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C. H. Spurgeon :: Psalm 119 Verses 121-128

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Psalm 119 Verses 121-128


Verse 121.—"I have done judgment and justice." This was a great thing for an Eastern ruler to say at any time, for these despots mostly cared more far gain than justice. Some of them altogether neglected their duty, and would not even do judgment at all, preferring their pleasures to their duties; and many more of them sold their judgments to the highest bidders by taking bribes, or regarding the persons of men. Some rulers gave neither judgment nor justice, others gave judgment without justice, but David gave judgment and justice, and saw that his sentences were carried out. He could claim before the Lord that he had dealt out even handed justice, and was doing so still. On this fact he founded a plea with which he backed the prayer—"Leave me not to mine oppressors." He who, as far as his power goes, has been doing right, may hope to be delivered from his superiors when attempts are made by them to do him wrong. If I will not oppress others, I may hopefully pray that others may not oppress me. A course of upright conduct is one which gives us boldness in appealing to the Great Judge for deliverance from the injustice of others. Nor is this kind of pleading to be censured as self righteous: when we are dealing with God as to our shortcomings, we use a very different tone from that with which we face the censures of our fellow men; when they are in the question, and we are guiltless towards them, we are justified in pleading our innocence.


Verse 121.—This commences a new division of the Psalm indicated by the Hebrew letter Ain—a letter which cannot well be represented in the English alphabet, as there is, in fact, no letter in our language exactly corresponding with it. It would be best represented probably by what are called "breathings" in Greek.

Albert Barnes.

Verse 121.—"I have done judgment" against the wicked, "and justice" towards the good.

Simon de Muis, 1587-1644.

Verse 121.—"I have done judgment and justice." Here the view of David in his judicial capacity might present itself to us; and if so, we have David in the midst of large experience; for the words would take in a large portion of his life. How blessed were their reflections, if, after a long reign, all sovereign rulers could thus appeal unto God. It should be so; for to him all shall be accountable at last. Even although we only conceive of David as speaking in the character of a private man, the sentiment is worthy of all consideration…or parents to say this of their dealings with their children, masters of servants, a man of his neighbours, is very excellent.

John Stephen.

Verse 121.—"Judgment"and "justice," are often put in Scripture for the same, and when put together, the latter is as an epithet to the former. "I have done judgment and justice," that is, I have done judgment justly, exactly, to a hair.

Joseph Caryl.

Verse 121.

Do right and be a king,
Be this thy brazen bulwark of defence,
Still to preserve thy conscious innocence,
Nor ever turn pale with guilt.

Francis's Horace.

Verse 121.—"If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence before God:" 1Jo 3:21. This "testimony of conscience" has often been "the rejoicing" of the Lord's people, when suffering under unmerited reproach or "proud oppression." They have been enabled to plead it without offence in the presence of their holy, heart searching God; nay, even when, in the near prospect of the great and final account, they might well have been supposed to shrink from the strict and unerring scrutiny of their Omniscient Judge. Perhaps, however, we are not sufficiently aware of the importance of moral integrity in connexion with our spiritual comfort. Mark the boldness which it gave David in prayer: "I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressors."

Charles Bridges.

Verse 121.—"Leave me not to mine oppressors." That is, maintain me against those who would wrong me, because I do right; interpose thyself between me and my enemies, as if thou wert my pledge. Impartial justice upon oppressors sometimes lays judges open to oppression; but yet they who run greatest hazards in zeal for God shall find God ready to be their surety, when they pray, "be surety for thy servant," as in the next verse.

Abraham Wright.

Verses 121-122.—"I have done judgment and justice;" but, that I may always do it, and never fail in doing it, "uphold thy servant unto good," by directing him, so that he may always relish what is good, and then the consequence will be that "the proud will not calumniate me;" for he that is well established "unto good," and so made up that nothing but what is good and righteous will be agreeable to him, he will so persevere that he will have no reason for fearing "the proud that calumniate him."

Robert Bellarmine.


Verses 121-128.—The just man's prayer against injustice. Out of the prison of oppression he:

Appeals to God to be his surety (Psa 119:121-122);

Utters his weary longing for deliverance (Psa 119:123-125);

Points to the "time" (Psa 119:126); and

Professes his supreme love for God's law in contrast to the oppressors' contempt of it (Psa 119:127-128).

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

Verses 121-122.—The double appeal.

1. Of conscious integrity: "I have done judgment," etc.

2. Of conscious deficiency: "Be surety for thy servant for good."

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


Verse 122.—"Be surety for thy servant for good." Answer for me. Do not leave thy poor servant to die by the hand of his enemy and thine. Take up my interests and weave them with thine own, and stand for me. As my Master, undertake thy servants' cause, and represent me before the faces of haughty men till they see what an august ally I have in the Lord my God.

"Let not the proud oppress me." Thine interposition will answer the purpose of my rescue: when the proud see that thou art my advocate they will hide their heads. We should have been crushed beneath our proud adversary the devil if our Lord Jesus had not stood between us and the accuser, and become a surety for us. It is by his suretyship that we escape like a bird from the snare of the fowler. What a blessing to be able to leave our matters in our Surety's hands, knowing that all will be well, since he has an answer for every accuser, a rebuke for every reviler.

