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C. H. Spurgeon :: Psalm 119 Verses 145-152

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Psalm 119 Verses 145-152


EXPOSITION VERSE 145

This section is given up to memories of prayer. The Psalmist describes the time and the manner of his devotions, and pleads with God for deliverance from his troubles. He who has been with God in the closet will find God with him in the furnace. If we have cried we shall be answered. Delayed answers may drive us to importunity; but we need not fear the ultimate result, since God's promises are not uncertain, but are founded for ever. The whole passage shows us: How he prayed (Psa 119:145). What he prayed for (Psa 119:146). When he prayed (Psa 119:147). How long he prayed (Psa 119:148). What he pleaded (Psa 119:149). What happened (Psa 119:150). How he was rescued (Psa 119:151). What was his witness as to the whole matter (Psa 119:152).

Verse 145.—I cried with my whole heart." His prayer was a sincere, plaintive, painful, natural utterance, as of a creature in pain. We cannot tell whether at all times he used his voice when he thus cried; but we are informed of something which is of much greater consequence, he cried with his heart. Heart cries are the essence of prayer. He mentions the unity of his heart in this holy engagement. His whole soul pleaded with God, his entire affections, his united desires all went out towards the living God. It is well when a man can say as much as this of his prayers: it is to be feared that many never cried to God with their whole heart in all their lives. There may be no beauty of elocution about such prayers, no length of expression, no depth of doctrine, nor accuracy of diction; but if the whole heart be in them they will find their way to the heart of God. "Hear me, O Lord." He desires of Jehovah that his cries may not die upon the air, but that God may have respect to them. True supplicants are not satisfied with the exercise itself, they have an end and object in praying, and they look out for it. If God does not hear prayer we pray in vain. The term "hear" is often used in Scripture to express attention and consideration. In one sense God hears every sound that is made on earth, and every desire of every heart; but David meant much more; he desired a kindly, sympathetic hearing, such as a physician gives to his patient when he tells him his pitiful story. He asked that the Lord would draw near, and listen with friendly ear to the voice of his complaint, with the view of pitying him and helping him. Observe, that his whole hearted prayer goes to the Lord alone; he has no second hope or help. "Hear me, O Lord," is the full range of his petition and expectation. "I will keep thy statutes." He could not expect the Lord to hear him if he did not hear the Lord, neither would it be true that he prayed with his whole heart unless it was manifest that he laboured with all his might to be obedient to the divine will. His object in seeking deliverance was that he might be free to fulfil his religion and carry out every ordinance of the Lord. He would be a free man that he might be at liberty to serve the Lord. Note well that a holy resolution goes well with an importunate supplication: David is determined to be holy, his whole heart goes with that resolve as well as with his prayers. He will keep God's statutes in his memory, in his affections, and in his actions. He will not wilfully neglect or violate any one of the divine laws.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 145.—"I cried with my whole heart." As a man cries most loudly when he cries with all his mouth opened; so a man prays most effectually when he prays with his whole heart. Neither doth this speech declare only the fervency of his affection; but it imports also that it was a great thing which he sought from God. And thou, when thou prayest, pray for great things; for things enduring, not for things perishing: pray not for silver, it is but rust; nor for gold, it is but metal; nor for possessions, they are but earth. Such prayer ascends not to God. He is a great God, and esteems himself dishonoured when great things with great affection are not sought from him.

William Cowper.

Verse 145.—"I cried with my whole heart." In all your closet duties God looks first and most to your hearts: "My son, give me thine heart:" Pro 23:26. It is not a piece, it is not a corner of the heart, that will satisfy the Maker of the heart; the heart is a treasure, a bed of spices, a royal throne wherein he delights. God looks not at the elegancy of your prayers, to see how neat they are; nor yet at the geometry of your prayers, to see how long they are; nor yet at the arithmetic of your prayers, to see how many they are; nor yet at the music of your prayers, nor yet at the sweetness of your voice, nor yet at the logic of your prayers; but at the sincerity of your prayers, how hearty they are. There is no prayer acknowledged, approved, accepted, recorded, or rewarded by God, but that wherein the heart is sincerely and wholly. The true mother would not have the child divided. God loves a broken and a contrite heart, so he loathes a divided heart: Psa 51:17; Jas 1:8. God neither loves halting nor halving; he will be served truly and totally. The royal law is, "Thou shalt love and serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul." Among the heathens, when the beasts were cut up for sacrifice, the first thing the priest looked upon was the heart, and if the heart was naught, the sacrifice was rejected. Verily, God rejects all those sacrifices wherein the heart is not. Prayer without the heart is but as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. Prayer is only lovely and weighty, as the heart is in it, and no otherwise. It is not the lifting up of the voice, nor the wringing of the hands, nor the beating of the breasts, nor an affected tone, nor studied motions, nor seraphical expressions, but the stirrings of the heart, that God looks at in prayer. God hears no more than the heart speaks. If the heart be dumb, God will certainly be deaf. No prayer takes with God, but that which is the travail of the heart.

Thomas Brooks.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verses 145-152.—The believer's cry.

The reiterated cry (Psa 119:145-148).

An appeal for audience (Psa 119:149).

The nearness of the enemy (Psa 119:150).

But, in response to the cry, God is also near (Psa 119:151).

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

Verses 145-148.—The cry.

1. Whence it came: from my heart.

2. Whither it went: to the Lord.

3. When it was heard: at dawn and dark.

4. What it sought: hearing, salvation.

5. What it promised: obedience.

6. How it was sustained: by hope in God's word.

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

Verses 145-146.—The souls cry.

1. The depth from which it rose.

2. The height it reached.

Verses 145-146.—Childlike prayer.

