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C. H. Spurgeon :: Psalm 119 Verses 113-120

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Psalm 119 Verses 113-120


EXPOSITION VERSE 113

Verse 113.—"I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love." In this paragraph the Psalmist deals with thoughts and things and persons which are the opposite of God's holy thoughts and ways. He is evidently in great fear of the powers of darkness, and of their allies, and his whole soul is stirred up to stand against them with a determined opposition. Just as he began the octave, Psa 119:97, with "O how I love thy law," so here he begins with a declaration of hatred against that which breaks the law. The opposite of the fixed and infallible law of God is the wavering, changing opinion of men: David had an utter contempt and abhorrence for this; all his reverence and regard went to the sure word of testimony. In proportion to his love to the law was his hate of man's inventions. The thoughts of men are vanity; but the thoughts of God are verity. We hear much in these days of "men of thought," "thoughtful preachers," and "modern thought:" what is this but the old pride of the human heart? Vain man would be wise. The Psalmist did not glory in his thoughts; and that which was called "thought" in his day was a thing which he detested. When man thinks his best his highest thoughts are as far below those of divine revelation as the earth is beneath the heavens. Some of our thoughts are specially vain in the sense of vain glory, pride, conceit, and self trust; others in the sense of bringing disappointment, such as fond ambition, sinful dreaming, and confidence in man; others in the sense of emptiness and frivolity, such as the idle thoughts and vacant romancing in which so many indulge; and, yet once more, too many of our thoughts are vain in the sense of being sinful, evil, and foolish. The Psalmist is not indifferent to evil thoughts as the careless are; but upon them he looks with a hate as true as was the love with which he clung to the pure thoughts of God.

The last octave was practical, this is thoughtful; there the man of God attended to his feet, and here to his heart: the emotions of the soul are as important as the acts of the life, for they are the fountain and spring from which the actions proceed. When we love the law it becomes a law of love, and we cling to it with our whole heart.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

The fifteenth letter, SAMECH, denotes a prop or pillar, and this agrees well with the subject matter of the strophe, in which God is twice implored to uphold his servant (Psa 119:116-117), while the utter destruction of those who make light of his law, or encourage scepticism regarding it, may be compared to the fate of the Philistine lords, on whom Samson brought down the roof of the house where they were making merry, by over-throwing the pillars which supported it.

Neale and Littledale.

Verses 112-113.—When David had an inclination in his heart to God's statutes, the immediate effect of it was to "hate vain thoughts." We read, "I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes;" and it follows, "I hate vain thoughts." The vanity of his heart was a burden to him. A new creature is as careful against wickedness in the head or heart, as in the life. A godly man would be purer in the sight of God than in the view of man. He knows none but God can see the wanderings of his heart or the thoughts of his head, yet he is as careful that sins should not rise up as that they should not break out.

Stephen Charnock.

Verse 113.—"I hate vain thoughts" or, the evil devices; or, the double hearted imaginations; or, the intermeddling, counter coursing thoughts: that is to say, that kind of practice of some men, that sail with every wind, and seek still to have two strings to their bow. The Hebrew word doth properly signify boughs Or branches, which shoot up perplexedly or confusedly in a tree.

Theodore Haak, 1618-1657.

Verse 113.—"I hate vain thoughts." In those vacant hours which are spared from business, pleasure, company, and sleep, and which are spent in solitude, at home or abroad; unprofitable, proud, covetous, sensual, envious, or malicious imaginations, occupy the minds of ungodly men, and often infect their very dreams. These are not only sinful in themselves, indicating the state of their hearts, and as such will be brought into the account at the day of judgment; but they excite the dormant corruptions, and lead to more open and gross violations of the holy law. The carnal mind welcomes and delights to dwell upon these congenial imaginations, and to solace itself by ideal indulgences, when opportunity of other gratification is not presented, or when a man dares not commit the actual transgression. But the spiritual mind recoils at them; such thoughts will intrude from time to time, but they are unwelcome and distressing, and are immediately thrust out; while other subjects, from the word of God, are stored up in readiness to occupy the mind more profitably and pleasantly during the hours of leisure and retirement. There is no better test of our true character, than the habitual effect of "vain thoughts" upon our minds—whether we love and indulge them, or abhor, and watch and pray against them.

Thomas Scott, 1747-1821.

Verse 113.—"I hate vain thoughts," A godly man may have roving thoughts in duty. Sad experience proves this; the thoughts will be dancing up and down in prayer. The saints are called stars; but many times in duty they are wandering stars. The heart is like quicksilver which will not fix. It is hard to tie two good thoughts together; we cannot lock our hearts so close, but that distracting thoughts, like wind, will get in. Hierom complains of himself; "Sometimes," saith he, "when I am about God's service, I am walking in the galleries, or casting up accounts." But these wandering thoughts are not allowed: "I hate vain thoughts," they come as unwelcome guests, which are no sooner spied, but turned out of doors.

Thomas Watson.

Verse 113.—"I hate." Every dislike of evil is not sufficient; but perfect hatred is required of us against all sorts and degrees of sin.

David Dickson.

Verse 113.—"Vain thoughts." The word is used for the opinions of men; and may be applied to all heterodox opinions, human doctrines, damnable heresies; such as are inconsistent with the perfections of God, derogate from his grace, and from the son and offices of Christ; and are contrary to the word, and which are therefore rejected and abhorred by good men.

John Gill.

Verse 113.—"Vain thoughts." Hebrew, "sedphim," halting between two opinions. See 1Ki 18:21. Hence it signifies sceptical doubts.

Christopher Wordsworth.

Verse 113.—"Vain thoughts." Our thoughts are set upon trifles and frivolous things, neither tending to our own profit nor the benefit of others: "The heart of the wicked is of little worth;" (Pro 10:20) all their debates, conceits, musings, are of no value: for all their thoughts are taken up about childish vanity and foolish conceits. "The thought of foolishness is sin" (Pro 24:9); not only the thought of wickedness, but foolishness. Thoughts are the firstborn of the soul, the immediate issues of the mind; yet we lavish them away upon every trifle. Follow men all the day long, and take account of their thoughts. Oh! what madness and folly are in all the musings they are conscious of: "The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity" (Psa 94:11). If we did judge as God judges, all the thoughts, reasonings, discourses of the mind, if they were set down in a table, we might write at the bottom, Here is the sum and total account of all,—nothing but vanity.

The sins that do most usually engross and take up our thoughts are,

First. Uncleanness. Speculative wickedness makes way for active: "Hath committed adultery...in his heart" (Mat 5:28). There is a polluting ourselves by our thoughts, and this sin usually works that way.