Good men dread oppression, for it makes even a wise man mad, and they send up their cries to heaven for deliverance; nor shall they cry in vain, for the Lord will undertake the cause of his servants, and fight their battles against the proud. The word "servant" is wisely used as a plea for favour for himself, and the word "proud" as an argument against his enemies. It seems to be inevitable that proud men should become oppressors, and that they should take most delight in oppressing really gracious men.


Verse 122.—"Be surety for thy servant for good." What David prays to God to be for him, that Christ is for all his people: Heb 7:22. He drew nigh to God, struck hands with him, gave his word and bond to pay the debts of his people; put himself in their law place and stead, and became responsible to law and justice for them; engaged to make satisfaction for their sins, to bring in everlasting righteousness for their justification, and to preserve and keep them, and bring them safe to eternal glory and happiness; and this was being a surety for them for good.

John Gill.

Verse 122.—"Be surety for thy servant for good." There are three expositions of this clause, as noting the end, the cause, the event.

1. Undertake for me, ut sire bonus et justus, so Rabbi Arama on the place; surety for me that I may be good. Theodoret expounds it, "Undertake that I shall make good my resolution of keeping thy law." He that joins, undertakes; though we have precepts and without God's undertaking we shall never be able to perform our duty.

2. Undertake for me to help me in doing good; so some read it: would not take his part in an evil cause. To commend a wrong to God's protection, is to provoke him to hasten our punishment, to us serve under our oppressors; but, when we have a good cause, and good conscience, he will own us. We cannot expect he should maintain us and bear us out in the Devil's service, wherein we have entangled selves by our own sin.

3. Be with me for good: so it is often rendered: "Shew me a token for good" (Psa 86:17); "Pray not for this people for good" (Jer 11:14); so, "Remember me, O my God, for good" (Neh 13:31). So here "Be surety for thy servant for good."

Thomas Manton.

Verse 122.—"Be surety for thy servant for good." It is the prayer Hezekiah in his trouble, "O Lord, I am oppressed, undertake for me" (Isa 38:14); it is the prayer of Job for a "daysman" to between him and God (Job 9:33); it is the cry of the church before Incarnation for the appearance of a Divine Mediator; it is the confidence of every faithful soul since that blessed time in the perpetual of our Great High Priest in heaven, which is to us the pledge of blessedness.

Agellius and Cocceius, in Neale and Littledale.

Verse 122.—"Be surety for thy servant for good." His meaning is, thou knowest how unjustly I am calumniated and evil spoken of in parts: where I am not present or where I may not answer for myself, answer thou for me.

William Cowper.

Verse 122.—"Be surety for thy servant for good." The keen eye of world may possibly not be able to affix any blot upon my outward confession; but, "if thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities; O Lord, who shall stand?" The debt is continually accumulating, and the prospect of payment as distant as ever. I might well expect to be "left to my oppressors," I should pay all that was due unto my Lord. But behold! "Where is the fury of the oppressor?" Isa 51:13. The surety is found—the debt is paid—the ransom is accepted—the sinner is free. There was a voice heard heaven—"Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom," Job 33:24. The Son of God himself became Surety for a stranger, and "smarted for it," Pro 11:15. At an infinite cost—the cost of his precious blood—he delivered me from "mine oppressors"—sin—Satan world—death—hell.

Charles Bridges.

Verse 122.—Some observe that this is the only verse throughout the whole psalm wherein the Word is not mentioned under the name of "law, "judgments," "statutes," or the like terms, and they make this note it,—"Where the Law faileth, there Christ is a surety of a better testament." There are those that render the words thus,—"Dulcify, or, delight thy servant good," that is, make him joyful and comfortable in the pursuit and of that which is good.

John Trapp.


Verse 122.

1. Suretyship entreated.

2. Good expected.

3. Obligation acknowledged: "thy servant."

Verse 122. (first clause).—After explaining the Psalmist's meaning as shown in the preceding verse, this sentence may be used for a sermon upon the Suretyship of Christ, by a reference to Heb 7:22.

1. A Surety for good wanted—the deeply felt, though, perhaps, undefined want of a sin burdened soul.

(a) The mere statement of a gratuitous pardon on the part of God is not thoroughly believable to such a soul, nor, if it could be believed in, would it give peace to the conscience. For, on the one hand, the pardon could not be perceived as just, nor as consistent with God's necessary hatred of sin, yet the conscience demands this perception; on the other hand, mere pardon does not show how the obligation to a perfect fulfilment of God's law, as righteousness, can be met, yet the conscience demands to see this before it can be satisfied to realize peace; Luther's experience.

(b) Now the Scriptures tell us that God "justifies the ungodly " and that his "righteousness" is declared in his justifying sinners: Rom 3:25. He can forgive sins with justice. He can treat sinners as righteous persons, and yet be righteous in doing so. How? By a Surety. Therefore, a Surety is the real want.

2. A Surety existent. Jesus is the Surety.

(a) He undertook to bear our obligation to the law's penalty, and fulfilled it in death. Thus pardon, though mercy to us, is an act of justice to Christ.

