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C. H. Spurgeon :: Psalm 119 Verses 49-56

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Psalm 119 Verses 49-56


EXPOSITION VERSE 49

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

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

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

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

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

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

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

Matthew Henry.

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

Richard Sibbes.

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

George Horne.

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

William Cowper.

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

Thomas Manton.

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

William Cowper.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verses 49-56.—Hope in affliction.

It arises from God's word (Psa 119:49).

It produces comfort (Psa 119:50), even in trouble caused by the wicked (Psa 119:51-53).

It gladdens the believer's pilgrimage and his holy night seasons (Psa 119:54-56).

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

Verse 49.

1. The personality of the word: "The word unto thy servant."

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

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

Verse 49.—The word of hope.

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

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

3. The pleading of such words at the throne of grace.

C. A. D.

EXPOSITION VERSE 50

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

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

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

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

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

John Stephen.

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

Richard Sibbes.

Verse 50.—"Comfort." 'Nechamah', consolation; whence the name of Nehemiah was derived. The word occurs only in Job 6:9.

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

Gospel comforts are, first, unutterable comforts, 1Pe 1:8; Phl 4:4. Secondly, they are real, John 14:27; all others are but seeming comforts, but painted comforts. Thirdly, they are holy comforts, Isa 64:5; Psa 138:5; they flow from a Holy Spirit, and nothing can come from the Holy Spirit but that which is holy. Fourthly, they are the greatest and strongest comforts, Eph 6:17. Few heads and hearts are able to bear them, as few heads are able to bear strong wines. Fifthly, they reach to the inward man, to the soul, 2Th 2:17, the noble part of man. "My soul rejoiceth in God my Saviour." Our other comforts only reach the face; they sink not so deep as the heart. Sixthly, they are the most soul filling and soul satisfying comforts, Psa 16:11; Sng 4:3. Other comforts cannot reach the soul, and therefore they cannot fill nor satisfy the soul. Seventhly, they comfort in saddest distresses, in the darkest night, and in the most stormy day, Psa 94:19; Heb 3:7-8. Eighthly, they are everlasting, 2Th 2:16. The joy of the wicked is but as a glass, bright and brittle, and evermore in danger of breaking; but the joy of the saints is lasting.

Thomas Brooks.

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

Thomas Manton.

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

J. J. Stewart Perowne.

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

Matthew Henry.

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

Thomas Watson.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 50.—Each man has his own affliction and his own consolation. Quickened piety the best comfort. The word is the means of it.

Verse 50.

1. The need of consolation.

2. The consolation needed.

G. R.

EXPOSITION VERSE 51

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

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

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

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 51.—"The proud have had me greatly in derision." The saints of God have complained of this in all ages: David of his busy mockers; the abjects jeered him. Job was disdained of those children whose fathers he would have scorned to set with the dogs of his flock, Job 30:1. Joseph was nicknamed a dreamer, Paul a babbler, Christ himself a Samaritan, and with intent of disgrace a carpenter…Michal was barren, yet she hath too many children, that scorn the habit and exercises of holiness. There cannot be a greater argument of a foul soul, than the deriding of religious services. Worldly hearts can see nothing in those actions, but folly and madness; piety hath no relish, but is distasteful to their palates.

Thomas Adams.

Verse 51.—"The proud," etc. Scoffing proceedeth from pride. Pro 3:34; 1Pe 5:5.

John Trapp.

Verse 51.—"Greatly." The word notes "continually," the Septuagint translates it by αφύδρα, the vulgar Latin by "usque valde," and "usque longe". They derided him with all possible bitterness; and day by day they had their scoffs for him, so that it was both a grievous and a perpetual temptation.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 51.—"Derision." David tells that he had been jeered for his religion, but yet he had not been jeered out of his religion. They laughed at him for his praying and called it cant, for his seriousness and called it mopishness, for his strictness and called it needless preciseness.

Matthew Henry.

Verse 51.—It is a great thing in a soldier to behave well under fire; but it is a greater thing for a soldier of the cross to be unflinching in the day of his trial. It does not hurt the Christian to have the dogs bark at him.

William S. Plumer.

Verses 50-51.—The life and rigour infused into me by the promise which "quickened me," caused me "not to decline from thy law," even though "the proud did iniquitously altogether;" doing all in their power, through their jeering at me, to deter me from its observance.

Robert Bellarmine.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 51.—The proud man's contumely, and the gracious man's constancy.

Verse 51.—Fidelity in the face of contempt.

