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C. H. Spurgeon :: Psalm 119 Verses 9-16

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Psalm 119 Verses 9-16


Verse 9.—"Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?" How shall he become and remain practically holy? He is but a young man, full of hot passions, and poor in knowledge and experience; how shall he get right, and keep right? Never was there a more important question for any man; never was there a fitter time for asking it than at the commencement of life. It is by no means an easy task which the prudent young man sets before him. He wishes to choose a clean way, to be himself clean in it, to cleanse it of any foulness which may arise in the future, and to end by showing a clear course from the first step to the last; but, alas, his way is already unclean by actual sin which he has already committed, and he himself has within his nature a tendency towards that which defileth. Here, then, is the difficulty, first of beginning aright, next of being always able to know and choose the right, and of continuing in the right till perfection is ultimately reached: this is hard for any man, how shall a youth accomplish it? The way, or life, of the man has to be cleansed from the sins of his youth behind him, and kept clear of the sins which temptation will place before him: this is the work, this is the difficulty.

No nobler ambition can lie before a youth, none to which he is called by so sure a calling; but none in which greater difficulties can be found. Let him not, however, shrink from the glorious enterprise of living a pure and gracious life; rather let him enquire the way by which all obstacles may be overcome. Let him not think that he knows the road to easy victory, nor dream that he can keep himself by his own wisdom; he will do well to follow the Psalmist, and become an earnest enquirer asking how he may cleanse his way. Let him become a practical disciple of the holy God, who alone can teach him how to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, that trinity of defilers by whom many a hopeful life has been spoiled. He is young and unaccustomed to the road, let him not be ashamed often to enquire his way of him who is so ready and so able to instruct him in it.

Our "way" is a subject which concerns us deeply, and it is far better to enquire about it than to speculate upon mysterious themes which rather puzzle than enlighten the mind. Among all the questions which a young man asks, and they are many, let this be the first and chief: "Wherewithal shall I cleanse my way?" This is a question suggested by common sense, and pressed home by daily occurrences; but it is not to be answered by unaided reason, nor, when answered, can the directions be carried out by unsupported human power. It is ours to ask the question, it is God's to give the answer and enable us to carry it out.

"By taking heed thereto according to thy word." Young man, the Bible must be your chart, and you must exercise great watchfulness that your way may be according to its directions. You must take heed to your daily life as well as study your Bible, and you must study your Bible that you may take heed to your daily life. With the greatest care a man will go astray if his map misleads him; but with the most accurate map he will still lose his road if he does not take heed to it. The narrow way was never hit upon by chance, neither did any heedless man ever lead a holy life. We can sin without thought, we have only to neglect the great salvation and ruin our souls; but to obey the Lord and walk uprightly will need all our heart and soul and mind. Let the careless remember this.

Yet the "word" is absolutely necessary; for, otherwise, care will darken into morbid anxiety, and conscientiousness may become superstition. A captain may watch from his deck all night; but if he knows nothing of the coast, and has no pilot on board, he may be carefully hastening on to shipwreck. It is not enough to desire to be right; for ignorance may make us think that we are doing God service when we are provoking him, and the fact of our ignorance will not reverse the character of our action, however much it may mitigate its criminality. Should a man carefully measure out what he believes to be a dose of useful medicine, he will die if it should turn out that he has taken up the wrong vial, and has poured out a deadly poison: the fact that he did it ignorantly will not alter the result. Even so, a young man may surround himself with ten thousand ills, by carefully using an unenlightened judgment, and refusing to receive instruction from the word of God. Wilful ignorance is in itself wilful sin, and the evil which comes of it is without excuse. Let each man, whether young or old, who desires to be holy have a holy watchfulness in his heart, and keep his Holy Bible before his open eye. There he will find every turn of the road marked down, every slough and miry place pointed out, with the way to go through unsoiled; and there, too, he will find light for his darkness, comfort for his weariness, and company for his loneliness, so that by its help he shall reach the benediction of the first verse of the Psalm, which suggested the Psalmist's enquiry, and awakened his desires.

Note how the first section of eight verses has for its first verse, "Blessed are the undefiled in the way." and the second section runs parallel to it, with the question, "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?" The blessedness which is set before us in a conditional promise should be practically sought for in the way appointed. The Lord saith, "For this will I be enquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them."


The eight verses alphabetically arranged:

Verse 9.—By what means shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Verse 10.—By day and by night have I sought thee with my whole heart: O let me not wander from thy commandments.

Verse 11.—By thy grace I have hid thy word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Verse 12.—Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes.

Verse 13.—By the words of my lips will I declare all the judgments of thy mouth.

Verse 14.—By far more than in all riches I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies.

Verse 15.—By thy help I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.

Verse 16.—By thy grace I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

Theodore Kuebler.

Whole eight verses, Psa 119:9-16.—Every verse in the section begins with ב, a house. The subject of the section is, The Law of Jehovah purifying the Life. Key word, זכה (zacah), to be pure, to make pure, to cleanse.

Frederick G. Marchant.

Verse 9.Whole verse. In this passage there is,

1. A question.

2. An answer given.

In the question, there is the person spoken of, "a young man," and his work, "Wherewithal shall he cleanse his way?" In this question there are several things supposed.

1. That we are from the birth polluted with sin; for we must be cleansed. It is not direct "his way," but "cleanse his way."

2. That we should be very early and betimes sensible of this evil; for the question is propounded concerning the young man.

3. That we should earnestly seek for a remedy, how to dry up the issue of sin that runneth upon us. All this is to be supposed.

That which is enquired after is, What remedy there is against it? What course is to be taken? So that the sum of the question is this: How shall a man that is impure, and naturally defiled with sin, be made able, as soon as he cometh to the use of reason, to purge out that natural corruption, and live a holy and pure life to God? The answer is given: "By taking heed thereto according to thy word." Where two things are to be observed.

1. The remedy.

2. The manner how it is applied and made use of.

1. The remedy is the word; by way of address to God, called "Thy word;" because, if God had not given direction about it, we should have been at an utter loss.

2. The manner how it is applied and made use of, "by taking heed thereto," etc.; by studying and endeavouring a holy conformity to God's will.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 9.—"Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?" etc. Aristotle, that great dictator in philosophy, despaired of achieving so great an enterprise as the rendering a young man capable of his ηθικα ακροαματα, "his grave and severe lectures of morality;" for that age is light and foolish, yet headstrong and untractable. Now, take a young man all in the heat and boiling of his blood, in the highest fermentation of his youthful lusts; and, at all these disadvantages, let him enter that great school of the Holy Spirit, the divine Scripture, and commit himself to the conduct of those blessed oracles; and he shall effectually be convinced, by his own experience, of the incredible virtue, the vast and mighty power, of God's word, in the success it hath upon him, and in his daily progression and advances in heavenly wisdom.

John Gibbon (about 1660) in "The Morning Exercises"

Verse 9.—"A young man." A prominent place—one of the twenty-two parts—is assigned to young men in the 119th Psalm. It is meet that it should be so. Youth is the season of impression and improvement, young men are the future props of society, and the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, must begin in youth. The strength, the aspirations, the unmarred expectations of youth, are in requisition for the world; O that they may be consecrated to God.

