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C. H. Spurgeon :: Psalm 119 Verses 1-8

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Psalm 119 Verses 1-8


EXPOSITION VERSES 1-8

Psalm 119:1-8

These first eight verses are taken up with a contemplation of the blessedness which comes through keeping the statutes of the Lord. The subject is treated in a devout manner rather than in a didactic style. Heart-fellowship with God is enjoyed through a love of that word which is God's way of communing with the soul by his Holy Spirit. Prayer and praise and all sorts of devotional acts and feelings gleam through the verses like beams of sunlight through an olive grove. You are not only instructed, but influenced to holy emotion, and helped to express the same.

Lovers of God's holy words are blessed, because they are preserved from defilement (verse 1), because they are made practically holy (verses 2 and 3), and are led to follow after God sincerely and intensely (verse 2). It is seen that this holy walking must be desirable because God commands it (verse 4); therefore the pious soul prays for it (verse 5), and feels that its comfort and courage must depend upon obtaining it (verse 6). In the prospect of answered prayer, yea, while the prayer is being answered, the heart is full of thankfulness (verse 7), and is fixed in solemn resolve not to miss the blessing if the Lord will give enabling grace (verse 8).

The changes are rung upon the words "way"—"undefiled in the way," "walk in his ways," "O that my ways were directed:" "keep"—"keep his testimonies," "keep thy precepts diligently," "directed to keep," "I will keep:" and "walk"—"walk in the law," "walk in his ways." Yet there is no tautology, nor is the same thought repeated, though to the careless reader it may seem so.

The change from statements about others and about the Lord to more personal dealing with God begins in the third verse, and becomes more and more clear as we advance, till in the later verses the communion becomes most intense and soul-moving. O that every reader may feel the glow which is poured over the verses as they proceed: he will then begin as a reader, but he will soon bow as a suppliant; his study will become an oratory, and his contemplation will warm into adoration. The one subject is the Bible, that we can all take with us, but we shall fail unless the Spirit who is the Inspirer of the sacred law shall hide it in our hearts, and shed abroad within us a fervent love to us precepts and statutes. So may it be.

EXPOSITION VERSE 1

Verse 1.—"Blessed." The Psalmist is so enraptured with the word of God that he regards it as his highest ideal of blessedness to be conformed to it. He has gazed on the beauties of the perfect law, and, as if this verse were the sum and outcome of all his emotions, he exclaims, "Blessed is the man whose life is the practical transcript of the will of God." True religion is not cold and dry; it has its exclamations and raptures. We not only judge the keeping of God's law to be a wise and proper thing, but we are warmly enamoured of its holiness, and cry out in adoring wonder, "Blessed are the undefiled!" meaning thereby, that we eagerly desire to become such ourselves, and wish for no greater happiness than to be perfectly holy. It may be that the writer laboured under a sense of his own faultiness, and therefore envied the blessedness of those whose walk had been more pure and clean; indeed, the very contemplation of the perfect law of the Lord upon which he now entered was quite enough to make him bemoan his own imperfections, and sigh for the blessedness of an undefiled walk.

True religion is always practical, for it does not permit us to delight ourselves in a perfect rule without exciting in us a longing to be conformed to it in our daily lives. A blessing belongs to those who hear and read and understand the word of the Lord; yet is it a far greater blessing to be actually obedient to it, and to carry out in our walk and conversation what we learn in our searching of the Scriptures. Purity in our way and walk is the truest blessedness.

This first verse is not only a preface to the whole psalm, but it may also be regarded as the text upon which the rest is a discourse. It is similar to the benediction of the first psalm), which is set in the forefront of the entire book: there is a likeness between this 119th Psalm and the Psalter, and this is one point of it, that it begins with a benediction. In this, too, we see some foreshadowings of the Son of David, who began his great sermon as David began his great psalm. It is well to open our mouth with blessings. When we cannot bestow them, we can shew the way of obtaining them, and even if we do not yet possess them ourselves, it may be profitable to contemplate them, that our desires may be excited, and our souls moved to seek after them. Lord, if I am not yet so blessed as to be among the undefiled in thy way, yet I will think much of the happiness which these enjoy, and set it before me as my life's ambition.

As David thus begins his psalm, so should young men begin their lives, so should new converts commence their profession, so should all Christians begin every day. Settle it in your hearts as a first postulate and sure rule of practical science that holiness is happiness, and that it is our wisdom first to seek the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. Well begun is half done. To start with a true idea of blessedness is beyond measure important. Man began with being blessed in his innocence, and if our fallen race is ever to be blessed again, it must find it where it lost it at the beginning, namely, in conformity to the command of the Lord.

"The undefiled in the way." They are in the way, the right way, the way of the Lord, and they keep that way, walking with holy carefulness and washing their feet daily, lest they be found spotted by the flesh. They enjoy great blessedness in their own souls; indeed, they have a foretaste of heaven where the blessedness lieth much in being absolutely undefiled; and could they continue utterly and altogether without defilement, doubtless they would have the days of heaven upon the earth. Outward evil would little hurt us if we were entirely rid of the evil of sin, an attainment which with the best of us lies still in the region of desire, and is not yet fully reached, though we have so clear a view of it that we see it to be blessedness itself; and therefore we eagerly press towards it.

He whose life is in a gospel sense undefiled, is blessed, because he could never have reached this point if a thousand blessings had not already been bestowed on him. By nature we are defiled and out of the way, and we must therefore have been washed in the atoning blood to remove defilement, and we must have been converted by the power of the Holy Ghost, or we should not have been turned into the way of peace, nor be undefiled in it. Nor is this all, for the continual power of grace is needed to keep a believer in the right way, and to preserve him from pollution. All the blessings of the covenant must have been in a measure poured upon those who from day to day have been unable to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. Their way is the evidence of their being the blessed of the Lord.

David speaks of a high degree of blessedness; for some are in the way, and are true servants of God, but they are as yet faulty in many ways and bring defilement upon themselves. Others who walk in the light more fully, and maintain closer communion with, God are enabled to keep themselves unspotted from the world, and these enjoy far more peace and joy than their less watchful brethren. Doubtless, the more complete our sanctification the more intense our blessedness. Christ is our way, and we are not only alive in Christ, but we are to live in Christ: the sorrow is that we bespatter his holy way with our selfishness, self-exaltation, wilfulness, and carnality, and so we miss a great measure of the blessedness which is in him as our way. A believer who errs is still saved, but the joy of his salvation is not experienced by him; he is rescued but not enriched, greatly borne with, but not greatly blessed.

How easily may defilement come upon us even in our holy things, yea, even in the way. We may even come from public or private worship with defilement upon the conscience gathered when we were on our knees. There was no floor to the tabernacle but the desert sand, and hence the priests at the altar were under frequent necessity to wash their feet, and by the kind foresight of their God the laver stood ready for their cleansing, even as for us our Lord Jesus still stands ready to wash our feet, that we may be clean every whit. Thus our text sets forth the blessedness of the apostles in the upper room when Jesus had said of them, "Ye are clean."

What blessedness awaits those who follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, and are preserved from the evil which is in the world through lust. These shall be the envy of all mankind "in that day." Though now they despise them as precise fanatics and Puritans, the most prosperous of sinners shall then wish that they could change places with them. O my soul, seek thou thy blessedness in following hard after thy Lord, who was holy, harmless, undefiled; for there hast thou found peace hitherto, and there wilt thou find it for ever.

"Who walk in the law of the Lord." In them is found habitual holiness. Their walk, their common everyday life is obedience unto the Lord. They live by rule, that rule the command of the Lord God. Whether they eat or drink, or whatsoever they do, they do all in the name of their great Master and Exemplar. To them religion is nothing out of the way, it is their every-day walk: it moulds their common actions as well as their special devotions. This ensures blessedness. He who walks in God's law walks in God's company, and he must be blessed; he has God's smile, God's strength, God's secret with him, and how can he be otherwise than blessed?

The holy life is a walk, a steady progress, a quiet advance, a lasting continuance. Enoch walked with God. Good men always long to be better, and hence they go forward. Good men are never idle, and hence they do not lie down or loiter, but they are still walking onward to their desired end. They are not hurried, and worried, and flurried, and so they keep the even tenor of their way, walking steadily towards heaven; and they are not in perplexity as to how to conduct themselves, for they have a perfect rule, which they are happy to walk by. The law of the Lord is not irksome to them; its commandments are not grievous, and its restrictions are not slavish in their esteem. It does not appear to them to be an impossible law, theoretically admirable but practically absurd, but they walk by it and in it. They do not consult it now and then as a sort of rectifier of their wanderings, but they use it as a chart for their daily sailing, a map of the road for their life-journey. Nor do they ever regret that they have entered upon the path of obedience, else they would leave it, and that without difficulty, for a thousand temptations offer them opportunity to return; their continued walk in the law of the Lord is their best testimony to the blessedness of such a condition of life. Yes, they are blessed even now. The Psalmist himself bore witness to the fact: he had tried and proved it, and wrote it down as a fact which defied all denial. Here it stands in the forefront of David's magnum opus, written on the topmost line of his greatest psalm—"BLESSED ARE THEY WHO WALK IN THE LAW OF THE LORD." Rough may be the way, stern the rule, hard the discipline,—all these we know and more,—but a thousand heaped-up blessednesses are still found in godly living, for which we bless the Lord.

We have in this verse blessed persons who enjoy five blessed things, A blessed way, blessed purity, a blessed law, given by a blessed Lord, and a blessed walk therein; to which we may add the blessed testimony of the Holy Ghost given in this very passage that they are in very deed the blessed of the Lord.

