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C. H. Spurgeon :: Psalm 119 Verses 161-168

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Psalm 119 Verses 161-168


EXPOSITION VERSE 161

Verse 161.—"Princes have persecuted me without a cause." Such persons ought to have known better; they should have had sympathy with one of their own rank. A man expects a fair trial at the hand of his peers: it is ignoble to be prejudiced. Moreover, if honour be banished from all other breasts it should remain in the bosom of kings, and honour forbids the persecution of the innocent. Princes are appointed to protect the innocent and avenge the oppressed, and it is a shame when they themselves become the assailants of the righteous. It was a sad case when the man of God found himself attacked by the judges of the earth, for eminent position added weight and venom to their enmity. It was well that the sufferer could truthfully assert that this persecution was without cause. He had not broken their laws, he had not injured them, he had not even desired to see them injured, he had not been an advocate of rebellion or anarchy, he had neither openly nor secretly opposed their power, and therefore, while this made their oppression the more inexcusable, it took away a part of its sting, and helped the brave hearted servant of God to bear up. "But my heart standeth in awe of thy word." He might have been overcome by awe of the princes had it not been that a greater fear drove out the less, and he was swayed by awe of God's word. How little do crowns and sceptres become in the judgment of that man who perceives a more majestic royalty in the commands of his God. We are not likely to be disheartened by persecution, or driven by it into sin, if the word of God continually has supreme power over our minds.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 161.—"Princes have persecuted me." The evil is aggravated from the consideration that it is the very persons who ought to be as bucklers to defend us, who employ their strength in hurting us. Yea, when the afflicted are stricken by those in high places, they in a manner think that the hand of God is against them. There was also this peculiarity in the case of the prophet, that he had to encounter the grandees of the chosen people—men whom God had placed in such honourable stations, to the end they might be the pillars of the Church.

John Calvin.

Verse 161.—"Without a cause." I settle it as an established point with me, that the more diligently and faithfully I serve Christ, the greater reproach and the more injury I must expect. I have drank deep of the cup of slander and reproach of late, but I am in no Wise discouraged; no, nor by, what is much harder to bear, the unsuccessfulness of my endeavours to mend this bad world.

Philip Doddridge.

Verse 161.—"Without a cause." We know what persecutions the body of Christ, that is, the holy Church, suffered from the kings of the earth. Let us therefore here also recognize the words of the Church: "Princes have persecuted me without a cause." For how had the Christians injured the kingdoms of the earth? Although their King promised them the kingdom of heaven, how, I ask, had they injured the kingdoms of earth? Did their King forbid his soldiers to pay and to render due service to the kings of the earth? Saith he not to the Jews who were striving to calumniate him, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's?" Mat 22:21. Did he not even in his own person pay tribute from the mouth of a fish? Did not his forerunner, when the soldiers of this kingdom were seeking what they ought to do for their everlasting salvation, instead of replying. "Loose your belts, throw away your arms, desert your king, that ye may wage war for the Lord," answer, "Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with wages?" Luk 3:14. Did not one of his soldiers, his most beloved companion, say to his fellow soldiers, the provincials, so to speak, of Christ, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers?" and a little lower he addeth, "Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man anything, but to love one another." Rom 13:1, 7, 8. Does he not enjoin the Church to pray even for kings themselves? How, then, have the Christians offended against them? What due have they not rendered? In what have not Christians obeyed the monarchs of earth? The kings of the earth therefore have persecuted the Christians without a cause.

Augustine.

Verse 161.—"But my heart standeth in awe of thy word." If there remains any qualm of fear on thy heart, fear from the wrath of bloody men threatening thee for thy profession of the truth, then to a heart inflamed with the love of truth, labour to add a heart filled with the fear of that wrath which God hath in store for all that apostatize from the truth. When you chance to burn your finger, you hold it to the fire, which being a greater fire draws out the other. Thus, when thy thoughts are scorched, and thy heart scared with the fire of man's wrath, hold them a while to hell fire, which God hath prepared for the fearful (Rev 21:8), and all that run away from truth's colours (Heb 10:39), and thou wilt lose the sense of the one for fear of the other. Ignosee imperator, saith the holy man, tu carcerem, Dens gehennam minatur; "Pardon me, O Emperor, if I obey not thy command; thou threatenest a prison, but God a hell." Observable is that of David: "Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word." He had no cause to fear them that had no cause to persecute him. One threatening out of the word, that sets the point of God's wrath to his heart, scares him more than the worst that the greatest on earth can do to him. Man's wrath, when hottest, is but a temperate climate to the wrath of the living God. They who have felt both have testified as much. Man's wrath cannot hinder the access of God's love to the creature, which hath made the saints sing in the fire, in spite of their enemies' teeth. But the creature under God's wrath is like one shut up in a close oven, no crevice is open to let any of the heat out, or any refreshing in to him.

William Gurnall.

