Psalms 119


The various excellencies and important uses of the law or

revelation of God.


This is another of the alphabetical or acrostic Psalms. It is

divided into twenty-two parts, answering to the number of letters

in the Hebrew alphabet. Every part is divided into eight verses;

and each verse begins with that letter of the alphabet which forms

the title of the part, e.g.: The eight first verses have

aleph prefixed, the second eight beth, each of the eight

verses beginning with that letter; and so of the rest. All

connexion, as might be naturally expected, is sacrificed to this

artificial and methodical arrangement.

It is not easy to give any general Analysis of this Psalm; it is

enough to say that it treats in general on the privileges and

happiness of those who observe the law of the Lord. That law is

exhibited by various names and epithets tending to show its

various excellences. Earnest prayers are offered to God for wisdom

to understand it, and for grace to observe it faithfully. These

particulars may be collected from the whole composition, and

appear less or more in every part.

The words which express that revelation which God had then given

to men, or some particular characteristic of it, are generally

reckoned to be the ten following: 1. Testimonies; 2. Commandments;

3. Precepts; 4. Word; 5. Law; 6. Ways; 7. Truth; 8.

Judgments; 9. Righteousness; 10. Statutes. To these some add the

following: 1. Faithfulness; 2. Judgment; 3. Name; but these are

not used in the sense of the other ten words. I believe it is

almost universally asserted that in every verse of this Psalm one

or other of those ten words is used, except in ver. 122; but on a

closer inspection we shall find that none of them is used in the

above sense in the 84th, 90th, 121st, 122nd, and 132nd. See the

notes on these verses. Ps 119:84, 90, 121, 122, 132

To save myself unnecessary repetition, and the reader time and

trouble, I shall here, once for all, explain the above words,

which the reader will do well to keep in remembrance.

1. The Law, TORAH, from yarah, to direct, guide,

teach, make straight, or even, point forward; because it guides,

directs, and instructs in the way of righteousness; makes our path

straight, shows what is even and right, and points us onward

to peace, truth, and happiness. It is even our school-master to

bring us to Christ, that we may be justified through faith; and by

it is the knowledge of sin.

II. STATUTES, CHUKKIM, from chak, to mark, trace

out, describe, and ordain; because they mark out our way describe

the line of conduct we are to pursue and order or ordain what we

are to observe.

III. PRECEPTS, PIKKUDIM, from pakad, to take

notice or care of a thing, to attend, have respect to, to

appoint, to visit; because they take notice of our way, have

respect to the whole of our life and conversation, superintend,

overlook, and visit us in all the concerns and duties of life.

IV. COMMANDMENTS, MITSVOTH, from tasvah to command,

order, ordain; because they show us what we should do, and what we

should leave undone, and exact our obedience.

V. TESTIMONIES, EDOTH, from ad, denoting beyond,

farther, all along, to bear witness, or testimony. The rites and

ceremonies of the law; because they point out matters beyond

themselves, being types and representations of the good things

that were to come.

VI. JUDGMENTS, MISHPATIM, from shaphat, to judge,

determine, regulate, order, and discern, because they judge

concerning our words and works; show the rules by which they

should be regulated; and cause us to discern what is right and

wrong, and decide accordingly.

VII. TRUTH, EMUNAH, from aman, to make steady,

constant, to settle, trust, believe. The law that is established

steady, confirmed, and ordered in all things, and sure; which

should be believed on the authority of God, and trusted to as an

infallible testimony from Him who cannot lie nor deceive.

VIII. WORD, dabar, from the same root, to discourse, utter

one's sentiments, speak consecutively and intelligibly; in which

it appears to differ from malal, to utter articulate sounds.

Any prophecy or immediate communication from heaven, as well as

the whole body of Divine revelation, is emphatically called

debar Yehovah, the word of Jehovah. On the same ground we

call the whole Old and New Testament THE WORD OF THE LORD, as we

term the volume in which they are contained THE BIBLE-THE BOOK. In

his revelation God speaks to man; shows him, in a clear, concise,

intelligible, and rational way, his interest, his duty, his

privileges; and, in a word, the reasonable service that he

requires of him.

IX. WAY, DERECH, from the same root, to proceed, go on,

walk, tread. The way in which God goes in order to instruct and

save man; the way in which man must tread in order to be safe,

holy, and happy. God's manner of acting or proceeding in

providence and grace; and the way that man should take in order to

answer the end of his creation and redemption.

X. RIGHTEOUSNESS, TSEDAKAH from tsadak, to do

justice, to give full weight. That which teaches a man to give to

all their due; to give GOD his due, MAN his due, and HIMSELF his

due; for every man has duties to God, his neighbor, and

himself, to perform. This word is applied to God's judgments,

testimonies, and commandments; they are all righteous, give to

all their due, and require what is due from every one.

The three words, which some add here, are, 1. FAITHFULNESS,

EMUNAH: but see this under No. VII., nor does it appear in

Ps 119:90, where it occurs, to be used as a characteristic of

God's law, but rather his exact fulfilment of his promises to man.

The second is JUDGMENT, mishpat. See this under No. VI.:

it occurs in Ps 119:84, 121: "When wilt thou execute judgment,"

&c.; but is not used in those places as one of the ten words.

The third is NAME, shem, see Ps 119:132: but this is

no characteristic of God's law; it refers here simply to himself.

Those that love thy NAME is the same as those that love THEE.

Bishop Nicholson inserts promises among the ten words: but this

occurs no where in the Psalm.

We might, and with much more propriety, add a fourth,

IMRAH, from amar, to branch out, spread, or diffuse

itself, as the branches of a tree; and which is often used for a

word spoken, a speech. This often occurs in the Psalm: and we

regularly translate it word, and put no difference or distinction

between it and dabar, No. VIII.: but it is not exactly the

same; dabar may apply more properly to history, relation,

description, and such like; while, imrathecha, thy word,

may mean an immediate oracle, delivered solemnly from God to his

prophet for the instruction of men. But the two words appear often

indifferently used; and it would not be easy to ascertain the

different shades of meaning between these two roots.

Having thus far introduced the Psalm to the reader's attention,

I should probably speak at large of the elegance of its

composition, and the importance and utility of its matter. Like

all other portions of Divine revelation, it is elegant, important,

and useful; and while I admire the fecundity of the psalmist's

genius, the unabating flow of his poetic vein, his numerous

synonyms, and his copia verborum, by which he is enabled to

expand, diversify, and illustrate the same idea; presenting it to

his reader in all possible points of view, so as to render it

pleasing, instructive, and impressive; I cannot rob the rest of

the book of its just praise by setting this, as many have done,

above all the pieces it contains. It is by far the largest, the

most artificial, and most diversified; yet, in proportion to its

length, it contains the fewest ideas of any Psalm in the Book.

Several of the ancients, particularly the Greek fathers, have

considered it as an abridgement of David's life; in which he

expresses all the states through which he had passed; the trials,

persecutions, succours, and encouragements he had received. The

Latin fathers perceive in it all the morality of the Gospel, and

rules for a man's conduct in every situation of life. Cassiodorus

asserts that it contains the sentiments of the prophets, apostles,

martyrs, and all the saints. In the introduction to the Book of

Psalms, I have conjectured that many of them were composed from

notes taken at different times, and in widely different

circumstances; hence the different states described in the same

Psalm, which could not have been at one and the same time the

experience of the same person. It is most likely that this Psalm

was composed in this way, and this, as well as its acrostical

arrangement, will account for its general want of connexion.

Though the most judicious interpreters assign it to the times of

the Babylonish captivity; yet there are so many things in it

descriptive of David's state, experience, and affairs, that I am

led to think it might have come from his pen; or if composed at or

under the captivity, was formed out of his notes and memoranda.

I shall now make short remarks on the principal subjects in each

part; and, at the end of each, endeavour by the Analysis to show

the connexion which the eight verses of each have among

themselves, and the use which the reader should make of them. In

all the Versions except the Chaldee this Psalm is numbered cxviii.

LETTER ALEPH.-First Division

Verse 1. Blessed are the undefiled in the way]

ashrey temimey darech, "O the blessedness of the perfect ones in

the way." This Psalm begins something like the first, where see

the notes. Ps 1:1 By the

perfect, which is the proper meaning of the original word, we

are to understand those who sincerely believe what God has spoken,

religiously observe all the rules and ceremonies of his religion,

and have their lives and hearts regulated by the spirit of love,

fear, and obedience. This is farther stated in the second verse.

Verse 3. They also do no iniquity] They avoid all idolatry,

injustice, and wrong; and they walk in God's ways, not in those

ways to which an evil heart might entice them, nor those in which

the thoughtless and the profligate tread.

Verse 4. Thy precepts diligently.] meod, "superlatively,

to the uttermost." God has never given a commandment, the

observance of which he knew to be impossible. And to whatsoever he

has commanded he requires obedience; and his grace is sufficient

for us. We must not trifle with God.

Verse 5. O that my ways were directed] "I wish that my way may

be confirmed to keep thy statutes." Without thee I can do nothing;

my soul is unstable and fickle; and it will continue weak and

uncertain till thou strengthen and establish it.

Verse 6. Then shall I not be ashamed] Every act of transgression

in the wicked man tends to harden his heart; and render it

callous. If a man who fears God is so unhappy as to fall into

sin, his conscience reproaches him, and he is ashamed before God

and man. This is a full proof that God's Spirit has not utterly

departed from him, and that he may repent, believe and be healed.

Unto all thy commandments.] God requires universal obedience,

and all things are possible to him whom Christ strengthens; and

all things are possible to him that believes. Allow that any of

God's commandments may be transgressed, and we shall soon have the

whole decalogue set aside.

Verse 8. O forsake me not utterly.] ad meod, "to utter

dereliction;" never leave me to my own strength, nor to my own



I. In this first octonary the prophet commends to us the law of

God, and persuades us to practise it by two arguments: 1.

Happiness, Ps 119:1, 2. 2. The excellence of the Lawgiver,

Ps 119:4.

II. He shows his affection to this law, desiring grace to keep

it, Ps 119:5.

On which he knew there would follow two effects:

1. Peace of conscience: "He should not be ashamed," &c.

2. Thankfulness to God for his teaching, Ps 119:7.

"Blessed are they who are undefiled in the way," &c.

"Blessed are they who keep his testimonies," &c.

"They also do no iniquity," &c.

I. The first argument used by the prophet to persuade men to

obedience is blessedness. He that would be happy must be obedient;

and his obedience, if true, may be thus discerned:-

1. "He must be undefiled in the way." Keep himself from sin.

