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C. H. Spurgeon :: Psalm 119 Verses 89-96

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Psalm 119 Verses 89-96


EXPOSITION VERSE 89

Verse 89.—"For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." The strain is more joyful, for experience has given the sweet singer a comfortable knowledge of the word of the Lord, and this makes a glad theme. After tossing about on a sea of trouble the Psalmist here leaps to shore and stands upon a rock. Jehovah's word is not fickle nor uncertain; it is settled, determined, fixed, sure, immovable. Man's teachings change so often that there is never time for them to be settled; but the Lord's word is from of old the same, and will remain unchanged eternally. Some men are never happier than when they are unsettling everything and everybody; but God's mind is not with them. The power and glory of heaven have confirmed each sentence which the mouth of the Lord has spoken, and so confirmed it that to all eternity it must stand the same,—settled in heaven, where nothing can reach it. In the former section David's soul fainted, but here the good man looks out of self and perceives that the Lord fainteth not, neither is weary, neither is there any failure in his word.

The verse takes the form of an ascription of praise: the faithfulness and immutability of God are fit themes for holy song, and when we are tired with gazing upon the shifting scene of this life, the thought of the immutable promise fills our mouth with singing. God's purposes, promises, and precepts are all settled in his own mind, and none of them shall be disturbed. Covenant settlements will not be removed, however unsettled the thoughts of men may become; let us therefore settle it in our minds that we abide in the faith of our Jehovah as long as we have any being.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 89.—Here the climax of the delineation of the suppliant's pilgrimage is reached. We have arrived at the centre of the psalm, and the thread of the connexion is purposely broken off. The substance of the first eleven strophes has evidently been: "Hitherto hath the Lord brought me: shall it be that I now perish?" To this the eleven succeeding strophes make answer, "The Lord's word changeth not; and in spite of all evil foreboding, the Lord will perfect concerning me the work that he hath already begun."

Joseph Francis Thruput, 1860.

Verse 89.—"For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." These words are usually rendered as making but one proposition; but the accent athnab showeth there are two branches; the one asserting the eternity of God; the other, the constancy and permanency of his word. Thus, 1. "For ever art thou O LORD." 2. "Thy word is settled in heaven." So the Syriac readeth it; and Geierus, and, after him, others prove and approve this reading. And so this verse and the following do the better correspond one with the other, if we observe beginning and ending: As thou art "for ever, O Lord," and "thy faithfulness is unto all generations," which are exactly parallel. And so also will the last clauses agree: "Thy word is settled in heaven," and, "thou hast established the earth, and it abideth."

It implies that as God is eternal, so is his word, and that it hath a fit representation both in heaven and in earth: in heaven, in the constant motion of the heavenly bodies; in earth, in the consistency and permanency thereof; that as his word doth stand fast in heaven, so doth his faithfulness on earth, where the afflictions of the godly seem to contradict it.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 89.—"For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." When Job considers his body turned to dust and worms (Job 19:19, Job 19:25), yet by faith he says, "My Redeemer lives," etc. Even when patience failed in Job, yet faith failed not. Though God kill all other graces and comforts, and my soul too, yet he shall not kill my faith, says he. If he separate my soul from my body, yet not faith from my soul. And therefore the just lives by faith, rather than by other graces, because when all is gone, yet faith remains, and faith remains because the promise remains: "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." And this is the proper and principal meaning of this place.

Matthew Lawrence.

Verse 89.—"For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." If we look at God's word of promise, as it is in our unsettled hearts, we dream that it's as ready to waver as our hearts are; as the shadow of the sun and moon in the water seems to shake as much as the water doth which it shines upon. Yet for all this seeming shaking here below, the sun and moon go on in a steadfast course in heaven. So the Psalmist tells us that however our hearts stagger at a promise through unbelief, nay, and our unbelief makes us believe that the promise often is shaken; yet God's word is settled, though not in our hearts, yet "in heaven;" yea, and there "for ever," as settled as heaven itself is; yea, more than so; for "heaven and earth may pass," but "not one jot or tittle of the law (and therefore of the gospel) shall fail:" Luk 16:17.

Anthony Tuckney, 1599-1670.

Verse 89.—"Settled". J. M. Good translates the verse as follows—"For ever, O Jehovah, hath thy word given array to the heavens," and observes that the Hebrew word נעב is a military term, and applies to arraying and marshalling the divisions of an army in their proper stations when taking the field. The hosts of heaven are here supposed to be arrayed or marshalled with a like exact order; and to maintain for ever the relative duties imposed on them: while the earth, like the heavens, has as established a march prescribed to it, which it equally fulfils; for all are the servants of the great Creator; and hence, as they change, produce the beautiful regularity of the seasons, the rich returns of harvest, and daily declare the glory of the Lord.

Verse 89.—"In heaven." Whenever you look to heaven, remember that within you have a God, who hath fixed his residence and shown his glory there, and made it the seat both of his mercy and justice. You have also there a Saviour who, after he had died for our sins, sat down at the right hand of Majesty, to see his promises accomplished, and by his word to subdue the whole world. There are angels that "do his commandment, hearkening to the voice of his word:" Psa 103:20. There are glorified saints, who see God face to face, and dwell with him for evermore, and came thither by the same covenant which is propounded to us, as the charter of our peace and hope. In the outer region of heaven we see the sun and moon, and all the heavenly bodies, move in that fixed course and order wherein God hath set them; and will God show his constancy in the course of nature, and be fickle and changeable in the covenant of grace, wherein he hath disposed the order and method of his mercies?

Thomas Manton.

Verses 89, 91.—In these verses there is affirmed to be an analogy between the word of God and the works of God. It is said of his "word," that it is "settled in heaven," and that it sustains its faithfulness from one generation to another. It is said of his "works," and more especially of those that are immediately around us, even of the earth which we inhabit, that as it was established at the first so it abideth afterwards. And then, as if to perfect the assimilation between them, it is said of both in Psa 119:91, "They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants;" thereby identifying the sureness of that word which proceeded from his lips, with the unfailing constancy of that Nature which was formed and is upholden by his hands.