Verse 161.My heart standeth in awe of thy word." There is an awe of the word, not that maketh us shy of it, but tender of violating it, or doing anything contrary to it. This is not the fruit of slavish fear, but of holy love; it is not afraid of the word, but delighteth in it, as it discovereth the mind of God to us; as in the next verse it is written, "I rejoice at thy word." This awe is called by a proper name, reverence, or godly fear; when we consider whose word it is, namely, the word of the Lord, who is our God, and hath a right to command what he pleaseth; to whose will and word we have already yielded obedience, and devoted ourselves to walk worthy of him in all well pleasing; who can find us out in all our failings, as knowing our very thoughts afar of (Psa 139:2), and having all our ways before him, and being one of whom we read,—"He is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins" (Jos 24:19), that is to say, if we impenitently continue in them. Considering these things we receive the word with that trembling of heart which God so much respects.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 161.—"In awe of thy word." I would advise you all, that come to the reading or hearing of this book, which is the word of God, the most precious jewel, and most holy relic that remaineth upon earth, that ye bring with you the fear of God, and that ye do it with all due reverence, and use your knowledge thereof, not to vain glory of frivolous disputation, but to the honour of God, increase of virtue, and edification both of yourselves and others.

Thomas Cranmer, 1489-1555.

Verse 161.—"Awe of thy word." They that tremble at the convictions of the word may triumph in the consolations of it.

Matthew Henry.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verses 161-168.—What the word is to the believer. The object of (Psa 119:161), joy (Psa 119:162), love (Psa 119:163), praise (Psa 119:164), the producer of peace (Psa 119:65), and hope (Psa 119:166); therefore exceedingly loved (Psa 119:67), faithfully kept (Psa 119:168).

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

Verses 161-162.—God's word, the object of godly fear and godly joy.

1. It makes the heart quake by its purity and power.

2. It makes the heart rejoice by its grace and truth.

W. H. J. P.

Verse 161.

1. Wrong without cause.

2. Right with abundant cause.

Verse 161. (second clause).—Awe of God's word—its propriety, its hallowed influence, the evil of its absence.

Verse 161.—Restrained by awe.

1. The causelessness of persecution.

2. The temptations to evil occasioned thereby—to revenge: to apostasy.

3. The safeguard against falling: awe of God's word. 1Sa 24:6; Dan 3:16-18; Act 4:19; Act 5:29

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

EXPOSITION VERSE 162

Verse 162.—"I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil." His awe did not prevent his joy; his fear of God was not of the kind which perfect love casts out, but of the sort which it nourishes. He trembled at the word of the Lord, and yet rejoiced at it. He compares his joy to that of one who has been long in battle, and has at last won the victory and is dividing the spoil. This usually falls to the lot of princes, and though David was not one with them in their persecutions, yet he had his victories, and his spoil was equal to their greatest gains. The profits made in searching the Scriptures were greater than the trophies of war. We too have to fight for divine truth; every doctrine costs us a battle, but when we gain a full understanding of it by personal struggles it becomes doubly precious to us. In these days godly men have a full share of battling for the word of God; may we have for our spoil a firmer hold upon the priceless word. Perhaps, however, the Psalmist may have rejoiced as one who comes upon hidden treasure for which he had not fought, in which case we find the analogy in the man of God who, while reading the Bible, makes grand and blessed discoveries of the grace of God laid up for him,—discoveries which surprise him, for he looked not to find such a prize. Whether we come by the truth as finders or as warriors fighting for it, the heavenly treasure should be equally dear to us. With what quiet joy does the ploughman steal home with his golden find! How victors shout as they share the plunder! How glad should that man be who has discovered his portion in the promises of holy writ, and is able to enjoy it for himself, knowing by the witness of the Holy Spirit that it is all his own.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 162.—"I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil." He never came to an ordinance but as a soldier to the spoil, after a great battle, as having a constant warfare with his corruptions that fought against his soul. Now he comes to see what God will say to him, and he will make himself a saver [or gainer], and get a booty out of every commandment, promise, or threatening he hears.

John Cotton (1585-1652), in "The Way of Life"

Verse 162.—"I rejoice at thy word." "Euripides," saith the orator, "hath in his well composed tragedies more sentiments than sayings;" and Thucydides hath so stuffed every syllable of his history with substance, that the one runs parallel along with the other; Lysias's works are so well couched that you cannot take out the least word but you take away the whole sense with it; and Phocion had a special faculty of speaking much in a few words. The Cretians, in Plato's time (however degenerated in St. Paul's), were more weighty than wordy; Timanthes was famous in this, that in his pictures more things were intended than deciphered; and of Homer it is said that none could ever peer him for poetry. Then how much more apt and apposite are these high praises to the book of God, rightly called the Bible or the book as if it were, as indeed it is, both for fitness of terms and fulness of truth, the only book to winch (as Luther saith) all the books in the world are but waste paper. It is called the word, by way of eminency, because it must be the butt and boundary of all our words; and the scripture, as the lord paramount above all other words or writings of men collected into volumes, there being, as the Rabbins say, a mountain of sense hanging upon every tittle of it, whence may be gathered flowers and phrases to polish our speeches with, even sound words, that have a healing property in them, far above all filed phrases of human elocution.

Thomas Adams.

Verse 162.—"As one that findeth great spoil." This expressive image may remind us of the inward conflict to be endured in acquiring the spoils of this precious word. It is so contrary to our natural taste and temper, that habitual self-denial and struggle with the indisposition of the heart can alone enable us to "find the spoil." But what "great spoil" is divided as the fruit of the conflict! How rich and abundant is the recompense of the "good soldier of Jesus Christ," who is determined through the power of the Spirit to "endure hardness," until he overcome the reluctance of his heart to this spiritual duty. He shall "rejoicein "finding great spoil." Sometimes—as the spoil with which the lepers enriched themselves in the Syrian camp—it may be found unexpectedly. Sometimes we see the riches and treasures contained in a passage or doctrine, long before we can make it our own. And often when we gird ourselves to the conflict with indolence, and wanderings, under the weakness of our spiritual perceptions and the power of unbelief, many a prayer, and many a sigh is sent up for Divine aid, before we are crowned with victory, and are enabled, as the fruit of our conquest joyfully to appropriate the word to our present need and distress.