The blessedness which is thus set before us we must aim at, but we must not think to obtain it without earnest effort. David has a great deal to say about it; his discourse in this psalm is long and solemn, and it is a hint to us that the way of perfect obedience is not learned in a day; there must be precept upon precept, line upon line, and after efforts long enough to be compared with the 176 verses of this psalm we may still have to cry, "I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments."

It must, however, be our plan to keep the word of the Lord much upon our minds; for this discourse upon blessedness has for its pole-star the testimony of the Lord, and only by daily communion with the Lord by his word can we hope to learn his way, to be purged from defilement, and to be made to walk in his statutes. We set out upon this exposition with blessedness before us; we see the way to it, and we know where the law of it is to be found: let us pray that as we pursue our meditation we may grow into the habit and walk of obedience, and so feel the blessedness of which we read.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

The first eight verses commence with Aleph, and may be alphabetically rendered thus:—

1. All they that are undefiled in the way, walking in the lasw of the Lord, are blessed.

2. All they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart, are blessed.

3. Also they do no iniquity; they walk in his ways.

4. All thy precepts diligently to keep thou has commanded us.

5. Ah, Lord! that my ways were directed to kee thy statutes!

6. Ashamed I shall never be, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.

7. Always will I praise thee, with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.

8. All thy statutes will I keep; O forsake me not utterly.

Pastor Theodore Kübler, of Islington, 1880.

Whole eight verses, 1-8.—Every line begins with Aleph, to which the Jews ascribe the meaning of an ox, that is, the beast of useful service, and thus of many blessings. Key of the section: "O the blessings."

Frederick G. Marchant.

Whole eight verses, 1-8.—These eight verses teach that true piety is sincere, consistent, practical, hearty, intelligent, earnest, active, stirring, diligent, humble, distrustful of itself, systematical, guileless, unspotted from the world, self-renouncing, confident in God, delighting in thankfulness, full purposed to keep the law, and as ready to confess that without divine grace it can do nothing.

They also teach us how great is the sin of not believing God's word. As it is a law, the faithless refuse to walk by it; as it is a testimony, they refuse to believe their Maker; as it demands righteousness, they refuse to seek it; as it gives precepts, they will not obey them; as it ordains statutes, they rebel against them; as it has excellent commandments, they stand out in opposition to them; as it abounds with righteous judgments, they refuse to stand by them. They will not pray for grace; they will not praise God for mercies received; they do not feel their dependence or impotence, and they never look to the Father of lights from whom cometh down every good and perfect gift.

William S. Plumer,1880.

Verse 1.—"Blessed." The Psalmist beginneth with a description of the way to true blessedness, as Christ began his Sermon on the Mount, and as the whole Book of Psalms is elsewhere begun. Blessedness is that which we all aim at, only we are either ignorant or reckless of the way that leadeth to it, therefore the holy Psalmist would first set us right as to the true notion of a blessed man: "Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD."

Thomas Manton, 1620-1677.

Verse 1.—"Blessed." Here the Lord, who in the last day will pronounce some to be blessed and some to be cursed, doth now tell us who they are. What can comfort them to whom the Lord shall say, Depart from me, ye cursed? Where away shall they go when the Lord shall command them to depart from him? And what greather joy can come to a man, than to hear the Judge of all saying unto him, Come to me, ye blessed? Oh that we were wise in time, to think of this, that so we might endeavour to become such men as God in his word hath blessed!

William Cowper, 1566-1619.

Verse 1.—The Scripture speaketh of blessedness two ways; causally, in reference to that which is the cause whereby we get a right to this blessed estate; and in this sense it is attributed to faith in Christ, to forgiveness of sin, and to justification of life which we obtain in Christ. Sometimes the Scripture speaketh formally of blessedness, in order to the actual execution of it; and thus it pronounceth them blessed who are perfect in their course; for this is a blessedness actually executed, and doth fit us to have the full execution and consummation of blessedness begun in us; thus they are blessed who endure patiently, who are poor in spirit, who are merciful, who are peacemakers, etc. If I speak of a sick man, and say he is happy, for he hath met with a good physician; here I pronounce him blessed because he hath found one who will restore him to health. If I say of the same man, he is a happy man, he can now digest very well what he eateth, he can sleep, and walk abroad; I speak of him now as actually blessed with health of body.

The end of everything being the good of that thing, and the prosperity of everything being the end of it,—to attain in some latitude this perfection of action must needs make a man actually blessed. Hence blessedness is ascribed to walking in God's way. If we have not the habit of doing anything, we do it with difficulty, we are ready to cease from doing it; as a horse will continually break out of the pace to which he is not perfectly broken. Thence it is that the saints find their estate miserable till they form the habit which maketh them with facility and constancy walk with God; there being no greather misery than to see themselves doing good duties uncheerfully, no sooner entering them than out again, and desisting from them. On the contrary, they count it of all things most blessed to have attained some degree of permanent habit in godliness. The blessedness which comes to us by faith in Christ.

Paul Bayne, 1617.

Verse 1.—"The undefiled." You ask, Why does God will that we be undefiled? I reply, because he has chosen us for himself, for servants, for spouses, for temples. These three privileges or names mean that all defilement must be shunned by us.

Thomas Le Blanc.

Verse 1.—"Undefiled in the way." In the 1st Psalm it was, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly;" but who could think to walk in that way, and not have his feet soiled? "Who could go upon hot coals and his feet be not burned?" Here, however, the caution is, to take heed not to get any soil or defilement "in the way."—in the Lord's way. Oh! what an insight does this give us of the pit-falls and snares that beset us in the road, and of the plague and evil of our own hearts, that even in the midst of holy things, somewhat of stain, or spot, or wrinkle will stick to us!

Barton Bouchier, 1856.

Verse 1.—"The undefiled in the way." How can our feet be undefiled? How can our garments be unsoilded? We cannot guide ourselves. Unaided, we stumble into sloughs of defilement. But all help is near. Jesus is at hand to keep us by his mighty power. Let us lean on his supporting arm at every step, and when we fall let us rise and wash our robes in his all-cleansing blood. So may we ever be among "the undefiled in the way;" and let the law of the Lord, lovely in purity, glorious in holiness, perfect in love, be the path in which our feet advance. Jesus is our model and our all. God's law was in his heart.

Henry Law, in "Family Devotion," 1878.

Verse 1.—"In the way." They are blessed who are in the way, not a way, any chance or uncertain road, but "the King's Highway;" that path which the Lord himself has declared to us, saying, "I am the way."

Hillary and Theodoret, quoted by Neale and Littledale.

Verse 1.—"The way." There is much ado now about the way: many say, "Which is the way?" Some say, "This;" some, "That." Would you not mistake, inquire for "the old way, the way of holiness," and follow it, and thou shalt not perish. Some would go a new way; some a shorter, some an easier way. Do you go the holy way.

John Sheffield (about 1660), in "The Morning Exercises"

Verse 1.—"Who Walk." In this way there must be no standing, sitting, or reclining, but walking, so that all our movements may be regular, going on unto perfection: Mat 5:48; 1Co 14:20; Jas 1:4; Heb 6:1.

Martin Geier, 1614-1681.

Verse 1.—"Who walk in the law of the LORD." To go on with liberty in good duties is a point of blessed perfection. He is not truly able to walk who can only go twice or thrice about his chamber, or stir himself on some plain ground for a quarter of an hour; but he which can go strongly and freely up a hill in ways craggy and uneven; so Christians who can go while God maketh their way inoffensive, putting everything away which might hinder, but presently give over if ought disturbeth, they are not come to this free walking in which standeth a traveller's perfection. Look at those who are fat at heart, pursey (as we say), or have inward lameness, and ache of joints, or have caught a thorn from without, so that they are forced to lie by, and cannot walk; or those whose limbs are so feeble, that they cannot trip upon anything, but down they come;—all these lame folk do esteem other travellers to be happy who are able to exercise themselves in walking at will. Thus, when Christians find themselves hindered, and wearied, and stumbling, they deem others blessed who can go on constantly in their holy course, through good report and evil report, in want, in abundance, in every estate and condition. Wherefore, let us strive after this blessed walking.

Paul Bayne.

Verse 1.—"Who walk in the law of the LORD." Who walk towards heaven in heaven's way, avoiding the corruptions that are in the world through lust.

John Trapp, 1601-1669.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

The subject of each portion is indicated in its first verse. Each section may serve as the subject for a discourse.

Verse 1.The Ten Titles of the Word of God. (Verse 1), etc.). "Law" (Verse 1). "Testimonies" (Verse 2). "Precepts" (Verse 4). "Statutes" (Verse 5). "Commandments" (Verse 6). "Judgments" (Verse 7). "Word" (Verse 9). "Truth" (Verse 30). "Righteousness" (Verse 40).

Show the particular shade of meaning in each of these titles, and the light they cast on the divine law and on the duty of the believer.

Verses 1-8.The undefiled; described in verses 1-3. Such a life commanded by God is prayed for in verse 5), and with its attendant happiness is anticipated in verses 6-7), and resolved upon in verse 8.

Verses 1.—Spiritual pedestrians are often mentioned in this psalm. Model travellers are described in this passage. Oserve.—

I. Their character: "Undefiled." They are so

(1) in Christ: found in him, complete; accepted. They are so …

(2) by Christ: His spirit, truth, and grace are in them. "Chosen generation," "peculiar people."

II. Their path: "the law of the Lord." This path is

(1) Conspicuous—high, visible, distinguished from every other.

(2) Ancient. The old path. Holiness is older than sin, wisdom than folly, life than death, joy than sorrow.

(3) Safe. Christ has repaired it. Apart from his work none can pass safely over. He has brought down mountains, raised up valleys, made crooked places straight, and rough places smooth. He has driven away the lion.

