Seeking Precepts

So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
~ James 2:12

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
~ Romans 1:16

I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
~ Psalm 119:16

If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
~ John 13:17

For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant.
~ Psalm 105:42

In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.
~ Psalm 94:19

My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.
~ Job 23:11

An Exposition of Psalm 119:45-51, by Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The following is from his work, “The Treasury of David”.

And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed. And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes. ZAIN. Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me. The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.
~ Psalm 119:45-51

Psalm 119:45

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 45. And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. Saints find no bondage in sanctity. The Spirit of holiness is a free spirit; he sets men at liberty and enables them to resist every effort to bring them under subjection. The way of holiness is not a track for slaves, but the King’s highway for freemen, who are joyfully journeying from the Egypt of bandage to the Canaan of rest. God’s mercies and his salvation, by teaching us to love the precepts of the word, set us at a happy rest; and the more we seek after the perfection of our obedience the more shall we enjoy complete emancipation from every form of spiritual slavery. David at one time of his life was in great bondage through having followed a crooked policy. He deceived Achish so persistently that he was driven to acts of ferocity to conceal it, and must have felt very unhappy in his unnatural position as an ally of Philistines, and captain of the body guard of their king. He must have feared lest through his falling into the crooked ways of falsehood the truth would no longer be on his tongue, and he therefore prayed God in some way to work his deliverance, and set him at liberty from such slavery. By terrible things in righteousness did the Lord answer him at Ziklag: the snare was broken, and he escaped.

The verse is united to that which goes before, for it begins with the word “And, “which acts as a hook to attach it to the preceding verses. It mentions another of the benefits expected from the coming of mercies from God. The man of God had mentioned the silencing of his enemies (Psalms 119:42), power to proceed in testimony (Psalms 119:43), and perseverance in holiness; now he dwells upon liberty, which next to life is dearest to all brave men. He says, “I shall walk, “indicating his daily progress through life; “at liberty, ” as one who is out of prison, unimpeded by adversaries, unencumbered by burdens, unshackled, allowed a wide range, and roaming without fear. Such liberty would be dangerous if a man were seeking himself or his own lusts; but when the one object sought after is the will of God, there can be no need to restrain the searcher. We need not circumscribe the man who can say, “I seek thy precepts.” Observe, in the preceding verse he said he would keep the law; but here he speaks of seeking it. Does he not mean that he will obey what he knows, and endeavour to know more? Is not this the way to the highest form of liberty, to be always labouring to know the mind of God and to be conformed to it? Those who keep the law are sure to seek it, and bestir themselves to keep it more and more.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 45. I will walk at liberty. Wherever God pardons sin, he subdues it (Micah 7:19). Then is the condemning power of sin taken away, when the commanding power of it is taken away. If a malefactor be in prison, how shall he know that his prince hath pardoned him? If a jailer come and knock off his chains and fetters, and lets him out of prison, then he may know he is pardoned: so, how shall we know God hath pardoned us? If the fetters of sin be broken off, and we walk at liberty in the ways of God, this is a blessed sign we are pardoned. Thomas Watson.

Ver. 45. I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. As he who departs from confessing of God’s truth doth cast himself in straits, in danger and bonds; so he that beareth out the confession of the truth doth walk as a free man; the truth doth set him free. David Dickson.

Ver. 45. I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. When the Bible says that a man led by the Spirit is not under the law, it does not mean that he is free because he may sin without being punished for it; but it means that he is free because being taught by God’s Spirit to love what his law commands he is no longer conscious of acting from restraint. The law does not drive him, because the Spirit leads him… There is a state, brethren, when we recognize God, but do not love God in Christ. It is that state when we admire what is excellent, but are not able to perform it. It is a state when the love of good comes to nothing, dying away in a mere desire. That is a state of nature, when we are under the law, and not converted to the love of Christ. And then there is another state, when God writes his law upon our hearts by love instead of fear. The one state is this, “I cannot do the things that I would; “the other state is this, “I will walk at liberty, for I seek thy commandments.” Frederick William Robertson, 1816-1853.

Ver. 45. I will walk at liberty. The Psalmist’s mind takes in the enlargement of his position. A little while ago, and he felt like a man straitened hemmed in by rocks, in a narrow dangerous pass who could not make his way out. You know the characteristics of Canaan, and you can easily conceive of the position of a traveller exploring his dreaded way through one of the mountain passes. The traveller before us has attained to tread upon secure ground. Now, all at once, favoured of the Most High, and conscious of being in his way, he finds himself in a spacious place, and he walks at large: “And I will walk at liberty; for I seek thy precepts.” He had made diligent enquiry into all that the Lord had enjoined, and seeking conformity thereto, he felt that he could walk with comfort. He recreates himself in his spiritual emancipation. The secret evil doer of fair profession cannot know this spiritual liberty at all. As long as a man finds himself to be wrong, and especially a man of a tender conscience, he feels hampered on all sides, depressed in mind, and evilly circumstanced. To what expansion of mind does a man awake when he becomes conscious of being in the appointed way of God! And he is actually at liberty; for the good providence of God is around him, and his grace supports him. John Stephen.

Ver. 45. He who goes the beaten and right path will have no brambles hit him across the eyes. Saxon proverb.

Ver. 45-48. Five things David promises himself here in the strength of God’s grace.

