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C. H. Spurgeon :: Psalm 119 Verses 153-160

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Psalm 119 Verses 153-160


EXPOSITION VERSE 153

In this section the Psalmist seems to draw still nearer to God in prayer, and to state his case and to invoke the divine help with more of boldness and expectation. It is a pleading passage, and the key word of it is, "Consider." With much boldness he pleads his intimate union with the Lord's cause as a reason why he should be aided. The special aid that he seeks is personal quickening, for which he cries to the Lord again and again.

Verse 153.—"Consider mine affliction, and deliver me." The writer has a good case, though it be a grievous one, and he is ready, yea anxious, to submit it to the divine arbitration. His matters are right, and he is ready to lay them before the supreme court. His manner is that of one who feels safe at the throne. Yet there is no impatience: he does not ask for hasty action, but for consideration. In effect he cries—"Look into my grief, and see whether I do not need to be delivered. From my sorrowful condition judge as to the proper method and time for my rescue." The Psalmist desires two things, and these two things blended: first, a full consideration of his sorrow; secondly, deliverance; and, then, that this deliverance should come with a consideration of his affliction. It should be the desire of every gracious man who is in adversity that the Lord should look upon his need, and relieve it in such a way as shall be most for the divine glory, and for his own benefit. The words, "mine affliction," are picturesque; they seem to portion off a special spot of woe as the writer's own inheritance: he possesses it as no one else had ever done, and he begs the Lord to have that special spot under his eye: even as a husbandman looking over all his fields may yet take double care of a certain selected plot. His prayer is eminently practical, for he seeks to be delivered; that is, brought out of the trouble and preserved from sustaining any serious damage by it. For God to consider is to act in due season: men consider and do nothing; but such is never the case with our God. "For I do not forget thy law." His affliction was not sufficient, with all its bitterness, to drive out of his mind the memory of God's law; nor could it lead him to act contrary to the divine command. He forgot prosperity, but he did not forget obedience. This is a good plea when it can be honestly urged. If we are kept faithful to God's law we may be sure that God will remain faithful to his promise. If we do not forget his law the Lord will not forget us. He will not long leave that man in trouble whose only fear in trouble is lest he should leave the way of right.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 153.—"Consider mine affliction, and deliver me." God looks upon or considers man in various ways, and for different ends. To give him light; for "as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth" (John 9:1). To convert him; "He saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me" (Mat 9:9). To restore him; "And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter" (Luk 22:61). To deliver him; "I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt" (Exo 3:7). To advance him; "He hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden" (Luk 1:48): and to reward him; "The Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering" (Gen 4:4).

Hugh de St. Victor (1098-1141), in "Neale and Littledale."

Verse 153.—"Consider mine affliction, and deliver me." We must pray that God will help and deliver us, not after the device of our own brains, but after such wise as seemeth best unto his tender wisdom, or else that he will mitigate our pain, that our weakness may not utterly faint. Like as a sick person, although he doubt nothing of the faithfulness and tenderness of his physician, yet, for all that, desireth him to handle his wound as tenderly as possible, even so may we call upon God, that, if it be not against his honour and glory, he will vouchsafe to give some mitigation of the pain.

Otto Wermuellerus.

Verse 153.—"Consider mine affliction." These prayers of David are penned with such heavenly wisdom that they are convenient for the state of the whole church, and every member thereof. The church is the bush that burneth with fire, but cannot be consumed; every member thereof beareth a part of the cross of Christ; they are never without some affliction, for which they have need to pray with David, "Behold mine affliction."

We know that in afflictions it is some comfort to us to have our crosses known to those of whom we are assured that they love us: it mitigates our dolour when they mourn with us, albeit they be not able to help us. But the Christian hath a more solid comfort; to wit, that in all his troubles the Lord beholds him; like a king, rejoicing to see his own servant wrestle with the enemy. He looks on with a merciful eye, pitying the infirmity of his own, when he sees it; and with a powerful hand ready to help them. But because many a time the cloud of our corruption cometh between the Lord and us, and lets us not see his helping hand, nor his loving face looking upon us, we have need to pray at such times with David, "Behold mine affliction."

William Cowper.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verses 153-160.—Divine consideration besought.

"Consider my affliction" (Psa 119:153); my cause (Psa 119:154); "for thy mercies' sake" (Psa 119:156).

Consider my persecutors (Psa 119:157-158), and my love to thy precepts (Psa 119:160) and act accordingly.

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

Verses 153-159.—The two considers. The subjects, the prayers, the arguments.

Verses 153-154.—Here

1. David prays for succour in distress. "Is any afflicted? let him pray;" let him pray as David doth here.

(a) He hath an eye to God's pity, and prays, "Consider mine affliction;" take it unto thy thoughts, and all the circumstances, and sit not by as one unconcerned. God is never unmindful of his people's afflictions, but he will have us to "put him in remembrance" (Isa 43:26), to spread our case before him, and then leave it to his compassionate consideration to do in it as in his wisdom he shall think fit, in his own time and way.

(b) He has an eye to God's power, and prays, "Deliver me," and again, "Deliver me." Consider my troubles and bring me out of them. God has promised deliverance (Psa 50:15), and we may pray for it with submission to his will, and with regard to his glory, that we may serve him the better.