2. "He must walk in the law of the Lord," &c. Which is the rule

of our faith, life, and worship.

3. "He must keep his testimonies." Search them out in God's


4. "He must seek him with a whole heart." With sincerity search

his law to the utmost, both what it bids, and what it forbids, in

order to know the mind of the Lawgiver.

5. "They also do no iniquity." They work no iniquity with 1.

Purpose of heart; 2. Delight; 3. With perseverance; 4. Nor at all,

when the heart is fully sanctified unto God; Christ dwelling in it

by faith.

6. They walk in his way, which the wicked do not: but the

righteous have taken it for their path through life; and should

they at any time swerve from it, they come back by repentance and

confession to God.

The prophet's second argument to persuade to obedience is the

authority of the Lawgiver. All disobedience proceeds either from

contempt of God's laws, or rebellion against them: but David

brings to our mind the authority of the Lawgiver, from a

consideration of who he is who commands our obedience as his

servants: "Thou hast commanded that we keep,' &c.

1. Thou, who knowest when we err, and wilt punish us.

2. Hast commanded-absolutely enjoined.

3. That we keep, &c.-they cannot be dispensed with.

4. Diligently, &c. Not negligently or lazily, or Satan will take

advantage of us.

II. The blessedness promised to the keepers of God's law moved

the prophet to send forth this ardent prayer, "O that my ways,"


1. David was a great king, and yet desires to be obedient.

2. He answers God's command by a prayer, to be enabled to

perform it by his grace.

3. "O that my ways," &c. My counsels, actions, &c., were

conformable to the straitness and regularity of thy law.

4. He knew he could not be too closely united to God, and

therefore he prays to be directed.

Which prayer he knew God would hear; and that the effect would

be quietness of soul, and boldness at a throne of grace.

1. "Then shall I not be confounded," &c. If his heart were right

with God, he should not fly from him, as did Adam: that was the

effect of disobedience.

2. If God directed his ways to the keeping of his commandments,

he should find no amazement in his conscience, but holy boldness.

And this effect will produce another fruit, a thankful heart.

1. "I will praise thee." Give thee thanks for they grace and


2. "With uprightness of heart." Not with his tongue only, but

with an honest and upright heart.

3. But this could not be done till God had taught him: "I will

praise thee when I shall have learned," &c. Not to know them only

with my understanding, but to make them the rule of my life, which

cannot be but by the influence of the Spirit of GOD.

And what follows upon this will be a firm purpose of heart to be

obedient to God's laws.

1. "I will keep thy statutes." So am I fully resolved and

decreed with myself. And it is a great help to godliness to

resolve to live a godly life; for how shall that be performed

which is not purposed.

2. And yet this purpose or conclusion he makes in God's

strength; and therefore constantly prays: "O forsake me not

utterly." Without thy aid I can do nothing: but if at any time in

thy just judgment thou desert me, that I may know and feel my own

weakness, and learn the better to fly to thee, let it not be an

utter desertion. Forsake me not, neither too much nor too long.

LETTER: BETH-Second Division

Verse 9. A young man cleanse his way] orach, which we

translate way here, signifies a track, a rut, such as is made by

the wheel of a cart or chariot. A young sinner has no broad beaten

path; he has his private ways of offence, his secret pollutions:

and how shall he be cleansed from these? how can he be saved from

what will destroy mind, body, and soul? Let him hear what follows;

the description is from God.

1. He is to consider that his way is impure; and how abominable

this must make him appear in the sight of God.

2. He must examine it according to God's word, and carefully

hear what God has said concerning him and it.

3. He must take heed to it, lishmor, to keep guard,

and preserve his way-his general course of life, from all


Verse 10. With my whole heart have I sought thee] 4. He must

seek God; make earnest prayer and supplication to him for Divine

light, for a tender conscience, and for strength to walk

uprightly. 5. His whole heart; all his affections must be engaged

here, or he cannot succeed. If he keep any affection for the idol

or abomination; if his heart do not give it before the Lord, he

may make many prayers, but God will answer none of them. 6. He

must take care to keep in the path of duty, of abstinence and

self-denial; not permitting either his eye, his hand, or his heart

to wander from the commandments of his Maker.

Verse 11. Thy word have I hid in my heart] 7. He must treasure

up those portions of God's word in his mind and heart which speak

against uncleanness of every kind; and that recommend purity,

chastity, and holiness. The word of Christ should dwell richly in

him. If God's word be only in his Bible, and not also in his

heart, he may soon and easily be surprised into his besetting


Verse 12. Blessed art thou] 8. He must acknowledge the mercy of

God, in so far preserving him from all the consequences of his

sin. 9. He should beg of him to become his teacher, that his heart

and conscience might be instructed in the spirituality of his


Verse 13. With my lips have I declared] 10. He should declare to

his own heart, and to all his companions in iniquity, God's

judgments against himself and them; that if his long-suffering

mercy have not made a proper impression on their hearts, they may

tremble at his approaching judgments.

Verse 14. I have rejoiced] 11. He must consider it his chief

happiness to be found in the path of obedience, giving his whole

heart and strength to God; and when enabled to do it, he should

rejoice more in it than if he had gained thousands of gold and

silver. O how great is the treasure of a tender and approving


Verse 15. I will meditate] 12. He should encourage

self-examination and reflection; and meditate frequently on God's

words, works, and ways-and especially on his gracious dealings

towards him. 13. He should keep his eye upon God's steps; setting

the example of his Saviour before his eyes, going where he would

go, and nowhere else; doing what he would do, and nothing

else; keeping the company that he would keep, and none else; and

doing every thing in reference to the final judgment.

Verse 16. I will delight myself] The word is very emphatical:

eshtaasha, I will skip about and jump for joy. 14. He

must exult in God's word as his treasure, live in the spirit of

obedience as his work, and ever glory in God, who has called him

to such a state of salvation. 15. He must never forget what God

has done for him, done in him, and promised farther to do; and he

must not forget the promises he had made, and the vows of the

Lord that are upon him. Any young man who attends to these fifteen

particulars will get his impure way cleansed; victory over his

sin; and, if he abide faithful to the Lord that bought him, an

eternal heaven at last among them that are sanctified.


In the first part the psalmist, having commended God's law, from

its Author-God, and its end-happiness, shows us in the second part

the efficacy and utility of it to a holy life, without which there

can be no happiness. And in order to show this effect, he chooses

the most unlikely subject.

I. A young man, in whom the law of the members is most strong;

he wants experience; he is headstrong, and generally under the

government, not of reason nor religion, but of his own passions.

II. The psalmist shows that, to cleanse the way of such, he must

"take heed to them," watch over them, and "remember his Creator in

the days of his youth."

As a man must become holy in order to be happy, he shows how

this holiness is to be attained, and adduces his own experience.

1. Seek God with thy "whole heart." Be truly sensible of your


2. Keep and remember what God says: "Thy words have I hidden,"


3. Reduce all this to practice: "That I might not sin against


4. Bless God for what he has given: "Blessed art thou," &c.

5. Ask more: "Teach me thy statutes."

6. Be ready to communicate his knowledge to others: "With my

lips have I declared."

7. Let it have a due effect on thy own heart: "I have rejoiced,"


8. Meditate frequently upon them: "I will meditate," &c.

9. Deeply reflect on them: "I will have respect," &c. As food

undigested will not nourish the body, so the word of God not

considered with deep meditation and reflection will not feed the


10. Having pursued the above course, he should continue in it,

and then his happiness would be secured: "I will not forget thy

word. I will (in consequence) delight myself in thy statutes."

LETTER GIMEL.-Third Division

Verse 17. Deal bountifully] gemol, reward thy servant. Let

him have the return of his faith and prayers, that the Divine life

may be preserved in his soul! Then he will keep thy word. From

gamal, to reward, &c., comes the name of gimel, the third

letter in the Hebrew alphabet, which is prefixed to every verse in

this part, and commences it with its own name. This is a stroke of

the psalmist's art and ingenuity.

Verse 18. Open thou mine eyes] gal eynai, reveal my

eyes, illuminate my understanding, take away the veil that is on

my heart, and then shall I see wonders in thy law. The Holy

Scriptures are plain enough; but the heart of man is darkened by

sin. The Bible does not so much need a comment, as the soul does

the light of the Holy Spirit. Were it not for the darkness of the

human intellect, the things relative to salvation would be easily


Verse 19. I am a stranger in the earth] In the land. Being

obliged to wander about from place to place, I am like a stranger

even in my own country. If it refer to the captives in Babylon,

it may mean that they felt themselves there as in a state of

exile; for, although they had been seventy years in it, they

still felt it as a strange land, because they considered Palestine

their home.

Verse 20. My soul breaketh] We have a similar expression: It

broke my heart, That is heart-breaking, She died of a broken

heart. It expresses excessive longing, grievous disappointment,

hopeless love, accumulated sorrow. By this we may see the

hungering and thirsting which the psalmist had after

righteousness, often mingled with much despondency.

Verse 21. Thou hast rebuked the proud] This was done often in

the case of David; and was true also in reference to the

Babylonians, who held the Israelites in subjection, and whose

kings were among the proudest of human beings. Instead of

zedim, the proud, some MSS. read zarim, strangers, and

one reads goyim, the heathen; and so the Syriac.

Verse 22. Remove from me reproach and contempt] Of these the

captives in Babylon had a more than ordinary load.

Verse 23. Princes also did sit] It is very likely that the

nobles of Babylon did often, by wicked misrepresentations,

render the minds of the kings of the empire evil affected towards

the Jews.

Verse 24. Thy testimonies also are-my counsellors.]

anshey atsathi, "the men of my counsel." I sit with them; and I

consider every testimony thou hast given as a particular

counsellor; one whose advice I especially need.

The Analysis will farther explain the particular uses of this



In this division the psalmist-

I. Reckons up the impediments he may meet with in endeavouring

to keep God's law.

II. Prays God to remove them.

First impediment. A dead soul and a dull heart; and therefore

he prays for grace that he may live and keep God's word.

Second impediment. Blindness of understanding: "Open my eyes,

that I may see wonders in thy law." The wonderful equity, wisdom,

and profit of it.

Third impediment. His wayfaring and uncertain situation: I am

a "stranger upon the earth;" therefore, "hide not thy commandments

from me." Should I be frequently destitute of thy ordinances,

leave me not without thy Spirit's teaching.

Fourth impediment. His infirmity and imperfection: "My soul

breaks," &c. I wish to be at all times, what I am sometimes, full

of desire, fervour, zeal, prayer, and faith. Then shall I be what

I should be, when my heart is steady in seeking thy salvation.