Secondly. Revenge. Liquors are soured when long kept; so, when we dwell upon discontents, they turn to revenge. Purposes of revenge are most sweet and pleasant to carnal nature: "Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually" (Pro 6:14), that is to say, he is full of revengeful and spiteful thoughts.

Thirdly. Envy. It is a sin that feeds upon the mind. Those songs of the women, that Saul had slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands, they ran in Saul's mind, therefore he hated David (1Sa 18:9). Envy is an evil disease that dwelleth in the heart, and betrays itself mostly in thoughts.

Fourthly. Pride. Either pride in the desires or pride in the mind, either vain glory or self conceit; this is entertaining our hearts with whispers of vanity: therefore it is said, "He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts" (Luk 1:51): proud men are full of imaginations.

Fifthly. Covetousness, which is nothing but vain musings and exercises of the heart: "A heart they have exercised with covetous practices" (2Pe 2:14). And it withdraws the heart in the very time of God's worship: "Their heart goeth after their covetousness" (Eze 33:31).

Sixthly. Distrust is another thing which usually takes up our thoughts—distracting motions against God's providence.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 113.—"Vain thoughts." Let us see what vanity is. Take it in all the acceptances of it, it is true of our thoughts that they are "vain."

1. It is taken for unprofitableness. So, Ecc 1:2-3, "All is vain," because there is "no profit in them under the sun." Such are our thoughts by nature; the wisest of them will not stand us in any stead in time of need, in time of temptation, distress of conscience, day of death or judgment: 1Co 2:6, "All the wisdom of the wise comes to nought;" Pro 10:20. "The heart of the wicked is of little worth," not a penny for them all.

2. Vanity is taken for lightness. "Lighter than vanity," is a phrase used, Psa 62:9; and whom is it spoken of? Of men; and if anything in them be lighter than other, it is their thoughts, which swim in the uppermost parts, float at the top, are as the scum of the heart. When all the best, and wisest, and deepest, and solidest thoughts in Belshazzar, a prince, were weighed, they were found too light, Dan 5:27.

3. Vanity is put for folly. So, Pro 12:11, "vain men" is made all one with men "void of understanding." Such are our thoughts. Among other evils which are said to "come out of the heart" (Mar 7:22), ἀφροσύνη is reckoned as one, "foolishness;" that is, thoughts that are such as madmen have, and fools—nothing to the purpose, of which there can be made no use.

4. Vanity is put for inconstancy and frailty; therefore vanity and a shadow are made synonymous, Psa 144:4. Such are our thoughts, flitting and perishing, as bubbles: Psa 146:4, "All their thoughts perish."

5. Lastly, they are wicked and sinful. Vanity is Jer 4:14 yoked with wickedness, and vain men and sons of Belial are all one, 2Ch 13:7. And such are our thoughts by nature: Pro 24:9, "The thought of foolishness is sin." And therefore a man is to be humbled for a proud thought.

Thomas Goodwin.

Verse 113.—"But thy law do I love" Ballast your heart with a love to God. Love will, by a pleasing violence bind down our thoughts: if it doth not establish our minds, they will be like a cork, which, with a light breath, and a short curl of water, shall be tossed up and down from its station. Scholars that love learning will be continually hammering upon some notion or other which may further their progress, and as greedily clasp it as the iron will its beloved loadstone. He that is "winged with a divine love" to Christ will have frequent glances and flights toward him, and will start out from his worldly business several times in a day to give him a visit. Love, in the very working, is a settling grace; it increaseth our delight in God, partly by the sight of his amiableness, which is cleared to us in the very act of loving; and partly by the recompences he gives to the affectionate carriage of his creature; both which will prevent the heart's giving entertainment to such loose companions as evil thoughts.

Stephen Charnock.

Verses 113-114.—When David was able to vouch his love to the command, he did not question his title to the promise. Here he asserts his sincere affection to the precepts: "I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love." Mark he doth not say he is free from vain thoughts, but he "hates" them, he likes their company no better than one would a pack of thieves that break into his house. Neither saith he that he fully kept the law, but he "loved" the law even when he failed of exact obedience to it. Now from this testimony his conscience brought in for his love to the law, his faith acts clearly and strongly on the promise in the next words, "Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word."

William Gurnall.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verses 113-120.—Vain thoughts contrasted with God's law.

The believer takes sides (Psa 119:113-115);

Prays for upholding in the law (Psa 119:116-117);

Contemplates the fate of the followers of vain thoughts (Psa 119:118-119); and

Expresses the godly fear thereby inspired (Psa 119:120).

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

Verse 113.—The thought of the age, and the truth of all ages.

Verse 113.

1. The object of hatred.

2. The object of love.

OR

1. Love the cause of hatred.

2. Hatred the effect of love.

G. R.

Verse 113.—Vain thoughts.

What they are.

Whence they arise.

The mischief they cause.

How they should be treated.

W. H. J. P.

Verse 113.—How the believer

1. Is troubled by vain thoughts. A frequent and painful experience:

2. Does not tolerate vain, thoughts. Some, suffer them to lodge within; he is anxious to expel them.

3. Triumphs over vain thoughts. By his love to the law of God. His prayer is—

With thoughts of Christ and things divine,
Fill up this foolish heart of mine.

W. H. J. P.

EXPOSITION VERSE 114

Verse 114.—"Thou art my hiding place and my shield." To his God he ran for shelter from vain thoughts; there he hid himself away from their tormenting intrusions, and in solemn silence of the soul he found God to be his hiding place. When called into the world, if he could not be alone with God as his hiding place, he could have the Lord with him as his shield, and by this means he could ward off the attacks of wicked suggestions. This is an experimental verse, and it testifies to that which the writer knew of his own personal knowledge: he could not fight with his own thoughts, or escape from them, till he flew to his God, and then he found deliverance. Observe that he does not speak of God's word as being his double defence, but he ascribes that to God himself. When we are beset by very spiritual assaults, such as those which arise out of vain thoughts, we shall do well to fly distinctly to the person of our Lord, and to cast ourselves upon his real presence. Happy is he who can truly say to the triune God, "Thou art my hiding place." He has beheld God under that glorious covenant aspect which ensures to the beholder the surest consolation.