(4) Narrow. It has a fence of commands on one side, and of prohibitions on the other. It is entered by a strait gate, which renders it necessary for the great to become as little children.

III. Their progress: "walk." Not only talk, but step in the footprints of Jesus. Follow the law-fulfiller. They proceed in the exercise of his graces, in the exhibition of his virtues, in the fulfillment of his injuctions, and the enjoyments of his favours.


IV. Their happiness: "Blessed." They have unfailing help, suitable company, animating prospects on the way.

W. Jackson, of Waltham Abbey, 1882.

Verses 1-3.

—I. Positive and Negative Beatitudes of Being.

—II. Six Conditions of Peace with God.

1. Purity.

2. Obedience.

3. Fidelity.

4. Seeking.

5. Integrity.

6. Following.

William Durban of Chester, 1882.

EXPOSITION VERSE 2

Verse 2.—"Blessed are they that keep his testimonies." What! A second blessing? Yes, they are doubly blessed whose outward life is supported by an inward zeal for God's glory. In the first verse we had an undefiled way, and it was taken for granted that the purity in the way was not mere surface work, but was attended by the inward truth and life which comes of divine grace. Here that which was implied is expressed. Blessedness is ascribed to those who treasure up the testimonies of the Lord: in which is implied that they search the Scriptures, that they come to an understanding of them, that they love them, and then that they continue in the practice of them. We must first get a thing before we can keep it. In order to keep it well we must get a firm grip of it: we cannot keep in the heart that which we have not heartily embraced by the affections. God's word is his witness or testimony to grand and important truths which concern himself and our relation to him: this we should desire to know; knowing it, we should believe it; believing it, we should love it; and loving it, we should hold it fast against all comers. There is a doctrinal keeping of the word when we are ready to die for its defence, and a practical keeping of it when we actually live under its power. Revealed truth is precious as diamonds, and should be kept or treasured up in the memory and in the heart as jewels in a casket, or as the law was kept in the ark; this however is not enough, for it is meant for practical use, and therefore it must be kept or followed, as men keep to a path, or to a line of business. If we keep God's testimonies they will keep us; they will keep us right in opinion, comfortable in spirit, holy in conversation, and hopeful in expectation. If they were ever worth having, and no thoughtful person will question that, then they are worth keeping; their designed effect does not come through a temporary seizure of them, but by a persevering keeping of them: "in keeping of them there is great reward."

We are bound to keep with all care the word of God, because it is his testimonies. He gave them to us, but they are still his own. We are to keep them as a watchman guards his master's house, as a steward husbands his lord's goods, as a shepherd keeps his employer's flock. We shall have to give an account, for we are put in trust with the gospel, and woe to us if we be found unfaithful. We cannot fight a good fight, nor finish our course, unless we keep the faith. To this end the Lord must keep us: only those who are kept by the power of God unto salvation will ever be able to keep his testimonies. What a blessedness is therefore evidenced and testified by a careful belief in God's word, and a continual obedience thereunto. God has blessed them, is blessing them, and will bless them for ever. That blessedness which David saw in others he realized for himself, for in Psa 119:168 he says, "I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies," and in Psa 119:54-56 he traces his joyful songs and happy memories to this same keeping of the law, and he confesses, "This I had because I kept thy precepts." Doctrines which we teach to others we should experience for ourselves.

"And that seek him with the whole heart." Those who keep the Lord's testimonies are sure to seek after himself. If his word is precious we may be sure that he himself is still more so. Personal dealing with a personal God is the longing of all those who have allowed the word of the Lord to have its full effect upon them. If we once really know the power of the gospel we must seek the God of the gospel. "O that I knew where I might find HIM," will be our wholehearted cry. See the growth which these sentences indicate: first, in the way, then walking in it, then finding and keeping the treasure of truth, and to crown all, seeking after the Lord of the way himself. Note also that the further a soul advances in grace the more spiritual and divine are its longings: an outward walk does not content the gracious soul, nor even the treasured testimonies; it reaches out in due time after God himself, and when it in a measure finds him, still yearns for more of him, and seeks him still.

Seeking after God signifies a desire to commune with him more closely, to follow him more fully, to enter into more perfect union with his mind and will, to promote his glory, and to realize completely all that he is to holy hearts. The blessed man has God already, and for this reason he seeks him. This may seem a contradiction: it is only a paradox.

God is not truly sought by the cold researches of the brain: we must seek him with the heart. Love reveals itself to love: God manifests his heart to the heart of his people. It is in vain that we endeavour to comprehend him by reason; we must apprehend him by affection. But the heart must not be divided with many objects if the Lord is to be sought by us. God is one, and we shall not know him till our heart is one. A broken heart need not be distressed at this, for no heart is so whole in its seeking after God as a heart which is broken, whereof every fragment sighs and cries after the great Father's face. It is the divided heart which the doctrine of the text censures, and strange to say, in scriptural phraseology, a heart may be divided and not broken, and it may be broken but not divided; and yet again it may be broken and be whole, and it never can be whole until it is broken. When our whole heart seeks the holy God in Christ Jesus it has come to him of whom it is written, "as many as touched Him were made perfectly whole."

That which the Psalmist admires in this verse he claims in the tenth, where he says, "With my whole heart have I sought thee." It is well when admiration of a virtue leads to the attainment of it. Those who do not believe in the blessedness of seeking the Lord will not be likely to arouse their hearts to the pursuit, but he who calls another blessed because of the grace which he sees in him is on the way to gaining the same grace for himself.

If those who seek the Lord are blessed, what shall be said of those who actually dwell with him and know that he is theirs?

"To those who fall, how kind thou art!
    How good to those who seek I
But what to those who find? Ah! this
    Nor tongue nor pen can show:
The love of Jesus—what it is,
    None but his loved ones know."

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 2.—The doubling of the sentence, Blessed… Blessed, in the first verse and second, is to let us see the certainty of the blessing belonging to the godly. The word of God is as true in itself when it is once spoken, as when it is many times repeated: the repetition of it is for confirmation of our weak faith. That which Isaac spake of Jacob,—"I have blessed him, and he shall be blessed," is the most sure decree of God upon all his children. Satan would fain curse Israel, by the mouth of such as Balaam was; but he shall not be able to curse, because God hath blessed.

William Cowper.

Verse 2.Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. In the former verse a blessed man is described by the course of his actions, "Blessed are the undefiled in the way:" in this verse he is described by the frame of his heart.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 2.Keep his testimonies. The careful keeping in mind of God's testimonies is blessedness; for though there is a keeping of them in conversation mentioned in the former verse, here another thing is intimated diverse from the former; he that keepeth this plant or holy seed so that the devil cannot take it out of his heart, he is happy. The word here used signifieth such a careful custody as that is wherewith we use to keep tender plants.

Paul Bayne.

Verse 2.Testimonies. The notion by which the word of God is expressed is "testimonies;" whereby is intended the whole declaration of God's will in doctrines, commands, examples, threatenings, promises. The whole word is the testimony which God hath deposed for the satisfaction of the world about the way of their salvation. Now because the word of God branches itself into two parts, the law and the gospel, this notion may be applied to both. First, to the law, in regard whereof the ark was called "the ark of the testimony" (Exo 25:16), because the two tables were laid up in it. The gospel is also called the testimony, "the testimony of God concerning his Son." "To the law, and to the testimony" (Isa 8:20); where testimony seems to be distinguished from the law. The gospel is so called, because therein God hath testified how a man shall be pardoned, reconciled to God, and obtain a right to eternal life. We need a testimony in this case, because it is more unknown to us. The law was written upon the heart, but the gospel is a stranger. Natural light will discern something of the law, and pry into matters which are of a moral strain and concernment; but evangelical truths are a mystery, and depend upon the mere testimony of God concerning his Son.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 2.Testimonies. The word of God is called his testimony, not only because it testifies his will concerning his service, but also his favour and goodwill concerning his own in Christ Jesus. If God's word were no more than a law, yet were we bound to obey it, because we are his creatures; but since it is also a testimony of his love, wherein as a father he witnesseth his favour towards his children, we are doubly inexcusable if we do not most joyfully embrace it.

William Cowper.

Verse 2.—"Blessed are they… that seek him with the whole heart." He pronounces "blessed" not such as are wise in their own conceit, or assume a sort of fantastical holiness, but those who dedicate themselves to the covenant of God, and yield obedience to the dictates of his law, Farther, by these words, he tells us that God is by no means satisfied with mere external service, for he demands the sincere and honest affection of the heart. And assuredly, if God be the sole Judge and Disposer of our life, the truth must occupy the principal place in our heart, because it is not sufficient to have our hands and feet only enlisted in his service.

John Calvin, 1509-1564.

Verse 2.The whole heart. Whosoever would have sound happiness must have a sound heart. So much sincerity as there is, so much blessedness there will be; and according to the degree of our hypocrisy, will be the measure of our misery.

Richard Greenham, 1531-1591.

Verse 2.—Observe the verbs seek, do, walk, all making up the subject to whom the blessedness belongs.

Henry Hammond, 1605-1660.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 2.—"Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart."

1. The Sacred Quest: "…seek him…." He has been sought among the trees, the hills, the planets, the stars. He has been sought in his own defaced image, man. He has been sought amid the mysterious wheels of Providence. But these quests have often been prompted simply by intellect, or compelled by conscience, and have therefore resulted but in a cold faint light. He has been sought in the word which this psalm so highly extols, when it has led up the smoke covered and gleaming peaks of Sinai. It has been followed, when it has led beneath the olives of Gethsemane to witness a mysterious struggle in blood sweating and anguish; to Calvary, where, in the place of a skull, life and immortality are brought to light. The sacred quest but there begins.

