for his mercy endureth for ever; the above instances are proofs of it; and still it continues, and will for evermore. Here ends the great "Hallel", or hymn, sung at the passover and other festivals.
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 119
This psalm is generally thought to be written by David, but when is uncertain; very probably towards the decline of life; and, as some think, for the sake or his son Solomon. It seems to be a collection of observations on the word of God and its precepts, the usefulness and excellency of it, he had made in the course of his life; interspersed with various petitions for the grace of God, to enable him to observe it. The psalm is a very extraordinary one; partly on account of the unusual length of it, it being more than double the length of the longest psalm in the whole book; and partly on account of its curious composition. It consists of twenty two parts, according to the number of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet; the names of which letters stand between each part; and every part consists of eight verses, all of which begin with the same letter: thus, for instance, the first eight verses begin with the letter "aleph", and the second eight verses begin with the letter "beth", and so on throughout; hence the Masorah calls this psalm the Great Alphabet. This the psalmist did, perhaps to excite attention to what he said, and also to help the memory. And it is observable that there are very few verses in the whole, not more than one or two, but what has something in it concerning the word of God, and its precepts and ordinances; there are nine or ten different words used relative to it, which signify much one and the same thing; as laws, statutes, judgments, testimonies, &c. Luther (m) observes, that neither Cicero, nor Virgil, nor Demosthenes, are to be compared with David for eloquence, as we see in the hundred nineteenth Psalm, where he divideth one sense and meaning into twenty two sorts. And it may also be remarked, that there is nothing in it concerning the tabernacle worship, or the rites and ceremonies of the legal dispensation; so that it seems to be calculated for, and is suited to, the word of God, and the ordinances of it, as we now have them in their full perfection: and the design of the whole is to show the fervent affection the psalmist had for the word of God, and to stir up the same in others.
(m) Mensal. Colloqu. c. 32. p. 365.
ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way,.... Who are in the right way to heaven and happiness, which is Jesus Christ; the strait gate, and narrow way to eternal life; the only true way of life and salvation, in which way believers walk by faith. All out of this way are altogether become filthy; but all in this way are clean, even every bit: they are without spot and blemish, blameless and unreproveable, and without fault, before the throne of God and in his sight; being washed from their sins in the blood of the Lamb, and clothed with his righteousness; and even "perfect" and complete in him, as the Targum renders the word. These are also found in the way of their duty, and walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless before men, and are sincere and upright in the sight of God; and are upon all accounts happy persons:
who walk in the law of the Lord: within the boundaries and limits of it, according to its direction, as it is a rule of walk and conversation in the hands of Christ the Lawgiver; and who continue to walk in it, as in a pleasant path, with great delight; and cheerfully obey its precepts, as influenced by the love of God, and assisted by the Spirit and grace of Christ. The word "law", or "doctrine", as it signifies, may design every revelation of the divine will; and even the doctrine of Christ, which believers should abide in, and not transgress; and should walk uprightly according to the truth of it, and as becomes it, and as they are enabled to do.
and that seek him with the whole heart; that is, that seek the Lord by prayer and supplication, with a true heart, and in sincerity; that seek to know more of him, and that in good earnest; that seek for communion and fellowship with him, with the Spirit within them, with all their heart and soul; that seek Christ, and God in Christ, his kingdom, and his righteousness, and that in the first place, early, earnestly, and diligently. The Targum is,
"they seek his doctrine with the whole heart.''
they walk in his ways; in the ways of God and Christ, into which they are guided and directed, and where they are kept, and in which they find both pleasure and profit. Here end the descriptive characters of good and happy men.
when I have respect unto all thy commandments; or "look" (n) at them constantly, as the rule of walk and conversation; and to copy after, as a scholar looks at his copy to write after; and affectionately esteem all his precepts concerning all things to be right, and none of his commandments grievous; and practically, not in the theory only; but observing them in order to practise them, and diligently attending to them, and steadfastly continuing in them; impartially regarding them, one as another; and especially as beholding them fulfilled perfectly in Christ, who is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes.
(n) "quum intuebor", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus, Michaelis.
when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments; or, "the judgments of thy righteousness" (o): of the righteousness of God, declared in his righteous law; which is founded upon, and is according to, the strictest rules of justice and equity; and so are all the precepts of it: and of the righteousness of Christ, revealed in the Gospel; by which God appears to be just, while he is the justifier of him that believes in Jesus. Now the precepts of the one, and the doctrines of the other, are to be learned, and learned of God, in his word and by his Spirit. The psalmist had been learning them, but was desirous of learning more of them, not being a complete proficient in them; and of learning them, not merely in the theory, but in the practice and experience of them; which, when he had attained unto, as he hoped he should, it would be matter of the most sincere praise and thankfulness.
(o) "judicia justitiae tuae", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Musculus, Gejerus; so Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Michaelis.
O forsake me not utterly; totally and finally, or not at all; otherwise as if he should say, I shall never be able to keep thy statutes; so sensible was he of the necessity of the divine Presence and grace, to assist him in the observance of them: or, "for ever", as Ben Balaam interprets it, and so the Ethiopic version; R. Moses reads the words, "O forsake me not", in a parenthesis, and joins the rest thus, "I will keep thy statutes vehemently"; or with all my strength and might; and so Kimchi reads them: but such an interpretation is very forced, and contrary to the accents.
BETH. Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way?.... Some think David means himself, and that he was a young man when he wrote this psalm; and which they think is confirmed by Psalm 119:100; but neither of them seem conclusive; rather any young man is meant, and who is particularly mentioned, because young men are liable to sins and snares, to carnal lusts and sensual pleasures, which are of a defiling nature. Some are of opinion that a young man, or babe in Christ, is intended, that needs direction in his way, and instruction about the manner of cleansing it. But the former sense seems best, and expresses the concern of the psalmist for the education and right information of youth; which is a matter of great moment and advantage to families, neighbourhoods, and commonwealths. The question supposes the young man to be impure, as every man is by birth, being conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity; is a transgressor from the womb, and his heart, ways, and actions, evil from his youth: and the difficulty is, how he shall be cleansed; how one so impure in his nature, heart, and ways, can be just with God, or become undefiled in the way, as in Psalm 119:1; to which some reference may be had: or how he can have his heart made pure, or a clean one be created in him; or how his way, life, and conversation, may be corrected, reformed, and amended. The answer is,
by taking heed thereto according to thy word; that is, to his way and course of life, and steering it according to the direction of the word of God. But I think the words may be better rendered and supplied thus, "by observing what is according to thy word" (p); which shows how a sinner is to be cleansed from his sins by the blood of Christ, and justified by his righteousness, and be clean through his word; and also how and by whom the work of sanctification is wrought in the heart, even by the Spirit of God, by means of the word; and what is the rule of a man's walk and conversation: he will find the word of God to be profitable, to inform in the doctrines of justification and pardon, to acquaint him with the nature of regeneration and sanctification; and for the correction and amendment of his life and manners, and for his instruction in every branch of righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16.
(p) "observando secundum verbum tuum", Cocceius.
O let me not wander from thy commandments; the way of them. Good men are apt to go astray, as David, Psalm 119:176; their hearts, their affections, and their feet, wander from, the way of their duty: there are many things which lead them aside, and cause them to turn to the right hand or the left, at least solicit them to do so; as a corrupt nature, an evil heart, a body of sin and death, the snares of the world, and the temptations of Satan; and, what is worst of all, when God leaves them to themselves, withdraws the influences of his grace, and brings them into such circumstances as expose them to going astray, which the psalmist here deprecates; "suffer me not to wander", but uphold my goings in thy ways; preserve me by thy grace, and keep me by thy power; hold me by thy right hand, and guide and direct me. Or, "cause me not to wander" (q) &c. a like petition to those in Psalm 141:3, Matthew 6:13; with which last Kimchi compares these words.
(q) "ne errare facias me", Pagninus, Montanus.
that I might not sin against thee; the word of God is a most powerful antidote against sin, when it has a place in the heart; not only the precepts of it forbid sin, but the promises of it influence and engage to purity of heart and life, and to the perfecting of holiness in the fear of the Lord; and all the doctrines of grace in it effectually teach the saints to deny all sin and worldly lusts, and to live a holy life and conversation; see 2 Corinthians 7:1.
teach me thy statutes; the knowledge of the best is imperfect. Good men desire to know more of God, of his mind and will, even of his revealed will; and that they may have grace and strength to act in conformity to it; for it is not the bare theory of things they desire to be taught, but the practice of them; and though ministers, and the ministry of the word, and administration of ordinances, may be and are means of teaching; yet there is none teaches like the Lord, Father, Son, and Spirit. The Targum and Syriac versions render it, "teach me thy decrees".
as much as in all riches; or, "as above all riches" (r): the joy that believers have in the ways of God is superior to that which any natural or worldly man has in his substance of every sort, or be it ever so great; yea, they find such riches in the ways of God, as are vastly preferable to the riches of this world; they find Christ, the pearl of great price, and his unsearchable riches, the riches of grace, and the riches of glory; and even the word of God itself, those testimonies of his, are more desirable than thousands of gold and silver, and give a greater pleasure than the increase of corn and wine.
(r) "sicut super omnibus divitiis", Pagninus; so Junius & Tremellius, Michaelis, Ainsworth.
"I will speak of thy precepts;''
in conversation to others, and recommend them to them; so the Arabic version:
and have respect unto thy ways; or "look" (s) unto them; take heed unto them, and walk in them, and not wander from them; make them the rule of walk and conversation; as travellers look well to their ways, that they do not miss them, and go into wrong ways; they observe the directions that have been given them, and keep unto them; and so good men refer to the ways of the Lord, which the Scriptures point out unto them; see Jeremiah 6:16.
(s) "et aspiciam", Pagninus, Montanus; "et intueor", Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
I will not forget thy word: he took all proper methods to fix it in his memory; he laid it up in his mind; he meditated upon it in his heart, and he talked of it with his lips, Psalm 119:11.
GIMEL. Deal bountifully with thy servant,.... Which character is mentioned, not by way of plea or argument for favour, but as expressive of modesty, sense of duty, and obligation to it. He pleads not his services by way of merit; but prays that God would deal bountifully with him, in a way of grace and mercy: or "render good" unto him, as the Targum; bestow it on him as a free gift. The Lord deals bountifully with men, when he gives himself unto them as their portion and inheritance; his Son, and all things along with him; his Spirit, and the graces of it; and every daily needful supply of grace;
that I may live, and keep thy word; life natural is the bounty of God; he grants life and favour, he grants life as a favour, and all the mercies and blessings of it; and through the gracious dealings of God with his people, they live spiritually and live comfortably; in his favour is life; the life of faith is encouraged and invigorated in them by it; and eternal life is the free gift and bounty of God through Christ, by whom they have both a right unto it and meetness for it: and the desire of good men to live in this world is not to indulge themselves in carnal lusts and pleasures; not to live to themselves, nor to the lusts of the flesh, nor to the will of men; but to live soberly, righteously, and godly; to live by faith in Christ, and in hope of eternal life through him; and while they live to keep the word of God, and not forget it, as Aben Ezra interprets it, to lay it up for their own use, and preserve it for others, and observe its instructions, cautions, and directions.
that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law; the law strictly taken, which had great and excellent things in it; and was wonderful for the compendiousness of it; for the justice, holiness, and equity of its precepts; especially for its spirituality, and above all for Christ, being the end of it; the two last more particularly could only be discerned by a spiritual man: or rather the five books of Moses, the almost only Scriptures extant in David's time, in which there were many wonderful things concerning Christ; some delivered by way of promise and prophecy of him, under the characters of the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the Shiloh, and the great Prophet; and many others in dark figures, types, and shadows, which required a spiritual sight to look into; of which the rock and manna, the brasen serpent, passover, &c. are instances: but rather, as the word "law" signifies "doctrine", the doctrine of the Gospel may be meant; which contains mysteries in it, respecting the trinity of Persons in the Godhead, the person of Christ, his incarnation, sufferings and death; the blessings of grace through him; the doctrines of peace, pardon, righteousness, eternal life, and the resurrection of the dead; with many others.
