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Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
The connection of the sacred aphorisms of this psalm is their common reference to the Word of God, the grand theme of the whole. The only two verses (Psalms 119:122; Psalms 119:132) in which it is not named, contain an indirect reference to it, "good" and "thy name" being both elsewhere continually associated with God's Word. The psalm is a suitable sermon after the Hallel, to urge the people to regard God's Word as the palladium of their national and individual salvation. Ezra, the restorer of the national polity, was probably the author of the present form of the psalm (Pusey). Israel is the real speaker whom the Psalmist represents. Israel's calling was to testify for the Word of truth before the pagan world-powers (Psalms 119:23; Psalms 119:46). Psalms 119:87 refers to the national calamities which would have "consumed" Israel but for the elect's sake. Psalms 119:52 refers to God's ancient "judgments" in her behalf, which comfort the believing remnant. The professions of zeal for God's law are covert exhortations to Israel. "Reproach" and "affliction" caused by the "proud" still rest on her; but a "quickening" of national life has begun. The sufferer prays to be raised from the dust (Psalms 119:17; Psalms 119:25-26; Psalms 119:32; Psalms 119:39-40; Psalms 119:50-51; Psalms 119:65; Psalms 119:87; Psalms 119:93). The tone is that of 'soft, quiet, melancholy, comforted by God' (Hengstenberg). The features suit the Jews' position just after their return from Babylon. The alphabetical arrangement stands instead of a closer connection of the parts. To each of the twenty-two Hebrew letters there are assigned eight verses, each beginning with the same Hebrew letter.
Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord - (Psalms 1:1-2.) This 119th Psalm is as it were an inspired sermon on this text, which contains its substance in epitome.
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies. Eight terms are used for the Word of God in this psalm, all of which occur in this first stanza. The law-the testimonies-precepts-commandments-judgments (these five occur in the 19th Psalm) - statutes [ choq (H2706), a different Hebrew word from that ( piquwdeey (H6490)) for statutes in Psalms 19:8.] - ways-righteousness. This 119th Psalm is based upon David's 19th Psalm.
That seek him with the whole heart. Therefore the psalmist declares, Psalms 119:10, "With my whole heart have I sought thee." Not with a divided heart, as the "double-minded" (James 4:8).
They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
They also do no iniquity - willfully and habitually (1 John 3:9).
They walk in his ways - after the Spirit, not after the flesh (Romans 8:1).
Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently - as a most precious deposit committed to us. Translate wholly: see note, Psalms 119:8.
O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
O that my ways were directed - `confirmed,' (Hengstenberg: cf. Psalms 78:37; Psalms 51:10, margin.) Prepared, directed aright, and made stedfast [ yikonuw (H3559)], (2 Chronicles 27:6, cf. margin.) Remembering human frailty and instability, and knowing that man cannot of himself obey God's law, the Psalmist prays for the divine power to regulate aright and establish his ways.
Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. I shall not be with shame disappointed in my hope of salvation when I have respect not merely to some, or even many, but to ALL thy commandments. One single lust spared or cherished is incompatible with salvation (James 2:10-11).
I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
I will praise thee with uprightness of heart (i:e., sincerity; as opposed to formal lip service), when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments - when I shall have been taught by thee the laws of thy righteousness. To praise God aright, we must learn by the Divine Spirit's teaching the holiness of God, reflected in His word and laws (Psalms 119:12; Psalms 119:26; John 6:45).
I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.
I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly. The same Hebrew [ mª'od (H3966)] as is translated "diligently" in Psalms 119:4, 'Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts wholly:' I wish to keep them wholly: in order that I may do so, do thou 'forsake me not wholly.' The believer may seem almost forsaken; but he is never wholly forsaken (Psalms 37:24; Psalms 37:28).
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? The lusts of young men are naturally strong, and prone to bring defilement on the soul (cf. Proverbs 1:4; Proverbs 20:11).
By taking heed (thereto) according to thy word. "Thereto" - namely, to "his way" (cf. Psalms 17:4).
With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
With my whole heart have I sought thee. So all Judah, under Asa, "entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart, and with all their soul ... and sought Him with their whole desire" (2 Chronicles 15:12; 2 Chronicles 15:15).
O let me not wander from thy commandments - as the penalty of my wanderings: God adds, 'iniquity unto the iniquity' of the reprobate (Psalms 69:27). Forsake me not when heartily seeking thee; but help me by thy grace. Thus Israel pleads, Isaiah 63:17, "O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways."
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee - the sure preservative against falling (Psalms 37:31). So the Virgin Mary (Luke 2:19; Luke 2:51; Proverbs 7:1). He is sure to slip who lets the Word of God, the antidote to sin, slip from his heart.
Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes. Thou hast taught me to know and praise thee as "Blessed:" go on teaching me still. Thou who hast so rich a supply of grace, as the Blessed One, supply me with teaching out of it.
With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth - (Deuteronomy 6:6-7.) Though I have "hid thy Word in mine heart" (Psalms 119:11), yet I do not confine it there, but give utterance to it "with my lips." "Declared" - literally, enumerated (Sipharti in detail. This I do as well to be myself the more familiar with them, as also in order to teach them to others. As I teach them to others, so do thou "teach" them to "me" (Psalms 119:12).
I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as (much as) in all riches. "The way of thy testimonies" is that way which is prescribed by them. The Hebrew [ `al (H5921)] may be better translated, 'as being above all riches' (cf. Psalms 4:7; Psalms 19:10).
I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways - those pleasing to thee (Hengstenberg). Thy ways whereby thou dost punish the world, chastise the Church, and prepare thy way for coming to us (Cocceius). "I will meditate" with delighted admiration, having drawn off my mind from all other thoughts to consider this one alone, the nature and object of each of thy precepts. He mentions his deligence in studying God's law, not for boasting, but to stir up others by his example.
I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
I will delight myself in thy statutes - (Psalms 1:2.)
Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.
Deal bountifully - literally, 'reward;' namely, not as a matter of debt, but of grace, according to thy promise to them that seek thee. Already the Lord had "dealt bountifully with" the Psalmist (Psalms 116:7); he prays Him to continue to do so.
That I may live, and keep thy word. He seeks life, not for gratification of the flesh, but that he may serve the Lord in keeping His Word. As Saint Paul, "to me to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21-22; Philippians 1:24). The preservation of Israel's national life is primarily meant. Compare Psalms 119:25; Psalms 119:77. Already he had expressed confidence of it (Psalms 118:17); now he prays for it. Confidence should be tempered with humble prayer.
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. The wonders of the law, not only its deep mysteries, but its practical truths, proceed "out of" it only to the spiritually enlightened. "Open" - Hebrew, gal (H1540); literally, take the veil from off mine eyes. Believers behold the wonders of God's law 'with open (literally, unveiled) face' [anakekalummenoo prosoopoo]. But Israel has still the 'veil upon her heart in the reading of the Old Testament.' 'But when she shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away' (2 Corinthians 3:14-18). 'The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,' must 'give the spirit of wisdom and revelation,' in order that we may know divine truth. 'As the eye cannot behold the sun without the light of the sun, so the human mind cannot understand the wonders of God except by the light of God' (Muis). (2 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Peter 1:20.)
I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.