1. The proud deride the believer's subjection to God's law.

2. They ridicule the believer's delight, in God's service.

3. They are met by the believer's resolution to cleave to God. 2Sa 6:20, 22.

C. A. D.

EXPOSITION VERSE 52

Verse 52.—"I remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord; and have comforted myself." He had asked the Lord to remember, and here he remembers God and his judgments. When we see no present display of the divine power it is wise to fall back upon the records of former ages, since they are just as available as if the transactions were of yesterday, seeing the Lord is always the same. Our true comfort must be found in what our God works on behalf of truth and right, and as the histories of the olden times are full of divine interpositions it is well to be thoroughly acquainted with them. Moreover, if we are advanced in years we have the providence of our early days to review, and these should by no means be forgotten or left out of our thoughts. The argument is good and solid: he who has shown himself strong on behalf of his believing people is the immutable God, and therefore we may expect deliverance at his hands. The grinning of the proud will not trouble us when we remember how the Lord dealt with their predecessors in by gone periods; he destroyed them at the deluge, he confounded them at Babel, he drowned them at the Red Sea, he drove them out of Canaan: he has in all ages bared his arm against the haughty, and broken them as potters' vessels. While in our own hearts we humbly drink of the mercy of God in quietude, we are not without comfort in seasons of turmoil and derision; for then we resort to God's justice, and remember how he scoffs at the scoffers: "He that sitteth in the heavens doth laugh, the Lord doth have them in derision."

When he was greatly derided the Psalmist did not sit down in despair, but rallied his spirits He knew that comfort is needful for strength in service, and for the endurance of persecution, and therefore he comforted himself. In doing this he resorted not so much to the sweet as to the stern side of the Lord's dealings, and dwelt upon his judgments. If we can find sweetness in the divine justice, how much more shall we perceive it in divine love and grace. How thoroughly must that man be at peace with God who can find comfort, not only in his promises, but in his judgments. Even the terrible things of God are cheering to believers. They know that nothing is more to the advantage of all God's creatures than to be ruled by a strong hand which will deal out justice. The righteous man, has no fear of the ruler's sword, which is only a terror to evil doers. When the godly man is unjustly treated he finds comfort in the fact that there is a Judge of all the earth who will avenge his own elect, and redress the ills of these disordered times.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 52.—"I remember thy judgments of old." It is good to have a number of examples of God's dealings with his servants laid up in the storehouse of a sanctified memory, that thereby faith may be strengthened in the day of affliction; for so are we here taught.

David Dickson.

Verse 52.—"I remembered thy judgments." He remembered that at the beginning Adam, because of transgression of the divine command, was cast out from dwelling in Paradise; and that Cain, condemned by the authority of the divine sentence, paid the price of his parricidal crime; that Enoch, caught up to heaven because of his devotion, escaped the poison of earthly wickedness: that Noah, because of righteousness the victor of the deluge, became the survivor of the human race; that Abraham, because of faith, diffused the seed of his posterity through the whole earth; that Israel, because of the patient bearing of troubles, consecrated a believing people by the sign of his own name; that David himself, because of gentleness, having had regal honour conferred, was preferred to his elder brothers.

Ambrose.

Verse 52.—"I remembered," etc. Jerome writes of that religious lady Paula, that she had got most of the Scriptures by heart. We are bid to have the "word dwell in us:" Col 3:16. The word is a jewel that adorns the hidden man; and shall we not remember it? "Can a maid forget her ornaments?" (Jer 2:32). Such as have a disease they call lienteria, in which the meat comes up as fast as they eat it, and stays not in the stomach, are not nourished by it. If the word stays not in the memory, it cannot profit. Some can better remember a piece of news than a line of Scripture: their memories are like those ponds, where frogs live, but fish die.

Thomas Watson in "The Morning Exercises"

Verse 52.—"I remembered thy judgments, and have comforted myself." A case of conscience may be propounded: how could David be comforted by God's judgments, for it seemeth a barbarous thing to delight in the destruction of any? it is said, "He that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished" (Pro 17:5).

1. It must be remembered that judgment implies both parts of God's righteous dispensation, the deliverance of the godly, and the punishment of the wicked. Now, in the first sense there is no ground of scruple, for it is said, "Judgment shall return unto righteousness" (Psa 94:15); the sufferings of good men shall be turned into the greatest advantages, as the context showeth that God will not cast off his people, but judgment shall return unto righteousness.

2. Judgment, as it signifieth punishment of the wicked, may yet be a comfort, not as it imports the calamity of any, but either,—

(a) When the wicked is punished, the snare and allurement to sin is taken away, which is the hope of impunity; for by their punishment men see that it is dangerous to sin against God: "When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness" (Isa 26:9); the snare is removed from many a soul.

(b) Their derision and mocking of godliness ceaseth, they do no longer vex and pierce the souls of the godly, saying, "Aha, aha" (Psa 40:15); it is as a wound to their heart when they say, "Where is thy God?" (Psa 42:10). Judgment slayeth this evil.

(c) The impediments and hindrances of worshipping and serving God are taken away: when the nettles are rooted up, the corn hath the more room to grow.

(d) Opportunity of molesting God's servants is taken away, and they are prevented from afflicting the church by their oppressions; and so way is made for the enlarging of Christ's kingdom.