John Stephen, in "The Utterances of the 119 Psalm," 1861.

Verse 9.—For young man, in the Hebrew the word is נער naar, i.e., "shaken off;" that is to say, from the milder and more tender care of his parents. Thus Mercerus and Savailerius. Secondly, naar may be rendered "shaking off;" that is to say, the yoke, for a young man begins to cast off the maternal, and frequently the paternal, yoke.

Thomas Le Blanc.

Verse 9.—"Cleanse his way." The expression does not absolutely convey the impression that the given young man is in a corrupt and discreditable way which requires cleansing, though this be true of all men originally: Isa 53:6. That which follows makes known that such could not be the case with this young man. The very inquiry shows that his heart is not in a corrupt state. Desire is present, direction is required. The inquiry is—How shall a young man make a clean way—a pure line of conduct—through this defiling world? It is a question, I doubt not, of great anxiety to every convert whose mind is awakened to a sense of sin—how he shall keep clear of the sin, avoid the loose company, and rid himself of the wicked pleasures and practices of this enslaving world. And as he moves on in the line of integrity—many temptations coming in his way, and much inward corruption rising up to control him—how often will the same anxious inquiry arise: Rom 7:24. It is only in a false estimate of one's own strength that any can think otherwise, and the spirit of such false estimate will be brought low. How felt you, my young friends, who have been brought to Christ, in the day of your resolving to be his? But for all such anxiety there seems to be an answer in the text.

Verse 9.—"By taking heed thereto according to thy word." It is not that young men in our day require information: they require the inclination. In the gracious young man there are both, and the word that began feeds the proper motives. The awful threatenings and the sweet encouragements both move him in the right direction. The answer furnished to this anxious inquiry is sufficiently plain and practical. He is directed to the word of God for all direction, and we might say, for all promised assistance. Still the matter presented in this light does not appear to me to bring out the full import of the passage. The inquiry to me would seem to extend over the whole verse. (This opinion is confirmed by the quotation which follows from Cowles.) There is required the cleansing that his way be according to the Divine Word. The enquiry is of the most enlarged comprehension, and will be made only by one who can say that he has been honestly putting himself in the way, as the young man in Psa 119:10-11; and it can be answered only by the heart that takes in all the strength provided by the blessed God, as is expressed here in Psa 119:12. The Psalmist makes the inquiry, he shows how earnestly he had sought to be in the right way, and immediately he finds all his strength in God. Thus he declares how he has been enabled to do rightly, and how he will do rightly in the future.

John Stephen.

Verse 9.—Instead of question and answer both in this one verse, the Hebrew demands the construction with question only, leaving the answer to be inferred from the drift of the entire Psalm—thus: Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way to keep it according to thy word? This translation gives precisely the force of the last clause. Hebrew punctuation lacks the interrogation point, so that we have no other clue but the form of the sentence and the sense by which to decide where the question ends.

Henry Cowles, 1872.

Verse 9.—"His way".

ארח orach, which we translate way here, signifies a track, a rut, such as is made by the wheel of a cart or chariot. A young sinner has no broad beaten path; he has his private ways of offence, his secret pollutions; and how shall he be cleansed from these? how can he be saved from what will destroy mind, body, and soul? Let him hear what follows; the description is from God.

1. He is to consider that his way is impure; and how abominable this must make him appear in the sight of God.

2. He must examine it according to God's word, and carefully hear what God has said concerning him and it.

3. He must take heed to it, לשּׁמר, lishmor, to keep, guard, and preserve his way—his general course of life, from all defilement.

Adam Clarke.

Verse 9.—"By taking heed," etc. I think the words may be better rendered and supplied thus, by observing what is according to thy word; which shows how a sinner is to be cleansed from his sins by the blood of Christ, and justified by his righteousness, and be clean through his word; and also how and by whom the work of sanctification is wrought in the heart, even by the Spirit of God, by means of the word, and what is the rule of a man's walk and conversation: he will find the word of God to be profitable, to inform in the doctrines of justification and pardon, to acquaint him with the nature of regeneration and sanctification; and for the correction and amendment of his life and manners, and for his instruction in every branch of manners: 2Ti 3:16.

John Gill, 1697-1771.

Verse 9.—"By taking heed," There is an especial necessity for this "Take heed," because of the proneness of a young man to thoughtlessness, carelessness, presumption, self confidence. There is an especial necessity for "taking heed," because of the difficulty of the way. "Look well to thy goings;" it is a narrow path. "Look well to thy goings;" it is a new path. "Look well to thy goings;" it is a slippery path. "Look well to thy goings;" it is an eventful path.

James Harrington Evans, 1785-1849.

Verse 9.—"According to thy word." God's word is the glass which discovereth all spiritual deformity, and also the water and soap which washes and scours it away.

Paul Bayne.

Verse 9.—"According to thy word." I do not say that there are no other guides, no other fences. I do not say that conscience is worth nothing, and conscience in youth is especially sensitive and tender; I do not say that prayer is not a most valuable fence, but prayer without taking heed is only another name for presumption: prayer and carelessness can never walk hand in hand together; and I therefore say that there is no fence nor guard that can so effectually keep out every enemy as prayerful reading of the word of God, bringing every solicitation from the world or from companions, every suggestion from our own hearts and passions, to the test of God's word:—What says the Bible? The answer of the Bible, with the teaching and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, will in all the intricacies of our road be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

Barton Bouchier.

Verse 9.—"Thy word." The word is the only weapon (like Goliath's sword, none to equal this), for the hewing down and cutting off of this stubborn enemy, our lusts. The word of God can master our lusts when they are in their greatest pride: if ever lust rageth at one time more than another, it is when youthful blood boils in our veins. Youth is giddy, and his lust is hot and impetuous: his sun is climbing higher still, and he thinks it is a great while to night; so that it must be a strong arm that brings a young man off his lusts, who hath his palate at best advantage to taste sensual pleasure. The rigour of his strength affords him more of the delights of the flesh than crippled age can expect, and he is farther from the fear of death's gunshot, as he thinks, than old men who are upon the very brink of the grave, and carry the scent of the earth about them, into which they are suddenly to be resolved. Well, let the word of God meet this young gallant in all his bravery, with his feast of sensual delights before him, and but whisper a few syllables in his car, give his conscience but a prick with the point of its sword, and it shall make him fly in as great haste from them all, as Absalom's brethren did from the feast when they saw Amnon their brother murdered at the table. When David would give the young man a receipt to cure him of his lusts, how he may cleanse his whole course and way, he bids him only wash in the waters of the word of God.

William Gurnall.

Verse 9.—The Scriptures teach us the best way of living, the noblest way of suffering, and the most comfortable way of dying.

John Flavel, 1627-1691.


Verse 9-16.—Sanctification by the word,
declared generally (Psa 119:9);
sought personally (Psa 119:10-12);
published to others (Psa 119:13);
personally rejoiced in (Psa 119:14-16).