The constancy of Nature is taught by universal experience, and even strikes the popular eye as the most characteristic of those features which have been impressed upon her. It may need the aid of philosophy to learn how unvarying Nature is in all her processes—how even the seeming anomalies can be traced to a law that is inflexible—how what appears at first to be the caprices of her waywardness, are, in fact, the evolutions of a mechanism that never changes—and that the more thoroughly she is sifted and put to the test by the interrogations of the curious, the more certainly will they find that she walks by a rule which knows no abatement, and perseveres with obedient footstep in that even course from which the eye of strictest scrutiny has never yet detected one hair breadth of deviation. It is no longer doubted by men of science, that every remaining semblance of irregularity in the universe is due, not to the fickleness of Nature, but to the ignorance of man—that her most hidden movements are conducted with a uniformity as rigorous as Fate—that even the fitful agitations of the weather have their law and their principle—that the intensity of every breeze, and the number of drops in every shower, and the formation of every cloud, and all the occurring alternations of storm and sunshine, and the endless shifting of temperature, and those tremulous varieties of the air which our instruments have enabled us to discover but have not enabled us to explain—that still, they follow each other by a method of succession, which, though greatly more intricate, is yet as absolute in itself as the order of the seasons, or the mathematical courses of astronomy. This is the impression of every philosophical mind with regard to Nature, and it is strengthened by each new accession that is made to science… But there is enough of patent and palpable regularity in Nature to give also to the popular mind the same impression of her constancy. There is a gross and general experience that teaches the same lesson, and that has lodged in every bosom a kind of secure and steadfast confidence in the uniformity of her processes. The very child knows and proceeds upon it. He is aware of an abiding character and property in the elements around him, and has already learned as much of the fire, and the water, and the food that he eats, and the firm ground that he treads upon, and even of the gravitation by which he must regulate his postures and his movements, as to prove that, infant though he be, he is fully initiated in the doctrine, that Nature has her laws and her ordinances, and that she continueth therein, and the proofs of this are ever multiplying along the journey of human observation; insomuch that when we come to manhood, we read of Nature's constancy throughout every department of the visible world. It meets us wherever we turn our eyes…God has so framed the machinery of my perceptions, as that I am led irresistibly to expect that everywhere events will follow each other in the very train in which I have ever been accustomed to observe them; and when God so sustains the uniformity of Nature, that in every instance it is rigidly so, he is just manifesting the faithfulness of his character. Were it otherwise, he would be practising a mockery on the expectation which he himself had inspired. God may be said to have promised to every human being that Nature will be constant—if not by the whisper of an inward voice to every heart, at least by the force of an uncontrollable bias which he has impressed on every constitution. So that, when we behold Nature keeping up its constancy, we behold the God of Nature keeping up his faithfulness; and the system of visible things with its general laws, and its successions which are invariable, instead of an opaque materialism to intercept from the view of mortals the face of the Divinity, becomes the mirror which reflects upon the truth that is unchangeable, the ordination that never fails…And so it is, that in our text there are presented together, as if there was a tie of likeness between them—that the same God who is fixed as to the ordinances of Nature, is faithful as to the declarations of his word; and as all experience proves how firmly he may be trusted for the one, so is there an argument as strong as experience, to prove how firmly he may be trusted for the other. By his work in us he hath awakened the expectation of a constancy in Nature, which he never disappoints. By his word to us, should he awaken the expectation of a certainty in his declarations, this he will never disappoint. It is because Nature is so fixed, that we apprehend the God of Nature to be so faithful. He who never falsities the hope that hath arisen in every bosom, from the instinct which he himself hath communicated, will never falsify the hope that shall arise in any bosom from the express utterance of his voice. Were he a God in whose hand the processes of nature were ever shifting, then might we conceive him a God from whose mouth the proclamations of grace had the like characters of variance and vacillation. But it is just because of our reliance on the one that we feel so much of repose in our dependence upon the other; and the same God who is so unfailing in the ordinances of his creation, we hold to be equally unfailing in the ordinances of his word.

Thomas Chalmers.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verses 89-96.—The immutable word of God. Is enthroned in heaven (Psa 119:89), and on earth (Psa 119:90-91), is the salvation of the believer in affliction (Psa 119:92, 94), his resource in danger (Psa 119:95), and the embodiment of perfection (Psa 119:96).

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

Verses 89-92.—The Psalmist here tells us the prescription which soothed his pains and sustained his spirits. Here we have strong consolation.

1. In certain facts which he remembered.

(a) The eternal existence of God.

(b) The immutability of his word.

(c) The faithfulness of the fulfilment of that word.

(d) The perpetuity of the word in nature.

(e) The perpetuity of the word in experience.

2. The delights which he experienced in the time of his trouble. In bereavements; when everything seemed shifting and inconstant; when his own faith failed him; when all helpers failed him; he fell back upon the eternal settlements: "O Lord, thy word is settled," etc.

—See "Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 1656; "My Solace in My Affliction."

Verse 89.—Eternal settlements, or, heavenly certainties.

Verse 89.—God's eternal calm (in contrast with earth's mutations) imaged in the starry heavens.

William Bickle Haynes, of Stafford, 1882.

Verse 89.—Consider,

1. The term, "thy word."

(a) A word is a revealed thought. The Scriptures are just this: the thoughts and purposes of God made intelligible to man.

(b) But a "word" also marks specially unity (it is one word) and wholeness or completeness, a word, not a syllable. The Scriptures are one and complete.

2. The statement, "for ever settled in heaven."

(a) "Settled in heaven" before it came to earth; therefore it could come as a continuous unfolding, through various dispensations, without the shadow of hesitation or contradiction manifest in it.

(b) Abides "settled in heaven," for its central revelation; the atonement is a completed fact, and Christ is now in heaven a perfected Saviour; thus the word is unalterable.

(c) "For ever settled in heaven." Not only because God in heaven is of one mind and cannot be turned; but because righteousness itself, the righteousness of heaven, demands that an atonement by suffering shall be fully and everlastingly answered by its due reward.

3. The lessons.

(a) If settled in heaven, men on earth can never unsettle it.

(b) The wicked may not indulge a future hope arising from any new dispensation beyond the grave; God's present word to us cannot then be unsettled.

(c) The godly may rely on a settled word amidst the unsettled experiences and feelings incident to earth.

J. F.

EXPOSITION VERSE 90

Verse 90.—"Thy faithfulness is unto all generations." This is an additional glory: God is not affected by the lapse of ages; he is not only faithful to one man throughout his lifetime, but to his children's children after him, yea, and to all generations so long as they keep his covenant and remember his commandments to do them. The promises are ancient things, yet they are not worn out by centuries of use, for the divine faithfulness endureth for ever. He who succoured his servants thousands of years ago still shows himself strong on the behalf of all them that trust in him. "Thou hast established the earth, and it abideth." Nature is governed by fixed laws; the globe keeps its course by the divine command, and displays no erratic movements: the seasons observe their predestined order, the sea obeys the rule of ebb and flow, and all things else are marshalled in their appointed order. There is an analogy between the word of God and the works of God, and specially in this, that they are both of them constant, fixed, and unchangeable. God's word which established the world is the same as that which he has embodied in the Scriptures; by the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and specially by him who is emphatically THE WORD. When we see the world keeping its place and all its laws abiding the same, we have herein assurance that the Lord will be faithful to his covenant, and will not allow the faith of his people to be put to shame. If the earth abideth the spiritual creation will abide; if God's word suffices to establish the world surely it is enough for the establishment of the individual believer.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 90.—"Thy faithfulness is unto all generations." As he gathered, the certainty of God's word from the endurance of heaven, so now he confirms it by considering the foundation of the earth. Since the foundation of the earth, made by the word of God, abides sure, shall we not think that the foundation of our salvation laid in Jesus Christ, is much more sure? Though the creatures cannot teach us the way of our salvation (for that we must learn by the word), yet do they confirm that which the word saith, "Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; the LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever:" Jer 31:35-36. As there Jeremy gathers the stability of the church from the stability of the creatures; so here David confirms the certainty of our salvation by the most certain and unchangeable course of creation; and both of them are amplified by Christ Jesus: "Heaven and earth may pass away, but one jot of God's word shall not fall to the ground." Let us therefore be strengthened in faith and give glory to God.

William Cowper.

Verse 90.—"Thou hast established the earth, and it abideth." Every time we set foot on the ground, we may remember the stability of God's promises, and it is also a confirmation of faith. Thus,—

1. The stability of the earth is the effect of God's word; this is the true pillar upon which the earth standeth; for he upholdeth all things by the word of his power; "For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast:" Psa 33:9. Now, his word of power helpeth us to depend upon his word of promise.