"I hope in thy word." And well he might, since he had tried and proved it: he looked for protection from all danger, and preservation from all temptation to him who had hitherto been the tower of his defence on former occasions. It is easy to exercise hope where we have experienced help. Sometimes when gloomy thoughts afflict us, the only thing we can do is to hope, and, happily, the word of God always sets before us objects of hope and reasons for hope, so that it becomes the very sphere and support of hope, and thus tiresome thoughts are overcome. Amid fret and worry a hope of heaven is an effectual quietus.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 114.—"Thou art my hiding place and my shield," etc. From vain thoughts and vain persons the Psalmist teaches us to fly, by prayer, to God, as our Refuge and Protector. This course a believer will as naturally take, in the hour of temptation and danger, as the offspring of the hen, on perceiving a bird of prey hovering over their heads, retire to their "hiding place," under the wings of the dam; or as the warrior opposeth his "shield" to the darts which are aimed at him.

George Horne.

Verse 114.—"Thou art my hiding place." Christ hath all qualifications that may fit him for this work [of being a hiding-place to believers].

1. He hath strength. A hiding place must be locus munitissimus. Paper houses will never be good hiding places. Houses made of reeds or rotten timber will not be fit places for men to hide themselves in. Jesus Christ is a place of strength. He is the Rock of Ages: His name is "the Mighty God," Isa 9:6.

2. He hath height. A hiding place must be locus excelsissimus. Your low houses are soon scaled. Jesus Christ is a high place; he is as high as heaven. He is the Jacob's ladder that reacheth from earth to heaven: Gen 28:12. He is too high for men, too high for devils; no creature can scale these high walls.

3. He hath secret places. A hiding place must be locus abditissimus. The more secret, the more safe. Now, Jesus Christ hath many secret chambers that no creatures can ever find: Sng 2:14, "O my dove, that art in the secret places of the stairs." As Christ hath hidden comforts which no man knows but he that receiveth them; so he hath hidden places of secrecy which none can find out but he that dwells in them. "Come, my people, enter into thy chambers, and shut the doors upon thee" (Isa 26:0).

4. Christ is faithful. He that will hide others had need be very faithful. A false hearted protector is worse than an open pursuer. "Will the men of Keilah deliver me up?" saith David; "They will deliver thee up," saith the Lord. But now Christ is faithful: Rev 3:14, he is "the faithful witness;" he cannot be bribed to surrender up any creature that comes to hide himself with him. Christ will die before he will betray his trust.

5. Christ is diligent. Diligence is as necessary in those that will hide others, as faithfulness. A sleepy guard may betray a castle or garrison as well as a faithless guard. But Jesus Christ is very diligent and watchful, he hath his intelligencers abroad; yea, his own eyes run to and fro in the earth, to see what contrivances are made and set on foot against those who are hid with him: Psa 121:3-4, "He that keepeth Israel neither slumbereth nor sleepeth."

Ralph Robinson (1614-1655), in "Christ All in All."

Verse 114.—"Hiding place." The first word in the verse means properly a secret, or a secret place.

Joseph Addison Alexander.

Verse 114.—"My shield." Good people are safe under God's protection; he is their "strength and their shield;" their "help and their shield;" their "sun and their shield;" their "shield and their great reward;" and here, their "hiding place and their shield"

Matthew Henry.

Verse 114.—"Shield." The excellency and properties of a shield lie in these things:—

1. In the largeness and breadth of it, in that it hides and covers the person that weareth it from all darts that are flung at him, so as they cannot reach him: "Thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield" (Psa 5:12).

2. The excellence of a shield lies in that it is hard and impenetrable. So this answers to the invincible power of God's providence, by which he can break the assaults of all enemies; and such a shield is God to his people: "My shield, and he in whom I trust" (Psa 144:2).

3. Shall I add one thing more? Stones and darts flung upon a hard shield are beaten back upon him that flings them; so God beats back the evil upon his enemies and the enemies of his people: "Bring them down, O Lord, our shield" (Psa 59:11).

Thomas Manton.

Verse 114.—"I hope in thy word." Of all the ingredients that sweeten the cup of human life, there is none more rich or powerful than hope. Its absence embitters the sweetest lot; its presence alleviates the deepest woe. Surround me with all the joys which memory can awaken or possession bestow,—without hope it is not enough. In the absence of hope there is sadness in past and present joys—sadness in the thought that the past is past, and that the present is passing too. But though you strip me of all the joys the past or the present can confer, if the morrow shineth bright with hope, I am glad amid my woe. Of all the busy motives that stir this teeming earth, hope is the busiest. It is the sweetest balm that soothes our sorrows, the brightest beam that gilds our pleasures. Hope is the noblest offspring, the first born, the last buried child of foreseeing and forecasting man. Without it the unthinking cattle may be content amid present plenty. But without it reflecting man should not, cannot be truly happy.

William Grant (1814-1876), in "Christ our Hope, and other Sermons"

Verse 114.—"Thou art my hiding place." Depart from me, ye evil doers." Safe and quiet in his hiding place, David deprecates all attempts to disturb his peace. The society, therefore, of the ungodly is intolerable to him, and he cannot forbear frowning them from his presence. He had found them to be opposed to his best interests; and he feared their influence in shaking his determination of obedience to his God. Indeed, when have the Lord's people failed to experience such society to be a prevailing hindrance alike to the enjoyment and to the service of God?

Charles Bridges.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 114.—Our protection

from danger—"hiding-place;"

in danger—"shield;"

before danger—"I hope."

Verse 114.—Hiding place. Secrecy to conceal us. Capacity to hold us. Safety. Comfort.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 114.—Hiding and hoping.

1. A hiding place needed.

2. A hiding place provided (Isa 25:4; Isa 32:2).

3. A hiding place used.

C. A. D.

Verse 114.

1. The refuge provided: "Thou art," etc.

2. The refuge revealed: "In thy word."

3. The refuge found: "I hope," etc.

G. R.

Verse 114.—"Thou art my hiding place."

1. In thy grace, from condemnation.

2. In thy compassion, from sorrow.

3. In thy succour, from temptation.

4. In thy power, from opposition.

5. In thy fulness, from want.

W. J.

EXPOSITION VERSE 115

Verse 115.—"Depart from me, ye evil doers." Those who make a conscience of their thoughts are not likely to tolerate evil company. If we fly to God from vain thoughts, much more shall we avoid vain men. Kings are all too apt to be surrounded by a class of men who flatter them, and at the same time take liberty to break the laws of God: David purged his palace of such parasites; he would not harbour them beneath his roof. No doubt they would have brought upon him an ill name, for their doings would have been imputed to him, since the acts of courtiers are generally set down as acts of the court itself; therefore the king sent them packing bag and baggage, saying,—"Depart from me." Herein he anticipated the sentence of the last great day, when the Son of David shall say, "Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity." We cannot thus send all malefactors out of our houses, but it will often become a duty to do so where there is right and reason for it. A house is all the better for being rid of liars, pilferers, lewd talkers, and slanderers. We are bound at all hazards to keep ourselves clear of such companions as come to us by our own choice if we have any reason to believe that their character is vicious. Evil doers make evil counsellors. Those who say unto God, "Depart from us," ought to hear the immediate echo of their words from the mouths of God's children, "Depart from us. We cannot eat bread with traitors."