1. That he should be free and easy in his duty: I will walk at liberty: freed from that which is evil, not hampered with the fetters of my own corruptions, and free to that which is good.

2. That he should be bold and courageous in his duty: I will speak of thy testimonies before kings.

3. That he should be cheerful and pleasant in his duty: I will delight myself in thy commandments, in conversing with them, in forming to them.

4. That he should be diligent and vigorous in his duty: I will lift up my hands unto thy commandments; which notes not only a vehement desire towards them, but a close application of mind to the observance of them.

5. That he should be thoughtful and considerate in his duty: I will meditate in thy statutes. Matthew Henry.

Ver. 45-48. In these four verses he explains, seriatim, in what the observance of the law consists; a thing he promised, when he said in fourth verse of this division, that he would observe God’s law in his in his words, in his mind, and in his acts; and the prophet seems all once, as having been heard, to have changed his mode of speaking, for says, “And I walked at large.” When God’s mercy visited me, I did walk in the narrow ways of fear, but in the wide one of love; that is to say, observed the law willingly, joyfully, with all the affections of my heart, “because I have sought after thy commandments” as a thing of great and most important to come at; “and I spoke” openly and fearlessly on the justice of his most holy law, even “before kings, and I was not ashamed” and I constantly turned the law in my mind, and made its mysteries the subject of my meditation, “and I lifted up my hands, “to carry out his high and sublime commands; that is, his extremely perfect and arduous commands. Finally, in all manner of ways, in heart, mind, word, and “I was exercised in thy justifications.” Robert Bellarmine.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 45-47. Liberty of walk. Liberty of speech. Liberty of heart.

Ver. 45-48. The true freeman enjoys

1. Free walk with God.

2. Free talk about God.

3. Free love unto God.

4. Free exercise, of soul, (a) in holy practice; (b) in heavenly meditation. W. Durban.

Ver. 45-48. Five things the Psalmist promises himself here in the strength of God’s grace.

1. That he should be free and easy in his duty: “I will walk at liberty.”

2. That he should be bold and courageous in his duty: “I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings.”

3. That he should be cheerful and pleasant in his duty: “I will delight myself in thy commandments.”

4. That he should be diligent and vigorous in his duty: “I will delight myself in thy commandments.”

5. That he should be thoughtful and considerate in his duty: “I will meditate in thy statutes.” M. Henry.

Psalms 119:46

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 46. I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed. This is part of his liberty; he is free from fear of the greatest, proudest, and most tyrannical of men. David was called to stand before kings when he was an exile; and afterwards, when he was himself a monarch, he knew the tendency of men to sacrifice their religion to pomp and statecraft; but it was his resolve to do nothing of the kind. He would sanctify politics, and make cabinets know that the Lord alone is governor among the nations. As a king he would speak to kings concerning the King of kings. He says, “I will speak”: prudence might have suggested that his life and conduct would be enough, and that it would be better not to touch upon religion in the presence of royal personages who worshipped other gods, and claimed to be right in so doing. He had already most fittingly preceded this resolve by the declaration, “I will walk, “but he does not make his personal conduct an excuse for sinful silence, for he adds, “I will speak.” David claimed religious liberty, and took care to use it, for he spoke out what he believed, even when he was in the highest company. In what he said he took care to keep to God’s own word, for he says, “I will speak of thy testimonies.” No theme is like this, and there is no way of handling that theme like keeping close to the book, and using its thought and language. The great hindrance to our speaking upon holy topics in all companies is shame, but the Psalmist will “not be ashamed”; there is nothing to be ashamed of, and there is no excuse for being ashamed, and yet many are as quiet as the dead for fear some creature like themselves should be offended. When God gives grace, cowardice soon vanishes. He who speaks for God in God’s power, will not be ashamed when beginning to speak, nor while speaking, nor after speaking; for his theme is one which is fit for kings, needful to kings, and beneficial to kings. If kings object, we may well be ashamed of them, but never of our Master who sent us, or of his message, or of his design in sending it.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 46. I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings. In words he seems to believe that he is in possession of that which he formerly prayed for. He had said, “Take not the word of truth out of my mouth, “and now, as if he had obtained what he requested, he rises up, and maintains that he would not be dumb, even were he called upon to speak in presence of kings. He affirms that he would willingly stand forward vindication of the glory of God in the face of the whole world. John Calvin.

Ver. 46. I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings. The terror of kings and of men in power is an ordinary hindrance of free confession God’s truth in time of persecution; but faith in the truth sustained in heart by God is able to bring forth a confession at all hazards. David Dickson.

Ver. 46. I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings. Before came to the crown kings were sometimes his judges, as Saul and Achish: but if he were called before them to give a reason of the hope that was in: him, he would speak of God’s testimonies, and profess to build his hope upon them, and make them his council, his guard, his crown, his all. We must never be afraid to own our religion, though it should expose us to the wrath of kings, but speak of it as that which we will live and die by, like the three children before Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 3:16 Acts 4:20. After David came to the crown kings were sometimes his companions, they visited him, and he returned their visits; but he did not, in complaisance to them, talk of everything but religion for fear of affronting them, and making his converse uneasy to them: no, God’s testimonies shall be the principal subject of his discourse with the kings, not only to show that he was not ashamed of his religion, but to instruct them in it, and bring them over to it. It is good for kings to hear of God’s testimonies, and it will adorn the conversation of princes themselves to speak of them. Matthew Henry.