2. The Conduct of the Quest. Seekers might be mistakenly dejected by so literal an interpretation of the "whole heart." We do not hesitate to say a stream is in its whole volume flowing towards the sea while there are little side creeks in which the water eddies backward; or to say the tide is coming despite receding waves; or that spring is upon us despite hailstorm and biting wind. Indication of,

(a) Unity

(b) Intensity.

(c) Determination.

No one conducts this quest aright who is not prompted to or sustained in it by the gracious Spirit.

3. Blessedness both in the pursuit and issue.

(a) Blessedness in the bitterness of penitence. The door handle touched by him drops of myrrh. The rising sun sends kindling beams upon the highest peaks.

(b) Blessedness in the happy findings of salvation and adoption.

(c) Blessedness in the perpetual pursuit.

William Anderson, of Reading, 1882.

Verse 2.—The double blessing.

1. On keeping the testimonies.

2. On seeking the Lord.

Verse 2.—"That seek him with the whole heart."

1. Seek what? God himself. No peace until he is found.

2. Seek where? In his testimonies.

(a) By studying them.

(b) By keeping to them.

3. Seek how? "With the Whole heart."

George Rogers.

Verse 2.—Seeking for God.

1. The Psalmist's way of seeking God.

(a) He sought God with the heart. Only the heart can find God. Sight fails. "The scientific method" fails. All reason fails. Only love and trust can succeed. Love sees much where all other perception finds nothing. Faith generally goes with discovery, and nowhere so much as in finding God.

(b) He sought God with all his heart.

(1) Half heartedness seldom finds anything worth having.

(2) Half heartedness shows contempt for God.

(3) God will not reveal himself to half heartedness. It would be putting the highest premium possible upon indifference.

2. The Psalmist's plea in seeking God: "Let me not wander from thy commandments"

(a) God's commandments lead, presently, into his own presence. If we take even the moral law, every one of the ten commandments leads away from the world, and sin, into that seclusion of holiness in which he hides. It is thus with all the commandments of the Scriptures.

(b) The earnestness of the souls search for God becomes, in itself, a plea with God that he will be found of us. God, who loves importunity in prayer, loves it no less when it takes the form of searching with all the heart. He who seeks with all the heart finds special encouragement to pray: "Let me not wander from thy commandments."

Frederick G. Marchant.

Verse 2.—"That seek him". We must remember six conditions required in them who would seek the Lord rightly.

1. We must seek him in Christ the Mediator. John 14:6.

2. We must seek him in truth. Jer 10:10; John 4:24; Psa 7:6.

3. We must seek him in holiness. 2Ti 2:19; Heb 12:14; 1Jo 1:3.

4. We must seek him above all things and for himself.

5. We must seek him by the light of his own word.

6. We must seek him diligently and with perseverance, never resting till we find him, with the spouse in the Canticles.

William Cowper.

Psa 119:2, 4-5, 8.— "Blessed are they that keep…." "Thou hast commanded us to keep." "O that my ways were directed to keep." "I will keep." Blessedness of keeping God's precepts—displayed (Psa 119:2), commanded (Psa 119:4), for (Psa 119:5), resolved upon (Psa 119:8).

C. A. D.

EXPOSITION VERSE 3

Verse 3.They also do no iniquity. Blessed indeed would those men be of whom this could be asserted without reserve and without explanation: we shall have reached the region of pure blessedness when we altogether cease from sin. Those who follow the word of God do no iniquity, the rule is perfect, and if it be constantly followed no fault will arise. Life, to the outward observer, at any rate, lies much in doing, and he who in his doings never swerves from equity, both towards God and man, has hit upon the way of perfection, and we may be sure that his heart is right. See how a whole heart leads to the avoidance of evil, for the Psalmist says, "That seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity." We fear that no man can claim to be absolutely without sin, and yet we trust there are many who do not designedly, wilfully, knowingly, and continuously do anything that is wicked, ungodly, or unjust. Grace keeps the life righteous as to act even when the Christian has to bemoan the transgressions of the heart. Judged as men should be judged by their fellows, according to such just rules as men make for men, the true people of God do no iniquity: they are honest, upright, and chaste, and touching justice and morality they are blameless. Therefore are they happy.

They walk in his ways. They attend not only to the great main highway of the law, but to the smaller paths of the particular precepts. As they will perpetrate no sin of commission, so do they labour to be free from every sin of omission. It is not enough to them to be blameless, they wish also to be actively righteous. A hermit may escape into solitude that he may do no iniquity, but a saint lives in society that he may serve his God by walking in his ways. We must be positively as well as negatively right: we shall not long keep the second unless we attend to the first, for men will be walking one way or another, and if they do not follow the path of God's law they will soon do iniquity. The surest way to abstain from evil is to be fully occupied in doing good. This verse describes believers as they exist among us: although they have their faults and infirmities, yet they hate evil, and will not permit themselves to do it; they love the ways of truth, right and true godliness, and habitually they walk therein. They do not claim to be absolutely perfect except in their desires, and there they are pure indeed, for they pant to be kept from all sin, and to be led into all holiness.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 3.They also do no iniquity. If it be demanded here, How is it that they who walk in God's ways work no iniquity? Is there any man who lives, and sins not? And if they be not without sin, how then are they to be blessed? The answer is, as the apostle says of our knowledge, "We know but in part:" so is it true of our felicity on earth, we are blessed but in a part. It is the happiness of angels that they never sinned; it is the happiness of triumphant saints, that albeit they have been sinners, yet now they sin no more; but the happiness of saints militant is, that our sins are forgiven us; and that albeit sin remains in us, yet it reigns not over us; it is done in us, but not by our allowance: "I do the evil which I would not." "Not I, but sin that dwells in me," Rom 7:17.

To the doing of iniquity, these three things must concur; first, a purpose to do it; next, a delight in doing it; thirdly, a continuance in it; which three in God's children never concur; for in sins done in them by the old man, the new man makes his exceptions and protestations against them. It is not I, says he; and so far is he from delighting in them, that rather his soul is grieved with them; even as Lot, dwelling among the Sodomites, was vexed by hearing and seeing their unrighteous deeds. In a word, the children of God are rather sufferers of sin against their wills than actors of it with their wills: like men spiritually oppressed by the power of their enemy; for which they sigh and cry unto God. "Miserable man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" And in this sense it is that the apostle saith, "He who is born of God sinneth not" (1Jo 3:9).

William Cowper.

Verse 3.They also do no iniquity. The blessedness of those who walk in the law: they do—or have done—no wickedness: but walk—or have always walked—in his ways. Throughout the Psalm it may be noticed that sometimes the present tense is employed indicating present action: sometimes the perfect to indicate past and present time: Psa 119:10-11, 13-14, 21, 51-61, 101-102, 131, 145, 147.

The Speaker's Commentary, 1873.

Verse 3.They also do no iniquity. That is, they make not a trade and common practice thereof. Slip they do, through the infirmity of the flesh, and subtlety of Satan, and the allurements of the world; but they do not ordinarily and customably go forward in unlawful and sinful courses. In that the Psalmist setteth down this as a part (and not the least part neither) of blessedness, that they work none iniquity, which walk in his ways: the doctrine to be learned here is this, that it is a marvelous great prerogative to be freed from the bondage of sin.

Richard Greenham.

Verse 3.They do no iniquity. All such as are renewed by grace, and reconciled to God by Christ Jesus; to these God imputeth no sin to condemnation, and in his account they do no iniquity. Notable is that which is said of David, "He kept my commandments, and followed me with all his heart, and did that only which was right in mine eyes" (1Ki 14:8). How can that be? We may trace David by his failings, they are upon record everywhere in the word; yet here a veil is drawn upon them; God laid them not to his charge. There is a double reason why their failings are not laid to their charge. Partly, because of their general state, they are in Christ, taken into favour through him, and "there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ" (Rom 8:1), therefore particular errors and escapes do not alter their condition; which is not to be understood as if a man should not be humbled, and ask God pardon for his infirmities; no, for then they prove iniquities and they will lie upon record against him. It was a gross fancy of the Valentinians, who held that they were not defiled with sin, whatsoever they committed; though base and obscene persons, yet still they were as gold in the dirt. No, no, we are to recover ourselves by repentance, to sue out the favour of God. When David humbled himself, and had repented, then saith Nathan, "The Lord hath put away thy sin" (2Sa 12:13). Partly, too, because their bent and habitual inclination is to do otherwise. They set themselves to comply with God's will, to seek and serve the Lord, though they are clogged with many infirmities. A wicked man sinneth with deliberation and delight, his bent is to do evil, he makes "provision for lusts" (Rom 13:14), and "serves" them by a voluntary subjection (Tit 3:3). But those that are renewed by grace are not "debtors" to the flesh, they have taken another debt and obligation, which is to serve the Lord (Rom 8:12).

Partly, too, because their general course and way is to do otherwise. Everything works according to its form; the constant actions of nature are according to the kind. So the new creature, his constant operations are according to grace. A man is known by his custom, and the course of his endeavours shows what is his business. If a man be constantly, easily, frequently carried away to sin, it discovers the habit of his soul, and the temper of his heart. Meadows may be overflowed, but marsh ground is drowned with every return of the tide. A child of God may be occasionally carried away, and act contrary to the inclination of the new nature; but when men are drowned and overcome by the return of every temptation, it argues a habit of sin.