"For I will keep the commandments of my God." Since he found it hard to keep the commandments in the company of the ungodly, he gave them their marching orders. He must keep the commandments, but he did not need to keep their company. What a beautiful title for the Lord this verse contains! The word God only occurs in this one place in all this lengthened psalm, and then it is attended by the personal word "my"—"my God."

My God! how charming is the sound!
    How pleasant to repeat!
Well may that heart with pleasure bound,
    Where God hath fixed his seat.

Doddridge.

Because Jehovah is our God therefore we resolve to obey him, and to chase out of our sight those who would hinder us in his service. It is a grand thing for the mind to have come to a point, and to be steadfastly fixed m the holy determination,—"I will keep the commandments." God's law is our pleasure when the God of the law is our God.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 115.—"Depart from me, ye evil doers," etc. As if he had said, talk no more of it, save your breath, I am resolved on my course, I have sworn, and am steadfastly purposed to keep the commandments of my God; with God's help, there will I hold me, and all the world shall not wrest me from it.

Robert Sanderson, 1587-1663.

Verse 115.—"Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity," etc. It is common to sin for company, and that cup usually goeth round, and is handed from one to another. It is therefore wise to quit the company which is infected by sin. It can bring thee no benefit. At least evil company will abate the good in thee. The herb of grace will never thrive in such a cold soil. How poorly doth the good corn grow which is compassed about with weeds! Cordials and restoratives will do little good to the natural body, whilst it aboundeth with ill humours. Ordinances are little effectual to souls which are distempered with such noxious inmates. It is said of the mountain Kadish, that whatsoever vine be planted near it, it causeth it to wither and die: it is exceeding rare for saints to thrive near such pull backs. It is difficult, even to a miracle, to keep God's commandments and evil company too; therefore when David would marry himself to God's commands, to love them, and live with them, for better for worse, all his days, he is forced to give a bill of divorce to wicked companions, knowing that otherwise the match could never be made: "Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, for I will keep the commandments of my God." As if he had said, Be it known unto you, O sinners, that I am striking a hearty covenant with God's commands; I like them so well, that I am resolved to give myself up to them, and to please them well in all things, which I can never do unless ye depart; ye are like a strumpet, which will steal away the love from the true wife. I cannot, as I ought, obey my God's precepts, whilst ye abide in my presence; therefore depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, for I will keep the commandments of my God.

George Swinnock.

Verse 115.—"Depart from me, ye evil doers." Woe be to the wicked man, and woe to those who adhere to him and associate with him, saith Ben Sira. And even the pagans of old thought that a curse went along with those who kept evil company. To inhabit, or to travel with an impious man, and one not beloved of the gods, was held by them to be unlucky and unfortunate.

Vetabo qui Cercris sacrum
Vulgavit, sub isdem
Sit trabibus, fragilemque mecuin
Solvat phaselum
,

as Horace speaks.

They who mysteries reveal
Beneath my roof shall never live,
Shall never hoist with me the doubtful sail.

To dwell under the same roof, or to sail in the same yacht or pleasure boat with profane persons was deemed unsafe and dangerous by men of Pagan principles. How much more, then, ought Christians to be thoroughly persuaded of the mischief and danger of conversing with wicked men? It can no ways be safe to hold correspondence with them. Yea, we are in great danger all the while we are with them. You have heard, I suppose, who it was that would not stay in the bath so long as an arch heretic was there. It was St. John the Evangelist; he would not (as Iranaeus acquaints us) remain in that place because Cerinthus, who denied the divinity of Christ, was then present there. That holy man thought no place was safe where such persons are.

Therefore be mindful of the Apostle's exhortation, and "Come out from among them" (2Co 6:17); listen to that voice from heaven: "Come out, that ye be not partakers of their sins, and that ye receive not of their plagues." Separate yourselves from them lest you not only in damage your souls, but your bodies, lest some remarkable judgment arrest you here, and lest the divine vengeance more furiously assault you hereafter. The fanciful poets tell us that Theseus and Perithous (a pair of intimate friends) loved one another so well that they went down to hell together. I am sure it is no poetical fiction that many do thus; that is to say, that they perish together, and descend into the bottomless pit for company's sake.

John Edwards (1637-1716), in "Theologia Reformata"

Verse 115.—Depart from them that depart from God.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 115.—"Of my God." As a man can esteem of anything which he knows is his own; so if once he know that God is his, he cannot but love him, and carefully obey him: neither is it possible that any man can give to God hearty and permanent service, who is not persuaded to say with David, He is my God. All the pleasures, all the terrors of the world cannot sunder that soul from God, who can truly say, The Lord is my God.

W. Cowper.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 115.

1. Ill company hinders piety.

2. Piety quits ill company.

3. Piety, in compelling this departure, acts as God will do at the last.

Verse 115.—Evil companionship incompatible with genuine righteousness.

1. They necessitate concealment and compromise.

2. They destroy the capability of communion with God, and the relish for spiritual things.

3. They blunt the sensitiveness of conscience.

4. They involve deliberate disobedience to God.

J. F.

EXPOSITION VERSE 116

Verse 116.—"Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may have." It was so necessary that the Lord should hold up his servant, that he could not even live without it. Our soul would die if the Lord did not continually sustain it, and every grace which makes spiritual life to be truly life would decay if he withdrew his upholding hand. It is a sweet comfort that this great necessity of upholding is provided for in the word, and we have not to ask for it as for an uncovenanted mercy, but simply to plead for the fulfilment of a promise, saying, "Uphold me according to thy word." He who has given us eternal life hath in that gift secured to us all that is essential thereto, and as gracious upholding is one of the necessary things we may be sure that we shall have it.

