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C. H. Spurgeon :: Psalm 119 Verses 73-80

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Psalm 119 Verses 73-80


EXPOSITION VERSE 73

We have now come to the tenth portion, which in each stanza begins with Jod, but it certainly does not treat of jots and titles and other trifles. Its subject would seem to be personal experience and its attractive influence upon others. The prophet is in deep sorrow, but looks to be delivered and made a blessing. Endeavouring to teach, the Psalmist first seeks to be taught (Psa 119:73), persuades Himself that he will be well received (Psa 119:74), and rehearses the testimony which he intends to bear (Psa 119:75). He prays for more experience (Psa 119:76-77), for the baffling of the proud (Psa 119:78), for the gathering together of the godly to him (Psa 119:79), and for himself again that he may be fully equipped for his witness bearing and may be sustained in it (Psa 119:80). This is the anxious yet hopeful cry of one who is heavily afflicted by cruel adversaries, and therefore makes his appeal to God as his only friend.

Verse 73.—"Thy hands have made me and fashioned me." It is profitable to remember our creation, it is pleasant to see that the divine hand has had much to do with us, for it never moves apart from the divine thought. It excites reverence, gratitude, and affection towards God when we view him as our Maker, putting forth the careful skill and power of his hands in our forming and fashioning. He took a personal interest in us, making us with his own hands; he was doubly thoughtful, for he is represented both as making and moulding us. In both giving existence and arranging existence he manifested love and wisdom; and therefore we find reasons for praise, confidence, and expectation in our being and well being.

"Give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments." As thou hast made me, teach me. Here is the vessel which thou hast fashioned; Lord, fill it. Thou hast given me both soul and body; grant me now thy grace that my soul may know thy will, and my body may join in the performance of it. The plea is very forcible; it is an enlargement of the cry, "Forsake not the work of thine own hands." Without understanding the divine law and rendering obedience to it we are imperfect and useless; but we may reasonably hope that the great Potter will complete his work and give the finishing touch to it by imparting to it sacred knowledge and holy practice. If God had roughly made us, and had not also elaborately fashioned us, this argument would lose much of its force; but surely from the delicate art and marvellous skill which the Lord has shown in the formation of the human body, we may infer that he is prepared to take equal pains with the soul till it shall perfectly bear his image.

A man without a mind is an idiot, the mere mockery of a man; and a mind without grace is wicked, the sad perversion of a mind. We pray that we may not be left without a spiritual judgment: for this the Psalmist prayed in Psa 119:66, and he here pleads for it again; there is no true knowing and keeping of the commandments without it. Fools can sin; but only those who are taught of God can be holy. We often speak of gifted men; but he has the best gifts to whom God has given a sanctified understanding wherewith to know and prize the ways of the Lord. Note well that David's prayer for understanding is not for the sake of speculative knowledge, and the gratification of his curiosity: he desires an enlightened judgment that he may learn God's commandments, and so become obedient and holy. This is the best of learning. A man may abide in the College where this science is taught all his days, and yet cry out for ability to learn more. The commandment of God is exceeding broad, and so it affords scope for the most vigorous and instructed mind: in fact, no man has by nature an understanding capable of compassing so wide a field, and hence the prayer, "give me understanding;"—as much as to say—I can learn other things with the mind I have, but thy law is so pure, so perfect, spiritual and sublime, that I need to have my mind enlarged before I can become proficient in it. He appeals to his Maker to do this, as if he felt that no power short of that which made him could make him wise unto holiness. We need a new creation, and who can grant us that but the Creator himself? He who made us to live must make us to learn; he who gave us power to stand must give us grace to understand. Let us each one breathe to heaven the prayer of this verse ere we advance a step further, for we shall be lost even in these petitions unless we pray our way through them, and cry to God for understanding.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

In this section each verse begins with the Hebrew letter Jot, or i, the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, called in Mat 5:18, jot; one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the law.

Albert Barnes.

Verses 73-80.—The usual account of this section, as given by the medieval theologians, is that it is the prayer of man to be restored to his state of original innocence and wisdom by being conformed to the image of Christ. And this squares with the obvious meaning, which is partly a petition for divine grace and partly an assertion that the example of piety and resignation in trouble is attractive enough to draw men's hearts on towards God, a truth set forth at once by the Passion, and by the lives of all those saints who have tried to follow it.

Neale and Littledale.

Verse 73.—"Thy hands have made me and fashioned me," etc. This verse hath a petition for understanding, and a reason with it: I am the workmanship of thine hands, therefore give me understanding. There is no man but favours the works of his hands. And shall not the Lord much more love his creatures, especially man, his most excellent creature? Whom, if ye consider according to the fashion of his body, ye shall find nothing on earth more precious than he; but in that which is not seen, namely, his soul, he is much more beautiful. So you see, David's reasoning is very effectual; all one as if he should say as he doth elsewhere, "Forsake not, O Lord, the work of thine hands;" thou art my author and maker; thine help I seek, and the help of none other.

No man can rightly seek good things from God, if he consider not what good the Lord hath already done to him. But many are in this point so ignorant, that they know not how wonderfully God did make them; and therefore can neither bless him, nor seek from him, as from their Creator and Conserver. But this argument, drawn from our first creation, no man can rightly use, but he who is through grace partaker of the second creation; for all the privileges of our first creation we have lost by our fall. So that now by nature it is no comfort to us, nor matter of our hope, that God did make us; but rather matter of our fear and distrust, that we have mismade ourselves, have lost his image, and are not now like unto that which God created us in the beginning.

William Cowper.

Verse 73.—"Thy hands have made me and fashioned me," etc. Mark here two things: first, that in making his prayer for holy understanding, he justly accuseth himself and all others of blindness, which proceeded not from the Creator, but from man corrupted. Secondly, that even from his creation he conceived hope that God would continue his work begun in him, because God leaveth not his work, and therefore he begs God to bestow new grace upon him, and to finish that which he had begun in him.

Thomas Wilcocks, 1586.

Verse 73.—Hugo ingeniously notices in the different verbs of this verse the particular vices to be shunned: ingratitude, when it is said, "Thy hands have made me;" pride, "and fashioned me"; confidence in his own judgment, "give me understanding;" prying inquisitiveness, "that I may learn thy commandments."

Verse 73.—"Thy hands." Hilary and Ambrose think that by the plural "hands" is intimated that there is a more exact and perfect workmanship in man, and as if it were with greater labour and skill he had been formed by God, because after the image and likeness to God: and that it is not written that any other thing but man was made by God with both hands, for he saith in Isaiah, "Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth:" Isa 48:13.

John Lorinus, 1569-1634.

This, however, is an error, as Augustine notes; for it is written, "The heavens are the work of thine hands." Psa 102:25.—C.H.S.

Verse 73.—"Thy hands." Oh, look upon the wounds of thine hands, and forget not the work of thine hands: so Queen Elizabeth prayed.

John Trapp.

Verse 73.—Some refer the verb עָשָׂה, "made," to the soul, כּוֹכך, "fashioned," to the body.

D.H. Mollerus.

Verse 73.—"Made me and fashioned me: give me understanding." The greatness of God is no hindrance to his intercourse with us, for one special part of the divine greatness is to be able to condescend to the littleness of created beings, seeing that creaturehood must, from its very name, have this littleness; inasmuch as God must ever be God, and man must ever be man: the ocean must ever be the ocean, the drop must ever be the drop. The greatness of God compassing our littleness about, as the heavens the earth, and fitting into it on every side, as the air into all parts of the earth, is that which makes the intercourse so complete and blessed: "In his hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind" (Job 12:10). Such is his nearness to, such is his intimacy with, the works of his hands. It is nearness, not distance, that the name Creator implies; and the simple fact of his having made us is the assurance of his desire to bless us and to hold intercourse with us. Communication between the thing made and its maker is involved in the very idea of creation. "Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give we understanding, that I may learn thy commandments." "Faithful Creator" is his name (1Pe 4:19), and as such we appeal to him, "Forsake not the work of thine own hands" (Psa 138:8).