I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me. As a stranger on earth I know not what things I ought to do, what to avoid: teach me both by revealing thy commandments. This earth is not the believer's home, but his lodging. As strangers must expect many inconveniences, do thou, who carest for the stranger, take me up (Gejer). The way of God's "commandments" is the way to the heavenly city, where God's people shall not be 'strangers,' but children in their Father's home. "Hide not" the way from me. Even in the earthly Canaan true Israelites felt themselves, as their fathers before them, (Hebrews 11:13), to be 'strangers and sojourners' (1 Chronicles 29:15; Psalms 39:12). Much more so Christians (1 Peter 2:11).
My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.
My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times. "Breaketh" implies a heart full of desire, even to breaking. God's "judgments" are His judicial deeds in behalf of His people against their foes. The Lord's people long for a repetition of these, now that they are low in the dust (cf. next verse and Psalms 119:25).
Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.
Thou hast rebuked the proud (that are) cursed, which do err from thy commandments - a sample of the "judgments" longed for (Psalms 119:20). God rebuked, by the acts of vengeance, the "proud" Pharaoh, who 'exalted himself against God's people' (Exodus 9:17): God then showed that "in the thing wherein they dealt proudly He was above them" (Exodus 18:11). Lord rebuke them in act again, and vindicate thy people! Those are under the curse who "err from God's commandments" (Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10).
Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.
Remove from me reproach and contempt - Hebrew, gal (H1540); 'roll away from me reproach'-namely, such as Israel bare from the pagan, so though God disowned them, when they were put under the power of the uncircumcised. The allusion is to Joshua 5:9, where, after the people had ceased to be uncircumcised, "the Lord said ... This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal" (i:e., rolling; the same Hebrew root as here). The renewal of circumcision practically announced that God then renewed the covenant with Israel.
For I have kept thy testimonies. "The proud ... err from thy commandments" (Psalms 119:21), and therefore "reproach" me for "keeping thy testimonies," and in "contempt" jeer Israel as disowned by God with all her
(i:e., the godly remnant's) keeping them. Do thou by "thy judgments" (Psalms 119:20) 'rebuke' (Psalms 119:21) them, and so roll away their "reproach" from me (Psalms 39:8). It concerns God's honour I to vindicate those who keep God's testimonies, lest they and others be discouraged from keeping of them.
Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
Princes also did sit (and) speak against me: (but) thy servant did meditate in thy statutes - (Psalms 119:161.) The shield of the Israel of God against the slanders of this world's great men is loving meditation in God's Word. Not only in private, but 'sitting' in deliberate "counsel" publicly (Psalms 1:1), the world-princes speak against God's people. But these are not thus to be deterred from going on in obedience to God's statutes, especially in the case of Jesus (Acts 4:5-7; Acts 4:25-27).
Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.
Thy testimonies also (are) my delight, (and) my counselors (Psalms 119:77; Psalms 119:92) - in opposition to the 'princes sitting' in council against me (Psalms 119:23). King Alphonsus, when asked who were the best counselors, replied, the dead, meaning books; because they, without flattery, teach pure truth. With better reason David calls God's laws his counselors (Muis).
My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.
My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word. The first clause is from Psalms 44:25; cf. Psalms 22:15; Isaiah 26:19. The dust is the place of the afflicted, the wounded, and the dead. 'Quicken me'-namely, to life, peace, and joy.
I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes.
I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me - namely, in my prayer under affliction (Psalms 118:5; Psalms 118:21). "My ways" are here, my whole case (Psalms 37:5). He means not a bare mention, but a confidential and decided committal of himself and all his concerns to God, as a sick man does to his physician, a client to his advocate (Gejer).
Teach me thy statutes - that by my obedience to them I may testify my gratitude.
Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.
Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works - (Psalms 145:5-6.) Make me so to appreciate them with heart and mind (Psalms 119:18), that my tongue may celebrate thy wondrous works, which are thy outward expression of them in acts.
My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.
My soul melteth for heaviness - owing to my sufferings, notwithstanding my adherence to thy Word. "Melteth" - literally ( daalªpaah (H1811)), droppeth. Compare Job 16:20, the same Hebrew.
Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously.
Remove from me the way of lying; and grant me thy law graciously. "The way of lying" is every unfaithfulness to the covenant - i:e., to "thy law" (which in the parallel clause stands in contrast). Thy law is truth (Psalms 119:149; Psalms 119:151; John 17:17); apostasy from it is lying: cf. Psalms 119:30, "the way of truth."
Grant me thy law graciously - grant me as a gift of grace the knowledge of thy law (Psalms 119:27).
I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.
I have chosen the way of truth; thy judgments have I laid (before me) - I have laid them down as the rule of my conduct. "The way of truth" - the way of faithfulness [ 'ªmuwnaah (H530)].
I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame. I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O Lord, put me not to shame - disappoint not my hope. Though "my soul cleaveth unto the dust" (Psalms 119:25), it cleaveth still faster to "thy testimonies," so that no business, pleasure, or peril can sever me from them.
I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.
I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart - when thou shalt have completely delivered me out of my straits, "and set me in a large place" (Psalms 116:3; Psalms 118:5), and so made my heart enlarged with joy, (Psalms 119:45, margin) Enlargement of heart comprises the expansion produced by love (2 Corinthians 6:11); also by increased wisdom (1 Kings 4:29); also by delight (in contrast to the contraction of heart which grief produces), (Isaiah 60:5; Psalms 4:1; Psalms 18:36). "I will run," not slowly, but with alacrity and speed, through the wide race-course of thy commandments; not stationary, but straining every nerve to reach the goal of perfection (1 Corinthians 9:24; Galatians 5:7; Philippians 2:16; Philippians 3:12-14). Like the sun (Psalms 19:6).
Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.
Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statues, and I shall keep it (unto) the end. So Psalms 119:112 rightly supplies the ellipsis.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Give me understanding - a frequent prayer of the godly (Psalms 119:73). The Lord alone giveth it (Proverbs 2:6; James 1:5.).
I shall observe it with my whole heart. He feels this a feature of religion which cannot be too often dwelt on (Psalms 119:10). As Psalms 119:33, "unto the end," expresses never ceasing as to time, so this verse as to earnestness.
Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.
Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. Thou who hast given me the will, give me the power to perform. Do not forsake one who by thy aid has already embraced thy Word.
Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. Love to God and love to gain cannot dwell together in the same heart. The one will be sure to supplant the other (Matthew 6:24; 1 John 2:15; 1 Timothy 6:17; Ezekiel 33:31). "Cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life" choke the seed of the Word, so that no fruit is brought to perfection (Luke 8:14). God, in judicial retribution, gives up the covetous (including all who make self or the world their idol) to their own covetousness (Romans 1:24).
Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity - (Isaiah 33:15, end.) Hengstenberg for "vanity" translates 'deceit:' all the worldly idols in which happiness and peace are sought apart from God-power, wealth (Proverbs 23:5), pleasure, self-righteousness, man's praise or help, etc. (Psalms 31:6; Psalms 40:4; Psalms 62:9). Earthly goods appeal to the eye (so in Eve's case, Genesis 3:6) and create "the lust of the eyes." May I see them as though I saw them not. The Hebrew proverb says, 'The eyes and the heart are the negotiating agents of sin' (Numbers 15:39, "Seek not after your own heart, and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring;" Job 31:1; Job 31:7; 1 John 2:16; 2 Samuel 11:2; Proverbs 4:25). Our safety is in avoiding to look at temptation (Matthew 5:28-29; Matthew 6:22-23; Proverbs 23:31). Looking begets loving. Vain things seen beget lust, the parent of sin.
Quicken thou me in thy way - I am naturally dead to heavenly things, do thou give me spiritual life more and more (Psalms 119:17; Psalms 119:25; Psalms 119:40; Psalms 119:50). Vanity or sin is death: spirituality is life.
Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.
Stablish thy word unto thy servants, who is devoted to thy fear - or, 'thy Word which belongs to thy fearers;' namely, to them who fear thee (Hengstenberg). I prefer the English version (cf. Psalms 119:76; Psalms 119:173; 2 Samuel 7:25). Give the additional grace which thou promisest to one who uses the grace already given, and with reverential "fear" asks from his heart for more (Muis). Also "stablish thy word" of promise respecting the ultimate permanence of David's seed and kingdom (1 Kings 2:4; 1 Kings 8:25).
Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.
Turn away my reproach which I fear. The reproach of the enemy makes the suppliant fear that he may come to a bad end at last (cf. Job 3:25; Job 9:28). Or, let not my sin and its chastisement turn to the reproach of the truth, and occasion blasphemy against God (Cocceius), on the part of the enemy, who will lay the blame on the judgments and statutes, and the profession of thy worship (Rivetus).
For thy judgments are good - not destructive, but saving corrective to thy people.
Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.
Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness - according to thy righteousness, whereby thou savest them who trust in thee. 'The longing after God's commandments is the distinguishing mark of the godly and the pledge of salvation.' (Hengstenberg.)
Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word.
Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, (even) thy salvation, according to thy word. So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me. The gift of this "salvation," through thy tender "mercies" (Luke 1:78), will be the best matter-of-fact reply to them who "reproach" me because of my seeming rejection from thy favour (Psalms 119:39; Psalms 119:42).
For I trust in thy word - (Psalms 25:2; Psalms 26:1.)
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth - take not from me, by withholding thy saving deliverance ("salvation," Psalms 119:41), the ability to give a true " answer" (Psalms 119:42) to "him that reproacheth me." The word of truth, or the true answer to the enemy, is to be able by facts to show that God keeps His promise of helping His children in distress. 'Not merely do not take it out of my heart, but not even out of my mouth: grant that what I truly believe I may freely also confess' (Rivetus).
For I have hoped in thy judgments - I have rested my hope in thee, amidst my trials, that thou wilt by thy judgments vindicate my cause, as thou hast ever done to them who trust in thee.
So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.
So shall I keep thy law. "So" - in gratitude for thy goodness.
Continually forever and ever. The accumulation of words expresses the intensity of his resolution.
And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.
And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts - Hebrew, 'I will walk at large:' the same Hebrew root [ raahab (H7294)] as in Psalms 119:32, "when thou shalt enlarge my heart;" Psalms 118:5, "in a large place;" opposed to "a strait place," the straits in which the Psalmist was before. This is only realized fully under the Gospel "law of liberty "by those whom "the Son maketh free," and who, instead of "the spirit of bondage," have received "the spirit of adoption," and instead of "the spirit of fear," have that "of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7; Romans 8:15; John 8:36; James 1:25). These who walk on the king's guarded highway need not fear hurt. Now that I have been brought out of my straits, I need not turn to bypaths, but will walk in the broad path of thy law, which, though it seem narrow and thorny to the flesh, yet is a large place, easy and sure to the spirit and the regenerate conscience.
I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.
I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed - (Psalms 138:1.) So Paul before King Agrippa and Festus (Acts 26:1-2). Compare Jesus' forewarning, Matthew 10:18-19. Instead of being ashamed, Christ's followers glory to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41). It is not they, but their adversaries, that shall be put to shame (Acts 4:14; Acts 6:10; 1 Peter 3:16).
And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.
And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. Here he expresses his personal delight in (Psalms 119:16) the private study of God's word, as in Psalms 119:46 he had expressed his public profession of faith in it.
My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.
My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved. The lifting up of the hands is the outward expression of the lifting up of the heart to them (Psalms 28:2). I will pray with uplifted hands for grace to fulfill them. Also I will bless the Lord for them with uplifted hands (Psalms 134:2). Also I will swear with uplifted hands, as Abraham did (Genesis 14:22), to keep them. Also I will lift up my hands to perform thy commandments: I will set about it as a matter of the utmost weight (Genesis 41:44; Hebrews 12:12, "lift up the hands that hang down" - i:e., act strenuously as Christians). Gejer takes it, 'like a starving beggar lifting his hands to receive food, I will eagerly lay hold of thy commandments.'
Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.
Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope - (Psalms 119:38; Psalms 119:74; Psalms 119:76; Psalms 119:81; Psalms 119:147.) Hengstenberg translates, 'Because (as the Hebrew is translated, 2 Samuel 3:30 (29)) thou hast caused me to hope.' He objects to the English version that a different collocation of the Hebrew preposition and relative would thus be required [not `al (H5921) 'ªsher (H834), but 'ªsher (H834) `alaayw (H5921)]. Generally in the Hebrew idiom there is an ellipsis if the Hebrew preposition is placed BEFORE the relative, as Genesis 21:17; Haggai 1:11, "Upon (that) which the ground bringeth forth." But the old versions, Chaldaic, Syraic, Arabic, Septuagint, Vulgate, and Ethiopic support the English version.
This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.
This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me - thy word of promise of salvation has given me life, when I was giving way to despair. Psalms 119:65; Psalms 119:93 show that the quickening had already begun.
The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.
The proud have had me greatly in derision (Jeremiah 20:7 ); yet have I not declined from thy law - (Psalms 119:157.) So the faithful remnant protest, Psalms 44:18. "The proud" - namely, those who in haughty self-conceit "err from thy commandments" (Psalms 119:21; Psalms 10:4). David, the model to our Psalmist, declined not from God's law in the main scope of his life, according to inspired testimony (1 Kings 14:8; 1 Kings 15:5). The pagan mocked at the seemingly visionary expectation of Israel, that God would raise her up from the dust to an eminent kingdom (Psalms 119:42). But Israel did not let herself be turned aside from God's law by the suggestions of carnal sense and reason, however outward appearances might discourage all hope.
I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself. I remembered thy judgments of old ... and have comforted myself. God's past judicial vindications of His people by mighty deliverances gives Israel sure hope for the future, however discouraging be her present state. "Of old" - Hebrew, 'from (of) old.' Thou hast always had the same principle of dealing with the godly and the ungodly respectively, and shalt ever have the same.
Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.
Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law. So Ezra, after the return from Babylon, when he heard that "the holy seed had mingled themselves with" the pagan people (Ezra 9:2-3), "rent his garment and his mantle, and plucked off the hair of his head and of his beard, and sat down astonied;" and with him "everyone that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those," etc. "Horror" [ zal`aapaah (H2152)] - literally, burning, found only in Psalms 11:6; Lamentations 5:10. Burning indignation against the impiety of the transgressors, and zeal for the honour of God, who is insulted thereby (Psalms 119:139; Psalms 69:9). The "judgments" of the Lord gave him seasonable 'comfort' under such feelings (Psalms 119:52). Compare the holy "anger" of Jesus at the Pharisees, accompanied with "grief for the hardness of their hearts" in turning His very miracles into grounds of hatred and accusation (Mark 3:5). Anger, or even hot indignation, is not sinful, but consonant to the will of God, when not self, but the glory of God, is the object, and when grief for the wretched self-destroyers accompanies it (Philippians 3:18-19).
Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.
Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. As the sojourner in a strange land sings the loved songs of his home and fatherland, and is cheered by them, so the child of God and heir of heaven, who is but "a stranger in the earth" (Psalms 119:19), beguiles the weariness and sorrows of life with continually thinking and speaking of his Father's words. Laws were in some ancient Greek states put in verse, that they might be the more readily remembered. God's commandments, with their accompanying promises, are ever in the believer's memory, and "give songs in the night" of his adversity (Job 5:10; Acts 16:25; Psalms 149:5).