2. Nothing appeareth whereon the globe of the earth should lean and rest: "He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing:" Job 26:7. Now, that this vast and ponderous body should lean upon the fluid air as upon a firm foundation, is matter of wonder; the question is put in the book of Job: "Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the cornerstone thereof?" Job 38:6. Yet firm it is, though it hang as a ball in the air… Now, since his word beareth up such a weight, and all the church's weight, and our own burden leaneth on the promise of God, he can, by the power of his word, bear up all without visible means. Therefore his people may trust his providence; he is able to support them in any distresses, when no way of help appeareth.

3. The firmness and stability offereth itself to our thoughts. The earth abideth in the same seat and condition wherein God left it, as long as the present course and order of nature is to continue: Psa 104:5. God's truth is as immovable as the earth: Psa 117:2. Surely if the foundation of the earth abideth sure, the foundation of our salvation, laid by Jesus Christ, is much more sure.

4. The stability remains in the midst of changes: Ecc 1:4. All things in the world are subject to many revolutions, but God's truth is one and the same.

5. In upholding the frame of the world, all those attributes are seen, which are a firm stay to a believer's heart, such as wisdom, power, and goodness. The covenant of grace is as sure as the covenant made after the deluge. We cannot look upon this earth without seeing therein a display of those same attributes which confirm our faith, in waiting upon God till his promises be fulfilled to us.

Condensed from Thomas Manton.

Verse 90.—"It abideth." Creation is as the mother, and Providence the nurse which preserveth all the works of God. God is not like man; for man, when he hath made a work, cannot maintain it: he buildeth a ship, and cannot save it from shipwreck; he edifies a house, but cannot keep it from decay. It is otherwise with God; we daily see his conserving power, upholding his creatures; which should confirm us that he will not cast us off, nor suffer us to perish (since we are the works of his hands) if we so depend upon him, and give him glory as our Creator, Conserver, and Redeemer.

William Cowper.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 90.—The stability of the earth a present picture of everlasting faithfulness.

Verses 90-91.—Consider,

1. The steadfastness of nature as dependent upon the divine decree: "according to thy ordinances."

2. The subserviency of nature to the divine will: "for all are thy servants."

3. The fixedness of nature's laws, together with their subserviency to God's purposes, as a confirmation of the Christian's faith in the written word, in the care of a divine providence, and in the sureness of spiritual and heavenly things. "Thy faithfulness is," etc.

J. F.

EXPOSITION VERSE 91

Verse 91.—"They continue this day according to thine ordinances." Because the Lord has bid the universe abide, therefore it stands, and all its laws continue to operate with precision and power. Because the might of God is ever present to maintain them, therefore do all things continue. The word which spake all things into existence has supported them till now, and still supports them both in being and in well being. God's ordinance is the reason for the continued existence of creation. What important forces these ordinances are! "For all are thy servants." Created by thy word they obey that word, thus answering the purpose of their existence, and working out the design of their Creator. Both great things and small pay homage to the Lord. No atom escapes his rule, no world avoids his government. Shall we wish to be free of the Lord's sway and become lords unto ourselves? If we were so, we should be dreadful exceptions to a law which secures the well being of the universe. Rather while we read concerning all things else—they continue and they serve, let us continue to serve, and to serve more perfectly as our lives are continued. By that word which is settled may we be settled; by that voice which establishes the earth may we be established; and by that command which all created things obey may we be made the servants of the Lord God Almighty.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 91.—"They continue this day according to thine ordinances," etc. Which of the works of God are not pervaded by a beautiful order? Think of the succession of day and night. Think of the revolution of the seasons. Think of the stars as they walk in their majestic courses,—one great law of harmony "binding the sweet influence of the Pleiades, …and guiding Arcturus with his sons:" Job 38:31-32. Look upwards, amid the magnificence of might, to that crowded concave,—worlds piled on worlds,—and yet see the calm grandeur of that stately march;—not a discordant note there to mar the harmony, though wheeling at an Inconceivable velocity in their intricate and devious orbits! These heavenly sentinels all keep their appointed watch towers. These Levites in the upper firmament, light their altar fires "at the time of the evening incense," and quench them again, when the sun, who is appointed to rule the day, walks forth from his chamber. "These wait all upon thee:" Psa 104:27. "They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants."

J.R. Macduff, in "Sunsets on the Hebrew Mountains, "1862.

Verse 91.—"They continue this day according to thine ordinances." Man may destroy a plant, but he is powerless to force it into disobedience to the laws given it by the common Creator. "If," says one, "man would employ it for his use, he must carefully pay attention to its wants and ways, and bow his own proud will to the humblest grass at his feet. Man may forcibly obstruct the path of a growing twig, but it turns quietly aside, and moves patiently and irresistibly on its appointed way." Do what he may, turf wilt not grow in the tropics, nor the palm bear its fruit in a cold climate. Rice refuses to thrive out of watery swamps, or cotton to form its fleece of snowy fibres where the rain can reach them. Some of the handsomest flowers in the world, and stranger still, some of the most juicy and succulent plants with which we are acquainted, adorn the arid and desolate sands of the Cape of Good Hope, and wilt not flourish elsewhere. If you twist the branch of a tree so as to turn the under surface of its leaves towards the sky, in a very little while all those leaves will turn down and assume their appointed position. This process will be performed sooner or later, according to the heat of the sun and the flexibility of the leaves, but none the less it will surely take place. You cannot induce the Sorrowful tree of India to bloom by day, or cause it to cease all the year round from loading the night air with the rich perfume of its orange like flowers. The philosopher need not go far to find the secret of this. The Psalmist declares it when, speaking of universal nature, he traces the true cause of its immutable order. God, he says, "hath established them for ever and ever: He hath made a decree which shall not pass;" or, as it is in the Prayer book version, "hath given them a law which shall not be broken:" Psa 148:6. Truly is it said in another Psa 119:91, "They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants." Wilful man may dare to defy his Maker, and set at nought his wise and merciful commands; but not so all nature besides. Well, indeed, is it for us that his other works have not erred after the pattern of our rebellion; that seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, with all their accompanying provision, have not ceased! To the precepts imposed upon vegetation when first called into being on creation's third day, it stilt yields implicit submission, and the most tender plant will die rather than transgress. What an awful contrast to this is the conduct of man, God's noblest work, endowed with reason and a never dying soul, yet too often ruining his health, wasting and destroying his mental power, defiling his immortal spirit, and, in a word, madly endeavouring to frustrate every purpose for which he was framed.

James Neil, in "Rays from the Realms of Nature," 1879.

Verse 91.—All creatures punctually observe the law he hath implanted on their nature, and in their several capacities acknowledge him their sovereign; they move according to the inclinations he imprinted on them. The sea contains itself in its bounds, and the sun steps not out of his sphere; the stars march in their order: "They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants." If he orders things contrary to their primitive nature they obey him. When he speaks the word, the devouring fire becomes gentle, and toucheth not the hair of the children he will preserve; the hunger starved lions suspend their ravenous nature when so good a morsel as Daniel is set before them; and the sun, which had been in perpetual motion since its creation, obeys the writ of ease God sent in Joshua's time, and stands still.

Stephen Charnock.

Verse 91.—"All are thy servants." We should consider how great is that perversity by which man only, formed in the image of God, together with reprobate angels, has fallen away from obedience to God; so that what is said of all other creatures cannot be said of him, unless renewed by singular grace.