1. In its ring: "I cried."

2. In its directness: "to thee."

3. In its outburst: "whole heart."

4. In its outcries: "hear me;" "save me."

5. In its promise of better behaviour: "I will keep thy statutes."

W. B. H.

Verse 145.

1. The model of player: "I cried with my whole heart."

2. The object of prayer: "Hear me, O Lord."

3. The accompaniment of prayer: "I will keep thy statutes."

EXPOSITION VERSE 146

Verse 146.—"I cried unto thee." Again he mentions that his prayer was unto God alone. The sentence imports that he prayed vehemently, and very often; and that it had become one of the greatest facts of his life that he cried unto God. "Save me." This was his prayer; very short, but very full. He needed saving, none but the Lord could save him, to him he cried, "Save me" from the dangers which surround me, from the enemies that pursue me, from the temptations which beset me, from the sins which accuse me. He did not multiply words, and men never do so when they are in downright earnest. He did not multiply objects, and men seldom do so when they are intent upon the one thing needful: "save me" was his one and only prayer. "And I shall keep thy testimonies." This was his great object in desiring salvation, that he might be able to continue in a blameless life of obedience to God, that he might be able to believe the witness of God, and also to become himself a witness for God. It is a great thing when men seek salvation for so high an end. He did not ask to be delivered that he might sin with impunity; his cry was to be delivered from sin itself. He had vowed to keep the statutes or laws, here he resolves to keep the testimonies or doctrines, and so to be sound of head as well as clean of hand. Salvation brings all these good things in its train. David had no idea of a salvation which would allow him to live in sin, or abide in error: he knew right well that there is no saving a man while he abides in disobedience and ignorance.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 146.—"I cried unto thee." The distressed soul expresses itself in strong cries and tears. Of old they cried unto the Lord, and he heard them in their distress. So Israel at the Red Sea. The men of the Reformation thus expressed themselves in earnest prayer, and found relief. Luther at the Diet of Worms, when remanded for another day, spent the long night in the loud utterance of prayer, that he might appear for his Lord before an august earthly assembly. Our reading of the covenanting times will remind us of many instances of the same. We may think of John Welch, going into his garden night after night, in a night covering, and crying to the Lord to grant him Scotland. The expression of prayer, however, is manifold as the frame of the spirit. Intense feeling will beget strong cries in prayer; but prayer that is uttered under realizing views of our gracious God will be mild, and often delivered as it were in whispers. So was Alexander Peden accustomed to pray, as if he had been engaged in calm converse with a friend…But when the feeling is intense, when wrath lies heavy upon us, when danger is apprehended as near, when the Lord is conceived to be at a distance, or when there is eager desire after immediate attainment—in all these cases there will be the strong cries. Such seems to have been the state of the Psalmist's mind when he poured forth the expressive utterance of this part.

John Stephen.

Verse 146.—Brief as are the petitions, the whole compass of language could not make them more comprehensive. "Hear me." The soul is in earnest, the whole heart is engaged in the "cry." "Save me"—includes a sinner's whole need—pardon, acceptance, access, holiness, strength, comfort, heaven,—all in one word—Christ. The way of access is not indeed mentioned in these short ejaculations. But it is always implied in every moment's approach and address to the throne of grace. "Hear me" in the name of my all prevailing Advocate. "Save me" through him, whose name is Jesus the Saviour.

Charles Bridges.

Verse 146.—"I cried unto thee." A crying prayer pierces the depths of heaven. We read not a word that Moses spake, but God was moved by his cry. Exo 14:15. It means not an obstreperous noise, but melting moans of heart. Yet sometimes the sore and pinching necessities and distresses of spirit extort even vocal cries not unpleasant to the inclined ears of God. "I cried unto God with my voice," says David, "and he heard me out of his holy hill:" Psa 3:4. And this encourages to a fresh onset: "Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God:" Psa 5:2. "Give ear unto my cry: hold not thy peace at my tears:" Psa 39:12. Another time he makes the cave echo with his cries. "I cried, I cried. Attend unto my cry, for I am brought very low."

Samuel Lee (1625-1691), in "The Morning Exercises"

Verse 146.—"I cried unto thee; save me." In our troubles, we must have recourse to God, and sue to him by prayer and supplication for help and deliverance in due time; because he is the author of our trouble. In mercies and afflictions, our business lieth not with men, but God; by humble dealing with him we stop wrath at the fountain head: he that bindeth us must loose us; he is at the upper end of causes, and whoever be the instruments of our trouble, and how malicious soever, God is the party with whom we are to make our peace; for he hath the absolute disposal of all creatures, and will have us to acknowledge the dominion of his providence and our dependence upon him. In treaties of peace between two warring parties, the address is not made to private soldiers, but to their chief: "The Lord hath taken away," saith Job; "When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?" Job 34:29.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 146.—"Save me, and I shall keep the testimonies." The servants of God regard life itself as chiefly desirable on account of the opportunity which it affords for serving God: "Save me, that I may keep thy testimonies," is the prayer of the believer in the day of trouble and conflict. "To me to live," says he, "is Christ, and to die is gain." How unlike is this to the wicked! Their whole desire in the day of trouble is expended on the wish to escape calamity; they have no desire to be delivered from sin, no wish to be conformed to God!

John Morison.

Verse 146.—"Save me." From my sins, my corruptions, my temptations, all the hindrances that lie in my way, that I may "keep thy testimonies." We must cry for salvation, not that we may have the case and comfort of it, but that we may have an opportunity of serving God the more cheerfully.

Matthew Henry.

Verse 146.—God hears us, that we should hear him.

Thomas Manton.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 146.

1. Prayer remembered.

2. Prayer continued: "Save me."

3. Prayer yielding fruit: "I shall keep," etc.

Verse 146.—Salvation.