Fifth impediment. Pride of heart. This he saw in others, and

was afraid that it might take place in himself; and he knew if it

did, he should wander from the commandment, and come under a


Sixth impediment. The reproach and contempt he met with in

consequence of his endeavours to live a godly life. Against this

he prays as a grievous temptation: "Remove from me reproach and


Seventh impediment. The rulers of the people plotted against his

life; they even met in council about it: "Princes did also sit and

speak against me." It is difficult to bear reproach even for

Christ's sake; though it should be a matter of glorying: but he

must be strong in the faith, who can stand against keen raillery,

and state persecution.

But what effect had all this upon the psalmist?

1. He cleaved to God's testimonies, and conscientiously observed


2. He made them his counsellors-drew all his wisdom from them;

and he was amply rewarded, for they became his delight. Every man

profits who is faithful to his God.

LETTER DALETH.-Fourth Division

Verse 25. My soul cleaveth unto the dust] It would be best to

translate naphshi, my life; and then cleaving to the dust

may imply an apprehension of approaching death; and this agrees

best with the petition.

Quicken thou me] chaiyeni, "make me alive." Keep me from

going down into the dust.

Verse 26. I have declared my ways] sipparti, "I have

numbered my ways," I have searched them out; I have investigated

them. And that he had earnestly prayed for pardon of what was

wrong in them, is evident; for he adds, "Thou heardest me."

Verse 28. My soul melteth] dalaph signifies to distil,

to drop as tears from the eye. As my distresses cause the tears

to distil from my eyes, so the overwhelming load of my afflictions

causes my life to ebb and leak out.

Verse 29. The way of lying] The propensity to falsity and

prevarication, whatsoever is contrary to truth. Remove me from

its solicitations, and remove it from me. "Grant me thy law

graciously;" give it to me as a rule of moral conduct; but give it

to me graciously through the Gospel; and then it will not be the

letter that killeth, but will be sanctified to me, so as to become

to me holy, just, and GOOD.

Verse 30. I have chosen the way of truth] And that I may

continue in its "remove from me the way of lying." See above.

Verse 31. I have stuck] dabakti, I have cleaved to,

been glued to, them: the same word as in Ps 119:25. My

soul cleaves as much to thy testimonies, as my life has cleaved

to the dust.

O Lord, put me not to shame.] Let my sins and follies be blotted

out by thy mercy; and so hide and cover them that they shall never

appear, either in this or the coming world, to my shame and

confusion! How many need to be importunate with God in this


Verse 32. I will run] The particle , which we translate when,

should be translated because: Because thou shalt enlarge, or

dilate, my heart; make plain my path by cleansing me from my

impurity, and taking the hinderances out of my way. I will then

run without dread of stumbling, and every day make sensible



The psalmist-

I. Sets down the state of an imperfect man.

II. Confesses it.

III. Asks grace and mercy.

IV. Professes what in consequence he would do.

I. 1. "My soul cleaveth unto the dust:" His affections cleaved

to things below, instead of being set on things above.

2. "Quicken thou me:" Give me a life according to thy law. By

cleaving to the earth, he was earthly; by cleaving to the flesh,

he was carnal; but by living according to the spiritual law, he

was to become one spirit with God.

II. He confesses his imperfections.

1. "I have declared my ways." I acknowledge all my wanderings,

sins, follies, and unfaithfulness, I have hidden nothing from


2. Thou didst hear me; forgavest me out of thy mere mercy.

3. Do the like now: "Teach me thy statutes." These two things

should be sought together: mercy to pardon, and grace to assist

and renew.

III. He proceeds in this prayer.

1. "Make me to understand:" Where the mind is darkened, the

heart cannot be well ordered.

2. He that asks good things from God should ask them for a good

end: "Make me to understand; so shall I talk," &c.

3. He would show God's wondrous works: I shall talk of thy

wondrous law,-thy wondrous Gospel,-thy wondrous mercy in saving

sinners,-the wondrous means thou usest, &c.

IV. He returns to his confession, and states what he purposes to


1. "My soul melts:" I am full of trouble and distress.

2. "Strengthen thou me:" Give me the grace thou hast promised.

3. "Remove from me the way of lying:" Give me power to avoid all


4. "Grant me thy law graciously:" Print the matter of it in my

heart, and abolish my corruption.

5. He chooses the truth.

6. He adheres to it.

7. He will continue in it.

8. Yea, and with greater diligence than ever. To make up for

lost time, he will now run: and, while running, keep in God's way.

Some run, but they run out of it.

LETTER HE.-Fifth Division

Verse 33. Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes] To

understand the spiritual reference of all the statutes, &c, under

the law, required a teaching which could only come from God.

I shall keep it unto the end.] Here is a good thing asked for

a good end. He wishes for heavenly teaching; not to make a parade

of it, but to enable him to discern his duty, that he might act


Verse 34. With my whole heart.] I will not trifle with my God, I

will not divide my affections with the world; God shall have all.

Verse 36. Not to covetousness.] Let me have no inordinate love

for gain of any kind, nor for any thing that may grieve thy

Spirit, or induce me to seek my happiness here below.

Verse 37. From beholding vanity] An idol, worldly pleasure,

beauty, finery; any thing that is vain, empty, or transitory. Let

me not behold it; let me not dwell upon it. Let me remember Achan:

he saw,-he coveted,-he took,-he hid his theft, and was

slain for his sin.

Verse 38. Stablish thy word] Fulfil the promises thou hast made

to me.

Verse 39. Turn away my reproach, which I fear] This may be

understood of the reproach which a man may meet with in

consequence of living a godly life, for such a life was never

fashionable in any time or country. But I have found the

following note on the passage: "I have done a secret evil; my soul

is sorry for it: if it become public, it will be a heavy reproach

to me. O God, turn it away, and let it never meet the eye of


Verse 40. Behold, I have longed] Thou searchest the heart; thou

knowest that I have long desired thy salvation; thou seest that

this desire still remains. Behold it! it is thy work; and through

thy mercy I breathe after thy mercy.

Quicken me] I am dying; O give me the spirit of life in Christ



In this part, which is wholly precatory, the psalmist prays,-

I. That God would illuminate his mind.

II. That he would remove all those hinderances which might

prevent him from doing his duty.

I. 1. The first petition is for illumination: "Teach me;" point

me out what I am to learn, and how I am to learn it.

2. The second is, "Give me understanding." Let me comprehend,

that I may profit by this teaching.

3. The end for which he asks,-that he "may keep the law."

He specifies the manner: 1. He will be no temporizer; he will

keep it "to the end." 2. He will be no hypocrite; he will keep it

"with his whole heart."

1. He prays for power: "Make me to go." Without thy Spirit's

help I can do nothing: I do not know the way without thy teaching;

I cannot walk in it without thy help.

2. He wishes to go in the path; the way in which all God's

followers have walked.

3. It is a path, not a public road; a path where no beast goes,

and men seldom.

4. He gives a reason why his petition should be granted:

"Therein do I delight."

II. He prays to have all impediments removed.

1. "Incline my heart." Bind it down to a willing obedience.

2. "Not to covetousness." Keep me from the love of money, the

world, the creature.

3. He prays against the desire of the eye: "Turn away mine

eyes." Let the eye of my body be turned away from vanity; the eye

of my mind turned away to thee.

4. Let me find the benefit of this turning: "Stablish thy

word,"-make good thy word; give me grace to stand.

5. For which he gives this reason: "I am thy servant, and am

devoted to thy fear."

6. He is afraid of the consequences if he be not faithful: "Turn

away my reproach." Let it not be said, at the day of judgment, "I

was hungry, and you gave me no meat," &c.

7. He knows if God condemns it must be justly: "For thy

judgments are good." Man may condemn where thou approvest; he

may approve where thou condemnest. Thy judgments alone are


8. He concludes, desiring the Lord to look on the state of his

heart: "Behold!" 1. Is not my heart right before thee? 2. If so,

quicken me; make me alive, and keep me alive! Without the

latter, the former will answer no end.

LETTER VAU.-Sixth Division

Verse 41. Let thy mercies come] Let me speedily see the

accomplishment of all my prayers! Let me have thy salvation-such a

deliverance as it becomes thy greatness and goodness to impart.

Let it be according to thy word-thy exceeding great and precious


Verse 42. So shall I have wherewith to answer] Many say, "My

hope in thy mercy is vain;" but when thou fulfillest thy promises

to me, then shall I answer to the confusion of their infidelity.

Verse 43. Take not the word of truth] Grant that the assurances

which thy prophets have given to the people of approaching

deliverance may not fall to the ground; let it appear that they

have spoken thy mind, and that thou hast fulfilled their word.

Verse 45. I will walk at liberty] When freed from the present

bondage, we shall rejoice in obedience to thy testimonies; we

shall delight to keep all thy ordinances.

Verse 46. I will speak-before kings] Dr. Delaney supposes that

this is spoken in reference to Achish, king of Gath, whom David

had instructed in the Jewish religion; but we have already seen

that it is most likely that the Psalm was compiled under the

Babylonish captivity. But the words may with more propriety be

referred to the case of Daniel, and other bold and faithful

Israelites, who spoke courageously before Nebuchadnezzar,

Belshazzar, and Darius. See the books of Daniel, Ezra, and


Verse 47. Thy commandments, which I have loved.] O shame to

Christians who feel so little affection to the Gospel of Christ,

when we see such cordial, conscientious, and inviolate attachment

in a Jew to the laws and ordinances of Moses, that did not afford

a thousandth part of the privileges!

Verse 48. My hands also will I lift up] I will present every

victim and sacrifice which the law requires. I will make prayer

and supplication before thee, lifting up holy hands without wrath

and doubting.


The psalmist prays for mercy, and promises to show his

thankfulness two ways:-

I. By a bold confession of God's law.

II. By holy obedience to it.

The whole section consists of two petitions and six promises.

I. I. First petition. "Let thy mercies come also unto me-even

thy salvation." He joins these two, mercy and salvation, as cause

and effect; for God's mercy can alone bring salvation.

This being granted, he vows to be thankful and courageous.

1. He vows to confess God's law, and answer any adversary who

may say, "It is vain for him to hope in the Lord," by showing that

God has fulfilled his word.

2. That he will put his trust in God; because he is omnipotent

and merciful.

II. The second petition is, "Take not the word of truth utterly

out of my mouth." For which he gives a reason: "I have hoped in

thy judgments."

1. "Take not thy word," in which I boast and glory before my


2. "Take not the word out of my mouth," so that I dare not speak

nor openly profess it.

3. "Take it not away utterly." If for my unfaithfulness thou

shouldst shut my mouth for a time, restore thy favour to me, that

I may again make confession unto salvation.