(b) He undertook our obligation to a perfect obedience, and satisfied for that in his fulfilment of the law; thus for God to treat us as righteous is only just to Christ.

(c) God has shown his satisfaction with the office of Christ, and with his work, by the resurrection and glorification of Christ. Hence a well accredited and efficient Surety exists.

3. A Surety nigh at hand.

(a) In the gospel, Christ as Surety comes to the sinner as truly as though he himself left his throne and came in his own person.

(b) Thus, he is so close that a sinner has but to receive the gospel into his heart and he receives Christ.

(c) Christ received as a Surety is the Surety for whosoever receives him.

J. F.


Verse 123.—"Mine eyes fail for thy salvation." He wept, waited, and watched for God's saving hand, and these exercises tried the eyes of his faith till they were almost ready to give out. He looked to God alone, he looked eagerly, he looked long, he looked till his eyes ached. The mercy is, that if our eyes fail, God does not fail, nor do his eyes fail. Eyes are tender things, and so are our faith, hope and expectancy: the Lord will not try them above what they are able to bear. "And for the word of thy righteousness:" a word that would silence the unrighteous words of his oppressors. His eyes as well as his ears waited for the Lord's word: he looked to see the divine word come forth as a fiat for his deliverance. He was "waiting for the verdict"—the verdict of righteousness itself. How happy are we if we have righteousness on our side; for then that which is the sinners' terror is our hope, that which the proud dread is our expectation and desire. David left his reputation entirely in the Lord's hand, and was eager to be cleared by the word of the Judge rather than by any defence of his own. He knew that he had done right, and, therefore, instead of avoiding the supreme court, he begged for the sentence which he knew would work out his deliverance. He even watched with eager eyes for the judgment and the deliverance, the word of righteousness from God which meant salvation to himself.


Verse 123.—"Mine eyes fail for thy salvation." In times of great sorrow when the heart is oppressed with care, and when danger threatens on every side, the human eye expresses with amazing accuracy the distressed and anguished emotions of the soul. The posture here described is that of an individual who perceives himself surrounded with enemies of the most formidable character, who feels his own weakness and insufficiency to enter into conflict with them, but who is eagerly looking for the arrival of a devoted and powerful friend who has promised to succour him in the hour of his calamity. As his friend delays the hour of his coming, his fears and anxieties multiply, till he finds himself in the condition of one whose eyes fail and grow dim in looking for the approach of his great deliverer. In this condition was the suppliant here described,—his enemies were ready to swallow him up, and except from heaven he had no hope of final extrication. To the promises of God he betook himself, and while waiting their accomplishment, and looking with the utmost eagerness to the word of God's righteousness, he gives utterance to the desponding sentiment, "Mine eyes fail for thy salvation." O for such warm and anxious desires for that great salvation, which will realize the victory over all our spiritual enemies, and enable us to shout triumphantly through all eternity in the name of our almighty Deliverer!

John Morison.

Verse 123.—"Mine eyes fail…for the word of thy righteousness." Albeit the words of promise be neither performed, nor like to be performed, yet faith should justify the promise, for true and faithful.

David Dickson.

Verse 123.—"For the word of thy righteousness." This would be the word of promised salvation, which the Lord had given in righteousness. What an amazing plea—God on the ground of his own righteousness appealed to for deliverance—and yet how true! Or this might be the word of his justice, the issuing of justice, the exercising of a righteous decision between him and his oppressors. He had looked for the Lord to interpose between them, and so to fulfil all he had promised on behalf of the believer. The Lord will vindicate his own. Are any in great difficulty; and are they waiting for the Lord to interpose, to whom they have committed their concerns? …Wait on; he will not disappoint a gracious hope.

John Stephen.

Verse 123.—"For the word of thy righteousness," or, "the word of thy justice;" that is to say, for the sentence of justice on my oppressors, as the first part of the verse teaches; for the passing this sentence will be equivalent to the granting the salvation which the psalmist so earnestly desired.

George Phillips.


Verse 123.—Holy expectation—long maintained, in danger of failing; this fact pleaded; reasons for never renouncing it.


Verse 124.—"Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy." Here he recollects himself: although before men he was so clear that he could challenge the word of righteousness, yet before the Lord, as his servant, he felt that he must appeal to mercy. We feel safest here. Our heart has more rest in the cry, "God be merciful to me," than in appealing to justice. It is well to be able to say, "I have done judgment and justice," and then to add in all lowliness, yet "deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy." The title of servant covers a plea; a master should clear the character of his servant if he be falsely accused, and rescue him from those who would oppress him; and, moreover, the master should show mercy to a servant, even if he deal severely with a stranger. The Lord condescendingly deals, or has communications with his servants, not spurning them, but communing with them; and this he does in a tender and merciful way, for in any other form of dealing we should be crushed into the dust. "And teach me thy statutes." This will be one way of dealing with us in mercy. We may expect a master to teach his own servant the meaning of his own orders. Yet since our ignorance arises from our own sinful stupidity, it is great mercy on God's part that he condescends to instruct us in his commands. For our ruler to become our teacher is an act of great grace, for which we cannot be too grateful. Among our mercies this is one of the choicest.