And partly, because sin never carries sway completely, but it is opposed by dislikes and resistances of the new nature. The children of God make it their business to avoid all sin, by watching, praying, mortifying: "I said I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue" (Psa 39:1), and thus there is a resistance of the sin. God hath planted graces in their hearts, the fear of his Majesty, that works a resistance; and therefore there is not a full allowance of what they do. This resistance sometimes is more strong, then the temptation is overcome: "How can I do this wickedness, and sin against God?" (Gen 39:9). Sometimes it is more weak, and then sin carries it, though against the will of the holy man: "The evil which I hate, that do I" (Rom 7:15, 18). It is the evil which they hate; they protest against it; they are like men which are oppressed by the power of the enemy. And then there is a remorse after the sin: David's heart smote him. It grieves and shames them that they do evil. Tenderness goes with the new nature: Peter sinned foully, but he went out and wept bitterly.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 3.—They that have mortified their sins live in the contrary graces. Hence it is that the Psalmist saith, that "they work no iniquity, but walk in thy paths." First, they crucify all their sins, "they do no iniquity:" secondly, as they do no iniquity, so they follow all the ways of God, contrary to that iniquity: as they give up all the ways of sin, so they take up all the ways of grace. It is a rule in divinity, that grace takes not away nature that is, grace comes not to take away a man's affections, but to take them up.

William Fenner, 1600-1640.

Verse 3.They walk in his ways. It reproves those that rest in negatives. As it was said of a certain emperor, he was rather not vicious than virtuous. Many men, all their religion runs upon nots: "I am not as this publican" (Luk 18:11). That ground is naught, though it brings not forth briars and thorns, if it yields not good increase. Not only the unruly servant is cast into hell, that beat his fellow servant, that ate and drank with the drunken; but the idle servant that wrapped up his talent in a napkin. Meroz is cursed, not for opposing and fighting, but for not helping (Jdg 5:23). Dives did not take away food from Lazarus, but he did not give him of his crumbs. Many will say, I set up no other gods; aye, but dost thou love, reverence, and obey the true God? For if not, thou dost fail in the first commandment. As to the second, thou sayest, I abhor idols; but dost thou delight in ordinances? I do not swear and rend the name of God by cursed oaths; aye, but dost thou glorify God, and honour him? I do not profane the Sabbath; but dost thou sanctify it? Thou dost not plough and dance; but thou art idle, and toyest away the Sabbath. Thou dost not wrong thy parents; but dost thou reverence them? Thou dost not murder; but dost thou do good to thy neighbour? Thou art no adulterer; but dost thou study temperance and a holy sobriety in all things? Thou art no slanderer; but art thou tender of thy neighbour's honour and credit, as of thy own? Usually men cut off half their bill, as the unjust steward bade his lord's debtor set down fifty when he owed a hundred. We do not think of sins of omission. If we are not drunkards, adulterers, and profane persons, we do not think what it is to omit respect to God, and reverence for his holy Majesty.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 3.They walk in his ways. Not in those of his enemies, nor even in their own.

Joseph Addison Alexander, 1860.

Verse 3.They walk in his ways. Habitually, constantly, characteristically. They are not merely honest, upright, and just in their dealings with men; but they walk in the ways of God; they are religious.

Albert Barnes, 1798-1870.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 3.They also do no iniquity. They work no iniquity

1. Purpose of heart;

2. Delight;

3. Perseverance;

4. Nor at all when heart is fully sanctified unto God; Christ dwelling in it by faith casting out sin.

Adam Clarke.

Verse 3.—The relation between negative and positive virtue. Or with God the best preventive of iniquity.

EXPOSITION VERSE 4

Verse 4.Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. So that when we have done all we are unprofitable servants, we have done only that which it was our duty to have done, seeing we have our Lord's command for it. God's precepts require careful obedience: there is no keeping them by accident. Some give to God a careless service, a sort of hit or miss obedience, but the Lord has not commanded such service, nor will he accept it. His law demands the love of all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and a careless religion has none of these. We are also called to zealous obedience. We are to keep the precepts abundantly: the vessels of obedience should be filled to the brim, and the command carried out to the full of its meaning. As a man diligent in business arouses himself to do as much trade as he can, so must we be eager to serve the Lord as much as possible. Nor must we spare pains to do so, for a diligent obedience will also be laborious and self denying. Those who are diligent in business rise up early and sit up late, and deny themselves much of comfort and repose. They are not soon tired, or if they are they persevere even with aching brow and weary eye. So should we serve the Lord. Such a Master deserves diligent servants; such service he demands, and will be content with nothing less. How seldom do men render it, and hence many through their negligence miss the double blessing spoken of in this Psalm.

Some are diligent in superstition and will worship; be it ours to be diligent in keeping God's precepts. It is of no use travelling fast if we are not in the right road. Men have been diligent in a losing business, and the more they have traded the more they have lost: this is bad enough in commerce, we cannot afford to have it so in our religion.

God has not commanded us to be diligent in making precepts, but in keeping them. Some bind yokes upon their own necks, and make bonds and rules for others: but the wise course is to be satisfied with the rules of holy Scripture, and to strive to keep them all, in all places, towards all men, and in all respects. If we do not this, we may become eminent in our own religion, but we shall not have kept the command of God; nor shall we be accepted of him.

The Psalmist began with the third person: he is now coming near home, and has already reached the first person plural, according to our version; we shall soon hear him crying out personally and for himself. As the heart glows with love to holiness, we long to have a personal interest in it. The word of God is a heart affecting book, and when we begin to sing its praises it soon comes home to us, and sets us praying to be ourselves conformed to its teachings.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 4.—"Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently." It is not a matter ἁδιάφορος and left to the discretion of men, either to hear, or to neglect sacred discourses, theological readings, and expositions of the Sacred Book; but God has commanded, and not commanded cursorily when speaking of another matter, but מְאֹד, earnestly and greatly he has commanded us to keep his precepts. There should be infixed in our mind the words found in Deu 6:6, "My words shall be in thy heart:" in Mat 17:5, "Hear ye him." in John 5:39, "Search the Scriptures." Above all things, students of theology should remember the Pauline rule in 1Ti 4, "Give attention to reading." (1Tit 4:13)

Solomon Gesner.

Verse 4.Thou hast commanded us, etc. Hath God enjoined us to observe his precepts so exceedingly carefully and diligently? Then let nothing draw us therefrom, no, not in the least circumstance; let us esteem nothing needless, frivolous, or superfluous, that we have a warrant for out of his word; nor count those too wise or precise that will stand resolutely upon the same: if the Lord require anything, though the world should gainsay it, and we be derided and abused for the doing of it, yet let us proceed still in the course of our obedience.

Richard Greenham.

Verse 4.Diligently. For three causes should we keep the commandments of the Lord with diligence:

first, because our adversary that seeks to snare us by the transgression of them is diligent in tempting, for he goes about, night and day, seeking to devour us;

next, because we ourselves are weak and infirm, by the greater diligence have we need to take heed to ourselves;

thirdly, because of the great loss we sustain by every vantage Satan gets over us; for we find by experience, that as a wound is sooner made than it is healed, so guiltiness of conscience is easily contracted, but not so easily done away.

William Cowper.

Verse 4.Diligently. In this verse he reminds the reader how well he knew that this study of the divine law must necessarily be severe, (earnest), since God has commanded that it should be observed diligently; that is, with the profoundest study; as that which alone is good, and as everything is good which it commands.

Antonio Brucioli, 1534.

Verse 4.—The word translated "diligently," doth signify in the original tongue wonderful much, so that the words go thus: "Thou hast commanded to keep thy precepts wonderful much."

Richard Greenham.

Verse 4- 5.Psa 119:4; this is God's imperative. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Psa 119:5; this should be our optative.

Thomas Adams, 1614.

Verse 4-5.—It is very observable concerning David, that when he prayeth so earnestly, "O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes," he premises this as the reason, Thou hast commanded us to keep thy statutes diligently thereby intimating that the ground of his obedience to God's precepts was the stamp of divine authority enjoining him. To this purpose it is that he saith in Psa 119:94, "I have sought thy precepts," thereby implying that what he sought in his obedience was the fulfilling of God's will. Indeed, that only and properly is obedience which is done intuitu voluntatis divinae, with a respect to and eye upon the divine will. As that is only a divine faith which believeth a truth, not because of human reason but divine revelation, so that only is a true obedience which conforms to the command, not because it may consist with any selfish ends, but because it carrieth in it an impression of Christ's authority.

Nathanael Hardy.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

1. Take notice of the law giver: "Thou" Not thy equal one that will be baffled, but the great God.

2. He hath interposed authority: "hast commanded"

3. The nature of this obedience, or thing commanded: "To keep thy precepts."

Thomas Manton.

Verse 4.The supplementary commandment. God having ordained moral law, supplements it with a commandment prescribing the manner keeping it. Hence:

1. God is not indifferent to men's treatment of his—whether they observe, neglect, or defy it.

2. When observed, discriminates the spirit of its observance, whether slavish, partial, or diligent.

3. There is but one spirit of obedience which satisfies requirement. "Diligently" implies an obedience which is,—careful to ascertain the law—prompt to fulfil it (Psa 119:60)—unreserved—love inspired ("diligently," old meaning, through the Latin, "lovingly," Psa 119:47, 113).

4. Does our obedience come up to this standard?

C. A. D.

Verse 4.Not only is service commanded, but the manner of it. Heartiness, care, perseverance required, because without these it will not be uniform, or victorious over difficulty.

Verse 4.How to obey: "Diligently."

1. Not, partially, but fully.

2. Not doubtfully, but confidently.

3. Not reluctantly, but readily.

4. Slovenly, but carefully.

5. Not coldly, but earnestly.

6. Not fitfully, but regularly.

W. J.

Verse 4-6.

A willing recognition (Psa 119:4).

As ardent as (Psa 119:5).

A happy consequence (Psa 119:6).