(e) Thereby also God's justice is manifested: When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: "and when the wicked perish, there is shouting" (Pro 11:10); "The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him: lo, this is the man that made not God his strength" (Psa 52:6-7); rejoice over Babylon, "ye holy apostles and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her" (Rev 18:20). When the word of God is fulfilled, surely then we may rejoice that his justice and truth are cleared.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 52.—The word "mishphatim," "judgments," is used in Scripture either for laws enacted, or judgments executed according to those laws. The one may be called the judgments of his mouth, as, "Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth" (Psa 105:5), the other, the judgments of his hand. As both will bear the name of judgments, so both may be said to be "of old." His decrees and statutes which have an eternal equity in them, and were graven upon the heart of man in innocency, may well be said to be of old: and because from the beginning of the world God hath been punishing the wicked, and delivering the godly in due time, his judiciary dispensations may be said to be so also, The matter is not much, whether we interpret it of either his statutes or decrees, for they both contain matter of comfort, and we may see the ruin of the wicked in the word, if we see it not in providence. Yet I rather interpret it of those righteous acts recorded in Scripture, which God as a just judge hath executed in all ages, according to the promises and threatenings this annexed to his laws. Only in that sense I must note to you, judgments imply his mercies in the deliverance of his righteous servants, as well as his punishments on the wicked: the seasonable interpositions of his relief for the one in their greatest distresses, as well as his just vengeance on the other notwithstanding their highest prosperities.

Thomas Manton.

Verses 52, 55.—"I remembered thy judgments," "thy name in the night." Thomas Fuller thus writes in his "David's Heartie Repentance:"—

"For sundry duties he did dayes deride.
Making exchange of worke his recreation;
For prayer he set the precious morne aside.
The midday he bequeathed to meditation:
    Sweete sacred stories he reserved for night.
    To reade of Moses' meeknes, Sampson's might:
    These were his joy, these onely his delight."

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 52.—Comfort derived from a review of the ancient doings of the Lord towards the wicked and his people.

Verse 52.

1. The dead speaking to the living.

2. The living listening to the dead.

G. R.

Verse 52.—Sweet water from a dark well.

1. God's judgments are calculated to inspire terror.

2. But they prove God's superintending care over the world.

3. They are ever against sin, and for holiness.

4. In all times of judgment God delivers his people. Noah, Lot, etc.

5. Therefore God's judgments are a source of comfort to the believer.

G. A. D.

EXPOSITION VERSE 53

Verse 53.—"Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law." He was horrified at their action, at the pride which led them to it, and at the punishment which would be sure to fall upon them for it. When he thought upon the ancient judgments of God he was filled with terror at the fate of the godless; as well he might be. Their laughter had not distressed him, but he was distressed by a foresight of their overthrow. Truths which were amusement to them caused amazement to him. He saw them utterly turning away from the law of God, and leaving it as a path forsaken and over grown from want of traffic, and this forsaking of the law filled him with the most painful emotions: he was astonished at their wickedness, stunned by their presumption, alarmed by the expectation of their sudden overthrow, amazed by the terror of their certain doom.

See Psa 119:106, 158, and note the tenderness which combined with all this. Those who are the firmest believers in the eternal punishment of the wicked are the most grieved at their doom. It is no proof of tenderness to shut one's eyes to the awful doom of the ungodly. Compassion is far better shown in trying to save sinners than in trying to make things pleasant all round. Oh that we were all more distressed as we think of the portion of the ungodly in the lake of fire! The popular plan is to shut your eyes and forget all about it, or pretend to doubt it; but this is not the way of the faithful servant of God.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 53.—"Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked." I have had clear views of eternity; have seen the blessedness of the godly, in some measure; and have longed to share their happy state; as well as been comfortably satisfied that through grace I shall do so; but, oh, what anguish is raised in my mind, to think of an eternity for those who are without Christ, for those who are mistaken, and who bring their false hopes to the grave with them! The sight was so dreadful I could by no means bear it: my thoughts recoiled, and I said, (under a more affecting sense than ever before,) "Who can dwell with everlasting burnings?"

David Brainerd, 1718-1747.

Verse 53.—"Horror hath taken hold upon me," etc. Oh who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it gives but a very feeble, faint representation of it; it is inexpressible and inconceivable; for who knows the power of God's anger?

How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in danger of this great wrath and infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and strict, sober and religious, they may otherwise be. Oh that you would consider it, whether you be young or old! There is reason to think, that there are many in this congregation now hearing this discourse, that will actually be the subjects of this very misery to all eternity. We know not who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they now have. It may be they are now at ease, and hear all these things without much disturbance, are now flattering themselves that they are not the persons, promising themselves that they shall escape. If we knew that there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation, that was to be the subject of misery, what an awful thing would it be to think of! If we knew who was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person! How might the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him! But, alas! instead of one, how many is it likely will remember this discourse in hell!