Verse 124.—"Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy." If I am a "servant" of God, I can bring my services before him only upon the ground of "mercy;" feeling that for my best performances I need an immeasurable world of mercy—pardoning—saving—everlasting mercy; and yet I am emboldened by the blood of Jesus to plead for my soul—"Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy."

But then I am ignorant as well as guilty; and yet I dare not pray for divine teaching, much and hourly as I need it, until I have afresh obtained mercy. "Mercy" is the first blessing, not only in point of importance, but in point of order. I must seek the Lord, and know him as a Saviour, before I can go to him with any confidence to be my teacher. But when once I have found acceptance to my petition—"Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy"—my way will be opened to follow on my petition—"Teach me thy statutes. Give me understanding, that if may know thy testimonies"—that I may know, walk, yea, "run in the way of thy commandments" with an enlarged heart, Psa 119:32. My plea is the same as I have before urged with acceptance (Psa 119:94)—"I am thy servant."

Charles Bridges.

Verse 124.—"Thy mercy." All the year round, every hour of every day, God is richly blessing us; both when we sleep and when we wake, his mercy waits upon us. The sun may leave off shining, but our God will never cease to cheer his children with his love. Like a river, his loving-kindness is always flowing with a fulness inexhaustible as his own nature, which is its source. Like the atmosphere which always surrounds the earth, and is always ready to support the life of man, the benevolence of God surrounds all his creatures; in it, as in their element, they live, and move, and have their being. Yet as the sun on summer days appears to gladden us with beams more warm and bright than at other times, and as rivers are at certain seasons swollen with the rain, and as the atmosphere itself on occasions is fraught with more fresh, more bracing, or more balmy influences than heretofore, so is it with the mercy of God; it hath its golden hours, its days of overflow, when the Lord magnifies his grace and lifteth high his love before the sons of men.

C. H. S.

Verse 124.—"Teach me." David had Nathan and Gad the prophets; and beside them, the ordinary Levites to teach him. He read the word of God diligently, and did meditate in the law night and day; but he acknowledgeth all this was nothing unless God did teach him. Other teachers speak to the ear, but God speaks to the heart: so Paul preached to Lydia, but God opened her heart. Let us pray for this grace.

William Cowper.


Verses 124-125.—The servant of God.

1. Making profession: "I am thy servant."

2. Making confession—of guilt, dulness, ignorance.

3. Making petition—for mercy, understanding, and teaching.

C. A. D.

Verse 124.—Heavenly instruction a great mercy.

Verse 124.

1. His confidence in divine mercy.

2. His submission to divine authority.

3. His prayer for divine teaching.

G. R.

Verse 124.—A Perfect Prayer.

1. As to the matter of it.

(a) Here is nothing superfluous; no petition for wealth, nor for honours, nor for anything the worldling covets.

(b) Here is nothing wanting; "Deal with thy servant according to thy mercy" comprehends everything the guilty soul needs; "Teach me thy statutes" comprehends all a saint needs to be anxious for.

2. As to the manner of it.

(a) It is direct and definite.

(b) It is simple and fervent.

(c) It is reverent yet bold.

3. As to the spirit of it.

(a) "Deal with thy servant;" a sense of obligation; a feeling of devotedness; a spirit of consecration to holy work.

(b) "Deal…according to thy mercy;" a sense of unworthiness; becoming humility; submissiveness to the divine will as to what form the mercy shall take; great faith in the mercy, its freeness and sufficiency.

(c) "Teach me thy statutes." Longing for holiness, sense of ignorance, of weakness, of dependence upon special divine spiritual influence.

J. F.


Verse 125.—"I am thy servant." This is the third time he has repeated this title in this one section: he is evidently fond of the name, and conceives it to be very effective plea. We who rejoice that we are sons of God are by no the less delighted to be his servants. Did not the firstborn Son assume the servant's form and fulfil the servant's labour to the full? What high, honour can the younger brethren desire than to be made like the Heir of things.

"Give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies." In the previous verse he sought teaching; but here he goes much further, and craves understanding. Usually, if the instructor supplies the teaching, the pupil finds the understanding; but in our case we are far more dependent, must beg for understanding as well as teaching: this the ordinary teacher cannot give, and we are thrice happy that our Divine Tutor can furnish us with it. We are to confess ourselves fools, and then our Lord will make us wise, as well as give us knowledge. The best understanding is that which enables us to render perfect obedience and to exhibit intelligent faith, and it is this which David desires,—"understanding, that I may know thy testimonies." Some would rather not know these things; they prefer to be at ease in the dark rather than possess the light which leads to repentance and diligence. The servant of God longs to know in an understanding manner all that the Lord reveals of man and to man; he wishes to be so instructed that he may apprehend and comprehend that which is taught him. A servant should not be ignorant concerning his master, or his master's business; he should study the mind, will, purpose, and aim of him whom he serves, for so only can he complete his service; and as no man knows these things so well as his master himself, he should often go to him for instructions, lest his very zeal should only serve to make him the greater blunderer.

It is remarkable that the Psalmist does not pray for understanding through acquiring knowledge, but begs of the Lord first that he may have the gracious gift of understanding, and then may obtain the desired instruction. All that we know before we have understanding is apt to spoil us and breed vanity in us; but if there be first an understanding heart, then the stores of knowledge enrich the soul, and bring neither sin nor sorrow therewith. Moreover, this gift of understanding acts also in the form of discernment and thus the good man is preserved from hoarding up that which is false and dangerous: he knows what are and what are not the testimonies of the Lord.