Ver. 46. I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings. Men of greatest holiness have been men of greatest boldness; witness Nehemiah, the three children, Daniel, and all the holy prophets and apostles: Proverbs 23:1, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion, “yea, as a young lion, as the Hebrew has it, one that is in his hot blood and fears no colours, and that is more bold than any others. Holiness made Daniel not only as bold as a lion, but also to daunt the lions with his boldness. Luther was a man of great holiness, and a man of great boldness: witness his standing out against all the world; and when the emperor sent for him to Worms, and his friends dissuaded him from going, as sometimes Paul’s did him, “Go, “said he, “I will surely go, since I am sent for, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; yea, though I knew that there were as many devils in Worms to resist me as there be tiles to cover the houses, yet I would go.” And when the same author and his associates were threatened with many dangers from opposers on all hands, he lets fall this heroic and magnanimous speech: “Come, let us sing the 46th Psalm, and then let them do their worst.” Latimer was a man of much holiness, counting the darkness and profaneness of those times wherein he lived, and a man of much courage and boldness; witness his presenting to King Henry the Eighth, for a New Year’s gift, a New Testament, wrapped up in a napkin, with this posie or motto about it; “Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Thomas Brooks.

Ver. 46. Note that in this verse we are taught to shun four vices. First, overmuch silence: hence he says, “I will speak.” Secondly, useless talkativeness: “of thy testimonies.” The Hebrew doctors say that ten measures of speaking had descended to the earth, that nine had been carried off by the women, but one left for all the rest of the world. Hieronymus rightly exhorts all Christians: “Consecrate thy mouth to the Gospel: be unwilling to open it with trifles or fables.” Thirdly, we are taught to shun cowardice: “before kings.” For, as it is said (Proverbs 29:25), “The fear of man bringeth a snare.” Fourthly, and lastly, we are taught to shun cowardly bashfulness: “and will not be ashamed.” Thomas Le Blanc.

Ver. 46. I will not be ashamed. That is, I shall not be cast down from my position or my hope; I shall not be afraid; nor will I, from fear of danger or reproach, shun or renounce the confession; nor shall I be overcome by terrors or threats. D. H. Mollerus.

Ver. 46-48. In these three last verses David promises a threefold duty of thankfulness. First, the service of his tongue. Next, the service of his affections. Thirdly, the service of his actions. A good conscience renders always great consolation; and an honest life makes great boldness to speak without fear or shame, as ye see in David towards Saul, in Elias to Ahab, in Paul to Agrippa, to Festus, and to Felix. William Cowper.

HINTS TO PREACHERS.

Ver. 46-48. Lips, heart, and hands.

1. Public profession of God’s word (“I will speak, “Psalms 119:46) must be warranted by

2. Private delight in God’s word (“I will delight myself, ” Psalms 119:47), which must result in

3. Practical obedience to God’s word (“I will lift up my hands, ” Psalms 119:48).

Ver. 46.

1. The truly earnest must speak.

2. They are at no loss for good subjects: “Thy testimonies.” The range is boundless the variety endless.

3. They never fear any audience: “before kings.” W.W.

Psalms 119:47

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 47. And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. Next to liberty and courage comes delight. When we have done our duty, we find a great reward in it. If David had not spoken for his Master before kings, he would have been afraid to think of the law which he had neglected; but after speaking up for his Lord he feels a sweet serenity of heart when musing upon the word. Obey the command, and you will love it; carry the yoke, and it will be easy, and rest will come by it. After speaking of the law the Psalmist was not wearied of his theme, but he retired to meditate upon it; he discoursed and then he delighted, he preached and then repaired to his study to renew his strength by feeding yet again upon the precious truth. Whether he delighted others or not when he was speaking, he never failed to delight himself when he was musing on the word of the Lord. He declares that he loved the Lord’s commands, and by this avowal he unveils the reason for his delight in them: where our love is, there is our delight. David did not delight in the courts of kings, for there he found places of temptation to shame, but in the Scriptures he found himself at home; his heart was in them, and they yielded him supreme pleasure. No wonder that he spoke of keeping the law, which he loved; Jesus says, “If a man love me, he will keep my words.” No wonder that he spoke of walking at liberty, and speaking boldly, for true love is ever free and fearless. Love is the fulfilling of the law; where love to the law of God reigns in the heart the life must be full of blessedness. Lord, let thy mercies come to us that we may love thy word and way, and find our whole delight therein.

The verse is in the future, and hence it sets forth, not only what David had done, but what he would do; he would in time to come delight in his Lord’s command. He knew that they would neither alter, nor fail to yield him joy. He knew also that grace would keep him in the same condition of heart towards the precepts of the Lord, so that he should throughout his whole life take a supreme delight in holiness. His heart was so fixed in love to God’s will that he was sure that grace would always hold him under its delightful influence.

All the Psalm is fragrant with love to the word, but here for the first time love is expressly spoken of. It is here coupled with delight, and in Psalms 119:165 with “great peace.” All the verses in which love declares itself in so many words are worthy of note. See Psalms 119:47, Psalms 119:97, Psalms 119:113, Psalms 119:119, Psalms 119:127, Psalms 119:140, Psalms 119:159, Psalms 119:163, Psalms 119:165, Psalms 119:167.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 47. I will delight myself in thy commandments. It is but poor comfort to the believer to be able to talk well to others upon the ways of God, and even to “bear the reproach” of his people, when his own heart is cold, insensible, and dull. He longs for “delight” in these ways; and he shall delight in them. Charles Bridges.