Jonathan Edwards, in a Sermon entitled, "Sinners in the Hands of an angry God."

Verse 53.—"Horror." זלעפה, zilaphah, properly signifies the pestilential burning wind called by the Arabs simoon (see Psa 11:6); and is here used in a figurative sense for the most horrid mental distress; and strongly marks the idea the Psalmist had of the corrupting, pestilential, and destructive nature of sin.

—Notein "Bagster's Comprehensive Bible"

Verse 53.—"Horror." The word for "horror" signifieth also a tempest or storm. Translations vary; some read it, as Junius, "a storm overtaking one;" Ainsworth, "a burning horror hath seized me," and expounds it a storm of terror and dismay. The Septuagint, ἀθυμία κατέχε μὲ, "faintness and dejection of mind hath possessed me;" our own translation, "I am horribly afraid;" all translations, as well as the original word, imply a great trouble of mind, and a vehement commotion; like a storm, it was matter of disquiet and trembling to David.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 53.—"Because of the wicked that forsake thy law." David grieved, not because he was himself attacked; but because the law of God was forsaken; and he bewailed the condemnation of those who so did, because they are lost to God. Just as a good father in the madness of his son, when he is ill used by him, mourns not his own but the misery of the diseased; and he grieves at the contumely, not because it is cast on himself, but because the diseased person knows not what he does in his madness: so a good man, when he sees a sinner neither reverence nor honour the grey hairs of a parent, that to his face he can insult him, that he does not know in the madness of sinning what unbecoming and shameful things he does, grieves for him as one on the point of death, laments him as one despaired of by the physicians. As a good physician in the first place advises, then, even if he receive hard words, though he be beaten, nevertheless as the man is ill he bears with him; and if he be cursed he does not leave; and any medicine that may be applied he does not refuse; nor does he go away as from a stubborn fellow, but strives with all diligence to heal him as one that has deserved well from him, exercising not only the skill of science but also benignity of disposition. Even so, a righteous man, when he is treated with contempt, does not turn away, but when he is calumniated he regards it as madness, not as depravity; and desires rather to apply his own remedy to the wound, and sympathises, and grieves not for himself but for him who labours under an incurable disease.

Ambrose.

Verse 53.—"The wicked that forsake thy law" not only transgress the law of the Lord, as every man does, more or less; but wilfully and obstinately despise it, and cast it behind their backs, and live in a continued course of disobedience to it; or who apostatize from the doctrine of the word of God; wilfully deny the truth, after they have had a speculation knowledge of it, whose punishment is very grievous (Heb 10:26-29); and now partly because of the daring impiety of wicked men, who stretch out their hands against God, and strengthen themselves against the Almighty, and run upon him, even on the thick bosses of his bucklers: because of the shocking nature of their sin, the sad examples thereby set to others, the detriment they are to themselves, and the dishonour they bring to God; and partly because of the dreadful punishment that shall be inflicted on them here, and especially hereafter, when a horrible tempest of wrath will come upon them. Hence such trembling seized the Psalmist: and often so it is, that good men tremble more for the wicked than they do for themselves: see Psa 119:120.

John Gill.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 53.—The sensations of godly men at the sight of sinners:

horror at their crime,

their perseverance in it,

their rejection of grace,

and their end.

Verse 53.—Horror stricken.

1. The guilt and danger of impenitent sinners.

2. The horror and concern of godly spectators.

3. The prayer and labour which such concern should dictate.

G. A. D.

EXPOSITION VERSE 54

Verse 54.—"Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage." Like others of God's servants, David knew that he was not at home in this world, but a pilgrim through it, seeking a better country. He did not, however, sigh over this fact, but he sang about it. He tells us nothing about his pilgrim sighs, but speaks of his pilgrim songs. Even the palace in which he dwelt was but "the house of his pilgrimage," the inn at which he rested, the station at which he halted for a little while. Men are wont to sing when they come to their inn, and so did this godly sojourner; he sang the songs of Zion, the statutes of the great King. The commands of God were as well known to him as the ballads of his country, and they were pleasant to his taste and musical to his ear. Happy is the heart which finds its joy in the commands of God, and makes obedience its recreation. When religion is set to music it goes well. When we sing in the ways of the Lord it shows that our hearts are in them. Ours are pilgrim psalms, songs of degrees; but they are such as we may sing throughout eternity; for the statutes of the Lord are the psalmody of heaven itself.

Saints find horror in sin, and harmony in holiness. The wicked shun the law, and the righteous sing of it. In past days we have sung the Lord's statutes, and in this fact we may find comfort in present affliction. Since our songs are so very different from those of the proud, we may expect to join a very different choir at the last, and sing in a place far removed from their abode.