Wolfgang Musculus.

Verse 91.—"All are thy servants." Since all creatures must serve God, therefore we ought neither to use them for any other purpose, nor turn them to the service of sin. The creature by the sin of our first parents has been made subject to vanity, and groans, and longs to be delivered, Romans 8: Christians, therefore, who use the creature and the world, should use as not abusing, 1 Corinthians 7; but enjoy them with praise of the divine majesty and goodness, 1 Timothy 4.

Solomon Gesner.

Verse 91.—"All are thy servants."

Say not, my soul, "From whence
Can God relieve my care?
Remember that Omnipotence
Has servants everywhere."

Thomas T. Lynch, 1855.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 91.—Our starry monitors. They teach us,

1. To serve: though we cannot shine with their brightness.

2. To do all with strict regard to God's will.

3. To "continue"—"according to thine ordinances."

W. B. H.

Verse 91.—The service of nature.

1. Universal: "all are thy servants."

2. Obedient: "according to thy ordinances."

3. Perpetual: "they continue."

4. Derived: "thou hast established the earth."

EXPOSITION VERSE 92

Verse 92.—"Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction." That word which has preserved the heavens and the earth also preserves the people of God in their time of trial. With that word we are charmed; it is a mine of delight to us. We take a double and treble delight in it, and derive a multiplied delight from it, and this stands us in good stead when all other delights are taken from us. We should have felt ready to lie down and die of our griefs if the spiritual comforts of God's word had not uplifted us; but by their sustaining influence we have been borne above all the depressions and despairs which naturally grow out of severe affliction. Some of us can set our seal to this statement. Our affliction, if it had not been for divine grace, would have crushed us out of existence, so that we should have perished. In our darkest seasons nothing has kept us from desperation but the promise of the Lord: yea, at times nothing has stood between us and self destruction save faith in the eternal word of God. When worn with pain until the brain has become dazed and the reason well nigh extinguished, a sweet text has whispered to us its heart cheering assurance, and our poor struggling mind has reposed upon the bosom of God. That which was our delight in prosperity has been our light in adversity; that which in the day kept us from presuming has in the night kept us from perishing. This verse contains a mournful supposition "unless;" describes a horrible condition—"perished in mine affliction;" and implies a glorious deliverance, for he did not die, but live to proclaim the honours of the word of God.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 92.—"Unless thy law had been my delights," etc. This text sets out the great benefit and comfort which David found in the law of God in the time of his affliction. It kept him from perishing: "Had not thy law been my delights, I had perished in my affliction" …David speaks this (saith Musculus) of the distressful condition he was in when persecuted by Saul, forced to fly to the Philistines, and sometimes to hide himself in the rocks and caves of the earth. It is very likely (saith he) that he had the book of God's law with him, by the reading of which he mitigated and allayed his sorrows, and kept himself pure from communicating with the heathen in their superstitions. The Greek scholiasts say that David uttered these words when driven from Saul, and compelled to live among the Philistines, etc. For he would have been allured to have communicated with them in their impieties had he not carried about him the meditation of the word of God.

The word of God delighted in is the afflicted saint's antidote against ruin and destruction. The word of God is the sick saint's salve, the dying saint's cordial, a precious medicine to keep God's people from perishing in time of affliction. This upheld Jacob from sinking, when his brother Esau came furiously marching to destroy him (Gen 32:12). He pleaded, "And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good," etc. Thus the promise of God supported him. This also upheld Joshua and enabled him courageously to fight the Lord's battles, because God had said, "He would never leave him nor forsake him" (Jos 1:5). Melanethon saith that the Landgrave of Hesse told him at Dresden that it had been impossible for him to have borne up under the manifold miseries of so long an imprisonment, Nisi habuisset consolationem verbo divino in suo corde, but for the comfort of the Scriptures in his heart.

Edmund Catamy (1600-1666) in "The Godly Man's Ark."

Verse 92.—Certainly the reading of most part of the Scriptures must needs be a very comfortable thing; and I think a godly heart (disposed as it ought to be) can hardly tell how to be sad while it does it. For what a comfort is it for a man to read an earthly father's letters sent to him, though they were written long ago? With what care do we keep such letters in our chests? With how much delight do we ever and anon take them out and look upon them? and with how much sorrow do we lose them? Is my love to my earthly father so great, and shall my love to my heavenly Father be less? Can my heart choose but to rejoice and my bones flourish like an herb, as oft as I look upon my Redeemer's last will and testament, whereby I know that he gave me so much and that he doth so for me continually, and that I shall be ever with him.

How is David ever and anon talking of his delight in the law of God, and in his statutes and testimonies. It was to him instead of all other delights; standing by him when all delights else left him; "Unless thy law had been my delight (or, my very great delight), I should then have perished in mine affliction," Psa 119:92. Let princes sit and speak against him never so much; yet will he meditate in God's statutes, Psa 119:23. Let him have never so many persecutors and enemies; yet will he not decline from God's testimonies, Psa 119:157. Let him be in a strange place, there shall God's statutes be his song, Psa 119:54. Let him be a stranger in the earth all his life; so that he be not a stranger to God's commandments he cares not, Psa 119:19. Although he should have never so much contempt cast upon him, yet will he not forget God's precepts, Psa 119:141. Although his soul should be continually in his hand, yet that should not make him forget God's law. Yea, although he became like a bottle in the smoke, yet will he not forget God's precepts, Psa 119:83. And therefore was it that he rejoiced, because he had been afflicted upon this account, that it made him learn God's statutes. He cared for no other wealth. "Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart," Psa 119:111. Neither cared he much for life, but only to keep God's word, Psa 119:17. Whatever he had said before, or meant to say next, he still cries, "Teach me thy statutes," and, "I have longed for thy precepts," &c.; or some such expression or other. He could not forbear to speak of them, for they were still before him, Psa 119:30. No wonder, then, that he meditated upon them so often, as he saith he did. "O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day," Psa 119:97. And "Thy testimonies are my meditation," Psa 119:99. God's commandments were to David sweeter in his mouth than honey, to talk and discourse of them, Psa 119:103.

Zachary Bogan, 1653.

Verse 92.—The persons to whose delight the word of God actually conduces are the children of God, and none else. None but they are prepared to take in the consolation of the word.

1. As they only are spiritually enlightened to discern the great and comfortable things contained in it, enlightened in a manner in which no others are: "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1Co 2:4).

2. As they have the highest value for the word of God, this prepares them for receiving consolation from it.

3. As they have their hearts and ways suited to the word of God, this is another reason of the delight they fetch from it. "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh," and take pleasure in them; "but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit" (Rom 8:5). The comforts of the word are spiritual; and only the spiritual heart, as it is renewed by grace, can taste and relish them. The delight which the people of God have from the word, is a privilege peculiar to themselves: and this word hath enough to give delight to all of their numbers.

Daniel Wilcox, 1676-1733.

Verse 92.—"My delights." The word signifieth delights in the plural number. Many were the sorrows of David's life; but against them all he found as many comforts and delectations in God's word. With such variety of holy wisdom hath God penned his word, that it hath convenient comfort for every state of life, and therefore the children of God account nothing so dear as it; they prefer it to their appointed food.

William Cowper.