Verse 125.—"I am thy servant; give me understanding," etc. I am not a stranger to thee, but thine own domestic servant; let me want no grace, which may enable me to serve thee.

William Cowper.

Verse 125.—"I am thy servant." That thou art the servant of God, thou shouldest regard as thy chiefest glory and blessedness.

Martin Geier.


Verse 125.

1. An office accepted.

2. Fitness requested.

3. Discernment desired.

Verse 125.

1. A cheerful acknowledgment: "I am thy servant."

2. A desire implied—to serve more perfectly.

3. A need recognized—Divine instruction in holy service.

4. A plea urged: "I am thy servant," therefore "Teach me," etc.

W. H. J. P.


Verse 126.—"It is time for thee, Lord, to work: For they have made void thy law." David was a servant, and therefore it was always his time to work: but being oppressed by a sight of man's ungodly behaviour, he feels that his Master's hand is wanted, and therefore he appeals to him to work against the working of evil. Men make void the law of God by denying it to be his law, by promulgating commands and doctrines in opposition to it, by setting up tradition in its place, or by utterly disregarding and scorning the authority of the lawgiver. Then sin becomes fashionable, and a holy walk is regarded as a contemptible puritanism; vice is styled pleasure, and vanity bears the bell. Then the saints sigh for the presence and power of their God: Oh for an hour of the King upon the throne and the rod of iron! Oh for another Pentecost with all its wonders, to reveal the energy of God to gain sayers, and make them see that there is a God in Israel! Man's extremity, whether of need or sin, is God's opportunity. When the earth was without form and void, the Spirit came and moved upon the face of the waters; should he not come when society is returning to a like chaos? When Israel in Egypt were reduced to the lowest point, and it seemed that the covenant would be void, then Moses appeared and wrought mighty miracles; so, too, when the church of God is trampled down, and her message is derided, we may expect to see the hand of the Lord stretched out for the revival of religion, the defence of the truth, and the glorifying of the divine name. The Lord can work either by judgments which hurl down the ramparts of the foe; or by revivals which build up the walls of his own Jerusalem. How heartily may we pray the Lord to raise up new evangelists, to quicken those we all early have, to set his whole church on fire, and to bring the world to his feet. God's work is ever honourable and glorious; as for our work, it is as nothing apart from him.


Verse 126.—"It is time for thee, Lord, to work." Was ever vessel more hopelessly becalmed in mid ocean? or did crew ever cry with more frenzy for some favouring breeze than those should cry who man the Church of the living God? If God work not, it is certain there is nothing before the Church but the prospect of utter discomfiture and overthrow. Greater is the world than the Church if God be not in her. But if God be in her, she shall not be moved. May he help her, and that right early!

When he arises to work we know not what may be the form and fashion of his operations. He worketh according to the counsel of his own will; and who knows but that when once he awakes, and puts on his strength, it may not be confined in its results to the immediate and exclusive quickening of the spiritual life of the Church; but may be associated with providential upheavals and convulsions which will fill the heart of the world with astonishment and dismay. His spiritual kingdom does not stand in isolation. It has relations which closely involve it with the material universe, and with human society and national life. There have been times when God has worked, and the signs of his presence have been seen, in terrible shaking of the nations, in the ploughing up from their foundations of hoary injustice, in the smiting of grinding tyrannies, and in the emancipation of peoples whose life had been a long and hopeless moan. There have been times, too, and many, when he has worked through the elements of nature—through blasting and mildew, through floods and famine, through locust, caterpillar and palmer worm; through flagging commerce, with its machinery rusting in the mill and its ships rotting in the harbour. All these things are his servants. Sometimes the sleep of the world, and the Church too, is so profound that it can be broken only by agencies like the wind, or fire, or earthquake, which made the prophet shiver at the mouth of the cave, and without which the voice that followed, so still, so small and tender, would have lost much of its melting and subduing power. When society has become drugged with the Circean cup of worldliness, and the voices that come from eternity are unheeded, if not unheard, even terror has its merciful mission. The frivolous and superficial hearts of men have to be made serious, their idols have to be broken, their nests have to be stoned, or tossed from the trees where they had been made with so much care, and they have to be taught that if this life be all, it is but a phantom and a mockery. When the day of the Lord shall come, in which he shall begin to work, let us not marvel if it "shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low; and upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall, and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day." But this working of God will also take other shapes. Will it not be seen in the inspiration of the Church with faith in its own creed, so far as that creed has the warrant of the Divine word? Does the Church believe its creed? It writes it, sets it forth, sings it, defends it; but does it believe it, at least with a faith which begets either enthusiasm in itself, or respect from the world? Have not the truths which form the methodized symbols of the Church become propositions instead of living powers? Do they not lie embalmed with superstitious reverence in the ark of tradition, tenderly cherished for what they have been and done? But is it not forgotten that if they be truths they are not dead and cannot die? They are true now, or they were never true; living now, or they never lived. Time cannot touch them, nor human opinion, nor the Church's sluggishness or unbelief, for they are emanations from the Divine essence, instinct with his own undecaying life. They are not machinery which may become antiquated and obsolete and displaced by better inventions; they are not methods of policy framed for conditions which are transient, and vanishing with them; they are not scaffolding within which other and higher truth is to be reared from age to age. They are like him who is the end of our conversation, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and for ever." There is not one of them which, if the faith it awakens were but commensurate with its intrinsic worth, would not clothe the Church with a new and wondrous power. But what would be that power if that faith were to grasp them all? It would be life from the dead.