Note how in the sixth verses of their respective octaves we often find resolves to bless God, or records of testimony. In Psa 119:46 it is, "I will speak," and in Psa 119:2, "I will give thanks," while here he speaks of songs.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 54.—"Thy statutes have been my songs." The Psalmist rejoiced, doubtless, as the good do now,

1. In law itself; law, as a rule of order; law, as a guide of conduct; law, as a security for safety.

2. In such a law as that of God:—so pure, so holy, so fitted to promote the happiness of man.

3. In the stability of that law, as constituting his own personal security, the ground of his hope.

4. In law in its influence on the universe, preserving order and securing harmony.

Albert Barnes.

Verse 54.—"Thy statutes have been my songs." In the early ages it was customary to versify the laws, that the people might learn them by heart, and sing them.

William Williams. (1882)

Verse 54.—"Thy statutes have been my songs." God's statutes are here his "songs," which give him spiritual refreshing, sweeten the hardships of the pilgrimage: and measure and hasten his steps.

Franz Delitzsch.

Verse 54.—"Songs." Travellers sing to deceive the tediousness of the way; so did David; and hereby he solaced himself under that horror which he speaks of in verse Psa 119:53. Great is the comfort that cometh in by singing of Psalms with grace in our hearts.

John Trapp.

Verse 54."Songs."

"Such songs have power to quiet
    The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
    That follows after prayer."

"And the night shall be filled with music,
    And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,
    And as silently steal away."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882).

Verse 54.—"Songs in the house of my pilgrimage." Wherefore is everything like warmth in religion branded with the name of enthusiasm? Warmth is expected in the poet, in the musician, in the scholar, in the lover and even in the tradesman it is allowed, if not commended—why then is it condemned in the concerns of the soul—a subject which, infinitely above all others, demands and deserves all the energy of the mind? Would a prisoner exult at the proclamation of deliverance, and is the redeemed sinner to walk forth from his bondage, unmoved, unaffected, without gratitude or joy? No, "Ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." Shall the condemned criminal feel I know not what emotions, when instead of the execution of the sentence he receives a pardon? and is the absolved transgressor to be senseless and silent? No. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: and not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."

Other travellers are accustomed to relieve the tediousness of their journey with a song. The Israelites, when they repaired from the extremities of the country three times a year to Jerusalem to worship, had songs appointed for the purpose, and travelled singing as they went. And of the righteous it is said, "They shall sing in the ways of the Lord. The redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs; and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads."

William Jay.

Verse 54.—"Songs in the house of my pilgrimage." See how the Lord in his wise dispensation attempers himself to our infirmities. Our life is subject to many changes, and God by his word hath provided for us also many instructions and remedies. Every cross hath its own remedy, and every state of life its own instruction. Sometimes our grief is so great that we cannot sing; then let us pray: sometimes our deliverance so joyful that we must break out in thanksgiving; then let us sing. "If any man among you be afflicted, let him pray; if he be merry, let him sing." Prayers for every cross, and psalms for every deliverance, hath God by his own Spirit penned for us; so that now we are more than inexcusable if we fail in this duty.

William Cowper.

Verse 54.—"In the house of my pilgrimage." According to the original, "the house of my pilgrimages;" that is, whatever places I have wandered to during Saul's persecution of me.

Samuel Burder.

Verse 54.—"In the house of my pilgrimage." Natablus expounds this of his banishment amongst the Philistines; that when he was put from his native country and kindred, and all other comforts failed him, the word of the Lord furnished matter of joy to him. And indeed, the banishment of God's servants may cast them far from their kindred and acquaintance; but it chaseth them nearer to the Lord, and the Lord nearer to them. Proof of this in Jacob, when he was banished, and lay without, all night in the fields, he found a more familiar presence of God than he did when he slept in the tent with father and mother.

But we may rather, with Basil, refer it to the whole time of David's mortal life: "oranera vitam suam peregrinationera vocare arbitror". So Jacob acknowledgeth to Pharaoh, that his life was a pilgrimage; and Abraham and Isaac dwelt in the world as strangers.

Saint Peter therefore teacheth us as pilgrims to abstain from the lusts of the flesh; and Saint Paul, to use this world as if we used it not; for the fashion thereof goeth away. Many ways are we taught this lesson; but slow are we to learn it. Alas, what folly is this, that a man should desire to dwell in the earth, when God calleth him to be a citizen of heaven! Yet great is the comfort we have of this, that the houses wherein we lodge upon earth are but houses of our pilgrimage. The faithful Israelites endured their bondage in Egypt the more patiently, because they knew they were to be delivered from it. If the houses of our servitude were eternal mansions, how lamentable were our condition! But God be thanked, they are but way faring cottages, and houses of our pilgrimage. Such a house was the womb of our mother: if we had been enclosed there for ever, what burden had it been to her, what bondage to ourselves! Such a house will be the grave; of the which we must all say with Job, "The grave shall be my house, and I shall make my bed in the dark." If we were there to abide for ever, how comfortless were our estate. But, God be praised, our mansion house is above; and the houses we exchange here on earth are but the houses of our pilgrimage; and happy is he who can so live in the world as esteeming himself in his own house, in his own bed, yea, in his own body, to be but a stranger, in respect of his absence from the Lord.