W. D.

EXPOSITION VERSE 5

Verse 5.—"O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! "Divine commands should direct us in the subject of our prayers. We cannot of ourselves keep God's statutes as he would have them kept, and yet we long to do so: what resort have we but prayer? We must ask the Lord to work our works in us, or we shall never work out his commandments. This verse is a sigh of regret because the Psalmist feels that he has not kept the precepts diligently, it is a cry of weakness appealing for help to one who can aid, it is a request of bewilderment from one who has lost his way and would fain be directed in it, and it is a petition of faith from one who loves God and trusts in him for grace.

Our ways are by nature opposed to the way of God, and must be turned by the Lord's direction in another direction from that which they originally take or they will lead us down to destruction. God can direct the mind and will without violating our free agency, and he will do so in answer to prayer; in fact, he has begun the work already in those who are heartily praying after the fashion of this verse. It is for present holiness that the desire arises in the heart. O that it were so now with me: but future persevering holiness is also meant, for he longs for grace to keep henceforth and for ever the statutes of the Lord.

The sigh of the text is really a prayer, though it does not exactly take that form. Desires and longings are of the essence of supplication, and it little matters what shape they take. "O that" is as acceptable a prayer as "Our Father."

One would hardly have expected a prayer for direction; rather should we have looked for a petition for enabling. Can we not direct ourselves? What if we cannot row, we can steer. The Psalmist herein confesses that even for the smallest part of his duty he felt unable without grace. He longed for the Lord to influence his will, as well as to strengthen his hands. We want a rod to point out the way as much as a staff to support us in it.

The longing of the text is prompted by admiration of the blessedness of holiness, by a contemplation of the righteous man's beauty of character, and by a reverent awe of the command of God. It is a personal application to the writer's own case of the truths which he had been considering. "O that my ways," etc. It were well if all who hear and read the word would copy this example and turn all that they hear into prayer. We should have more keepers of the statutes if we had more who sighed and cried after the grace to do so.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 5.—In tracing the connection of this verse with the preceding, we cannot forbear to remark how accurately the middle path is preserved, as keeping us at an equal: distance from the idea of self sufficiency to "keep the Lord's statutes," and self justification in neglecting them. The first attempt to render spiritual obedience will quickly convince us of our utter helplessness. We might as soon create a world as create in our hearts one pulse of spiritual life. And yet our inability does not cancel our obligation. It is the weakness of a heart that "cannot be subject to the law of God," for no other reason than because it is "carnal," and therefore "enmity against God." Our inability is our sin, our guilt, our condemnation, and instead of excusing our condition, stops our mouth, and leaves us destitute of any plea of defence before God. Thus our obligation remains in full force. We are bound to obey the commands of God, whether we can or not. What, then, remains for us, but to return the mandate to heaven, accompanied with an earnest prayer, that the Lord would write upon our hearts those statutes to which he requires obedience in his word? "Thou hast commanded us to keep thy statutes diligently." We acknowledge, Lord, our obligation, but we feel our impotency. Lord, help us; we look unto thee. "O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes."

Charles Bridges, 1849.

Verse 5.—"O that," etc. In the former verse the prophet David observes the charge which God gives, and that is, that his commandments be diligently kept: here, then, he observes his own weakness and insufficiency to discharge that great duty, and therefore, as one by the spirit desirous to discharge it, and yet by the flesh not able to discharge it, he breaketh out into these words, "O that my ways were directed," etc. Much like unto a child that being commanded to take up some great weight from the ground, is willing to do it, though not able to do it: or a sick patient advised to walk many turns in his chamber, finds a desire in his heart, though inability in his body to do that which he is directed unto.

Richard Greenham.

Verse 5.—"O that my ways," etc. It is the use and duty of the people of God to turn precepts into prayers. That this is the practice of God's children appeareth: "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God" (Jer 31:18). God had said, "Turn you, and you shall live," and they ask it of God, "Turn us," as he required it of them. It was Austin's prayer, Da quod jubes, et jube quod vis,—Give what thou requirest, and require what thou wilt." It is the duty of the saints; for,

1st, It suits with the Gospel covenant, where precepts and promises go hand in hand; where God giveth what he commandeth, and worketh all our works in us and for us. They are not conditions of the covenant only, but a part of it. What God hath required at our hands, that we may desire at his hands. God is no Pharaoh, to require brick where he giveth no straw. Lex jubet, gracia juvat. The articles of the new covenant are not only put into the form of precepts, but promises. The law giveth no strength to perform anything, but the Gospel offereth grace.

Secondly, Because, by this means, the ends of God are fulfilled. Why doth God require what we cannot perform by our own strength? He doth it,

(1.) To keep up his right.

(2.) To convince us of our impotency, and that, upon a trial, without his grace we cannot do his work.

(3.) That the creature may express his readiness to obey.

(4.) To bring us to lie at his feet for grace.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 5.—"O that," etc. The whole life of a good Christian is an holy desire, saith Augustine; and this is always seconded with endeavour, without the which, affection is like Rachel, beautiful, but barren.—

John Trapp.

Verse 5.—"O that my ways were directed," etc. The original word כון, kun, is sometimes rendered to establish, and, accordingly, it may seem as if the prophet were soliciting for himself the virtue of perseverance. I am rather inclined to understand it as signifying to direct for, although God is plainly instructing us in his law, the obtuseness of our understanding and the perversity of our hearts constantly need the direction of his Spirit.

John Calvin.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 5.—The prayer of the gracious.

1. Suggested by each preceding clause of blessing.

2. By a consciousness of failure.

3. By a loving clinging to the Lord.

Verse 5

1. The end desired: "To keep thy statutes." Not to be safe merely, or happy, but holy.

2. The help implored.

(a) To understand the divine precepts.

(b) To keep them.

G. R.

Verse 5.—Longing to obey.

1. It is a noble aspiration. There is nothing grander than the desire to do this except the doing of it.

2. It is a spiritual aspiration. Not the offspring of our carnal nature. It is the heart of God in the new creature.

3. It is a practicable aspiration. We sometimes sigh for the impossible. But this may be attained by divine grace.

4. It is an intense aspiration. It is the "Oh!" of a burning wish.

5. It is an influential aspiration. It does not evaporate in sighs. It is a mighty incentive implanted by grace which will not let us rest without holiness.

W. J.

EXPOSITION VERSE 6

Verse 6.—"Then shall I not be ashamed." He had known shame, and here he rejoices in the prospect of being freed from it. Sin brings shame, and when sin is gone, the reason for being ashamed is banished. What a deliverance this is, for to some men death is preferable to shame!

"When I have respect unto all thy commandments." When he respects God he shall respect himself and be respected. Whenever we err we prepare ourselves for confusion of face and sinking of heart: if no one else is ashamed of me I shall be ashamed of myself if I do iniquity. Our first parents never knew shame till they made the acquaintance of the old serpent, and it never left them till their gracious God had covered them with sacrificial skins. Disobedience made them naked and ashamed. We, ourselves, will always have cause for shame till every sin is vanquished, and every duty is observed. When we pay a continual and universal respect to the will of the Lord, then we shall be able to look ourselves in the face in the looking glass of the law, and we shall not blush at the sight of men or devils, however eager their malice may be to lay somewhat to our charge.

Many suffer from excessive diffidence, and this verse suggests a cure. An abiding sense of duty will make us bold, we shall be afraid to be afraid. No shame in the presence of man will hinder us when the fear of God has taken full possession of our minds. When we are on the king's highway by daylight, and are engaged upon royal business, we need ask no man's leave. It would be a dishonour to a king to be ashamed of his livery and his service; no such shame should ever crimson the cheek of a Christian, nor will it if he has due reverence for the Lord his God. There is nothing to be ashamed of in a holy life; a man may be ashamed of his pride, ashamed of his wealth, ashamed of his own children, but he will never be ashamed of having in all things regarded the will of the Lord his God.

It is worthy of remark that David promises himself no immunity from shame till he has carefully paid homage to all the precepts. Mind that word "all," and leave not one command out of your respect. Partial obedience still leaves us liable to be called to account for those commands which we have neglected. A man may have a thousand virtues, and yet a single failing may cover him with shame.

To a poor sinner who is buried in despair, it may seem a very unlikely thing that he should ever be delivered from shame. He blushes, and is confounded, and feels that he can never lift up his face again. Let him read these words: "Then shall I not be ashamed." David is not dreaming, nor picturing an impossible case. Be assured, dear friend, that the Holy Spirit can renew in you the image of God, so that you shall yet look up without fear. O for sanctification to direct us in God's way, for then shall we have boldness both towards God and his people, and shall no more crimson with confusion.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 6.—"Then shall I not be ashamed." No one likes to be ashamed or to blush: therefore all things which bring shame after them must be avoided: Ezr 9:6; Jer 3:25; Dan 9:7, 9. As the workman keeps his eye fixed on his pattern, and the scholar on the copy of his writing master; so the godly man ever and anon turns his eyes to the word of his God.

Martin Geier.

Verse 6.—There is a twofold shame; the shame of a guilty conscience; and the shame of a tender conscience. The one is the merit and fruit of sin; the other is an act of grace. This which is here spoken of is to be understood not of a holy self loathing, but a confounding shame.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 6 etc.—Then shall I have confidence both towards God and man, and mine own soul, when I can pronounce of myself that my obedience is impartial, and uniform, and universal, no secret sin reserved for my favour, no least commandment knowingly or willingly neglected by me.

Henry Hammond.

Verse 6.—"Then shall I not be ashamed," etc. You ask, Why is he not ashamed who has respect unto all the commandments of God? I answer, the sense is, as if he had said, The commandments of God are so pure and excellent, that though thou shouldest regard the whole and each one of them most attentively, thou wouldest not find anything that would cause thee to blush. The laws of Lycurgus are praised; but they permitted theft. The statutes of Plato are praised; but they commended the community of wives. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul:" Psa 19:7. It is a mirror, reflecting the beautiful light of the stars on him who looks into it.