Enoch Mellor (1823-1881), in "The Hem of Christ's Garment, and other Sermons"

Verse 126.—"It is time for thee, Lord, to work." עֵת expresses emphatically the proper time for the Lord to do his own work; as if the Psalmist had said, "It is not for us to prescribe the time and occasion for God to exercise his power, and to vindicate the authority of his own law; he does everything at the proper time, and he will at the proper season punish those who have made void his law, and who have become notorious for their impiety and wickedness."

George Phillips.

Verse 126.—"It is time to work," just as when the attack of some illness is becoming more severe, you hurry to the physician, that he may come more quickly, lest he should later be unable to do any good. So when the prophet saw in the Holy Spirit the rebellion of the people, their luxury, pleasures, deceits, frauds, avarice, drunkenness, he runs, for our help, to Christ, whom he knew to be alone able to remedy such sins; implores him to come, and admits of no delay.

Ambrose, in Neale and Littledale.

Verse 126.—"It is time for thee, Lord, to work."—Infidelity was never more subtle, more hurtful, more plausible, perhaps more successful, than in the day in which we live. It has left the low grounds of vulgarity and coarseness and ribaldry, and entrenched itself upon the lofty heights of criticism, philology, and even science itself. It pervades to a fearful extent our popular literature; it has invested itself with the charms of poetry, to throw its spell over the public mind; it has endeavoured to enweave itself with science; and he must be little acquainted with the state of opinion in this land, who does not know that it is espoused by a large portion of the cultivated mind of this generation. "It is time for thee, Lord, to work."

John Angell James, 1785-1859.

Verse 126.—"It is time for thee, Lord, to work," etc. To send the Messiah, to work righteousness, to fulfil the law and vindicate the honour of it, broken by men. It was always a notion of the Jews that the time of the Messiah's coming would be when it was a time of great wickedness in the earth; and which seems to agree with the word of God, and was true in fact. See Mal 2:17; 3:1-3, 15-16; 4:2.

John Gill.

Verse 126.—"It is time for thee, Lord, to work," etc. True it is, Lord, that we are not to appoint thee thy times and limits, for thou art the Ancient of Days, Time's Creator and destination. Neither do we presume to press in at the portal of thy privy chamber, to "know the times and seasons" which thou our Father hast reserved in thine own power; yet, Lord, thou hast taught us, as to discern the face of the sky, so to descry the signs of the times, and from the cause to expect the effect which necessarily doth ensue. "Thou art a God full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger, and of great kindness" (Psa 103:8); and thou dost sustain many wrongs of the sons of men, being crushed with their sins as a cart is laden with sheaves: but if still they continue to load thee, thou wilt case thyself of that burden, and cast it on the ground of confusion. Thou art "slow to anger, but great in power, and wilt not surely clear the wicked" (Nah 1:3). Thou dost for a long space hold thy peace at men's sins, and art still, and dost restrain thyself. But if men will not turn, thou wilt whet thy sword and bend thy bow, and make it ready. Patient thou art, and for a long time dost forbear thine hand; but when the forehead of sin begins to lose the blush of shame, when the beadroll of transgressions doth grow in score from East to West, when the cry of them pierceth above the clouds, when the height of wickedness is come unto the top, and the fruits thereof are ripe and full, then it is time for thee, Lord, to take notice of it, to awake like a giant, and to put to thine all revenging hand.

But our sins are already ripe, yea, rotten ripe, the measure of our iniquities is full up to the brim. Doubtless out land is sunken deep in iniquity; our tongues and works have been against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory; the trial of our countenance doth testify against us (Isa 3:8-9), yea, we declare our sins as Sodom; we hide them not, the cry of our sins is exceeding grievouS, the clamours of them pierce the skies, and with a loud voice roar, saying: "How long, Lord, holy and true? How long ere thou come to avenge thyself on such a nation as this?" Rev 6:10; Jer 9:9.

George Webbe, in "A Posie of Spiritual Flowers," 1610.

Verse 126.—"It is time for thee, Lord." Some read it, and the original will bear it, "It is time to work for thee, O Lord;" it is time for every one in his place to appear on the Lord's side, against the threatening growth of profaneness and immorality. We must do what we can for the support of the sinking interests of religion, and, after all, we must beg of God to take the work into his own hands.

Matthew Henry.

Verse 126.—"They have made void thy law." In the second verse of this section he complained that the proud would oppress him, now he complains that they destroyed the law of God. Who, then, are David's enemies, who seek to oppress him? Only such as are enemies to God, and seek to destroy his law. A great comfort have we in this, that if we love the Lord, and study in a good conscience to serve him we can have no enemies but such as are enemies to God.