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

Verse 9.

1. The young man's question.

2. The wise man's reply.

Verse 9.—In the word of God, when applied to the heart by the Spirit of God, there is,

1. A sufficiency of light to discover to men the need of cleansing their way.

2. Sufficiency of energy for the cleansing their way.

3. A sufficiency of pleasure to encourage them to choose to cleanse their way.

4. A sufficiency of support to sustain them in their cleansed way.

Theophilus Jones, in a "Sermon to the Young," 1829.

Verse 9.—The word of God provides for the cleansing of the way.

1. By pointing out to the young man the evil of the way.

2. By discovering an infallible remedy for the disorders of his nature—the salvation that is by Jesus Christ.

3. By becoming a directory in all the paths of duty to which he may be called.

Daniel Wilson, 1828.

Verse 9.—The Psalmist's rules for the attainment of holiness deduced from his own experience.

1. Seek God with thy "whole heart" (Psa 119:2). Be truly sensible of your wants.

2. Keep and remember what God says (Psa 119:11): "Thy word have I hidden," etc.

3. Reduce all this to practice (Psa 119:11): "That I might not sin against thee."

4. Bless God for what he has given (Psa 119:12): "Blessed art thou," etc.

5. Ask more (Psa 119:12): "Teach me thy statute,"

6. Be ready to communicate his knowledge to others (Psa 119:13): "With my lips have I declared."

7. Let it have a due effect on thy own heart (Psa 119:14): "I have rejoiced," etc.

8. Meditate frequently upon them (Psa 119:15): "I will meditate," etc.

9. Deeply reflect on them (Psa 119:16): "I will have respect," etc. As food undigested will not nourish the body, so the word of God not considered with deep meditation and reflection will not feed the soul.

10. Having pursued the above course he should continue in it, and then his happiness would be secured (Psa 119:16): "I will not forget thy word: I will" (in consequence) "delight myself in thy statutes."

Adam Clarke.

Verse 9.—A question and answer for the young. The Bible is a book for young people. Here it intimates,

1. That the young man's way needs to be cleansed. His way of thinking, feeling, speaking, acting.

2. That he must take an active part in the work. The efficient cause in the operation is God. Other good influences are also at work. But the young man must be in hearty and practical sympathy with the work.

3. That he must use the Bible for the purpose. This records facts, presents incitations, enjoins precepts, utters promises, and sets up examples, all which are adapted to make a young man holy. By reading, studying, and imitating the Scriptures in a lowly and prayerful spirit the young shall escape pollution and ornament society.

W. J.

Verse 9.—A word to the young.

1. Show how the young man is in special danger of defiling his way. Through,

(a) His strong passions.

(b) His immature judgment.

(c) His inexperience.

(d) His rash self sufficiency.

(e) His light companions, and,

(f) His general heedlessness.

2. The circumspection he should use to cleanse his way. "Taking heed,"

(a) Of his evil propensities.

(b) Of his companions.

(c) Of his pursuits.

(d) Of the tendencies of all he does.

3. The infallible guide by which his circumspection is to be regulated: "according to thy word" that is to say,

(a) Its precepts.

(b) Its examples.

(c) Its motives.

(d) Its warnings.

(e) Its allurements.

C. A. D.


Verse 10.—"With my whole heart have I sought thee." His heart had gone after God himself: he had not only desired to obey his laws, but to commune with his person. This is a right royal search and pursuit, and well may it be followed with the whole heart. The surest mode of cleansing the way of our life is to seek after God himself, and to endeavour to abide in fellowship with him. Up to the good hour in which he was speaking to his Lord, the Psalmist had been an eager seeker after the Lord, and if faint, he was still pursuing. Had he not sought the Lord he would never have been so anxious to cleanse his way.

It is pleasant to see how the writer's heart turns distinctly and directly to God. He had been considering an important truth in the preceding verse, but here he so powerfully feels the presence of his God that he speaks to him, and prays to him as to one who is near. A true heart cannot long live without fellowship with God.

His petition is founded on his life's purpose: he is seeking the Lord, and he prays the Lord to prevent his going astray in or from his search. It is by obedience that we follow after God, hence the prayer,

O let me not wander from thy commandments; for if we leave the ways of God's appointment we certainly shall not find the God who appointed them. The more a man's whole heart is set upon holiness the more does he dread falling into sin; he is not so much fearful of deliberate transgression as of inadvertent wandering: he cannot endure a wandering look, or a rambling thought, which might stray beyond the pale of the precept. We are to be such wholehearted seekers that we have neither time nor will to be wanderers, and yet with all our wholeheartedness we are to cultivate a jealous fear lest even then we should wander from the path of holiness.

Two things may be very like and yet altogether different: saints are "strangers"—"I am a stranger in the earth" (Psa 119:19), but they are not wanderers: they are passing through an enemy's country, but their route is direct; they are seeking their Lord while they traverse this foreign land. Their way is hidden from men; but yet they have not lost their way.

The man of God exerts himself, but does not trust himself: his heart is in his walking with God: but he knows that even his whole strength is not enough to keep him right unless his King shall be his keeper, and he who made the commands shall make him constant in obeying them: hence the prayer, "O let me not wander." Still, this sense of need was never turned into an argument for idleness; for while he prayed to be kept in the right road he took care to run in it with his whole heart seeking the Lord.

It is curious again to note how the second part of the Psalm keeps step with the first; for where Psa 119:2 pronounces that man to be blessed who seeks the Lord with his whole heart, the present verse claims the blessing by pleading the character: "With my whole heart have I sought thee."


Verse 10.—"With my whole heart have I sought thee." There are very few of us that are able to say with the prophet David that we have sought God with our whole heart; to wit, with such integrity and pureness that we have not turned away from that mark as from the most principal thing of our salvation.

John Calvin.

Verse 10.—"With my whole heart have I sought thee." Sincerity is in every expression; the heart is open before God. The young man can so speak to the Searcher of hearts …Let us consider the directness of this kind of converse with God. We use round about expressions in drawing nigh to God. We say, 'With my whole heart would I seek thee.' We are afraid to be direct…See how decided in his conscious acting is the young man before you, how open and confiding he is, and such you will find to be the characteristic of his pious mind throughout the varied expressions unfolded in this Psalm. Here he declares to the Omniscient One that he had sought him with all his heart. He desired to realize God in everything.

John Stephen.

Verse 10. (first clause).—God alone sees the heart; the heart alone sees God.

John Donne, 1573-1631.

Verse 10.—"O let me not wander from thy commandments." David after he had protested that he sought God with his whole heart, besought God that he would not suffer him to decline from his commandments. Hereby let us see what great need we have to call upon God, to the end he may hold us with a mighty strong hand. Yea, and though he hath already mightily put to his healing hand, and we also know that he hath bestowed upon us great and manifest graces; yet this is not all: for there are so many vices and imperfections in our nature, and we are so feeble and weak that we have very great need daily to pray unto him, yea, and that more and more, that he will not suffer us to decline from his commandments.