4. For which he gives this reason: "I have hoped," &c. I trust

in thy fidelity and justice, that thou wilt accomplish, in

promises and threatenings, whatsoever thou hast engaged to


II. Now he shows his thankfulness by determining to make

confession of God's mercy in a holy life; serving God.

1. With a free heart: "I will walk at liberty;" sin shall have

no dominion over me.

2. With a loosened tongue: "I will speak of thy testimonies also

before kings." It is a difficult thing to speak to great men

concerning their salvation; it requires great boldness, and equal

humility. Rudeness, under the guise of zeal, spoils every good.

3. With hearty affection: "I will delight myself." He who can

delight in his duty has made considerable progress in piety.

4. With corresponding practice: "My hands will I lift up." My

life shall declare that I have not received the grace of God in


5. With a considerate mind: "I will meditate in thy statutes."

My understanding shall frequently examine them, approve of them,

and turn them over to a heart full of fervent affection.

6. This was a work to which he was accustomed: "I have loved thy

commandments and statutes." Love feels no loads, and habit is a

second nature.

LETTER ZAIN.-Seventh Division

Verse 49. Remember the word] Thou hast promised to redeem us

from our captivity; on that word we have built our hope. Remember

that thou hast thus promised, and see that we thus hope.

Verse 50. This is my comfort] While enduring our harsh

captivity, we anticipated our enlargement; and thy word of promise

was the means of keeping our souls alive.

Verse 51. The proud have had me] We have been treated, not only

with oppressive cruelty, but also with contempt, because we still

professed to trust in thee, the living God, who because of our

transgressions hadst been greatly displeased with us; yet we have

not declined from thy law.

Verse 52. I remembered thy judgments of old] The word judgments

is here taken for providential dealing; and indeed kind treatment;

that which God showed to the Hebrews in bearing with and blessing

them. And it was the recollection of these judgments that caused

him to comfort himself.

Verse 53. Horror hath taken hold upon me] The word

zilaphah, which we render horror, is thought to signify the

pestilential burning wind called by the Arabs simoom. Here it

strongly marks the idea that the psalmist had of the destructive

nature of sin; it is pestilential; it is corrupting, mortal.

Verse 54. Thy statutes have been my songs] During our captivity

all our consolation was derived from singing thy praises, and

chanting among our fellow-captives portions of thy law, and the

precepts it contains.

Verse 55. I have remembered thy name] Thou art Jehovah; and as

our God thou hast made thyself known unto us. In the deepest

night of our affliction this has consoled me.

Verse 56. This I had, because I kept thy precepts.] Though thou

didst leave us under the power of our enemies, yet thou hast not

left us without the consolations of thy Spirit.


In this part the psalmist-

I. Prays.

II. Shows his trust in God, notwithstanding his discouragements.

III. Commends the word of God, by showing what blessed effects

it had produced in him.

I. 1. He prays: "Remember;" accomplish and perfect thy promise.

God's promises are made to prayer and faith; if men do not exert

these, God will not fulfil the others.

2. "Made to thy servant:" The promises are made to the obedient.

It is in vain to desire God to remember his promises made to us,

if we make no conscience to perform our promises made to him.

3. "Wherein thou hast caused me to put my trust:" This is a

forcible argument to induce God to fulfil his promises. They are

thy promises; thou hast made them to us; and thou hast caused us

to hope, because made by thee, that they shall be fulfilled.

II. He shows that the hope he had in God made him steady, even

in afflictions.

1. "This is my comfort in affliction:" That is, God's word and


2. "Thy word hath quickened me;" brought me life, strength, and


3. He mentions his afflictions. 1. The proud have had me in

derision. 2. Yet I have not declined from thy law. 3. For in my

afflictions I remembered thy judgments; his casting down the proud

and exalting the humble. And, 4. From these considerations he

derived comfort.

III. His knowledge of God's purity and judgments caused him to

commiserate the state of the wicked.

1. "Horror hath taken hold upon me:" For those who trampled

under foot God's word, and persecuted the righteous, he grieved;

not because of the evil they did him, but of the evil they did

themselves. He describes those men.

2. They forsook God's laws. Probably apostate Israelites.

3. He was not without consolation, though much afflicted and

harassed. He took delight in God's law, and made his songs of it.

4. And this was a source of joy to him both day and night.

5. He concludes with this acclamation: "This I had;" I had this

spirit, this power, this comfort, "because I kept thy precepts."

While I suffered for God, I was enabled to rejoice in God. As I

made him my portion, so he has been my praise.

LETTER CHETH.-Eighth Division

Verse 57. Thou art my portion, O Lord] From the fifty-seventh to

the sixtieth verse may be seen the progress of the work of grace

on the human heart, from the first dawn of heavenly light till the

soul is filled with the fulness of God. But as I consider this

Psalm as notes selected from diaries of past experience, formed at

different times; and that the author has been obliged, for the

support of his acrostic plan, to interchange circumstances,

putting that sometimes behind which in the order of grace comes

before; because, to put it in its right place, the letters would

not accord with the alphabetical arrangement; I shall therefore

follow what I conceive to be its order in the connexion of grace,

and not in the order in which the words are here laid down.

See Clarke on Ps 119:60.

Verse 58. See Clarke on Ps 119:60.

Verse 59. FIRST.-I thought on my ways] chashabti, I

deeply pondered them; I turned them upside down; I viewed my

conduct on all sides. The word, as used here, is a metaphor taken

from embroidering, where the figure must appear the same on the

one side as it does on the other; therefore, the cloth must be

turned on each side every time the needle is set in, to see that

the stitch be fairly set. Thus narrowly and scrupulously did the

psalmist examine his conduct; and the result was, a deep

conviction that he had departed from the way of God and truth.

SECONDLY.-And turned my feet unto thy testimonies.] Having made

the above discovery, and finding himself under the displeasure of

God, he abandoned every evil way, took God's word for his

directory, and set out fairly in the way of life and salvation.

Verse 60. THIRDLY.-I made haste, and delayed not] He did this

with the utmost speed; and did not trifle with his convictions,

nor seek to drown the voice of conscience.

The original word, which we translate delayed not, is amazingly

emphatical. velo hithmahmahti, I did not stand

what-what-whating; or, as we used to express the same sentiment,

shilly-shallying with myself: I was determined, and so set out.

The Hebrew word, as well as the English, strongly marks indecision

of mind, positive action being suspended, because the mind is so

unfixed as not to be able to make a choice.

Ver. 58. FOURTHLY.-Being determined in his heart, he tells us,

I entreated thy favour with my whole heart. He found he had

sinned; that he needed mercy; that he had no time to lose; that he

must be importunate; and therefore he sought that mercy with all

his soul.

FIFTHLY.-Feeling that he deserved nothing but wrath, that he had

no right to any good, he cries for mercy in the way that God had

promised to convey it: "Be merciful unto me!" And to this he is

encouraged only by the promise of God; and therefore prays, "Be

merciful unto me ACCORDING to thy WORD."

Ver. 57. SIXTHLY.-To keep himself firm in his present

resolutions, he binds himself unto the Lord. "I have said that I

would keep thy words." Thy vows are upon me, and I must not add to

my guilt by breaking them.

SEVENTHLY.-He did not seek in vain; God reveals himself in the

fulness of blessedness to him, so that he is enabled to exclaim,

Thou art my portion, O Lord! My whole soul trusts in thee, my

spirit rests supremely satisfied with thee. I have no other

inheritance, nor do I desire any. Here then is the way to seek,

the way to find, and the way to be happy. Other effects of

this conversion may be seen below.

Verse 61. The bands of the wicked have robbed me] chebley,

the cables, cords, or snares of the wicked. They have hunted us

like wild beasts; many they have taken for prey, and many they

have destroyed.

Verse 62. At midnight I will rise] We are so overpowered with a

sense of thy goodness, that in season and out of season we will

return thee thanks.

Verse 63. I am a companion] This was the natural consequence of

his own conversion; he abandoned the workers of iniquity, and

associated with them that feared the Lord.

Verse 64. The earth is full of thy mercy] What an astonishing

operation has the grace of God! In the midst of want, poverty,

affliction, and bondage, it makes those who possess it happy! When

Christ dwells in the heart by faith, we have nothing but goodness

around us. Others may complain; but to us even the earth appears

full of the mercy of the Lord.


In this part we have-

I. The assertion of the psalmist, that God was his portion; and

his resolution upon it to keep God's law.

II. His prayer for grace to enable him to do it.

III. His profession of duty and a holy life.

IV. His concluding acclamation and prayer.

I. "Thou art my portion:" Let others choose as they please, thou

art sufficient for me; I ask no more.

1. And on this I resolve to be thy obedient servant: "I have

said, that I would keep thy words."

2. But thou knowest I am unable without thy grace to do this;

therefore I must entreat thy favour: "Be merciful unto me." There

are three helps to a godly life, all which we meet here, viz.:-

1. Determination. This makes a man begin well: "I have said."

2. Supplication. This makes a man continue well: "I entreated."

3. Consideration. This makes a man, when he errs, come back to

the way again.

II. He was ready to co-operate with grace: "I have thought on my

ways." If we be not workers with God, vain are our prayers. Two

things are required of us: 1. Aversion from evil. 2. Conversion

to good. Both must meet together.

1. Aversion from evil: "I thought on my ways." But he did not

rest here.

2. Conversion to good: "I turned my feet unto thy testimonies."

III. And his sincerity is shown many ways:-

1. By his readiness and zeal: "I made haste, and delayed not."

2. By his courage and constancy. Though he was plundered, for

his adherence to God, by the bands of the wicked, yet he did not

forget God's law.

3. By his fervour about it. He was always employed in the work;

and would rather take something from his natural rest, than not

gratify his hunger and thirst after righteousness: "At midnight I

will rise to give thanks."

4. By selecting his company. "He who walks with the lame will

learn to limp:" therefore avoiding the society of the wicked, he

seeks the company of them that fear the Lord and keep his


IV. He concludes with an acclamation and prayer.

1. "The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy." There is not a

creature that is not a partaker of thy goodness; let me have my

portion in it.

2. "Teach me thy statutes." That is, continue to instruct me. I

need constant teaching, line upon line, and precept upon precept.

Teach thou, and I will learn; and as I learn from thy teaching, I

will practise by thy grace.

LETTER TETH.-Ninth Division

Verse 65. Thou hast dealt well with thy servant] Whatsoever thy

word has promised, thou hast fulfilled. Every servant of God can

testify that God has done him nothing but good, and therefore he

can speak good of his name.