Horatius Bonar, in "The Rent Veil," 1875.

Verse 73.—"Give we understanding," etc. The book of God is like the apothecary's shop, there is no wound but therein is a remedy; but if a stranger come unto the apothecary's shop, though all these things be there, yet he cannot tell where they are, but the apothecary himself knoweth; so in the Scriptures, there are cures for any infirmities; there is comfort against any sorrows, and by conferring chapter with chapter, we shall understand them. The Scriptures are not wanting to us, but we to ourselves; let us be conversant in them, and we shall understand them, when great clerks who are negligent remain in darkness.

Richard Stock.

Verse 73.—"Give me understanding." Let us pray unto God that he would open our understandings, that as he hath given us consciences to guide us, so also he would give eyes to these guides that they may be able to direct us aright. The truth is, it is God only that can soundly enlighten our consciences; and therefore let us pray unto him to do it. All our studying, and hearing, and reading, and conferring will never be able to do it; it is only in the power of him who made us to do it. He who made our consciences, he only can give them this heavenly light of true knowledge and right understanding; and therefore let us seek earnestly to him for it.

William Fenner, 1600-1640.

Verse 73.—"That I may learn thy commandments." That he might learn them so as to know the sense and meaning of them, their purity and spirituality; and so as to do them from a principle of love, in faith, and to the glory of God: for it is not a bare learning of them by heart or committing them to memory, nor a mere theory of them, but the practice of them in faith and love, which is here meant.

John Gill.

Verses 73-74.—From these verses, learn,

1. Albeit nothing can satisfy unbelief, yet true faith will make use of the most common benefit of creation to strengthen itself: "Thine hands have made me and fashioned me."

2. It is a good way of reasoning with God, to ask another gift, because we have received one; and because he hath given common benefits, to ask that he would give us also saving graces: "Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments."

3. Seeing that God is our Creator, and that the end of our creation is to serve God, we may confidently ask whatsoever grace may enable us to serve him, as the Psalmist's example doth teach us…

4. It should be the joy of all believers to see one of their number sustained and borne up in his sufferings; for in the proof and example of one sufferer a pawn is given to all the rest, that God will help them in like case: "They that fear thee will be glad when they see me."

David Dickson.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verses 73-80.—"Natural and spiritual creation. The Psalmist prays to the Creator for spiritual life or "understanding" (Psa 119:73), he will then be welcomed by the spiritual (Psa 119:74). He submissively receives affliction for spiritual training (Psa 119:75-77), deprecates the hostility of the proud (Psa 119:78), craves the company of the spiritual (Psa 119:79), and prays for heart soundness (Psa 119:80).

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

Verse 73.

1. Consider the Lord's great care in our creation.

2. See in it a reason for his perfecting the new creation within us.

3. Observe the method of this perfecting.

EXPOSITION VERSE 74

Verse 74.—"They that fear thee will be glad when they see me: because I have hoped in thy word." When a man of God obtains grace for himself he becomes a blessing to others, especially if that grace has made him a man of sound understanding and holy knowledge. God fearing men are encouraged when they meet with experienced believers. A hopeful man is a God send when things are declining or in danger. When the hopes of one believer are fulfilled his companions are cheered and established, and led to hope also. It is good for the eyes to see a man whose witness is that the Lord is true; it is one of the joys of saints to hold converse with their more advanced brethren. The fear of God is not a left handed grace, as some have called it; it is quite consistent with gladness; for if even the sight of a comrade gladdens the God fearing, how glad must they be in the presence of the Lord himself! We do not only meet to share each others' burdens, but to partake in each others' joys, and some men contribute largely to the stock of mutual gladness. Hopeful men bring gladness with them. Despondent spirits spread the infection of depression, and hence few are glad to see them, while those whose hopes are grounded upon God's word carry sunshine in their faces, and are welcomed by their fellows. There are professors whose presence scatters sadness, and the godly quietly steal out of their company: may this never be the case with us.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 74.—"They that fear thee will be glad," etc. They who "fear God" are naturally "glad when they see" and converse with one like themselves; but more especially so, when it is one whose faith and patience have carried him through troubles, and rendered him victorious over temptations; one who hath "hoped in God's word," and hath not been disappointed. Every such instance affords fresh encouragement to all those, who, in the course of their warfare, are to undergo like troubles, and to encounter like temptations. In all our trials let us, therefore, remember, that our brethren, as well as ourselves, are deeply interested in the event, which may either strengthen or weaken the hands of the multitudes.

George Horne.

Verse 74.—"They that fear thee will be glad when they see me," etc. How comfortable it is for the heirs of promise to see one another, or meet together: aspectus boni viri delectat, the very look of a good man is delightful: it is a pleasure to converse with those that are careful to please God, and fearful to offend him. How much affected they are with one another's mercies: "they will be glad when they see me," since I have obtained an event answerable to my hope. They shall come and look upon me as a monument and spectacle of the mercy and truth of God. But what mercy had he received? The context seemeth to carry it for grace to obey God's commandments; that was the prayer immediately preceding, to be instructed and taught in God's law (Psa 119:73). Now they will rejoice to see my holy behaviour, how I have profited and glorified God in that behalf. The Hebrew writers render the reason, "Because then I shall be able to instruct them in those statutes, when they shall see me, their king, study the law of God." It may be expounded of any other blessing or benefit God had given according to his hope; and I rather understand it thus, they will be glad to see him sustained, supported, and borne out in his troubles and sufferings. "They will be glad when they shall see in me a notable example of the fruit of hoping in thy grace."

Thomas Manton.

Verse 74.—"Because I have hoped in thy word." And have not been disappointed. The Vulgate rendereth it supersperavi, I have over hoped; and then Aben Ezra glosses, "I have hoped in all thy decrees;" even that of afflicting me, as in the next verse.

John Trapp.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 74.

1. The encouraging influence of good men upon others.

2. The instructive influence of others upon them:

G. R.

Verse 74.—Converse with a tried but steadfast believer is a source of gladness to the children of God.

1. He has a thrilling talc of experience to tell.

2. He has valuable counsels and cautions to give.

3. He is a monument of God's faithfulness, confirming the hope of others.

4. He is an epistle of Christ, written expressly to illustrate the preciousness and the power of the gospel.

J.F.