John Calvin.

Verse 10.—The more experience a man hath in the ways of God, the more sensible is he of his own readiness to wander insensibly, by ignorance and inadvertency, from the ways of God; but the young soldier dares run hazards, ride into his adversary's camp, and talk with temptation, being confident he cannot easily go wrong; he is not so much in fear as David who here cries, "O let me not wander."

David Dickson 1583-1662.


Verse 10.

1. A grateful review.

2. An anxious forecast.

3. A commendable prayer.

Verse 10.—The believer's two great solicitudes.

1. What he is anxious to find: "I have sought thee."

2. What he is afraid of losing: "Thy commandments."

W. D.

Verse 10.—Sincerity not self sufficiency.

1. The believer must be conscious of wholeheartedness in seeking God.

2. But consciousness of sincerity does not warrant self sufficiency.

3. The most wholehearted seeker must still look to divine grace to keep him from wandering.

C. A. D.


Verse 11.—When a godly man sues for a favour from God he should carefully use every means for obtaining it, and accordingly, as the Psalmist had asked to be preserved from wandering, he here shows us the holy precaution which he had taken to prevent his falling into sin.

"Thy word have I hid in mine heart." His heart would be kept by the word because he kept the word in his heart. All that he had of the word written, and all that had been revealed to him by the voice of God,—all, without exception, he had stored away in his affections, as a treasure to be preserved in a casket, or as a choice seed to be buried in a fruitful soil: what soil more fruitful than a renewed heart, wholly seeking the Lord? The word was God's own, and therefore precious to God's servant. He did not wear a text on his heart as a charm, but he hid it in his heart as a rule. He laid it up in the place of love and life, and it filled the chamber with sweetness and light. We must in this imitate David, copying his heart work as well as his outward character. First, we must mind that what we believe is truly God's word; that being done, we must hide or treasure it each man for himself; and we must see that this is done, not as a mere feat of the memory, but as the joyful act of the affections.

"That I might not sin against thee." Here was the object aimed at. As one has well said,—Here is the best thing—"thy word;" hidden in the best place,—"in my heart;" for the best of purposes,—"that I might not sin against thee." This was done by the Psalmist with personal care, as a man carefully hides away his money when he fears thieves,—in this case the thief dreaded was sin. Sinning "against God" is the believer's view of moral evil; other men care only when they offend against men. God's word is the best preventive against offending God, for it tells us his mind and will, and tends to bring our spirit into conformity with the divine Spirit. No cure for sin in the life is equal to the word in the seat of life, which is the heart. There is no hiding from sin unless we hide the truth in our souls.

A very pleasant variety of meaning is obtained by laying stress upon the words "thy" and "thee." He speaks to God, he loves the word because it is God's word, and he hates sin because it is sin against God himself. If he vexed others, he minded not so long as he did not offend his God. If we would not cause God displeasure we must treasure up his own word.

The personal way in which the man of God did this is also noteworthy: "With my whole heart have I sought thee." Whatever others might choose to do he had already made his choice and placed the Word in his innermost soul as his dearest delight, and however others might transgress, his aim was after holiness: "That I might not sin against thee." This was not what he purposed to do, but what he had already done: many are great at promising, but the Psalmist had been true in performing: hence he hoped to see a sure result. When the word is hidden in the heart the life shall be hidden from sin.

The parallelism between the second octave and the first is still continued. Psa 119:3 speaks of doing no iniquity, while this verse treats of the method of not sinning. When we form an idea of a blessedly holy man (Psa 119:3) it becomes us to make an earnest effort to attain unto the same sacred innocence and divine happiness, and this can only be through heart piety founded on the Scriptures.


Verse 11.—"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." There laid up in the heart the word has effect. When young men only read the letter of the Book, the word of promise and instruction is deprived of much of its power. Neither will the laying of it up in the mere memory avail. The word must be known and prized, and laid up in the heart; it must occupy the affection as well as the understanding; the whole mind requires to be impregnated with the word of God. Revealed things require to be seen. Then the word of God in the heart—the threatenings, the promises, the excellencies of God's word—and God himself realized, the young man would be inwardly fortified; the understanding enlightened, conscience quickened—he would not sin against his God.

John Stephen.

Verse 11.—"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." In proportion as the word of the King is present in the heart, "there is power" against sin (Ecc 8:4). Let us use this means of absolute power more, and more life and more holiness will be ours

Frances Ridley Havergal, 1836-1879.

Verse 11.—"Thy word have I hid in mine heart." It is fit that the word, being "more precious than gold, yea, than much fine gold," a peerless pearl, should not be laid up in the porter's lodge only—the outward ear; but even in the cabinet of the mind.

Dean Boys, quoted by James Ford.

Verse 11.—"Thy word have I hid in mine heart." There is great difference between Christians and worldlings. The worldling hath his treasures in jewels without him; the Christian hath them within. Neither indeed is there any receptacle wherein to receive and keep the word of consolation but the heart only. If thou have it in thy mouth only, it shall be taken from thee; if thou have it in thy book only, thou shalt miss it when thou hast most to do with it; but if thou lay it up in thy heart, as Mary did the words of the angel, no enemy shall ever be able to take it from thee, and thou shalt find it's comfortable treasure in time of thy need.

William Cowper.

Verse 11.—"Thy word have I hid in mine heart." This saying, to hide, imports that David studied not to be ambitious to set forth himself and to make a glorious show before men; but that he had God for a witness of that secret desire which was within him. He never looked to worldly creatures; but being content that he had so great a treasure, he knew full well that God who had given it him would so surely and safely guard it, as that it should not be laid open to Satan to be taken away. Saint Paul also declareth unto us (1Ti 1:19) that the chest wherein this treasure must be hid is a good conscience. For it is said, that many being void of this good conscience have lost also their faith, and have been robbed thereof. As if a man should forsake his goods and put them in hazard, without shutting a door, it were an easy matter for thieves to come in and to rob and spoil him of all; even so, if we leave at random to Satan the treasures which God hath given us in his word, without it be hidden in this good conscience, and in the very bottom of, our heart as David here speaketh, we shall be spoiled thereof.

John Calvin.

Verse 11.—"Thy word have I hid in mine heart."—Remembered, approved, delighted in it.

William Nicholson, (1671), in "David's Harp Strung and Tuned"

Verse 11.—"Thy word." The saying, thy oracle; any communication from God to the soul, whether promise, or command, or answer. It means a direct and distinct message, while "word" is more general, and applies to the whole revelation. This is the ninth of the ten words referring to the revelation of God in this Psalm

James G. Murphy, 1875.

Verse 11.—"In my heart." Bernard observes, bodily bread in the cupboard may he eaten of mice, or moulder and waste: but when it is taken down into the body, it is free from such danger. If God enable thee to take thy soul food into thine heart, it is free from all hazards.

George Swinnock, 1627-1673.