I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law. I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night, and have kept thy law - (Psalms 63:6; Psalms 42:8.) At night especially our sorrows press painfully upon the mind. The remembrance of the Lord's "name" - i:e., His manifestation of Himself in acts as His people's Deliverer-is at such seasons most consolatory. Of the time that others give to sleep, I gladly take a part to comfort myself with the remembrance of thy glorious name.
This I had, because I kept thy precepts.
This I had, because I kept thy precepts - "this" good I have had as my reward (namely, that thy statutes are "my songs in my pilgrimage," and that "I remember thy name" as my comfort "in the night") "because I have (so ardently) kept thy precepts." The Rabbis say, The reward of the precept is the precept; and the precept draws on the precept. Whosoever keeps one precept is gratuitously rewarded by God with grace to keep another and a harder one. Just as, on the contrary, sin is the penalty of sin; and one sin draws on another (Muis) (Psalms 19:11). Hengstenberg translates, 'This I have (and in it the hope of salvation, Deuteronomy 6:25), that I keep thy precepts.'
Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words.
(Thou art) my portion, O Lord: I have said (mentally, as my fixed resolve) that I would keep thy words - (Psalms 16:5; Psalms 73:26; Lamentations 3:24; Jeremiah 10:16.) Let the unbelieving world choose worldly goods as their portion. I choose the Lord and His words as mine.
I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.
I entreated thy favour (literally, thy face, Psalms 45:12 , margin; Daniel 9:13 , margin) with my whole heart.
The Hebrew expresses great earnestness and humility in supplication.
Be merciful unto me according to thy word of promise (Exodus 33:19).
I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
I thought on my ways - the first step toward repentance, as in the case of the prodigal (Luke 15:17-18); also that to which the Lord urges the Church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:5).
And turned my feet unto thy testimonies - whereinsoever they had turned aside from them. There is a constant tendency to deviation even in the believer. God's Word is the rule whereby to detect deviations, and at once to rectify them.
I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.
I made haste - like Zaccheus (Luke 19:5-6), at the Lord's call.
And delayed not - like Felix, Acts 24:25; and the Athenians, Acts 17:32). I "delayed not" - literally, I did not stand questioning [from the interrogation, mah (H4100)], hitmahªmaahªtiy (H4102). In good impulses worked in us by the Spirit, we must at once act, or else the flesh will supplant the spirit. Strike while the iron is hot, or it will wax colder and harder than ever. The dilatoriness of the old nature is such that we move with tortoise pace in good things, with the hare's pace in bad. He expresses positively and negatively his promptitude, to imply his yielding himself up to good impulses and resisting the bad. The national reference is the punishment of the Jews by the captivity led them to repentance. This psalm and Lamentations express this feeling.
The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.
The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law. So Kimchi takes the verb from a Chaldee root [`aawad,] to rob [or from `ad (H5704), a spoil, Genesis 49:27 ]. But Gesenius takes it, 'surround' [`eeweed, from `uwd (H5749), to repeat]. Buxtorf supports the English version. Hengstenberg, for "bands," i:e., companies, translates, "the snares." [But in that sense it would not be chebleey (H2256), but chableey (H2556), as in Isaiah 5:18; Proverbs 5:22 (Mercer)].
At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.
At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments - (Psalms 119:55; Acts 16:25.) Midnight is often the time of God's judgments for His people on their foes; as in the case of the Egyptians (Exodus 11:4; Exodus 12:29). Israel at midnight remembers this deliverance, and rises to give thanks. Compare Job 34:20 with 35:10; Luke 12:20. I thank thee not merely lying on my bed, but rising up for the purpose out of my bed. 'Cares of this world, impatience of wrongs, a bad conscience, keep awake the ungodly and disturb their sleep' (Rivetus); but what I awake for is to give thanks to thee.
I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.
I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts. 'A man is known by his companions' (Amos 3:3; Malachi 3:16-17).
The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes.
The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes - (Psalms 119:12.) As thou fillest the earth with thy mercy, so give me a share of it by teaching me thy statutes. I can make no progress in piety unless thou teachest me, Of all thy many mercies, this is the one which I desire earnestly above all the rest.
Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word.
Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O Lord, according unto thy word. The answer to Psalms 119:17. Already the Lord had dealt well with Israel in releasing her from the Babylonian captivity. She prays that He may crown the work which He has begun, by raising her from her sunken state.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge. "Judgment" ( ta`am (H2940)) - literally, taste. So experimental understanding (Psalms 34:8). On "good," cf. Psalms 27:13; Psalms 31:19.
For I have believed thy commandments - in both their threats, and their promises.
Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now have I kept thy word. The affliction of Israel in her captivity (Psalms 116:10) produced a salutary effect upon her (Psalms 119:71; Psalms 119:75; Jeremiah 31:18-19; Hebrews 12:11).
Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.
Thou art good, and doest good. To be good and to do good are God's grand characteristics (Acts 14:17). So Jesus, Acts 10:38.
The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.
The proud have forged a lie against me (Psalms 119:21; Psalms 119:51, notes; Job 13:4) - such an accusation as that laid by the Samaritan adversaries of Judah before King Ahasuerus, that the Jews had rebellion and sedition as their aim in building the city (Ezra 4:11-16). But I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart - the only safeguard against the evil consequences of the slander.
Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.
Their heart is as fat as grease - as obese as fat (Deuteronomy 32:15): a mind reprobate [incapable of judging and appreciating, noun (G3563) adokimon (G96), Romans 1:28 ] (Psalms 17:10; Psalms 73:7) - stupid and insensible as to spiritual things (Isaiah 6:10; Acts 28:27). Contrasted with "good judgment" - literally, 'goodness of taste;' a perception capable of discriminating and relishing things sacred.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted - (Hebrews 12:10; John 15:2; Job 5:6: cf. Psalms 119:67; Psalms 119:75). Thrice he blesses God for affliction as a great benefit.
The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.
The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver - (Psalms 119:127; Psalms 19:10.) Rabbi Joseph alleged this verse as his plea for not going, when tempted with the promise of great gain, to a place where there was no synagogue (Muis).
Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments. Thy hands have made me and fashioned me. Israel saith this, in conformity with what Moses said to her, Deuteronomy 32:6 (cf. Deuteronomy 32:15; Isaiah 44:2).
Give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments. 'Whatever I am or can is thine; I, cannot therefore teach myself; do thou teach me' (Cocceius). The gift of understanding in the will and Word of God is the crowning gift without which one's natural birth would be a curse, instead of a blessing.
They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.
They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word. Other tried and tempted believers will be confirmed in their hope by my case, when they shall see me delivered from all my trials, and raised to eminence and peace (Psalms 34:2; Psalms 52:6).
I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right (literally, righteousness), and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. God is faithful to His word even in afflicting His people (Deuteronomy 32:4). His faithfulness is shown in not suffering them to be tempted above that they are able to bear, but with the temptation making a way to escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). He afflicts them not in consuming anger, but for their salvation (1 Corinthians 11:32; 1 Peter 4:19). This is the salvation sign of repentance, that the chastised people of God are " humbled," and "accept the punishment of their iniquity" (Leviticus 26:41, end).
Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.
Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant. Let mercy and grace mitigate, and finally deliver me from, my affliction, which I confess is justly merited.
Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.
Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight - (Psalms 119:17; Psalms 119:24.) This latter is the vindication of my spiritual life; therefore I confidently ask for thy tender mercy to preserve me in physical and spiritual life, that I may still delight myself in thy law, as it already is my delight.
Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.
Let the proud be ashamed (be disappointed in their hope of destroying me); for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: (but) I will meditate in thy precepts. They falsely accused me of perversity, and wanted to turn me from the right way; but I will only the more earnestly meditate in thy precepts.
Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies.
Let those that fear then turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies - (cf. Psalms 119:63.) "Those that have known" - participle in Hebrew, those knowing. So the Masoretic reading is; but the Hebrew text (Kethibh) reads, 'And let them know thy testimonies, with which my cause is identified. Let good men act toward me as the friends of godly, though afflicted, Job acted toward him in the end. Though heretofore perplexed, and not knowing what to think because of my trials, let them see that thou art on my side; so let them Join themselves to me as to one whose case gives a sure hope to the godly in their times of distress. Israel's and the Church's distress is a stumblingblock to many; but that shall cease when God shall openly vindicate her cause and bless her.
Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed. Let my heart be sound in thy statutes, that I be not ashamed. Put to the shame of disappointment in my hope of salvation. "Sound" - Hebrew (thamim), perfect. Integrity and sincerity are implied; having no lurking self-deceit or hypocrisy (Genesis 17:1).
My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.
My soul fainteth for thy salvation - pineth for it (Psalms 119:123; Psalms 84:2).
(But) I hope in thy word. Though sorely tempted, I do not give up my hope.
Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?
Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me. "Fail for thy word" - namely, for the fulfillment of thy promise of deliverance (Psalms 69:3; Job 31:16).
For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes.
For I am become like a bottle in the smoke - my skin is become parched and shrivelled like an eastern wine bottle, made of skin dried in the smoke (Psalms 102:3-4; Psalms 32:4; Proverbs 17:22; Job 30:30). 'The Church's constancy and piety are greatest in persecution' (Cocceius).
How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me? How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?
The shortness of human life is made the plea for asking that God would vindicate His justice by speedy judgments on the Church's persecuting foe (Psalms 39:4; Psalms 39:13). Job uses the same plea (Job 7:6-21; Job 9:25; Job 16:22).
The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law.
The proud (Psalms 119:21 ; Psalms 119:78 , notes) have digged pits for me, which (who-namely, the proud, not the pits) are not after thy law. Treachery is especially opposed to God's law.
All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me.
All thy commandments are faithful - literally, faithfulness (Psalms 119:75); have attached to them promises to the obedient which shall surely be fulfilled.
They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not thy precepts.
They had almost consumed me upon earth: but I forsook not thy precepts - or, 'in the (Holy) land.' Israel was now but a small remnant in it, even as the Canaanite remnant was formerly (2 Chronicles 8:8) (Hengstenberg).
Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.
Quicken me after thy loving-kindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth. God must give His Quicken me after thy loving-kindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth. God must give His people spiritual life, in order that they may be able "to will and to do" His word (Philippians 2:13).
For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. The Hebrew accent, Athnach, recommends rather the division of the verse into two members, "Forever (thou art), O Lord: thy word is settled in heaven." Thus the first clause of this verse answers to the first of Psalms 119:90, "Thy faithfulness is unto all generations;" as the second answers to the second of Psalms 119:90, "thou hast established the earth (answering to "in heaven" here), and it abideth." "Thy word is settled in heaven" - i:e., is as unchangeable as the heaven itself is by thy appointment (Psalms 89:2). It is there perfectly known and established, whereas all earthly things are liable to fluctuation and revolution.
Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.
Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth - by the power of "thy Word," which "is settled in heaven." Thy Word at creation spake the earth into existence (Psalms 33:9), the same Word maintains and causes at to abide. Though "one generation passeth away, and another cometh," yet, "the earth abideth forever" (Ecclesiastes 1:4).
They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants.
They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants. Muis translates, 'They continue (stand) this day FOR lª- thy judgments' - i:e., for the purpose of executing them, as obedient "servants." As the Psalmist often throughout the psalm looks for the judgments of God to vindicate Israel's and his cause against the enemy, this interpretation seems preferable.
Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.
Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction. "Thy law " - namely, its consolations and promises (cf. Psalms 119:24).
I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.
I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me - with the hopes which they suggest (Psalms 119:50, note.)
I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts.
I (am) thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts - I belong to thee, and give myself up wholly to thee (literally, I to thee), to thy Word, and thy will; save me therefore.
The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies.
The wicked have waited for me to destroy me - (Psalms 56:6 .) (but) I will consider thy testimonies - as Daniel was not turned aside from praying thrice a day by the plot of his enemies for his destruction.
I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad. I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad.
I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad - as contrasted with the narrow boundaries of human standards of perfection. I have seen no human thing so complete that it did not in some point come short: thy commandment alone is infinite and unchangeable. There is no bound to its perfection. It describes the whole state of the Church and the world, past, present, and to come, and all that is to be believed and to be done for salvation.
O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day - (Psalms 1:2.) He says so, not to praise his own devotion, but the excellence of God's law, as worthy of all love and continual mediation.
Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies - (Deuteronomy 4:6-8.) With all their worldly shrewdness (Luke 16:8) opposed to my simplicity (Psalms 116:6), they are destitute of the wisdom wherewith thou hast made me wise; so I am proved "wiser than" they.
For they (thy commandments) are ever with me - securing my superiority to mine enemies in the wisdom which maketh wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. By the teaching of "thy testimonies," which are "my meditation," "I have more understanding than ... my teachers," who neglect the law of God to devote their attention to politics, science, economies, etc.
I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.
I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. Obedience is the key to the true knowledge of God and the highest things (John 7:17). The ancients or elders, by reason of lengthened experience and observation, were, in the East, before the days of many books, considered the repositories of knowledge. Their knowledge is natural; mine is revealed, and therefore far exceeds theirs. 'Antiquity is no help against stupidity, where it does not accord with the commandments of God' (Luther). Compare Job 32:7-9. The three classes - "mine enemies ... my teachers ... the ancients" - though wise in their own eyes and those of the world, are all my inferiors in wisdom, because my wisdom is that of God's Word, loved and practiced. The Bible does not startle men with declared anticipations of discoveries in physics not yet made by men of science; but the reverent man of science finds in it his newest discovery sufficiently provided for by tacit anticipation. The Bible is the true history of the world, past, present, and to come.
I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.
I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. My object in refraining from all evil is not merely to escape punishment, nor for the sake of vain-glory before others, but 'in order that I may keep thy Word'-namely, from a sincere desire to obey.
I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.
I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me - inwardly by the Spirit, without which all other teaching is ineffectual Thou teachest me the way wherein I should walk, and holdest up my goings in it, so as not to stumble in it, or wander from it (Hosea 11:3; Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:34).
How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth - (Psalms 19:10.) The spiritual 'palate' (so the Hebrew for taste) discriminates what is sweet and wholesome to the taste of the sanctified soul (cf. Job 12:11; Job 34:3).
Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.
Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way - (cf. Psalms 119:29.) I get understanding not only in the mysteries of faith, but in the discreet guidance of the affairs of life. On the contrary, one of the greatest of pagan philosophers, Cicero, writes to Octavius, 'Alas me! I never have been wise, and have been formerly esteemed that which I was not.' "I hate every false way," both in myself, lest I should mislead others, and in others, lest they should mislead me (Rivetus).