Verse 66. Teach me good judgment and knowledge]

tob taam vedaath lammnedeni. Teach me (to have) a good taste and

discernment. Let me see and know the importance of Divine things,

and give me a relish for them.

Verse 67. Before I was afflicted I went astray] Many have been

humbled under affliction, and taught to know themselves and humble

themselves before God, that probably without this could never have

been saved; after this, they have been serious and faithful.

Affliction sanctified is a great blessing; unsanctified, it is

an additional curse.

Verse 68. Thou art good] And because thou art good, thou doest

good; and because thou delightest to do good, teach me thy


Verse 69. The proud have forged a lie] The poor captives in

Babylon had their conduct and motives continually misrepresented,

and themselves belied and calumniated.

Verse 70. Their heart is as fat as grease] They are egregiously

stupid, they have fed themselves without fear; they are become

flesh-brutalized, and given over to vile affections, and have no

kind of spiritual relish: but I delight in thy law-I have, through

thy goodness, a spiritual feeling and a spiritual appetite.

Verse 71. It is good for me that I have been afflicted] See on

Ps 119:67.

Verse 72. The law of thy mouth is better] Who can say this? Who

prefers the law of his God, the Christ that bought him, and the

heaven to which he hopes to go, when he can live no longer upon

earth, to thousands of gold and silver? Yea, how many are there

who, like Judas, sell their Saviour even for thirty pieces of

silver? Hear this, ye lovers of the world and of money!

As the letter teth begins but few words, not forty, in the

Hebrew language, there is less variety under this division than

under any of the preceding.


The psalmist, having been afflicted, shows,-

I. How graciously God dealt with him, in bringing him profitably

through it.

II. Prays for a right judgment and knowledge.

III. Expresses his love to God's law, and the value he set upon


I. The psalmist gives thanks for mercy granted in affliction.

1. "Thou hast dealt graciously with thy servant." Graciously in

afflicting him, and graciously in relieving him.

2. And this thou hast done "according to thy word." Thou hast

fulfilled thy promise.

II. He prays to be taught of God:-

1. "Teach me good judgment." Many judge badly; for they think

that affliction is a sign of God's displeasure. Let me have that

good judgment that receives it as a fatherly correction from


2. He asks for science and knowledge. A spiritual perception,

and taste for heavenly things.

3. For this he gives his reason: "I have believed thy

commandments." If we believe not God, we cannot profit by his


4. There is something remarkable in the manner of asking: 1. A

good or sound judgment. 2. Knowledge; for without a sound

judgment, knowledge is of no use.

III. He acknowledges that God's chastisements had done him good.

1."Before I was afflicted." Prosperity is often the mother or


2. "Now I have kept thy word." Schola crucis, schola lucis, "The

school of the cross is the school of light."

3. He acknowledges that the good God had done him good. To have

a right notion of God is a great blessing.

IV. Much of the psalmist's affliction proceeded from wicked men.

These he describes:-

1. They were proud. Pride is the mother of rebellion, both

against God and man.

2. They were liars. Evil speaking and calumny are the first

weapons of persecutors.

3. They forged these lies; they invented them. There was none

ready to their hand, so they framed some to serve their purpose.

4. The psalmist opposes them with humility and truth: "I will

keep thy precepts."

5. He shows more particularly their moral character: "Their

heart was as fat as grease;" they were stupid, brutish, hoggish.

Their god was their belly. 1. Because they abounded in wealth,

they were proud. 2. Because they pampered themselves, they were

stupid, and incapable of moral feeling. The fat is the least

sensible part of the animal system.

V. He shows the condition of the godly.

1. They see God's hand in their afflictions.

2. They learn his statutes.

3. They prefer his word to all earthly treasures; and,

4. They persevere in this heavenly disposition, because they

continue to depend on God.

LETTER YOD.-Tenth Division

Verse 73. Thy hands have made me] Thou hast formed the mass out

of which I was made; and fashioned me-thou hast given me that

particular form that distinguishes me from all thy other


Give me understanding] As thou hast raised me above the beasts

that perish in my form and mode of life, teach me that I may live

for a higher and nobler end, in loving, serving, and enjoying thee

for ever. Show me that I was made for heaven, not for earth.

Verse 74. They that fear thee] They who are truly religious will

be glad-will rejoice, at this farther proof of the saving power of


Verse 75. I know-that thy judgments are right] All the

dispensations of thy providence are laid in wisdom, and executed

in mercy: let me see that it is through this wisdom and mercy that

I have been afflicted.

Verse 76. Thy merciful kindness] Let me derive my comfort and

happiness from a diffusion of thy love and mercy, chasdecha,

thy exuberant goodness, through my soul.

Verse 77. Let thy tender mercies] rachameycha, thy

fatherly and affectionate feelings.

Verse 78. Let the proud be ashamed] To reduce a proud man to

shame, is to humble him indeed. Let them be confounded. Without

cause-without any colourable pretext, have they persecuted me.

Verse 79. Let those that fear thee] The truly pious.

Turn unto me] Seeing thy work upon me, they shall acknowledge me

as a brand plucked from the burning.

Verse 80. Let my heart be sound in thy statutes] Let it be

perfect-all given up to thee, and all possessed by thee.


I. In the first place the psalmist prays for understanding,

comfort, and mercy; and uses this argument, I am thy creature:

"Thy hands have fashioned me."

II. He prays for understanding: Give me heavenly light and


III. He prays for this that he may learn God's commandments.

This was his end.

1. He endeavours to persuade God to this by the benefit that

others would receive from seeing his conversion: "They-that fear

thee will be glad," &c.

2. He acknowledges that, if he was at any time deserted, it was

because he was unfaithful, and that it was in very faithfulness

that God had corrected him; therefore God's judgments were right.

3. He prays that God's merciful kindness may be extended to him.

But this prayer he would not presume to have offered, had he not

been authorized and encouraged by God's word: "According to thy

word." When God gives a promise, he binds himself to fulfil it.

4. He desires to be treated as a child in the heavenly family;

and therefore prays for God's fatherly mercies-his bowels of


5. And he prays for them for this end, "that he may live." And

here also he adds a reason why he should be heard: "Thy law is my


6. He puts up another petition for his enemies, if they will

take timely warning: "Let the proud be ashamed;" let them see

their unprincipled conduct and blush that they have been

persecuting and calumniating innocent people.

7. He next expresses his own resolution: "I will meditate on thy

statutes." Howsoever they deal with me, I will cleave unto my God.

8. He prays that he may be acknowledged by the godly: "Let them

that fear thee turn unto me." God's Church is a communion of

saints, and to them has God so distributed his graces that one

stands in need of another. Where one doubts, the light of another

may solve his difficulty. One grieves; another may comfort him.

One is tempted; another may uphold and restore him. This company

the psalmist would have joined to him for these ends.

9. He prays that he may be sound in the faith, for without this

he could not be steady in his obedience. Though an orthodox creed

does not constitute true religion, yet it is the basis of it, and

it is a great blessing to have it; and soundness of mind is a

strong help to the retention of a sound creed.

Finally, he shows the end for which he desires this blessing,

that "he may not be ashamed." That he may continue sincere and

upright, have dominion over all sin, give no place to secret

iniquities, and that he may never be put to the blush before God

or man. Reader, beg of God to enable thee to lay these things

profitably to heart.

LETTER CAPH.-Eleventh Division

Verse 81. My soul fainteth for thy salvation] I have longed so

incessantly after thy salvation-the complete purification and

restoration of my soul, that my very spirits are exhausted.

"My heartstrings groan with deep complaint;

My soul lies panting, Lord, for thee;

And every limb and every joint

Stretches for perfect purity."

Verse 82. Mine eyes fail] With looking up for the fulfilment of

thy promise, as my heart fails in longing after thy presence.

Verse 83. Like a bottle in the smoke] In the eastern countries

their bottles are made of skins; one of these hung in the smoke

must soon be parched and shrivelled up. This represents the

exhausted state of his body and mind by long bodily affliction and

mental distress.

Verse 84. How many are the days of thy servants] Dost thou not

know that I have few to live, and they are full of trouble?

When wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?]

Shall not the pride of the Chaldeans be brought down, the arm of

their strength broken, and thy people delivered? In this verse

there is none of the ten words used in reference to God's law.

Verse 85. The proud have digged pits] The Vulgate, Septuagint,

AEthiopic, and Arabic, translate this verse thus: "They have

recited to me unholy fables, which are not according to thy law."

They wish us to receive their system of idolatry, and the tales

concerning their gods; but these are not according to thy law. The

Anglo-Saxon is the same: [A.S.]: They quothed me the unrightwise

spells; but no so so law thine.

Verse 87. They had almost consumed me] Had it not been for thy

mercy, we had all been destroyed under this oppressive captivity.

Verse 88. Quicken me] Make and keep me alive.

So shall I keep] Without the spiritual life there is no

obedience; we must therefore rise from the dead, and be

quickened by the Spirit of Christ.


I. In this section the psalmist laments his being grieved with

some inward anguish.

II. Complains of his enemies.

III. Expresses his hope and constancy; and,

IV. Prays to God for comfort and grace.

I. 1. He begins with a sad complaint: "My soul fainteth." As the

body will fail if it want natural food, so will the soul if it get

not the bread of life.

2. His eyes also failed with looking up. The blessing was long


3. Yet he hoped in God's word. He knew that it would not fail.

4. He made complaint: "When wilt thou comfort me?"

5. His state was most deplorable; his body dried and shrivelled

up through long fasting and affliction, so that it resembled a

leathern bottle hung up in the smoke.

6. Yet still he continued faithful: "I do not forget thy


II. He complains against his enemies.

1. How long he should be obliged to suffer them.

2. He inquires "when the Lord will execute judgments."

He describes these enemies from their qualities:-

1. They were proud. They would not bow down to nor acknowledge


2. They were treacherous. They digged pits for him-used every

kind of means in order to destroy him; cruel, treacherous, and


3. They were impious. In heart and conduct they were not

"according to God's law."

4. They acted without a shadow of justice; wrongfully against

law and justice.

III. He prays for succour: "Help thou me." Here are three things

of especial note: 1. O Thou, who art infinite.. 2. Help; for thou

hast all power in heaven and in earth. 3. Me, who cannot stand

against my enemies; but "I trust in thee."

IV. 1. He closes with a frequent petition: "Quicken thou me-make

me alive." All true religion consists in the LIFE of God in the

SOUL of man.

2. The manner in which he wishes to be quickened: "After thy

loving-kindness." He wishes not to be raised from the death of sin

by God's thunder, but by the loving voice of a tender Father.