EXPOSITION VERSE 75

Verse 75.—"I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right." He who would learn most must be thankful for what he already knows, and be willing to confess it to the glory of God. The Psalmist had been sorely tried, but he had continued to hope in God under his trial, and now he avows his conviction that be had been justly and wisely chastened. This he not only thought but knew, so that he was positive about it, and spoke without a moment's hesitation. Saints are sure about the rightness of their troubles, even when they cannot see the intent of them. It made the godly glad to hear David say this,

"And that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me." Because love required severity, therefore the Lord exercised it. It was not because God was unfaithful that the believer found himself in a sore strait, but for just the opposite reason: it was the faithfulness of God to his covenant which brought the chosen one under the rod. It might not be needful that others should be tried just then; but it was necessary to the Psalmist, and therefore the Lord did not withhold the blessing. Our heavenly Father is no Eli: he will not suffer his children to sin without rebuke, his love is too intense for that. The man who makes the confession of this verse is already progressing in the school of grace, and is learning the commandments. This third verse of the section corresponds to the third of Teth (Psa 119:67), and in a degree to several other verses which make the thirds in their octaves.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 75.—"I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right." In very early life the tree of knowledge seemed a very fine, a glorious tree in my sight; but how many mistakes have I made upon that subject! And how many are the mistakes which yet abound upon that which we are pleased to call knowledge, in common speech. He that hath read the classics; he that hath dipped into mathematical science; he that is versed in history, and grammar, and common elocution; he that is apt and ready to solve some knotty question and versed in the ancient lore of learning, is thought to be a man of knowledge; and so he is, compared with the ignorant mass of mankind. But what is all this compared with the knowledge in my text, knowledge of which few of the learned, as they are called, have the least acquaintance with at all.

Verse 75.—What, David? What do you know?—"I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me."

Fond as I may yet be of other speculations, I would rather, much rather, possess the knowledge of this man in this text, than have the largest acquaintance with the whole circle of the sciences, as it is proudly called… I am apprehensive that, in the first clause, the Psalmist speaks, in general: of the ordinances, appointments, providence, and judgments of God; and the assertion is, he doth know that they are right, that they are equitable, that they are wise, that they are fair, and that they are not to be found fault with; and that though men, through folly, bring themselves into distress, and then their hearts fret against God. He was blessed with superior understanding. He excepts nothing: "I know that all thy judgments are right." Then, in the latter part of the text, he makes the matter personal. It might be said, it is an easy thing for you so to think when you see the revolutions of kingdoms, the tottering of thrones, the distresses of some mortals and the pains of others, that they are all right. "Yes," saith he, "but I have the same persuasion about all my own sorrows; I do know that in faithfulness thou hast afflicted me."

From a Sermon by John Martin, 1817.

Verse 75.—"I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right," etc. The text is in the form of an address to God. We often find this in David, that, when he would express some deep feeling, or some point of spiritual experience, he does so in this way—addressing himself to God. Those who love God delight to hold communion with him; and there are some feelings which the spiritual mind finds peculiar comfort and pleasure in telling to God himself. "I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right." God orders all things, and his "judgments" here mean his general orderings, decisions, dealings—not afflictions only, though including them. And when the Psalmist says, "thy judgments," he means especially God's judgments towards him, God's dealings with him, and thus all that had happened to him, or should happen to him. For in the Psalmist's creed there was no such thing as chance. God ordered all that befell him, and he loved to think so. He expresses a sure and happy confidence in all that God did, and would do, with regard to him. He trusted fully in God's wisdom, God's power, God's love. "I know thy judgments are right"—quite right, right in every way, without one single point that might have been better, perfectly wise and good. He shows the firmest persuasion of this. "I know," he says, not merely, "I think." But these very words, "I know," clearly show that this was a matter, of faith, not of sight. For he does not say, "I can see that thy judgments are right," but "I know." The meaning plainly is, "Though I cannot see all—though there are some things in thy dealings which I cannot fully understand—yet I believe, I am persuaded, and thus I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right."

"Thy judgments." Not some of them, but all. He takes into view all God's dealings with him, and says of them without exception, "I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right." When the things that happen to us are plainly for our comfort and good, as many of them are, then we thankfully receive what God thus sends to us, and own him as the Giver of all, and bless him for his gracious dealing; and this is right. But all the faith required for this (and some faith there is in it) is to own God as dealing with us, instead of thanklessly receiving the gifts with no thought of the Giver. It is a far higher degree of faith, that says of all God's dealings, even when seemingly not for our happiness, "I know that thy judgments are right."

Yet this is the meaning here, or certainly the chief meaning. For though the word "judgments" does mean God's dealings of every kind, yet here the words that follow make it apply especially to God's afflictive dealings, that is, to those dealings of his that do not seem to be for our happiness; "I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me." The judgments which the Psalmist chiefly had in view, and which he felt so sure were right, were not joys, but sorrows; not things bestowed, but things taken away; those blessings in disguise, those veiled mercies, those gifts clad in the garb of mourning, which God so often sends to his children. The Psalmist knew, and knew against all appearance to the contrary, that these judgments were "right." Whatever they might be—losses, bereavements, disappointments, pain, sickness—they were right; as right as the more manifest blessings which went before them; quite right, perfectly right; so right that they could not have been better; just what were best; and all because they were God's judgments. That one thing satisfied the Psalmist's mind, and set every doubt at rest. The dealings in themselves he might have doubted, but not him whose dealings they were. "Thy judgments." That settled all. "And that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me." This means that, in appointing trouble as his lot, God had dealt with him in faithfulness to his word, faithfulness to his purposes of mercy, with a faithful, not a weak love. He had sent him just what was most for his good, though not always what was most pleasing; and in this he had shown himself faithful. Gently and lovingly does the Lord deal with his children. He gives no unnecessary pain; but that which is needful he will not withhold.

Francis Bourdillon, 1881.

Verse 75.—"Thy judgments." There are judicia oris, and there are judicia operis; the judgments of God's mouth, and the judgments of God's hands. Of the former there is mention at Psa 119:13: "With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth." And by these "judgments" are meant nothing else but the holy law of God, and his whole written word; which everywhere in this psalm are indifferently called his "statutes," his "commandments," his "precepts," his "testimonies," his "judgments." And the laws of God are therefore, amongst other reasons, called by the name of "judgments," because by them we come to have a right judgment whereby to discern between good and evil. We could not otherwise with any certainty judge what was meet for us to do, and what was needful for us to shun. A lege tua intellexi, at Psa 119:104; "By thy law have I gotten understanding." St. Paul confesseth (Romans 7), that he had never rightly known what sin was if it had not been for the law; and he instances in that of lust, which he had not known to be a sin, if the law had not said, "thou shalt not covet." And no question but these "judgments," these judicia oris, are all "right" too; for it were unreasonable to think that God should make that a rule of right to us, which were itself not right. We have both the name (that of "judgments;") and the thing too, (that they are "right") in the 19th Psalm; where having highly commended the law of God, under the several appellations of the "law," testimonies, statutes and commandments, verses 7 and 8, the prophet then concludes under this name of "judgments," verse 9: "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

Besides these judicia oris, which are God's judgments of directions, there are also judicia operis, which are his judgments for correction. And these do ever include aliquid paenale, something inflicted upon us by Almighty God, as it were by way of punishment; something that breeds in us trouble or grief. The apostle saith in Hebrews 12 that every chastening is grievous; and so it is, more or less; or else it could be to us no punishment. And these, again, are of two sort; yet not distinguished so much by the things themselves that are inflicted, as by the condition of the persons on whom they are inflicted, and especially by the affection and intention of God that inflicts them. For all, whether public calamities that light upon whole nations, cities, or other greater or lesser societies of men (such as are pestilences, famine, war, inundations, unseasonable weather), and the like for private afflictions, that light upon particular families or persons, (as sickness, poverty, disgrace, injuries, death of friends, and the like;) all these, and whatsoever other of either kind, may undergo a twofold consideration; in either of which they may not unfitly be termed the judgments of God, though in different respects.