"And let me not be ashamed of my hope." In Psa 119:114 he had spoken of his hope as founded on the word, and now he begs for the fulfilment of that word that his hope might be justified in the sight of all. A man would be ashamed of his hope if it turned out that it was not based upon a sure foundation; but this will never happen in our case. We may be ashamed of our thoughts, and our words, and our deeds for they spring from ourselves; but we never shall be ashamed of our hope, for that springs from the Lord our God. Such is the frailty of our nature that unless we are continually upheld by grace, we shall all so foully as to be ashamed of ourselves, and ashamed of all those glorious hopes which are now the crown and glory of our life. The man of God had uttered the most positive resolves, but he felt that he could not trust in his own solemn determination: hence these prayers. It is not wrong to make resolutions, but it will be useless to do so unless we salt them well with believing cries to God. David meant to keep the law of the Lord, but he first needed the Lord of the law to keep him.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 116.—"Uphold me." A kite soaring on high is in a situation quite foreign to its nature; as much as the soul of man is when raised above this lower world to high and heavenly pursuits. A person at a distance sees not how it is kept in its exalted situation: he sees not the wind that blows it, nor the hand that holds it, nor the string by whose instrumentality it is held. But all of these powers are necessary to its preservation in that preternatural state. If the wind were to sink it would fall. It has nothing whatever in itself to uphold itself; it has the same tendency to gravitate towards the earth that it ever had; and if left for a moment to itself it would fall. Thus it is with the soul of every true believer. It has been raised by the Spirit of God to a new, a preternatural, a heavenly state; and in that state it is at held by an invisible and Almighty hand, through the medium of faith. And upheld it shall be, but not by any lower in itself. If left for a moment it would fall as much as ever. Its whole strength is in God alone; and its whole security is in the unchangeableness of his nature, and in the efficacy of his grace. In a word, "It is kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation." (1Pe 1:5).

From "The Book of Illustrations," by H. G. Salter, 1840.

Verse 116.—"That I may live." The life of a Christian stands in this, to have his soul quickened by the spirit of grace. For as the presence of the soul quickens the body, and the departure thereof brings instant death; and the body without it is but a dead lump of clay: so it is the presence of God's Spirit which giveth life to the soul of man. And this life is known by these two notable effects; for first, it brings a joyful sense of God's mercy; and next, a spiritual disposition to spiritual exercises. And without this, pretend a man what he will, he is but the image of a Christian, looking somewhat like him, but not quickened by his life.

William Cowper.

Verse 116.—"That I may live." The children of God think they have no life if they live not in God's life. For if we think we are alive, because we see, so do the brute beasts; if we think we are alive because we hear, so do the cattle; if we think we are alive because we eat and drink, or sleep, so do beasts; if we think we live because we do reason and confer, so do the heathen. The life of God's children is the death of sin; for where sin is alive, there that part is dead unto God…God's children, finding themselves dull and slow to good things, when they cannot either rejoice in the promises of God, or find their inward man delighted with the law of God, think themselves to be dead.

Richard Greenham.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 116.

1. Upholding promised.

2. Needful for holy living.

3. The preventive of shameful acts.

Verse 116.—"Uphold me according unto thy word," etc.

1. The Psalmist pleads the promise of God, his dependence upon the promise, and his expectation from it: "Uphold me according unto thy word," which word I hope in and if it be not performed I shall be "ashamed of my hope."

2. He pleads the great need he had of God's grace, and the great advantage it would be to him: "Uphold me, that I may live;" intimating that he could not live without the grace of God.

M. Henry.

EXPOSITION VERSE 117

Verse 117.—"Hold thou me up:" as a nurse holds up a little child. "And I shall be safe," and not else; for unless thou hold me up I shall be falling about like an infant that is weak upon its knees. We are saved by past grace, but we are not safe unless we receive present grace. The Psalmist had vowed to keep the Lord's commands, but here he pleads with the Lord to keep him: a very sensible course of procedure. Our version reads the word "uphold," and then "hold up;" and truly we need this blessing in every shape in which it can come, for in all manner of ways our adversaries seek to cast us down. To be safe is a happy condition; there is only one door to it, and that is to be held up by God himself; thank God, that door is open to the least among us.

"And I will have respect unto thy statutes continually." In obedience is safety; in being held up is obedience. No man will outwardly keep the Lord's statutes for long together unless he has an inward respect for them, and this will never be unless the hand of the Lord perpetually upholds the heart in holy love. Perseverance to the end, obedience continually, comes only through the divine power; we start aside as a deceitful bow unless we are kept right by him that first gave us grace. Happy is the man who realizes this verse in his life: upheld through his whole life in a course of unswerving integrity, he becomes a safe and trusted man, and maintains a sacred delicacy of conscience which is unknown to others. He feels a tender respect for the statutes of the Lord, which keeps him clear of inconsistencies and conformities to the world that are so common among others, and hence he is a pillar in the house of the Lord. Alas, we know some professors who are not upright, and therefore they lean to sin till they fall over, and though they are restored they are never safe or reliable, neither have they that sweet purity of soul which is the charm of the more sanctified who have been kept from falling into the mire.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 117.—"Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe." Not only the consciousness of my weakness, but the danger of the slippery path before me, reminds me, that the safety of every moment depends upon the upholding power of my faithful God. The ways of temptation are so many and imperceptible—the influence of it so appalling—the entrance into it so deceitful, so specious, so insensible—and my own weakness and unwatchfulness are so unspeakable—that I can do nothing but go on my way, praying at every step, "Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe."

Charles Ridges.

Verse 117.—"Hold thou me up." Three things made David afraid. First, great temptation without; for from every air the wind of temptation blows upon a Christian. Secondly, great corruption within. Thirdly, examples of other worthy men that had fallen before him, and are written for us: not that we should learn to fall, but to fear lest we fall. These three should always hold us humble, according to that warning, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."

William Cowper.

Verse 117.—"Up," up above the littleness in which I have lived too long,—above the snares which have so often caught me,—above the stumbling blocks upon which I have so often fallen,—above the world,—above myself,—higher than I have ever reached yet,—above the level of my own mortality: worthy of thee,—worthy of the blood, with which I have been bought,—nearer to heaven,—nearer to thee,—"hold thou me up."

God's methods of holding his people up are many. Sometimes it is by the preacher's word, when the word comes fitly spoken to the heart and conscience. May God, in his infinite condescension, enable his servants in this church so to hold you up. Sometimes it is by the ordained means and sacraments which his grace commanded. Sometimes it is by the efficacy of the Holy Scriptures, when some passage in your own room strikes the mind, Just in season; or the stay of some sweet promise comes in sustaining to your spirit. Sometimes by the simple in working of the Holy Ghost in a man's own thoughts, as he will work "Uphold me with thy free Spirit." Sometimes by the ministration of angels,—"They shall hold thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." Sometimes by putting you very low indeed, making you feel that the safe place is the valley. There is no elevation like the elevation of abasement. Sometimes by severe discipline to brace up the heart, and strengthen it, and make it independent of external things. Sometimes by heavy affliction, which is the grasp of his hand, that he may hold you tighter. Sometimes by putting into your heart to think the exact thing that you need,—to pray the very prayer which he intends at the moment to grant. Sometimes by appearing to let you go, and forsake you, while at the same time—like the Syro Phoenician woman—he is giving you the wish to hold on that he may give you the more at the last.