3. The effect it should have upon him: "So shall I keep the

testimony of thy mouth." Whatever thou speakest I will hear,

receive, love, and obey.

LETTER LAMED.-Twelfth Division

Verse 89. For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.] Thy

purposes are all settled above, and they shall all be fulfilled


Verse 90. Thy faithfulness] That which binds thee to accomplish

the promise made. And this shall be, not for an age merely, but

from generation to generation; for thy promises refer to the whole

duration of time.

Thou hast established the earth] Thou hast given it its

appointed place in the system, and there it abideth.

Verse 91. They continue this day] This verse should be thus

read: All are thy servants; therefore, they continue this day

according to thy ordinances. "All the celestial bodies are

governed by thy power. Thou hast given an ordinance or appointment

to each, and each fulfils thy will in the place thou hast assigned


Verse 92. Unless thy law had been my delights] Had we not had

the consolations of religion, we should long ago have died of a

broken heart.

Verse 93. I will never forget thy precepts] How can I? It is by

them I live.

Verse 94. I am thine, save me] He who can say this need fear no

evil. In all trials, temptations, dangers, afflictions,

persecutions, I am thine. Thy enemies wish to destroy me! Lord,

look to thy servant; thy servant looks to thee. O how sovereign is

such a word against all the evils of life! I am THINE! therefore

save thine OWN!

Verse 96. I have seen an end of all perfection] Literally, "Of

all consummations I have seen the end:" as if one should say,

Every thing of human origin has its limits and end, howsoever

extensive, noble, and excellent. All arts and sciences, languages,

inventions, have their respective principles, have their limits

and ends; as they came from man and relate to man, they shall end

with man: but thy law, thy revelation, which is a picture of thy

own mind, an external manifestation of thy own perfections,

conceived in thy infinite ideas, in reference to eternal objects,

is exceeding broad; transcends the limits of creation; and extends

illimitably into eternity! This has been explained as if it meant:

All the real or pretended perfection that men can arrive at in

this life is nothing when compared with what the law of God

requires. This saying is false in itself, and is no meaning of the

text. Whatever God requires of man he can, by his grace, work in



This section contains an encomium of the WORD of GOD; of its

perfection and immutability; and of the comfort the psalmist

received from it.

I. In the three first verses the psalmist shows that God's word

is immutable, by an instance in the creatures.

1. In the HEAVENS. They continue to this day as he made them in

the beginning.

2. In the EARTH. As it was established in the beginning, so it


3. So also of the other heavenly bodies. They also abide as they

were created; and answer still, most exactly, the ends for which

they were made.

4. The reason of which is, "All are God's servants," made to

obey his will: and from obedience they never swerve.

II. He shows the excellence of this word by a rare effect it had

on himself: "Unless thy law had been my delight, I should have

perished." No such comfort in trouble as God's word and promise.

This he remembers with gratitude.

1. "I will never forget thy precepts." Only those forget them

who reap no good from them.

2. This word had quickened him, i.e., God speaking and working

by that word.

3. He will therefore be the Lord's servant for ever: "I am


4. He knows he cannot continue so, but by Divine help: "Save


5. He shows his love to God's word: "He seeks his precepts,"

that he may obey them.

III. He needed the help of God, because he had inveterate

enemies. These he describes:

1. By their diligence: "The wicked have waited for me."

2. By their cruelty: "They waited to destroy me."

3. His defence against them. I will consider ethbonen, I

will set myself to consider. I will use all proper means to enable

me to understand them.

IV. Having shown the perfection of God's word,-

1. In establishing and upholding the frame of the world.

2. In bringing comfort to the soul. In the close,

3. He compares it to all other things which we esteem as

excellent and perfect,-riches, honours, crowns, sceptres,

kingdoms, &c., over which the word of God has still the

pre-eminence; they perish, but it endures for ever: "I have seen

an end of all perfection." Jonah's gourd was smitten by a worm;

the golden head had feet of clay; the most beautiful form

shall dissolve into dust; Babylon, the wonder of the world, has

perished from the face of the earth; the fairest day is

succeeded by midnight; and so of other things: "but the

commandment is exceeding broad:" all the principles of justice are

contained in it; no just notion of God without it; all the rules

of a holy life, and all the promises of life eternal, are found in

it. It is the word of God, and it endureth for ever. When the

heavens and the earth are no more, this word shall stand up and


LETTER MEM.-Thirteenth Division

Verse 97. O how love I thy law] This is one of the strongest

marks of a gracious and pious heart, cast in the mould of

obedience. Such love the precepts of Christ: in his commandments

they delight; and this delight is shown by their making them

frequent subjects of their meditation.

Verse 98. Wiser than mine enemies] Some have thought that this

Psalm was composed by Daniel, and that he speaks of himself in

these verses. Being instructed by God, he was found to have more

knowledge than any of the Chaldeans, magicians, soothsayers,

&c., &c.; and his wisdom soon appeared to the whole nation vastly

superior to theirs.

Verse 99. I have more understanding than all my teachers] As he

had entered into the spiritual nature of the law of God, and saw

into the exceeding breadth of the commandment, he soon became

wiser than any of the priests or even prophets who instructed him.

Verse 100. I understand more than the ancients] God had revealed

to him more of that hidden wisdom which was in his law than he had

done to any of his predecessors. And this was most literally true

of David, who spoke more fully about Christ than any who had gone

before him; or, indeed, followed after him. His compositions are,

I had almost said, a sublime Gospel.

Verse 101. I have refrained my feet] By avoiding all sin, the

spirit of wisdom still continues to rest upon me.

Verse 103. Sweeter than honey to my mouth!] What deep communion

must this man have had with his Maker! These expressions show a

soul filled with God. O Christians, how vastly superior are our

privileges! and alas! how vastly inferior in general, are our

consolations, our communion with God, and our heavenly-mindedness!

Verse 104. Through thy precepts I get understanding] Spiritual

knowledge increases while we tread in the path of obedience.

Obedience is the grand means of growth and instruction. Obedience

trades with the talent of grace, and thus grace becomes


ANALYSIS OF LETTER MEM.-Thirteenth Division

In this division we see,-

I. The affection of the psalmist to the law of God.

II. The great benefits he derived from it.

I. 1. "O how I love thy law." God alone knows how great that

love is which I feel.

2. As true love always seeks opportunities of conversing with

the beloved object, the psalmist shows his in meditation on God's

law by day and night.

He gives us several encomiums on God's word:-

1. The wisdom he derived from it. It made him wiser than his

enemies. It taught him how to conduct himself towards them, so as

to disappoint many of their plans, and always insure his own


2. It made him wiser than his teachers. Many, even of the Jewish

teachers, took upon them to teach that to others which they had

never learned themselves. He must have been wiser than these.

Many in the present day take upon themselves the character of

ministers of Jesus Christ, who have never felt his Gospel to be

the power of God to their salvation. A simple woman, who is

converted to God, and feels the witness of his Spirit that she is

his child, has a thousand times more true wisdom than such

persons, though they may have learned many languages and many


3. It made him wiser than the ancients-than any of the Jewish

elders, who had not made that word the subject of their deep study

and meditation.

A second enconium. God's word gives power over sin: "I have

refrained:" and the psalmist was no speculatist; he was in every

respect a practical man.

A third encomium is, the more a man resists evil forbidden by

that law, and practices righteousness commanded by it, the

stronger he grows. The psalmist refrained from every evil way,

that he might keep God's word.

Lest any one should think that he pretends to have acquired all

these excellencies by his own study and industry, he asserts that

he had nothing but what he had received: "I have not departed,"

&c.; "for THOU hast taught me."

A fourth encomium is, that God's law gives indescribable

happiness to them who love and obey it: "How sweet are thy

words," &c.

II. In the last verse he proves all that he said by the blessed

effects of God's word upon himself.

1. He got understanding by it. He became learned, wise, and


2. He was enabled to hate every false way-false religion, lying

vanities, empty pleasures; and every thing that did not tend to

and prepare for an eternity of blessedness.

LETTER NUN.-Fourteenth Division

Verse 105. Thy word is a lamp] This is illustrated thus by

Solomon, Pr 6:23: "The

commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs

of instruction are the way of life." God's word is a candle

which may be held in the hand to give us light in every dark place

and chamber; and it is a general light shining upon all his works,

and upon all our ways.

Verse 106. I have sworn] Perhaps this means no more than that he

had renewed his covenant with God; he had bound himself to love

and serve him only.

Verse 107. I am afflicted very much] ad meod, "to

extremity, excessively." We are in the most oppressive captivity.

Quicken me] Deliver us from our bondage.

Verse 108. The freewill-offerings of my mouth] nidboth

pi, the voluntary offerings which I have promised. Or, As we are

in captivity, and cannot sacrifice to thee, but would if we could;

accept the praises of our mouth, and the purposes of our

hearts, instead of the sacrifices and offerings which we would

bring to thy altar, but cannot.

Verse 109. My soul is continually in my hand] naphshi,

my life; that is, it is in constant danger, every hour I am on the

confines of death. The expression signifies to be in continual

danger. So Xenarchus in Athenaeus, lib. xiii., c. 4: εντηχειρι

τηνψυχηνεχοντα, "having the life in the hand;" which signifies

continual danger and jeopardy. There is some thing like this in

the speech of Achilles to Ulysses, HOM. Il. ix., ver. 322:-


"Always presenting my life to the dangers of the fight."

My soul is in thy hand, is the reading of the Syriac, Septuagint,

AEthiopic, and Arabic; but this is a conjectural and useless


Verse 110. The wicked have laid a snare] Thus their lives were

continually exposed to danger.

Verse 111. As a heritage] In Ps 119:57 he says, God

is my portion, chelki. In this he says, Thy testimonies

have I taken as a heritage, nachal. To these he was heir;

he had inherited them from his fathers, and he was determined to

leave them to his family for ever. If a man can leave nothing to

his child but a Bible, in that he bequeaths him the greatest

treasure in the universe.

Verse 112. I have inclined mine heart] I used the power God gave

me, and turned to his testimonies with all mine heart. When we

work with God, we can do all things.

ANALYSIS OF LETTER Nun.-Fourteenth Division

In this division the psalmist points out farther excellencies of

God's word, in the use of it. 1. God's word was a lamp to his feet

to guide him through every dark place. 2. It was a light to his

path, ever showing him generally the way in which he should walk.

1. He therefore resolves to keep it, and binds himself to fulfil

his resolution. As the lamp was going before, and the light was

shining, it was necessary that he should walk while the light

shone. He therefore, 1. Binds himself by an oath or vow: "I have

sworn." 2. He will be faithful to his oath: "I will perform it."