Verse 92.—"Thy law…my delights…in mine affliction." I happened to be standing in a grocer's shop one day in a large manufacturing town in the west of Scotland, when a poor, old, frail widow came in to make a few purchases. There never was, perhaps, in that town a more severe time of distress. Nearly every loom was stopped. Decent and respectable tradesmen, who had seen better days, were obliged to subsist on public charity. So much money per day (but a trifle at most) was allowed to the really poor and deserving. The poor widow had received her daily pittance, and she had now come into the shop of the grocer to lay it out to the best advantage. She had but a few coppers in her withered hands. Carefully did she expend her little stock—a pennyworth of this and the other necessary of life nearly exhausted all she had. She came to the last penny, and with a singular expression of heroic contentment and cheerful resignation on her wrinkled face, she said, "Now I must buy oil with this, that I may see to read my Bible during these long dark nights, for it is my only comfort now when every other comfort has gone away."

Alexander Wallace, in "The Bible and the Working Classes," 1853.

Verse 92.—This verse I may call a Perfume against the Plague; The Sick Man's Salve; The Afflicted Man's Consolation; and a blessed Triumph, in and over all troubles.

Richard Greenham.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 92.—The sustaining power of joy in God.

Verse 92.—The word of God as a sustaining power amid the greater sorrows of life.

1. Its necessity.

(a) For want of it, men have become drunkards to drown their sorrows, have become suicides because life was unbearable, have become broken and hopeless because they had no strength to struggle against misfortune, have become atheists in creed as, alas, they were before in practice; all, in fact, become subject to sorrow's worst bitterness and calamity's worst effects.

(b) Nothing can supply the place of God's word. Nature throws no light on the mystery of suffering. Human philosophy is at best cold comfort, and when most needed most fails.

2. Its efficiency. Proved—

(a) In the experience of those who have tried it.

(b) By the character of its promises.

(c) By the discovery it makes of a beneficent providence working through calamity and sorrow.

(d) By the revelation it gives of the pity of God and the sympathy of Christ.

(e) By its record of the "Man of sorrows," who through suffering wrought out man's salvation, and entered into glory.

(f) By its teaching concerning the Incarnate Word; thus showing a suffering God, which may well be a solace to suffering men.

(g) By displaying the glory of heaven and the eternal felicity awaiting those who overcome through the blood of the Lamb.

J. F.

Verse 92.—The Godly Man's Ark; or, City of Refuge in the day of his Distress. Discovered in divers (five) Sermons…By

Edmund Calamy, B.D.…Eighteenth edition. 1709. 12mo.

Verse 92.—We have here set before us by the Psalmist,

1. The case which he had been in, and which he now refers to—one sad and sinking. He was under such affliction that he was ready to perish; which seems to include inward and outward trouble at once; trials without and pressure within.

2. What it was that gave him relief, and this when nothing else could, etc., the law of God.

3. How he looked back upon this relief received, namely, with thankfulness to God, to whom he speaks, and records it for the encouragement and direction of others: "Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction."

Daniel Wilcox, 1676-1733.

Verse 92.—The life buoy. Under the form of the narrative of a shipwrecked mariner, describe the experience of the soul struggling in the sea of affliction; almost overwhelmed: yet buoyed up over each successive billow: and finally saved by clinging to the Word of God.

C. A. D.

Verse 92.—The Psalmist's shudder at recollected danger.

1. Sore peril: affliction tending to despair and ruin.

2. Fearful crisis: "then."

3. Many handed help: "thy law my delights."

W. B. H.

EXPOSITION VERSE 93

Verse 93.—"I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me." When we have felt the quickening power of a precept we never can forget it. We may read it, learn it, repeat it, and think we have it, and yet it may slip out of our minds; but if it has once given us life or renewed that life, there is no fear of its falling from our recollection. Experience teaches, and teaches effectually. How blessed a thing it is to have the precepts written on the heart with the golden pen of experience, and graven on the memory with the divine stylus of grace. Forgetfulness is a great evil in holy things; we see here the man of God fighting against it, and feeling sure of victory because he knew the life giving energy of the word in his own soul. That which quickens the heart is sure to quicken the memory.

It seems singular that he should ascribe quickening to the precepts, and yet it lies in them and in all the words of the Lord alike. It is to be noted that when the Lord raised the dead he addressed to them the word of command. He said, "Lazarus, come forth," or "Maid, arise." We need not fear to address gospel precepts to dead sinners, since by them the Spirit gives them life. Remark that the Psalmist does not say that the precepts quickened him, but that the Lord quickened him by their means: thus he traces the life from the channel to the source, and places the glory where it is due. Yet at the same time he prized the instruments of the blessing, and resolved never to forget them. He had already remembered them when he likened himself to a bottle in the smoke, and now he feels that whether in the smoke or in the fire the memory of the Lord's precepts shall never depart from him.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 93.—"I will never forget thy precepts," etc. Forgetfulness must be striven against in every possible way, lest it should gradually creep in, through ingratitude, old age, weakness of mind, or other overwhelming cares. See Psa 119:16, 61, 83.

Martin Geier.

Verse 93.—"I will never forget thy precepts," etc. This afflicted good man is now comforted; his comfort came from his delight in God's law; he thinks of it, he feels the force of it, and therefore to the end that he might ever receive the like comforts, he will bind himself by a promise to the Lord that he will never forget his precepts; adding a reason, namely, that they were to him spirit and life.

"With them hast thou quickened me." Quickened he was, as he saith, by God, but yet also by the word, soundly preached, savingly understood, and particularly applied to the conscience. Thus then doth the power of Christ's death make us to walk on in newness of life. No aqua vitae, or celestis like unto this, by which we have inward peace of conscience, and an outward obedience to God's commandments. David rejoiced in this blessing, so ought we: we desire to be ever quick, and cheerful to all good duties; it is only God, by his Spirit, in the word, that can give it.

Richard Greenham.

Verse 93.—"With them thou hast quickened me." The quickening Spirit delights to work by means of the word; but though the word be the means, yet the benefit comes from God: "For with them thou hast quickened me." Life comes, from the fountain of life. The gospel is a sovereign plaster; but it is God's hand that must apply it, and make it stick; make it to be peace, comfort, and quickening to our souls. There is a double quickening, when, from dead, we are made living; or when, from cold, and sad, and heavy, we are made lively…and so not only have life, but enjoy it more abundantly, according to Christ's gracious promise (John 10:10); that they may be living, lively, kept still in rigour. Now, this second quickening may be taken, either more largely, for the vitality of grace; or, strictly, for actual comfort largely taken; so God quickens by increasing the life of: grace; either internally, by promising the life of grace; or morally and externally, by promising the life of glory. More strictly, his quickening may be taken for comfort and support in his affliction; so it is likely to be taken here: he had said immediately before, "Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in my affliction;" and now, "I will never forget thy precepts, for with them thou hast quickened me." It was great comfort and support to him; and therefore he should prize the word as long as he lived.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 93.—"Thou hast quickened me." Leave not off reading the Bible till you find your hearts warmed. Read the word, not only as a history, but labour to be affected with it. Let it not only inform you, but inflame you. "Is not my word like a fire? saith the Lord:" Jer 23:29. Go not from the word till you can say as those disciples, "Did not our hearts burn within us?" Luk 24:32.

Thomas Watson.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 93.—Experience fixes the word upon the memory.

Verse 93.

1. A good resolve: "I will never forget thy precepts."

(a) The precepts are worth remembering.