Ver. 47. He who would preach boldly to others must himself “delight” in the practice of what he preacheth. If there be in us a new nature, it will “love the commandments of God” as being congenial to it; on that which we love we shall continually be “meditating, “and our meditation will end in action; we shall “lift up the hands which hang down” (Hebrews 12:12), that they may “work the works of God whilst it is day, because the night cometh when no man can work” (John 9:4). George Horne.

Ver. 47. Thy commandments, which I have loved. On the word “loved, “the Carmelite quotes two sayings of ancient philosophers, which he commends to the acceptance of those who have learnt the truer philosophy of the Gospel. The first is Aristotle’s answer to the question of what profit he had derived from philosophy: “I have learnt to do without constraint that which others do from fear of the law.” The second is a very similar saying of Aristippus: “If the laws were lost, all of us would live as we do now that they are in force.” And for us the whole verse is summed up in the words of a greater Teacher than they: “If a man love me, he will keep my words”: John 14:23. Neale and Littledale.

Ver. 47-48. What is in the word a law of precept, is in the heart a law of love; what is in the one a law of command, is in the other a law of liberty “Love is the fulfilling of the law, “Galatians 5:14. The law of love in the heart, is the fulfilling the law of God in the Spirit. It may well be said to be written in the heart, when a man doth love it. As we say, a beloved thing is in our hearts, not physically, but morally, as Calais was said to be in Queen Mary’s heart. They might have looked long enough before they could have found there the map of the town; but grief for the loss of it killed her. It is a love that is inexpressible. David delights to mention it in two verses together: I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved, and often in the Psalm resumes the assertion. Before the new creation, there was no affection to the law: it was not only a dead letter, but a devilish letter in the esteem of a man: he wished it razed out of the world, and another more pleasing to the flesh enacted. He would be a law unto himself; but when this is written within him, he is so pleased with the inscription, that he would not for all the world be without that law, and the love of it; whereas what obedience he paid to it before was out of fear, now out of affection; not only because of the authority of the lawgiver, but of the purity of the law itself. He would maintain it with all his might against the power of sin within, and the powers of darkness without him. He loves to view this law; regards every lineament of it, and dwells upon every feature with delightful ravishments. If his eye be off, or his foot go away, how doth he dissolve in tears, mourn and groan, till his former affection hath recovered breath, and stands upon its feet! Stephen Charnock.

Psalms 119:48

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 48. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved. He will stretch out towards perfection as far as he can, hoping to reach it one day; when his hands hang down he will cheer himself out of languor by the prospect of glorifying God by obedience; and he will give solemn sign of his hearty assent and consent to all that his God commands. The phrase “lift up my hands” is very full of meaning, and doubtless the sweet singer meant all that we can see in it, and a great deal more. Again he declares his love; for a true heart loves to express itself; it is a kind of fire which must send forth its flames. It was natural that he should reach out towards a law which he delighted in, even as a child holds out its hands to receive a gift which it longs for. When such a lovely object as holiness is set before us, we are bound to rise towards it with our whole nature, and till that is fully accomplished we should at least lift up our hands in prayer towards it. Where holy hands and holy hearts go, the whole man will one day follow.

And I will meditate in thy statutes. He can never have enough of meditation upon the mind of God. Loving subjects wish to be familiar with their sovereign’s statutes, for they are anxious that they may not offend through ignorance. Prayer with lifted hands, and meditation with upward glancing eyes will in happy union work out the best inward results. The prayer of Psalms 119:41 is already fulfilled in the man who is thus struggling upward and studying deeply. The whole of this verse is in the future, and may be viewed not only as a determination of David’s mind, but as a result which he knew would follow from the Lord’s sending him his mercies and his salvation. When mercy comes down, our hands will be lifted up; when God in favour thinks upon us, we are sure to think of him. Happy is he who stands with hands uplifted both to receive the blessing and to obey the precept; he shall not wait upon the Lord in vain.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 48. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, etc. The duty that David promises God here, is the service of his actions, that he will lift up his hands to the practice of God’s commandments. The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power; we are the disciples of that Master, who first began to do and then to teach. But now the world is full of mutilated Christians; either they want an ear and cannot hear God’s word, or a tongue and cannot speak of it; or if they have both, they want hands and cannot practise it. William Cowper.

Ver. 48. My hands also will I lift up. To lift up the hands is taken variously, and it signifies:

1. To pray: as in Psalms 28:2 Lamentations 2:19 Habakkuk 3:10.

2. To bless others: as Leviticus 9:22 Psalms 134:2.

3. To swear: as Genesis 14:22 Exodus 6:8.

4. To set about some important matter: as Genesis 41:44; “without thee shall no man lift up his hand; “i.e. shall attempt anything, or shall accomplish; Psalms 10:12, “lift up thine hand, “viz., effectively, to bring help: Hebrews 12:12, “lift up the hands, “etc.; i.e. strongly stimulate Christians.

Perhaps all these may be accommodated to the present passage; for it is possible to be either,

1. Prayer for Divine grace for the doing of the precepts: or,

2. Blessing, i.e. praise of God because of them, and the advantages which have thence accrued to us: which the Syriac translator approves, who adds, “and I will glory in thy faithfulness:” or,

3. Vow, or oath of constant obedience, etc.: or,

4. Active and earnest undertaking of them; which, also, appears to be here chiefly meant. Henry Hammond in Synopsis Poli.