Charles Bridges.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 162.

1. The treasure hid: "great spoil" hidden in the divine word.

2. The treasure found: "as one that findeth," etc.

(a) By reading.

(b) By meditation.

(c) By prayer.

3. The treasure enjoyed: "I rejoice," etc.

G. R.

Verse 162.—David's joy over God's word he compares to the joy of the warrior when he finds great spoil.

1. This great joy is sometimes aroused by the fact that there is a word of God.

(a) The Scriptures are a revealing of God.

(b) The guide of our life.

(c) A sure pledge of mercy.

(d) The beginning of communion with God.

(e) The instrument of usefulness.

2. Frequently the joy of the believer in the word arises out of his having had to battle to obtain a grasp of it.

(a) We have had to fight over certain doctrines before we could really come at them.

(b) The same may be said of the promises.

(c) Of the precepts.

(d) Of the threatenings.

(e) Even about the word which reveals Christ.

3. At times the joy of the believer lies in enjoying God's word without any fighting at all: "One that findeth."

4. There is a joy arising out of the very fact that Holy Scripture may be considered to be a spoil.

(a) A spoil is the end of uncertainty.

(b) It is the weakening of the adversary for any future attacks.

(c) It gives a sense of victory.

(d) There is, in dividing the spoil, profit, pleasure, and honour.

(e) The spoiling of the enemy is a prophecy of rest.

—See "Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 1641; "Great Spoil."

EXPOSITION VERSE 163

Verse 163.—"I hate and abhor lying." A double expression for an inexpressible loathing. Falsehood in doctrine, in life, or in speech, falsehood in any form or shape, had become utterly detestable to the Psalmist. This was a remarkable state for an Oriental, for generally lying is the delight of Easterns, and the only wrong they see in it is a want of skill in its exercise so that the liar is found out. David himself had made much progress when he had come to this. He does not, however, alone refer to falsehood in conversation; he evidently intends perversity in faith and teaching. He set down all opposition to the God of truth as lying, and then he turned his whole soul against it in the most intense form of indignation. Godly men should detest false doctrine even as they abhor a lie. "But thy law do I love," because it is all truth. His love was as ardent as his hate. True men love truth, and hate lying. It is well for us to know which way our hates and loves run, and we may do essential service to others by declaring what are their objects. Both love and hate are contagious, and when they are sanctified the wider their influence the better.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 163.—"I hate and abhor lying," etc. One sees here how the light on David's soul was increasing more and more unto the perfect day. In the earlier part of this psalm, David in the recollects of his own sin had prayed, "Remove from me the way of lying," and the Lord had indeed answered his prayer, for he now declares his utter loathing of every false way: "I hate and abhor lying." And we see, in some measure, the instrument by which the Holy Spirit wrought the change: "Thy law do I love;" nay, as he adds in a later verse, "I love them exceedingly." And so it ever must be, the heart must have some holier object of its affection to fill up the void, or there will be no security against a relapse into sin! I might talk for ever on the sin, the disgrace, and the danger of lying, and though at the time and for a time my words might have some influence, yet, unless the heart be filled with the love of God and of God's law, the first temptation would prove too powerful. The Bible teaches us this in a variety of ways. God says to Israel, not only "cease to do evil," but, "learn to do well." And still more pointedly does the apostle, when he was warring against drunkenness, say, "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess,—but be filled with the Spirit."

Barton Bouchier.

Verse 163.—"I hate and abhor lying." "Lying," according to Scripture usage, not only signifies speaking contrary to what one thinks, but also thinking contrary to the truth of things, and, particularly, the giving to any other of that worship and glory which are due to the true God alone. It is to think and act aside from God's truth. The men who persecuted that godly man thought of earthly prosperity and power as they should not have thought; they judged God's servant falsely, and they thought wickedly of God himself. The man of God took a view of these things; he saw the wickedness and the vileness of them, and he continued—"Falsehood I hate and abhor: thy law do I love." From all the false and delusive ways of men, from all the pride and pomp that surround courts, from the sinful pleasures and pursuits of worldly men, as well as from the ostentatious idolatry of heathen nations, he could turn with heart delight to the contemplation of Jehovah, in that wonderful ritual which manifested the divine mercy in vicarious sacrifices, and observances, and festivals; and to that holy law which was given as man's rule of duty and grateful obedience, and all these he loved as the manifestations of God's grace.

John Stephen.

Verse 163.—"I hate and abhor lying" not only "hate" it, nor simply I "abhor" it, but "hate and abhor," to strengthen and increase the sense, and make it more vehement. Where the enmity is not great against the sin, the matter may be compounded and taken up; but David will have nothing to do with it, for he saith,—I loathe and abhor it, and hate it with a deadly hatred. Slight hatred of a sinful course is not sufficient to guard us against it.

Thomas Manton.