1. A likely path to it—prayer: cry on.

2. The proper place for it: "unto thee;" not man, not the heart.

3. A sound view of it: "keep thy testimonies." Not to escape hell, or gain heaven, but to please and love God.

W. B. H.

EXPOSITION VERSE 147

Verse 147.—"I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried." He was up before the sun, and began his pleadings before the dew began to leave the grass. Whatever is worth doing is worth doing speedily. This is the third time that he mentions that he cried. He cried, and cried, and cried again. His supplications had become so frequent, fervent, and intense, that he might hardly be said to be doing anything else from morning to night but crying unto his God. So strong was his desire after salvation that he could not rest in his bed; so eagerly did he seek it that at the first possible moment he was on his knees. "I hoped in thy word." Hope is a very powerful means of strengthening us in prayer. Who would pray if he had no hope that God would hear him? Who would not pray when he has a good hope of a blessed issue to his entreaties? His hope was fixed upon God's word, and this is a sure anchorage, because God is true, and in no case has he ever run back from his promise, or altered the thing that has gone forth from his mouth. He who is diligent in prayer will never be destitute of hope. Observe that as the early bird gets the worm, so the early prayer is soon refreshed with hope.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 147.—"I prevented the dawning of the morning." The manner of speech is to be marked. He saith he prevented the morning watch, thereby declaring that he lived, as it were, in a strife with time, careful that it should not overrun him. He knew that time posts away, and in running by wearieth man to dust and ashes. But David pressed to get before it, by doing some good in it, before that it should spur away from him. And this care which David had of every day, alas, how may it make them ashamed who have no care of a whole life! He was afraid to lose a day; they take no thought to lose months and years without doing good in them: yea, having spent the three ages of their life in vanity and licentiousness, scarce will they consecrate their old and decrepit age to the Lord.

William Cowper.

Verse 147.—"I prevented the dawning of the morning," etc. Those that make a business of prayer will use great vigilance and diligence therein. I say, that make a business of prayer; others that use it as a compliment and customary formality, will not be thus affected; they do it as a thing by-the-by, or a work that might well be spared, and do not look upon it as a necessary duty; but if a man's heart be in it, he will be early at work, and follow it close, morning and night: his business is to maintain communion with God, his desires will not let him sleep, and he gets up early to be calling upon God. "But unto thee have I cried, O Lord: and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee." Psa 88:13. Thus will good men even break their sleep to give themselves to prayer, and calling upon the name of God.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 147.—"I prevented the dawning of the morning." It is a grievous thing if the rays of the rising sun find thee lazy and ashamed in thy bed, and the bright light strike on eyes still weighed down with slumbering sloth. Knowest thou not, O man, that thou owest the daily firstfruits of thy heart and voice to God? Thou hast a daily harvest, a daily revenue. The Lord Jesus remained all night in prayer, not that he needed its help, but putting an example before thee to imitate. He spent the night in prayer for thee, that thou mightest learn how to ask for thyself. Give him again, therefore what he paid for thee.

Ambrose.

Verse 147.—"I prevented the dawning of the morning." David was a good husband, up, early at it: at night he was late at this duty: "At midnight will I rise to give thanks unto thee:" Psa 119:62. This surely was his meaning when he said he should dwell in the house of the Lord for ever; he would be ever in the house of prayer… I wish that when I first open my eyes in the morning, I may then, in soul ejaculatory prayer, open my heart to my God, that at night prayer may make my bed soft, and lay my pillow easy; that in the daytime prayer may perfume my clothes, sweeten my food, oil the wheels of my particular vocation, keep me company upon all occasions, and gild over all my natural, civil, and religious actions. I wish that, after I have poured out my prayer in the name of Christ, according to the will of God, having sowed my seed, I may expect a crop, looking earnestly for the springing of it up, and believing assuredly that I shall reap in time if I faint not.

George Swinnock.

Verse 147.—"I prevented the dawning of the morning." Early prayers are undisturbed by the agitating cares of life, and resemble the sweet melody of those birds which sing loudest and sweetest when fewest cars are open to listen to them. O my soul, canst thou say that thou hast thus "prevented the dawning of the morning" in thy approaches to God? Has the desire of communion with heaven raised thee from thy slumbers, shaken off thy sloth, and carried thee to thy knees?

John Morison.

Verse 147.—"And cried." Here is a repetition of the same prayer, "I cried;" yea, again I cried, and a third time, "I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried." We use to knock at a door thrice, and then depart. Our Lord Jesus "prayed the third time, saying the same words" (Mat 26:44), "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." So the apostle Paul: "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me:" 2Co 12:8. So, "And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again:" 1Ki 17:21. This, it seemeth, was the time in which they expected an answer in weighty cases; and yet I will not confine it to that number; for here we are to reiterate our petitions for one and the same thing as often as occasion requireth, till it be granted.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 147.—Poets have delighted to sing of the morning as "Mother of the Dews," "sowing the earth with orient pearl;" and many of the saints rising up from their beds at the first blush of dawn have round the poetry of nature to be the reality of grace as they have felt the dews of heaven refreshing their spirit. Hence morning exercises have ever been dear to the enlightened, heaven cloying souls, and it has been their rule, never to see the face of man till they have first seen the face of God. The breath of morn redolent of the smell of flowers is incense offered by earth to her Creator, and living men should never let the dead earth excel them; truly living men tuning their hearts for song, like the birds, salute the radiant mercy which reveals itself in the east. The first fresh hour of every morning should be dedicated to the Lord whose mercy gladdens it with golden light. The eye of day openeth its lids, and in so doing opens the eyes of hosts of heaven protected slumberers; it is fitting that those eyes should first look up to the great Father of Lights, the fount and source of all the good upon which the sunlight gleams. It augurs for us a day of grace when we begin betimes with God; the sanctifying influence of the season spent upon the mount operates upon each succeeding hour. Morning devotion anchors the soul so that it will not very readily drift far away from God during the day; it perfumes the heart so that it smells fragrant with piety until nightfall; it girds up the soul's garments so that it is less apt to stumble, and feeds all its powers so that it is not permitted to faint. The morning is the gate of the day, and should be well guarded with prayer. It is one end of the thread on which the day's actions are strung, and should be well knotted with devotion. If we felt more the majesty of life we should be more careful of its mornings. He who rushes from his bed to his business and waiteth not to worship, is as foolish as though he had not put on his clothes, or cleansed his face, and as unwise as though he dashed into battle without arms or armour. Be it ours to bathe in the softly flowing river of communion with God, before the heat of the wilderness and the burden of the way begin to oppress us.