(b) Safety lies in remembering them.

(c) Fidelity to God cannot be without remembering them.

(d) Not to remember them is shameful ingratitude.

2. An excellent reason for making it: "For with them thou hast quickened me."

(a) A reason founded upon personal experience: "me."

(b) A reason appreciative of the benefit received: "quickened."

(c) A reason indicative of gratitude to God: "thou."

J. F.

Verse 93.—"Never forget;" an often uttered phrase. Here golden.

1. Something that could not be forgotten: life and pardon received. How could it?

2. Something that should not be forgotten: the precious instrumentality.

W. B. H.

Verse 93.

1. The instrumental power of truth.

(a) Used by God in our regeneration: Jas 1:18; Psa 19:7.

(b) Used in our liberation: John 8:32.

(c) Used in our sanctification: John 17:7.

2. Our consequent affection for it. We cannot forget.

(a) Our past obligations to it.

(b) Our present dependence upon it.

(c) Our future needs of it.

W. W.

EXPOSITION VERSE 94

Verse 94.—"I am thine, save me." A comprehensive prayer with a prevailing argument. Consecration is a good plea for preservation. If we are conscious that we are the Lord's we may be confident that he will save us. We are the Lord's by creation, election, redemption, surrender, and acceptance; and hence our firm hope and assured belief that he will save us. A man will surely save his own child: Lord, save me. The need of salvation is better seen by the Lord's people than by any others, and hence their prayer—"save me;" they know that only God can save them, and hence they cry to him alone; and they know that no merit can be found in themselves, and hence they urge a reason fetched from the grace of God,—"I am thine." "For I have sought thy precepts." Thus had he proved that he was the Lord's. He might not have attained to all the holiness which he desired, but he had studiously aimed at being obedient to the Lord, and hence he begged to be saved even to the end. A man may be seeking the doctrines and the promises, and yet be unrenewed in heart; but to seek the precepts is a sure sign of grace; no one ever heard of a rebel or a hypocrite seeking the precepts. The Lord had evidently wrought a great work upon the Psalmist, and he besought him to carry it on to completion. Saving is linked with seeking, "save me, for I have sought;" and when the Lord sets us seeking he will not refuse us the saving. He who seeks holiness is already saved: if we have sought the Lord we may be sure that the Lord has sought us, and will certainly save us.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 94.—"I am thine, save me." David, a man after God's own heart, would be saved, but not after the manner of the men of this world, that would be saved to be their own and to enjoy themselves at their own will; but he in being saved would be God's, and at his disposing: "I am thine, save me."

There is a threefold strength in this argument.

1. The law of nature, which obliges a father to be good to his child, the husband to his wife, etc., and God hath subjected himself more unto the law of nature, he lies more under it, than any of these; and doth more perfectly, fully, and gloriously fulfil this law of nature than any; there is no father like him, no friend, no husband like him. "Can a woman forget her sucking child? Yet will I not forget thee:" Isa 44:15. A mother can hardly do it; nature teacheth her to have bowels, and a merciful remembrance towards her child; much, note will I, saith God.

2. When we can say to God, "I am thine," we plead the covenant which God hath made with us, wherein he is become our father and friend: and this is that which was pleaded in Isa 63:16: "Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not (because they are gone, and so have no cognizance of us now); yet thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer; thy name is from everlasting." See what a conclusion here is made; doubtless thou art our Father, and therefore we call to thee for help.

3. There is this encouragement and strength that the spirit of, a man receives in thus arguing with God, that if he can say in truth, "I am thine," God much more will say to the creature, "I am thine." If we have so much love to offer ourselves to God, to become his; much more will the love of God make him to become ours; for God loves first, and most, and surest. If mine heart rise toward God, much more is the heart of God toward me; because there love is in the fountain. Never did a spouse speak to her husband, whom her soul loved to the highest, more willingly, and say, "I am thine," than the spirit of an upright man saith to God, "Lord, I am thine." And he loves him with a love of thankfulness. Hast thou given thyself to me, saith he, and shall I then withhold myself from thee? Hast thou, who art so great, done all this for me, and shall I stand out against thee? The gracious man will willingly acknowledge himself to be the Lord's. The saints often do this: David above twenty times comes with this acknowledgment in this psalm, and in Psa 116:16: "I am thy servant; I am thy servant." To say it once was not enough; he saith it again, to show the sincerity of his spirit, and to witness that his heart was fully pleased with this, that he was not his own, but the Lord's. The knowledge of our interest in God doth much further our approaches to God. When a man is once assured, and can say with a clear spirit, "I am thine," he will naturally cry, "Save me." Such a man is a man of prayer, he is much in addresses to God, and conversing with him.

Joseph Symonds, 1653.

Verse 94.—"I am thine." This is an excellent motive to draw from the Lord help in trouble,—"I am thine." Thine by creation, I was made by thee; thine by adoption, I was assigned over to thee; thine by donation, I was given to thee; thine by marriage, I was espoused to thee; thine by redemption, I was purchased by thee; thine by stipulation, I have vowed myself unto thee.

Richard Greenham.

Verse 94.—"For I have sought thy precepts." See here how David qualifies his protestation: from his earnest affection to the word of God, he proves that he was God's man and not his own servant. It is not words, but affections and actions which must prove us to be the Lord's. Tuus sum, quia id solum qued tuum est quaesivi: I am thine because I sought nothing but that which is thine, and how I might please thee. Mihi in tuis justificationibus est omne poatrimonium: in the observance of thy precepts is all my patrimony.

William Cowper.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 94.

1. David claims relation to God: "I am thine"—devoted to thee, and owned by thee, thine in covenant.

2. He proves his claim: "I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts;" i.e., I have carefully enquired concerning my duty, and diligently endeavoured to do it.

3. He Improves. His claim: "I am thine, save me." Save me from sin, save me from ruin.

Mr. Henry.

Verse 94.

1. A great prayer: "Save me."

2. A grand prayer: "I am thine."

3. A gracious experience: "I have sought," etc.

Verse 94.

1. Relation: "I am thine."

2. Preservation: "save me."

3. Obligation: "I have sought," etc.

G. R.

Verse 94.

1. God's child humbly points out to him his responsibility: "I am thine."

2. Ventures to urge his own sincerity: he has at least "sought."

3. With these two hands extended, he utters a sharp cry for help: "save me."

W. B. H.

Verse 94.Multum in parvo. [A great deal in a small space. -Ed.]

1. A profession.

2. A prayer.

3. A plea.

C. A. D.

Verse 94.

1. God's interest in us.

2. Our interest in God.

W. D.

Verse 94.—The characteristics of personal religion.

1. Personal devotedness to God: "I am thine."

2. Personal obedience rendered: "I have sought thy precepts."

3. Personal expectation cherished: "save me."

J. F.

Verse 94.—The courage obedience gives.

1. It emboldens us to a firm assurance: "I am thine, for I have," etc.

(a) We become God's by faith alone.

(b) But the assurance of being his cannot exist without obedience; obedience proves the faith to ourselves; satisfies us concerning grace received.

(c) Poor obedience always interferes with assurance.

2. It emboldens us to pray, and in prayer: "Save me."

(a) The Christian's prayers are only of faith and offered in faith.

(b) Yet disobedience makes him shrink from approaching God in prayer, and renders him feeble in petitioning.

(c) Obedience is humble but bold. The middle clause of the text applies equally to the first and third clauses.