(c) He has an eye to God's righteousness, and prays, "Plead my cause:" be thou my patron and advocate, and take me for thy client. David had a just cause, but his adversaries were many and mighty, and he was in danger of being run down by them: he therefore begs of God to clear his integrity, and silence their false accusations. If God do not plead his people's cause, who will? He is righteous, and they commit themselves to him, and therefore he will do it, and do it effectually: Isa 51:22; Jer 50:34.

(d) He has an eye to God's grace, and prays, "Quicken me." Lord, I am weak, and unable to bear my troubles; my spirit is apt to droop and sink: Oh, that thou wouldst revive and comfort me, till the deliverance is wrought!

2. He pleads his dependence upon the word of God, and his devotedness to his conduct. "Quicken" and "deliver me according to thy word" of promise; "for I do not forget thy precepts." The closer we cleave to the word of God, both as our rule and as our stay, the more assurance we may have of deliverance in due time.

M. Henry.

Verse 153.—The sick man's prayer.

1. The medicine remembered.

2. The physician sent for.

3. The physician considering the case.

4. The healing wrought.

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

Verse 153.

1. Lord, do not forget my sorrow.

2. I do not forget thy law.

EXPOSITION VERSE 154

Verse 154.—"Plead my cause, and deliver me." In the last verse he had prayed, "Deliver me, "and here he specifies one method in which that deliverance might be vouchsafed, namely, by the advocacy of his cause. In providence the Lord has many ways of clearing the slandered of the accusations brought against them. He can make it manifest to all that they have been belied, and in this way he can practically plead their cause. He can, moreover, raise up friends for the godly who will leave no stone unturned till their characters are cleared; or he can smite their enemies with such fearfulness of heart that they will be forced to confess their falsehood, and thus the righteous will be delivered without tile striking of a blow. Alexander reads it, "Strive my strife, and redeem me"—that is, stand in my stead, bear my burden, fight my fight, pay my price, and bring me out to liberty. When we feel ourselves dumb before the foe, here is a prayer made to our hand. What a comfort that if we sin we have an advocate, and if we do not sin the same pleader is engaged on our side. "Quicken me." We had this prayer in the last section, and we shall have it again and again in this. It is a desire which cannot be too often felt and expressed. As the soul is the centre of everything, so to be quickened is the central blessing. It means more love, more grace, more faith more courage, more strength, and if we get these we can hold up our heads before our adversaries. God alone can give this quickening; but to the Lord and giver of life the work is easy enough, and he delights to perform it. "According to thy word." David had found such a blessing among the promised things, or at least he perceived that it was according to the general tenor of God's word that tried believers should be quickened and brought up again from the dust of the earth; therefore he pleads the word, and desires the Lord to act to him according to the usual run of that word. What a mighty plea is this—"according to thy word." No gun in all our arsenals can match it.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 154.—"Plead my cause, and deliver me," etc. Albeit the godly under persecution have a good cause, yet they cannot plead it except God the Redeemer show himself as Advocate for them; therefore prayeth the Psalmist, "Plead my cause."

When God the Redeemer pleadeth a man's cause, he doth it to purpose and effectually: "Plead my cause, and deliver me."

Except the Lord's clients shall find new influence from God from time to time in their troubles, they are but as dead men in their exercise; for, "Quicken me" imports this.

Till we find lively encouragement given to us in trouble we must adhere to the word of promise: "Quicken me according to thy word."

What the believer hath need of, that God hath not only a will to supply, but also an office to attend it, and power to effectuate it, as here he hath the office of an Advocate and of a powerful Redeemer also, wherein the believer may confidently give him daily employment, as he needeth: "Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word."

David Dickson.

Verse 154.—"Plead my cause, and deliver me," etc. He now supposes himself to be arraigned before the tribunal of men, as he certainly was in their general charges against him; arraigned, too, in his helplessness, without a name, without state; in such way as one disowned would be arraigned. He prays the Lord to come in and plead his cause; so should he be redeemed; for this is the import of the original. As it were, he regards himself as one sold to corrupt judges, or at all events, as one that has lost his standing in society in the estimation of men. But if the Lord will come, and maintain the cause of his servant, his servant shall be redeemed indeed. There is good confidence in this prayer; the man of God is acquainted with the way of the Lord, and he makes his believing application. O how much do we need to know the Lord's righteous character in our seasons of great distress! Now the Lord pleads the cause of his own by the power of the truth; he pleads it also in his providences of divers kinds; he acts upon the hearts, and the hopes, and the fears of men; and in many wondrous ways he pleads his people's cause. He redeems his saints from all evil; and if not together from all evil in this world, certainly from all evil as concerns the world to come.

John Stephen.

Verse 154.—"Plead my cause, and deliver me," etc. In this verse are three requests, and all backed with one and the same argument. In the first, he intimates the right of his and that he was unjustly vexed by wicked cause, men; therefore, as burdened with their calumnies, he desireth God to undertake his defence: "Plead my cause." In the second, he represents the misery and helplessness of his condition; therefore, as oppressed by violence, he saith, "Deliver me;" or, as the words will bear, "Redeem me". In the third, his own weakness, and readiness to faint under this burden; therefore he saith, "Quicken me."