James Vaughan, of Brighton, 1877.

Verse 117.—"I will have respect unto that statutes continually." I will employ myself, so some; I will delight myself, so others; in thy statutes. If God's right hand uphold us, we must in his strength go on in our duty, both with diligence and with pleasure.

Matthew Henry.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 117.—God's holding us up. It implies a danger, and that danger takes many forms. The believer's life may be described as walking in uprightness; he is a pilgrim. He needs upholding, for—

(a) The way is slippery.

(b) Our feet make the danger as well as the way.

(c) Cunning foes seek to trip us up.

(d) Sometimes the difficulty is not caused by the way, but by the height to which God may elevate us.

(e) The prayer is all the more needful because the most of people do not keep upright.

2. Two blessed things that come out of this holding up.

(a) We shall be safe for ourselves, as examples, and as pillars of the church.

(b) We shall be watchful and sensitive: "I will have respect unto thy statutes continually." Without this no man is safe.

—See "Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 1657; "My Hourly Prayer."

Verse 117.—"Hold thou me up," etc.

1. The good man is up.

2. The good man wishes to keep up.

3. The good man prays to be held up.

4. The good man knows that divine support is abundantly sufficient.

W. J.

Verse 117.

1. Dependence for the future: "Hold," etc.

2. Resolution for the future: "I will have," etc.

G. R.

EXPOSITION VERSE 118

Verse 118.—"Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes." There is no holding up for them; they are thrown down and then trodden down, for they choose to go down into the wandering ways of sin. Sooner or later God will set his foot on those who turn their foot from his commands: it has always been so, and it always will be so to the end. If the salt has lost its savour, what is it fit for but to be trodden under foot? God puts away the wicked like dross, which is only fit to be cast out as road metal to be trodden down.

"For their deceit is falsehood." They call it far seeing policy, but it is absolute falsehood, and it shall be treated as such. Ordinary men call it clever diplomacy, but the man of God calls a spade a spade, and declares it to be falsehood, and nothing less, for he knows that it is so in the sight of God. Men who err from the right road invent pretty excuses with which to deceive themselves and others, and so quiet their consciences and maintain their credits; but their mask of falsehood is too transparent. God treads down falsehoods; they are only fit to be spurned by his feet, and crushed into the dust. How horrified must those be who have spent all their lives in contriving a confectionery religion, and then see it all trodden upon by God as a sham which he cannot endure!

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 118.—"Thou hast trodden down," etc. David here, by a new meditation, confirms himself in the course of godliness: for considering the judgments of God, executed according to his word in all ages upon the wicked, he resolves so much the more to fear God and keep his testimonies. Thus the judgments of God, executed on others, should be awe-bands [a check upon-Ed.] to keep us from sinning after their similitude.

The Lord in chastising his own children takes them in hand like a father to correct them; but when his wrath is kindled against the wicked he tramples them under his feet, as vile creatures which are no account with him.

William Cowper.

Verse 118.—"Thou hast trodden down." The Septuagint, ἐξουδένωσας, ad nihil deduxisti; thou hast brought to nothing; Aquila, confixisti, thou hast stricken through: Symmachus, ἀπήλεγξας, reprobasti, thou hast disproved; the Vulgate sprevisti, thou hast contemned; Apollinarius, ἀθέριξας, parvi pependisti, thou hast little esteemed: all to the same purpose. The phrase of treading under foot, used by us, implies, 1. A full punishment; 2. A disgraceful one.

1. A full punishment. God will pull them down from their altitudes, even to the dust, though never so high and proudly exalting themselves against God. A full conquest of enemies is thus often expressed in Scripture. The Assyrian is said "to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets" (Isa 10:6).

2. It implies a disgraceful punishment: "Until I make thine enemies thy footstool" (Psa 105:1); an expression used to show the ignominy and contempt God will put upon them. Thus Sapores, the king of Persia, trampled upon Valentinian the emperor, and Tamerlane made Bajazet his footstool. The meaning is, God will not only bring them under, but reduce them to an abject mid contemptible condition. So Chrysostom on the text expounds this phrase, that God will make them ἐπονειδιστους κὰι καταγελαστους, ignominious and contemptible. They shall not go off honourably, but with scorn and confusion of face, miserably broken.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 118.—"Thou hast trodden down," etc. There is a disposition to merge all the characteristics of the Divinity into one; and while with many of our most eminent writers, the exuberant goodness, the soft and yielding benignity, the mercy that overlooks and makes liberal allowance for the infirmities of human weakness, have been fondly and most abundantly dwelt upon—there has been what the French would call, if not a studied, at least an actually observed reticence, on the subject of his truth and purity and his hatred of moral evil. There can be no government without a law; and the question is little entertained—how are the violations of that law to be disposed of? Every law has its sanctions—the hopes of proffered reward on the one hand, the fears of threatened vengeance on the other. Is the vengeance to be threatened only, but never to be executed? Is guilt only to be dealt with by proclamations that go before, but never by punishments that are to follow?…Take away from jurisprudence its penalties, or, what were still worse, let the penalties only be denounced but never exacted; and we reduce the whole to an unsubstantial mockery. The fabric of moral government falls to pieces; and, instead of a great presiding authority in the universe, we have a subverted throne and a degraded Sovereign…If there is only to be the parade of a judicial economy, without any of its power or its performance; if the truth is only to be kept in the promises of reward, but as constantly to be receded from in the threats of vengeance; if the judge is thus to be lost in the overweening parent—there is positively nothing of a moral government over us but the name, we are not the subjects of God's authority; we are the fondlings of his regard. Under a system like this, the whole universe would drift, as it were, into a state of anarchy; and, in the uproar of this wild misrule, the King who sitteth on high would lose his hold on the creation that he had formed.

Thomas Chalmers.

Verse 118.—"For their deceit is falsehood." The true sense of the passage is, "for their cunning hath been fallacious," that is, it hath deceived them themselves and brought on their ruin.

Samuel Horsley, 1733-1806.