(t) "revela oculos meos", Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis; "velamen detrahe oculis meis", Tigurine version.
hide not thy commandments from me; the doctrines of the Gospel, the word which God has commanded to a thousand generations; which is pure, and enlightens the eyes, and so needful to strangers in their pilgrimage, Psalm 19:8; which God sometimes hides from the wise and prudent, and which the psalmist here deprecates with respect to himself, Matthew 11:25. Or the precepts of the world may be meant, which are a light to the feet, and a lamp to the paths, a good direction to travellers and strangers in the way: David, being such an one, prayed that these might not be hid from him, but be showed unto him; that he might know his way, and not go out of it; but walk as a child of light, wisely and circumspectly.
that it hath unto thy judgments at all times; not the judgments of God on wicked men, though these are desirable for the glorifying of his justice; nor his dark dispensations of providence, though good men cannot but desire and long for the time when these judgments shall be made manifest: but rather the righteous laws and precepts of God are designed, which he desired to have a more perfect knowledge of, and yield a more constant obedience unto; or, best of all, the doctrines of grace and righteousness, that should be more clearly revealed in the times of the Messiah; who was to set judgment in the earth, his Gospel; and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and glorify the justice of God; than which nothing was more earnestly and importunately wished and longed for by Old Testament saints; see Psalm 119:81.
that are cursed which do err from thy commandments; according to the law of God, being transgressors of it, and will hear the awful sentence, "go, ye cursed", Matthew 25:41. The Targum, Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, join this with the next clause: "cursed are they which do err from thy commandments"; from the way of them, not observing them; from the end of them, Christ, not looking to him for righteousness.
for I have kept that testimonies; which was the reason why he was reproached and despised; for having a regard to the word of God, and embracing and professing the doctrines of it. Thus the word of the Lord was made a reproach to Jeremiah, or he was reproached for delivering it; as many good men have been vilified, and have suffered for the testimony of Jesus, Jeremiah 20:8; and for walking according to the directions, of it; wicked men thinking it strange they do not run into the same excess of not with them, and therefore speak evil of them, 1 Peter 4:3.
(u) "devolve a me", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes; what the princes did or said against him did not divert his mind, or take off his thoughts from the word of God, and the ordinances of it; he thought of them, he spoke and discoursed of them; he declared them, as the word (w) sometimes signifies, and so the Targum takes it here; he was not afraid nor ashamed to profess his regard unto them: as Daniel, when he knew that the presidents and princes had obtained a royal decree, and the writing was signed; yet went into his chamber, as at other times, and kneeled down and prayed to God, Daniel 6:10.
(w) "disserit", Tigurine version, Vatablus, Musculus; "loquitur", Piscator, Gejerus.
and my counsellors; or, "the men of my counsel" (y); though David took counsel with men about affairs of state; yet concerning spiritual ones, or what related to his soul, and the concerns of that, not they, but the Scriptures, were the men of his counsel. The Gospel is the whole counsel of God relating to salvation; in it Christ, the wonderful Counsellor, gives advice to saints and sinners: the whole word of God may be profitably consulted on every occasion, and in every circumstance in which a child of God may be; all Scripture, being divinely inspired, is profitable for doctrine, for correction, and instruction in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16.
(x) "deliciae meae", Montanus, Tigurine version, Gejerus, Michaelis; "delectationes meae", Pagninus; "oblectationes meae", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (y) "viri consilii mei", Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus.
DALETH. My soul cleaveth unto the dust,.... Either to the dust of death, having the sentence of it; being almost in despair of life, upon the brink of the grave seemingly, and free among the dead: or in a very low estate of mind, in great dejection and humiliation, rolling himself in the dust, and putting his mouth in it; if there might be any hope of deliverance; but despairing of it, unless the Lord appeared; or finding a proneness in him to the corruption of nature, the body of sin and death, which was very powerful and prevalent, ensnaring and captivating; and particularly to worldly things, comparable to dust, for their lightness, emptiness, and unprofitableness; which often have an undue influence on good men, and to which their affections are too much glued; and which greatly affect the exercise of grace and religious duties, and bring a deadness upon the soul, and make the following: petition necessary:
quicken thou me according to thy word; such who are quickened together with Christ, and who are quickened by his Spirit and grace, when they were dead in trespasses and sins, have often need to be quickened again, and to have the work of grace revived in them; which is done when grace is drawn forth into lively exercise, and which is necessary to the performance of duty; and this is done both by means of the word of God, which, as it is used for the quickening dead sinners, so for the reviving of drooping saints; see Psalm 119:50. And according to his word of promise, who has promised never to leave his people, nor forsake the work of his hand, but perform it until the day of Christ; Jarchi and Kimchi think reference is had to the promise in 2 Samuel 12:13; and Aben Ezra to Deuteronomy 32:39.
and thou heardest me: and directed him in the way he should go, and what he should do; forgave him his sins, and supplied his wants;
teach me thy statutes; which he desired to learn and obey, in gratitude for being heard and answered by him; See Gill on Psalm 119:12;
so shall I talk of thy wondrous works; the works of creation, providence, redemption, and grace; with more knowledge and understanding, with more spirit and cheerfulness, with more readiness and liberty, more to his own satisfaction, and for the good of others: or, "meditate on thy wondrous works" (z); being in the ways of God, and freed from the distractions of the world and business of it.
(z) "meditabor", Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus, Michaelis; "ut mediter", Junius & Tremellius, Cocceius.
strengthen thou me according unto thy word; to oppose corruptions, withstand temptations, bear up under trials and afflictions, and do the will of God. And the word of God is a means of strengthening his people to do these things; it is the spiritual bread which strengthens man's heart, and in the strength of which, like Elijah, he walks many days, and goes from strength to strength: and there are many gracious words of promise, which may be pleaded with God to this purpose; that he will help, strengthen, and uphold his people; that he will renew their strength, and that as their day is their strength shall be.
(a) "stillavit"; Pagninus, Montanus; "distillet", Vatablus; "stillat", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Michaelis.
and grant me thy law graciously; not the fiery law, which works wrath, curses and condemns; the voice of words, which they that heard entreated they might hear no more; and which to have is no act of grace and favour, unless as fulfilled in Christ, and as it is a rule of walk and conversation in his hands: but rather "doctrine", as the word signifies; the doctrine of the Gospel, the law or doctrine of faith; which to have and understand is a gift of grace; it is the Gospel of the grace of God, the grace of God itself; and instructs in it, and shows that salvation is purely by it.
(b) "viam falsitatis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis.
thy judgments have I laid before me; to be looked at continually, as being exceeding amiable and lovely, and having a strong affection for them; and as a copy to write after, and a rule to walk by.
O Lord, put me not to shame: or let me not be ashamed of the choice I have made, of the testimonies I adhere unto, of my hope and confidence in the Lord and his word; or suffer me not to do anything, any sinful action, that may expose me to shame and contempt.
when thou shall enlarge my heart; with the knowledge of God, his word, ways, worship, and ordinances; with his love more fully made known, and with an increase of love to him; with the fear of him, and a flow of spiritual joy and peace; and when delivered from straits and difficulties, from weights and pressures, and everything that may hinder walking or running; and being in circumstances which may lead and encourage to the one as to the other; see 1 Kings 4:29, Isaiah 60:5.
HE. Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes,.... Which they point unto, and direct to walk in; not only the statutes and ordinances themselves, the theory of them, but the practice of them. This is taught in the word, and by the ministers of it; but none so effectually teach as the Lord himself, Isaiah 2:3;
and I shall keep it unto the end; keep the way unto the end of it: or rather to the end of life, all my days, and never depart out of it, or turn to the right hand or the left; but walk on in it as long as I:live: or, "I shall observe it, even the end" (c); the end of the way of thy statutes or commandments. Now the end of the commandment is charity or love, which is the fulfilling of it: though that is perfectly fulfilled by none but by Christ, the end of the law for righteousness, 1 Thessalonians 1:5. The word for "end" signifies a "reward"; so Aben Ezra interprets it, and refers to Psalm 19:11; but Kimchi denies the law is to be kept for the sake of reward; which is right: rather the sense is, I will keep it by way of retribution, or in gratitude for teaching the way. The Targum is,
"and I will keep unto perfection;''
which cannot be done by sinful man.
(c) "et custodiam finem"; so some in Gejerus.
yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart; not only externally, and to be seen of men, and get applause from them; but doing the will of God from the heart, and with a good will and heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men; with a sincere affection for him, and with a single eye to his glory, Ephesians 6:6.
for therein do I delight; in the law of God, after the inward man; in the commandments of Christ, which are not grievous; in wisdom's ways and paths, which are pleasantness and peace.
and not to covetousness; not to mammon or money, as the Targum; the love of it, which is the root of all evil, and very pernicious and harmful; in hearing the word it chokes it, and makes it unfruitful, 1 Timothy 6:9. Not that God inclines the heart to evil, as he does to good; but he may suffer the heart to be inclined, and may leave a man to the natural inclinations of his heart, and to the temptations of Satan, and the snares of the world, which may have great influence upon him; and this is what is here deprecated; see Psalm 141:4.
and quicken thou me in thy way; so as to walk and even run in the path of truth, in the way of true religion and godliness; and, instead of looking upon vanity, press towards the mark for the prize; keep Christ in view, while running the race; and look to things unseen, and not things that are seen; and set the affections on things above, and serve the Lord fervently; all which is done when God quickens the hearts of his people, and the graces of his Spirit in them.
who is devoted to thy fear; who served the Lord with reverence and godly fear; who feared the Lord and his goodness; that grace being a reigning one in his heart, and ever before his eyes. Or, "which is unto thy fear" (d); that is, which word is unto thy fear; which leads unto it, and has a tendency to promote and increase it; and so is a commendation of the word of God from this effect of it.
(d) "quod ad timorem tuum", Pagninus, Montanus; "quod ad timorem tui facit", Musculus; "et ducit", Schmidt; "quod datum est ad timorem tui", Michaelis.
for thy judgments are good; the laws of God, and punishment of sin according to them; the Scriptures, and the doctrines contained in them; the ways of God, and true religion; which are evil spoken of, through the sins of the professors of them.
quicken me in thy righteousness: in the way of righteousness, according to the word of righteousness, the Gospel, and with the righteousness of Christ revealed in it; and which is unto life, and quickens and comforts the heart, and from whence abundance of peace and joy flows.