Verse 163.—Sin seemeth to have its name from the Hebrew word sana, to hate, the word here used, because it is most of all to be hated, as the greatest evil, as that which setteth us furthest from God the greatest good. None can hate it but those that love the law of God; for all hatred comes from love. A natural man may be angry with his sin, but hate it he cannot; nay, he may leave it, but not loathe it; if he did, he would loathe all sin as well as any one sin.

Abraham Wright.

Verse 163.—"Lying." All injustice is abominable: to do any sort of wrong is a heinous crime, but lying is that crime which, above all others, tendeth to the dissolution of society and disturbance of human life; which God therefore doth most loathe, and men have reason especially to detest. Of this the slanderer is most deeply guilty. "A witness of Belial scorneth judgment, and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity," saith the wise man: Pro 19:28. He is indeed, according to just estimation, guilty of all kinds of injury, breaking all the second table of commands respecting our neighbour. Most distinctly he beareth false witness against his neighbour: he doth covet his neighbour's goods, for 'tis constantly out of such an irregular desire, for his own presumed advantage, to dispossess his neighbour of some good, and transfer it on himself, that the slanderer uttereth his tale: he is also a thief and robber of his good name, a deflowerer and defiler of his reputation, an assassin and murderer of his honour. So doth he violate all the rules of justice, and perpetrates all sorts of wrong against his neighbour.

Isaac Barrow.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 163.—Opposite poles of the Christian character.

1. Why I hate lying, because—

it comes from the devil (John 8:44; Act 5:3):

it leads to the devil (Rev 11:8; Pro 22:15):

it is base, dangerous, degrading (Pro 19:5; 1Ti 4:2; 2Ti 3:13):

it is hated by the Lord (Pro 6:16-17; Pro 7:22).

2. Why I love the law. Because—

it emanates from God;

is the reflection of his character;

is the ideal of my character.

3. How I came thus to hate and love. By the grace of God: Psa 119:29.

G. A. D.

Verse 163.

1. Opposite things.

2. Opposite feelings.

EXPOSITION VERSE 164

Verse 164.—"Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments." He laboured perfectly to praise his perfect God, and therefore fulfilled the perfect number of songs. Seven may also intend frequency. Frequently he lifted up his heart in thanksgiving to God for his divine teachings in the word, and for his divine actions in providence. With his voice he extolled the righteousness of the Judge of all the earth. As often as ever he thought of God's ways a song leaped to his lips. At the sight of the oppressive princes, and at the hearing of the abounding falsehood around him, he felt all the more bound to adore and magnify God, who in all things is truth and righteousness. When others rob us of our praise it should be a caution to us not to fall into the same conduct towards our God, who is so much more worthy of honour. If we praise God when we are persecuted our music will be all the sweeter to him because of our constancy in suffering. If we keep clear of all lying, our song will be the more acceptable because it comes out of pure lips. If we never flatter men we shall be in the better condition for honouring the Lord. Do we praise God seven times a day? Do we praise him once in seven days?

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 164.—"Seven times a day do I praise thee." Affections of the soul cannot long be kept secret; if they be strong they will break forth in actions. The love of God is like a fire in the heart of man, which breaks forth, and manifests itself in the obedience of his commandments, and praising him for Ins benefits; and this is it which David now protests, that the love of God was not idle in his heart, but made him fervent and earnest m praising God, so that "seven times a day" he did praise God. For by this number the carefulness of holy devotion is expressed, and the fervency of his love. In praising God he could not be satisfied, saith Basil.

William Cowper.

Verse 164.—"Seven times a day do I praise thee." As every grace," says Sibbes, "increaseth by exercise of itself, so doth the grace of prayer. By prayer we learn to pray." And thus it was with the Psalmist; he often times anticipated the dawning of the morning for his exercise of prayer; and at midnight frequently arose to pour out his soul in prayer; now he adds that "seven times in a day," or as we might express it, "at every touch and turn," he finds opportunity for and delight in praise. Oh for David's spirit and David's practice!

Barton Bouchier.

Verse 164.—"Seven times a day do I praise thee." A Christian ought to give himself up eminently to this duty without limits.

Walter Marshall.

Verse 164.—"Seven times a day do I praise thee." Not as if he had seven set hours for this duty every day, as the Papists would have it, to countenance their seven canonical hours, but rather a definite number is put for an indefinite, and so amounts to this,—he did very often in a day praise God; his holy heart taking the hint of every providence to carry him to heaven on this errand of prayer and praise.

William Gurrnall.

Verse 164.—"Seven times a day." Some of the Jewish Rabbis affirm that David is here to be understood literally, observing, that the devout Hebrews were accustomed to praise God twice in the morning, before reading the ten commandments, and once after; twice in the evening before reading the same portion of inspiration, and twice after; which makes up the number of seven times a day.

James Anderson's note to Calvin in loc.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 164.—Praise rendered. Frequently, statedly, heartily, intelligently.

Verse 164.—Perpetual praise.

1. True praise is ever warranted.

2. True praise is ever welcome.

3. True praise is never weary.

C. A. D.

Verse 164.

1. Some never praise thee; but, "seven times a day," etc.; for I delight to do so. "Thy righteous judgments" are a terror to them, a joy to me.

2. Some feebly and coldly praise thee, while, "seven times," etc. My warm devotion must frequently express itself in praise.

3. Some are content with occasionally praising thee, but, "seven times," etc. They think it enough to begin and end the day with praise, while all the day long I am in the spirit of praise.