Verse 118.—"Their deceit is falsehood." He means not here of that deceit whereby the wicked deceive others, but that whereby they deceive themselves. And this is two fold: first, in that they look for a good in sin, which sin deceitfully promises, but they shall never find. Next, that they flatter themselves with a vain conceit to escape judgment, which shall assuredly overtake them.

William Cowper.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 118.—Sin and falsehood: their connection, punishment, and cure.

Verse 118.

1. Hearken to the tramp of God's armies. In nature; providence; angelic hosts of last day.

2. The mangled victims. Cunning deceivers specially obnoxious to God. Examples: Balaam, Pharaoh, Rome, the deceiver of the nations.

3. The warnings to us of this Aceldama. Repent. Avoid deceit. Mind God's landmarks. Hide in Christ.

W. B. H.

Verse 118.—God's punishment of the wicked though awfully severe is just and necessary.

1. It is due as the merited wages of iniquity.

2. It is demanded by the position of God as moral governor, and by his character as righteous.

3. It is necessary to mark the real worth of righteousness and its reward. If the wicked are not punished, the full worth of righteousness cannot appear.

4. In the nature of the case, it is absolutely unavoidable, except upon one condition, namely, the gift of genuine repentance and holiness after death; that no man has any right to expect, nor has God given the slightest intimation that he will bestow it.

5. Hell lies in the bosom of sin; and if the wicked were taken to heaven, they would carry hell thither. Heaven supplies not the things in which the wicked delight, while it abounds in those they can neither understand nor sympathise with.

J. F.

Verse 118. (second clause).—The deceits of the wicked are all falsehoods.

1. The world they embrace is a false Delilah.

2. The pleasure they enjoy is a Satanic snare.

3. Their formal religiousness is a vain delusion.

4. Their conceits of God are self invented lies.

J. F.

Verses 118-120.—Saved by fear.

1. The wrath of God revealed against sin.

2. The judgment of God executed upon sinners.

3. The fear of God created in the heart.

G. A. D.

EXPOSITION VERSE 119

Verse 119.—"Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross." He does not trifle with them, or handle them with kid gloves. No, he judges them to be the scum of the earth, and he treats them accordingly by putting them away. He puts them away from his church, away from their honours, away from the earth, and at last away from himself. "Depart," saith he, "ye cursed." If even a good man feels forced to put away the evil doers from him, much more must the thrice holy God put away the wicked. They looked like precious metal, they were intimately mixed up with it, they were laid up in the same heap; but the Lord is a refiner, and every day He removes some of the wicked from among his people, either by making a shameful discovery of their hypocrisy or by consuming them from off the earth. They are put away as dross, never to be recalled. As the metal is the better for losing its alloy, so is the church the better for having the wicked removed. These wicked ones are "of the earth,"—"the wicked of the earth," and they have no right to be with those who are not of the world; the Lord perceives them to be out of place and injurious, and therefore he puts them away, all of them, leaving none of them to deteriorate his church. The process will one day be perfect; no dross will be spared, no gold will be left impure. Where shall we be when that great work is finished?

"Therefore I love thy testimonies." Even the severities of the Lord excite the love of his people. If he allowed men to sin with impunity, he would not be so fully the object of our loving admiration; he is glorious in holiness because he thus rids his kingdom of rebels, and his temple of them that defile it. In these evil days, when God's punishment of sinners has become the butt of proud sceptical contentions, we may regard as a mark of the true man of God that he loves the Lord none the less, but a great deal the more because of his condign [appropriate, fitting and deserved-Ed.] judgment of the ungodly.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 119.—"Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross." The godly and the wicked live together in the visible church, as dross and good metal; but God, who is the purger of his church, will not fail by diversity of trials and judgments to put difference between them, and at last will make a perfect separation of them, and cast away the wicked as refuse.

David Dickson.

Verse 119.—God's judgments upon others may be a necessary act of love to us. They are purged out as "dross," that they may not infect us by their example, or molest us by their persecutions or oppressions. Now, the more we are befriended in this kind, the more we are bound to serve God cheerfully: "That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life:" Luk 1:74-75. The world is one of those enemies, or the wicked of the earth; therefore we should serve him faithfully.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 119.—"Thou puttest away all the wicked." Many ways are wicked men taken away; sometime by the hand of other men, sometime by their own hand. The Philistines slew not Saul, but forced him to slay himself; yet the eye of faith ever looks to the finger of God, and sees that the fall of the wicked is the work of God.

William Cowper.

Verse 119.—"The wicked of the earth." Why are they thus characterized? Because here they flourish; their names "shall be written in the earth" (Jer 17:13); they grow great and of good reckoning and account here. Judas had the bag; they prosper in the world: "Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world" (Psa 73:12). Here they are respected: "They are of the world, therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them" (1Jo 4:5). Their hearts and minds are in the world (Mat 6:19-20). It is their natural frame to be worldly, they only savour the things of the world; preferment, honour, greatness, it is their unum magnum; here is their pleasure, and here is their portion, their hope, and their happiness. A child of God looketh for another inheritance, immortal and undefiled.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 119.—"Like dross." The men of this world esteem God's children as the offscourings of the earth; so Paul (a chosen vessel of God) was disesteemed of men; but ye see here what the wicked are, in God's account, but dross indeed, which is the refuse of gold or silver. Let this confirm the godly against the contempt of men: only the Lord hath in his own hand the balance which weigheth men according as they are.

William Cowper.

Verse 119.—"Dross".

1. The dross obscures the lustre and glory of the metal, yea, covers it up, so that it appears not; rust and filth compass and hide the gold, so that neither the nature nor lustre of it can be seen.

2. Dross is a deceiving thing. It is like metal, but is not metal; the dross of silver is like it, and so the dross of gold is like gold, but the dross is neither silver nor gold.

3. Dross is not bettered by the fire: put it into the fire time after time, it abides so still.

4. Dross is a worthless thing. It is of no value—base, vile, contemptible.

5. It is useless, and to be rejected.

6. Dross is an offensive thing: rust eats into the metal, endangers it, and makes the goldsmith to kindle the fire, to separate it from the gold and silver.

Condensed from William Greenhill.

Verse 119.—"Thy testimonies." So, very frequently, he calleth God's word, wherein there are both commands and promises: the commandments of God appertain to all, his testimonies belong to his children only; whereby more strictly, I understand his promises containing special declarations of his love and favour toward his own in Christ Jesus.

William Cowper.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 119.—An insight into the divine will, the best assistance in our journey through the earth. Or, what I am; where I am; where I am going; how am I to get there?