Or, in short, with respect to the injustice of his adversaries, "Plead my cause;" with respect to the misery of his own condition, "Deliver me;" with respect to the weakness and imbecility of his own heart, "Quicken me."

The reason and ground of asking, "According to thy word." This last clause must be applied to all the branches of the prayer: "Plead my cause," "according to thy word;" "deliver me," "according to thy word;" "quicken me," "according to thy word:" for God in his word engages for all: to be advocate, Redeemer, and fountain of life. The word that David buildeth upon was found either in the general promises made to them that kept the law, or in some particular promise made to himself by the prophets of that time.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 154.—"Plead my cause, and deliver me." A wicked woman once brought against Dr. Payson an accusation, under circumstances which seemed to render it impossible that he should escape. She was in the same packet, in which, many months before, he had gone to Boston. For a time, it seemed almost certain that his character would be ruined. He was cut off from all resource except the throne of grace. He felt that his only hope was in God; and to him he addressed his fervent prayer. He was heard by the Defender of the innocent. A "compunctious visiting" induced the wretched woman to confess that the whole was a malicious slander.

From Asa Cummings' Memoir of Edward Payson.

Verse 154.—"Plead my cause." I do not know that David meant, by calling upon God to plead his cause, anything more than that he should vindicate his innocence, and make it manifest to all, by delivering him out of the hand of all his enemies; but whether he had an ulterior reference or no, the word powerfully and sweetly recalls to every Christian heart him who was indeed to be the Advocate for poor sinners, even Jesus Christ the righteous, who is the propitiation for our sins.

Barton Bouchier.

Verse 154.—"Plead my cause." The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of God. Which made David here pray to God that he would plead his cause, and be his Advocate against all their lies. He trusted not to the equity of his own cause, but to the Lord. From whence we gather, that the cause why our oppressors prevail oft against us is, because we trust too much in our own wits, and lean too much upon our own inventions; opposing subtlety to subtlety, one evil device to another, matching and maintaining policy by policy, and not committing our cause to God.

Abraham Wright.

Verse 154.—"Deliver." Not as in Psa 119:153, but a word meaning to redeem, or to save by avenging. The corresponding participle is rendered redeemer, avenger, revenger, kinsman, near kinsman, next kinsman.

William S. Plumer.

Verse 154.—"Quicken me." Here, again, we are called to consider the bearing of the pious mind. Ever and anon, the great desire of the man of God is to advance in the divine life. He makes spiritual gain of everything. He seeks his goodly pearls out of strange conditions; the reason is, his heart is in these things. Deliverance from temporal evil, deliverance from spiritual evil, both were sought; but along with these, ever does the man of God take up the prayer to be quickened. Certainly we may understand him as seeking life. Such is the import of the phraseology; but in a man like David, the life he seeks must be the highest. He desires spiritual life above all things; he wants to get more into a blessed assimilation to God, that so he may enjoy the highest good. So pants the heaven born soul…Give the believer this, and this will set him above all the ills of life. And this and all good had been promised in the word. So he prays, "Quicken me according to the word." He goes upon the word for everything; he cannot be self deceived there. Judge of yourselves, my brethren, by your spiritual aspirations. Nothing less will prove you to be of the Lord's redeemed.

John Stephen.

Verses 154, 156, 159.—"Quicken me." Pray to be quickened, as the Psalmist often does, and look unto Jesus, who is a quickening spirit: 1Co 15:45. "The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit." As he has given you life, so he is ready to give it more and more abundantly; this will make you to live to him, and to be unweariedly active for him.

Nathanael Vincent, in "A Present for such as have been Sick and Recovered," 1693.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verses 154, 156, 159.—The threefold quickening. A capital subject, if the contexts are carefully considered.

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

Verse 154.—Intercession, deliverance, quickening, and all in faithfulness to the word.

Verse 154.—A prayer.

1. For promised defence.

2. For promised deliverance.

3. For promised revival

G. R.

Verse 154.—The Advocate.

1. The soul hard pressed by the accuser—in the conscience (1Jo 3:20); before the world; at the throne of grace (Zec 3:1-10); at the bar of judgment.