4. Some soon cease to praise thee, but, "seven times," etc. Not seven times only, but "unto seventy times seven." Even without ceasing, will I praise thee.

W. H. J. P.

EXPOSITION VERSE 165

Verse 165.—"Great peace have they which love thy law." What a charming verse is this! It dwells not with those who perfectly keep the law, for where should such men be found? but with those who love it, whose hearts and hands are made to square with its precepts and demands. These men are ever striving, with all their hearts, to walk in obedience to the law, and though they are often persecuted they have peace, yea, great peace; for they have learned the secret of the reconciling blood, they have felt the power of the comforting Spirit, and they stand before the Father as men accepted. The Lord has given them to feel his peace, which passed all understanding. They have many troubles, and are likely to be persecuted by the proud, but their usual condition is that of deep calm—a peace too great for this little world to break. "And nothing shall offend them," or, "shall really injure them." "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." It must needs be that offences come, but these lovers of the law are peacemakers, and so they neither give nor take offence. That peace which is founded upon conformity to God's will is a living and lasting one, worth writing of with enthusiasm, as the Psalmist here does.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 165.—"Great peace have they which love thy law." Amidst the storms and tempests of the world, there is a perfect calm in the breasts of those, who not only do the will of God, but "love" to do it. They are at peace with God, by the blood of reconciliation; at peace with themselves, by the answer of a good conscience, and the subjection of those desires which war against the soul; at peace with all men, by the spirit of charity; and the whole creation is so at peace with them that all things work together for their good. No external troubles can rob them of this "great peace," no "offences" or stumbling blocks, which are thrown in their way by persecution, or temptation, by the malice of enemies, or by the apostasy of friends, by anything which they see, hear of, or feel, can detain, or divert them from their course. Heavenly love surmounts every obstacle, and runs with delight the way of God's commandments.

George Horne.

Verse 165.—"Great peace have they which love thy law." There have been Elis trembling for the ark of God, and Uzzahs putting out their hand in fear that it was going to fall; but in the midst of the deepest troubles through which the church has passed, and the fiercest storms that have raged about it, there have been true, faithful men of God who have never despaired. In every age there have been Luthers and Latimers, who have not only held fast their confidence, but whose peace has deepened with the roaring of the waves. The more they have been forsaken of men, the closer has been their communion with God. And with strong hold of him and of his promises, and hearts that could enter into the secret place of the Most High, although there has been everything without to agitate, threaten, and alarm, they have been guided into perfect peace.

James Martin, in, "The Christian Mirror, and other Sermons," 1878.

Verse 165.—"Great peace have they which love thy law." Clearness of conscience is a help to comfortable thoughts. Yet observe, that peace is not so much effected as preserved by a good conscience and conversation; for though joy in the Holy Ghost will make its nest nowhere but in a holy soul, yet the blood of Christ only can speak peace; "being justified by faith, we have peace:" Rom 5:1. An exact life will not make, but keep conscience quiet; an easy shoe does not heal a sore foot, but it keeps a sound one from hurt. Walking with God according to gospel rules hath peace entailed upon it, and that peace is such a treasure, as thereby, a Christian may have his rejoicing from himself. Gal 6:4, 16. His own heart sings him a merry tune, which the threats and reproaches of the world cannot silence. The treasure of comfort is not expended in affliction; death itself doth not exhaust but increase and advance it to an eternal triumph. O the excellency and necessity of it! Paul laid it up for a death-bed cordial: "Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience:" 2Co 1:12. And Hezekiah dares hold it up to God, as well as cheer up himself with it on approaching death. A conscience good in point of integrity will be good also in point of tranquillity: "The righteous are bold as a lion:" they have great peace that love and keep God's commandments: Pro 28:1; Psa 119:165. And saith the apostle, "If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God" (1Jo 3:2), and I may add also, towards men. Oh! what comfort and solace hath a clear conscience! A conscientious man hath something within to answer accusations without; he hath such a rich treasure as will not fail in greatest straits and hazards. I shall conclude this with a notable saying of Bernard:—"The pleasures of a good conscience are the Paradise of souls, the joy of angels, a garden of delights, a field of blessing, the temple of Solomon, the court of God, the habitation of the Holy Spirit."

Oliver Heywood.

Verse 165.—"Great peace." Note that for "peace" the Hebrew word is שָׁלום shalom: it signifies not only "peace," but also perfection, wholeness, prosperity, tranquillity, healthfulness, safety, the completion and consummation, of every good thing; and so it is frequently taken by the Hebrews; hence in salutations, wishing one the other well, they say, שָׁלום לךָ shalom lekha, i.e, "peace be with thee;" as if one should say, "may all things be prosperous with thee."

Thomas Le Blanc.

Verse 165.—"They which love thy law." To love a law may seem strange; but it is the only true divine life. To keep it because we are afraid of its penalties is only a form of fear or prudential consideration. To keep it to preserve a good name may be propriety and respectability. To keep it because it is best for society may be worldly self interest. To keep it because of physical health may be the policy of epicurean philosophy. To keep it because we love it is to show that it is already part of us—has entered into the moral texture of our being. Sin then becomes distasteful, and temptations lose their power.

W. M. Statham, quoted in "A Homiletic Commentary on the Psalms," 1879.

Verse 165.—"And nothing shall offend them." Hebrew, "they shall have no stumbling block." 1Jo 4:10, "There is none occasion of stumbling in him" who abides in the light, which makes him to see and avoid such stumblingblocks. Wealth, tribulation, temptation, which are the occasion to many of falling (Isa 8:14-15; Eze 3:20; Eze 7:19; Eze 14:3, 4, 7), are not so to him.