Now we see the several sorts of God's judgments: which of all these may we think is here meant? If we should take them all in, the conclusion would hold them, and hold true too. Judicia oris, and judicia operis; public and private judgments; those plagues wherewith in fury he punishes his enemies, and those rods wherewith in mercy he correcteth his children: most certain it is they are all "right." But yet I conceive those indicia oris not to be so properly meant in this place; for the exegesis in the latter part of the verse (wherein what are here called judgments are there expounded by troubles) seemeth to exclude them, and to confine the text in the proper intent thereof to these judicia operis only; but yet to all them of what sort soever; public or private, plagues or corrections. Of all which he pronounces that they are "right;" which is the predicate of the conclusion: "I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right."

Robert Sanderson.

Verse 75.—"Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me." Mark the emphasis: he doth not barely acknowledge that God was faithful, though or notwithstanding he had afflicted him, but faithful in sending the afflictions. Affliction and trouble are not only consistent with God's love plighted in the covenant of grace; but they are parts and branches of the new covenant administration. God is not only faithful notwithstanding afflictions, but faithful in sending them. There is a difference between these two: the one is like an exception to the rule, quae firmat regulam in non exceptis: the other makes it a part of the rule, God cannot be faithful without doing all things that tend to our good and eternal welfare. The conduct of his providence is one part of the covenant engagement; as to pardon our sins, and sanctify us, and give us glory at the last, so to suit his providence as our need and profit require in the way to heaven. It is an act of his sovereign mercy which he hath promised to his people, to use such discipline as conduces to their safety. In short, the cross is not an exception to the grace of the covenant, but a part of the grace of the covenant.

The cause of all afflictions is sin, therefore justice must be acknowledged: their end is repentance, and therefore faithfulness must be acknowledged. The end is not destruction and ruin, so afflictions would be acts of justice, as upon the wicked; but that we may be fit to receive the promises, and so they are acts of faithfulness.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 75.—"Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me." That is, with a sincere intention of doing me good. God thoroughly knows our constitution, what is noxious to our health, and what may remedy our distempers; and therefore accordingly disposes to us Pro jucundis aptissima quaeque instead of pleasant honey, he sometimes prescribes wholesome wormwood for us. We are ourselves greatly ignorant of what is conducible to our real good, and, were the choice of our condition wholly permitted to us, should make very foolish, very disadvantageous elections.

We should (be sure) all of us embrace a rich and plentiful estate; when as, God knows, that would make us slothful and luxurious, swell us with pride and haughty thoughts, encumber us with anxious cares and expose us to dangerous temptations; would render us forgetful of ourselves and neglectful of him. Therefore he wisely disposes poverty unto us; poverty, the mother of sobriety, the nurse of industry, the mistress of wisdom; which will make us understand ourselves and our dependence on him, and force us to have recourse unto his help. And is there not reason we should be thankful for the means by which we are delivered from those desperate mischiefs, and obtain these excellent advantages?

We should all (certainly) choose the favour and applause of man: but this, God also knows, would corrupt our minds with vain conceit, would intoxicate our fancies with spurious pleasure, would tempt us to ascribe immoderately to ourselves, and sacrilegiously to deprive God of his due honour. Therefore he advisedly suffers us to incur the disgrace and displeasure, the hatred and contempt of men: that so we may place our glory only in the hopes of his favour, and may pursue more earnestly the purer delights of a good conscience. And doth not this part of divine providence highly merit our thanks?

We would all climb into high places, not considering the precipices on which they stand, nor the vertiginousness of our own brains: but God keeps us safe in the humble valleys, allotting to us employments which we are more capable to manage.

We should perhaps insolently abuse power, were it committed to us: we should employ great parts on unwieldy projects, as many do, to the disturbance of others, and their own ruin: vast knowledge would cause us to over value ourselves and contemn others: enjoying continual health, we should not perceive the benefit thereof, nor be mindful of him that gave it. A suitable mediocrity therefore of these things the divine goodness allots unto us, that we may neither starve for want, nor surfeit with plenty.

In fine, the advantages arising from afflictions are so many, and so great, that it were easy to demonstrate that we have great reason, not only to be contented with, but to rejoice in, and to be very thankful for, all the crosses and vexations we meet with; to receive them cheerfully at God's hand, as the medicines of our soul, and the condiments of our fortune; as the arguments of his goodwill, and the instruments of virtue; as solid grounds of hope, and comfortable presages of future joy unto us.

Isaac Barrow.

Verse 75.—"Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me." When a father disowns and banishes a child, he corrects him no more. So God may let one whom he intends to destroy go unchastened; but never one with whom he is in covenant.

William S. Plumer.

Verse 75.—"I know, O Lord," etc.

Yet, Lord, in memory's fondest place
I shrine those seasons sad,
When, looking up, I saw thy face
In kind austereness clad.

I would not miss one sigh or tear,
Heart pang, or throbbing brow:
Sweet was the chastisement severe,
And sweet its memory now.

Yes! let the fragrant scars abide,
Love tokens in thy stead,
Faint shadows of the spear pierced side.
And thorn encompassed Head.

And such thy tender force be still,
When self would swerve or stray,
Shaping to truth the froward will
Along thy narrow way.

John Henry Newman, 1829.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 75.—Experimental knowledge: positive, personal, glorifying to God, consoling to the saints.

EXPOSITION VERSE 76

Verse 76.—"Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant." Having confessed the righteousness of the Lord, he now appeals to his mercy, and while he does not ask that the rod may be removed, he earnestly begs for comfort under it. Righteousness and faithfulness afford us no consolation if we cannot also taste of mercy, and, blessed be God, this is promised us in the word, and therefore we may expect it. The words "merciful kindness," are a happy combination, and express exactly what we need in affliction: mercy to forgive the sin, and kindness to sustain under the sorrow. With these we can be comfortable in the cloudy and dark day, and without them we are wretched indeed; for these, therefore, let us pray unto the Lord, whom we have grieved by our sin, and let us plead the word of his grace as our sole reason for expecting his favour. Blessed be his name, notwithstanding our faults we are still his servants, and we serve a compassionate Master. Some read the last clause, "according to thy saying unto thy servant;" some special saying of the Lord was remembered and pleaded: can we not remember some such "faithful saying," and make it the groundwork of our petitioning? That phrase, "according to thy word," is a very favourite one; it shows the motive for mercy and the manner of mercy. Our prayers are according to the mind of God when they are according to the word of God.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 76.—"Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort." In the former verse he acknowledged that the Lord had afflicted him; now in this he prayeth the Lord to comfort him. This is strange that a man should seek comfort at the same hand that strikes him: it is the work of faith; nature will never teach us to do it. "Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for he hath spoiled, and he will heal us: he hath wounded, and he will bind us up." Again, we see that the crosses which God lays on his children, are not to confound, not to consume them; only to prepare them for greater consolations. With this David sustained himself against Shimei's cursing; "The Lord will look on my affliction, and do me good for this evil:" with this our Saviour comforts his disciples; "Your mourning shall be turned into joy." As the last estate of Job was better than his first; so shall the Lord render more to his children at the last than now at the first he takes from them: let us therefore bear his cross, as a preparative to comfort.

William Cowper.

Verse 76.—"Let thy merciful kindness be for my comfort." Several of the preceding verses have spoken of affliction (Psa 119:67, 71, 75). The Psalmist now presents his petition for alleviation under it. But of what kind? He does not ask to have it removed. He does not "beseech the Lord, that it might depart from him" 2Co 12:8. No. His repeated acknowledgments of the supports vouchsafed under it, and the benefits he had derived from it, had reconciled him to commit its measures and continuance to the Lord. All that he needs, and all that he asks for, is a sense of his "merciful kindness" upon his soul. Thus he submits to his justice in his accumulated trials, and expects consolation under them solely upon the ground of his free favour.

Charles Bridges.