C. H. S.

Verse 147.—"I hoped in thy word." Even if there should not be actual enjoyment, at least let us honour God by the spirit of expectancy.

Charles Bridges.

Verses 147-148.—The student of theology and the minister of the word should begin the day with prayer, and this chiefly to seek from God, that he may rightly understand the word of God, and be able to teach others.—Solomon Gesner Brethren, note this!

C. H. S.

Verses 147-148.—See here:

1. That David was an early riser, which perhaps contributed to his eminency. He was none of those that say, "Yet a little sleep."

2. That he began the day with God; the first thing he did in the morning, before he admitted any business, was to pray; when his mind was most fresh and in the best frame. If our first thoughts in the morning be of God, it will help to keep us in his fear all the day long.

3. That his mind was so full of God and the cares and delights of his religion, that a little sleep served his turn, even in "the night watches," when he awaked from his first sleep, he would rather meditate and pray, than turn him and go to sleep again. He esteemed the words of God's mouth more than his necessary repose, which we can as ill want as our food: Job 23:12.

4. That he would redeem time for religious exercises; he was full of business all day, but that will excuse no man from secret devotion; it is better to take time from sleep, as David did, than not find time for prayer. And this is our comfort when we pray in the night, that we can never come unseasonably to the throne of grace, if we may have access to it at all hours. Baal may be asleep, but Israel's God never slumbers, nor are there any hours in which he may not be spoken with.

Matthew Henry.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verses 147-148.

1. The heavenly Companions: prayer and meditation. Inseparable. Mutually helpful.

2. Their favourite seasons: times of stillness; night; the hour before day.

3. Their volume and night lamp: "Thy word;" "Hope." Or—

a) A grand plea: "Thy lovingkindness." Who can match it? Who can measure it? Who can mar it?

b) An insignificant pleader: "my voice." What can "my voice" ever say to keep step with "thy loving kindness?" Asking too much out of the question.

c) A clever petition ("according to thy judgment"); requesting life; stolen from God's mouth. God's lovingkindness is matched by God's own promise.

W. B. H.

Verse 147.—Observe in this David's diligence.

1) That it was a personal, closet, or secret prayer; "I cried;" I alone, with thee in secret.

2) That it was an early morning prayer: "I prevented the dawning of the morning."

3) That it was a vehement and earnest prayer; for it is expressed by crying.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 147.—Early rising commended.

1) A fit time for prayer.

2) For reading the word.

3) For indulging the emotions excited by it: "I hoped in thy word."

EXPOSITION VERSE 148

Verse 148.—"Mine eyes prevent the night watches." Or rather, the watches. Before the watchman cried the hour, he was crying to God. He did not need to be informed as to how the hours were flying, for every hour his heart was flying towards heaven. He began the day with prayer, and he continued in prayer through the watches of the day, and the watches of the night. The soldiers changed guard, but David did not change his holy occupation. Specially, however, at night did he keep his eyes open, and drive away sleep, that he might maintain communion with his God. He worshipped on from watch to watch as travellers journey from stage to stage. "That I might meditate in thy word." This had become meat and drink to him. Meditation was the food of his hope, and the solace of his sorrow: the one theme upon which his thoughts ran was that blessed "word" which he continually mentions, and in which his heart rejoices. He preferred study to slumber; and he learned to forego his necessary sleep for much more necessary devotion. It is instructive to find meditation so constantly connected with fervent prayer: it is the fuel which sustains the flame. How rare an article is it in these days.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 148.—"Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. You will all admit that this is the language of an ardent, earnest, and painstaking student. David represents himself as "rising early, and late taking rest," on purpose that he might employ himself in the study of God's word. "He meditates in this word," the expression implying close and patient thought; as if there were much in the word which was not to be detected by a cursory glance, and which required the strictest application both of the head and the heart.

The Bible is a book in which we may continually meditate, and yet not exhaust its contents. When David expressed himself in the language of our text, Holy Writ—the word of God—was of course a far smaller volume than it now is, though, even now, the Bible is far from a large book. Yet David could not, so to speak, get to the end of the book. He might have been studying the book for years,—nay, we are sure that he had been,—and yet, as though he were just entering on a new course of reading, with volume upon volume to peruse, lie must rise before day to prosecute the study. "Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word."

The same remark may be made upon precepts which enjoin continued study of the Bible. Is there material for that study? Unless there be, the precepts will become out of place; the Scriptural student will have exhausted the Scriptures; and what is he to do then? He can no longer obey the precepts, and the precepts will prove that they cannot have been made for perpetuity—for the men of all ages and all conditions…

Here is a servant of God, who, from his youth upward, has been diligent in the study of the Bible. Year after year he has devoted to that study, and yet the Bible is but a single volume, and that not a large volume. "Well, then," you might be inclined to say, "the study must surely by this time have exhausted the book! There can be nothing new for him to bring out; nothing which he has not investigated and fathomed." Ah, how you mistake the Bible! What a much larger book it must be than it seems! In place of having exhausted it, the royal student speaks as though there were more work before him than he knew how to compass. "Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word."