Verse 11.—"That I might not sin against thee." Among many excellent virtues of the word of God, this is one: that if we keep it in our heart, it keeps us from sin, which is against God and against ourselves. We may mark it by experience, that the word is first stolen either out of the mind of man, and the remembrance of it is away; or at least out of the affection of man; so that the reverence of it is gone, before that a man can be drawn to the committing of a sin. So long as Eve kept by faith the word of the Lord, she resisted Satan; but from the time she doubted of that, which God made most certain by his word, at once she was snared.

William Cowper.


Verse 11.—The best thing, in the best place, for the best of purposes.


Verse 12.—"Blessed art thou, O LORD." These are words of adoration arising out of an intense admiration of the divine character, which the writer is humbly aiming to imitate. He blesses God for all that he has revealed to him, and wrought in him; he praises him with warmth of reverent love, and depth of holy wonder. These are also words of perception uttered from a remembrance of the great Jehovah's infinite happiness within himself. The Lord is and must be blessed, for he is the perfection of holiness; and this is probably the reason why this is used as a plea in this place. It is as if David had said—I see that in conformity to thyself my way to happiness must lie, for thou art supremely blessed; and if I am made in my measure like to thee in holiness, I shall also partake in thy blessedness.

No sooner is the word in the heart than a desire arises to mark and learn it. When food is eaten, the next thing is to digest it; and when the word is received into the soul, the first prayer is—Lord, teach me its meaning.

"Teach me thy statutes;" for thus only can I learn the way to be blessed. Thou art so blessed that I am sure thou wilt delight in blessing others, and this boon I crave of thee that. I may be instructed in thy commands. Happy men usually rejoice to make others happy, and surely the happy God will willingly impart the holiness which is the fountain of happiness. Faith prompted this prayer and based it, not upon anything in the praying man, but solely upon the perfection of the God to whom he made supplication. Lord, thou art blessed, therefore bless me by teaching me.

We need to be disciples or learners—"teach me;" but what an honour to have God himself for a teacher: how bold is David to beg the blessed God to teach him! Yet the Lord put the desire into his heart when the sacred word was hidden there, and so we may be sure that he was not too bold in expressing it. Who would not wish to enter the school of such a Master to learn of him the art of holy living? To this Instructor we must submit ourselves if we would practically keep the statutes of righteousness. The King who ordained the statutes knows best their meaning, and as they are the outcome of his own nature he can best inspire us with their spirit. The petition commends itself to all who wish to cleanse their way, since it is most practical, and asks for teaching, not upon recondite lore, but upon statute law. If we know the Lord's statutes we have the most essential education.

Let us each one say, "Teach me thy statutes." This is a sweet prayer for everyday use. It is a step above that of Psa 119:10, "O let me not wander," as that was a rise beyond that of Psa 119:8, "O forsake me not utterly." It finds its answer in Psa 119:98-100: "Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies," etc., but not till it had been repeated even to the third time in the "Teach me" of Psa 119:33, 66), all of which I beg my reader to peruse. Even after this third pleading the prayer occurs again in so many words in Psa 119:124, 139, and the same longing comes out near the close of the Psalm in Psa 119:171 —"My lips shall utter praise when thou hast taught me thy statutes."


Verse 12.—"Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes." This verse contains a prayer, with the reason of the prayer. The prayer is, "Teach me thy statutes;" the reason, moving him to seek this, ariseth of a consideration of that infinite good which is in God. He is a blessed God, the fountain of all felicity, without whom no welfare or happiness can be to the creature. And for this cause David earnestly desiring to be in fellowship and communion with God, which he knows none can attain unto unless he be taught of God to know God's way and walk in it; therefore, I say, he prayeth the more earnestly that the Lord would teach him his statutes. Oh that we also could wisely consider this, that our felicity stands in fellowship with God.

William Cowper.

Verse 12.—In this verse we have two things,

1. An acknowledgment of God's blessedness, "Blessed art thou, O LORD;" i.e., being possessed of all fulness, thou hast an infinite complacency in the enjoyment of thyself; and thou art he alone in the enjoyment of whom I can be blessed and happy; and thou art willing and ready to give out of thy fulness, so that thou art the fountain of blessedness to thy creatures.

2. A request or petition, "Teach me thy statutes;" q.d., seeing thou hast all fulness in thyself, and art sufficient to thy own blessedness; surely thou hast enough for me. There is enough to content thyself, therefore enough to satisfy me. This encourages me in my address.

Again,—Teach me that I may know wherein to seek my blessedness and happiness, even in thy blessed self; and that I may know how to come by the enjoyment of thee, so that I may be blessed in thee.

Further,—Thou art blessed originally, the Fountain of all blessing; thy blessedness is an everlasting fountain, a full fountain; always pouring out blessedness: O, let me have this blessing from thee, this drop from the fountain.

William Wisheart, in "Theologia, or, Discourses of God," 1716.

Verse 12.—Since God is blessed, we cannot but desire to learn his ways. If we see any earthly being happy, we have a great desire to learn out his course, as thinking by it we might be happy also. Every one would sail with that man's wind who prospereth; though in earthly things it holdeth not alway: yet a blessed God cannot by any way of his bring to other than blessedness. Thus, he who is blessedness itself, he will be ready to communicate his ways to other: the most excellent things are most communicative.

Paul Bayne.

Verse 12.—He had Nathan, he had priests to instruct him, himself was a prophet; but all their teaching was nothing without God's blessing, and therefore he prays, "Teach me."

William Nicholson.

Verse 12.—These words convey more than the simple imparting of knowledge, for he said before he had such, when he said he hid God's words in his heart; and in Psa 119:7 he said he "had learned the judgments of his justice:" it includes grace to observe his law.

Robert Bellarmine, 1542-1621.

Verse 12.—If this were practised now, to join prayer with hearing, that when we offer ourselves to be taught of men, we would there with send up prayer to God, before preaching, in time of preaching and after preaching, we would soon prove more learned and religious than we are.

William Cowper.

Verse 12.—Whoever reads this Psalm with attention must observe in it one great characteristic, and that is, how decisive are its statements that in keeping the commandments of God nothing can be done by human strength; but that it is he who must create the will for the performance of such duty. The Psalmist entreats the Lord to open his eyes that he may behold the wondrous things of the law, to teach him his statutes, to remove from him the way of lying, to incline his heart unto his testimonies, and not to covetousness, to turn away his eyes from beholding vanity, and not to take the word of truth utterly out of his mouth. Each of these petitions shows how deeply impressed he was of his entire helplessness as regarded himself, and how completely dependent upon God he felt himself for any advancement he could hope to make in the knowledge of the truth. All his studies in the divine law, all his aspirations after holiness of life, he was well assured could never meet with any measure of success, except by the grace of God preventing and cooperating, implanting in him a right desire, and acting as an infallible guide, whereby alone he would be enabled to arrive at the proper sense of Holy Scripture, as well as to correct principles of action in his daily walk before God and man.

George Phillips, 1846.

Verse 12.—If it be asked why the Psalmist entreats to be taught, when he has just before been declaring his knowledge, the answer is that he seeks instruction as to the practical working of those principles which he has learnt theoretically.