William Cowper.

Verse 54.—"My pilgrimage." If men have been termed pilgrims, and life a journey, then we may add that the Christian pilgrimage far surpasses all others in the following important particulars:—in the goodness of the road, in the beauty of the prospects, in the excellence of the company, and in the vast superiority of the accommodation provided for the Christian traveller when he has finished his course.

H.G. Salter, in "The Book of Illustrations," 1840.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 54.—Here is—

1. Light in darkness.

2. Companionship in solitude.

3. Activity in rest: "house of pilgrimage."

G. R.

Verse 54.—The cheerful pilgrim.

1. A good man views his residence in this world as only the house of his pilgrimage.

2. The situation, however disadvantageous, admits of cheerfulness.

3. The sources of his joy are derived from the Scriptures.

W. Jay.

Verse 54.

—See "Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 1652; "The Singing Pilgrim."

EXPOSITION VERSE 55

Verse 55.—"I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night." When others slept I woke to think of thee, thy person, thy actions, thy covenant, thy name, under which last term he comprehends the divine character as far as it is revealed. He was so earnest after the living God that he woke up at dead of night to think upon him. These were David's Night Thoughts. If they were not Sunny Memories they were memories of the Sun of Righteousness. It is well when our memory furnishes us with consolation, so that we can say with the Psalmist,—Having early been taught to know thee, I had only to remember the lessons of thy grace, and my heart was comforted. This verse shows not only that the man of God had remembered, but that he still remembered the Lord his God. We are to hallow the name of God, and we cannot do so if it slips from our memory.

"And have kept thy law." He found sanctification through meditation; by the thoughts of the night he ruled the actions of the day. As the actions of the day often create the dreams of the night, so do the thoughts of the night produce the deeds of the day. If we do not keep the name of God in our memory we shall not keep the law of God in our conduct. Forgetfulness of mind leads up to forgetfulness of life.

When we hear the night songs of revellers we have in them sure evidence that they do not keep God's law; but the quiet musings of gracious men are proof positive that the name of the Lord is dear to them. We may judge of nations by their songs, and so we may of men; and in the case of the righteous, their singing and their thinking are both indications of their love to God: whether they lift up their voices, or sit in silence, they are still the Lord's. Blessed are the men whose "night-thoughts" are memories of the eternal light; they shall be remembered of their Lord when the night of death comes on. Reader, are your thoughts in the dark full of light, because full of God? Is his name the natural subject of your evening reflections? Then it will give a tone to your morning and noonday hours. Or do you give your whole mind to the fleeting cares and pleasures of this world? If so, it is little wonder that you do not live as you ought to do, No man is holy by chance. If we have no memory for the name of Jehovah we are not likely to remember his commandments: if we do not think of him secretly we shall not obey him openly.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Verse 55.—"I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night," etc. As the second Clause of the verse depends on the first, I consider the whole verse as setting forth one and the same truth; and, therefore, the prophet means that he was induced, by the remembrance he had of God, to keep the law. Contempt of the law originates in this, that few have any regard for God; and hence, the Scripture, in condemning the impiety of men, declares that they have forgotten God (Psa 50:22; 78:11; 106:21.) The word "night" is not intended by him to mean the remembering of God merely for a short time, but a perpetual remembrance of him; he, however, refers to that season in particular, because then almost all our senses are overpowered with sleep. "When other men are sleeping, God occurs to my thoughts during my sleep." He has another reason for alluding to the night season—that we may be apprised, that though there was none to observe him, and none to put him in remembrance of it; yea, though he was shrouded in darkness, yet he was as solicitous to cherish the remembrance of God as if he occupied the most public and conspicuous place.

John Calvin.

Verse 55.—"I have remembered thy name in the night," and therefore I "have kept thy law" all day.

Matthew Henry.

Verse 55.—"I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night." This verse contains a new protestation of his honest affection toward the word of God. Wherein, first, let us mark his sincerity; he was religious not only in public, but in private; for private exercises are the surest trials of true religion. In public, oftentimes hypocrisy carries men to simulate that which they are not; it is not so in the private devotion; for then, either doth a man, if he make no conscience of God's worship, utterly neglect it, because there is no eye of man to see him; or otherwise if he be indeed religious, even in private he presents his heart to God, seeking it to be approved by him; for his "praise is not of man, but of God."

Again, this argues his fervency in religion: for as elsewhere he protests that he loved the word more than his appointed food; so here he protests that he gave up his night's rest that he might meditate in the word. But now, so far is zeal decayed in professors, that they will not forego their superfluities, far less their needful refreshment, for love of the word of God.