Ver. 48. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments; vowing obedience to them: Genesis 14:22. William Kay.

Ver. 48. My hands also will I lift up. I will present every victim and sacrifice which the law requires. I will make prayer and supplication before thee, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting. Adam Clarke.

Ver. 48. My hands also will I lift up. Aben Ezra explains, (and perhaps rightly,)that the metaphor, in this place, is taken from the action of those who receive any one whom they are glad or proud to see. Daniel Cresswell, 1776-1844.

Ver. 48. I will lift up my hands in admiration of thy precepts, “And meditate on thy statutes.” W. Green, in “A New Translation of the Psalms, “1762.

Ver. 48. To lift up the hand is a gesture importing readiness, and special intention in doing a thing. My hands (saith David) also will I lift up unto thy commandments; as a man that is willing to do a thing and addresses himself to the doing of it, lifts up his hand; so a godly man is described as lifting up his hand to fulfil the commands of God. Joseph Caryl.

Ver. 48. Thy commandments. By commandments he understandeth the word of God, yet it is more powerful than so; it is not, I have loved thy word;but, I have loved that part of thy word that is thy “commandments, “the mandatory part. There are some parts of the will and word of God that even ungodly men will be content to love. There is the promissory part; all men gather and catch at the promises, and show love to these. The reason is clear; there is pleasure, and profit, and gain, and advantage in the promises; but a pious soul doth not only look to the promises, but to the commands. Piety looks on Christ as a Lawgiver, as well as a Saviour, and not only on him as a Mediator, but as a Lord and Master;it doth not only live by faith, but it liveth by rule;it makes indeed the promises the stay and staff of a Christian’s life, but it makes the commandments of God the level. A pious heart knows that some command is implied in the qualification and condition of every promise; it knows that as for the fulfilling of the promises, it belongs to God; but the fulfilling of the commands belongs to us. Therefore it looks so, upon the enjoying of that which is promised that it will first do that which is commanded. There is no hope of attaining comfort in the promise but in keeping of the precept; therefore he pitches the emphasis, “I have loved thy word, “that is true, and all thy word, and this part, the mandatory part: “I have loved thy commandments.”

Observe the number, “thy commandments”; it is plural, that is, all thy commandments without exception; otherwise even ungodly men will be content to love some commandments, if they may choose them for themselves. Richard Holdsworth (1590-1649), in “The Valley of Vision.”

Ver. 48. Which I love, or have loved, as in Psalms 119:47, the terms of which are studiously repeated with a fine rhetorical effect, which is further heightened by the and at the beginning, throwing both verses, as it were, into one sentence. As if he had said: I will derive my happiness from thy commandments, which I love and have loved, and to these commandments, which I love and have loved, I will lift up my hands and heart together. Joseph Addison Alexander.

Ver. 48. I will meditate. It is in holy meditation on the word of God that all the graces of the Spirit are manifested. What is the principle of faith but the reliance of the soul upon the promises of the word? What is the sensation of godly fear but the soul trembling before the threatenings of God? What is the object of hope but the apprehended glory of God? What is the excitement of desire or love but longing, endearing contemplations of the Saviour, and of his unspeakable blessings? So that we can scarcely conceive of the influences of grace separated from spiritual meditation in the word. Charles Bridges.

Ver. 48. The Syriac has an addition to Psalms 119:48, which I am surprised has not been noticed. The addition is, “and I will glory in thy faithfulness.” Dathe in a note says, THE SEVENTY seem to have read some such addition, although not exactly the same. Edward Thomas Gibson, 1819-1880.

HINTS TO PREACHERS.

Ver. 48.

1. Love renewing its activity.

2. Love refreshing itself with spiritual food.

Ver. 48.

1. Scripture in the hand for reading. Often in the hand.

2. In the mind for meditation: “I will meditate, “etc.

3. In the heart for love: “Which I have loved.” G.R.

Ver. 48. Religion engaged the whole manhood of David: hands, heart, head.

1. The uplifted hands.

(a) Taking an oath of allegiance to God’s word.

Genesis 14:22 Ezekiel 20:28. To receive its doctrines, obey its

precepts, regard its warnings, uphold its honour.

(b) Imploring a blessing upon God’s word. Genesis 48:14;

Leviticus 9:22 Luke 24:50. That its light might spread:

“Fly abroad, thou mighty gospel; “that its influence may become

universal.

2. The loyal heart.

(a) This accounts for uplifted hands. He had loved the word

himself. Religion is inward first, then outward. We must

love it before we are anxious to spread it.

(b) But what accounts for the loyal heart? The word had

brought him salvation, yielded him sustenance, afforded him

guidance. We love the world for its joyous effects upon

ourselves.

3. The studious mind.

(a) Devout meditation the best employment.

(b) The Word of God affords a grand field for it.

(c) To meditate in it learn to love it: “have loved, “”will

meditate.” H.W.

Ver. 48.

1. God’s commandments loved. We love the law when we love the Lawgiver. We love his will only when our hearts are reconciled and renewed. Hence the need of spiritual renewal.