Michael Ayguan, (1416) in Neale and Littledale.


Verse 12.—The blessedness of God, and the mode of entering into it.

Verse 12.

1. David gives glory to God: "Blessed art thou, O LORD."

2. He asks grace from God.

Matthew Henry.

Verse 12.

1. What it is, or how God doth teach us.

(a) God doth teach us outwardly; by his ordinances, by the ministry of men.

(b) Inwardly; by the inspiration and work of the Holy Ghost.

2. The necessity of his teaching.

3. The benefit and utility of it.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 12.—Desire for Divine Teaching excited by the Recognition of Divine Blessedness.

1. Unveil in some inadequate degree the happiness of the ever blessed God, arising from his purity, benevolence, love.

2. Show the way in which man may become partaker of that blessedness by conformity to his precepts.

3. Utter the prayer of the text.

C. A. D.


Verse 13.—"With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth." The taught one of Psa 119:12 is here a teacher himself. What we learn in secret we are to proclaim upon the housetops. So had the Psalmist done. As much as he had known he had spoken. God has revealed many of his judgments by his mouth, that is to say, by a plain and open revelation; these it is our duty to repeat, becoming, as it were, so many exact echoes of his one infallible voice. There are judgments of God which are a great deep, which he does not reveal, and with these it will be wise for us not to intermeddle. What the Lord has veiled it would be presumption for us to uncover; but, on the other hand, what the Lord has revealed it would be shameful for us to conceal. It is a great comfort to a Christian in time of trouble when in looking back upon his past life he can claim to have done his duty by the word of God. To have been, like Noah, a preacher of righteousness, is a great joy when the floods are rising, and the ungodly world is about to be destroyed. Lips which have been used in proclaiming God's statutes are sure to be acceptable when pleading God's promises. If we have had such regard to that which cometh out of God's mouth that we have published it far and wide, we may rest quite as assured that God will have respect unto the prayers which come out of our mouths.

It will be an effectual method of cleansing a young man's way if he addicts himself continually to preaching the gospel. He cannot go far wrong in judgment whose whole soul is occupied in setting forth the judgments of the Lord. By teaching we learn; by training the tongue to holy speech we master the whole body; by familiarity with the divine procedure we are made to delight in righteousness; and thus in a threefold manner our way is cleansed by our proclaiming the way of the Lord.


Verse 13.—"With my lips have I declared," etc. Above all, be careful to talk of that to others which you do daily learn yourself, and out of the abundance of your heart speak of good things unto men.

Richard Greenham.

Verse 13.—Having hid the purifying word in his heart, the Psalmist will "declare it with his lips;" and as it is so pure throughout, he will declare all in it, without exception. When the fountain of the heart is purified, the streams from the lips will be pure also. The declaring lips of the Psalmist are here placed in antithesis to the mouth of Jehovah, by which the judgments were originally pronounced.

Frederick G. Marchant.

Verse 13.—As the consciousness of having communicated our knowledge and our spiritual gifts is a means of encouragement to seek a greater measure, so it is an evidence of the sincerity and fruitfulness of what knowledge we have: "Teach me thy statutes. With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth."

David Dickson.

Verse 13.—"With my lips," etc. The tongue is a most excellent member of the body, being well used to the glory of God and the edification of others; and yet it cannot pronounce without help of the lips. The Lord hath made the body of man with such marvellous wisdom, that no member of it can say to another, I have no need of thee; but such is man's dulness, that he observes not how useful unto him is the smallest member in the body, till it be taken from him. If our lips were clasped for a time, and our tongue thus shut up, we would esteem it a great mercy to have it loosed again; as that cripple, when he found the use of his feet, leaped for joy and glorified God.

William Cowper.

Verse 13.—"Declared all the judgments." He says in another place (Psa 36:6), "Thy judgments are like a great deep." As the apostle says (Rom 11:33-34), "O the depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out. For who hath known the mind of the Lord?" If the judgments are unsearchable, how then says the prophet, "I have declared all the judgments of thy mouth?" We answer,—peradventure there are judgments of God which are not the judgments of his mouth, but of his heart and hand only.

We make a distinction, for we have no fear that the sacred Scripture weakens itself by contradictions. It has not said, The judgments of his mouth are a great deep; but "Thy judgments." Neither has the apostle said, The unsearchable judgments of his mouth: but "His unsearchable judgments." We may regard the judgments of God, then, as those hidden ones which he has not revealed to us; but the judgments of his mouth, those which he has made known, and has spoken by the mouth of the prophets.

Ambrose, 340-397.


Verse 13.—Speech fitly employed. It is occupied with a choice subject, a full subject, a subject profitable to men, and glorifying to God.


Verse 14.—"I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies." Delight in the word of God is a sure proof that it has taken effect upon the heart, and so is cleansing the life. The Psalmist not only says that he does rejoice, but that he has rejoiced. For years it had been his joy and bliss to give his soul to the teaching of the word. His rejoicing had not only arisen out of the word of God, but out of the practical characteristics of it. The Way was as dear to him as the Truth and the Life. There was no picking and choosing with David, or if indeed he did make a selection, he chose the most practical first.

Verse 14.—"As much as in all riches." He compared his intense satisfaction with God's will with that of a man who possesses large and varied estates, and the heart to enjoy them. David knew the riches that come of sovereignty and which grow out of conquest; he valued the wealth which proceeds from labour, or is gotten by inheritance: he knew "all riches." The gracious king had been glad to see the gold and silver poured into his treasury that he might devote vast masses of it to the building of the Temple of Jehovah upon Mount Zion. He rejoiced in all sorts of riches consecrated and laid up for the noblest uses, and yet the way of God's word had given him more pleasure than even these. Observe that his joy was personal, distinct, remembered, and abundant. Wonder not that in the previous verse he glories in having spoken much of that which he had so much enjoyed: a man may well talk of that which is his delight.


Verse 14.—"I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, etc. The Psalmist saith not only, "I have rejoiced in thy testimonies," but, "in the way of thy testimonies." Way is one of the words by which the law is expressed. God's laws are ways that lead us to God; and so it may be taken here, "the way which thy testimonies point out, and call me unto;" or else his own practice, as a man's course is called his way; his delight was not in speculation or talk, but in obedience and practice: "in the way of thy testimonies." He tells us the degree of his joy, "as much as in all riches:" as much, not to show the equality of these things, as if we should have the same affection for the world as for the word of God; but "as much," because we have no higher comparison. This is that which worldlings dote upon, and delight in; now as much as they rejoice in worldly possessions, so much do I rejoice in the way of thy testimonies. For I suppose David doth not compare his own delight in the word, with his own delight in wealth; but his own choice and delight, with the delight and choice of others. If he had spoken of himself both in the one respect and in the other, the expression was very high. David who was called to a crown, and in a capacity of enjoying much in the world, gold, silver, land, goods, largeness of territory, and a compound of all that which all men jointly, and all men severally do possess; yet was more pleased in the holiness of God's ways, than in all the world: "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mar 8:36).