VAU. Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord,.... Meaning not his providential mercies, but his special mercies and favours; his mercies of old, which were upon his heart and thoughts from everlasting; the sure mercies of David, or the blessings of the everlasting covenant; the spiritual blessings, wherewith the saints are blessed in Christ; the grace that was given to them in him, before the world was: these are desired by the psalmist to be remembered, shown, communicated, and applied unto him, and, as it were, that they might come into his heart and soul; which is done when the love of God is shed abroad there, when full flows of it come in, and all grace is made to abound, and every want is supplied;
even thy salvation, according to thy word; not temporal, but spiritual and eternal salvation; which God has appointed his people to, secured for them in covenant, promised them in Christ, whom he sent to work it out, and which is in him; and which in the effectual calling comes to the soul, being brought near and applied to a sensible sinner by the Spirit of God. Here a fresh view of interest in it, a fresh visit with it, and a restoration of the joys of it, are desired; and which salvation flows from the abundant mercy and free favour of God in Christ; and is, according to his word of promise, spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets, from the beginning of the world; and may here respect the particular word of promise made to David, that God would put away his sin, and save him, and that he should not die, 2 Samuel 12:13; or his word of promise in general, to all that seek and call upon the Lord, that they shall find grace and mercy, and be saved everlastingly.
for I trust in thy word: in Christ the essential Word, the object of trust and confidence; or in the written word, it being divinely inspired and dictated by the Spirit of God, and so to be depended on as true and faithful; or rather God's word of promise concerning mercy, grace, and salvation, which God that has made is faithful and able to perform, as may be believed.
for I have hoped in thy judgments; or, "have waited for thy judgments" (f): either the judgments of God upon sinners, especially on apostates, which he knew would be very sore and severe, their last estate being worse than the first; or rather the last judgment, when those that confess Christ and his truths shall be confessed by him; and those that deny him and his Gospel will be denied by him: though it may be best of all to understand it of the word of God, and the doctrines of it, which the psalmist had an exceeding great regard unto, hoped, waited, and even longed for; see Psalm 119:20.
(e) So Gussetius Ebr. Comment. p. 452. "verbum veritatis usque valde", Pagninus, Montanus; so Musculus, Junius & Tremellius. (f) "ad judicia tua expectavi", Pagninus, Montanus; "judicia tua expecto", Tigurine version, Musculus, Vatablus, Gejerus; so Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
for ever and ever; in this life and that to come; when the law of God will be kept, and his will done perfectly by the saints, as it now is by the angels in heaven; or this may be connected with the law of God; which law is for ever and ever, being of eternal duration and obligation. The whole may be understood of the law of faith, or doctrine of the Gospel, and be rendered, "so shall I observe thy doctrine continually"; contained in the word of truth; which doctrine is for ever and ever, it is the everlasting Gospel.
"in the breadth of the law.''
So a man walks when he walks in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord: and who also may be said to walk at large when delivered out of straits and difficulties; when he is brought into a large place, and his steps are enlarged under him; and having his heart enlarged with the love of God, and fear of him, and with spiritual joy, and having every grace in exercise, he not only walks in, but runs the way of God's commandments; see Psalm 119:32; and See Gill on Psalm 118:5;
for I seek thy precepts; out of love and affection to them, to know more of them, the mind and will of God in them, and to practise them.
(g) "in latitudine", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, &c.
and will not be ashamed; of the testimonies of God, and of the truths contained in them; and of speaking of them and for them; or of being reproached and vilified on that account. So the Apostle Paul was a chosen vessel to bear the name of Christ before kings; nor was he ashamed to speak of him and of his Gospel before Nero the Roman emperor, Agrippa king of the Jews, and before Felix and Festus, Roman governors; nor ashamed of the reproaches and afflictions he endured on that account.
which I have loved; a good man loves the law of God, and the commandments of Christ, and delights in them after the inward man.
and I will meditate in thy statutes; and thereby get a better understanding of them, and be in a better disposition and capacity to keep them.
ZAIN. Remember the word unto thy servant,.... The word of promise made unto him, concerning establishing his house and kingdom for ever; which he desires God would show himself mindful of in fulfilling it, and renew and confirm his faith in it, and give him some fresh assurance of the performance of it, 2 Samuel 7:16. Not that God ever forgets his promise, or is unmindful of his word; but so it seems when he delays the accomplishment of it; and when unbelief prevails and doubts arise, and faith is not in lively exercise; and he has not so clear a view of the promise, and comfortable assurance of its being performed;
upon which thou hast caused me to hope; which, when first made, he received in faith, and hoped and waited for the accomplishment of. A word of promise is a good ground of hope, let it be on what account it will; whether it relates to interest in God, as a covenant God and Father; or to pardon of sin; or to salvation by Christ; or to fresh supplies of grace and strength from him; or to eternal life through him: and the hope which is exercised on the promise is not of a man's self; it is the gift of God, a good hope through grace; which the Lord, by his Spirit and power, produces, and causes to abound in, or to exercise in a comfortable manner.
for thy word hath quickened me; not only had been the means of quickening him when dead in am, as it often is the means of quickening dead sinners, being the savour of life unto life; but of reviving his drooping spirits, when in affliction and distress; and of quickening the graces of the Spirit of God in him, and him to the exercise of them, when they seemed ready to die; and to the fervent and diligent discharge of duty, when listless and backward to it.
yet have I not declined from thy law; from walking according to it, as a rule of life and conversation; from professing and maintaining the doctrine of the word, the truths of the Gospel, he had knowledge and experience of; and from going on in the ways of God and true religion he was directed in; and this testimony the Lord himself gave of him, 1 Kings 14:8 see Psalm 44:19.
and have comforted myself; with such thoughts as these, that that God, who had cast down the mighty from their seats, and had scattered the proud in the imaginations of their hearts, and destroyed them, could easily rebuke the proud that had him in derision; and he that had shown himself so good and gracious to his people, when brought low, could raise him out of his afflictions and distresses.
because of the wicked that forsake thy law: not only transgress the law of the Lord, as every man does, more or less; but wilfully and obstinately despise it, and cast it behind their backs, and live in a continued course of disobedience to it; or who apostatize from the doctrine of the word of God; wilfully deny the truth, after they have had a speculative knowledge of it, whose punishment is very grievous, Hebrews 10:26; and now partly on account of the daring impiety of wicked men, who stretch out their hands against God, and strengthen themselves against the Almighty, and run upon him, even on the thick bosses of his bucklers; because of the shocking nature of their sins, the sad examples thereby set to others, the detriment they are of to themselves, and dishonour they bring to God; and partly because of the dreadful punishment that shall be inflicted on them here, and especially hereafter, when a horrible tempest of wrath will come upon them. Hence such trembling seized the psalmist; and often so it is, that good men tremble more for the wicked than they do for themselves; see Psalm 119:120.
(h) "procella", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schmidt; "horror tanquam procella", Cocceius.
(i) De Anim. Tranquill. inter Fragm. Pythagor. p. 11. Ed. Gale.
and have kept thy law: though imperfectly, yet spiritually, sincerely, heartily, and from a principle of love and gratitude, and with a view to the glory of God, and without mercenary and sinister ends.
(k) "quod", Pagninus, Montanus.
CHETH. Thou art my portion, O Lord,.... Which he chose and preferred to all others; to the riches, honours, and profits of this world; the grant of which was made to him in the covenant of grace; the first discovery of it was from the Lord himself; and the choice and claim were made under the influence of his grace; and a great act of faith it is to assert this, and a wonderful blessing to enjoy it. This is a large portion indeed, immense and inconceivable, soul satisfying, safe, and for ever! see Psalm 73:26;
I have said that I would keep thy words; keep his commandments, lay up his promises, observe his doctrines, profess and retain them; this he determined within himself to do, under a sense of the love of God to him, in being his portion and inheritance. Some render the words, in connection with the former, thus, "my portion, O Lord, I said, is", or "shall be, to keep thy words" (l); it is the part and portion of some to preach the word, and of others to hear it; and of all to keep or observe it, its precepts, promises, and truths. Aben Ezra gives the sense of them thus,
"This I said to many, perhaps they will keep thy words;''
namely, that the Lord was his portion, which he thought might induce them to an observance of them, as he had done.
(l) So Montanus, Piscator.
be merciful unto me, according to thy word: have compassion on me; sympathize with me in all my troubles; grant me fresh supplies of grace; and particularly show and apply thy pardoning grace and mercy to me, according to thy word of promise in the covenant of grace, in which provision is made for forgiveness of sins; see Psalm 51:1; Aben Ezra and Kimchi think reference is had to Exodus 33:19, but rather it is to 2 Samuel 12:13.
(m) "tuam faciem", Pagninus; "tuae facies", Montanus. (n) "tuum velut fatigavi vultum", Gejerus. So Horace, Carmin. l. 1. Ode. 2. v. 26. "prece qua fatigent virgines".
and turned my feet unto thy testimonies; betook himself to the word of God, which testifies of his will, and directs to those ways he would have his people to walk in; and he steered his course of life and actions thereby; he turned from his own ways into the ways of God; under the influence of divine grace, he turned, being turned.
"the company of the wicked were gathered together against me:''
they surrounded him and put him into fear, great numbers of them encompassing him about; see Psalm 18:4;
but I have not forgotten thy law; this was written in his heart; he kept it in his memory, and retained an affection for it; and could not be deterred from obedience to it by the numbers and violence of wicked men, who hated and persecuted him for his attachment to it.
because of thy righteous judgments; upon the wicked, as Aben Ezra; the hands and troops of them that encompassed him about, and robbed him; but God avenged him of them, and for this he gave thanks, or for such like things. Sometimes the judgments of God have been executed at midnight; as the destruction of the firstborn in Egypt, and of Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea, when Israel sang his praise, Exodus 12:29; and for the judgments of God upon antichrist the church will rejoice and give thanks, Revelation 18:20. Or rather by these may be meant the word of God, the precepts and ordinances of it, which are all just and good; such is the law of God, and such are the ordinances of Christ, Psalm 19:9.
and of them that keep thy precepts; as all such do who truly fear the Lord; for by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil, and cannot do those things that others do; cannot allow themselves in a wilful transgression of the divine precepts; but, influenced by the fear of God, observe and keep them.
teach me thy statutes: as an instance of mercy, grace, and goodness; see Psalm 119:12.
(o) "gratia tua", Cocceius, Gejerus.
TETH. Thou hast dealt well with thy servant,.... In a providential way, ever since he had a being; by the protection and preservation of him, by following and loading him with benefits, by raising him from a low estate to the throne of Israel, by delivering him from many dangers and enemies, and by giving him rest from them all; and in a way of special grace and mercy, by making an everlasting covenant with him, by blessing him with all spiritual blessings, by giving him an interest in salvation by Christ, and hope of eternal glory. And thus he deals with all his servants; he does all things well by them; he deals well with them even when he afflicts them; he treats them as his Davids, his beloved and chosen ones, and his children. The Syriac version renders it as a petition, "do good with thy servant"; bestow benefits on him, or deal bountifully with him, as in Psalm 119:17;
O Lord, according unto thy word; thy word of promise: providential mercies are according to promise, for godliness or goodly persons have the promise of the things of this life; and so are spiritual blessings, they are laid up in exceeding great and precious promises, which are yea and amen in Christ; and so is eternal glory and happiness; it is a promise which God, that cannot lie, made before the world began; so that there is a solid foundation laid for faith and hope as to these things; and this confirms and commends the faithfulness of God to his people.
for I have believed thy commandments; the whole word of God, and all that is said in it; that it is of God, is the word of God and not the word of man; and therefore he was desirous of being taught the true meaning of it, and to be experimentally acquainted with it; the word of God is called his commandment, Psalm 19:7. Or the precepts of the word; he believed these were the commandments of God, and not of men; delivered out by him, and enforced by his authority; and therefore he gave credit to them, and loved them, and desired better to understand and do them: or the promises and threatenings annexed to them, which he believed would be punctually fulfilled upon the doers or transgressors of them; and as for himself, he cheerfully yielded the obedience of faith unto them.