Henry Melvill.

Verse 148.—"Mine eyes prevent the night watches." The Hebrew word means a watch—a part of the night, so called from military watches, or a dividing of the night to keep guard. The idea of the Psalmist here is, that he anticipated these regular divisions of the night in order that he might engage in devotion. Instead of waiting for their return, he arose for prayer before they recurred; so much did his heart delight in the service of God. The language would seem to be that of one who was accustomed to pray in these successive "watches" of the night; the early, the middle, and the dawn. This may illustrate what occurs in the life of all who love God. They will have regular seasons of devotion, but they will often anticipate those seasons. They will be in a state of mind which prompts them to pray; when nothing will meet their state of mind but prayer; and when they cannot wait for the regular and ordinary season of devotion; like a hungry man, who cannot wait for the usual and regular hour of his meals. The meaning of the phrase, "Mine eyes prevent, "is that he awoke before the usual time for devotion.

Albert Barnes.

Verse 148.—"Mine eyes prevent the night watches," etc. His former purpose is yet continued, declaring his indefatigable perseverance in prayer. Oh, that we could learn of him to use our time well! At evening he lay down with prayers and tears; at midnight he rose to give thanks; he got up before the morning light to call upon the Lord. This is to imitate the life of angels, who ever are delighted to behold the face of God, singing alway a new song without wearying. This is to begin our heaven upon earth: Oh, that we could alway remember it!

William Cowper.

Verse 148.—"Night watches." The Jews, like the Greeks and Romans, divided the night into military watches instead of hours, each watch representing the period for which sentinels or pickets remained on duty. The proper Jewish reckoning recognized only three such watches, entitled the first, "or beginning of the watches" (Lam 2:19), "the middle watch" (Jdg 7:19), and "the morning watch" (Exo 14:24; 1Sa 11:11). These would last respectively from sunset to 10 p.m.; from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.; and from 2 a.m. to sunrise. It has been contended by Lightfoot that the Jews really reckoned four watches, three only of which were in the dead of the night, the fourth being in the morning. This, however, is rendered improbable by the use of the term "middle," and is opposed to Rabbinical authority. Subsequently to establishment of Roman supremacy, the number of watches was increased four which was described either according to their numerical order, as the case of the "fourth watch" (Mat 14:25), or by the terms "midnight, cock crowing, and morning" (Mar 13:35). These, terminated at 9 p.m., midnight, 3 a.m., and 6 a.m. Conformably to this, the guard of soldiers was divided into four relays (Act 12:4), showing that the Roman regime was followed in Herod's army. Watchmen appear have patrolled the streets of the Jewish towns (Sng 3:3; 5:7; Psa 127:1) where for "maketh" we should substitute "watcheth;" Psa 130:6.

William Latham Beyan, in "Smith's Dictionary of the Bible," 1863.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 148.

The Inexhaustibleness of the Bible. A sermon by Henry Melvill, at "The Golden Lecture." 1850.

Verse 148.—Meditation. Appropriate time, and fruitful subject.

Verse 148.—Meditation in the word well worth self denial and care on the part of the Christian.

1. Without meditation reading is a waste of time and an indignity offered to the word.

2. Meditation with prayer, but not prayer without meditation, will discover the sense of the word, when all other means fail; and it has this advantage, that the meaning sinks into the mind.

3. Meditation extracts sweetness from the promises, and nourishment from the whole truth.

4. Meditation makes a wise teacher and an efficient worker of one who has little natural skill or learning.

5. Meditation subjects the soul to the sanctifying power of the word.

6. Meditation is an invitation to the Holy Spirit to bless the soul, for he is closely associated with the truth, and delights to see the truth honoured.

J. F.

EXPOSITION VERSE 149

Verse 149.—"Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness." Men find it very helpful to use their voices in prayer; it is difficult long to maintain the intensity of devotion unless we hear ourselves speak; hence David at length broke through his silence, arose from his quiet meditations, and began crying with voice as well as heart unto the Lord his God. Note, that he does not plead his own deservings, nor for a moment appeal for payment of a debt on account of merit; he takes the free-grace way, and puts it, "according unto thy lovingkindness." When God hears player according to his lovingkindness he overlooks all the imperfections of the prayer, he forgets the sinfulness of the offerer, and in pitying love he grants the desire though the suppliant be unworthy. It is according to God's lovingkindness to answer speedily, to answer frequently, to answer abundantly, yea, exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or even think. Lovingkindness is one of the sweetest words in our language. Kindness has much in it that is most precious, but loving kindness is doubly dear; it is the cream of kindness. "O Lord, quicken me according to thy judgment." This is another of David's wise and ardent prayers. He first cried, "Save me;" then, "Hear me;" and now, "Quicken me." This is often the very best way of delivering us from trouble,—to give us more life that we may escape from death; and to add more strength to that life that we may not be overloaded with its burdens. Observe, that he asks to receive quickening according to God's judgment, that is, in such a way as should be consistent with infinite wisdom and prudence. God's methods of communicating greater vigour to our spiritual life are exceedingly wise; it would probably be in vain for us to attempt to understand them; and it will be our wisdom to wish to receive grace, not according to our notion of how it should come to us, but according to God's heavenly method of bestowing it. It is his prerogative to make alive as well as to kill, and that sovereign act is best left to his infallible judgment. Hath he not already given us to have life more and more abundantly? "Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence."