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. The Word is "a lamp" to us, a "light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn" (2 Peter 1:19; Proverbs 6:23). The lamp is not the sun, but is our precious guide as to all that we should do, believe, hope, and love, until "the Sun of Righteousness" shall arise. We could not, with our present weakness, bear the dazzling effulgence of His glory; but the day is coming when His people shall be made like Him, and shall see Him as He is.
I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.
I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments. So the Jews, after their return from Babylon, 'entered into a curse and into an oath to walk in God's law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our God, and His judgments and His statutes.' This was a repetition of their solemn promise at Sinai (Exodus 19:8; Exodus 24:3; Exodus 24:7). The sworn promise of God's people to keep God's judgments is in dependence on the promised help of God's Spirit (Ezekiel 11:19-20; 2 Corinthians 3:5).
I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word.
I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word. Life was promised on the condition of obedience (Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 6:24).
Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me thy judgments.
Accept, I beseech thee, the free-will offerings of my mouth - my prayers and praises (Psalms 50:14; Hosea 14:2, "the calves of our lips;" "the sacrifice of praise to God ... the fruit of our lips," Hebrews 13:15).
My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law.
My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law - i:e., my life is in continual danger: like those who carry anything precious in their hand, where it is not safe, and might easily fall out, or be taken away (Judges 12:3, "I put my life in my hands;" 1 Samuel 19:5; Job 13:14).
The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.
The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts - a commentary on Psalms 119:109. In Psalms 119:10 he prayed God 'not to let him wander from God's commandments;' and in Psalms 119:21 described the proud as those 'who do err from God's commandments.' Here he professes that the fruit of his prayer (Psalms 119:10) is, that 'he does not err (in the main scope of his life) from them.'
Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.
Thy testimonies have I taken as heritage forever - a still better heritage than even the literal Canaan flowing with milk and honey (Deuteronomy 33:4).
For they are the rejoicing of any heart - (Psalms 119:77; Psalms 119:92; Psalms 119:174.)
I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.
I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end - (Psalms 119:33.)
I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.
I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love. "Vain thoughts" (as the antithesis to "thy law" shows) are all thoughts opposed to God's law, whether subtle speculations, which are incompatible with the simplicity of revealed truth, or carnal and worldly lusts forbidden by the written Word. (Gesenius takes the Hebrew [ cee`ªpiym (H5588)], 'men of divided minds' (James 1:8) - Greek, 'a double-souled man.' It may be translated 'divided thoughts,' as in 1 Kings 18:21, margin. The English version is supported by the Hebrew (Job 4:13; Job 20:2). The literal meaning is branches; so thoughts, the offshoots of the mind.
Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.
Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word - (Psalms 32:7.)
Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.
Depart from me, ye evil-doers: for I will keep the commandments of my God - (Psalms 6:8.) Depart from me, because you can neither destroy me nor seduce me, since I will keep the commandments of my God.
Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.
Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live - Do not let me either be destroyed or seduced by the "evil-doers" (Psalms 119:115).
And let me not be ashamed (i:e., disappointed) of my hope - of salvation (Psalms 25:2-3; Romans 5:5; Romans 9:33).
Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.
Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe (cf. Deuteronomy 33:27 , the assurance which the believer receives), and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually. Compare Psalms 17:5 on the first clause, and Psalms 119:112 on the second.
Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood.
Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes - (Psalms 119:21 .) for their deceit (is) falsehood - their crafty deceit, wherewith they think to crush the godly, shall prove false to them, and shall he baffled. The deceivers shall find to their ruin that it is themselves, not the godly, much less God, that they have deceived (Isaiah 29:14).
Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies.
Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth (like) dross - (Ezekiel 22:18-19.) This shall be fully realized at the Lord's second coming, by the flaming fire which shall separate the dross (the wicked) from the pure metal (the godly) (Isaiah 1:25; Malachi 3:2-3).
Therefore I love thy testimonies - because these are what through faith shall be the seed of life in the godly, saving him from the coming judgments which shall cause the wicked to cease (Hebrew, hishbataa (H7673)) as dross (1 Peter 1:23). The same word which is the seed of life in believers shall be the condemnation of unbelievers in the last day.
My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.
My flesh trembleth for fear of thee - (1 Chronicles 13:12; Ezekiel 27:35: especially Habakkuk 3:2; Habakkuk 3:16). 'Joyful hope goes hand in hand with fear' (Hengstenberg). If God's past judgments cause trembling even to the godly, who shall be untouched by any such judgments, how much more ought they to strike terror into the guilty?
I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressors.
I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressors. As I have done no injustice to others, so leave me not to he the victim of injustice. Not that he was absolutely free from unrighteousness, but he was so in respect to his enemies and their charges. In the main drift of his life he was just.
Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me.
Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me - Be my guarantee. Literally, the Hebrew means to interchange, the surety taking the place of his friend (Job 17:3, note; Isaiah 38:14). See note, Jeremiah 30:21. The Psalmist regards the contest of his enemies with Israel and himself as a judicial trial, in which his cause was at issue; and he desires the Lord to make Himself responsible for him. Messiah alone realizes this. Compare Zechariah 3:1-5; Hebrews 7:22; Hebrews 9:11-15. On "the proud," cf. Psalms 119:21; "for good," Deuteronomy 6:24; Deuteronomy 10:13; Deuteronomy 30:9.
Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness.
Mine eyes fall for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness - i:e., for the fulfillment of 'thy Word,' which promises "salvation," a promise which "thy righteousness" ensures the fulfillment of. Compare also Psalms 119:121, which gives an additional reason why God's righteousness was engaged in his behalf-namely, the justice of his cause against his oppressors. Three things ought to be found in a promise, according to theologians:
(1) Truth, so as to promise sincerely;
(2) Faithfulness, to keep the promise;
(3) Justice, or righteousness, to give to him to whom you have promised his right or due, on the ground of the promise (Muis). "Fail for" -
i.e., faintingly long for.
Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes.
Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy - (Psalms 109:21.)
And teach me thy statutes - his chief prayer: therefore often repeated (cf. Psalms 119:12).
I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.
I am thy servant - (Psalms 116:16.)
Give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies - the only reward of my service, which I ask as a matter of grace, not debt.
It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law.
It is time for thee, Lord, to work; (for) they have made void thy law. "To work;" or, literally, 'to do (it)'-namely, to vindicate thy servant by saving him from his oppressors (Psalms 119:121-123). So 'do' is used absolutely, Psalms 22:31; Psalms 52:9; Isaiah 44:23. Here the pagan are charged with breaking God's law-namely, by oppressing Israel, in violation of God's law of righteousness and love written on the conscience in some degree, however in part effaced by degeneracy. The same charge against the inhabitants of the earth is brought in Isaiah 24:5. This is the ground of the universal judgment, and of the condemnation of the guilty in all places and ages (Romans 2:12-16). The Book of Job, which concerns one not of Abraham's race, yet regulated by the fear of God and the principles of righteousness, preserved by tradition among some of the Gentiles, shows that the law of God, even in the Old Testament, was not altogether confined to the elect nation.
Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.
Therefore I love thy commandments above gold, yea, above fine gold - (Psalms 19:10.) "Therefore" - namely, because of the excellencies of thy law, as detailed already.
Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.
Therefore I esteem all (thy) precepts (concerning) all (things to be) right; (and) I hate every false way.
We must not choose those precepts which suit our inclinations, while we set aside others which oppose our lusts, but 'esteem ALL God's precepts concerning ALL things' the obligatory rule of our heath and lives. Some
`Compound for sins they are inclined to, By damning those they have no mind to.'