Thomas Manton.

Verse 14.—"The way of thy testimonies." The testimony of God is his word, for it testifies his will; the "way" of his testimony is the practice of his word, and doing of that which he hath declared to be his will, and wherein he hath promised to show us his love. David found not this sweetness in hearing, reading, and professing the word only; but in practising of it: and in very deed, the only cause why we find not the comfort that is in the word of God is that we practise it not by walking in the way thereof. It is true, at the first it is bitter to nature, which loves carnal liberty, to render itself as captive to the word: laboriosa virtutis via, and much pains must be taken before the heart be subdued; but when it is once begun, it renders such joy as abundantly recompenses all the former labour and grief.

William Cowper.

Verse 14.—Riches are acquired with difficulty, enjoyed with trembling, and lost with bitterness.

Bernard, 1091-1157.

Verse 14.—A poor, good woman said, in time of persecution, when they took away the Christian's Bibles, "I cannot part with my Bible; I know not how to live without it." When a gracious soul has heard a profitable sermon, he says, "Methinks it does me good at heart; it is the greatest nourishment I have:" "I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches."

Oliver Heywood, 1629-1702.


Verse 14.—Practical religion, the source of a comfort surpassing riches. It gives a man ease of mind, independence of carriage, weight of influence, and other matters supposed to arise out of wealth.

Verse 14.

1. The subject of rejoicing. Not the "testimonies" merely, but their observances, "the way of," etc.

2. The rejoicing in that subject.

(a) In its inward peace.

(b) In its external consequences.

3. The degree of the rejoicing: "as much as," etc.

G. R.

Verse 14.—The two scales of the balance. Whatever riches are good for, God's testimonies are good for.

1. Riches are desirable as the means of procuring the necessaries of life; but God's testimonies supply the necessities of the soul.

2. Riches are desirable as a means of procuring personal enjoyment; but God's testimonies produce the highest joy.

3. Riches are desirable as a means of attaining personal improvement; but God's testimonies are the highest educators.

4. Riches are desirable as a means of doing good; but God's testimonies work the highest good.

C. A. D.


Verse 15.—"I will meditate in thy precepts." He who has an inward delight in anything will not long withdraw his mind from it. As the miser often returns to look upon his treasure, so does the devout believer by frequent meditation turn over the priceless wealth which he has discovered in the book of the Lord. To some men meditation is a task; to the man of cleansed way it is a joy. He who has meditated will meditate; he who saith, "I have rejoiced," is the same who adds, "I will meditate." No spiritual exercise is more profitable to the soul than that of devout meditation; why are many of us so exceeding slack in it? It is worthy of observation that the preceptory part of God's word was David's special subject of meditation, and this was the more natural because the question was still upon his mind as to how a young man should cleanse his way. Practical godliness is vital godliness.

"And have respect unto thy ways," that is to say, I will think much about them so as to know what thy ways are; and next; I will think much of them so as to have thy ways in great reverence and high esteem. I will see what thy ways are towards me that I may be filled with reverence, gratitude, and love; and then I will observe what are those ways which thou hast prescribed for me, thy ways in which thou wouldest have me follow thee; these I would watch carefully that I may become obedient, and prove myself to be a true servant of such a Master.

Note how the verses grow more inward as they proceed: from the speech of Psa 119:13 we advanced to the manifested joy of Psa 119:14), and now we come to the secret meditation of the happy spirit. The richest graces are those which dwell deepest.


Verse 15.—"I will meditate in thy precepts," etc. All along David had shown what he had done; now, what he will do. Psa 119:10, "I have sought;" Psa 119:11, "I have hid;" Psa 119:12, "I have declared;" Psa 119:14, "I have rejoiced." Now in the two following verses he doth engage himself to set his mark towards God for time to come. "I will meditate in thy precepts," etc. We do not rest upon anything already done and past, but continue the same diligence unto the end. Here is David's hearty resolution and purpose, to go on for time to come. Many will say, Thus I have done when I was young, or had more leisure and rest; in that I have meditated and conferred. You must continue still in a holy course. To begin to build, and leave unfinished, is an argument of folly.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 15.—"I will meditate in thy precepts." Not only of thy precepts or concerning them, but in them, while engaged in doing them.

Joseph Addison Alexander.

Verse 15.—"I will." See this "I will" repeated again and again (Psa 119:48, 78). In meditation it is hard (sometimes at least) to take off our thoughts from the pre-engagements of other subjects, and apply them to the duty. But it is harder to become duly serious in acting in it, harder yet to dive and ponder; and hardest of all to continue in an abode of thoughts, and dwell long enough, and after views to make reviews, to react the same thinking, to taste things over and over, when the freshness and newness is past, when by long thinking the things before us seem old. We are ready to grow dead and flat in a performance except we stir up ourselves often in it. It is hard to hold on and hold up, unless we hold up a wakeful eye, a warm affection, a strong and quick repeated resolution; yea, and without often lifting up the soul to Christ for fresh recruits of strength to hold on. David, that so excellent artist in this way, saith he will meditate, he often saith he will. Doubtless, he not only said "I will" when he was to make his entrance into this hard work; but likewise for continuance in it, to keep up his heart from flagging, till he well ended his work. It is not the digging into the golden mine, but the digging long, that finds and fetches up the treasure. It is not the diving into the sea, but staying longer, that gets the greater quantity of pearls. To draw out the golden thread of meditation to its due length till the spiritual ends be attained, this is a rare and happy attainment.

Nathanael Ranew, 1670.

Verse 15.—"I will meditate." How much our "rejoicing in the testimonies" of God would be increased by a more habitual meditation upon them! This is, however, a resolution which the carnal mind can never be brought to make, and to which the renewed mind through remaining depravity is often sadly reluctant. But it is a blessed employment, and will repay a thousand fold the difficulty of engaging the too backward heart in the duty.

Charles Bridges.

Verse 15.—Meditation is of that happy influence, it makes the mind wise, the affections warm, the soul fat and flourishing, and the conversation greatly fruitful.

Nathanael Ranew.

Verse 15.—"Meditate in, thy precepts." Study the Scriptures. If a famous man do but write an excellent book, O how we do long to see it! Or suppose I could tell you that there is in France or Germany a book that God himself wrote, I am confident men may draw all the money out of your purses to get that book. You have it by you: O that you would study it! When the eunuch was riding in his chariot, he was studying the prophet Isaiah. He was not angry when Philip came and, as we would have thought, asked him a bold question: "Understandest thou what thou readest?" (Act 8:27-30); he was glad of it. One great end of the year of release was, that the law might be read (Deu 31:9-13). It is the wisdom of God that speaks in the Scripture (Luk 11:49); therefore, whatever else you mind, really and carefully study the Bible.

Samuel Jacomb (1629-1659), in "The Morning Exercises."

Verse 15.—"I will have respect." The one is the fruit of the other: "I will meditate;" and then, "I will have respect." Meditation is in order to practice; and if it be right, it will beget a respect to the ways of God. We do not meditate that we may rest in contemplation, but in order to obedience: "Thou shalt meditate in the book of the law day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein" (Jos 1:8).