2. The accused soul committing its case to the Advocate: 1Jo 2:2; 2Ti 1:12.

3. How the case will go. He never lost one yet.

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

EXPOSITION VERSE 155

Verse 155.—"Salvation is far from the wicked." By their perseverance in evil they have almost put themselves out of the pale of hope. They talk about being saved, but they cannot have known anything of it or they would not remain wicked. Every step they have taken in the path of evil has removed them further from the kingdom of grace: they go from one degree of hardness to another till their hearts become as stone. When they fall into trouble it will be irremediable. Yet they talk big, as if they either needed no salvation or could save themselves whenever their fancy turned that way. "For they seek not thy statutes." They do not endeavour to be obedient, but quite the reverse; they seek themselves, they seek evil, and therefore they never find the way of peace and righteousness. When men have broken the statutes of the Lord their wisest course is by repentance to seek forgiveness, and by faith to seek salvation: then salvation is near them, so near them that they shall not miss it; but when the wicked continue to seek after mischief, salvation is set further and further from them. Salvation and God's statutes go together: those who are saved by the King of grace love the statutes of the King of glory.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 155.—"Salvation is far from the wicked." The Lord is almighty to pardon; but he will not use it for thee an impenitent sinner. Thou hast not a friend on the bench, not an attribute in all God's name will speak for thee. Mercy itself will sit and vote with the rest of its fellow-attributes for thy damnation. God is able to save and help in a time of need, but upon what acquaintance is it that thou art so bold with God, as to expect his saving arm to be stretched forth for thee? Though a man rise at midnight to let in a child that cries and knocks at his door, yet he will not take so much pains for a dog that lies howling there. This presents thy condition, sinner, sad enough, yet this is to tell thy story fairest; for that almighty power of God which is engaged for the believer's salvation, is as deeply obliged to bring thee to thy execution and damnation. What greater tie than an oath? God himself is under an oath to be the destruction of every impenitent soul. That oath which God sware in his wrath against the unbelieving Israelites, that they should not enter into his rest, concerns every unbeliever to the end of the world. In the name of God consider, were it but the oath of a man, or a company of men that, like those in the Acts, should swear to be the death of such an one, and thou wert the man, would it not fill thee with fear and trembling, night and day, and take away the quiet of thy life, till they were made thy friends? What then are their pillows stuffed with, who can sleep so soundly without any horror or amazement, though they be told that the almighty God is under an oath of damning them body and soul, without timely repentance?

William Gurnall.

Verse 155.—"Salvation!" What music is there in that word. Music that never tires, but is always new, that always rouses yet always rests us! It holds in itself all that our hearts would say. It is sweet rigour to us in the morning, and in the evening it is contented peace. It is a song that is always singing itself deep down in the delighted soul. Angelic ears are ravished by it up in heaven; and our Eternal Father himself listens to it with adorable complacency. It is sweet even to him out of whose mind is the music of a thousand worlds. To be saved! What is it to be saved in the fullest and utmost meaning? Who can tell? Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard. It is a rescue, and from such a shipwreck! It is a rest, and in such an unimaginable home! It is to lie down for ever in the bosom of God, in an endless rapture of insatiable contentment.

Frederick William Faber, 1853.

Verses 155-156.—"Salvation is far from the wicked." "Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD" When the godly do think and speak of the damnable condition of the wicked, they should not be senseless of their own ill deserving, nor of God's grace which hath made the difference between the wicked and them.

David Dickson.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 155.

1. An awful distance.

2. A distance never decreased by seeking.

3. A distance increased by sinning.

Verse 155.

1. When salvation is far off.

2. When it is near.

OR

1. When the word is far off salvation is far off.

2. When the word is near salvation is near.

G. R.

Verse 155.—How to avoid salvation.

1. Salvation is inseparable from conformity to God's law: Lev 18:5; Luk 5:25-28; Mat 19:17.

2. Salvation is brought to lawbreakers by the Law giver condescending to become the Law keeper and the Law victim. Salvation is avoided by those who refuse to be conformed to the eternal law or will of God. They perish themselves: their own sin punishes them: necessity punishes them.

C. A. D.

Verse 155.—A syllogism on salvation.

1. Salvation and obedience go together.

(a) Have a common centre—God, his arm and his lips.

(b) A mutual relation: we are saved in order to obedience.
In obeying we are being saved. Without obedience there is no salvation.

(c) An identical aim—our good and God's glory.

(d) Obedience and salvation are inseparable for ever.

2. The godless are far from obedience.

(a) Commands avoided.

(b) Submission excluded.

3. Therefore they are far from salvation. They will not have the one; they cannot have the other.

W. B. H.

EXPOSITION VERSE 156

Verse 156.—This verse is exceedingly like verse one hundred and forty nine, and yet it is no vain repetition. There is such a difference in the main idea that the one verse stands out distinct from the other. In the first case he mentions his prayer, but leaves the method of its accomplishment with the wisdom or judgment of God; while here he pleads no prayer of his own, but simply the mercies of the Lord, and begs to be quickened by judgments rather than to be left to spiritual lethargy. We may take it for granted that an inspired author is never so short of thought as to be obliged to repeat himself: where we think we have the same idea in this psalm we are misled by our neglect of careful study. Each verse is a distinct pearl. Each blade of grass in this field has its own drop of heavenly dew. "Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD" Here the Psalmist pleads the largeness of God's mercy, the immensity of his tender love; yea, he speaks of mercies—mercies many, mercies tender, mercies great; and with the glorious Jehovah he makes this a plea for his one leading prayer, the prayer for quickening. Quickening is a great and tender mercy; and it is many mercies in one. Shall one so really good permit his servant to die? Will not one so tender breathe new life into him? "Quicken me according to thy judgments." A measure of awakening comes with the judgments of God; they are startling and arousing; and hence the believer's quickening thereby. David would have every severe stroke sanctified to his benefit, as well as every tender mercy. The first clause of this verse may run, "Many," or, "manifold are thy compassions, O Jehovah." This he remembers in connection with the "many persecutors" of whom he will speak in the next verse. By all these many mercies he pleads for enlivening grace, and thus he has many strings to his bow. We shall never be short of arguments if We draw them from God himself, and urge both his mercies and his judgments as reasons for our quickening.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 156.—"Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD" Two epithets he ascribes to God's mercies; first, he calls them "great," and then he calls them "tender" mercies. They are great in many respects: for continuance, they endure for ever; for largeness, they reach unto the heavens, and are higher than they; yea, they are above all the works of God. And this is for the comfort of poor sinners, whose sins are many and great: let them not despair; his mercies are greater and more; for since they are greater than all his works, how much more greater than thou and all thy sinful works!…The other epithet he gives them is, that they are "tender" mercies; because the Lord is easy to be entreated; for he is slow unto wrath, but ready to show mercy: S. James saith that the wisdom which is from above is "gentle, peaceable, easy to be entreated." If his grace in his children make them gentle and easy to be entreated, what shall we think of himself? Since he will have such pity in us poor creatures, that seventy times seven times in the day he will have us to forgive the offences of our brethren; Oh, what pity and compassion abound in himself! Thus we see our comfort is increased; that as his mercies are great, so are they tender; easily obtained, where they are earnestly craved.