2. God’s commandments the subject of prayer:”My hands also will I lift up.” Perowne says, “The expression denotes the act of prayer.” We may pray for a fuller knowledge, a deeper experience, a readier and more perfect obedience.

3. A theme for meditation. Amidst the hurry of outward activities we must not forget the need of quiet meditation. H.W.

Psalms 119:49

EXPOSITION.

This octrain deals with the comfort of the word. It begins by seeking the main consolation, namely, the Lord’s fulfilment of his promise, and then it shows how the word sustains us under affliction, and makes us so impervious to ridicule that we are moved by the harsh conduct of the wicked rather to horror of their sin than to any submission to their temptations. We are then shown how the Scripture furnishes songs for pilgrims, and memories for night watchers; and the psalm concludes by the general statement that the whole of this happiness and comfort arises out of keeping the statutes of the Lord.

Ver. 49. Remember the word unto thy servant. He asks for no new promise, but to have the old word fulfilled. He is grateful that he has received so good a word, he embraces it with all his heart, and now entreats the Lord to deal with him according to it. He does not say, “remember my service to thee, “but “thy word to me.” The words of masters to servants are not always such that servants wish their lords to remember them; for they usually observe the faults and failings of the work done, in as much as it does not tally with the word of command. But we who serve the best of masters are not anxious to have one of his words fall to the ground, since the Lord will so kindly remember his word of command as to give us grace wherewith we may obey, and he will couple with it a remembrance of his word of promise, so that our hearts shall be comforted. If God’s word to us as his servants is so precious, what shall we say of his word to us as his sons?

The Psalmist does not fear a failure in the Lord’s memory, but he makes use of the promise as a plea, and this is the form in which he speaks, after the manner of men when they plead with one another. When the Lord remembers the sins of his servant, and brings them before his conscience, the penitent cries, Lord, remember thy word of pardon, and therefore remember my sins and iniquities no more. There is a world of meaning in that word “remember, “as it is addressed to God; it is used in Scripture in the most tender sense, and suits the sorrowing and the depressed. The Psalmist cried, “Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions”: Job also prayed that the Lord would appoint him a set time, and remember him. In the present instance the prayer is as personal as the “Remember me” of the thief, for its essence lies in the words “unto thy servant.” It would be all in vain for us if the promise were remembered to all others if it did not come true to ourselves; but there is no fear, for the Lord has never forgotten a single promise to a single believer.

Upon which thou hast caused me to hope. The argument is that God, having given grace to hope in the promise, would surely never disappoint that hope. He cannot have caused us to hope without cause. If we hope upon his word we have a sure basis: our gracious Lord would never mock us by exciting false hopes. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, hence the petition for immediate remembrance of the cheering word. Moreover, it the hope of a servant, and it is pot possible that a great and good master would disappoint his dependent; if such a master’s word were not kept could only be through an oversight, hence the anxious cry, “Remember Our great Master will not forget his own servants, nor disappoint the expectation which he himself has raised: because we are the Lord’s, and endeavour to remember his word by obeying it, we may be sure that he think upon his own servants, and remember his own promise by making good.”

This verse is the prayer of love fearing to be forgotten, of humility conscious of insignificance and anxious not to be overlooked, of trembling lest the evil of its sin should overshadow the promise, of a desire longing for the blessing, and of holy confidence which feels that that is wanted is comprehended in the word. Let but the Lord remember his promise, and the promised act is as good as done.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 49. Remember the word unto thy servant, etc. Those that make God’s promises their portion, may with humble boldness make them their plea. God gave the promise in which the Psalmist hoped, and the hope by which he embraced the promise. Matthew Henry.

Ver. 49. Remember the word unto thy servant, etc. When we hear any promise in the word of God, let us turn it into a prayer. God’s promises are his bonds. Sue him on his bond. He loves that we should wrestle with him by his promises. Why, Lord, thou hast made this and that promise, thou canst not deny thyself, thou canst not deny thine own truth; thou canst not cease to be God, and thou canst as well cease to be God, as deny thy promise, that is thyself. “Lord, remember thy word.” “I put thee in mind of thy promise, whereon thou hast caused me to hope.” If I be deceived, thou hast deceived me. Thou hast made these promises, and caused me to trust in thee, and “thou never fullest those that trust in thee, therefore keep thy word to me.” Richard Sibbes.

Ver. 49. Remember the word unto thy servant, etc. God promises salvation before he giveth it, to excite our desire of it, to exercise our faith, to prove our sincerity, to perfect our patience. For these purposes he seemeth sometimes to have forgotten his word, and to have deserted those whom he had engaged to succour and relieve; in which case he would have us, as it were, to remind him of his promise, and solicit his performance of it. The Psalmist here instructs us to prefer our petition upon these grounds; first, that God cannot prove false to his own word: “Remember thy word; “secondly, that he will never disappoint an expectation which himself hath raised: “upon which thou hast caused me to hope.” George Horne.

Ver. 49,52,55. Remember. “I remembered.” As David beseeches the Lord to remember his promise, so he protests, in Psalms 119:52, that he remembered the judgments of God, and was comforted; and in Psalms 119:55, that he remembered the name of the Lord in the night. It is but a mockery of God, to desire him to remember his promise made to us, when we make no conscience of the promise we have made to him. But alas, how often we fail in this duty, and by our own default, diminish that comfort we might have of God’s promises in the day of our trouble. William Cowper.