William Cowper.

Verse 126.—"They have made void thy law." As if they would not only sin against the Law, but sin away the Law, not only withdraw themselves from the obedience of it, but drive St out of the world; they would make void and repeal the holy acts of God, that their own wicked acts might not be questioned; and lest the Law should have a power to punish them, they will deny it a power to rule them; that's the force of the simple word here used, as applied to highest transgressing against the Law of God.

Joseph Caryl.

Verses 126-127.—Everything betters a saint. Not only ordinances, word, sacraments, holy society, but even sinners and their very sinning. Even these draw forth their graces into exercise, and put them upon godly, broken hearted mourning. A saint sails with every wind. As the wicked are hurt by the best things, so the godly are bettered by the worst. Because "they have made void thy law, therefore do I love thy commandments." Holiness is the more owned by the godly, the more the world despiseth it. The most eminent saints were those of Caesar's (Nero's) house (Phl 4:22); they who kept God's name were they who lived where Satan's throne was (Rev 2:13). Zeal for God grows the hotter by opposition; and thereby the godly most labour to give the glory of God reparation.

William Jenkyn (1612-1685), in "The Morning Exercises."


Verses 126-128.

1. A terrible fact: "They have made void thy law:" Psa 119:126.

2. Two blessed inferences: "Therefore," "Therefore," etc., Psa 119:127-128.

Verse 126.—"They make void the law,"

By denying inspiration,

By exalting tradition,

By antinomianism,

By scepticism,

By indifference, etc.

Verse 126.

1. There are times when sin is specially active and dominant.

2. Such times reveal the dependence of the church upon God.

3. Such times awaken the desires of the church for the intervention of God.

4. Such times are the times when God does arise to plead his own cause.

W. H. J. P.

Verse 126.

1. The work anticipated—the vindication of the divine law.

2. The work delayed.

3. The work executed: "It is time," etc.

G. R.


Verse 127.—"Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold." As it was God's time to work so it was David's time to love. So far from being swayed by the example of evil men, so as to join them in slighting the Scriptures, he was the rather led into a more vehement love of them. As he saw the commandments slighted by the ungodly, his heart was in sympathy with God, and he felt a burning affection for his holy precepts. It is the mark of a true believer that he does not depend upon others for his religion, but drinks water out of his own well, which springs up even when the cisterns of earth are all dried. Our holy poet amid a general depreciation of the law felt his own esteem of it rising so high that gold and silver sank in comparison. Wealth brings with it so many conveniences that men naturally esteem it, and gold as the symbol of it is much set by; and yet, in the judgment of the wise, God's laws are more enriching, and bring with them more comfort than all the choicest treasures. The Psalmist could not boast that he always kept the commands; but he could declare that he loved them; he was perfect in heart, and would fain have been perfect in life. He judged God's holy commands to be better than the best earthly thing, yea, better than the best sort of the best earthly thing; and this esteem was confirmed and forced into expression by those very oppositions of the world which drive hypocrites to forsake the Lord and his ways.

The dearer, for their rage,
   Thy words I love and own,—
A wealthier heritage
   Than gold and precious stone.


Verse 127.—"Therefore I love thy commandments above gold," etc. Partly, because it is one evidence of their excellency, that they are disliked by the vilest of men. Partly, out of a just indignation and opposition against my sworn enemies; and partly, because the great and general apostasy of others makes this duty more necessary to prevent their own and other men's relapses.

Matthew Pool.

Verse 127.—"I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold." The image employed brings before us the picture of the miser; his heart and his treasure are in his gold. With what delight he counts it! with what watchfulness he keeps it! hiding it in safe custody, lest he should be despoiled of that which is dearer to him than life. Such should Christians be, spiritual misers, counting their treasure which is "above fine gold;" and "hiding it in their hearts," in safe keeping, where the great despoiler shall not be able to reach it. Oh, Christians! how much more is your portion to you than the miser's treasure! Hide it; watch it; retain it. You need not be afraid of covetousness in spiritual things: rather "covet earnestly" to increase your store; and by living upon it and living in it, it will grow richer in extent, and more precious in value.

Charles Bridges.

Verse 127.—"I love thy commandments." He professes not that he fulfilled them, but that he loved them; and truly it is a great progress in godliness, if we be come thus far, as from our heart, to love them. The natural man hates the commandments of God; they are so contrary to his corruption; but the regenerate man, as he hates his own corruption, so he loves the word, because according to it he desires to be reformed. And here is our comfort, that, albeit we cannot do what is commanded, yet if we love to do it, it is an argument of grace received. "Above gold" etc. It is lawful to love those creatures which God hath appointed for our use; with these conditions: the one is, that the first seat in our affection of love be reserved to God; and any other thing we love, that we love it in him and for him, and give it only the second room. Thus David, being a natural man, loved his natural food; but he protests he loved the law of the Lord more than his appointed food; and here he loves the commandments of God above all gold.

William Cowper.


Verse 127.—The world's assault upon the truth a reason for our loving it.

Verse 127.

1. The object of love: "Thy commandments."

2. The degree of love: "above gold," etc.

3. The reason of this love: "therefore," etc., because its object must ultimately prevail.

G. R.

Verse 127.—God's will versus the golden idol.