William Cowper.

Verse 156.—The Psalmist, when speaking of the wretched condition of "the wicked," is naturally led to adore the mercies of the Lord which had "made him to differ." For indeed to this source alone must we trace the distinction between us and them.

Charles Bridges.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 156.

1. A great need.

2. Laid before a great Lord.

3. Great favours pleaded.

4. A great mercy sought: "quicken me."

Verse 156.—Just, and the Quickener.

1. Spiritual life is the gift of God's mercy.

2. Its continuance depends on the exercise of God's power.

3. We may therefore plead for quickening on the ground of God's justice.

C. A. D.

Verse 156.—The saint,

1. Lost in admiration.

(a) Of God's tender mercies.

(b) He cries out at their greatness. They are numerous. Greatly tender. Great and tender; (exquisite combination!).

2. Filled with animation. The child of his admiration.

(a) The arrow like prayer: "Quicken me:" To be like, to be true to, such a God.

(b) The bow in the hand: "according to thy judgments."

W. B. H.

Verse 156.

1. The tenderness of God's greatness.

2. The greatness of God's tenderness.

3. The stimulus to life found in his great and tender presence.

EXPOSITION VERSE 157

Verse 157.—"Many are my persecutors and mine enemies." Those who actually assail me, or who secretly abhor me, are many. He sets this over against the many tender mercies of God. It seems a strange thing that a truly godly man, as David was, should have many enemies; but it is inevitable. The disciple cannot be loved where his Master is hated. The seed of the serpent must oppose the seed of the woman: it is their nature. "Yet do I not decline from thy testimonies." He did not deviate from the truth of God, but proceeded in the straight way, however many adversaries might endeavour to block up his path. Some men have been led astray by one enemy, but here is a saint who held on his way in the teeth of many persecutors. There is enough in the testimonies of God to recompense us for pushing forward against all the hosts that may combine against us. So long as they cannot drive or draw us into a spiritual decline our foes have done us no great harm, and they have accomplished nothing by their malice. If we do not decline they are defeated. If they cannot make us sin they have missed their mark. Faithfulness to the truth is victory over our enemies.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 157.—"Persecutors." A participle from the verb rendered pursue, chase. "Enemies," as in Psa 119:139, the authors of my distress. Until men are hunted and hounded by many enemies, who for the time have power, and are withal fierce and to some extent unscrupulous, they can have but a faint conception of the anguish of the prophet when he experienced the evils noted in this verse. Yet they did not move him from his constancy and integrity.

William S. Plurner.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 157.

1. A word of multitude: "many."

2. A tendency of dread, viz., a tendency to decline.

3. A note of consolation: "yet do I not decline,"

EXPOSITION VERSE 158

Verse 158.—"I beheld the transgressors." I saw the traitors; I understood their character, their object, their way, and their end. I could not help seeing them, for they pushed themselves into my way. As I was obliged to see them I fixed my eyes on them, to learn what I could from them. "And was grieved." I was sorry to see such sinners. I was sick of them, disgusted with them, I could not endure them. I found no pleasure in them, they were a sad sight to me, however fine their clothing or witty their chattering. Even when they were most mirthful a sight of them made my heart heavy; I could not tolerate either them or their doings. "Because they kept not thy word." My grief was occasioned more by their sin against God than by their enmity against myself. I could bear their evil treatment of my words, but not their neglect of thy word. Thy word is so precious to me that those who will not keep it move me to indignation; I cannot keep the company of those who keep not God's word. That they should have no love for me is a trifle; but to despise the teaching of the Lord is abominable.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 158.—"I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved." Celerinus in Cyprian's Epistles, acquaints a friend with his great grief for the apostasy of a woman through fear of persecution; which afflicted him so much, that at the feast of Easter (the Queen of feasts in the primitive church) he wept night and day, and resolved never to know a moment's delight, till through the mercy of God she should be recovered.

Charles Bridges.