J. F.

EXPOSITION VERSE 95

Verse 95.—"The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies." They were like wild beasts crouching by the way, or highway men waylaying a defenceless traveller; but the Psalmist went on his way without considering them, for he was considering something better, namely, the witness or testimony which God has borne to the sons of men. He did not allow the malice of the wicked to take him off from his holy study of the divine word. He was so calm that he could "consider;" so holy that he loved to consider the Lord's "testimonies;" so victorious over all their plots that he did not allow them to drive him from his pious contemplations. If the enemy cannot cause us to withdraw our thoughts from holy study, or our feet from holy walking, or our hearts from holy aspirations, lie has met with poor success in his assaults. The wicked are the natural enemies of holy men and holy thoughts; if they could, they would not only damage us but destroy us, and if they cannot do this today they will wait for further opportunities, ever hoping that their evil designs may be compassed. They ave waited hitherto in vain, and they will have to wait much longer yet; for if we are so unmoved that we do not even give them a thought their hope of destroying us must be a very poor one.

Note the double waiting,—the patience of the wicked who watch long and carefully for an opportunity to destroy the godly, and then the patience of the saint who will not quit his meditations, even to quiet his foes. See how the serpent's seed lie in wait as an adder that biteth at the horse's heels; but see how the chosen of the Lord live above their venom, and take no more notice of them than if they had no existence.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 95.—"The wicked have waited for me to destroy me." Two things again he notes in his enemies; diligence, in waiting all occasions whereby to do him evil; and cruelty without mercy, for their purpose was to destroy him: wherein, still we see how restless and insatiable is the malice of the wicked against the godly. Daniel's preservation in the lions' den was a great miracle; but it is no less a marvellous work of God, that the godly who are the flock of Christ, are daily preserved in the midst of the wicked, who are but ravening wolves, and thirst for the blood of the saints of God, having a cruel purpose in their heart if they might perform it, utterly to destroy them.

William Cowper.

Verse 95.—"But I will consider thy testimonies." It was a grievous temptation to be sought for to be given up to slaughter, but a greater mercy to consider God's testimonies, even then when his life was sought for. Had it not been for the consideration of God's testimonies, a thousand to one he had fallen away.

Richard Greenham.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 95.—Wicked men patient in carrying out their evil designs. Good men patient in considering the ways of the Lord.

Verse 95.—The hatred of the wicked towards the righteous.

1. Show that it ever has been, and still is.

(a) Select Scriptural instances, beginning with Abel.

(b) Notice the persecutions of the church.

(c) Treatment in the workshop.

(d) Often in the home.

(e) The contemptuous manner the "saints" are spoken of, etc.

2. Enquire as to why it is so.

(a) The enmity of the carnal heart to God.

(b) The jealousy excited by the Christian's assurance of eternal blessedness.

(c) The consciousness of being rebuked by a holy life.

(d) Excited to it by Satan.

(e) The restless mischievousness of sin which, if it cannot hinder holiness, will maliciously hurt its advocates.

3. Direct how to act when exposed to it: "I will consider thy testimonies." That means—

(a) Be the more obedient to God.

(b) Have the more watchful control over words and feelings.

(c) Love your enemies.

(d) Pray for those who hate you.

(e) Do good to them on every opportunity.

(f) Be thankful that you are among the hated and not the haters.

(g) Especially consider the holy testimony of Christ's forbearing patience.

J. F.

Verse 95.—Waiting counter wrought by waiting.

1. Temptations in ambush.

2. The saint with his Lord.

W. B. H.

Verse 95.—Immunity.

1. I am in danger.

2. I will attend to my duty.

3. I will trust thee to deliver me.

C. A. D.

EXPOSITION VERSE 96

Verse 96.—"I have seen an end of all perfection." He had seen its limit, for it went but a little way; he had seen its evaporation under the trials of life, its detection under the searching glance of truth, its exposure by the confession of the penitent. There is no perfection beneath the moon. Perfect men, in the absolute sense of the word, live only in a perfect world. Some men see no end to their own perfection, but this is because they are perfectly blind. The experienced believer has seen an end of all perfection in himself, in his brethren, in the best man's best works. It would be well if some who profess to be perfect could even see the beginning of perfection, for we fear they cannot have begun aright, or they would not talk so exceeding proudly. Is it not the beginning of perfection to lament your imperfection? There is no such thing as perfection in anything which is the work of man. "But thy commandment is exceeding broad." When the breadth of the law is known the notion of perfection in the flesh vanishes: that law touches every act, word, and thought, and is of such a spiritual nature that it judges the motives, desires, and emotions of the soul. It reveals a perfection which convicts us for shortcomings as well as for transgressions, and does not allow us to make up for deficiencies in one direction by special carefulness in others. The divine ideal of holiness is far too broad for us to hope to cover all its wide arena, and yet it is no broader than it ought to be. Who would wish to have an imperfect law? Nay, its perfection is its glory; but it is the death of all glorying in our own perfection. There is a breadth about the commandment which has never been met to the full by a corresponding breadth of holiness in any mere man while here below; only in Jesus do we see it fully embodied. The law is in all respects a perfect code; each separate precept of it is far reaching in its hallowed meaning, and the whole ten cover all, and leave no space wherein to please our passions. We may well adore the infinity of divine holiness, and then measure ourselves by its standard, and bow before the Lord in all lowliness, acknowledging how far we fall short of it.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 96.—"I have seem an end of all perfection," etc. These words are variously rendered and understood by interpreters, who in this variety do very much conspire and agree in the same sense. The Chaldee Paraphrase renders the words thus, "I have seen an end of all things about which I have employed my care; but thy commandment is very large." The Syriac version thus, "I have seen an end of all regions and countries" (that is, I have found the compass of the habitable world to be finite and limited) "but thy commandment is of a vast extent." Others explain it thus, "I have seen an end of all perfection," that is, of all the things of this world which men value and esteem at so high a rate; of all worldly wisdom and knowledge, of wealth, and honour, and greatness, which do all perish and pass away; "but thy law is eternal, and still abideth the same;" or, as the Scripture elsewhere expresses it, "The word of the Lord endureth for ever."

John Tillotson, 1630-1694.

Verse 96.—"I have seen an end of all perfection." Poor perfection which one sees an end of! Yet such are all those things in this world which pass for perfections. David in his time had seen Goliath, the strongest, overcome; Asahel, the swiftest, overtaken; Ahithophel, the wisest, befooled; Absalom, the fairest, deformed.

Matthew Henry.

Verse 96.—"I have seen an end of all perfection," etc. The Psalmist's words offer us a double comfort and encouragement. We may read them in two ways: (1) "I have seen an end of all perfection; for thy commandment is exceeding broad;" and (2) "I have seen an end of all perfection, but thy commandment is exceeding broad."

Read in the first way, they suggest the animating thought, that our haunting consciousness of imperfection springs from the bright and awful perfection of the Law we are bent on obeying, of the ideal we have set before us. It is not because we are worse than those who are without law, or who are a law unto themselves, that we are restless and dissatisfied with ourselves; but because we measure both ourselves and our fellows by the lofty standard of God's commandment. It is because that commandment is so broad, that we cannot embrace it; it is because it is so high, that we cannot attain to it; it is because it is so perfect, that we cannot perfectly obey it.