But Jesus lays down the universality of the obligation to obey every "jot" and "tittle" of the law (Matthew 5:17-19), and the danger of 'breaking one of the least commandments.' I wish for the abolition of no commandment of God, but rather the abolition of my sin, which the commandment condemns (Rivetus).
Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.
Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them - "wonderful" in respect to their Author, God, their subject matter, truth without any mixture of error, and their end, salvation for lost man. Though commonplace in the blinded view of worldly men, yet to him who 'keeps' them, they are wonderful in the revelations which they give of glorious and everlasting truths never fathomed before (Isaiah 64:3-4; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10).
The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
The entrance of thy words giveth light - like the sun's beam entering through an aperture into a dark room. So "the Lord opened the heart of Lydia" to attend savingly to the Word; then the light gained an "entrance" into her soul. What then are we to think of those who deny the people of God free access to the Word of God? The Hebrew is literally 'the opening of thy Word' - i:e., the opening of the eyes of the soul caused by thy Word (entering). The Chaldaic somewhat similarly, 'The impression of thy Word.' The allusion is thus to the Urim (meaning light). What the Urim and Thummim were to the consulting worshipper, that thy Word is to me, giving me a response on all questions of faith and duty. So the Septuagint uses here the term [deeloosis] by which they ordinarily express the Urim. The Arabic, Septuagint, and Vulgate take 'the opening of thy Word' to mean, 'the opening of it by explanation' or 'manifestation.' So Hengstenberg, 'The explanation of the sense of the Word, imparted by God through His Spirit: to the natural man the doors of the Word of God are shut.' I prefer the former, which is much the same as the English version.
I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.
I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments - (Psalms 119:20.) Compare Job 29:23; Psalms 42:1. As one fainting pants for air, and one thirsty for water, so thy commandments are the only thing which can satisfy my longings.
Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.
Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me - thy mere look is able to heal me.
As thou usest to do unto those that love thy name. It is no new thing with thee, but thy wont in the case of all the godly, as they can joyfully testify. "As thou usest to do" - literally, 'according to the judgment' or 'right (which thou dost exercise-Hebrew, kªmishpaaT (H4941)) toward those that love thy name.' But the English version is justified by Genesis 40:13, "after the former manner when," etc.; Exodus 21:9; 2 Kings 11:14; Ezra 3:4, "according to the custom." The Chaldaic Targum also supports it against 'judgment' or right, which Hengstenberg maintains, observing, 'Those who love the name of God (God in His historical glory) have a right to the manifestations of His grace, a right resting upon the nature of God as it is revealed in His Word.'
Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. The parallelism of the latter clause, to "order my steps in thy Word," shows, that what he prays against is the dominion of iniquity or evil desire; not, as Hengstenberg, arguing from the first clause of Psalms 119:134, the dominion of any iniquitous man. The Syriac supports the latter. But the Chaldaic, Septuagint, Vulgate, Ethiopic, and Arabic support the English version. "Order" - Hebrew, establish firmly, so that all my motions, external and internal, may be "according to thy Word." This sets aside all eclectic worship, affected revelations independent of the Word, and wandering desires of the mind (Gejer). With the latter clause of the verse, cf. John 8:34; Romans 6:16; Romans 6:20; 2 Peter 2:19.
Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts.
Deliver me from the oppression of man. From prayer against the oppression of "iniquity" (Psalms 119:133) he naturally passes to prayer for deliverance from the oppression of iniquitous men (Luke 1:74).
So will I keep thy precepts - unimpeded by their opposition, which thwarts me now.
Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes.
Make thy face to shine upon thy servant. Prayer for the return of God's full favour to His people Israel (Psalms 80:3; Psalms 80:7; Numbers 6:25).
Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.
Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law - (Lamentations 3:48; Jeremiah 9:1; Jeremiah 13:17.) Hengstenberg translates, literally, 'Mine eyes come down (dissolved in) waterbrooks.' So the Arabic and Ethiopic. The English version understands, 'from' before "mine eyes." So the Syriac. Ezekiel 9:4. God is pleased with the zeal which His servants show for His honour, as insulted by the transgressors not keeping His law. Indifference as to this argues a want of true love for God. Zeal should be tempered with tenderness of spirit. Indignation at the transgressors should be joined with grief and tears for them (Philippians 3:18).
Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are thy judgments.
Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments - (Deuteronomy 32:4.) The "righteous" is singular, "judgments" plural - i:e., thy judgments are each one righteous. When the chastened sinner justifies God in His punitive dealings, he is in the fit frame for receiving deliverance (Nehemiah 9:33; Daniel 9:7).
Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful.
Thy testimonies (that) thou hast commanded (are) righteous and very faithful - an explanation of the preceding verse; literally, 'thou hast commanded thy testimonies (so as to be) righteousness and faithfulness altogether.' They are faithfulness itself as concerns the fulfillment of the promises attached to them (Psalms 119:86; Psalms 93:5).
My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.
My zeal hath consumed me - (Psalms 69:9 .) because mine enemies have forgotten thy words - not from defect of memory, but wilfully acting as if they had no remembrance of them. This afflicts and consumes me more than the evils which I suffer from them. 'Who in our days tortures himself about public evils and sins?' (Muis.)
Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.
Thy word is very pure - literally, purified, like gold or silver refined of all dross by the fire (Psalms 12:6; Psalms 18:30). The purer and more precious is the object beloved (in the estimation of the worldly), the more burning is the indignation felt at any slight put upon it.
I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts.
I am small and despised; (yet) do not I forget thy precepts. This makes me great before God, though small before the world (1 Corinthians 1:27; Luke 1:15).
Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.
Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness - Thy standard of righteousness is an abiding one: though now the enemy seem to prevail against thy righteousness, yet it "endureth forever."
And thy law is the truth. It cannot, therefore, prove false to its promises to them who trust in it (Psalms 19:9; John 17:17).
Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.
Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me - (Psalms 116:3 - Hebrew, 'found me;' Exodus 18:8.) Like dogs tracking out a wild beast hiding or fleeing.
The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live.
The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting - (Psalms 119:142.)
Give me understanding, and I shall live - (Psalms 119:34; Psalms 119:73; Psalms 119:169.) "Thy testimonies" do not disappoint the hopes of those who rest on the promises attached to them; therefore, spiritually to understand them brings with it life.
I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes.
I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O Lord, I will keep thy statutes - (Psalms 119:10.)
I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies.
I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies. The realization of our salvation as an experienced fact is the strongest motive to keeping God's testimonies.
I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.
I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word - (note, Psalms 88:13; Psalms 119:74.) "I prevented" - i:e., anticipated, (Psalms 95:2, margin.) Hengstenberg supplies "thee:" I anticipated thee in the morning dawn.
Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.
Mine eyes prevent the night watches - Mine eyes are already awake before the night-watches are past (Maurer). 'The night watches find me awake when they come' (Hengstenberg). The latter accords best with the words, Psalms 63:6; Psalms 77:4; Lamentations 2:19). Wilberforce used to say, 'I find most time for business, and do it best, when I have most properly observed my private devotions.'
Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: O LORD quicken me according to thy judgment Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: O LORD, quicken me according to thy judgment.
Hear my voice, according unto thy loving-kindness: O Lord, quicken me according to thy judgment -
i.e., thy just principle of judicial dealing with the godly and the ungodly according to their respective characters (Psalms 119:156; Psalms 119:175).
They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law.