3. Not merely to admire, but to keep God's word. 4. Not its

promises merely, but its righteous judgments.

2. And this he will do in all circumstances, even in extreme

affliction. Then he requests two things from the Lord. 1. That he

would "accept the freewill-offerings of his mouth." All his

praises, thanksgivings, and vows. 2. That he would "teach him his

judgments," that he might perform what he had vowed.

3. He shows the difficulties he was in: 1. "My soul is

continually in my hand." I am in continual danger. He had got the

sword of the Spirit, and his life depended on the use he made of

it: if the soldier, whose life depends on his drawn sword, does

not use it well, his enemy kills him. 2. Hence he says, "I do not

forget thy law." I am making-a proper use of my sword. 3. And that

I have need of it is evident for "the wicked have laid a snare for

me." 4. This did not intimidate him: he did not leave the path of

duty for fear of a snare being in that path: "I erred not from thy

precepts." I did not go about to seek a safer way.

4. He keeps his resolution, and vows still. 1. He preferred

God's testimonies even to the land of Canaan, to riches and

crowns: "I have taken them for my heritage." 2. He delighted in

them: "They are the rejoicing of my heart."

5. In this work he was determined to continue: 1. "I have

inclined my heart." The counsel of the soul is like a balance; and

the mind, which hath the commanding power over the affections,

inclines the balance to that which it judges best. 2. It was to

perform it, that he thus inclined his heart. 3. And this, not

for a time, or on some particular occasion, but always, and unto

the end. Then the end of life would be the beginning of glory.

LETTER SAMECH.-Fifteenth Division

Verse 113. I hate vain thoughts] I have hated seaphim,

"tumultuous, violent men." I abominate all mobs and insurrections,

and troublers of the public peace.

Verse 114. My hiding place] My asylum.

And my shield] There is a time in which I may be called to

suffer in secret; then thou hidest me. There may be a time in

which thou callest me to fight; then thou art my Shield and


Verse 115. Depart from me] Odi profanum vulgus, etarceo, I

abominate the profane, and will have no communion with them. I

drive them away from my presence.

Verse 116. Uphold me] sammecheni, prop me up; give me

thyself to lean upon.

Verse 117. Hold thou me up] I shall grow weary and faint in the

way, if not strengthened and supported by thee.

And I shall be safe] No soul can be safe, unless upheld by thee.

Verse 118. Thou hast trodden down] All thy enemies will be

finally trodden down under thy feet.

Their deceit is falsehood.] Their elevation is a lie. The

wicked often become rich and great, and affect to be happy, but

it is all false; they have neither a clean nor approving

conscience. Nor can they have thy approbation; and, consequently,

no true blessedness.

Verse 119. Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like

dross] There is no true metal in them: when they are tried by

the refining fire, they are burnt up; they fly off in fumes, and

come to no amount. There is probably an allusion here to the scum

or scoriae at the surface of melting metals, which is swept oft

previously to casting the metal into the mould.

Therefore I love thy testimonies.] Thy testimonies will stand;

and thy people will stand; because thou who didst give the one,

and who upholdest the other, art pure, immovable, and eternal.

Verse 120. My flesh trembleth for fear of thee] I know thou art

a just and holy God: I know thou requirest truth in the inner

parts. I know that thou art a Spirit, and that they who worship

thee must worship thee in spirit and in truth; and I am often

alarmed lest I fall short. It is only an assurance of my

interest in thy mercy that can save me from distressing fears and

harassing doubts. It is our privilege to know we are in God's

favour; and it is not less so to maintain a continual filial fear

of offending him. A true conception of God's justice and mercy

begets reverence.


In this section the psalmist-

I. Declares his hatred to wickedness, and his detestation of

wicked men.

II. Expresses his love to God's law.

III. Prays for grace to sustain him in the observance of it.

IV. Foretells the destruction of the wicked.

I. "I hate vain thoughts;" not only evil itself, but the thought

that leads to it.

II. 1. "Thy law do I love:" I strive to keep every affection

exercised on its proper object.

2. This is my privilege: for thou art, 1. "My hiding-place,"

that public evils may not reach me; and 2. "My shield," to ward

off the fiery darts of the wicked one.

3. To God, therefore, and his word, he would adhere in all

extremities; and would have no communion with the wicked. 1. These

he would drive away as the pests of piety: "Depart from me." 2.

Because he would "keep the commandments of God," while the others

were bent on breaking them.

III. He prays for the grace of God to sustain him.

1. "Uphold me:" if thou do not, I fall.

2. "Hold thou me up:" for I am falling. One part of this prayer

is against the occurrence of evil; the other, against evil as

actually taking place.

IV. He foretells the destruction of wicked men.

1. "Thou hast trodden down:" they who tread thy commandments

under their feet shall be trodden down under thy feet. The

first treading shall bring on the second.

2. They deceive themselves in supposing thou wilt not resent

this. This is a deception, and a dangerous one too, for it is

against the most positive declarations of thy truth, therefore it

is falsehood.

3. This is most certain, for "thou puttest away all the wicked

of the earth like dross;" they are utterly vile, and of no account

in thy sight.

4. "Therefore I love thy testimonies." And for this, among

others reasons, that I may avoid their judgments.

5. Foreseeing the judgments to fall on the wicked, it was

necessary that he should be filled with a salutary fear. 1. "My

flesh trembleth." Happy is he who by other men's harms learns to

be wise. 2. We should work out our salvation with fear and

trembling. God is holy and just as well as merciful; therefore

we should fear before him. 3. Because he saw those judgments

coming on the wicked, he desired to be established in God's holy

fear. In all cases the old proverb is true: "Too much familiarity

breeds contempt."

LETTER AIN.-Sixteenth Division

Verse 121. I have done judgment and justice] I have given the

best decision possible on every case that came before me; and I

have endeavoured to render to all their due.

Verse 122. Be surety for thy servant] arob, give a pledge

or token that thou wilt help me in times of necessity. Or, Be bail

for thy servant. What a word is this! Pledge thyself for me, that

thou wilt produce me safely at the judgment of the great day. Then

sustain and keep me blameless till the coming of Christ. Neither

of these two verses has any of the ten words in reference to God's

law or attributes. The judgment and the justice refer to the

psalmist's own conduct in Ps 119:121. The

hundred and twenty-second has no word of the kind.

Verse 123. Mine eyes fail] See on Ps 119:82.

Verse 125. I am thy servant] See on Ps 119:94.

Verse 126. It is time for thee, Lord, to work] The time is

fulfilled in which thou hast promised deliverance to thy people.

They-the Babylonians,

Have made void thy law.] They have filled up the measure of

their iniquities.

Verse 127. Therefore I love thy commandments] I see thou wilt do

all things well. I will trust in thee.

Above gold] mizzahab, more than resplendent gold;

gold without any stain or rust.

Yea, above fine gold.] umippaz, above solid gold; gold

separated from the dross, perfectly refined.

Verse 128. All thy precepts concerning all things to be

right] There are too many supplied words here to leave the text

unsuspected. All the ancient versions, except the Chaldee, seem to

have omitted the second col, ALL and read the text thus:

"Therefore I have walked straight in all thy precepts." I go

straight on in all thy precepts, hating every false way. I neither

turn to the right hand nor to the left; the false ways are

crooked; thy way is straight. I am going to heaven, and that way

lies straight before me. To walk in the way of falsity I cannot,

because I hate it; and I hate such ways because God hates them.

ANALYSIS OF LETTER AIN.-Sixteenth Division

In this part the psalmist,

I. Makes a profession of his integrity.

II. Prays for protection against his enemies.

III. Resolves to walk in the right way.

I. He makes a profession of his integrity:-

1. "I have done judgment and justice."

2. Though he had done so, yet he was not free from calumny and

oppression. He commends, therefore, his righteous cause to God:

"Leave me not to mine oppressors."

3. "Be surety for thy servant:" give me an assurance that thou

wilt stand by me.

4. "Let not the proud oppress me." For miserable are the

destitute when they fall into such hands.

II. He shows us how he had prayed against his enemies, and for

God's salvation.

"Mine eyes fail." My faith is almost gone, and the eye of my

mind become dim.

2. It was the salvation of God he had in view: "For thy


3. The ground on which he prayed was the word of God's


He proceeds in his prayer; and begs God to deal with him as a

needy servant, and also an ignorant scholar.

1. "Deal with thy servant." I am ready to do thy will; but treat

me in thy mercy.

2. "Teach me thy statutes." I wish to learn what thy will is;

and when I know it, faithfully to do it.

He urges the same request, with nearly the same reasons for it:

"I am thy servant." I am no stranger to thee. I have frequently

come to thee to get grace to enable me to serve thee. I am one of

thy domestics, a member of thy Church.

He comes now with his complaint.

1. "It is time for thee to work." Thy enemies are strong, and

thy people weak.

2. "They have made void thy law." They have entirely trampled it

under foot.

III. The zeal of the psalmist increased as the love of many

waxed cold.

1. "Therefore," because they despise thy word, ordinances, and


2. "I love thy commandments." As they hate, so I love. When we

love God's commandments, it is a sign that we have not received

the grace of God in vain.

3. To show the greatness of his love, he says, I love thy

commandments "above gold; yea, above fine gold." My love is

greater to thy law, than that of the miser is to his bags.

4. He received all God's precepts to be right; and he takes not

some, but the whole of them.

5. Whatever gain idolatry and time-serving might hold out to

him, he abominated it, because he hated every false way. His love

of God, his law, and holiness, was greater than his love of life.

LETTER PE.-Seventeenth Division

Verse 129. Thy testimonies are wonderful] There is a height,

length, depth, and breadth in thy word and testimonies that are

truly astonishing; and on this account my soul loves them, and I

deeply study them. The more I study, the more light and salvation

I obtain.

Verse 130. The entrance of thy words giveth light] pethach,

the opening of it: when I open my Bible to read, light springs up

in my mind. Every sermon, every prayer, every act of faith, is an

opening by which light is let into the seeking soul.

Verse 131. I opened my mouth, and panted] A metaphor taken from

an animal exhausted in the chase. He runs, open-mouthed, to take

in the cooling air; the heart beating high, and the muscular force

nearly expended through fatigue. The psalmist sought for

salvation, as he would run from a ferocious beast for his life.

Nothing can show his earnestness in a stronger point of view.

Verse 132. As thou usest to do] Treat me as thy mercy has

induced thee to treat others in my circumstances. Deal with me as

thou dealest with thy friends.

Verse 133. Order my steps] hachen, make them firm; let

me not walk with a halting or unsteady step.