(p) "bonitatem gustus", Piscator, Michaelis. (q) "Bonitatem sensus", Montanus; i.e. "sensum bonum", Gejerus.
but now have I kept thy word: having been afflicted with outward and inward afflictions, afflictions of body and mind; afflictions in person, in family and estate; afflictions in soul, through indwelling sin, the temptations of Satan, and the hidings of God's face: all this brought him back again to God, to his word, ways, and worship; he betook himself to reading and hearing the word, if he might find any thing to relieve and comfort him under his trials; he observed the doctrines of grace in it, and kept the precepts of it, and walked in all the commandments and ordinances of it, being restored by afflictions.
teach me thy statutes; as a fresh instance of goodness; this had been often desired, being what lay much on his mind, and was of moment and importance; see Psalm 119:12.
but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart; observe the commands of God sincerely, heartily, and affectionately, and not in show and appearance only; and so make it evident that it was a lie that was forged against him; and this is the best way of answering such liars and defamers; see 1 Peter 3:16.
(r) "consuerunt", Tigurine version; "assuerunt", Muis.
"the imagination of their heart is become gross as fat:''
the Septuagint is, "curdled like milk"; that is, hardened, as Suidas (s) interprets it;
but I delight in thy law; after the inward man; as the apostle did, Romans 7:22; as fulfilled in Christ; as in his hands, as King and Lawgiver; as written upon his own heart; and so yielding a ready and cheerful obedience to it; he delighted in reading the law, in meditating on it, and in observing it.
(s) In voce
that I might learn thy statutes; to understand them, and to keep them. Afflictions are sometimes as a school to the people of God, in which they learn much both of their duty and of their privileges; and when they are teaching and instructive, they are for good; see Psalm 94:12.
JOD. Thy hands have made me and fashioned me,.... Not the psalmist himself, nor his parents, but the Lord alone: for though parents are fathers of our flesh, they are but instruments in the hand of the Lord; though man is produced by natural generation, yet the formation and fashioning of men are as much owing to the power and wisdom of God, which are his hands, as the formation of Adam was. Job owns this in much the same words as the psalmist does, Job 10:8; see Psalm 139:13. God not only gives conception, and forms the embryo in the womb, but fashions and gives it its comely and proportionate parts. Or, "covered me"; the first word may respect conception, and this the covering of the fetus with the secundine (t); see Psalm 139:13;
give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments; since he had a proper comely body, and a reasonable soul; though debased by sin, and brought into a state of ignorance, especially as to spiritual things, he desires he might have a spiritual understanding given him; of the word of God in general, the truths and doctrines of it, which are not understood by the natural man; and of the precepts of it in particular, that he might so learn them as to know the sense and meaning of them, their purity and spirituality; and so as to do them from a principle of love, in faith, and to the glory of God: for it is not a bare learning them by heart, or committing them to memory, nor a mere theory of them, but the practice of them in faith and love, which is here meant.
(t) Vid. Hackmam. Praecid. Sacr. p. 195.
because I have hoped in thy Word; in Christ the essential Word, the hope of Israel; in the written word, which gives encouragement to hope; in the word of promise, on which he was caused to hope; and in which hope he was confirmed, and not disappointed, and so it made him not ashamed: and others rejoiced at it, because it was an encouragement to their faith and hope likewise.
and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me; in faithfulness to himself, his covenant, and promise; that upon forsaking his law, and not walking in his statutes, he would visit sin with a rod, and transgressions with stripes, though he would not take away his lovingkindness; and in faithfulness to David, for his spiritual and eternal good, in great sincerity, heartily, cordially, with real affection and love: his rebukes were faithful; the chastisement was not above measure or desert, nor above strength to bear it; see Psalm 89:30.
according to thy word unto servant; a word of promise, in which he had assured him of his love, grace, mercy, and kindness; and that he would continue it to him, and comfort him with it: to make such a promise, and show such favour, was an instance of condescending grace to him, who was but his servant, and unworthy of his regard.
that I may live; not merely corporeally; though corporeal life is a grant and favour, and the continuance of it; it is owing to the tender mercies of God that men are not consumed: but spiritually; the first principle of spiritual life is from the rich mercy and great love of God; his time of love is a time of life. Here it seems to design the lively exercise of grace, which is influenced, animated, and quickened by the love of God, as faith, hope, and love; or a living comfortably: without the love of God, and a view of it, saints look upon themselves as dead men, forgotten as they are, free among the dead, that are remembered no more; but in the favour of God is life; let but that be shown, let the tender mercies of God come in full flow into the soul, and it will be revived, and live comfortably; and such also shall live eternally, as the fruit and effect of the same love and favour;
for thy law is my delight; or "delights" (u); what he exceedingly delighted in, after the inward man, and yet could not live by it, without the mercy, love, and grace of God; see Psalm 119:24.
(u) "deliciae meae", Montanus, Tigurine versions Cocceius; "oblectationes meae", Gejerus; so Michaelis.
for they dealt perversely with me without a cause; or, "they perverted me with falsehood" (w); that is, they endeavoured to pervert him with lies and falsehood, and lead him out of the right way; or they attempted, by their lies and calumnies, to make him out to be a perverse and wicked man, and pronounced and condemned him as such, without any foundation or just cause for it;
but I will meditate in thy precepts; he was determined, in the strength of grace, that those ill usages should not take off his thoughts from religious things, or divert him from his duty to his God: none of these things moved him; he still went on in the ways of God, in his worship and service, as Daniel did, when in like circumstances.
(w) "mendacio me opprimere quaerunt", Tigurine version; "mendaciis", Piscator, Cocceius, Michaelis.
"turn to my doctrine;''
to hear it, receive it, profess it, and abide by it;
and those that have known thy testimonies; as such as fear the Lord do: they know them, and have a spiritual understanding of what they testify of; they know them, and love them, and delight in them; they know them, and own, acknowledge, and profess them; they know them, and keep, and observe them; and an excellent character this is.
that I be not ashamed; before men, conscious of guilt; or before God, at the throne of grace; where a believer sometimes is ashamed to come, not having had that regard to the statutes of the Lord he should have had, and that he might not be ashamed before him at the last day; but have confidence, having the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, and the true grace of God implanted in him; which engaged him to a regard to all his commandments.
CAPH. My soul fainteth for thy salvation, Either for temporal salvation and deliverance from enemies; which, being promised, was expected by him from the Lord; but not coming so soon as looked for, his spirits began to sink and faint: or for spiritual and eternal salvation, for a view of interest in it, for the joys and comforts of it, and for the full possession of is in heaven; and, particularly, for the promised Messiah, the author of it, often called the Salvation of God, because prepared and appointed by him to be the author of it: of him there was a promise, which gave the Old Testament saints reason to expect him, and for him they waited; his coming they earnestly wished for, but being long deferred, were sometimes out of heart, and ready to faint, which was here David's case;
but I hope in thy word; the word of promise concerning deliverance and salvation, especially by the Messiah, which supported him, and kept him from fainting; that being firm and sure, for ever settled in heaven, and has the oath of God annexed to it, for the confirmation of it; and God is faithful that has promised, and is also able to perform; so that his word lays a solid foundation for faith and hope.
saying, when wilt thou comfort me? The people of God are sometimes very disconsolate, and need comforting, through the prevalence of sin, the power of Satan's temptations, the hidings of God's face, and a variety of afflictions; when they apply to God for comfort, who only can comfort them, and who has his set times to do it; but they are apt to think it long, and inquire, as David here, when it will be.
"like a bottle made of skin, which is dried in smoke;''
and the Targum is,
"like a bottle that hangs in smoke.''
It denotes the uncomfortable condition the psalmist was in, or at least thought himself to be in; as to be in the midst of smoke is very uncomfortable, so was he, being in darkness, and under the hidings of God's face; black and sooty, like a bottle in smoke, with sin and afflictions; like an empty bottle, had nothing in him, as he was ready to fear; or was useless as such an one, and a vessel in which there was no pleasure; like a broken one, as he elsewhere says, despised and rejected of men. It may also have respect unto the form of his body, as well as the frame of his mind; be who before was ruddy, and of a beautiful countenance, now was worn out with cares and old age, was become pale and wrinkled, and like a skin bottle shrivelled in smoke;
yet do I not forget thy statutes; he still attended to the word, worship, ways and ordinances of the Lord; hoping in due time to meet with comfort there, in which he was greatly in the right.
when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me? good men have their persecutors; there is a judgment that will be executed on them, if not here, yet hereafter; it is a righteous thing with God to do it; it is often deferred when the saints, through zeal for the glory of God, and the honour of his justice, as well as for their own deliverance and comfort, are at times somewhat impatient for it, and earnestly solicit it, as the psalmist here; see Revelation 6:9.
which are not after thy law; no, contrary to it; which forbids the digging of a pit, and leaving it uncovered, so that a neighbour's beast might fall into it, Exodus 21:33; and if those might not be dug to the injury of beasts, then much less to the injury of men, to the hurt of the servants of the Lord, or to the shedding of innocent blood, which the law forbids.
they persecute me wrongfully; without a cause, purely out of ill will and for religion's sake; which, as it is an argument with the saints to bear persecution patiently, it is used as an argument with the Lord, to arise and appear on the behalf of his persecuted ones, as follows:
help thou me; against my persecutors, and out of their hands: God is able to help his people; he has promised to do it; it may be expected from him; and he is a present help in time of trouble. This is a suitable petition in the mouths of God's people, and should be a prayer of faith.
(x) "fides", Tigurine version, Piscator; "veritas et fidelitas", Michaelis; so Ainsworth.
but I forsook not thy precepts; did not decline the service and worship of God, nor neglect his word and ordinances, though thus persecuted, and all these things came upon him for the sake of religion; see Psalm 44:17.
so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth; the word of God, which comes out of his mouth, testifies of him, and of his mind and will; and which is to be received and observed, as being greater than the testimony of men, 1 John 5:9.
LAMED. For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. The Syriac version makes two propositions of these words, rendering them thus, "for ever thou art, O Lord; and thy word stands", or "is firm in heaven": and which agrees with the accents: the first of which is expressive of the eternity and immutability of God; and the other of the stability of his word: it is true of the essential Word of God, who was with God from all eternity; in time came down from heaven indeed to earth, and did his work, and then went to heaven again; where he is and will remain, until the times of the restitution of all things. The decrees and purposes of God, what he has said in his heart that he will do, these are firm and sure; these counsels of old are faithfulness and truth; they are mountains of brass settled for ever, and more unalterable than the decrees of the Medes and Persians. The revealed will of God, his word of command, made known to angels in heaven, is regarded, hearkened to, and done by them: the word of the Gospel, published in the church, which is sometimes called heaven, is the everlasting Gospel, the word of God, which lives and abides for ever; what remains and will remain, in spite of all the opposition of men and devils. The word of promise in the covenant made in heaven is sure to all the seed; everyone of the promises is yea and amen in Christ, and as stable as the heavens, and more so; "heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away", Matthew 24:35; The firmness of God's word is seen in the upholding and continuing the heavens by the word of his power, by which they were first made; and the certainty of the divine promises is illustrated by the perpetuity of the ordinances of heaven; see Jeremiah 31:35.
thou hast established the earth, and it abideth: laid the foundation of it so firm and sure, that it cannot be removed: and though one generation has passed after another, the earth abides where it was, and will do for ever; and as firm and stable, and never failing, is the faithfulness of God, which this is designed to illustrate. So some supply it, "as thou hast established the earth", &c. (z); see Psalm 24:2.