Ver. 49. Thy servant. Be sure of your qualification; for David pleadeth here, partly as a servant of God, and partly as a believer. First, “Remember the word unto thy servant; “and then, “upon which thou hast caused me to hope.” There is a double qualification: with respect to the precept of subjection, and the promise of dependence. The precept is before the promise. They have right to the promises, and may justly lay hold upon them, who are God’s servants; they who apply themselves to obey his precepts, these only can rightly apply his promises to themselves. None can lay claim to rewarding grace but those who are partakers of sanctifying grace. Make it clear that you are God’s servants, and then these promises which are generally offered are your own, no less than if your name were inserted in the promise, and written in the Bible. Thomas Manton.

Ver. 49. Thou hast caused me to hope. Let us remember, first, that the promises made to us are of God’s free mercy; that the grace to believe, which is the condition of the promise, is also of himself; for “faith is the gift of God”; thirdly, that the arguments by which he confirms our faith in the certainty of our salvation are drawn from himself, not from us. William Cowper.

HINTS TO PREACHERS.

Outlines Upon Keywords of the Psalm, By Pastor C. A. Davis.

Ver. 49-56. Hope in affliction. It arises from God’s word (Psalms 119:49). It produces comfort (Psalms 119:50), even in trouble caused by the wicked (Psalms 119:51-53). It gladdens the believer’s pilgrimage and his holy night seasons (Psalms 119:54-56).

HINTS TO PREACHERS.

Ver. 49.

1. The personality of the word: “The word unto thy servant.”

2. The application of the word: “upon which thou hast caused me to hope.”

3. The pleading of the word: “Remember the word, “etc.

Ver. 49. The word of hope.

1. God’s word the foundation of human hope. (The fact of a revelation. The substance of the revelation.)

2. Particular words of God which have been found peculiarly hope enkindling.

3. The pleading of such words at the throne of grace. C.A.D.

Psalms 119:50

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 50. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me. He means, Thy word is my comfort, or the fact that thy word has brought quickening to me is my comfort. Or he means that the hope which had given him was his comfort, for God had quickened him thereby ever may be the exact sense, it is clear that the Psalmist had affliction affliction peculiar to himself, which he calls “my affliction”; that he had comfort in it, comfort specially his own, for he styles it “my comfort”; and that he knew what the comfort was, and where it came from, for exclaims “this is my comfort”. The worldling clutches his money bag and says, “this is my comfort”; the spendthrift points to his gaiety, shouts, “this is my comfort”; the drunkard lifts his glass, and sings, “this is my comfort”; but the man whose hope comes from God feels the giving power of the word of the Lord, and he testifies, “this is my fort.” Paul said, “I know whom I have believed.” Comfort is desirable all times; but comfort in affliction is like a lamp in a dark place. Some unable to find comfort at such times; but it is not so with believers, their Savour has said to them, “I will not leave you comfortless.” have comfort and no affliction, others have affliction and no comfort; the saints have comfort in their affliction.

The word frequently comforts us by increasing the force of our inner “this is my comfort; thy word hath quickened me.” To quicken the is to cheer the whole man. Often the near way to consolation is sanctification and invigoration. If we cannot clear away the fog, it may be to rise to a higher level, and so to get above it. Troubles which weigh down while we are half dead become mere trifles when we are full of Thus have we often been raised in spirit by quickening grace, and the thing will happen again, for the Comforter is still with us, the Consolation of Israel ever liveth, and the very God of peace is evermore our Father. Looking back upon our past life there is one ground of comfort as to state the word of God has made us alive, and kept us so. We were but we are dead no longer. From this we gladly infer that if the had meant to destroy he would not have quickened us. If we were only hypocrites worthy of derision, as the proud ones say, he would not revived us by his grace. An experience of quickening is a fountain of cheer.

See how this verse is turned into a prayer in Psalms 119:107. “Quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word.” Experience teaches us how to pray, and furnishes arguments in prayer.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 50. This is my comfort, etc. The word of promise was David’s comfort, because the word had quickened him to receive comfort. The original is capable of another modification of thought “This is my consolation that thy word hath quickened me.” He had the happy experience within him; he felt the reviving, restoring, life giving power of the word, as he read, as he dwelt upon it, as he meditated therein, and as he gave himself up to the way of the word. The believer has all God’s unfailing promises to depend upon, and as he depends he gains strength by his own happy experiences of the faithfulness of the word. John Stephen.

Ver. 50. My comfort. “Thy word.” God hath given us his Scriptures, his word; and the comforts that are fetched from thence are strong ones, because they are his comforts, since they come from his word. The word of a prince comforts, though he be not there to speak it. Though it be by a letter, or by a messenger, yet he whose word it is, is one that is able to make his word good. He is Lord and Master of his word. The word of God is comfortable, and all the reasons that are in it, and that are deduced from it, upon good ground and consequence, are comfortable, because it is God’s word. Those comforts in God’s word, and reasons from thence, are wonderful in variety. There is comfort from the liberty of a Christian, that he hath free access to the throne of grace; comfort from the prerogatives of a Christian, that he is the child of God, that he is justified, that he is the heir of heaven, and such like; comforts from the promises of grace, of the presence of God, of assistance by his presence. Richard Sibbes.

Ver. 50. Comfort. ‘Nechamah’, consolation; whence the name of Nehemiah was derived. The word occurs only in Job 6:9.