Thomas Le Blanc.

Verse 6.—The blessing here spoken of is freedom from shame in looking unto all the commandments. If God hears prayer, and establish the soul in this habit of keeping the commandments, there will be yet this further blessing of being able to look unto every precept without shame. Many men can look at some commandments without shame. Turning to the ten commandments, the honest man feels no shame as he gazes on the eighth, the pure man is free from reproach as he reads the seventh, he who is reverent and hates blasphemy is not rebuked by the thought that he has violated the third, while the filial spirit rather delights in than shuns the fifth. So on with the remainder. Most men perhaps can look at some of the precepts with comparative freedom from reproof. But who can so look unto them all? Yet this, also, the godly heart aspires to. In this verse we find the Psalmist consciously anticipating the truth of a word in the New Testament: "He that offends in one point is guilty of all."

Frederick G. Marchant.

Verse 6.—Ashamed.

I can bear scorpion's stings, tread fields of fire,
In frozen gulfs of cold eternal lie;
Be tossed aloft through tracts of endless void,
But cannot live in shame.

Joanna Baillie, 1762-1851.

Verse 6.—"When I have respect unto all thy commandments". Literally, "In my looking at all thy commandments." That is, in his regarding them; in his feeling that all were equally binding on him; and in having the consciousness that he had not intentionally neglected, violated, or disregarded any of them. There can be no true piety except where a man intends to keep ALL the commands of God. If he makes a selection among them, keeping this one or that one, as may be most convenient for him, or as may be most for his interest, or as may be most popular, it is full proof that he knows nothing of the nature of true religion. A child has no proper respect for a parent if he obeys him only as shall suit his whim or his convenience; and no man can be a pious man who does not purpose, in all honesty, to keep ALL, the commandments of God; to submit to his will in everything.

Albert Barnes.

Verse 6.—"All thy commandments." There is the same reason for obedience to one command as another,—God's authority, who is the Lawgiver (Jas 2:11); and therefore when men choose one duty and overlook others, they do not so much obey the will of God, as gratify their own humours and fancies, pleasing Him only so far as they can please themselves too; and this is not reasonable; we never yield him a "reasonable service," (Rom 12:1) but when it is universal.

Edward Veal (1632-1708), in "The Morning Exercises"

Verse 6.—"All thy commandments." A partial obedience will never satisfy a child of God. The exclusion of any commandment from its supreme regard in the heart is the brand of hypocrisy. Even Herod could "do many things," and yet one evil way cherished, and therefore unforsaken, was sufficient to show the sovereign power of sin undisturbed within. Saul slew all the Amalekites but one; and that single exception in the path of universal obedience marked the unsoundness of his profession, cost him the loss of his throne, and brought him under the awful displeasure of his God. And thus the foot, or the hand, or the right eye, the corrupt unmortified members, bring the whole body to hell. Reserves are the canker of Christian sincerity.

Charles Bridges.

Verse 6.—"Unto all thy commandments." Allow that any of God's commandments may be transgressed, and we shall soon have the whole decalogue set aside.

Adam Clarke, 1760-1832.

Verse 6.—Many will do some good, but are defective in other things, and usually in those which are most necessary. They cull out the easiest and cheapest parts of religion, such as do not contradict their lusts and interests. We can never have sound peace till we regard all. Then shall I not be ashamed when I have respect unto all thy commandments. Shame is fear of a just reproof. This reproof is either from the supreme or the deputy judge. The supreme judge of all our actions is God. This should be our principal care, that we may not be ashamed before him at his coming, nor disapproved in the judgment. But there is a deputy judge which every man has in his own bosom. Our consciences do acquit or condemn us as we are partial or sincere in our duty to God, and much depends on that. 1Jo 3:20-21, "For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God." Well, then, that our hearts may not reprove or reproach us, we should be complete in all the will of God. Alas, otherwise you will never have evidence of your sincerity.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 6.—Such is the mercy of God in Christ to his children, that lie accepts their weak endeavours, joined with sincerity and perseverance in his service, as if they were a full obedience… O, who would not serve such a Lord? You hear servants sometimes complain of their masters as so rigid and strict, that they can never please them; no, not when they do their utmost: but this cannot be charged upon God. Be but so faithful as to do thy best, and God is so gracious that he will pardon thy worst. David knew this gospel indulgence when he said, Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments, when my eye is to all thy commandments. The traveller hath his eye on or towards the place he is going to, though he be as yet short of it; there he would be, and he is putting on all he can to reach it: so stands the saint's heart to all the commands of God; he presseth on to come nearer and nearer to full obedience; such a soul shall never be put to shame.

William Gurnall, 1617-1679.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 6.

—See "Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 1443; "A Clear Conscience."

Verse 6.—Holy confidence the offspring of universal obedience.

Verse 6.—The armour of proof.

1. Universal obedience will give unabashed confidence—

(a) Before the criticising world.

(b) In the court of conscience.

(c) At the throne of grace.

(d) In the day of judgment.

2. But our obedience is far from universal, and leaves us open to

(a) The world's shafts.

(b) The rebukes of conscience.

(c) It paralyses our prayers

(d) It dares not appear for us at the bar of God.

3. Then let us by faith wrap ourselves in the perfect righteousness of Christ. Our answer to the world's cavil. We are not faultless, and for salvation we rest wholly on another. This righteousness is—

(a) The salve of our wounded conscience.

(b) Our mighty plea in prayer.

(c) Our triumphant vindication in the judgment day.

C. A. D.

Verse 6.—Topic:—Self respect depends on respect for one greater than self.

W. D.

EXPOSITION VERSE 7

Verse 7.—"I will praise thee." From prayer to praise is here, a long or a difficult journey. Be sure that he who prays for holiness will one day praise for happiness. Shame having vanished, silence is broken, and the formerly silent man declares, "I will praise thee." He cannot but promise praise while he seeks sanctification. Mark how well he knows upon what head to set the crown. "I will praise thee." He would himself be praiseworthy, but he counts God alone worthy of praise. By the sorrow and shame of sin he measures his obligations to the Lord who would teach him the art of living so that he should clean escape from his former misery.

"With up righteous of heart." His heart would be upright if the Lord would teach him, and then it should praise its teacher. There is such a thing as false and feigned praise, and this the Lord abhors; but there is no music like that which comes from a pure soul which standeth in its integrity. Heart praise is required, uprightness in that heart, and teaching to make the heart upright. An upright heart is sure to bless the Lord, for grateful adoration is a part of its uprightness; no man can be right unless he is upright towards God, and this involves the rendering to him the praise which is his due.

"When I shall have learned thy righteous judgments." We must learn to praise, learn that we may praise, and praise when we have learned. If we are ever to learn, the Lord must teach us, and especially upon such a subject as his judgments, for they are a great deep. While these are passing before our eyes, and we are learning from them, we ought to praise God, for the original is not, "when I have learned," but, "in my learning." While yet I am a scholar I will be a chorister: my upright heart shall praise thine uprightness, my purified judgment shall admire thy judgments. God's providence is a book full of teaching, and to those whose hearts are right it is a music book, out of which they chant to Jehovah's praise. God's word is full of the record of his righteous providence, and as we read it we feel compelled to burst forth into expressions of holy delight and ardent praise. When we both read of God's judgments and become joyful partakers in them, we are doubly moved to song—song in which there is neither formality, nor hypocrisy, nor lukewarmness, for the heart is upright in the presentation of its praise.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 7.—"I will praise thee… when I shall have learned," etc. There is no way to please God entirely and sincerely until we have learned both to know and do his will. Practical praise is the praise God looks after.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 7.—"I will praise thee." What is the matter for which he praises God? It is that he has been taught something of him and by him amongst men. To have learned any tongue, or science, from some school of philosophy, bindeth us to our alma mater. We praise those who can teach a dog, a horse, this or that; but for us ass colts to learn the will of God, how to walk pleasing before him, this should be acknowledged of us as a great mercy from God.

Paul Bayne.

Verse 7.—"Praise thee… when I shall have learned," etc. But when doth David say that he will be thankful? Even when God shall teach him. Both the matter and the grace of thankfulness are from God. As he did with Abraham, he commanded him to worship by sacrifice, and at the same time gave him the sacrifice: so doth he with all his children; for he gives not only good things, for which they should thank him, but in like manner grace by which they are able to thank him.

William Cowper.

Verse 7.—"When I shall have learned." By learning he means his attaining not only to the knowledge of the word, but the practice of it. It is not a speculative light, or a bare notion of things: "Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me" (John 6:45). It is such a learning as the effect will necessarily follow, such a light and illumination as doth convert the soul, and frame our hearts and ways according to the will of God. For otherwise, if we get understanding of the word, nay, if we get it imprinted in our memories, it will do us no good without practice. The best of God's servants are but scholars and students in the knowledge and obedience of his word. For saith David, "When I shall have learned." The professors of the Christian religion were primitively called disciples or learners: Τ πλῆθος τῶν μαθητῶν; "the multitude of the disciples" (Act 6:2.)

Thomas Manton.

Verse 7.—"Learned thy righteous judgments." We see here what David especially desired to learn, namely, the word and will of God: he would ever be a scholar in this school, and sought daily to ascend to the highest form; that learning to know, he might remember; remembering, might believe; believing, might delight; delighting might admire; admiring, might adore; adoring, might practise; and practising, might continue in the way of God's statutes. This learning is the old and true learning indeed, and he is best learned in this art, who turneth God's word into good works.

Richard Greenham.

Verse 7.—"Judgments of thy righteousness" are the decisions concerning right and wrong which give expression to and put in execution the righteousness of God.