Verse 158.—"I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved." Oh, if you have the hearts of Christians or of men in you, let them yearn towards your poor ignorant, ungodly neighbours. Alas, there is but a step betwixt them and death and hell: many hundred diseases are waiting ready to seize on them, and if they die unregenerate they are lost for ever. Have you hearts of rock, that cannot pity men in such a case as this? If you believe not the word of God, and the danger of sinners, why are you Christians yourselves If you do believe it, why do you not bestir yourself to the helping of others? Do you not care who is damned, so you be saved? If so, you have sufficient cause to pity yourselves, for it is a frame of spirit utterly inconsistent with grace: should you not rather say, as the lepers of Samaria, is it not a day of glad tidings, and do we sit still and hold our peace 2Ki 7:9. Hath God had so much mercy on you, and will you have no mercy on your poor neighbours? You need not go far to find objects for your pity: look but into your streets, or into the next house to you, and you will probably find some. Have you never an ignorant, an unregenerate neighbour that sets his heart on things below, and neglects eternity? What blessed place do you live in, where there is none such? If there be not some of them in thine own family, it is well; and yet art thou silent? Dost thou live close by them, or meet them in the streets, or labour with them, or travel with them, or sit and talk with them, and say nothing to them of their souls, or the life to come? If their houses were on fire, thou wouldst run and help them; and wilt thou not help them when their souls are almost at the fire of hell? If thou knewest but a remedy for their diseases thou wouldst tell it them, or else thou wouldst judge thyself guilty of their death.

Richard Baxter (1615-1691), in "The Saints' Everlasting Rest."

Verse 158.—"Grieved, because they kept not thy law." I never thought the world had been so wicked, when the Gospel began, as now I see it is; I rather hoped that every one would have leaped for joy to have found himself freed from the filth of the Pope, from his lamentable molestations of poor troubled consciences, and that through Christ they would by faith obtain the celestial treasure they sought after before with such vast cost and labour, though in vain. And especially I thought the bishops and universities would with joy of heart have received the true doctrines; but I have been lamentably deceived. Moses and Jeremiah, too, complained they had been deceived.

Martin Luther.

Verse 158.—"Grieved." The word that is here translated "grieved" is from katat, that signifies to loathe, abhor, and contend. I beheld the transgressors, and I loathed them; I beheld the transgressors, and I abhorred them; I beheld the transgressors, and I contended with them; but not so much because they were mine enemies, as because they were thine.

Thomas Brooks.

Verse 158.—The day when I first met Colonel Gardiner at Leicester, I happened to preach a lecture from Psa 119:158: "I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word." I was large in describing that mixture of indignation and grief, strongly expressed by the original word there, with which a good man looks on the varying transgressors of the divine law; and in tracing the causes of that grief, as arising, from a regard to the divine honour, and the interest of a Redeemer, and a compassionate concern for the misery such offenders bring on themselves, and for the mischief they do to the world about them. I little thought how exactly I was drawing Colonel Gardiner's character under each of those heads; and I have often reflected upon it as a happy providence, which opened a much speedier way than I could have expected, to the breast of one of the most amiable and useful friends which I ever expect to find upon earth. We afterwards sung a hymn, which brought over again some of the leading thoughts in the sermon, and struck him so strongly, that on obtaining a copy of it, he committed it to his memory, and used to repeat it with so forcible an accent, as showed how much every line expressed of his very soul. In this view the reader will pardon my inserting it; especially as I know not when I may get time to publish a volume of these serious though artless compositions, which I sent him in manuscript some years ago, and to which I have since made very large additions:—

Arise, my tenderest thoughts, arise,
To torrents melt my streaming eyes;
And thou, my heart, with anguish feel
Those evils which thou canst not heal.

See human nature sunk in shame;
See scandals pour'd on Jesus' name;
The Father wounded through the Son;
The world abused, and souls undone.

See the short course of vain delight
Closing in everlasting night;
In flames that no abatement know,
Though briny tears for ever flow.

My God, I feel the mournful scene;
My bowels yearn o'er dying men,
And fain my pity would reclaim,
And snatch the firebrands from the flame.

But feeble my compassion proves,
And can but weep where most it loves;
Thy own all saving arm employ,
And turn these drops of grief to joy.

Philip Doddridge, in "The Life of Colonel Garainer"

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 158.—A grievous sight.

1. Transgressors beyond God's bounds.

2. Bounds so kindly set: "thy word."

3. Transgressions so wantonly ungrateful, so terribly dangerous, so fatal.

Verse 158.—Sorrow over sinners.

1. A sight we cannot avoid seeing.

2. A sorrow we ought not to avoid feeling. (See Lot: 2Pe 2:7-8. Moses: Deu 9:18-19. Samuel: 1Sa 15:11; Jer 9:1. Paul: Phl 3:18. Christ: Luk 19:41).