1. God's commandments are better than gold.

2. The love of them is proportionably nobler.

3. The unmeasurable superiority of character they produce.

W. B. H.


Verse 128.—"Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right." Because the ungodly found fault with the precepts of God, therefore David was all the more sure of their being right. The censure of the wicked is a certificate of merit; that which they sanction we may justly suspect, but that which they abominate we may ardently, admire. The good man's delight in God's law is unreserved, he believes in all God's precepts concerning all things.

"And I hate every false way." Love to truth begat hatred of falsehood. This godly man was not indifferent to anything, but that which he did not love he hated. He was no chip in the porridge without flavour; he was a good lover or a good hater, but he was never a waverer. He knew what he felt, and expressed it. He was no Gallio, caring for none of the things. His detestation was as unreserved as his affection; he had not a good word for any practice which would not bear the light of truth. The fact that such large multitudes follow the broad road had no influence upon this holy mail, except to make him more determined to avoid every form of error and sin. May the Holy Spirit so rule in our hearts that our affections may be in the same decided condition towards the precepts of the word.


Verse 128.—"I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right." It is no compromising testimony to the integrity and value of the Lord's precepts with which the Psalmist concludes, "I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right"—every command, however hard; every injunction, however distasteful; every precept, however severe; even cut off thy right hand, pluck out thy right eye; forget thine own people and thy father's house; take up thy cross daily; sell all that thou hast—yea, Lord, even so, "all thy precepts concerning ALL things are right." What a blessed truth to arrive at, and find comfort in!

Barton Bouchier.

Verse 128.—"I esteem all thy precepts," etc. We must not only respect all God's commandments, but also respect them all alike, and give them all the like respect. Obedience must be universal.

R. Mayhew, in "The Death of Death in the Death of Christ," 1679.

Verse 128.—"All." The many alls in this verse used (not unlike that in Eze 44:30) showeth the integrity and universality of his obedience. "All" is but a little word, but of large extent.

John Trapp.

Verse 128.—"All thy precepts concerning all things to be right." He had a high estimate of God's precepts; he thought them just in all things; just, because they prescribe nothing but that which is exactly just; and just, because they bring a just punishment on the transgressors, and a reward to the righteous.

William Nicholson.

Verse 128.—The upright man squares all his actions by a right rule: carnal reason cannot bias him, corrupt practice cannot sway him, but God's sacred word directs him. Hence it is that his respect is universal to all divine precepts, avoiding all evil, performing all good without exception. Thus David's upright man here esteems God's precepts concerning all things to be right, and therefore is careful to observe them. Hence it is, that he is the same man at all times, in all places; because at all times, and in all societies, he acts by one and the same rule. It is a good saying of S. Cyprian, "ea non est religio, sed dissimulatio, quce per omnia non constat sibi," that is not piety, but hypocrisy, that is not in all things like itself, since the upright man measures every action by the straight line of divine prescript.

Abraham Wright.

Verse 128.—"I hate every false way." The best trial of our love to God and his word is the contrary—hatred of sin and impiety: "Ye that love the Lord, hate evil." He that loves a tree, hates the worm that consumes it; he that loves a garment, hates the moth that eats it; he that loveth life, abhorreth death; and he that loves the Lord hates every thing that offends him. Let men take heed to this, who are in love of their sins: how can the love of God be in them?

Religion binds us not only to hate one way of falsehood, but all the ways of it. As there is nothing good, but in some measure a godly man loves it; so is there nothing evil, but in some measure he hates it. And this is the perfection of the children of God; a perfection not of degrees; for we neither love good, nor hate evil as we should; but a perfection of parts; because we love every good, and we hate every evil in some measure.

William Cowper.

Verse 128.—"And I hate." The Being who loves the good with infinite intensity must hate evil with the same intensity. So far from any incompatibility between this love and this hatred, they are the counterparts of each other,—opposite poles of the same moral emotion.

John W. Haley, in "A Examination of the alleged Discrepancies of the Bible," 1875.

Verse 128.—"I hate every false way." If Satan get a grip of thee by any one sin, is it not enough to carry thee to damnation? As the butcher carries the beast to the slaughter, sometime bound by all the four feet, and sometime by one only; so it is with Satan. Though thou be not a slave to all sin; if thou be a slave to one, the grip he hath of thee, by that one sinful affection, is sufficient to captive thee.

William Cowper.


Verse 128. (first clause).—This view should be taken of all divine precepts in their bearing,

1. Toward Christ.

2. Toward Self.

3. Toward the World.

4. Toward the Church.

5. Toward Heaven.

W. J.

Verse 128.—The Bible right.

1. Its science is correct.

2. Its history is true.

3. Its promises are genuine.

4. Its morality is perfect.

5. Its doctrines are divine.

W. J.

Verse 128.—Learn four lessons

1. It is a good thing when wicked men do not praise the truth they cannot love.

2. It is a suspicious circumstance when they are found speaking well of any part of it; it is a Judas' kiss in order to betray its interests.

3. It must be right to accept and love what the wicked oppose.

4. It is always safe to be on the opposite side to them.

J. F.

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