(y) "in generationem et generationem", Gejerus; "in aetatem et aetatem", Cocceius. (z) "Quemadmodum vel sicut fundasti", Gejerus.
"they stand or continue unto this day to do the will of God; to execute his judgments and decrees, or observe his order and ordinances.''
for all are thy servants; or "they", or "these all" (a); the heavens and earth, and all that is in them, all the works of God; he called them into being, and they rose up at his command; he calls them to service, and they stand up as obedient ones to do his will; he "commandeth the sun, and it riseth not" before its time; and "he sealeth up the stars", that they shine not when he pleases; once he commanded the sun to stand still on Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, and they obeyed him; see Isaiah 48:13. Hence it appears that the hosts of heaven, the sun, moon, and stars, ought not to be served and worshipped; but the Lord, the Maker of them, only, since they are his servants; and that men ought surely to serve the Lord, if these do, and especially such who are his chosen, redeemed, and called ones.
(a) "illa omnia", Junius & Tremellius; "universa haec", Gejerus.
I should then have perished in mine affliction; referring to some particular time of affliction he was pressed with, either through the persecution of Saul, or the conspiracy of Absalom which was very great and heavy upon him, so that he almost despaired of deliverance from it; and must have perished, not eternally, but as to his comforts: his heart would have fainted in him, and he would have sunk under the weight of the affliction, had it not been for the relief he had from the word of God, the doctrines and promises of it; he was like one in a storm, tossed with tempests, one wave after another beat upon him, and rolled over him, when he thought himself just perishing; and must have given all over for lost, had it not been for the delight and pleasure he found in reading and meditating on the sacred writings.
for with them thou hast quickened me: not with the precepts of the moral law, which cannot give life, quicken a dead sinner, nor comfort a distressed saint it is the killing letter, and the ministration of condemnation and death: but the doctrines of the word, of the Gospel, which are spirit and life; the savour of life unto life, the means of quickening dead sinners, and of reviving drooping saints; of refreshing their spirits, and cheering their souls, when in distress: and when they are made thus useful, they are not easily forgotten, they leave impressions which do not soon wear off; and besides, saints are careful to remember such words and truths, which have been of use unto them, since they may have occasion for them again.
for I have sought thy precepts; to understand them better, and observe them more constantly; and which sense of interest and relation, and of salvation, will influence unto.
but I will consider thy testimonies; the word of God, which testified of his power and providence, employed in the protection of his people, and so an encouragement to put trust and confidence in him; and of his mind and will, with respect to the way in which he should walk; and so making these his counsellors, as he did, Psalm 119:24; and well weighing and considering in his mind what they dictated to him, he was preserved from the attempts of his enemies to destroy him, either temporally or spiritually.
"I have seen an end of all that I have studied in and looked into.''
but thy commandment is exceeding broad; the word of God is a large field to walk and meditate in; it is sufficient to instruct all men in all ages, both with respect to doctrine and duty, and to make every man of God perfect; it has such a height and depth of doctrine and mysteries in it as can never be fully reached and fathomed, and such a breadth as is not to be measured: the fulness of the Scripture can never be exhausted; the promises of it reach to this life, and that which is to come; and the precepts of it are so large, that no works of righteousness done by men are adequate and proportionate to them; no righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ, is as large and as broad as those commandments; wherefore no perfection of righteousness is to be found in men, only in Christ; who is the perfect fulfilling end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes, Romans 10:4.
(b) Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius.
MEM. O how love I thy law!.... The whole word of God, the preceptive part of it; the commands of the moral law, which are holy, just, and good, and to be loved: but they are not loved by carnal men, whose minds are enmity to them, and therefore are not and cannot be subject to them, but despise and reject them; but to a good man, on whose heart they are written, they are delightful, and loved to admiration: though this is wholly owing to the grace of God; and marvellous it is that men so sadly depraved by sin should love the holy law of God; yet so it is, and David could appeal to God for the truth of it. So the ordinances of the Gospel, the commands of Jesus Christ, are not grievous to saints, but loved, valued, and esteemed by them; likewise the doctrinal part of the word, the truths of the Gospel, which may be more especially meant by the "thorah", or doctrine, here; which those who have had an experience of greatly love and justly value, because of the intrinsic worth of them, being comparable to gold, silver, and precious stones; and for the profit and benefit of them to their souls, they being wholesome words, soul nourishing doctrines, and so more to them than their necessary food; and for the pleasure they have in them, these being sweeter to them than the honey or honeycomb: particularly the exceeding great and precious promises of the word, which are more to be rejoiced at than a great spoil; and even the whole Gospel part of the word, that containing the doctrines of peace, pardon, righteousness, salvation, and eternal life through Christ; yea, the whole Scripture, which is both profitable and pleasant to read in, and hear explained;
it is my meditation all the day; not only in the night, when at leisure, and free from the incumbrance of business; but in the day, and while engaged in the affairs of life, yea, all the day long; see Psalm 1:2. Or, "it is my discourse" (c); what he talked of, as well as what he thought on. Good men cannot forbear speaking of this or the other passage of Scripture, which has been of use unto them: and this is a proof of affection for the word; for what men love, persons or things, they often think of, and frequently talk of; see Deuteronomy 6:6.
(c) "de qua meus sermo est", Tigurine version, Vatablus, Piscator; "vel colloquium meum", Cocceius; so Michaelis.
"by mine enemies thou hast made me wise (f); thou hast learned me thy commandments, so that I see they cannot remove thy law from my mouth;''
for they are ever with me; that is, the commandments of God, or his law, and the precepts of it; they were his privy counsellors, with whom on all occasions he consulted, and so became wiser than his enemies, and outwitted them: these were always near him, in his heart and in his mouth; he was ever thinking and speaking of them, and so did not forget the instructions they gave him; they were ever before his eyes, as the rule of his conduct.
(d) So Junius & Tremellius. (e) So Cocceius, Muis, Gejerus and the Targum. (f) "Fas est et ab hoste doceri", Ovid.
"of them all I have learned and received instruction; and from them I have understood the good way, and they have taught me;''
for thy testimonies are my meditation; what he learned of his teachers he compared with the word, the Scriptures, which testify of the mind and will of God; he searched into them, he meditated upon them, and considered whether what his instructors taught him were agreeable to them or and by this means he got more understanding than they had.
because I keep thy precepts; keep close to the word; attend to the reading of it, and meditation on it; keep it in mind and memory, and observe to do the commands of it; and by that means obtained a good understanding, even a better one than the ancients; especially than they that were without it, or did not carefully attend unto it; see Psalm 111:10.
that I might keep thy word; such was his love to it, and his regard to the honour of it; considering whose word it was, and with whose authority it was clothed, and whose glory was concerned therein; that he was careful to walk according to it, and in the way that directed to, and shun every other way.
for thou hast taught me; the nature, excellency, and use of these judgments; he had taught him, by his Spirit, experimentally to understand the doctrines of the word, and practically to observe the precepts of it; and this preserved him from an apostasy from either of them.
yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth; not only had they the nourishing nature and the refreshing virtue of honey, but the sweetness of it; yea, exceeded it in sweetness; see Psalm 19:10.
(g) "Mea dicta devorato", Plauti Asinaria, Acts 3. Sc. 3. v. 59. "Edi sermonem tuum", ib. Aulularia, Acts 3. Sc. 6. v. 1. "Gustare ego ejus sermonem volo", ib. Mostellaria, Acts 5. Sc. 1. v. 15.
therefore I hate every false way; of worship; all superstition and will worship, the commandments and inventions of men, and every false doctrine; all lies in hypocrisy, for no lie is of the truth; every thing that is contrary to the word of God, and is not according to truth and godliness. The Targum is,
"I hate every lying man.''
NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,.... The same Solomon says of the law and commandment, the preceptive part of the word, Proverbs 6:23; and the Septuagint and Arabic versions render it "law" here. This shows a man what is his duty, both towards God and man; by it is the knowledge of sin: this informs what righteousness that is God requires of men; by the light of it a man sees his own deformity and infirmities, the imperfection of his obedience, and that he needs a better righteousness than his own to justify him in the sight of God; it is a rule of walk and conversation; it directs what to do, and how to walk. The Gospel part of the word is a great and glorious light; by which men come to have some knowledge of God in Christ, as a God gracious and merciful; of Christ, his person, offices, and grace; of righteousness, salvation, and eternal life by him; and it teaches men to live soberly, righteously, and godly. The whole Scripture is a light shining in a dark place; a lamp or torch to be carried in the hand of a believer, while he passes through this dark world; and is in the present state of imperfection, in which he sees things but darkly. This is the standard of faith and practice; by the light of this lamp the difference between true and false doctrine may be discerned; error and immorality may be reproved, and made manifest; the way of truth and godliness, in which a man should walk, is pointed out; and by means of it he may see and shun the stumbling blocks in his way, and escape falling into pits and ditches; it is a good light to walk and work by. The Targum is,
"thy word is as a light that shines to my feet.''
and a light unto my path; the same thing in other words. Now it should be observed, that the word of God is only so to a man whose eyes are opened and enlightened by the Spirit of God, which is usually done by means of the word; for a lamp, torch, candle, or any other light are of no use to a blind man.
that I will keep thy righteous judgments; the precepts of the word, the ordinances of the Lord, the doctrines of grace; all which are righteous, and to be kept, observed, and held to; though they cannot be perfectly kept unless in Christ the surety.
(h) "et statui"; Musculus, Muis; "idque ratum feci et implevi", Michaelis.
quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word; See Gill on Psalm 119:25.
O Lord,.... Not sacrifices out of his flocks and herds, such as were the voluntary and freewill offerings brought to the priests under the law, though there may be an allusion to them; nor out of his substance, such as David and his people willingly offered towards the building of the temple; but these are not the freewill offerings of his hands, but of his mouth; the spiritual sacrifices of prayer praise: prayer is an offering; see Psalm 141:2; and it is a freewill offering, when a man is assisted by the free Spirit of God, and can pour out his soul freely to the Lord, in the exercise of faith and love. Praise is an offering more pleasing to God than an ox or bullock that has horns and hoofs, because it glorifies him; and it is a freewill offering when it is of a man's own accord, comes from his heart; when he calls upon his soul, and all within him, to bless the Lord: and as every good man is desirous of having his sacrifices accepted with the Lord, so they are accepted by him when offered up through Christ, 1 Peter 2:5;
and teach me thy judgments; for though he was wiser than his enemies, and had more understanding than his teachers, or than the ancients; yet needed to be instructed more and more, and was desirous of being taught of God. This petition, or what is similar to it, is often put up.
"my soul is in danger upon the back of my hands continually;''
the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, read, "in thy hands"; but wrongly;
yet do I not forget thy law; it was written on his heart, and fixed in his mind; he had a true affection for it, and a hearty desire to keep it; and no danger could divert him from his duty; as Daniel, though he carried his life in his hand, yet continued to pray to his God as usual; nor could anything move the Apostle Paul from the doctrine of the Gospel, and preaching it.
yet I erred not from thy precepts: not wilfully and wickedly, though through inadvertence and infirmity, as he often did, and every good man does; and indeed his errors are so many, that they cannot be understood and numbered. The sense is, he kept on in the way of his duty; did not desist from that, or wickedly depart from his God, and his worship, to escape the snares of bad men.
for they are the rejoicing of my heart; the doctrines in them, the promises of them, when read or heard explained, gave him a sensible pleasure; revived his heart, and cheered his spirits, supported him under all his troubles, and caused him to go on his way rejoicing; see Jeremiah 15:16.
even unto the end; the end of life, as long as he lived. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin version render it, "for a recompence"; and the Arabic version, "for an eternal recompence"; but the Ethiopic version the reverse, "not for a recompence", or benefit: which latter is the truth, though neither of them a right version; for the statutes are to be kept, not for the sake of a recompence of reward, but from love to God, and; in duty to him, without any mercenary views; though the word does sometimes signify "a reward", and may be rendered here, "for ever there is a reward" (i); as there is "in", though not "for", keeping the commands; see Psalm 19:11.