Verse 76.—"Let thy merciful kindness," etc. Let me derive my comfort and happiness from a diffusion of thy love and mercy, הסדה chasdecha, thy exuberant goodness through my soul.

Adam Clarke.

Verse 76.—"According to thy word unto thy servant." If his promise did not please him, why did he make it? If our reliance on the promise did not please him, why did his goodness work it? It would be inconsistent with his goodness to mock his creature, and it would be the highest mockery to publish his word, and create a temper in the heart of his supplicant suited to his promise, which he never intended to satisfy. He can as little wrong his creature as wrong himself, and therefore he can never disappoint that faith which after his own methods casts itself into the arms of his kindness, and is his own workmanship, and calls him author. That goodness which imparted itself so freely to the irrational creation will not neglect those nobler creatures that put their trust in him. This renders God a fit object for trust and confidence.

Stephen Charnock.

Verse 76.—"According to thy word." David had a particular promise of a particular benefit; to wit, the kingdom of Israel. And this promise God performed unto him; but his comfort stood not in it; for Saul before him had the kingdom, but the promises of mercy belonged not to him, and therefore, when God forsook him, his kingdom could not sustain him. But David here depends upon the general promises of God's mercy made to his children; wherein he acknowledgeth a particular promise of mercy made to him. For the general promises of mercy and grace made in the gospel are by faith made particular to every believer.

William Cowper.

Verse 76.—"Thy word unto thy servant." Here we may use the eunuch's question: "Of whom speaketh the prophet this, of himself or of some other man?" Of himself questionless, under the denomination of God's servant. But then the question returneth,—Is it a word of promise made to himself in particular, or to God's servants in the general? Some say the former, the promises brought to him by Nathan. I incline to the latter, and it teacheth us these three truths:—

First. That God's servants only are capable of the sweet effects of his mercy and the comforts of his promises. Who are God's servants?

(1.) Such as own his right and are sensible of his interest in them: "God, whose I am, and whom I serve" (Act 28:23).

(2.) Such as give up themselves to him, renouncing all other masters. Renounce we must, for we were once under another master (Rom 6:17; Mat 6:24; Rom 6:13; 2Ch 30:8).

(3.) Such as accordingly frame themselves to do his work sincerely: "serve with my spirit" (Rom 1:9); and, "in newness of spirit" (Rom 7:6), even as becomes those who are renewed by the Spirit: diligently (Act 26:7), and universally (Luk 1:74-75), and wait upon him for grace to do so (Heb 7:28). These are capable of comfort. The book of God speaketh no comfort to persons that live in sin, but to God's servants, such as do not live as if they were at their own disposal, but at God's beck. If he say go, they go. They give up themselves to be and do what God will have them to be and do.

Secondly. If we have the benefit of the promise, we must thrust in ourselves under one title or other among those to whom the promise is made; if not as God's children, yet as God's servants. Then the promise is as sure to us as if our name were in it.

Thirdly. All God's servants have common grounds of comfort: every one of God's servants may plead with God as David doth. The comforts of the word are the common portion of God's people.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 76.—"Thy word unto thy servant." Our Master has passed his word to all his servants that he will be kind to them and they may plead it with him.

Matthew Henry.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 76.—Comfort.

1. May be a matter of prayer.

2. Is provided for in the Lord.

3. Is promised in the word.

4. Is of great value to the believer.

Verse 76.

1. The need of comfort.

2. The source of comfort: "Thy merciful kindness."

3. The rule of comfort: "According to thy word."

G. R.

EXPOSITION VERSE 77

Verse 77.—"Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live." He was so hard pressed that he was at death's door if God did not succour him. He needed not only mercy, but "mercies," and these must be of a very gracious and considerate kind, even "tender mercies," for he was sore with his wounds. These gentle favours must be of the Lord's giving, for nothing less would suffice; and they must "come" all the way to the sufferer's heart, for he was not able to journey after them; all he could do was to sigh out, "Oh that they would come." If deliverance did not soon come, he felt ready to expire, and yet he told us but a verse or so ago that he hoped in God's word: how true it is that hope lives on when death seems written on all besides. A heathen said, "dum spiro spero," while I breathe I hope; but the Christian can say, "dum expiro spero," even when I expire I still expect the blessing. Yet no true child of God can live without the tender mercy of the Lord; it; is death to him to be under God's displeasure. Notice, again, the happy combination of the words of our English version. Was there ever a sweeter sound than this—"tender mercies?" He who has been grievously afflicted, and yet tenderly succoured is the only man who knows the meaning of such choice language.

How truly we live when tender mercy comes to us. Then we do not merely exist, but live; we are lively, full of life, vivacious, and vigorous. We know not what life is till we know God. Some are said to die by the visitation of God, but we live by it.

"For thy law is my delight." O blessed faith! He is no mean believer who rejoices in the law even when its broken precepts cause him to suffer. To delight in the word when it rebukes us, is proof that we are profiting under it. Surely this is a plea which will prevail with God, however bitter our griefs may be; if we still delight in the law of the Lord he cannot let us die, he must and will cast a tender look upon us and comfort our hearts.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 77.—"Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live." If we mark narrowly we shall find that David here seeks another sort of mercy than he sought before. For first he sought mercy to forgive his sins; then he sought mercy to comfort him in his troubles; now he seeks mercy to live, and sin no more. Alas, many seek the first mercy, of remission; and the second mercy, of consolation in trouble, who are altogether careless of the third mercy, to live well. It is a great mercy of God to amend thy life: where this is not, let no man think he hath received either of the former. It is a great mercy of God, which not only pardons evil that is done, but strengthens us also to further good that we have not done; and this is the mercy which here David seeks.

William Cowper.

Verse 77.—"Let thy tender mercies come unto me," etc. The mercies of God are "tender mercies," they are the mercies of a father to his children, nay, tender as the compassion of a mother over the son of her womb. They "come unto" us, when we are not able to go to them. By them alone we "live" the life of faith, of love, of joy and gladness. And to such as "delight" in his law, God will grant these mercies, and this life; he will give them pardon, and, by so doing, he will give them life from the dead.

George Horne.

Verse 77.Let thy tender mercies," etc. Taking the more literal rendering, the words express high confidence—"Thy tender mercies shall come unto me, and I shall live; for thy law is my delight." Had the believer nothing but his own deserts to support his plea at the throne of grace, he could never rise into this high confidence. He goes upon the foundation of the divine goodness, manifested through the anointed One, and he goes surely.

John Stephen.

Verse 77.—"Come." Coming to him notes a personal and effectual application.

First. A personal application, as in Psa 119:41; "Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, even thy salvation, according to thy word." David would not be forgotten, or left out or lost in the throng of mankind, when mercy was distributing the blessing to them.

Secondly. Effectual application: which signifieth, 1. The removal of obstacles and hindrances; 2. The obtaining the fruits and effects of this mercy.

First. The removing of obstacles. Till there be a way made, the mercy of God cannot come at us; for the way is barricaded and shut up by our sins: as the Lord maketh a way for his anger (Psa 78:50), by removing the hindrances, so the Lord maketh way for his mercy, or mercy maketh way for itself, when it removeth the obstruction. Sin is the great hindrance of mercy. We ourselves raise the mists and the clouds which intercept the light of God's countenance; we build up the partition wall which separates between God and us; yet mercy finds the way.