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 149.—"Quicken me." By quickening some understand restitution to happiness; or a calamitous man is a one dead and buried under deep and heave troubles, and his recovery is a life from the dead, or a reviving from the grave; so quickening seemeth to be taken in Psa 71:20: "Thou which has shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth."

Others understand by quickening, the renewing and increasing in him the vigour of his spiritual life. That he beggeth that God would revive, increase, and preserve that life, which he had already given, that it might bring forth the habits of grace into acts.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 149.—"Judgment" is sometimes taken for the execution of God's threatenings against transgressors; and this David declares; "Enter not into judgment with thy servant:" Psa 143:2. Sometime it is taken for the performance of his promises, according to his word; and this David desires, as in this verse.

William Cowper.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 149.—Prayer—hearing the result of love; prayer—answering ruled by wisdom.

Verse 149.—Quickening.

1. A prayer of unquestionable necessity: "quicken me."

2. Twin pleas of irresistible power: "thy lovingkindness:" "thy judgment."

C. A. D.

Verse 149.—The two accordings.

1. The "according," to which a believer hopes to be heard by God: "Hear my voice according unto thy loving kindness."

(a) The believer is fully aware of his own unworthiness, and the imperfections of his prayers, therefore he would have God to accept him and interpret them after the rule of his own lovingkindness.

(b) Nor does he hope in vain; God's loving kindness overlooks the imperfections, and supplies the omissions.

(c) What a blessed thing it is, that while the Holy Spirit helps our infirmities, the groanings that cannot be uttered are read in their true meaning by divine lovingkindness!

2. The "according" to which he expects to be answered by God: "Quicken me according to thy judgment." "Judgment" here may mean the revealed word. Then—

(a) He expects to be answered certainly.

(b) He expects to be answered wisely.

(c) He expects to be answered fully, as all his needs require.

(d) He expects that every answer should quicken spiritual life, making him holy.

J. F.

EXPOSITION VERSE 150

Verse 150.—"They draw nigh that follow after mischief." He could hear their footfalls close behind him. They are not following him for his benefit, but for his hurt, and therefore the sound of their approach is to be dreaded. They are not prosecuting a good object, but persecuting a good man. As if they had not enough mischief in their own hearts, they are hunting after more. He sees them going a steeple chase over hedge and ditch in order to bring mischief to himself, and he points them out to God, and entreats the Lord to fix his eyes upon them, and deal with them to their confusion. They were already upon him, and he was almost in their grip, and therefore he cries the more earnestly. "They are far from thy law." A mischievous life cannot be an obedient one. Before these men could become persecutors of David they were obliged to get away from the restraints of God's law. They could not hate a saint and yet love the law. Those who keep God's law neither do harm to themselves nor to others. Sin is the greatest mischief in the world. David mentions this to the Lord in prayer, feeling some kind of comfort in the fact that those who hated him hated God also, and found it needful to get away from God before they could be free to act their cruel part towards himself. When we know that our enemies are God's enemies, and ours because they are his, we may well take comfort to ourselves.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 150.—"They are far from thy law." Truly it should greatly comfort all the godly, to remember that such as are their enemies are God's enemies also. Since they are far from the obedience of God's law, what marvel they be also far from the duty of love which they owe us? It may content us to want that comfort in men which otherwise we might and would have, when we consider that God wants his glory in them. Let this sustain us when we see that godless men are enemies unto us.

William Cowper.

Verse 150.—If we can get a carnal pillow and bolster under our heads, we sleep and dream many a golden dream of ease and safety. Now, God, who is jealous of our trust, will not let us alone, and therefore will put us upon sharp trials. It is not faith, but sense, we live upon before; that is faith, if we can depend upon God when "they draw near that follow after mischief:" "I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about:" Psa 3:6. A danger at distance is but imagined, it worketh otherwise when it is at hand. Christ himself had other thoughts of approaching danger than danger at a distance: "Now is my soul troubled:" John 12:27. This vessel of pure water was troubled though he discovered no dross.

Thomas Manton.

Verses 150-151.—Our spiritual enemies, like David's earthly persecuters are ever present and active. The devouring "lion," or the insinuating "serpent" is "nigh to follow after mischief;" and so much the more dangerous, as his approaches are invisible. Nigh also is a tempting, ensnaring world; and nearer still, a lurking world of sin within, separating us from communion with our God. But in turning habitually and immediately to our stronghold, we can enjoy the confidence—"Thou art near, O Lord." Though "the High and Lofty One, whose name is Holy"—though the just and terrible God, yet art thou made nigh to thy people, and they to thee, "by the blood of the cross." And thou dost manifest thy presence to them in "the Son of thy love."

Charles Bridges.

Verses 150-151.—They are "nigh" to persecute and destroy me; thou art nigh, O Lord, to help me.

J. J. Stewart Perowne.

Verses 150-151.—"They draw nigh."…"Thou art near." From the meditation of his enemies' malice he returns again to the meditation of God's mercy; and so it is expedient for us to do, lest the number and greatness and maliciousness of our enemies make us to faint when we look unto them. It is good that we should cast our eyes upward to the Lord; then shall we see that they are not so near to hurt us as the Lord our God is near to help us; and that there is no evil in them which we have cause to fear, but we shall find in our God a contrary good sufficient to preserve us. Otherwise we could not endure, if when Satan and his instruments come near to pursue us, the Lord were not near to protect us.

William Cowper.

HINTS TO PREACHERS.

Verses 150-151.—Against mischief makers.

1. They press as near as they can to, harm us.

2. They get far from right to get more liberty to injure us.

3. The Lord is nearer than they.

4. God's truth is our shield and sword.

Verses 150-151.—Foes near: the Friend nearer.