(i) "in aeternum est retributio", Clarius.
SAMECH. I hate vain thoughts,.... Or thoughts: evil thoughts are undoubtedly meant, no other can be the object of hatred to a good man; they are such as are contrary to the law of God, and forbidden by it, mentioned in the next clause as the object of love, in opposition to these; and which are abominable to God, and defiling to men; should be forsaken, need pardon; and, if not pardoned, will be brought into judgment, and there exposed, and men punished for them. There are multitudes of these rise up in the minds of men, not only bad men, but good men; even sometimes atheistical blasphemous thoughts, as well as proud, haughty, revengeful, lustful, impure, and worldly ones; which, when observed by a good man, give him great concern and uneasiness, and raise a holy indignation in him against them. The word is used for the "opinions" of men; the ambiguous, doubtful, wavering, and inconstant sentiments of the mind, 1 Kings 18:21, and is used of branches, or the tops of trees, waved with the wind to and fro: and may be applied to all heterodox opinions, human doctrines, damnable heresies; such as are inconsistent with the perfections of God, derogate from his grace, and from the person and offices of Christ; and are contrary to the word, and which are therefore rejected and abhorred by good men. The Targum is,
"I hate those who think vain thoughts;''
and so Jarchi and Aben Ezra interpret it of persons, thinkers, or devisers of evil things; and to this sense are the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions; and which is approved of by Gussetius (k); even free thinkers, such as devise things out of their own brains, and regard not the law, doctrine, or word of God;
but thy law do I love; which forbids and condemns such vain and wicked thoughts, and requires pure and Holy Ones. Or, "thy doctrine"; which comes from God, is concerning him, and reveals his mind and will, his grace and love, to men; the doctrine of Christ, concerning his person, office, and work; the doctrine of the Scriptures, which contain the whole Gospel of Christ, as well as the law of God; the doctrine according to godliness, and which is good, sound, and wholesome, and to be received in the love of it.
(k) Ebr. Comment. p. 564.
and my shield; to protect from all dangers, and preserve from every enemy: such are the love and grace, the power and strength, the truth and faithfulness of God; which are the saints' shield and buckler, Psalm 5:12; such also the person, blood, righteousness, and salvation of Christ, who is a sun and shield; the shield of faith, or which faith holds up and defends the soul against the attacks of a powerful enemy, Psalm 84:11;
I hope in thy Word; in Christ the Word, for acceptance and justification, for peace, pardon, and eternal salvation; all which are in him: in the word of promise, for all supplies of grace, strength, light, life, and comfort here, and for glory hereafter, contained therein; see Psalm 119:74.
for I will keep the commandments of my God; of God who has a fight to command, and not of men, especially when opposed to the commands of God; of God, who is the covenant God and Father of his people; and whose covenant, grace, and favour, in choosing, redeeming, regenerating, and adopting them, lay them under greater obligations still to keep his commandments; and whose commandments are not grievous: and though they cannot be perfectly kept by good men, yet they are desirous of keeping them as well as they can, and determine in the strength of divine grace so to do; and which they do out of love to God, and with a view to his glory, without any selfish or mercenary ends. The Syriac version renders it, "that I may keep", &c. to which end he desires to be rid of the company of wicked men; who are both a nuisance to good men, and an hinderance in religious duties.
"uphold me in thy word;''
or by thy word, either essential or written;
that I may live; meaning not corporeally, though none so live but whom the Lord upholds in life; but, spiritually, live by faith on Christ the Saviour, live comfortably on the word of promise, and live honourably, agreeably to the word of God, in all holy conversation and godliness;
and let me not be ashamed of my hope: as men are, when they are disappointed or having and enjoying what they have been hoping and waiting for; but the grace of hope makes not ashamed, nor shall those who have it ever have any reason to be ashamed of it; since it is a good hope through grace; is an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast; is upon a good foundation, Christ, and by which men are saved; and so may rejoice, in full hope of the glory of God they shall certainly enjoy.
and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually; for nothing can more strongly engage a constant regard unto them than a sense of divine love, and a view of safety and security in the arms of it; or better enable to keep them than fresh communications of grace and strength: being upheld, saints hold on and out to the end; they go from strength to strength, run and are not weary, walk and faint not; and, having a supply of the Spirit, walk on in the judgments of the Lord, and keep his statutes, and do them. Or, "and I will rejoice" (l) in them, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi; or, "employ myself" in them, as Jarchi.
(l) "solatiabor", Montanus; "delectabor", Pagninus, Musculus; so Ainsworth; "voluptatem capiam", Tigurine version.
for their deceit is falsehood: or, "their hypocrisy is a lie" (m): the appearance they make is a false one; they appear outwardly righteous, but are inwardly wicked; have a form of godliness, but deny the power of it: or all their deceitful doctrines are lies in hypocrisy, though dressed up with all the art and cunning they are masters of; or all their subtle schemes to corrupt and subvert the true doctrines of the word are in vain and to no purpose.
(m) So Michaelis.
therefore I love thy testimonies; which discover such persons when brought to be tried by them; and which require purity of heart and life, and caution against evil ways and evil men, and are a means of preserving from them.
and I am afraid of thy judgments; not of their coming down upon him, but upon the wicked; the thought of which is more awful to good men than to the wicked themselves; and especially when under any darkness, doubts, and fears; lest, being conscious to themselves of their own weakness, they should be left to join with the wicked in their sins, and so be partakers of their plagues.
(n) Symmachus in Drusius; "horripilavit", Cajetanus apud Gejerum.
AIN. I have done judgment and justice,.... As king of Israel; which is the character given of him, 2 Samuel 8:15; and in which he was a type of Christ, Jeremiah 23:5; and as a private person; which is everyone's duty, and every good man especially will be desirous of performing it: it is not indeed perfectly done by any, and therefore not to be trusted to; nor was it so done by David; nor did he place his confidence in it; nor did he say this in a boasting way, but in defence of himself and his innocence against those who oppressed him with their calumnies, as appears from the next clause. The Syriac version takes it to be an address to God, and as describing him, "O thou that doest judgment and justice!" to whom the following petition is directed:
leave me not to mine oppressors; David had his oppressors, as all good men have, and power was on their side; but they could do no more, nor further exercise it, than as they were permitted by the Lord; for they had no power but what was given them from above; and he applies to God, and not men, for relief; and deprecates being given up to them, and left in their hands.
"be surety for thy servant, that I may be good;''
let not the proud oppress me; the oppressors of God's people are generally proud; they are such who deal in proud wrath; it is in their pride, and owing to it, they persecute them, Psalm 10:2. This has been their character in all ages, and agrees with the man of sin and his followers, who is king over all the children of pride; but wherein such men deal proudly and oppress, God is higher than they, and therefore most proper to be applied unto.
and for the word of thy righteousness; for the word of promise, which the righteousness or faithfulness of God was engaged to perform; or for the law of God, the rule of righteousness, and which shows what righteousness God requires; and for the bringing in of that righteousness of the Messiah, which could answer its demands; or for the Gospel, and more clear administration of it, which is called the word of righteousness, Hebrews 5:13; in which the righteousness of God is revealed; the righteousness which Christ, who is God as well as man, has wrought out; and which his Father has approved of, accepted, and imputes to his people, and justifies them with; and which word also teaches men to live soberly, righteously, and godly.
and teach me thy statutes; which is often requested; and which not only shows the need of divine teachings, and the psalmist's earnest and importunate desire to have them; but also that the mercy, grace, and kindness of God, have an influence on the holy life and conversation of the saints, and do not at all encourage licentiousness.
give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies; the Scriptures, which testify of the will of God; which are only rightly understood by those who have their understandings opened and enlightened; or have an understanding given them, that they may understand them, so as to receive and embrace the doctrine, and do the precepts of them: and such an understanding is the gift of God, and owing to his powerful and efficacious grace; see Luke 24:45.
"it is time to do the will of the Lord;''
and the Syriac and Arabic versions, "it is time to worship the Lord". It is proper, in declining times, for good men to bestir themselves and be in action, to attempt the revival of religion, to do all that in them lies to support the cause of God, and to vindicate his honour and glory;
for they have made void thy law; the whole word of God, the Scriptures; as atheists and deists, who deny the authority of them; Pharisees, who preferred their oral law to the written word, and by the traditions of the elders made it of none effect; Papists, by their unwritten traditions, and denying the common people the reading of the Scriptures in their mother tongue; and all false teachers, who wrest the Scriptures, and put false glosses on them, and handle the word of God deceitfully; and all profane sinners, who bid defiance to the law, and, as much as in them lies, abrogate it, and set up a law of their own, and frame mischief by it: or the law of faith may be meant; the Gospel of Christ, and the several truths of it, which are opposed, contradicted, and blasphemed by men of corrupt minds; and particularly the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ's righteousness; which are made void by the doctrine of works; and even the law itself is made void by the same: for not those that maintain the doctrine of Christ's righteousness, but those that establish their own, make void the law; presenting a righteousness to it, which is not answerable to its demands, Romans 3:31.
(o) "tempus est agendi pro Deo", Gussetius, p. 649. "Tempus faciendi Domino", Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus.
above gold, yea, above fine gold; or gold of Phez, a place where the best gold was, as was thought: the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions render it "the topaz"; and the Syriac and Arabic versions, "precious stones" or "gems"; see Psalm 119:72.
and I hate every false way; every command, institution, and ordinance of men, which are opposed to the will of God; every false way of worship, all superstition and idolatry; every false doctrine whatsoever is contrary to the testimonies and word of God: and indeed where there is a true love of the word, worship, and ordinances of God, there must be an hatred of these.
PE. Thy testimonies are wonderful,.... The Scriptures, which testify of God, his mind and will, are wonderful both with respect to the author of them, the things contained in them, and the use and advantage of them. They give an account of the wonderful works of creation; of their author and matter; of the manner, order, and time of their being wrought: they relate many wonderful events of Providence, both in a way of mercy and judgment; they declare several surprising miracles, wrought by Moses and others, and exhibit many marvellous things in types and figures: are full of prophecies of extraordinary things, have been exactly accomplished, and contain many exceeding great and precious promises; and abound with doctrines abstruse and recondite, hid from the carnal sense and reason of men; the mysteries of the Gospel, and of the grace of God, such as respect the divine Persons in the Trinity; the person and grace of Christ; the wonderful love of God and Christ towards men; the amazing blessings of grace through him, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal life by him;
therefore doth my soul keep them; as a rich treasure, which he laid up in the cabinet of his heart, and preserved as what was most rare and valuable: and such are the wonderful things in the word of God; and such is the efficacy of its doctrines, and the influence the truths of it have upon the minds of gracious persons; that these engage them to keep and observe the precepts it enjoins, and that heartily and sincerely, with their whole spirit and soul.
"the impression of thy words will enlighten those that are dark.''