3. A reason we will not avoid endorsing.

Verse 158.—A righteous man cannot but be grieved at the sins of the wicked. He sees in them,—

1. The violation of the divine law which he loves.

2. Ungrateful rebellion against the God he worships.

3. Contempt for the gospel of salvation and the blood of Christ.

4. The dominion of Satan, the enemy of his God.

5. The degradation of souls which might have been sacred temples.

6. Prophetic signs of an awful, everlasting retribution.

J. F.

EXPOSITION VERSE 159

Verse 159.—"Consider," or see, "how I love thy precepts." A second time he asks for consideration. As he said before, "Consider mine affliction," so now he says, "Consider mine affection." He loved the precepts of God—loved them unspeakably loved them so as to be grieved with those who did not love them. This is a sure test: many there are who have a warm side towards the promises, but as for the precepts, they cannot endure them. The Psalmist so loved everything that was good and excellent that he loved all God had commanded. The precepts are all of them wise and holy, therefore the man of God loved them extremely, loved to know them, to think of them, to reclaim them, and principally to practise them. He asked the Lord to remember and consider this, not upon the ground of merit, but that it should serve as an answer to the slanderous accusations which at this lime were the great, sting of his sorrow. "Quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness." Here he comes back to his former prayer, "Quicken me" (Psa 119:154), "quicken me" (Psa 119:156). "Quicken me." He prays again the third time, using the same words. We may understand that David felt like one who was half stunned with the assaults of his foes, ready to faint under their incessant malice. What he wanted was revival, restoration, renewal; therefore he pleaded for more life. O thou who didst quicken me when I was dead, quicken me again that I may not return to the dead! Quicken me that I may outlive the blows of my enemies, the faintness of my faith, and the swooning of my sorrow. This time he does not say, "Quicken me according to thy judgments," but, "Quicken me, O Lord, according to thy lovingkindness." This is the great gun which he brings up last to the conflict: it is his ultimate argument, if this succeed not he must fail. He has long been knocking at mercy's gate, and with this plea he strikes his heaviest blow. When he had fallen into great sin this was his plea, "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness," and now that he is in great trouble he flies to the same effectual reasoning. Because God is love he will give us life; because he is kind he will again kindle the heavenly flame within us.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 159.—"Consider how I love thy precepts." Search me. Behold the evidence of my attachment to thy law. This is the confident appeal of one who was conscious that he was truly attached to God; that he really loved his law. It is similar to the appeal of Peter to the Saviour (John 21:17), "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee." A man who truly loves God may make this appeal without impropriety. He may he so confident, so certain, that he has true love for the character of God, that he may make a solemn appeal to him on the subject, as he might appeal to a friend, to his wife, to his son, to his daughter, with the utmost confidence that he loved them. A man ought to have such love for them, that he could affirm this without hesitation or doubt; a man ought to have such love for God, that he could, affirm this with equal confidence and propriety.

Albert Barnes.

Verse 159.—"Consider how I love thy precepts." He saith not, consider how I perform thy precepts; but how I love them. The comfort of a Christian militant, in this body of sin, is rather in the sincerity and fervency of his affections than in the absolute perfection of his actions. He fails many times in his obedience to God's precepts, in regard of his action; but love in his affection still remains; so that both before the temptation to sin, and after it, there is a grief in his soul, that he should find in himself any corrupt will or desire, contrary to the holy will of the Lord his God; and this proves an invincible love in him to the precepts of God.

William Cowper.

Verse 159.—"Consider," etc. Translate (the Hebrew being the same as in Psa 119:158) "Behold how I love thy precepts," as is evinced in that when "I beheld the transgressors I was grieved." He begs to God to behold this, not as meritorious of grace, but as a distinctive mark of a godly man.

A. R. Fausset.

Verse 159.—"I love thy precepts: quicken me." The love wherewith he loved God came from that love wherewith God first loved him. For by seeing the great love wherewith God loved him, he was moved and inforced to love God again. So that his meaning is thus much: Thou seest, Lord, that I am an enemy to sin in myself, for I forget not thy law; thou seest that I am an enemy to sin in others, for I am grieved to see them transgress thy law; wherefore, O Lord, "quicken me," and let thy loving mercy whereby thou hast created me and redeemed me in Christ, whereby thou hast delivered me from so many troubles, and enriched me with so many and continual benefits, renew, revive, quicken, and restore me.

Richard Greenham.

Verse 159.—"Quicken me." Often as the Psalmist had repeated his prayer for quickening grace, (nine times is the petition urged, Psa 119:25, 37, 40, 88, 107, 149, 154, 156, 159) it was not a "vain repetition," or an empty sound. Each time was it enlivened with abundant faith, intense feeling of his necessity, and the vehemency of most ardent affection. If the consciousness of the faintness of our strength and the coldness of our affections should lead us to offer this petition a hundred times a day in this spirit, it would never fail of acceptance.

Charles Bridges.

Verse 159.—"According to thy lovingkindness." We need not desire to be quickened any further than God's lovingkindness will quicken us.

Matthew Henry.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 159.

1. His own love avowed.

2. God's love pleaded.

3. Renewed life implored.

Verse 159.

1. Attention invited: "Consider how."

2. Profession made: "I love thy precepts."

3. Petition offered: "quicken me," etc.

4. Plea suggested: "according to," etc.

G. R.

Verse 159.—My love and thy lovingkindness. The saint's love.

1. Avowed. "Thou knowest all things," etc.

2. Submitted. In humble insistence on its sincerity. In sense of its insufficiency. In prayer to God not to over look it.

3. Lost sight of in the sudden glory of God's lovingkindness. Where is my love now?

4. Recovered and humbly brought for quickening. Lord, I'll say no more about it: "Quicken me."

W. B. H.

Verse 159.—Quicken, me for love's sake.