A. R. Faussett.

Verse 165.—"Learn the true wisdom of those of you who are new creatures, and who love God's holy law. All of you who are really brought to Christ are changed into his image, so that you love God's holy law. "I delight in the law of God after the inward man." "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart:" Psalm 19. The world says: What a slave you are! you cannot have a little amusement on the Sabbath—you cannot take a Sabbath walk, or join a Sabbath tea party; you cannot go to a dance or a theatre; you cannot enjoy the pleasures of sensual indulgence—you are a slave. I answer: Christ had none of these pleasures. He did not want them: nor do we. He knew what was truly wise, and good, and happy, and he chose God's holy law. He was the freest of all beings, and yet he knew no sin. Only make me free as Christ is free—this is all I ask. "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them."

Robert Murray M'Cheyne, 1813-1843.

Verse 165.—"Nothing shall offend them." They that have this character of God's children, will not be stumbled at God's dispensations, let them be never so cross to their desires, because they have a God to fly unto in all their troubles, and a sure covenant to rest upon. Therefore the reproaches cast upon them, and on the way of God, do not scandalize them; for they have found God in that very way which others speak evil of; they are not so offended by anything that attends the way of God, as to dislike or forsake that way. Nevertheless we must take heed that we be not offended.

John Bunyan.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 165.

1. Great love to a great law.

2. Great peace under great disquietude.

3. Great upholding from all stumblingblocks.

Verse 165.—Perfect peace.

1. The law of God should be regarded with love.

2. Love to the law is productive of great peace.

Peace with God through the blood of reconciliation:

Peace with self by good conscience and suppression of evil desires:

Peace with men by charity.

3. The peace which springs from love to the law is a security against stumbling: "nothing shall offend them;"

Neither the daily cross (Mar 5:21-22)

Nor the fiery trial (Mar 4:7);

Nor the humbling doctrine (John 6:60, 66, etc.).

C. A. D.

Verse 165.

1. The characters described—"they which love thy law."

2. The blessing they enjoy: "great peace."

3. The evils they escape: "nothing shall offend them."

G. R.

Verse 165.—The peace and security of the godly.

1. Their peace. It arises from—

(a) Freedom from an accusing conscience.

(b) Conformity to the requirements of the law.

(c) Enjoyment of the privileges revealed in the law.

(d) Assurance of divine approval and benediction.

2. Their security.

(a) They are prepared for every duty.

(b) They are proof against every temptation.

(c) They are pledged to final perseverance.

(d) They have the promise of divine protection.

W. H. J. P.

Verse 165.

1. An honourable title: "They which love thy law."

2. A good possession: "Great peace have they."

3. A blessed immunity: "Nothing shall offend them."

J. F.

EXPOSITION VERSE 166

Verse 166.—"Lord, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments." Here we have salvation by grace, and the fruits thereof. All David's hope was fixed upon God, he looked to him alone for salvation; and then he endeavoured most earnestly to fulfil the commands of his law. Those who place least reliance upon good works are very frequently those who have the most of them; that same divine teaching which delivers us from confidence in our own doings leads us to abound in every good work to the glory of God. In times of trouble there are two things to be done, the first is to hope in God, and the second is to do that which is right. The first without the second would be mere presumption: the second without the first mere formalism. It is well if in looking back we can claim to have acted in the way which is commanded of the Lord. If we have acted rightly towards God we are sure that he will act kindly with us.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 166.—"LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation," etc. This is the true posture in which all the servants of God should desire to be found—hoping in his mercy, and doing his commands. How easy were it to demonstrate the connection between the mental feeling here recognized, and the obedience with which it is here associated! It is the hope of salvation which is the great and pervading motive to holiness, and it is the consciousness of obedience to the will of God which strengthens our hope of interest in the divine mercy.

John Morison.

Verse 166.—"Lord, I have hoped for thy salvation." This saying he borrowed from good old Jacob. Gen 49:18.

John Trapp.

Verse 166.—"I have done thy commandments." Set upon the practice of what you read. A student in physics doth not satisfy himself to read over a system or body of physics, but he falls upon practising physics: the life blood of religion his in the practical part. Christians should be walking Bibles. Xenophon said, "Many read Lycurgus's laws, but few observe them." The word written is not only a rule of knowledge, but a rule of obedience; it is not only to mend our sight, but to mend our pace. David calls God's word "a lamp unto his feet" (Psa 119:105). It was not only a light to his eyes to see by, but to his feet to walk by. By practice we trade with the talent of knowledge, and turn it to profit. This is a blessed reading of Scripture, when we fly from the sins which the word forbids, and espouse the doctrines which the word commands. Reading without practice will be but a torch to light men to hell.

Thomas Watson.

Verses 166-168.—He that casts the commands behind his back is very presumptuous in applying the promises to himself. That hope which is not accompanied with obedience will make a man ashamed. He that has learned the word of God knows that the law is not made void by faith, but established: Rom 3:31. Christ the church's Head and Prophet, in his sermon upon the mount shows the extent of the law, requiring purity in the heart and thoughts, as well as in the life and actions, and condemns them "who shall break the least of these commands and shall teach men so;" but "those that teach and do them," he owns as great in his kingdom: Mat 5:19. The law spoken on Mount Sinai is established by the Legislator Christ in Mount Zion as a rule of righteousness. And they who are rightly instructed, "which walk according to this rule," will have both heart and conversation ordered according to its direction, and "peace and mercy will be upon them," and hereby they will show themselves to be indeed the Israel of God.