Or it may intend the word that opens, as well as is opened, since it is the means of opening blind eyes; and so giving light to men to see their lost state by nature, and the suitableness of Christ as a Saviour, his fulness and grace, ability and willingness; to behold the wondrous things of the Gospel, the way they should walk in, and the duties of religion they should perform;
it giveth understanding unto the simple: who want understanding in the knowledge of divine and spiritual things, as all men do; and who are sensible of their want of it, ingenuously confess it, and are meek and humble; and so not above instruction, as proud and conceited persons are. Some render it "babes" (q); and it may design such who are but of weak parts, in comparison of others, to whom the things of the Gospel are revealed, when they are hid from the wise and prudent: Christ by his Spirit opens their understandings, that they may understand the Scriptures; and by means of them gives them an understanding of himself, and of those things which make them wise unto salvation, and make for their spiritual peace and comfort, and their eternal welfare; see Psalm 19:7.
(p) "apertio", Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Vatablus, Michaelis; "apertura", Cocceius, Gejerus; so Ainsworth. (q) Sept. "parvulis", V. L. so Arab. Ethiop. Musculus.
for I longed for thy commandments; for an opportunity of waiting upon God in the way of his duty; to hear his word, and attend his worship.
and be merciful unto me; in forgiving his sins, and admitting him to communion with him: he pleads mercy, and not merit and this shows it was not any look but a look of grace and mercy he prays for;
as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name; that is, himself: such as love the Lord have favours shown them; he shows mercy to thousands of them that love him; he loves them that love him; he manifests his love to them, and admits them to great nearness to himself. David was one of these; he loved him in sincerity, and above all others and could appeal to him for the truth of it, and desires no other nor better usage than such had; and indeed a man need not desire better, since all things work for their good now, and it is not to be conceived what God has prepared for them hereafter.
(r) "convertere ad me", Michaelis; "turn the face unto me", Ainsworth.
and let not any iniquity have dominion over me; not only greater sins or presumptuous ones, very gross iniquities, as in Psalm 19:13; but lesser ones, even the least of them. It is a sad thing to be enslaved to any lust or sin, be it what it will: sin reigns over wicked men even unto death; and it oftentimes has great power over good men, puts them upon doing that which is evil, and hinders them from doing that which is good; it carries them captive, and threatens to have the ascendant over them, and rule in them, which they deprecate; and such a prayer may be the prayer of faith, since it is promised "sin shall not have the dominion over you", Romans 6:14. Kimchi interprets this of the evil imagination or corruption of nature; R. Moses understands it of a wicked man; and so the Syriac version.
(s) "eloquio tuo", Tigurine version; "secundum eloquium tuum", Musculus.
so will I keep thy precepts: being delivered out of the hands of wicked men, and free from their snares and temptations; see Psalm 119:115, Luke 1:74.
and teach me thy statutes; the more communion a man has with God, the more desirous he is of learning and doing his will. This is a frequent petition; see Psalm 119:124.
because they keep not thy law; the persons are not mentioned, but must be understood of wicked men; whose open and impudent transgression of the law in innumerable instances, and in the most flagrant manner, gave the psalmist great distress, as it does all good men; because the law of God is despised, his authority is trampled on, his name is dishonoured, and he has not the glory which is due unto him. The gloss of Arama is,
"because Adam and Eve kept not thy law;''
which transgression brought ruin on all mankind. The Septuagint and Arabic versions very wrongly read, "because I have not kept thy law": as if his grief was on account of his own sins: and so Kimchi indeed interprets it; and both he and Ben Melech by "they" understand his eyes, from whence his tears flowed in such abundance; because they were the caterers for sin, and the cause and occasion of the transgressions of the law of God by him: and this sense is made mention of by Aben Ezra.
(t) "oculi mei deduxerunt", V. L. "rivos aquarum demittunt oculi mei", Gejerus.
TZADDI. Righteous art thou, O Lord,.... Essentially, originally, and of himself; naturally, immutably, and universally, in all his ways and works of nature and grace; in his thoughts, purposes, counsels, and decrees; in all the dispensations of his providence; in redemption, in the justification of a sinner, in the pardon of sin, and in the gift of eternal life through Christ;
and upright are thy judgments; they are according to the rules of justice and equity; the precepts of the word, the doctrines of the Gospel, as well as the judgments of God inflicted on wicked men, and all the providential dealings of God with his people, and also the final judgment.
and very faithful; or "true" (u): all the sayings in them are true and faithful sayings; for they are the sayings of God that cannot lie; the promises in them are faithfully performed by him that made them; they are all yea and amen in Christ. The words may be rendered, "thou hast commanded righteousness in thy testimonies, and truth" or faith "exceedingly": so the Arabic version. God in the law requires of men a perfect righteousness, every way agreeable to its demands; and in his Gospel he reveals the complete righteousness of his Son, which he has commanded to be published in it, to be laid hold on and received by faith as a justifying righteousness, as it is to all that believe: this, with every other truth of the Gospel, is made manifest by the Scriptures according to the commandment of the everlasting God, Romans 16:25.
(u) "et verissimae", Vatablus, "veritas valde, i.e. prorsus verissima", Gejerus.
because mine enemies have forgotten thy words; not merely through an indifference to them, and inattention in hearing them; nor through want of an earnest heed to keep and retain them; nor through negligence in laying them up, and a carelessness in making use of proper means to recollect them; but through an aversion to them, an hatred of them, and a spiteful malicious contempt of them, casting them away and despising them; which stirred up the spirit of the psalmist, and raised such an emotion in him as was almost too much for him.
therefore thy servant loveth it; that which carnal men hate the word of God for, because it forbids and condemns all impurity of flesh and spirit, all impure thoughts, words, and actions; that a good man loves it for, and which is an evidence of a sanctified heart.
(w) "purificatum valde", Montanus; "liquatum, vel expurgatum valde", Gejerus.
yet do not I forget thy precepts; to observe and keep them: the ill treatment of men on account of religion did not cause him to forsake it, or to leave the ways, word, and worship of God; see Psalm 119:83.
(x) "ego fui, et adhuc sum", Michaelis. (y) Sept. "adolescentulus", V. L.
and thy law is the truth; or "thy doctrine"; or "thy word", as the Arabic version. The Scriptures are called the Scriptures of truth, Daniel 10:21 they come from the God of truth, and all that is contained in them is truth; the legal part of them is truth, and so is the Gospel; that is called the word of truth, and truth itself: it is concerning Christ, who is the truth; and it is directed into and made effectual by the Spirit of truth, and contains in it many excellent truths; and is therefore deservedly valued and esteemed by all good men; see John 17:17.
(z) "in seculum", Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus; "in aeternum", V. L. Michaelis.
yet thy commandments are my delights; so far from being grievous, that they were a pleasure to him; yea, exceedingly delighted him, and cheered and refreshed his spirits amidst all his troubles.
(a) "invenerunt me", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Gejerus, Michaelis.
give me understanding, and I shall live; an understanding of the testimonies of the Lord, of the word of God, the law of God, and Gospel of Christ; an understanding of divine and spiritual things; a clearer and larger understanding of them, which is the gift of God; both that itself at first, and an increase of it here prayed for, the end, issue, and effect of which is life. Such live spiritually, and by faith; they live cheerfully and comfortably, and "for ever", as Aben Ezra and Kimchi repeat from the former clause: for "this is life eternal know the only true God and Jesus Christ"; or to have spiritual understanding of them, and of those things which relate to spiritual peace and comfort here, and eternal happiness hereafter, John 17:3.
(b) "in seculum", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius; "in aeternum", V. L.
KOPH. I cried with my whole heart,.... Prayer is often expressed by crying; which sometimes signifies mental, and sometimes vocal prayer; and generally supposes the person praying to be in distress, either outward or inward. This prayer of the psalmists was hearty and cordial, not with his mouth and lips only, but with his heart also; it did not proceed from feigned lips, but was put up in sincerity and truth; yea, it was with his whole heart, with all the powers and faculties of his soul employed; his affections set on God, the desires of his soul after him, and his will submitted to his; it denotes the intenseness, earnestness, and fervency of prayer;
hear me, O Lord: the prayer he had put up, and answer it. Some persons pray, and that is enough; they do not concern themselves whether their prayers are heard or not: but David desired an answer, and looked after that;
I will keep thy statutes; not in his own strength, but in the strength of the Lord; and it is to be understood not merely as a resolution what he would do; nor as a promise, which he uses as a plea, argument, or motive to be heard; but rather it expresses the end of his being heard, or the thing for which he desires to be heard: for so it may be rendered, "that I may keep thy statutes"; hear me, and give me grace and strength to enable me to observe them.
and I shall keep thy testimonies; such salvation will affect my heart, and the sense of it influence and engage me to have the utmost regard to the word of God, its truths and doctrines, precepts and ordinances, so as carefully to observe them.
I hoped in thy word; which is a great encouragement to prayer, the grace of hope itself is, though a man can only put his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope; and especially when it is grounded on the word of promise, that God will hear and answer his people, when they call upon him in a time of trouble: and particularly hope in Christ, the essential Word, is a great encouragement; many encouraging arguments to prayer are taken from the person, office, advocacy, and mediation of Jesus Christ, Hebrews 4:14.
"the morning and evening watches.''
There were three of them; Kimchi interprets it of the second and third; the meaning is, that the psalmist was awake and employed in one religious exercise or another, praying, reading, or meditating; either before the watches were set, or however before the time that some of them took place, or at least before they were all over;
that I might meditate in thy word; he rose so early, in order to give himself up to meditation on the word of God; that he might be better instructed in the knowledge of divine things; that he might have solace and comfort from thence under his afflictions; and that he might be better furnished for the work of prayer; for the more familiar the word of God is to us, the better able we are to speak to God in his own language.
O Lord, quicken me according to thy judgment; either according to his word of promise, or according to his manner and wonted method he used towards his people; see Psalm 119:25; This is a prayer, not for the first work of quickening grace, or the first implantation of a principle of spiritual life, which the psalmist had had an experience of; but for the reviving of the work and principle in him, that he might be refreshed and comforted, and be animated and stirred up to a lively exercise of grace and performance of duty: finding himself in dead and lifeless frames, and not able to quicken himself.
they are far from thy law; from the knowledge of it, of its equity and purity; and especially of its spirituality, and of its power and influence upon their minds; and so far from subjection and obedience to it; so far from it, that they treat it with the utmost contempt, cast it away from them and despise it, Romans 8:7.
(c) "iniquitati", V. L. "scelus", Tigurine version; so Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Michaelis.
and all thy commandments are truth; not only the precepts of the word of God, but his covenant, and the promises of it; the word which he has commanded to a thousand generations, Psalm 105:8; and even the whole word of God, doctrines and duties; see John 17:17.
that thou hast founded them for ever; that the things contained in them are sure and certain, established and eternal truths; the moral law and the precepts of it are eternal, and of perpetual obligation; not one jot or tittle of them shall ever fail; the Gospel, and the truths of it, are everlasting, and shall ever remain; in spite of all the opposition, craft and cunning, fury and force of men, to undermine and root them out; see Psalm 119:89.
(d) "ex obtestationibus tuis", Tigurine version; so Cocceius, Gejerus.