Secondly. The obtaining the fruits of mercy…It is not enough to hear somewhat of God's saving mercies; but we should beg that they may come unto us, be effectually and sensibly communicated unto us, that we may have experience of them in our own souls. A man that hath read of honey, or heard of honey, may know the sweetness of it by guess and imagination; but a man that hath tasted of honey knoweth the sweetness of it in truth: so, by reading and hearing of the grace and mercy of God in Christ, we may guess that it is a sweet thing; but he that hath had an experimental proof of the sweet effects and fruits of it in his own heart perceives that all which is spoken of God's pardoning and comforting of sinners is verified in himself.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 77.—"Thy law is my delight." A child of God, though he cannot serve the Lord perfectly, yet he serves him willingly; his will is in the law of the Lord; he is not a pressed soldier, but a volunteer. By the beating of this pulse we may judge whether there be spiritual life in us or no. David professes that God's law was his delight; he had his crown to delight in, he had his music to delight in; but the love he had to God's law did drown all other delights; as the joy of harvest and vintage exceeds the joy of gleaning.

Thomas Watson.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 77.

1. Visitors invited.

2. Boon expected.

3. Welcome guaranteed: "for thy law," etc.

Verse 77.—Divine life—it is born, sustained, increased, by God's tender mercies.

W.W.

EXPOSITION VERSE 78

Verse 78.—"Let the proud be ashamed." He begged that the judgments of God might no longer fall upon himself, but upon his cruel adversaries. God will not suffer those who hope in his word to be put to shame, for he reserves that reward for haughty spirits: they shall yet be overtaken with confusion, and become the subjects of contempt, while God's afflicted ones shall again lift up their heads. Shame is for the proud, for it is a shameful thing to be proud. Shame is not for the holy, for there is nothing in holiness to be ashamed of.

"For they dealt perversely with me without a cause." Their malice was wanton, he had not provoked them. Falsehood was employed to forge an accusation against him; they had to bend his actions out of their true shape before they could assail his character. Evidently the Psalmist keenly felt the malice of his foes. His consciousness of innocence with regard to them created a burning sense of injustice, and he appealed to the righteous Lord to take his part and clothe his false accusers with shame. Probably he mentioned them as "the proud," because he knew that the Lord always takes vengeance on proud men, and vindicates the cause of those whom they oppress. Sometimes he mentions the proud, and sometimes the wicked, but he always means the same persons; the words are interchangeable: he who is proud is sure to be wicked, and proud persecutors are the worst of wicked men.

"But I will meditate in thy precepts." He would leave the proud in God's hands, and give himself up to holy studies and contemplations. To obey the divine precepts we have need to know them, and think much of them. Hence this persecuted saint felt that meditation must be his chief employment. He would study the law of God and not the law of retaliation. The proud are not worth a thought. The worst injury they can do us is to take us away from our devotions; let us baffle them by keeping all the closer to our God when they are most malicious in their onslaughts.

In a similar position to this we have met with the proud in other octaves, and shall meet them yet again. They are evidently a great plague to the Psalmist, but he rises above them.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 78.—"Let the proud be ashamed," etc. Here is the just recompense of his pride. He would fain have honour and preeminence, but God will not give them unto him: he flies shame and contempt, but God shall pour them upon him. "For they dealt perversely with me without a cause." David complains of the wicked and false dealing of his enemies against him; and his prayer is written to uphold us in the like temptation. For Satan is alway like himself, hating them whom the Lord loveth. He can scarce be worse, lie can never be better; and therefore with restless malice stirs he up all his cursed instruments in whom he reigns, to persecute those who are loved and protected of the Lord. "But I will meditate in thy precepts." David's enemies fought against him with the weapons of the flesh, wickedness and falsehood: lie withstands them by the armour of the Spirit; not meeting wickedness with wickedness, and falsehood with falsehood. For if we fight against Satan with Satan's weapons he will soon overcome us; but if we put upon us the complete armour of God to resist him, he shall flee from us.

William Cowper.

Verse 78.—"Let the proud be ashamed." That is, that they may not prosper or succeed in their attempts; for men are ashamed when they are disappointed. All their endeavours for the extirpation of God's people are vain and fruitless, and those things which they have subtilely devised, have not that effect which they propounded unto themselves. "For they dealt perversely with me without a cause." The Septuagint have it ἀδίκως unjustly. Ainsworth readeth, "With falsehood they have depraved me." It implies two things: first, that they pretended a cause; but, secondly, David avouches his innocency to God; and so, without any guilt of his, they accused, defamed, condemned his actions, as is usual in such cases. When the proud are troublesome and injurious to God's people the saints may boldly commend their cause to God… The Lord may be appealed unto upon a double account; partly, as he is an enemy to the proud, and as a friend to the humble (Jas 4:6; Psa 138:6); partly, as he is the portion of the afflicted and oppressed (Psa 140:12). When Satan stirreth up his instruments to hate those whom the Lord loveth, the Lord will stir up his power to help and defend them. Is not this a revengeful prayer? Answer, No.

First. Because those who pray it are seeking their own deliverance, that they may more freely serve God by consequence. Indeed, by God's showing mercy to his people, the pride of wicked ones is suppressed (Psa 119:134); but mercy is the main object of the prayer.

Secondly. As it concerneth his enemies, he expresses it in mild terms—that they may "be ashamed;" that is, disappointed, in their counsels, hopes, machinations, and endeavours. And therefore it is not against the persons of his enemies, but their plots and enterprises. In such cases shame and disappointment may even do them good. They think to bring in the total suppression of God's people, but that would harden them in their sins; therefore God's people desire that he would not let their innocency be trampled upon, but disappoint their adversaries, that the proud may be ashamed in the failing of their attempts.

Thirdly. The prayers of the righteous for the overthrow of the wicked, are a kind of prophecies; so that, in praying, David doth in effect foretell, that such as dealt perversely should soon be ashamed, since a good cause will not always be oppressed: "But he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed" (Isa 66:5).

Fourthly. Saints have a liberty to imprecate vengeance, but such as must be used sparingly and with great caution: "Let them be confounded and consumed that are adversaries to my soul" (Psa 71:13). Malicious enemies may be expressly prayed against.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 78.—"Let the proud be ashamed." This suggests a word to the wicked. Take heed that by your implacable hatred to the truth and church of God you do not engage her prayers against you. These imprecatory prayers of the saints, when shot at the right mark, and duly put up, are murdering pieces, and strike dead where they light. "Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily." Luk 18:7-8. They are not empty words—as the imprecations of the wicked poured into the air, and there vanishing with their breath—but are received into heaven, and shalt be sent back with thunder and lightning upon the pates of the wicked. David's prayer unravelled Ahithopel's fine spun policy, and twisted his halter for him. The prayers of the saints are more to be feared—as once a great person said and felt—than an army of twenty thousand men in the field. Esther's fast hastened Haman's ruin, and Hezekiah's against Sennacherib brought his huge host to the slaughter, and fetched an angel from heaven to do the execution in one night upon them.

William Gurnall.

Verse 78.—"The proud." The wicked, especially the persecutors of God's people, are usually characterized by this term in this psalm, "the proud" (Psa 119:51, 69, 122). Pride puts wicked men upon being troublesome and injurious to the people of God. But why are the persecutors and the injurious called "the proud"?

1. Because wicked men shake off the yoke of God, and will not be subject to their Maker, and therefore desist not from troubling his people:

"Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go?" (Exo 5:2). What was in his tongue, is in all men's hearts; they contemn God and his laws. Every sin hath a degree of pride, and a deprecation of God included in it, (2Sa 12:9).