Ver. 50. Comfort. The Hebrew verb rendered ‘to comfort’ signifies, first, to repent, and then to comfort. And certainly the sweetest joy is from the surest tears. Tears are the breeders of spiritual joy. When Hannah had wept, she went away, and was no more sad. The bee gathers the best honey from the bitterest herbs. Christ made the best wine of water.

Gospel comforts are, first, unutterable comforts, 1 Peter 1:8; Philippians 4:4. Secondly, they are real, John 14:27; all others are but seeming comforts, but painted comforts. Thirdly, they are holy comforts, Isaiah 64:5 Psalms 138:5; they flow from a Holy Spirit, and nothing can come from the Holy Spirit but that which is holy. Fourthly, they are the greatest and strongest comforts, Ephesians 6:17. Few heads and hearts are able to bear them, as few heads are able to bear strong wines. Fifthly, they reach to the inward man, to the soul, 2 Thessalonians 2:17, the noble part of man. “My soul rejoiceth in God my Saviour.” Our other comforts only reach the face; they sink not so deep as the heart. Sixthly, they are the most soul filling and soul satisfying comforts, 1 Thessalonians 4:3. Other comforts cannot reach the soul, and therefore they cannot fill nor satisfy the soul. Seventhly, they comfort in saddest distresses, in the darkest night, and in the most stormy day, Psalms 94:19 Hebrews 3:7-8. Eighthly, they are everlasting, 2 Thessalonians 2:16. The joy of the wicked is but as a glass, bright and brittle, and evermore in danger of breaking; but the joy of the saints is lasting. Thomas Brooks.

Ver. 50. Thy word hath quickened me. It is a reviving comfort which quickeneth the soul. Many times we seem to be dead to all spiritual operations, our affections are damped and discouraged; but the word of God puts life into the dead, and relieveth us in our greatest distresses. Sorrow worketh death, but joy is the life of the soul. Now, when dead in all sense and feeling, “the just shall live by faith” (Hebrews 4:4), and the hope wrought in us by the Scriptures is “a lively hope” (1 Peter 1:8). Other things skin the wound but our sore breaketh out again, and runneth; faith penetrates into the inwards of a man, doth good to the heart; and the soul revives by waiting upon God, and gets life and strength. Thomas Manton.

Ver. 50. Thy word hath quickened me. Here, as is evident from the mention of “affliction” and indeed throughout the psalm the verb “quicken” is used not merely in an external sense of “preservation from death” (Hupfeld), but of “reviving the heart, ” “imparting fresh courage, “etc. J.J. Stewart Perowne.

Ver. 50. Thy word hath quickened me. It made me alive when I was dead in sin; it has many a time made me lively when I was dead in duty; it has quickened me to that which is good, when. I was backward and averse to it; and it has quickened me in that which is good, when I was cold and indifferent. Matthew Henry.

Ver. 50. (Second Clause). Adore God’s distinguishing grace, if you have felt the power and authority of the word upon your conscience; if you can say as David, “Thy word hath quickened me.” Christian, bless God that he has not only given thee his word to be a rule of holiness, but his grace to be a principle of holiness. Bless God that he has not only written his word, but sealed it upon thy heart, and made it effectual. Canst thou say it is of divine inspiration, because thou hast felt it to be of lively operation? Oh free grace! That God should send out his word, and heal thee; that he should heal thee and not others! That the Same Scripture which to them is a dead letter, should be to thee a savour of life. Thomas Watson.

HINTS TO PREACHERS.

Ver. 50. Each man has his own affliction and his own consolation. Quickened piety the best comfort. The word the means of

it.

Ver. 50.

1. The need of consolation.

2. The consolation needed. G.R.

Psalms 119:51

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 51 The proud have had me greatly in derision. Proud men never love gracious men, and as they fear them they veil their fear under a pretended contempt. In this case their hatred revealed itself in ridicule, and that ridicule was loud and long. When they wanted sport they made sport of David because he was God’s servant. Men must have strange eyes to be able to see a farce in faith, and a comedy in holiness; yet it is sadly the case that men who are short of wit can generally provoke a broad grin by jesting at a saint. Conceited sinners make footballs of godly men. They call it roaring fun to caricature a faithful member of “The Holy Club”; his methods of careful living are the material for their jokes about “the Methodist”; and his hatred of sin sets their tongues wagging at long faced Puritanism, and straitlaced hypocrisy. If David was greatly derided, we may not expect to escape the scorn of the ungodly. There are hosts of proud men still upon the lace of the earth, and if they find a believer in affliction they will be mean enough and cruel enough to make jests at his expense. It is the nature of the son of the bondwoman to mock the child of the promise.

Yet have I not declined from thy law. Thus the deriders missed their aim: they laughed, but they did not win. The godly man, so far from turning aside from the right way, did not even slacken his pace, or in any sense fall off from his holy habits. Many would have declined, many have declined, but David did not do so. It is paying too much honour to fools to yield half a point to them. Their unhallowed mirth will not harm us if dogs pay no attention to it, even as the moon suffers nothing from the dogs that bay at her. God’s law is our highway of peace and safety, and those who would laugh us out of it wish us no good.

From Psalms 119:61 we note that David was not overcome by the spoiling of his goods any more than by these cruel mockings. See also Psalms 119:157, where the multitude of persecutors and enemies were baffled in their attempts to make him decline from God’s ways.

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