Franz Delitzsch.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 7.—The best of praise, the best of learning, the best of blendings, viz., praise and holiness.

Verse 7.

1. The professor of sacred music: "I will praise."

2. The subject of his song: "Thee."

3. The instrument: "Heart."

4. The instrument tuned: "Uprightness of heart."

5. The musician's training academy: "Judgments."

W. D.

Verse 7.—Learning and praising.

1. They are two spiritual exercises. It is possible for learners and singers to be carnal and sensual; but in this case they are employed about the righteous ends, works, and ways of the Lord.

2. They are two appropriate exercises. What can be more seemly than to learn of God and to praise him?

3. They are two profitable exercises. The expectations of the most utilitarian are surpassed. The pleasure and the profit yield abundant reward. Heart, head, life are all benefited.

4. They are two mutually assisting exercises. In the one we are receptive, and in the other communicative. By the one we are fitted to do the other. By the former we are stimulated to do the latter. How wonderfully the lesson is turned into a song, and the learner into a singer.

W. J.

Verse 7.

1. Deficiency confessed: "When I shall have learned." This is essential to growth. It is an admission all can truly make.

2. Progress anticipated. He gave his heart to the work of learning. He sought divine help.

3. Praise promised. He promised it to God alone. He vowed it should be sincere: "with upright heart."

W. Williams, of Lambeth, 1882.

EXPOSITION VERSE 8

Verse 8.—"I will keep thy statutes." A calm resolve. When praise calms down into solid resolution it is well with the soul. Zeal which spends itself in singing, and leaves no practical residuum of holy living, is little worth: "I will praise" should be coupled with "I will keep." This firm resolve is by no means boastful, like Peter's "though I should die with thee, yet will I not forsake thee," for it is followed by a humble prayer for divine help,

"O forsake me not utterly." Feeling his own incapacity, he trembles lest he should be left to himself, and this fear is increased by the horror which he has of falling into sin. The "I will keep" sounds lightly enough now that the humble cry is heard with it. This is a happy amalgam: resolution and dependence. We meet with those who to all appearance humbly pray, but there is no force of character, no decision in them, and consequently the pleading of the closet is not embodied in the life: on the other band, we meet with abundance of resolve attended with an entire absence of dependence upon God, and this makes as poor a character as the former. The Lord grant us to have such a blending of excellences that we may be "perfect and entire, wanting nothing."

This prayer is one which is certain to be heard, for assuredly it must be highly pleasing to God to see a man set upon obeying his will, and therefore it must be most agreeable to him to be present with such a person, and to help him in his endeavours. How can he forsake one who does not forsake his law?

The peculiar dread which tinges this prayer with a sombre hue is the fear of utter forsaking. Well may the soul cry out against such a calamity. To be left, that we may discover our weakness, is a sufficient trial: To be altogether forsaken would be ruin and death. Hiding the face in a little wrath for a moment brings us very low: an absolute desertion would land us ultimately in the lowest hell. But the Lord never has utterly forsaken his servants, and he never will, blessed be his name. If we long to keep his statutes he will keep us; yea, his grace will keep us keeping his law.

There is rather a descent from the mount of benediction with which the first verse began to the almost wail of this eighth verse, yet this is spiritually a growth, for from admiration of goodness we have come to a burning longing after God and communion with him, and an intense horror lest it should not be enjoyed. The sigh of Psa 119:5 is now supplanted by an actual prayer from the depths of a heart conscious of its undesert, and its entire dependence upon divine love. The two, "I wills" needed to be seasoned with some such lowly petition, or it might have been thought that the good man's dependence was in some degree fixed upon his own determination. He presents his resolutions like a sacrifice, but he cries to heaven for the fire.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 8.—This verse, being the last of this portion, is the result of his meditation concerning the utility and necessity of the keeping the law of God there take notice:

1. Of his resolution, "I will keep thy statutes."

2. Of his prayer, "O forsake me not utterly." It is his purpose to keep the law; yet because he is conscious to himself of many infirmities, he prays against desertion.

In the prayer more is intended than is expressed. "O forsake me not," he means, strengthen me in this work; and if thou shouldest desert me, yet but for a while, Lord, not for ever; if in part, not in whole. Four points we may observe hence:

1. That it is a great advantage to come to a resolution as to a course of godliness.

2. Those that resolve upon a course of obedience have need to fly to God's help.

3. Though we fly to God's help, yet sometimes God may withdraw, and seem to forsake us.

4. Though God seem to forsake us, and really doth so in part; yet we should pray that it may not be a total and utter desertion.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 8 (with Verse 7).—"I will keep thy statutes," etc. The resolution to "keep the Lord's statutes" is the natural result of having "learned his righteous judgments." And on this point David illustrates the inseparable and happy union of "simplicity" of dependence, and "godly sincerity" of obedience. Instantly upon forming his resolution, he recollects that the performance of it is beyond the power of human strength, and therefore the next moment he follows it with prayer: "I will keep thy statutes; O forsake me not utterly."

Charles Bridges.

Verse 8.—"I will." David setteth a personal example of holiness. If the king of Israel keep God's statutes, the people of Israel wilt be ashamed to neglect them. Caesar was wont to say, Princes must not say, Ite, go ye, without me; but, Venite, come ye, along with me. So said Gideon (Jdg 7:17): "As ye see me do, so do ye."

R. Greenham.

Verse 8.—"Forsake me not utterly." There is a total and a partial desertion. Those who are bent to obey God may for a while, and in some degree, be left to themselves. We cannot promise ourselves an utter immunity from desertion; but it is not total. We shall find for his great name's sake, "The Lord will not forsake his people" (1Sa 12:22), and, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Heb 13:5). Not utterly, yet in part they may be forsaken. Elijah was forsaken, but not as Ahab: Peter was forsaken in part, but not as Judas, who was utterly forsaken, and made a prey to the Devil. David was forsaken to be humbled and bettered; but Saul was forsaken utterly to be destroyed. Saith Theophylact, God may forsake his people so as to shut out their prayers, (Psa 80:4), so as to interrupt the peace and joy of their heart, and abate their strength, so that their spiritual life may be much at a stand, and sin may break out, and they may fall foully; but they are not utterly forsaken. One way or other, God is still present; present in light sometimes when he is not present in strength, when he manifests the evil of their present condition, so as to make them mourn under it; and present in awakening their desires, though not in giving them enjoyment. As long as there is any esteem of God, he is not yet gone; there is some light and love yet left, manifested by our desires of communion with him.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 8.—"Forsake me not utterly." The desertions of God's elect are first of all partial, that is, such as wherein God doth not wholly forsake them, but in some part. Secondly, temporary, that is, for some space of time, and never beyond the compass of this present life. "For a moment" (saith the Lord in Esay) "in mine anger I hid my face from thee for a little season, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer." And to this purpose David, well acquainted with this matter, prayeth, "Forsake me not overlong." This sort of desertions, though it be but for a time, yet no part of a Christian man's life is free from them; and very often taking deep place in the heart of man, they are of long continuance. David continued in his dangerous fall about the space of a whole year before he was recovered. Luther confesseth of himself, that, after his conversion, he lay three years in desperation. Common observation in such like cases hath made record of even longer times of spiritual forsaking.

Richard Greenham.

Verse 8.—"O forsake me not utterly." This prayer reads like the startled cry of one who was half afraid that he had been presumptuous in expressing the foregoing resolve. He desired to keep the divine statutes, and like Peter he vowed that he would do so; but remembering his own weakness, he recoils from his own venturesomeness, and feels that he must pray. 'I have made a solemn vow, but what if I have uttered it in my own strength? What if God should leave me to myself?' He is filled with terror at the thought. He breaks out with an "O." He implores and beseeches the Lord not to test him by leaving him even for an instant entirely to himself. To be forsaken of God is the worst ill that the most melancholy saint ever dreams of. Thank God, it will never fall to our lot; for no promise can be more express than that which saith, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." This promise does not prevent our praying, but excites us to it. Because God will not forsake his own, therefore do we cry to him in the agony of our feebleness, "O forsake me not utterly."

C. H. S.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 8.

1. A hopeful resolve for life.

2. A dreadful fear.

3. A series of considerations removing the fear.

Verse 8.

1. The resolution: "I will keep," etc.

2. The position: "O forsake me not utterly."

(a) Filial submission. I deserve it occasionally.

(b) Filial confidence. "Not utterly."

3. The connection between the two. Obedience without prayer and prayer without obedience are equally in vain. To make headway both oars must be applied. God cannot abide lazy beggars, who while they can get anything by asking will not work.

G. R.

Verse 8.—"O forsake me not utterly." Divine desertion deprecated.

1. The anguished prayer.

(a) Sovereign forsaking. Sovereignty is not arbitrariness or capriciousness: perhaps its right definition is mysterious kingly love; unknown now, but justified when revealed.

(b) Vicarious forsaking.

(c) Forsaking on account of sin. David, Jonah, and Peter. The seven churches of Asia; the Jews. But to know what "utterly" both in regard to degree and time means, we must go to hell. Like one trembling on the very verge of hell, he prays. Like a belated traveller, in vast wood and surrounded by beasts of prey, sighs at day's departure. Like the watch on the raft seeing the sail that he has shouted himself hoarse to stop fading away in the sky line.

2. Its doctrinal foundation. Where he condescends to dwell, his abode is perpetual. He can only utterly forsake us because he was deceived in us. He can only utterly forsake because baffled. Both imply blasphemy. Thou who hatest putting away thou who hast never yet utterly forsaken any saint, make not me the solitary exception.

3. Historical certainty of answer. The saint and the church in all time delivered. It may tarry till "eventide," as in Cowper's case. His face bore after death an expression of delighted surprise.

W. A.






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