RESH. Consider mine affliction, and deliver me,.... Or, "look upon mine affliction" (e); as in Psalm 25:18. The Lord seems as if he did not, when he does not grant his gracious presence to his people; or does not arise to the help and deliverance of them so soon as they desire and expect: but he always sees and beholds their afflictions; he cannot do otherwise, since he is the omniscient God; and not only so, but he is the author, appointer, and orderer of them; yea, he looks upon them with an eye of pity and compassion, which is what is here prayed for: he sympathizes with his people in all their afflictions, supports them under them, pays kind visits to them, sanctifies his hand, and in his own time delivers them out of all; which none else can but himself, and he has power to do it, and has promised it, and does perform: see Psalm 50:15;
for I do not forget thy law: the precepts of it; to observe it as a rule of walk and conversation, as a lamp to the feet, and a light to the path, as a directory of the good and perfect will of God: or, "thy doctrine"; the doctrine of the word, the precious truths of it, which were his support under afflictions; and when either of them have a place in the heart, and are written there, they cannot easily be forgotten. This the psalmist mentions, not as if his not forgetting the law or doctrine of God was meritorious of deliverance from affliction, but as a descriptive character of such the Lord does deliver.
(e) "vide", Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Cocceius; "intuere", Gejerus.
quicken me according to thy word; See Gill on Psalm 119:25.
"the days of salvation;''
for they seek not thy statutes; either to know them, or keep them: they seek not after God, to know him, his mind and will; the language of their hearts and actions is, "depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways"; no, not of life and salvation, and therefore it must be far from them, Job 21:14.
quicken me according to that judgments; See Gill on Psalm 119:149.
(f) "multae", Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Michaelis.
yet do I not decline from thy testimonies; from reading and hearing the word of God; and from embracing and professing the doctrines contained in it; and from the worship of God according to it, for which he was hated and persecuted: yet none of these things moved him from them, which showed that his heart was principled with the grace of God; for otherwise, when persecution arises because of the word, carnal professors are offended, and apostatize from it; see Matthew 13:22.
"I saw them prosper, and was weary of my life;''
and refers for the sense of the word to Job 10:1; as does also Aben Ezra; but David Kimchi and the Targum interpret it "I strove", or "contended" with them; that is, with the transgressors;
because they kept not thy word: did not regard the doctrines, nor observe the precepts of it; but despised, rejected, and cast them away from them.
(g) "perfidos", Vatablus, Cocceius, Michaelis; "perfide agentes", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
quicken me, O Lord, according to thy loving kindness; See Gill on Psalm 119:88.
"the beginning of thy word is truth (h):''
which a man finds to be so as soon as ever he enters upon the reading of it. Some refer this to the first chapter of Genesis; others to the first part of the decalogue, concerning the unity of God and his worship; so Aben Ezra, and R. Jeshua, as cited by him, and Jarchi; the same is mentioned by Kimchi as one of the senses, though the first he gives is agreeable to our version: but there is no need to restrain the sense to those particulars, or to the first part of the Scriptures, since the whole is truth; and the meaning may be, "the sum of thy word is truth" (i): so the word here used is sometimes taken for the sum of anything, Numbers 26:2; all that is contained in the word of God is truth; its promises, precepts and doctrines, histories, prophecies and proverbs, all the sayings of it are faithful and true;
and everyone of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever; every precept of the word, and doctrine of it; see Psalm 119:152.
(h) "principium verbi tui veritas", Pagninus, Musculus; "vel verborum tuorum", V. L. (i) "Summa verbi tui est veritas", Cocceius, Schmidt.
SCHIN. Princes have persecuted me without a cause,.... These were either the princes of the Philistines at the court of Achish; or the princes of Israel, who joined in the conspiracy with Absalom; or the princes in Saul's court, as Kimchi observes; who insinuated that David had evil designs against the king, drove him from abiding in the Lord's inheritance, and pursued him from place to place, as a partridge on the mountains, 1 Samuel 29:4; and all which was without any cause or reason on his part; and which, as it was an aggravation of the sin of his persecutors, so it was an alleviation of his affliction: in this he was, a type of Christ, against whom the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers took counsel together; Herod, Pontius Pilate, and others, the princes of this world, who crucified the Lord of glory, and hated him without a cause; who was holy and harmless, and never did any injury to any man's person or property, Psalm 2:2;
but my heart standeth in awe of thy word: not in awe of the princes, but of the word of God; he had a greater regard to that than to them: when they in effect said, "go, serve other gods", 1 Samuel 26:19; he remembered what the word of God says, "thou shall have no other gods before me", Exodus 20:3; and this was a means of preserving him from sinning. Kimchi thinks some respect is had to the word of God by Nathan the prophet, "I will raise up evil against thee out of thine house", &c. 2 Samuel 12:11; and he was afraid, on account of this word, lest he should fall into the hands of the princes: but it seems not to be an excruciating tormenting fear that is here meant; but a high regard for, and a holy reverence of the word of God, or a reverential affection for it; such as is consistent with the highest joy on account of it, as follows.
but thy law do I love; because holy, just, and true; he being a regenerate man, and having it written on his heart, he loved both the precepts of the law and the doctrines of the Gospel: or, "thy doctrine"; the doctrine concerning God, his mind and will, his grace and love; see Psalm 119:97.
(k) "falsitatem", Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis.
because of thy righteous judgments: either upon his enemies, the persecuting princes, as Aben Ezra; so saints may and should, and will praise the Lord, for his righteous judgments on the enemies of his church and people, because not only of their deliverance from them, but because of the honour of his justice, and the glory of his name; see Revelation 18:20; or because of the word of God, the precepts, ordinances, and doctrines of it, which are all righteous; for his knowledge of them, and for the benefit and comfort received from them; see Psalm 119:7.
"in this world.''
Great prosperity, especially prosperity of soul, inward peace, peace of conscience, peace in Christ, and from him, flowing from his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, and a view of interest therein; which is usually enjoyed in a way of believing, and frequently had in the ways, worship, and ordinances of God. Such as love the law of God, his word, precepts, and doctrines, have a large share of it; a peace so great, that it passes the understanding of unregenerate men, and cannot be fully expressed by the saints themselves; there is none to the wicked, it is peculiar to them that love the Lord, and what belong to him: the Arabic and Ethiopic versions render it, "which love thy name";
and nothing shall offend them; the Targum is,
"in the world to come.''
Nothing shall disturb their minds, and break their peace; nothing from without, though sin, temptations, and desertions do; not outward afflictions, the reproaches and persecutions of wicked men, nor the reproof of good men; nor what God does to them in a providential way: though in the world they have tribulation, in Christ they have peace, which the world can neither give nor take away. "There is no stumbling block unto them" (l), as it may be rendered; nothing that shall cause them to be offended and depart out of the good ways of God, which is the case of carnal formal professors, Matthew 13:21; such stumble not at the word, as others do, at any of the doctrines of it; and the true light shining in them, and the word without being a light unto them, there is no occasion of stumbling in them; they see their way, and what lies in it, and so avoid that at which they might stumble, 1 John 2:10. Moreover, such do not easily either give or take offence; they are possessed of that charity or love, which is not suspicious or easily provoked; and they endeavour to give no offence to any, but live without it, in the midst of a perverse generation, 1 Corinthians 13:5, Philippians 2:15.
(l) "non est ipsis offendiculum", Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis.
and done thy commandments: this was not the cause, ground, and foundation of his hope; for then it would not have been like an anchor, sure and steadfast, but as the hope of the hypocrite, which is as the spider's web; but this was the effect of his hope; because he had a good hope of salvation, therefore he was studiously concerned to do the commandments of God; his hope prompted him to it, and encouraged him in it; see 1 John 3:2. Kimchi's note here is a good one; "and done thy commandments", not for hope of reward; but I have done them as thy commandments are with me and I know that I shall have salvation, and I have hoped for it.
and I love them exceedingly; and kept them from a principle of love, and not with mercenary and selfish views; and this love was exceeding great, not cold nor lukewarm, but ardent and fervent, love in the superlative degree.
for all my ways are before thee; this is either an appeal to God for the truth of what he had said, who saw and knew all the ways in which he walked, and which he had endeavoured should be conformable to the word of God; or it is a reason why he kept the precepts and testimonies of the Lord, because he knew his eyes were upon him; the omniscience of God had an influence over him, and caused him to be more attentive to the word, as the rule of his actions; see Psalm 139:1.
TAU. Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord,.... Not "my praise", as the Syriac version; but "my prayer", put up in great distress, and with great vehemence and importunity; see Psalm 119:145; and when it is desired it might "come near before" the Lord, it does not so much suppose distance of place between the petitioner and the petitioned as earth is from heaven, as Aben Ezra observes, as distance of state and condition; the petitioner being a creature, and a sinful creature, and whose sins had separated between God and him: and now the only way of access is by Christ; prayer can only pass to God through him, who is the only Mediator between God and man; by whom persons and services are brought near unto, him with acceptance. The sum of this request is, that his prayer might not be rejected and shut out; but that it might be admitted, might come up before God, and into his ears, and be regarded by him, and accepted with him;
give me understanding according to thy word; meaning not natural, but spiritual understanding; not that he was without any, as natural men are, whose understandings are darkened; for he had a large share of understanding of spiritual things; but he wanted more, he desired to know more of himself, of his wants and weaknesses; to know more of God in Christ, and of Christ, his person, offices, and grace; to know more of the doctrines of the word, and of the duties of religion; and particularly that he might have a better understanding of the business of prayer, and might know both what to pray for, and how to pray as he ought; all which is a gift from God: and he desires in all to be directed "according to the word" of God, the means of enlightening the understanding, and of increasing spiritual knowledge; or else he means the promise of God, that he would give him more knowledge and understanding; that he might be taught of God, and follow on to know him, and increase in every branch of spiritual knowledge.
deliver me according to thy word; of promise, such as that in Psalm 50:15; meaning from all troubles and afflictions; out of the hands of all his enemies, and from the power of sin, Satan, and the world; and from all fears of wrath, ruin, and destruction. Kimchi observes, that this is not to be understood of a deliverance of the body from distress, but of the soul from the stumbling block of sin.
when thou hast taught me thy statutes: which is what the psalmist often prays for in this psalm; and signifies he should be very thankful to God for, and should sincerely praise him, could he obtain this favour; see Psalm 119:7.
(m) "profundent", Vatablus, Musculus; "ebullient", Piscator, Gejerus; "scaturiunt", Cocceius; "scaturient", Michaelis.
for all thy commandments are righteousness; not only righteous, but righteousness itself, being strictly just and equitable in the highest sense; and not only some of them, but all of them; see Psalm 119:128. Aben Ezra's paraphrase of the words is,
"I will teach the children of men thy word, that they may know that thy commandments are righteousness;''
which is not amiss: and to the same sense is Kimchi's note, who observes, that author of the Masorah interprets it of praise; as if he had said, My tongue shall praise thy word, because all of it is righteousness.
for I have chosen thy precepts; not only the good part, which shall not be taken away, and the way of truth, Psalm 119:30; but even the commandments of God, which he preferred to the commandments of men, and choose rather to obey the one than the other; having a most ardent affection for them, an high esteem of them, and a strong attachment to them; see Psalm 119:127.
and thy law is my delight; or "delights" (n); his exceeding great delight, as being pure and perfect, holy, just, and good; a transcript of the divine nature, a revelation of the divine will; as in the hands of Christ, his surety and Saviour, who had engaged to fulfil it for him; and as written in his heart; and as delivered from the curse and condemnation of it, through the suretyship engagements of Christ.
(n) "deliciae meae", Montanus, Tigurine version.
and let thy judgments help me; that is, to praise him: meaning either judgments on his enemies, as Aben Ezra; which furnish out matter and occasion of praise and thanksgiving; see Revelation 15:3; or the word of God, the doctrines and precepts of it; see Psalm 119:164.