Nathanael Vincent.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 166.

1. A hope which is not ashamed.

2. A life which is not ashamed.

3. A God of whom he is not ashamed.

Verse 166.—A good hope through grace.

1. Salvation is God's gift: "thy salvation."

2. Is apprehended by hope: "I have hoped."

3. Is accompanied by obedience: "and done thy commandments." Heb 6:9.

C. A. D.

EXPOSITION VERSE 167

Verse 167.—"My soul hath kept thy testimonies." My outward life has kept thy precepts, and my inward life—my soul, has kept thy testimonies. God has borne testimony to many sacred truths, and these we hold fast as for life itself. The gracious man stores up the truth of God within his heart as a treasure exceedingly dear and precious—he keeps it. His secret soul, his inmost self, becomes the guardian of these divine teachings which are his sole authority in soul matters. "And I love them exceedingly." This was why he kept them, and having kept them this was the result of the keeping. He did not merely store up revealed truth by way of duty, but because of a deep, unutterable affection for it. He felt that he could sooner die than give up any part of the revelation of God. The more we store our minds with heavenly truth, the more deeply shall we be in love with it: the more we see the exceeding riches of the Bible the more will our love exceed measure, and exceed expression.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 167.—"My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly." Should he not have said, first, I have loved thy commandments, and so have kept them? Doubtless he did so; but he ran here in a holy and most heavenly circle, I have kept them and loved them, and loved them and kept them. If we love Christ, we shall also live the life of love in our measure, and his commandments will be most dear when himself is most precious.

Thomas Shepard, in "The Sound Believer," 1671.

Verse 167.—"My soul." It is a usual phrase among the Hebrews, when they would express their vehement affection to anything, to say, "My soul:" as Psa 103:1; Psa 104:1, "My soul, praise thou the Lord," and Luk 1:46 "My soul doth magnify the Lord."

Richard Greenham.

Verse 167.—"I love them exceedingly." It is only a reasonable return to God; for the Father loved me so exceedingly as not to spare his own Son, but to give him up for me; and the Son loved me so exceedingly that he gave himself to me, and gave me back to myself when I was lost in my sins, original and actual.

Gerhohus (1093-1169), in Neale and Littledale

Verses 167-168.—Let not our consciousness of daily failures make us shrink from this strong expression of confidence. It is alleged as an evidence of grace, not as a claim of merit, and therefore the most humble believer need not hesitate to adopt it as the expression of Christian sincerity before God. David aspired to no higher character than that of a poor sinner: but he was conscious of spirituality of obedience, "exceeding love" to the divine word, and an habitual walk under the eye of his God—the evidences of a heart (often mentioned in the Old Testament)" perfect with him."

Charles Bridges.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 167.—Past and present.

Verse 167.

1. The more we keep God's testimonies the more we shall love them.

2. The more we love them the more we shall keep them.

G. R.

Verse 167.

1. The jewels: "Thy testimonies."

(a) Rare; none like them.

(b) Rich; surpassing valuation.

(c) Beautifying those who wear them.

(d) Glittering with an internal and essential splendour, in the darkness of this world.

(e) Realising in truth the old superstitions regarding precious stones having medicinal and magic virtues.

2. The cabinet: "My soul."

(a) Exactly made to receive the jewels.

(b) A wonderful piece of divine workmanship; but all ruined and marred unless applied to the use designed.

(c) The only receptacle out of which the genuine beauty of God's testimonies can so shine as to excite the admiration of beholders.

3. The lock that keeps all safe: "I love them exceedingly."

(a) Love is the strongest hold fast in the universe.

(b) It is needed, for ten thousand thieves prowl around to steal from us the treasure.

(c) A love "exceedingly" is a heavenly patent; no ingenuity can pick it; it is fire proof and burglar proof against hell itself.

J. F.

EXPOSITION VERSE 168

Verse 167.—"I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies." Both the practical and the doctrinal parts of God's word he had stored up, and preserved, and followed. It is a blessed thing to see the two forms of the divine word, equally known, equally valued, equally confessed: there should be no picking and choosing as to the mind of God. We know those who endeavour to be careful as to the precepts, but who seem to think that the doctrines of the gospel are mere matters of opinion, which they may shape for themselves. This is not a perfect condition of things. We have known others again who are very rigid as to the doctrines, and painfully lax with reference to the precepts. This also is far from right. When the two are "kept" with equal earnestness then have we the perfect man. "For all my ways are before thee." Probably he means to say that this was the motive of his endeavouring to be right both in head and heart, because he knew that God saw him, and under the sense of the divine presence he was afraid to err. Or else he is thus appealing to God to bear witness to the truth of what he has said. In either case it is no small consolation to feel that our heavenly Father knows all about us, and that if princes speak against us, and worldlings fill their mouths with cruel lies, yet he can vindicate us, for there is nothing secret or hidden from him.