2. Because they are drunk with worldly felicity, and never think of changes. "Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud" (Psa 123:4). When men go on prosperously, they are apt wrongfully to trouble others, and then to flout at them in their misery, and to despise the person and cause of God's people, which is a sure effect of great arrogancy and pride. They think they may do what they please: "They have no changes; therefore they fear not God," and put forth their hands against such as be at peace with them (Psa 55:19-20): whilst they go on prosperously and undisturbed, they cannot abstain from violence and oppression.

3. Because they affect a life of pomp, and ease, and carnal greatness, and so despise the affliction, and meanness, and simplicity of God's people. The false church hath usually the advantage of worldly power and external glory; and the true church is known by the Divine power, gifts and graces, and the lustre of holiness.

4. They are called "proud," because of their insolent carriage towards the Lord's people; partly in their laws and injunctions, requiring them to give them more honour, respect, and obedience, than in conscience can be afforded them; as Haman would have Mordecai to devote himself to him after the manner of the Persians (Est 3:5).

Condensed from Thomas Manton.

Verse 78.—"When any of you" says Caesarius, "is singing the verse of the Psalm where it is said, Let the proud be put to shame, let him be earnest to avoid pride, that he may escape everlasting shame."

William Kay.

Verse 78.—"But I will meditate in thy precepts." He repeateth the same thing often, and surely if the world could not contain the books that might be written of Christ, and yet for our infirmity the Lord hath comprised them in such a few books, and yet one thing in them is often repeated, it showeth that the matter is weighty, and of us duly and often to be considered. And again we are taught that this is a thing that none do so carefully look unto as they ought. And he showeth that as his enemies sought by evil means to hurt him; so he sought to keep a good conscience, that so they might not hurt him. Then we must not set policy against policy nor cretizare rum Cretensibus; but let us always tend to the word, and keep within the bounds of that, and fight with the weapons that it lendeth us…If we would give over ourselves to God and his word, and admit nothing but that which agreeth to the word, then should we be made wiser than our enemies.

Richard Greenham.

Verse 78.—"I will meditate in thy precepts." The verb אשיח, asiach, in the second clause of the verse, may be rendered, "I will speak of," as well as, "I will meditate upon;" implying, that, when he had obtained the victory, he would proclaim the goodness of God, which he had experienced. To speak of God's statutes, is equivalent to declaring out of the law how faithfully he guards his saints, how securely he delivers them, and how righteously he avenges their wrongs.

John Calvin.

Verse 78.—"Meditate." Truths lie hid in the heart without efficacy or power, till improved by deep, serious, and pressing thoughts…A sudden carrying a candle through a room, giveth us not so full a survey of the object, as when you stand a while beholding it. A steady contemplation is a great advantage.

Thomas Manton.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 78.

1. A hard thing—to make the proud ashamed.

2. A cruel thing—"they dealt perversely with me," etc.

3. A wise thing—"but I will meditate," etc.

EXPOSITION VERSE 79

Verse 79.—"Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies." Perhaps the tongue of slander had alienated some of the godly, and probably the actual faults of David had grieved many more. He begs God to turn to him, and then to turn his people towards him. Those who are right with God are also anxious to be right with his children. David craved the love and sympathy of gracious men of all grades,—of those who were beginners in grace, and of those who were mature in piety—"those that fear thee," and "those that have known thy testimonies." We cannot afford to lose the love of the least of the saints, and if we have lost their esteem we may most properly pray to have it restored. David was the leader of the godly party in the nation, and it wounded him to the heart when he perceived that those who feared God were not as glad to see him as aforetime they had been. He did not bluster and say that if they could do without him, lie could very well do without them; but he so deeply felt the value of their sympathy, that he made it a matter of prayer that the Lord would turn their hearts to him again. Those who are dear to God, and are instructed in his word, should be very precious in our eyes, and we should do our utmost to be upon good terms with them.

David has two descriptions for the saints, they are God fearing and God knowing. They possess both devotion and instruction; they have both the spirit and the science of true religion. We know some believers who are gracious, but not intelligent; and, on the other hand, we also know certain professors who have all head and no heart: he is the man who combines devotion with intelligence. We neither care for devout dunces nor for intellectual icebergs. When fearing, and knowing walk hand in hand they cause men to be thoroughly furnished unto every good work. If these are my choice companions I may hope that I am one of their order. Let such persons ever turn to me because they find in me congenial company.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 79.—"Let those that fear thee turn unto me." Some think it intimates that when David had been guilty of that foul sin in the murder of Uriah, though he was a king, they that feared God grew strange to him, and turned from him, for they were ashamed of him; this troubled him, and therefore he prays, Lord, let them "turn to me" again. He desires especially the company of those that were not only honest but intelligent, "that have known thy testimonies," have good heads as well as good hearts, and whose conversation will be edifying. It is desirable to have an intimacy with such.

Matthew Henry.

Verse 79.—"Let those that fear thee turn unto me," etc. As he had not his own flesh to fight against only, but the world also, so he did not only himself fight, but he seeketh the help of others. When many see that religion cannot be truly professed but danger will come of it, because many set themselves against it, they flee from it, and go to the greater pair, which is the wicked. If we will avoid this, let us join ourselves to God's children, and they will help us with counsel and advice; for one may be strong when we are weak, another may have counsel when we shall not know what to do; therefore by them we shall be kept from many evil things. So Paul (2Ti 1:16), after he had complained of the wrong that many had done unto him, he straightway giveth thanks for the family of Onesiphorus, which refreshed him more than all his enemies could discourage him; so that he durst oppose this one household to the whole rabble of the wicked.

Richard Greenham.

Verse 79.—"Let those that fear thee," etc. You must go to God and beseech him to choose your company for you. Mark what David said and did; in Psa 119:63 he saith, "I am a companion of all them that fear the Lord;" yet in this verse he goes to God, and prayeth, saying, "Let those that fear thee, O Lord, turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies." As if he should say, "Of a truth, Lord, I am a companion of all that do fear thee; but it is not in my power to bend their hearts unto me; the hearts of all men are in thy hands," now therefore "let those that fear thee turn unto me." So do you go to God, and say likewise: Lord, do thou choose my company for me; oh, do thou bow and incline their hearts to be my companions.

William Bridge.

Verse 79.—"Those that fear." "Those that have known." Fear and knowledge do make up a godly man. Knowledge without fear breeds presumption; and fear without knowledge breeds superstition; and blind zeal, as a blind horse, may be full of mettle, but is ever and anon stumbling. Knowledge must direct fear, and fear must season knowledge; then it is a happy mixture and composition.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 79.—One great means to restore a good understanding among God's people is prayer. David goeth to God about it: "Lord, let them turn to me." The Lord governs hearts and interests, both are in his hands, and he useth their alienation or reconciliation, either for judgment or mercy. God, when he pleaseth, can divert from us the comfort of godly friends; and when he pleaseth, he can bring them back again to us. The feet of God's children are directed by God himself; if they come to us, it is a blessing of God; if not, it is for a correction. He made Jacob and Laban meet peaceably (Genesis 30), and in the next chapter, Jacob and Esau (Genesis 31).

Thomas Manton.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 79.—Restoration to church fellowship.

1. Good men may be in such a case as to need to be restored.

2. They should not be ashamed to seek it.

3. They should pray about it.

Verse 79.—Select society.