Verse 119. (first clause).—The stranger in the earth.

1. A short exposition. The text means,—

(a) That the saint is not born of the earth.

(b) That the saint is not known on earth.

(c) The saint's portion is not upon the earth.

(d) The saint is compassed with sorrows and trials upon earth.

(e) The saint is soon to leave the earth.

2. A short application.

(a) Do not be like the world.

(b) Be prepared to be a sufferer on the earth.

(c) Sit loose to the world.

(d) Correspond with home.

(e) Cherish brotherly love for your fellow strangers on the earth.

(f) Hasten home.

(g) Press others to come with you.

Duncan Macgregor's Sermon in "The Shepherd in Israel," 1869.

Verse 119.—The stranger's prayer.

1. How he came to be a stranger in the earth. He was born again. He learned the manners of his foreign home. He spoke the language of his Fatherland; and so was misunderstood and rejected on earth.

2. How he longed after everything homelike. Home rules: "thy commandments." Home teaching: "hide not." Specially his Father's voice.

3. How in his loneliness he solaced himself by communication with his Father.

4. Would you not like to be a stranger?

C. A. D.

Verse 119.—The saint's acquiescence in God's judgments.

W. B. H.

Verse 119.

1. Comparison of the wicked to dross.

2. Comparison of their doom to the putting away of dross.

3. The saint's admiration of divine justice as seen in the rejection of the wicked.

Verse 119.—God's putting away the wicked like dross.

1. God's judgments are a searching and separating fire.

2. The final judgment of the great day will complete the separating process.

3. The great result will be, the true metal and the dross, each gathered to its own place.

J. F.

EXPOSITION VERSE 120

Verse 120.—"My flesh trembleth for fear of thee." Such was his awe in the presence of the Judge of all the earth, whose judgment he had just now been considering, that he did exceedingly fear and quake. Even the grosser part of his being,—his flesh, felt a solemn dread at the thought of offending one so good and great, who would so effectually sever the wicked from among the just. Alas, poor flesh, this is the highest thing to which thou canst attain!

"And I am afraid of thy judgments." God's words of judgment are solemn, and his deeds of judgment are terrible; they may well make us afraid. At the thought of the Judge of all,—his piercing eye, his books of record, his day of assize, and the operations of his justice,—we may well cry for cleansed thoughts, and hearts, and ways, lest his judgments should light on us. When we see the great Refiner separating the precious from the vile, we may well feel a godly fear, lest we should be put away by him, and left to be trodden under his feet.

Love in the previous verse is quite consistent with fear in this verse: the fear which hath torment is cast out, but not the filial fear which leads to reverence and obedience.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

The fifteenth letter, SAMECH, denotes a prop or pillar, and this agrees well with the subject matter of the strophe, in which God is twice implored to uphold his servant (Psa 119:16-17), while the utter destruction of those who make light of his law, or encourage scepticism regarding it, may be compared to the fate of the Philistine lords, on whom Samson brought down the roof of the house where they were making merry, by overthrowing the pillars which supported it.

Neale and Littledale.

Verse 120.—"My flesh trembleth for fear of thee." Instead of exulting over those who fell under God's displeasure he humbleth himself. What we read and hear of the judgments of God upon wicked people should make us

(1) To reverence his terrible majesty, and to stand in awe of him. Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God? 1Sa 6:20.

(2) To fear lest we offend him, and become obnoxious to his wrath. Good men have need to be restrained from sin by the terrors of the Lord; especially when judgment begins at the house of God, and hypocrites are discovered, and put away as dross.

Matthew Henry.

Verse 120.—"My flesh trembleth for fear of thee," etc. At the presence of Jehovah, when he appeareth in judgment, the earth trembleth and is still. His best servants are not exempted from an awful dread, upon such occasions; scenes of this kind, shown in vision to the prophets, cause their flesh to quiver, and all their bones to shake. Encompassed with a frail body, and a sinful world, we stand in need of every possible tie; and the affections both of fear and love must be employed, to restrain us from transgression; we must, at the same time, "love God's testimonies, and fear his Judgments."

George Horne.

Verse 120.—"My flesh trembleth for fear of thee," etc. In prayer, in the evening I had such near and terrific views of God's judgments upon sinners in hell, that my flesh trembled for fear of them…I flew trembling to Jesus Christ as if the flames were taking hold of me: Oh! Christ will indeed save me or else I perish.

Henry Martyn, 1781-1812.

Verse 120.—"My flesh trembleth for fear of thee." Familiarity with men breeds contempt; familiarity with God, not so: none reverence the Lord more than they who know him best and are most familiar with him.

William Cowper.

Verse 120.—"My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; I am afraid." …Let me not be ashamed of my hope." True religion consists in a proper mixture of fear of God, and of hope in his mercy; and wherever either of these is entirely wanting, there can be no true religion. God has joined these things, and we ought by no means to put them asunder. He cannot take pleasure in those who fear him with a slavish fear, without hoping in his mercy, because they seem to consider him as a cruel and tyrannical being, who has no mercy or goodness in his nature; and, besides, they implicitly charge him with falsehood, by refusing to believe and hope in his invitations and offers of mercy. On the other hand, he cannot be pleased with those who pretend to hope in his mercy without fearing him; for they insult him by supposing that there is nothing in him which ought to be feared; and, in addition to this, they make him a liar, by disbelieving his awful threatenings denounced against sinners, and call in question his authority, by refusing to obey him. Those only who both fear him and hope in his mercy, give him the honour that is due to his name.

Edward Payson.

Verse 120.—"Trembleth" or shuddereth, strictly used of the hair as standing erect in terror (comp. Job 4:15).

J. J. Stewart Perowne.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 120.—The judgments of God on the wicked cause in the righteous,

1. Love.

2. Awe.

3. Fear.

Verse 120.

1. Describe the true character of the fear.

(a) It is the fear of reverence for God's authority and power.

(b) It is the fear of horror against sin as meriting judgment.

2. Show its compatibility with filial love.

(a) The more we love God the more firmly we believe in the certainty and awfulness of his judgments.

(b) The more we love God the more will we fear to arouse his chastising rod against ourselves.

(c) In fact, if we love not God, we shall have no fear lest sin should involve us in judgment.

3. Commend it.

(a) As it proves a just sense of sin's desert.

(b) As it shows a true appreciation of God's righteousness.

(c) As it is not a fear that hath torment, but a fear which increases watchfulness, and walks hand in hand with perfect confidence in saying grace.

J. F.




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