the presence of the Lord’s enemies. If we beseech the Lord not to put us to shame, surely we ought not ourselves to be ashamed without cause.
The prayer of this verse is found in the parallel verse of the next section (Psalms 119:39): “Turn away my reproach which I fear.” It is evidently a petition which was often on the Psalmist’s heart. A brave heart is more wounded by shame than by any weapon which a soldier’s hand can wield.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Ver. 31. I have stuck unto thy testimonies. It is not a little remarkable, that while the Psalmist says (Psalms 119:25), “My soul cleaveth to the dust, “he should say here, “I have cleaved unto thy testimonies”; for it is the same original word in both verses. The thing is altogether compatible with the experience of the believer. Within there is the body of indwelling sin, and within there is the undying principle of divine grace. There is the contest between them “the flesh lusteth a against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh” (Galatians 5:17), and the believer is constrained to cry out, “O wretched man that I am” (Romans 7:24). It is the case; and all believers find it so. While the soul is many times felt cleaving to the dust, the spirit strives to cleave unto God’s testimonies. So the believer prays, Cause that I be not put to shame. And keeping close to Christ, brethren, you shall not be put to shame, world without end. John Stephen.
Ver. 31. I have stuck unto thy testimonies. He adhered to them when momentary interests might have dictated a different line of conduct, when unbelief would have been ready to shrink from the path of duty, when outward appearances were greatly discouraging to fidelity, when all were ready to deride his preposterous determination. John Morison.
Ver. 31. I have stuck. True godliness evermore wears upon her head the garland of perseverance. William Cowper.
Ver. 31. Put me not to shame. Forasmuch as David, in a good conscience, endeavoured to serve God, he craves that the Lord would not confound him. This is two ways done; either when the Lord forsakes his children, so that in their trouble they feel not his promised comforts, and great confusion of mind and perturbation is upon them; or otherwise when he leaves them as a prey to their enemies, who scorn them for their godly and sincere life, and exult over them in their time of trouble; when they see that all their prayer and other exercises of religion cannot keep them out of their enemies’ hands. “He trusted in God: let him deliver him.” From this shame and contempt he desires the Lord would keep him, and that he should never be like unto them, who, being disappointed of that wherein they trusted, are ashamed. William Cowper.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
Ver. 31. Reasons for sticking to the Divine testimonies.
Ver. 31. A wholesome mixture.
1. Sturdy fidelity.
2. Self distrust,
3. Importunate prayer. C.A.D.
Ver. 32. I will run the way of thy commandments. With energy, promptitude, and zeal he would perform the will of God, but he needed more life and liberty from the hand of God.
When thou shalt enlarge my heart. Yes, the heart is the master; the feet soon run when the heart is free and energetic. Let the affections be aroused and eagerly set on divine things, and our actions will be full of force, swiftness, and delight. God must work in us first, and then we shall will and do according to his good pleasure. He must change the heart, unite the heart, encourage the heart, strengthen the heart, and enlarge the heart, and then the course of the life will be gracious, sincere, happy, and earnest; so that from our lowest up to our highest state in grace we must attribute all to the free favour of our God. We must run; for grace is not an overwhelming force which compels unwilling minds to move contrary to their will: our running is the spontaneous leaping forward of a mind which has been set free by the hand of God, and delights to show its freedom by its bounding speed.