1. Sociableness is an instinct of human nature.

2. Sociableness is helpful to a wholesome Christian life.

3. The choice of society should be a subject of prayer.

C. A. D.

EXPOSITION VERSE 80

Verse 80.—"Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed." This is even more important than to be held in esteem by good men. This is the root of the matter. If the heart be sound in obedience to God, all is well, or will be well. If right at heart we are right in the main. If we be not sound before God, our name for piety is an empty sound. Mere profession will fail, and undeserved esteem will disappear like a bubble when it bursts; only sincerity and truth will endure in the evil day. He who is right at heart has no reason for shame, and he never shall have any; hypocrites ought to be ashamed now, and they shall one day be put to shame without end; their hearts are rotten, and their names shall rot. This eightieth verse is a variation of the prayer of the seventy-third verse; there be sought sound understanding, here he goes deeper, and begs for a sound heart. Those who have learned their own frailty by sad experience, are led to dive beneath the surface, and cry to the Lord for truth in the inward parts. In closing the consideration of these eight verses, let us join with the writer in the prayer, "Let my heart be sound in thy statutes."

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 80.—"Let my heart be sound." What is a sound heart? It notes reality and solidity in grace. The Septuagint hath it, "Let my heart be without spot and blemish." It implies the reality of grace, opposed to the bare form of godliness, or the fair shows of hypocrites, and the sudden and vanishing motions of temporaries.

If you would have me unfold what this sound heart is, there is required these four things:—

1. An enlightened understanding; that is, the directive part of the soul; and it is sound when it is kept free from the leaven and contagion of error: "A man of understanding walketh uprightly," Pro 15:21. A sound mind is a good help to a sound heart.

2. There is required an awakened conscience, that warns of our duty, and riseth up in dislike of sin upon all occasions: "When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest,—it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee" (Pro 6:22): to have a constant monitor in our bosoms to put us in mind of God, when our reins preach to us in the night season (Psa 16:7): there is a secret spy in our bosoms that observes all that we do, and think, and speak; a domestic chaplain, that is always preaching to us. His heart is his Bible.

3. There is required a rightly disposed will, or a steadfast purpose to walk with God in all conditions, and to do what is good and acceptable in his sight: "He exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord," Act 11:23. Many have light inclinations, or wavering resolutions; but their hearts are not fixedly, habitually bent to please God; therein chiefly lieth this sound heart, that it doth inseparably cleave to God in all things.

4. There is required that the affections be purged and quickened: these are the vigorous motions of the will, and therefore this must be heedfully regarded; purged they must be from that carnality and fleshliness that cleaveth to them. This is called in Scripture the circumcision of the heart (Deu 30:6).

Condensed from Thomas Manton.

Verse 80.—"Let my heart be sound." "A sound mind in a sound body," was the prayer of a heathen, and his desire was according to the extent of his knowledge; but a heart sound in God's statutes, sound to the very core, with no speck, nor spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing, and like the king's daughter, "all glorious within." This is what the Psalmist prays for, this is what every child of God aims at, and prays for too,—"Even as He is pure."

Barton Bouchier.

Verse 80.—"Let my heart be sound."

True hearted, wholehearted, faithful and loyal,
King of our lives, by thy grace will we be!
Under thy standard, exalted and royal,
Strong in thy strength, we will battle for thee!

True hearted, wholehearted! Fullest allegiance
Yielding henceforth to our glorious King;
Valiant endeavour and loving obedience
Freely and joyously now would we bring.

True hearted, Saviour, thou knowest our story;
Weak are the hearts that we lay at thy feet,
Sinful and treacherous! yet for thy glory,
Heal them, and cleanse them from sin and deceit.

Wholehearted! Saviour, beloved and glorious,
Take thy great power, and reign thou alone,
Over our wills and affections victorious,
Freely surrendered, and wholly thine own.

Half hearted! false hearted! Heed we the warning!
Only the whole can be perfectly true;
Bring the whole offering, all timid thought scorning,
True hearted only if wholehearted too.

Half hearted! Saviour, shall aught be withholden,
Giving thee part who has given us all?
Blessings outpouring, and promises golden
Pledging, with never reserve or recall.

Half hearted! Master, shall any who know thee
Grudge thee their lives, who hast laid down thine own?
Nay; we would offer the hearts that we owe thee,—
Live for thy love and thy glory alone.

Sisters, dear sisters, the call is resounding,
Will ye not echo the silver refrain,
Mighty and sweet, and in gladness abounding,—
"True hearted, wholehearted!" ringing again?

Jesus is with us, his rest is before us,
Brightly his standard is waving above.
Brothers, dear brothers, in gathering chorus,
Peal out the watchword of courage and love!

Peal out the watchword, and silence it never,
Song of our spirits, rejoicing and free!
"True hearted, wholehearted, now and for ever,
King of our lives, by thy grace we will be!"

Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879) in "Loyal Responses"

Verse 80.—"Let my heart be sound," etc. This is a plain difference between a sound heart and a false heart; in the receiving of Christ the sound heart receives him as a favourite receives a prince, he gives up all to him, and lets him have the command of all. A mere innkeeper entertains him that comes next to him; he will take any man's money, and will give welcome to any man; if it be the worst man that comes he cares not, for he loves gain above all things. Not so the good heart; he welcomes Christ alone, and resigns up all to Christ. Whatsoever is pleasing to Christ he will do it, and whatsoever comes from Christ he will welcome.

Thomas Hooker (1586-1647) in "The Soules Implantation"

Verse 80.—"Be sound." Hebrew. Be perfect; as the word from the same root is rendered in Job 1:1. Dr. R. Young gives as the meaning of the word as used by the Psalmist, whole, complete, plain.

Verse 80.—"Sound in thy statutes," etc. Though an orthodox creed does not constitute true religion, yet it is the basis of it and it is a great blessing to have it.

Nicolson, quoted by W. S. Plumer.

Verse 80.—If you would be faithful to Christ, be sincere in your profession of him, make David's prayer and desire to be yours: "Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed." Religion which is begun in hypocrisy will certainly end in apostasy, and this always carries with it reproach and ignominy.

William Spurstowe (1666)

Verse 80.—"Ashamed." We may be ashamed either before God or men, ourselves or others.

1. Before God: either in our addresses to him at the throne of grace, or when summoned to appear at the last day before the tribunal of his justice.

(a) If you understand it of our approach to him, we cannot come into his presence with confidence if we have not a sound heart. "If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God:" 1Jo 3:21. We lose that holy familiarity and cheerfulness, when we are unbosoming ourselves to our heavenly Father, when our hearts are not sound.

(b) When we are summoned to appear before the tribunal of his justice. Many, now, with a bold impudence, will obtrude themselves upon the worship of God, because they see him not, and have not a due sense of his majesty; but the time will come, when the most impudent and outbraving sinners will be astonished, even then when the secrets of all hearts shall be laid open and made manifest, and hidden things brought to light (1Co 4:5); and every one is to receive his judgment from God according to what he hath done, either good or evil.

2. Before men man may be ashamed, and so before ourselves and others.

(1) Ourselves. It was a saying of Pythagoras, Reverence thyself; be not ashamed of thyself. God hath a spy and deputy within us, and taketh notice of our conformity and unconformity to his will, and, after sin committed, lashes the soul with the sense of its own guilt and folly, as the body is lashed with stripes: "What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?" Rom 6:21.

(2) Before others. And so our shame may be occasioned by our scandals, or our punishments; it is hard to say which is intended here.

Condensed from Thomas Manton.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 80.

1. David's prayer for sincerity—that his heart might be brought to God's statutes, and that it might be sound in them, not rotten or deceitful.

2. His dread of the consequences of hypocrisy: "that I be not ashamed." Shame is the portion of hypocrites, here or hereafter.

M. Henry.

Verse 80.

1. The heart in religion.

2. The necessity of its being sound in it.

3. The result of such sound heartedness.







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