William Cowper.

Verse 55.—"Thy name, O Lord." The "name" of the Lord is his character, his nature, his attributes, the manifestations he hath made of his holiness, his wisdom, goodness and truth.

John Stephen.

Verse 55.—"In the night." First, that is, continually, because he remembered God in the day also. Secondly, sincerely, because he avoided the applause of men. Thirdly, cheerfully, because the heaviness of natural sleep could not overcome him. All these show that he was intensely given to the word; as we see men of the world will take some part of the night for their delights. And in that he did keep God's testimonies in the night, he showeth that he was the same in secret that he was in the light; whereby he condemned all those that will cover their wickedness with the dark. Let us examine ourselves whether we have broken our sleeps to call upon God, as we have to fulfil our pleasures.

Richard Greenham.

Verse 55.—"In the night." Pastor Harms of Hermansburg used to preach and pray and instruct his people for nine hours on the Sabbath. And then when his mind was utterly exhausted, and his whole body was thrilling with pain, and he seemed almost dying for the want of rest, he could get no sleep. But he used to say that he loved to lie awake all night in the silence and darkness and think of Jesus. The night put away everything else from his thoughts, and left his heart free to commune with the One whom his soul most devoutly loved, and who visited and comforted his weary disciple in the night watches. And so God's children have often enjoyed rare seasons of communion with him in the solitude of exile, in the deep gloom of the dungeon, in the perpetual night of blindness, and at times when all voices and instructions from the world have been most completely cut off, and the soul has been left alone with God.

Daniel March, in "Night unto Night." 1880.

Verse 55.—"In the night." There is never a time in which it is not proper to turn to God and think on his name. In the darkness of midnight, in the darkness of mental depression, in the darkness of outward providence, God is still a fitting theme.

William S. Plumer.

Verse 55.—The night.

Dear night! this world's defeat;
The stop to busy fools; Care's check and curb;
The day of spirits, my soul's calm retreat
Which none disturb!
Christ's progress, and his prayer time;
The hours to which high heaven doth chime.

God's silent, searching flight;
When my Lord's head is filled with dew, and all
His locks are wet with the clear drops of night;
His still, soft call;
His knocking time; the soul's dumb watch,
When spirits their fair kindred catch.

Henry Vaughan, 1621-1695.

Verse 55.—"And have kept thy law" though imperfectly, yet spiritually, sincerely, heartily, and from a principle of love and gratitude, and with a view to the glory of God, and without mercenary, sinister ends.

John Gill.

Verse 55.—"And have kept thy law." Hours of secret fellowship with God must issue in the desire of increased conformity to his holy will. It is the remembrance of God that leads to the keeping of his laws, as it is forgetfulness of God that fosters every species of transgression.

John Morison.

Verse 55.—"And have kept." The verb is in the future, and perhaps is better so rendered, thus making it the expression of a solemn, deliberate purpose to continue his obedience.

William S. Plumer.

Verses 55-56.—He that delights to keep God's law, God will give him more grace to keep it, according to that remarkable text, "I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night, and have kept thy law. This I had, because I kept thy precepts." What had David for keeping God's precepts? He had power to keep his law; that is, to grow and increase in keeping of it. As the prophet (Hos 6:8) speaks of the knowledge of God: "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord;" that is, if we industriously labour to know God, we shall have this reward, to be made able to know him more. So may I say of the grace of God: he that delights to keep God's law shall have his reward,—to be enabled to keep it more perfectly. A true delight in God's word is grace increasing. Grace is the mother of all true joy (Isa 32:17), and joy is as the daughter, and the mother and daughter live and die together.

Edmund Calamy (1600-1666), in "The Godly Man's Ark"

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verses 49, 55.—"Remember." "I have remembered."

Verse 55.—Night memories. Day duties. How they act and react upon each other.

Verses 55-56.—Dark nights. Bright memories. Right results.

C. A. D.

Verses 55-56.

1. Happy though restless night.

2. Happy though busy day.

W.D.

EXPOSITION VERSE 56

Verse 56.—"This I had, because I kept thy precepts." He had this comfort, this remembrance of God, this power to sing, this courage to face the enemy, this hope in the promise, because he had earnestly observed the commands of God, and striven to walk in them. We are not rewarded for our works, but there is a reward in them. Many a comfort is obtainable only by careful living: we can surely say of such consolations, "This I had because I kept thy precepts." How can we defy ridicule if we are living inconsistently? how can we comfortably remember the name of the Lord if we live carelessly? It may be that David means that he had been enabled to keep the law because he had attended to the separate precepts: he had taken the commands in detail, and so had reached to holiness of life. Or, by keeping certain of the precepts he had gained spiritual strength to keep others: for God gives more grace to those who have some measure of it, and those who improve their talents shall find themselves improving. It may be best to leave the passage open just as our version does; so that we may say of a thousand priceless blessings, "these came to us in the way of obedience." All our possessions are the gifts of grace, and yet some of them come in the shape of reward; yet even then the reward is not of debt, but of grace. God first works in us good works, and then rewards us for them.