They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law. The more they draw nigh me for mischief-literally, premeditated wickedness [ zimaah (H2154)] - the further they are from thy law.
Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth.
Thou art near, O Lord; and all thy commandments (are) truth - (Psalms 119:142.) My enemies draw near (Psalms 119:150), but thou art far nearer to me than they (Psalms 145:18; Jeremiah 23:23). The second clause gives the reason why He is near to His people-namely, because He has promised it in connection with obedience to "His commandments." "All thy commandments," with the threats and promises attached to them, are truth itself.
Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.
Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them forever - unchangeable and eternal (Luke 21:33).
Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law. Consider mine affliction, and deliver me; for I do not forget thy law - (Lamentations 5:1.)
Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word.
Plead my cause - (Psalms 35:1.) So David in respect to his enemy, Saul (1 Samuel 24:15). Israel at last shall confidently anticipate the Lord's pleading her cause (Micah 7:9).
Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes.
Salvation is far from the wicked - even as "they are far from thy law" (Psalms 119:150; Job 5:4).
Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD: quicken me according to thy judgments.
Quicken me according to thy judgments - (Psalms 119:149, note.)
Many are my persecutors and mine enemies; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies.
Yet do I not decline from thy testimonies - (Psalms 119:51; Psalms 44:18.)
I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word.
I beheld the transgressors - literally, the treacherous transgressors (note, Psalms 25:3); unfaithful to their covenanted duty to their neighbour, as well as to God.
And was grieved (Psalms 119:136; Ezra 9:4) - not so much for the injury which they did to me, as for the dishonour to thee.
Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness.
Consider how I love thy precepts. Translate (the Hebrew being the same as in Psalms 119:158), 'Behold how I love thy precepts,' as is evinced in that when 'I beheld the transgressors I was grieved.' He begs to God to behold this, not as meritorious of grace, but as a distinctive mark of a godly man. He casts himself on the mere grace of God in the next clause.
Quicken me, O Lord, according to thy loving-kindness - (Psalms 119:88.)
Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
Thy word is true (from) the beginning - literally, 'the beginning of thy Word is truth,' in antitheses to the "enduring forever," in the future, in the next clause. So the Chaldaic, Septuagint, Vulgate, Arabic, and Syriac versions. Thy word has always been true "from the beginning:" and so also every one of thy righteous judgments (endureth) forever. "From the beginning" implies positively from the time when first it came to the knowledge of man; and by implication, from everlasting, as it shall be unto everlasting ("forever"). As in Psalms 119:159 he sought quickening on the ground of God's "loving-kindness," so here on the ground of His "truth." Cocceius and Hengstenberg take it, 'The sum of thy Word is true,' as in Numbers 26:2; Numbers 31:26. But the antithesis noticed above in the English version is thus lost; and the old versions support the English version. Also, if it were 'the sum,' the plural ought to follow-namely, 'of thy words,' not "word."
Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.
Princes have persecuted me without a cause - as Saul did David (1 Samuel 24:11; 1 Samuel 24:14; 1 Samuel 26:18). Virtually Saul and his party were trying to drive David to transgress God's Word.
But my heart standeth in awe of thy word - I was more "in awe of thy word," lest I should in any way transgress, than I was in awe of the "princes" who persecuted me. Not slavish, but reverential fear. It was accompanied with faith and hope (Psalms 119:120; Psalms 119:147), such as Josiah felt, his "heart being tender, so that he humbled himself before the Lord," when the words of God's book of promises and threatenings were read to him (2 Kings 22:10-11; 2 Kings 22:19). He who fears God's Word need not fear the word of man (Isaiah 8:12-13; Matthew 10:28; 1 Peter 3:14-15; Luke 12:5).
I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.
I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil. As the man who found the treasure hid in the field "for joy thereof went and sold all that he had, and bought that field" (Matthew 13:44).
I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.
I hate and abhor lying - all that is false, deceitful, or self-deceiving (being contrary to thy law) in doctrine and in practice: all the world's vanities and cheats (note, Psalms 119:29).
But thy law do I love - as being the truth, without mixture of "lying" or error. "Thy law" is tile antithesis to "lying."
Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments. Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments. "Seven times," the number for perfection. Here he says he praises God continually by day, in Psalms 119:147-148 by night. God's former judgments on the enemy for His people are a pledge that He will again interpose for them: therefore the Psalmist praises God "because of His righteous judgments."
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
Great peace have they which love thy law - (Proverbs 3:2; Proverbs 3:17; Isaiah 32:17). However the waves of trouble beat on them from without like a sea-washed lighthouse, all is "peace" within (Isaiah 26:3). They take all that God does with them in good part, having peace in Him (Christ) (John 16:33).
And nothing shall offend them - Hebrew, 'they shall have no stumblingblock.' 1 John 2:10, "There is none occasion of stumbling in him" (who "abides in the light," which makes him to see and avoid such stumblingblocks). Wealth, tribulation, temptations, which are the occasion to many of falling (Isaiah 8:14-15; Ezekiel 3:20; Ezekiel 7:19; Ezekiel 14:3-4; Ezekiel 14:7), are not so to him.
LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.
Lord, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments - (Psalms 119:174.) So Jacob on his death-bed (Genesis 49:18).
My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.
My soul hath kept thy testimonies ... for all my ways are before thee - they are all known to thee, and thou wilt recompense me accordingly. In all my ways I remember that thine eye is upon me, and therefore I do everything as in thy presence (Proverbs 5:21; Genesis 17:1; Psalms 73:23).
Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word.
Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord: give me understanding according to thy word. Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word - of premise (Psalms 119:25; Psalms 119:65; Psalms 119:107). The first cry is for inward understanding, the second supplication is for outward deliverance. The deliverance follows as the consequence of obtaining understanding (Psalms 90:12-15). On the words "cry" and "supplication," cf. Psalms 6:9; Psalms 17:1).
My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes.
My lips shall utter praise - literally, 'shall pour forth praises as from a bubbling, overflowing fountain' (Psalms 19:2, note; 78:2).
When thou hast taught me thy statutes. Not until thou hast taught me can I utter forth aright thy praise (Psalms 51:15).
My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.
My tongue shall speak of thy word - literally, 'shall answer thy Word;' respond to thy Word with praise. Every expression of praise to God and His Word is a response or acknowledgment corresponding to the perfections of Him whom we praise (Psalms 147:7).
Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.
Let thine hand help me: for I have chosen thy precepts - as my chief portion, in preference to worldly gains or pleasures. Like Joshua (Joshua 24:22) and Mary, who "chose the good part" (Luke 10:42).
I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight.
I have longed for thy salvation - (Psalms 119:131; Psalms 119:166.)
And thy law is my delight - (Psalms 119:16; Psalms 119:24; Psalms 119:47; Psalms 119:77; Psalms 1:2.)
Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.
Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me (Psalms 119:149; Psalms 119:156) - Save my natural and my spiritual life, which my adversaries assail, that so I may praise thee; also, help me by inflicting judgments on my adversaries.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep: seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments - Though I have for a time wandered from God like a lost sheep, yet, being a believer, I do not utterly forget thy commandment. Note that even the believer, when lost for a time, much more the sinner, who has never been converted (Luke 15:4), is unable to recover himself (cf. Jeremiah 50:6). The distinguishing feature of the believer is, he knows to whom to look for restoration after temporary straying. See the Lord's beautiful promise in answer to Israel's prayer of penitence, which God Himself shall at last inspire (Ezekiel 34:12; Ezekiel 34:16).
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 119". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/
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