Thomas Manton.

Verse 15.—"And have respect unto thy ways."—As an archer hath to his mark.

John Trapp.

Verse 15.—"Respect unto thy ways." It is not without a peculiar pleasure, when travelling, that we contemplate the splendid buildings, the gardens, the fortifications, or the fine art galleries. But what are all these sights to the contemplation of the ways of God, which he himself has traversed, or has marked out for man? And what practical need there is that we consider the way, for else we shall be as a sleepy coachman, not carefully observant of the road, who may soon upset himself and his passengers.

Martin Geier.

Verse 15.—"Thy ways." David's second internal action concerning the word is consideration; where mark well, how by a most proper speech he calls the word of God the ways of God; partly, because by it God comes near unto men, revealing himself to them, who otherwise could not be known of them; for he dwells in light inaccessible; and partly, because the word is the way which leads men to God. So then, because by it God cometh down to men, and by it men go up unto God, and know how to get access to him, therefore is his word called his way.

William Cowper.

Verse 15.—The two last verses of this section present to us a threefold internal action of David's soul toward the word of God; first, meditation; secondly, consideration; thirdly, delectation: every one of these proceeds from another, and they mutually strengthen one another. Meditation brings the word to the mind; consideration views it and looks at length into it, whereof is bred delectation. That which comes into the mind, were it never so good, if it be not considered, goes as it came, leaving neither instruction nor joy; but being once presented by meditation, if it be pondered by consideration, then it breeds delectation, which is the perfection of godliness, in regard of the internal action.

William Cowper.


Verse 15.—The contemplative and active life; their common food, object, and reward.


Verse 16.—"I will delight myself in thy statutes." In this verse delight follows meditation, of which it is the true flower and outgrowth. When we have no other solace, but are quite alone, it will be a glad thing for the heart to turn upon itself, and sweetly whisper, "I will delight myself. What if no minstrel sings in the hall, I will delight myself. If the time of the singing of birds has not yet arrived, and the voice of the turtle is not heard in our land, yet I will delight myself." This is the choicest and noblest of all rejoicing; in fact, it is the good part which can never be taken from us; but there is no delighting ourselves with anything below that which God intended to be the soul's eternal satisfaction. The statute book is intended to be the joy of every loyal subject. When the believer once peruses the sacred pages his soul burns within him as he turns first to one and then to another of the royal words of the great King, words full and firm, immutable and divine.

Verse 16.—"I will not forget thy word." Men do not readily forget that which they have treasured up, that which they have meditated on (Psa 119:15), and that which they have often spoken of (Psa 119:13). Yet since we have treacherous memories it is well to bind them well with the knotted cord of "I will not forget."

Note how two "I wills" follow upon two "I haves." We may not promise for the future if we have altogether failed in the past; but where grace has enabled us to accomplish something, we may hopefully expect that it will enable us to do more.

It is curious to observe how this verse is moulded upon Psa 119:8 : the changes are rung on the same words, but the meaning is quite different, and there is no suspicion of a vain repetition. The same thought is never given over again in this Psalm; they are dullards who think so. Something in the position of each verse affects its meaning, so that even where its words are almost identical with those of another the sense is delightfully varied. If we do not see an infinite variety of fine shades of thought in this Psalm we may conclude that we are colour blind; if we do not hear many sweet harmonies, we may judge our ears to be dull of hearing, but we may not suspect the Spirit of God of monotony.


Verse 16.—"I will delight myself," etc. He protested before that he had great delight in the testimonies of God: now he saith he will still delight in them. A man truly godly, the more good he doth, the more he desires, delights and resolves to do. Temporisers, on the contrary, who have but a show of godliness, and the love of it is not rooted in their heart, how soon are they weary of well doing! If they have done any small external duty of religion, they rest as if they were fully satisfied, and there needed no more good to be done by them. True religion is known by hungering and thirsting after righteousness, by perseverance in well doing, and an earnest desire to do more.

But to this he adds that he will not forget the word. The graces of the Spirit do every one fortify and strengthen another; for ye see meditation helps consideration. Who can consider of that whereof he thinks not? Consideration again breeds delectation; and as here ye see, delectation strengthens memory: because he delights in the word he will not forget the word; and memory again renews meditation. Thus every grace of the Spirit helps another; and by the contrary, one of them neglected, works a wonderful decay of the remnant.

William Cowper.

Verse 16.—"I will delight myself" When righteousness, from a matter of constraint becomes a matter of choice, it instantly changes its whole nature, and rises to a higher moral rank than before. The same God whom it is impossible to move by law's authority, moves of his own proper and original inclination in the very path of the law's righteousness. And so, we, in proportion as we are like unto God, are alive to the virtues of that same law, to the terror of whose severities we are altogether dead. We are no longer under a schoolmaster; but obedience is changed from a thing of force into a thing of freeness. It is moulded to a higher state and character than before. We are not driven to it by the God of authority. We are drawn to it by the regards of a now willing heart to all moral and all spiritual excellence.

Thomas Chalmers, 1780-1847.

Verse 16.—Meditation must not be a dull, sad, and dispirited thing: not a driving like the chariots of the Egyptians when their wheels were taken off, but like the chariots of Amminadib (Sng 6:12) that ran swiftly. So let us pray,—Lord, in meditation make me like the chariots of Amminadib, that my swift running may evidence my delight in meditating. Holy David makes delight such an ingredient or assistant here, that sometimes he calls the exercise of meditation by the name of "delight," speaking in the foregoing verse of this meditation, "I will meditate of thy precepts," and in Psa 119:16, "I will delight myself in thy statutes;" which is the same with meditation, only with superadding the excellent qualification due meditation should have; the name of delight is given to meditation because of its noble concomitant—holy joy and satisfaction.

Nathanael Ranew.

Verse 16.—The word is very emphatic: אשתעשע, eshtaasha, I will skip about and jump for joy.

Adam Clarke.

Verse 16.—"I will not forget." Delight prevents forgetfulness: the mind will run upon that which the heart delighteth in; and the heart is where the treasure is (Mat 6:21). Worldly men that are intent upon carnal interests, forget the word, because it is not their delight. If anything displeases us, we are glad if we can forget it; it is some release from an inconvenience, to take off our thoughts from it; but it doubles the contentment of a thing that we are delighted in, to remember it, and call it to mind. In the outward school, if a scholar by his own averseness from learning, or by the severity and imprudence of his master, hath no delight in his book, all that he learns is lost and forgotten, it goeth in at one ear, and out at the other: but this is the true art of memory, to cause them to delight in what they learn. Such instructions as we take in with sweetness, they stick with us, and run in our minds night and day. So saith David here, "I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word."

Thomas Manton.

Verse 16.—"Forget." I never yet heard of a covetous old man, who had forgotten where he had buried his treasure.

Cicero de Senectute.


Verse 16.

1. What there is to be delighted in.

2. What comes of such delight: "I will never forget."

3. What comes of such memory—more delight.

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