But we may read the verse in another way, and still derive comfort and encouragement from it. We may say: "I have seen an end of all perfection in myself, and in the world; but thy commandment is exceeding broad: that is perfect, though I am imperfect, and in its perfection I find the promise of my own." For shall God give a law for human life, and that law remain for ever unfulfilled Impossible! "The gifts of God are without repentance"—irreversible, never to be lessened or withdrawn. His purpose is not to be made of none effect by our weaknesses and sins. In the Law he has shown us what he would have us to be. And shall we never become what lie would have us to be? Can the Law remain for ever without any life that corresponds to it and fulfils it? Nay, God will never take back the fair and perfect ideal of human life depicted in his Law, never retract his purpose to raise the life of man till it touches and fulfils its ideal. And so the very Law which is our despair is our comfort also; for if that be perfect we must become perfect; its perfection is the pledge of ours.

From "The Expositor," 1876.

Verse 96.—"I have seen an end of all perfection." David's natural eye had seen the end of many human perfections, and the eye of his understanding saw the end of them all. He had seen some actually end, and he saw that all must end. Adam did not continue in that perfection which had no imperfection in it; how then shall any of his children continue in what is at best an imperfect perfection?

Abraham Wright.

Verse 96.—"I have seen an end," etc. The laws of Lycurgus among the Grecians, and of Numa among the Romans, had somewhat of good in them, but not all; prohibited somewhat that was evil, but not all that was evil. But the Christian religion is of a larger extent, both in its precepts and prohibitions: "I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad." A man with the eye of his body may behold an end of many worldly perfections, of many fair estates, great beauties, large parts, hopeful families; but a man with the eye of his soul (or by faith) may see an end of all earthly perfections. He may see the world in a flame, and all its pomp and pride, and glory, and gallantry, and crowns and sceptres, and riches, and treasures, turned into ashes. He may see the heavens passing away like a scroll, and the elements melting with fervent heat, and the earth, with the things thereon, consumed; and all its perfections, which men dented so much on, vanished into smoke and nothing. It is easy to see to the end of all terrene perfections, but it is difficult, yea, impossible, to see to the end of divine precepts: "But thy commandments are exceeding broad," of a vast latitude, beyond our apprehension. They are so deep that none can fathom them, Psa 36:6, so high that they are established in heaven, Psa 119:48; so long that they endure for ever, 2 Peter 1; and so broad, that none can measure them. They are not only "broad," but "exceeding broad:" higher than heaven, longer than the earth, broader than the sea. "The commands of God reach the inward parts, the most secret motions and retired recesses of the soul. They reach all the privy thoughts, they pierce even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and discern the thoughts and intents of the heart, Heb 4:12. They reach to all our actions; to those that seem smallest and of less concernment, as well as to those that are greater and of more concernment."

George Swinnock.

Verse 96.—"Thy commandment is exceeding broad." As there is more mercy in the gospel than we are able to comprehend, so there is more holiness in the law than we are able to comprehend. No man ever saw into the depths of that righteousness. There is an infinite holiness in the law. "I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad." He speaks not in the concrete, I have seen an end of perfect things, but in the abstract, "an end of perfection," I have come to the outside or to the very bottom of all (a man may soon travel through all the perfections that are in the world, and either see their end, or see that they end); "but thy commandment is exceeding broad," that is, it is exceedingly broader than any of these perfections; I cannot see the end of it, and I know it shall never have an end. There is a vastness of purity and spiritualness in the law.

Joseph Caryl.

Verse 96.—"Thy commandment is exceeding broad." It is so by the comprehensive applicableness of its grand, simple rules. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and soul, and strength, and thy neighbour as thyself." It is so by the ample order of its special injunctions. Where is there a spot without a signal of the divine will? It is so by laying an authoritative hand on the first principles and origin from which any thing can proceed, in human spirit and action; then it reaches to all things that do or can proceed thence. It asserts a jurisdiction over all thought and inward affection. All language is uttered under this same jurisdiction. All that the world and each man is in action about. And even over what is not done it maintains its authority, and pronounces its dictates and judgments. It is a positive thing with respect to what is negative, omission, nonexistence. Like the divine government in the material world, over the wastes, deserts, and barren sands. And from these spaces of nothing (as it were) it can raise up substantial forms of evil, of sin, in evidence against men. As at the resurrection men will rise from empty wastes, where it would not have been suspected that any were concealed. Let a man look back on all his omissions, and think what the divine law can raise from them against him. Thus the law in its exceeding breadth, is vacant nowhere; it is not stretched to this wide extent by chasms and void spaces. If a man could find one such, he might there take his position for sin with impunity, if not with innocence.

John Foster, 1768-1848.

Verse 96.—"Thy commandment is exceeding broad." In the popular religious literature of the present times, the terms "broad" and "free" are of frequent occurrence. The fascination that surrounds them is enhanced by the use, at the same time, of their opposites, "narrow" and "bigoted." By an adroit manipulation of these terms and their equivalents, the heterodoxy of the day is labouring to stamp out the doctrine and spirit of the evangelical faith, and to allure the Christian multitude within the influence of the spreading rationalistic drift. Going to the market where the heterodox wares are exhibited with labels so attractive, the unsuspecting purchaser soon discovers that "their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter." [Deu 32:32] Is the time not come when the adherents of the true faith should make an effort to wrest from their opponents the monopoly in the use of these terms, which they seem desirous of establishing for themselves? Those who, in the spirit of their Master, abide most closely by, and contend most tenaciously for, the whole faith that has been delivered to the saints, must be the most liberal minded and catholic; and those who forsake the "old paths" must, in proportion to the extent of their departures, become contracted in their mental grasp, and narrow in their soul. Is not the Bible—the whole Bible—the only manual of Broad churchism in its truest and highest sense? Is not the revelation of God's Son in us, the great soul expanding power? "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." Must we not infer, from the words of Christ "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," that the mind which apprehends the truth is a home of mental liberty? Does not strict conformity of the life to God's law produce real breadth of character? For "Thy commandment is exceeding broad." Is not the gospel system the only true Broad churchism—"the perfect law of liberty?" Is not the believer—and the more so in proportion to the strength of his faith—the only true Broad churchman, "increasing with the increase of God," "filled with all the fulness of God"?

James Kerr, in "The Modern Scottish Pulpit," 1880.

Verse 96.—"Exceeding broad." Notwithstanding many things do show the way of life to be narrow, yet unto the godly man it is a way of great breadth; though not for sin, yet for duly and delight. He makes haste and progress in it.

Robert Trail, 1642-1716.

Verse 96.—Take notice that the law, which is your mark, is exceeding broad. And yet not the more easy to be hit; because you must aim to hit it, in every duty of it, with a performance of equal breadth, or else you cannot hit it at all.

Stephen Marshall.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 96.

1. An end:—"seen;" seen by one man; seen where it should not have been; seen where there was no end of boasting; seen in all perfection.

2. No end:—to the extent, spirituality, perpetuity, and perfectness of the law.

Verse 96.

1. The Finite explored.

2. The Infinite unexplored.

W. D.

Verse 96.—Perfectionism disproved by experience and inspiration.

W. B. H.

Verse 96.—"Perfection" perfect and imperfect.

1. Loud professions of perfection arise from ignorance (of self, or of God's requirements).

2. Are peculiarly liable to collapse: "I have seen an end."

3. Are best corrected by a survey of the breadth of the divine law.

C. A. D.






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