1. The believer viewing with alarm the approach of his foes: "They draw near."

2. The believer recollecting with comfort the presence of his friend: "Thou art near:" Gen 15:1; 2Ki 6:14-17.

C. A. D.

Verses 150-151.—Two beleaguering hosts.

1. The host of evil: NEAR—

(a) Demons, godless men, spiritual foes of world and heart.

(b) Mischief in their van.

(c) Law and truth left far behind.

(d) Seeking to narrow their lines.

(e) Thus are all saints beset.

2. The host of God: NEARER—Jehovah, his angels, and battalions of truths holy and immortal: "Thou and all thy commandments."

(a) Entrenched in the reason: "are truth."

(b) Camped in the heart's pavilion: "near."

(c) Forming impregnable lines within those of the foe.

W. B. H.

Verse 150.—Consider

1. Whether the description here given does not apply, more or less, to all unbelievers in Christ: "They that follow after mischief."

(a) Some men undoubtedly and of set purpose do follow after mischief; they make themselves the tempters of others, and delight in it.

(b) Others, who do not delight in it, yet cannot help the mischievous effect of their example.

(c) The very morality of many unbelievers enables them to carry the pernicious influence of their unbelief where the immorally wicked cannot come.

(d) Even regular attendants at public worship may by their indecision encourage others in delay.

2. The dangerous position of all to whom the description, in any measure, belongs: "They are far from thy law."

(a) They are so, in that they are unbelievers; for "this is his commandment, that we shall believe," etc.

(b) They are so, in that they are a cause of evil to others; for we are commanded to love and do good.

(c) To be far from God's law is to be nigh unto God's righteous wrath.

(d) For the sake of others, as well as their own, men should believe in Christ, and through faith become sanctified.

J. F.

EXPOSITION VERSE 151

Verse 151.—"Thou art near, O Lord." Near as the enemy might be, God was nearer: this is one of the choicest comforts of the persecuted child of God. The Lord is near to hear our cries, and to speedily afford us succour. He is near to chase away our enemies, and to give us rest and peace. "And all thy commandments are truth." God neither commands a lie, nor lies in his commands. Virtue is truth in action, and this is what God commands. Sin is falsehood in action, and this is what God forbids. If all God's commands are truth, then the true man will be glad to keep near to them, and therein he will find the true God near him. This sentence will be the persecuted man's protection from the false hearts that seek to do him mischief: God is near and God is true, therefore his people are safe. If at any time we fall into danger through keeping the commands of God we need not suppose that we have acted unwisely: we may, on the contrary, be quite sure that we are in the right way; for God's precepts are right and true. It is for this very reason that wicked men assail us: they hate the truth, and therefore hate those who do the truth. Their opposition may be our consolation; while God's presence upon our side is our glory and delight.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 151.—"Thou art near, O Lord." How sweetly and how often has this thought been brought home to some forsaken and forgotten one! "When my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up," was the comfort of one in that deep affliction. And in the first out breaking of the heart, how sweetly has the conviction come, like some whisper of peace, "I am with thee!" And I have no doubt that many and many a time in those hours of solitary prayer, when before the dawning of the morning, and before the night watches, or the Psalmist arose at midnight to commune with God, when no voice broke on the stillness, and every sound was hushed save the beating of his own heart, then had David heard the whisper of God's Holy Spirit, "I am near," "Fear not, I am with thee."

Barton Bouchier.

Verse 151.—"Thou art near, O Lord." This was once man's greatest blessing, and source of sweetest consolation. It was the fairest flower which grew in Paradise; but sin withered it, the flower faded, it drooped, it died. Gen 3:8; Gen 4:16. It must be so once more; the flower must once again bloom, again it must revive; even upon earth must it blossom, or in heaven it will never put forth its fragrance.

"Thou art near." Even in thy works of creation, in the sun in his glory, in the moon in her softness, gleaming in the firmament, I see thee. In the balm of this fragrant air, in the light of this cheerful day, in the redolence of these shrubs around me, whose flowery tops, as they drink in the soft and gentle shower as it falls, seem to breathe forth a fresh perfume in gratitude to him who sends it. In the melody of these birds which fill the air with their Songs, thou, O Lord, art near. I perceive thee not with my bodily eyes, although by these I discern thy workmanship, and with the eye of the mind behold thee in thy works, a present God.

"Thou art near." Even in the book of thy providence, dark and mysterious though it be, I see thee. There do I read thy wisdom, as developed in thy world, thy church, thy saints, thy servant before thee; the wisdom that guides, the wisdom that guards, the wisdom that bestows, the wisdom that encourages, the wisdom that corrects, that kills and makes alive. There do I read thy power, thy justice, thy faithfulness, thy holiness thy love.

But it is in thy Son, thy beloved Son, that I most clearly and distinctly see thee as near. If in creation, if in providence, thou art near, in him thou art very near. O Lord. Near as a sin forgiving God. Rom 8:1. Near as a promise-keeping God. 2Co 1:20. Near as a prayer hearing God. John 16:20; Psa 145:18. Near as a covenant keeping God. Heb 8:10. Near as a gracious, tender Father. John 20:17.

"Thou art near, O Lord." O that I might live in the constant sense of thy nearness to me! How often, far too often, alas, do I seem quite to forget it!

Art thou near? Then may I realizingly remember, that by the blood of thy dear Son, and by that alone, have I been brought nigh (Eph 2:13); that it required nothing less than the stoop of Deity, and the sufferings and death of His perfect humanity, to remove those hindrances which interposed between a holy God and an unholy creature. Oh, to walk before thee with a grateful spirit, and with a broken, contrite heart!

Art thou near? Then may I walk as before thee, as seeing thee, in holy fear, in filial love, in simple faith, in child like confidence. Gen 17:1. When sin would tempt and solicit indulgence, when the world presents some new allurement, when Satan would take advantage of constitution, society, circumstances, oh, that I may ever remember "Thou art near."