Here we have an apt conclusion to this section of the psalm, for this verse is a strong argument for the prayer with which the section commenced. The sweet singer had evidence of having kept God's precepts, and therefore he could the more properly beg the Lord to keep his promises. All through the passage we may find pleas, especially in the two remembers. "I have remembered thy judgments," and "I have remembered thy name;" "Remember thy word unto thy servant."

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 56.—"This I had, because I kept thy precepts." As sin is a punishment of sin, and the wicked waxeth ever worse and worse; so godliness is the recompense of godliness. The right use of one talent increaseth more, and the beginnings of godliness are blessed with a growth of godliness. David's good exercises here held him in memory of his God, and the memory of God made him more godly and religious.

William Cowper.

Verse 56.—"This I had," etc. The Rabbins have an analogous saying,—The reward of a precept is a precept, or, A precept draws a precept. The meaning of which is, that he who keeps one precept, to him God grants, as if by way of reward, the ability to keep another and more difficult precept. The contrary to this is that other saying of the Rabbins, that the reward of a sin is a sin; or, Transgression draws transgression.

Simon de Muis, 1587-1644.

Verse 56.—"This I had," that is, this happened to me, etc. I experienced many evils and adversities; but, on the other hand, I drew sweetest consolations from the word, and I was crowned with many blessings from God.

Others thus render it, This is my business, This I care for and desire, to keep thy commandments; i.e., to hold fast the doctrine incorrupt with faith and a good conscience.

D.H. Mollerus.

Verse 56.—"This I had," etc. I had the comfort of keeping thy law because I kept it. God's work is its own wages.

Matthew Henry.

Verse 56.—"This I had," etc. What is that? This comfort I had, this supportation I had in all my afflictions, this consolation I had, this sweet communion with God I had. Why? "Because I kept thy precepts," I obeyed thy will. Look, how much obedience is yielded to the commands of God, so much comfort doth flow into the soul: God usually gives in comforts proportionably to our obedience. O the sweet, soul satisfying consolation a child of God finds in the ways of God, and in doing the will of God, especially when he lies on his deathbed; then it will be sweeter to him than honey and the honeycomb; then will he say with good king Hezekiah, when he lay upon his deathbed, "Lord, remember how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which was good in thy sight." O the sweet satisfaction that a soul shall find in God, when he comes to appear before God!

James Nalton, 1664.

Verse 56.—"This I had," etc. Or, "This was my consolation, that I kept thy precepts;" which is nearly the reading of the Syriac, and renders the sense more complete.

Note in Bagster's Comprehensive Bible.

Verse 56.—"This I had," etc. When I hear the faithful people of God telling of his love, and saying—"This I had," must I not, if unable to join their cheerful acknowledgment, trace it to my unfaithful walk, and say—"This I had not"—because I have failed in obedience to thy precepts; because I have been careless and self indulgent; because I have slighted thy love; because I have "grieved thy Holy Spirit," and forgotten to "ask for the old paths, that I might walk therein, and find rest to my soul" Jer 6:16.

Charles Bridges.

Verse 56.—David saith indefinitely, "This I had;" not telling us what good or privilege it was; only in the general, it was some benefit that accrued to him in this life. He doth not say, This I hope for; but, "This I had;" and therefore he doth not speak of the full reward in the life to come. In heaven we come to receive the full reward of obedience; but a close walker, that waiteth upon God in an humble and constant obedience, shall have sufficient encouragement even in this life. Not only he shall be blessed, but he is blessed; he hath something on hand as well as in hope: as David saith in this the 119th Psalm, not only he shall be blessed, but he is blessed; as they that travelled towards Zion, they met with a well by the way: "Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools" (Psa 84:6). In a dry and barren wilderness, through which they were to pass, they were not left wholly comfortless, but met with a well or a cistern; that is, they had some comfort vouchsafed to them before they came to enjoy God's presence in Zion; some refreshments they had by the way. As servants, that, besides their wages, have their veils; so, besides the recompense of reward hereafter, we have our present comforts and supports during our course of service, which are enough to counterbalance all worldly joys, and outweigh the greatest pleasures that men can expect in the way of sin. In the benefits that believers find by walking with God in a course of obedience every one can say, "This I had, because I kept thy precepts."

Thomas Manton.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 56.—The gains of godliness; or, what a man gets through holy living.

Verse 56.

1. The duty: "I kept thy precepts."

2. Its reward: "This I had," etc. Protection: "this I had." Guidance: "this I had." Prosperity: "this I had." Consolation: "this I had."

G. R.




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