1. A prayer for quickened life.

2. Awakened by love to the divine rule of life.

3. Enforced by the plea of that love.

4. Addressed to the God of love.

C. A. D.

Verse 159.—Consider,

1. The holy unsatisfaction of the believer: "Quicken me," etc.

(a) A prayer frequently occurring in the psalm, and always urged with great earnestness.

(b) Its importunity proves the possession of spiritual life; in fact, none but the living ones crave quickening.

(c) The most earnest feel the most acutely their indwelling sin, and appreciate most highly thorough sanctification.

(d) Thus, this is, perhaps, the only unsatisfaction perfectly pure in its character.

2. The assuring Divine attribute to which he can appeal: "According to thy lovingkindness."

(a) An attribute, not only made known in the word, but made manifest to us in our experience of its gentle dealing.

(b) An attribute that covers sin, and is touched with a feeling of our infirmities.

(c) An attribute that must be affected with the cry for quickening grace.

3. The consideration he ought to be able to lay before God: "Consider how I love thy precepts."

(a) Because from the word he learnt of the lovingkindness, and through it received life.

(b) Without it the prayer cannot be genuine.

(c) It is a good reason for expecting more grace; for "whosoever hath, to him shall be given," etc.

J. F.

EXPOSITION VERSE 160

Verse 160.—The sweet singer finishes up this section in the same way as the last by dwelling upon the sureness of the truth of God. It will be well for the reader to note the likeness between Psa 119:144, 152, and the present one. "Thy word is true." Whatever the transgressors may say, God is true, and his word is true. The ungodly are false, but God's word is true. They charge us with being false, but our solace is that God's true word will clear us. "From the beginning." God's word has been true from the first moment in which it was spoken, true throughout the whole of history, true to us from the instant in which we believed it, and true to us before we were true to it. Some read it, "Thy word is true from the head;" true as a whole, true from top to bottom. Experience had taught David this lesson, and experience is teaching us the same. The Scriptures are as true in Genesis as in Revelation, and the five books of Moses are as inspired as the four Gospels. "And every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever." That which thou hast decided remains irreversible in every case. Against the decisions of the Lord no writ of error can be demanded, neither will there ever be a repealing of any of the acts of his sovereignty. There is not one single mistake either in the word of God or in the providential dealings of God. Neither in the book of revelation nor of providence will there be any need to put a single note of errata. The Lord has nothing to regret or to retract, nothing to amend or to reverse. All God's judgments, decrees, commands, and purposes are righteous, and as righteous things are lasting things, every one of them will outlive the stars. "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." God's justice endureth for ever. This is a cheering thought, but there is a much sweeter one, which of old was the song of the priests in the temple; let it be ours, "His mercy endureth for ever."

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 160.—"Thy word is true from the beginning." Literally, "The beginning of thy word is truth," in antithesis to the "enduring for ever," in the future, in the next clause. Cocceius and Hengstenberg take it, "The sum of thy word is true," as in Num 26:2; 31:26. But the antithesis noticed above in the English version is thus lost; and the old versions support the English version. Also, if it were "the sum," the plural ought to follow, viz., "of thy words," not "word."

A. R. Fausset.

Verse 160.—"Thy word is true from the beginning," etc. As if he should say, I believe that thou wilt thus quicken me, because the very beginning of thy word is most just and true; and when thou didst first enter into covenant with me, I did find that thou didst not deceive me, not beguile me. And when by thy Spirit thou madest me believe thy covenant, thou meanest truth; and I know that as thou didst promise, thou wilt perform, for thou art no more liberal in promising than faithful and just in performing, and thy judgment will be as righteous as thy promise is true. I know that as soon as thou speakest, truth proceedeth from thee; and even so I know thou wilt defend and preserve me, that thy judgments may shine as righteous in thee.

Richard Greenham.

Verse 160.—"Thy word is true from the beginning," etc. God's commandment and promise is exceeding broad, reaching to all times. Was a word of command "the guide of thy youth"? I assure thee it will be as good a staff of thine age. A good promise is a good nurse, both to the young babe and to the decrepit old man. Your apothecaries' best cordials in time will lose their spirits, and sometimes the stronger they are, the sooner. But hath a promise cheered thee, say, twenty, thirty, forty years ago? Taste it but now afresh, and thou shalt find it as fresh, and as full of refreshment as ever. If it hath been thy greatest joy in thy joyful youth, I tell thee, it hath as much joy in it for thy sad old age. That may be said of God's word, which the prophet saith of God himself (Isa 46:4): "And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you." Doth not the Psalmist say as much here, "Thy word is true from the beginning?" It's well, it begins well. But will it last as well? Yes: he adds, "and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever." Answerable to which is that other expression (Psa 119:152), "Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever." "For ever," and "founded for ever." O sweet expression! O grounded comfort! Brethren, get acquainted with God's word and promise as soon as you can, and maintain that acquaintance everlastingly; and your knowledge of it shall not either go before, or go beyond its truth. Know it as soon and as long as you will or can, and you shall never find it tripping or failing; but you may after long experience of God say of it, "I have known of old that thou hast founded it for ever."

Anthony Tuckhey, 1599—1670.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 160.

1. Early: "true from the beginning."

2. Late: "endureth for ever." Or, Truth and immutability the believer's Jachin and Boaz.





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