We are struck with the contrast between this verse, which is the last of its octave, and Psa 119:176, which is similarly placed in the next octave. This is a protest of innocence, "I have kept thy precepts," and that a confession of sin, "I have gone astray like a lost sheep." Both were sincere, both accurate. Experience makes many a paradox plain, and this is one. Before God we may be clear of open fault and yet at the same time mourn over a thousand heart wanderings which need his restoring hand.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 168.—"I have kept thy precepts, for all my ways are before thee." When men are some way off in a king's eye they will be comely in their carriage; but when they come into his presence chamber to speak with him they will be most careful. Because saints are always in God's sight, their constant deportment must be pious and seemly.

George Swinnock.

Verse 168.—"I have kept thy precepts," etc. The Hebrew word שׁםרֹ shamar, that is here rendered "kept," signifies to keep carefully, diligently, studiously, exactly. It signifies to keep as men keep prisoners, and to keep as a watchman keeps the city or the garrison; yea, to keep as a man would keep his very life. But now mark what was the reason that David kept the precepts and the testimonies of the Lord so carefully, so sincerely, so diligently, so studiously, and so exactly. Why, the reason you have in the latter part of the verse, "for all my ways are before thee." O sirs! it is as necessary for him that would be eminent in holiness, to set the Lord always before him, as it is necessary for him to breathe. In that 31st of Job you have a very large narrative of that height and perfection of holiness that Job bad attained to, and the great reason that he gives you, for this is in the 4th verse, "Doth not he see my way, and count all my steps?" (Job 31:4) The eye of God had so strong an influence upon his heart and life, that it wrought him up to a very high pitch of holiness.

Thomas Brooks.

Verse 168.—"All my ways are before thee." That God seeth the secrets of our heart, is a point terrible to the wicked but joyful to the godly. The wicked are sorry that their heart is so open: it is a boiling pot of all mischief, a furnace and forge house for evil. It grieveth them that man should hear and see their words and actions; but what a terror is this—that their Judge, whom they hate, seeth their thought! If they could deny this, they would. But so many of them as are convinced and forced to acknowledge a God, are shaken betimes with this also—that he is All seeing. Others proceed more summarily, and at once deny the Godhead in their heart, and so destroy this conscience of his All knowledge. But it is in vain: the more they harden their heart by this godless thought, the more fear is in them; while they choke and check their conscience that it crow not against them it checks them with foresight of fearful vengeance and for the present convinceth them of the omniscience of God, the more they press to suppress it. But the godly rejoice herein; it is to them a rule to square their thoughts by; they take no liberty of evil thinking, willing, wishing, or affecting, in their hearts. Where that candle shineth, all things are framed as worthy of him and of his sight, whom they know to be seeing their heart.

William Struther, 1633.

Verse 168.—"All my ways are before thee." Walk, Christian, in the view of God's omniscience; say to thy soul, cave, videt Deus; take heed, God seeth. It is under the rose, as the common phrase is, that treason is spoken, when subjects think they are far enough from their king's hearing; hut did such know the prince to be under the window, or behind the hangings, to their discourse would be more loyal. This made David so upright in his walking: "I have kept thy precepts, for all my ways are before thee." If Alexander's empty chair, which his captains, when they met in counsel, set before them, did awe them so as to keep them in good order; how helpful would it be to set before ourselves the fact that God is looking upon us! The Jews covered Christ's face, and then buffeted him: Mat 26:68. So does the hypocrite; he first says in his heart, God sees not, or at least forgets that he sees, and then he makes bold to sin against him; like that foolish bird, which runs her head among the reeds, and thinks herself safe from the fowler, as if because she did not see her enemy, therefore he could not see her. Te mihi abscondam, non me tibi (Augustine). I may hide thee from my eye, but not myself from thine eye.

William Gurnall.

HINTS TO PREACHERS

Verse 168.

1. The claim of God's word upon our utmost obedience. "I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies." He does not mean that he had kept them perfectly; for that were to contradict other expressions in the psalm. He means that he kept them sincerely and strove to keep them perfectly, as one who realized their claim upon him.

(a) The whole word is divine: an equal authority pervades every precept; no distinction should be made of more or less obligation.

(b) The whole word is pure and right; expediency, or making the measure and manner of obedience suitable to our own purpose, is a false principle; to be carefully distinguished from righteous expediency, which is the foregoing of a personal right in consideration of another's benefit.

(c) The moral code of the word is a unity; obedience is like a connected chain, a wilful flaw in one link renders all useless.

2. The consciousness which greatly helps obedience: "For all my ways are before thee."

(a) "Are before thee," as plainly seen by thee.

(b) "Are before thee," constantly observed.

(c) "Are before thee;" deliberately placed before thee by me, that they may be corrected and directed.

J. F.

Verse 168.—All my ways are before thee.

1. The saint's delight.

2. The sinner's distress.

W. W.

Verse 168. (second clause).—

1. Necessarily so: for thou art the omniscient God: Psa 134:3.

2. Voluntarily so: for I choose to walk in thy sight. See Psa 16:9

3. Consciously and blessedly so. For the light of thy countenance inspires and gladdens me. See Psa 89:15.

W. H. J. P.

Verse 168. (second clause).—"Living in the sight of God.

Actually the case with all;

Designedly the case of the godly;

Happily the case of the favoured;

Preeminently the case of those who abide in fellowship.

Verse 168.

1. The practical and doctrinal teachings of God before us.

2. All our ways before him.

3. The sort of conduct which these two causes will produce.





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