If my dearest comforts droop and die, if friends are cool, if the bonds once the firmest, the closest, the tenderest, are torn asunder and dissevered, yet may I still remember, "Thou art near, O Lord," and not afar off. And when the solemn moment shall come, when heart and flesh shall fail, when all earthly things are seen with a dying eye, when I hear thee say, "Thou must die, and not live," then, oh then may I remember, with all the composedness of faith, and all the liveliness of hope, and all the ardour of love, "Thou art near, O Lord."

James Harington Evans, 1785-1849.

Verse 151.—"All thy commandments are truth." His meaning is,—Albeit, O Lord, the evil will of wicked men follows me because I follow thee; yet I know thy commandments are true, and that it is not possible that thou canst desert or fail thy servants who stand to the maintenance of thy word. Then, ye see, David's comfort in trouble was not in any presumptuous conceit of his own wisdom or strength, but in the truth of God's promises, which he was persuaded could not fail him. And here also he makes a secret opposition between the word of the Lord and the word of his enemies. Sometimes men command, but without reason; sometimes they threaten, but without effect. Herod's commanding, Rabshakeh's railing, Jezebel's proud boasting against Elijah, may prove this. But as to the Lord our God he is alway better than his word, and his servants shall find more in his performance hereafter than now they can perceive in his promise: like as his enemies should find more weight in his judgments than now they can apprehend in his threatenings.

William Cowper.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 151. (last clause).—The commandments of the Lord are true in principle; they lead to true living, if carried out; they truly reward the obedient; they never lead to falsehood, nor cause to be deluded.

EXPOSITION VERSE 152

Verse 151.—"Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever." David found of old that God had founded them of old, and that they would stand firm throughout all ages. It is a very blessed thing to be so early taught of God that we know substantial doctrines even from our youth. Those who think that David was a young man when he wrote this psalm will find it rather difficult to reconcile this verse with the theory; it is much more probable that he was now grown grey, and was looking back upon what he had known long before. He knew at the very first that the doctrines of God's word were settled before the world began, that they had never altered, and never could by any possibility be altered. He had begun by building on a rock, by seeing that God's testimonies were "founded," that is, grounded, laid as foundations, settled and established; and that with a view to all the ages that should come, during all the changes that should intervene. It was because David knew this that he had such confidence in prayer, and was so importunate in it. It is sweet to plead immutable promises with an immutable God. It was because of this theft David learned to hope: a man cannot have much expectation from a changing friend, but he may well have confidence in a God who cannot change. It was because of this that he delighted in being near the Lord, for it is a most blessed thing to keep up close intercourse with a Friend who never varies. Let those who choose follow at the heels of the modern school and look for fresh light to break forth which will put the old light out of countenance; we are satisfied with the truth which is old as the hills and as fixed as the great mountains. Let "cultured intellects" invent another god, more gentle and effeminate than the God of Abraham; we are well content to worship Jehovah, who is eternally the same. Things everlastingly established are the joy of established saints. Bubbles please boys, but men prize those things which are solid and substantial, with a foundation and a bottom to them which will bear the test of the ages.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 152.—This portion of our psalm endeth with the triumph of faith over all dangers and temptations. "Concerning thy testimonies," the revelations of thy will, thy counsels for the salvation of thy servants, "I have known of old," by faith, and by my own experience, as well as that of others, "that thou hast founded them for ever;" they are unalterable and everlasting as the attributes of their great Author, and can never fail those who rely upon them, in time or in eternity.

George Horne.

Verse 152.—"I have known of old." It was not a late persuasion, or a thing that he was now to learn; he always knew it since he knew anything of God, that God had owned his word as the constant rule of his proceedings with creatures, in that God had so often made good his word to him, not only by present and late, but by old and ancient experiences. Well, then, David's persuasion of the truth and unchangeableness of the word was not a sudden humour, or a present fit, or a persuasion of a few days' standing; but he was confirmed in it by long experience. One or two experiences had been no trial of the truth of the word, they might seem but a good hit; but his word ever proveth true, not once or twice, but always; what we say "of old," the Septuagint reads κατ᾽ αρχὰς "from the beginnings;" that is, either—

1. From my tender years. Timothy knew the Scriptures from a child (2Ti 3:15); so David very young was acquainted with God and his truth.

2. Or, from the first time that he began to be serious, or to mind the word in good earnest, or to be a student either in God's word or works, by comparing providences and promises, he found concerning his testimonies that "God had founded them for ever."

3. Lastly, "of old" may be what I have heard of all foregoing ages, their experience as well as mine: "Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded:" Psa 22:4-5.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 152.—Let us mark this eternal basis of "the testimonies of God." The whole plan of redemption was emphatically "founded for ever:" the Saviour was "foreordained before the foundation of the world." The people of God were "chosen in Christ before the world began." The great Author "declares the end from the beginning," and thus clears his dispensations from any charge of mutability or contingency. Every event in the church is fixed, permitted, and provided for—not in the passing moment of time; but in the counsels of eternity. When, therefore, the testimonies set forth God's faithful engagements with his people of old, the recollection that they are "founded for ever" gives us a present and unchangeable interest in them. And when we see that they are grounded upon the oath and promise of God—the two "immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie"—we may truly "have strong consolation" in venturing every hope for eternity upon this rock; nor need we be dismayed to see all our earthly dependencies—"the world, and the lust, and the fashion of it—passing away" before us.

Charles Bridges.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 152.—Knowledge of the word.

1. It is well to know it as God's own word.

2. As founded in truth.

3. As founded forever.

4. The earlier we know this the better.





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