Have dominion over me.] bi, IN me. Let me have no governor

but God; let the throne of my heart be filled by him, and none


Verse 135. Make thy face to shine] Give me a sense of thy

approbation. Let me know, by the testimony of thy Spirit in my

conscience, that thou art reconciled to me. The godly in all ages

derived their happiness from a consciousness of the Divine favour.

The witness of God's spirit in the souls of believers was an

essential principle in religion from the foundation of the world.

Verse 136. Rivers of waters run down mine eyes] How much had

this blessed man the honour of God and the salvation of souls at

heart! O for more of that spirit which mourns for the

transgressions of the land! But we are not properly convinced of

the exceeding sinfulness of sin.

ANALYSIS OF LETTER PE.-Seventeenth Division

In this division the psalmist-

I. Praises God's word.

II. Shows his affection to it.

III. Prays for grace to keep it.

IV. Mourns for those who do not.

1. The eulogy he gives to God's word here is from a new quality

not mentioned before. "Thy testimonies are wonderful;" wondrous

mysteries are contained in the Divine oracles.

1. The ceremonial law is wonderful, because the mystery of our

redemption by the blood of Christ is pointed out in it.

2. The prophecies are wonderful, as predicting things, humanly

speaking, so uncertain, and at such great distance of time, with

so much accuracy.

3. The decalogue is wonderful, as containing in a very few words

all the principles of justice and charity.

4. Were we to go to the New Testament, here wonders rise on

wonders! All is astonishing; but the psalmist could not have had

this in view.

The second eulogy is, that God's law is the dispenser of light.

1. The entrance of it, the first chapter of Genesis; what light

does that pour on the mind of man! What knowledge of the most

important things, which we should never have known without it!

2. It gives light to the simple-to those who are not double; who

have but one end in view, and one aim to that end.

3. Of those simple ones or babes our Lord speaks, Mt 11:25,

and St. Paul, 1Co 1:25, 26, &c.

II. The psalmist shows that he was one of those simple ones.

1. "He opened his mouth" by prayer, and sought the spirit of

light and piety.

2. He panted after it as men do that want breath, and are

longing to get fresh air.

3. And this he did because "he longed for God's commandments;"

had a vehement desire to know and keep them.

III. He now betakes himself to prayer, and acquaints us with the

petitions he had offered.

1. He said, "Look upon me." Consider thy poor, dependent,

helpless creature.

2. "Have mercy upon me." Look, not with the indignation which I

deserve, but with the mercy which thou knowest I need.

3. "As thou usest to do." Act by me as thou dost by them that

love thee.

4. "Order my steps." Give me grace to be obedient. Many look for

mercy to pardon their sin, but do not look for grace to enable

them to be obedient.

5. "Let not any iniquity have dominion over me." Let me be saved

from all my spiritual captivity.

6. "Deliver me from the oppression of men." Let neither wicked

men nor wicked spirits rule over me.

7. "Make thy face to shine upon me!" Let me have thy light, thy

peace, and thy approbation.

8. "And teach me thy statutes." Keep me at thy feet, under

continual instruction.

IV. He concludes by telling how he grieved for the wickedness of

others and the dishonour of God. If we grieve not for others,

their sin may become ours. See Eze 9:8; 1Co 5:2.

LETTER TSADDI.-Eighteenth Division

Verse 137. Righteous art thou] Thou art infinitely holy in thy

nature; and therefore thou art upright in thy judgments-all thy

dispensations to men.

Verse 138. Thy testimonies] Every thing that proceeds from thee

partakes of the perfections of thy nature.

Verse 139. My zeal hath consumed me] My earnest desire to

promote thy glory, and the pain I feel at seeing transgressions

multiplied, have worn down both my flesh and spirits.

Verse 140. Thy word is very pure] tseruphah, it is

purification. It is not a purified thing, but a thing that

purifies. "Now ye are clean," said Christ, "by the word I have

spoken unto you." God's word is a fire to purify as well as a

hammer to break.

Verse 141. I am small and despised] And on these accounts have

every thing to fear. Being small, I cannot resist; being

despised, I am in danger; but even all this does not induce me

to start aside, or through the fear of man to be unfaithful to


Verse 142. Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness]

The word tsedek is a word of very extensive meaning in the

Bible. It signifies, not only God's inherent righteousness and

perfection of nature, but also his method of treating others; his

plan of redemption; his method of saving others. And the word

δικαιοσυνη, which answers to it, in the Septuagint and in the

New Testament, is used with the same latitude of meaning, and in

the same sense; particularly in that remarkable passage,

Ro 3:25, 26, where see the notes. Thy merciful method of

dealing with sinners and justifying the ungodly will last as long

as the earth lasts; and thy law that witnesses this, in all its

pages, is the truth.

Verse 143. Trouble and anguish] I am exercised with various

trials from men and devils.

Have taken hold on me] But still I cleave to my God, and am

delighted with his law.

Verse 144. The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting]

Thy moral law was not made for one people, or for one particular

time; it is as imperishable as thy nature, and of endless

obligation. It is that law by which all the children of Adam shall

be judged.

Give me understanding] To know and practise it.

And I shall live.] Shall glorify thee, and live eternally; not

for the merit of having done it, but because thou didst fulfil the

work of the law in my heart, having saved me from condemnation by



In this division the psalmist-

I. Commends the law of God, from its Author, its equity, its

purity, and its perpetuity.

II. A consideration of which led him to love and delight in it,

though opposed by many enemies.

I. 1. "Righteous art thou." Thou alterest not with times, thou

changest not with persons, thou art ever the same.

2. Thy judgments, in giving rewards and dispensing punishments,

are upright.

3. Thy testimonies, that declare this, are righteous and


He consequently felt an ardent zeal for God's glory.

1. This "zeal consumed him," and he expresses the cause.

2. Men "forgot God's words." He pined away for grief on this

account. He turns to another character of God's law.

"Thy word is very pure."

1. It is pure in itself, and the purifier of the heart.

2. On this account he loved it; and we know that "love is the

fulfilling of the law."

A third effect was a careful remembrance of it, though tried by

his enemies.

1. "I am small." Of no weight nor authority; have no secular


2. "Despised." Have no credit nor respect.

3. "Yet do I not forget thy precepts." Nothing can move me while

upheld by thee; and thou wilt uphold me while I cleave unto thee.

A fourth commendation of God's law is its immutability.

1. It is immutable, and can never be dispensed with. It is a

righteousness that is everlasting.

2. It is the truth: 1. It has priority of all laws; 2. Contains

no falsehood.

3. Its promises and threatenings shall all be punctually


II. He loved and delighted in it, notwithstanding he had trouble

and anguish.

1. Trouble and anguish. The righteous are often under the cross.

2. Yet "thy commandments are my delights." While faithful to

thee, all my afflictions are sanctified to me, so that I can

rejoice while I suffer.

He speaks again about the immutability of God's word.

1. "The righteousness of thy testimonies," Thy word is like

thyself, for it comes from thee.

2. "Give me understanding." I always stand in need of teaching.

3. "And I shall live." All is death without thee. Live in me,

that I may live by thee.

LETTER KOPH.-Nineteenth Division

Verse 145. I cried with my whole heart] The whole soul of the

psalmist was engaged in this good work. He whose whole heart cries

to God will never rise from the throne of grace without a


Verse 147. I prevented the dawning] kiddamti, "I went

before the dawn or twilight."

Verse 148. Mine eyes prevent] kiddemu, "go before the

watches." Before the watchman proclaims the hour, I am awake,

meditating on thy words. The Jews divided the night into three

watches, which began at what we call six o'clock in the evening,

and consisted each of four hours. The Romans taught them

afterwards to divide it into four watches of three hours each; and

to divide the day and night into twelve hours each; wherein

different guards of soldiers were appointed to watch. At the

proclaiming of each watch the psalmist appears to have risen and

performed some act of devotion. For a remarkable custom of our

Saxon ancestors, See Clarke on Ps 119:164.

Verse 150. They draw nigh] They are just at hand who seek to

destroy me.

They are far from thy law.] They are near to all evil, but far

from thee.

Verse 151. Thou art near] As they are near to destroy, so art

thou near to save. When the enemy comes in as a flood, the Spirit

of the Lord lifts up a standard against him.

Verse 152. Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old]

kedem yedati, "Long ago I have known concerning thy

testimonies." Thou hast designed that thy testimonies should bear

reference to, and evidence of, those glorious things which thou

hast provided for the salvation of men; and that this should be an

everlasting testimony. They continue, and Christ is come.

ANALYSIS OF LETTER KOPH.-Nineteenth Division

I. The psalmist is earnest in his prayers for deliverance.

II. He shows the end for which he desires it.

III. The necessity of its being speedy, as his enemies were at


I. 1. His prayer was earnest; it was a cry, rather than a


2. It was sincere: "I cried with my whole heart." There was no

hypocrisy in it.

3. It was in season: "I prevented the dawning of the morning."

4. It was out of season: "Mine eyes prevent the night-watches."

What he prayed for,-

1. Audience: "Hear me, O Lord."

2. Deliverance: "Save me."

3. Increase of grace: "Quicken me."

II. The end for which he prayed.

1. That he might keep God's statutes.

2. That he might keep his testimonies. See the explanation of

these words at the beginning of this Psalm.

3. That he might meditate on God's word.

4. That he might increase in the life of God.

The arguments he uses:-

1. His faith and hope. I cried, because I waited and hoped

in thy word.

2. God's mercy. According to thy loving-kindness.

3. The danger he was in from his pursuing enemies.-1. They draw

nigh. 2. They are mischievously bent. 3. They are most impious

men. Far from the law of God; they despised and hated it.

III. Near as they may be to destroy, thou art nearer to save.

1. "Thou art near:" They cannot come where thou art not.

2. "All thy commandments are truth:" And thou hast commanded us

to trust in thee; and therefore we shall not fear evil. Thou wilt

support thy servants, and destroy thine enemies.

He concludes with an acclamation:-

1. "Concerning thy testimonies:" Thy will, which thou hast

testified in thy word.

2. "I have known of old:" Ever since I looked into them, began

to study and practice them.

3. "That thou hast founded them for ever:" They are of eternal

truth, immutable and indispensable. And this is the anchor of our

souls, that we may not be carried away by trials and temptations.

Not one tittle of God's truth has ever failed any of his sincere

followers. No one promise of his that has been sought by faith in

Christ has ever been unfulfilled. Blessed be God!

LETTER RESH.-Twentieth Division

Verse 153. Consider mine affliction] See mine affliction or

humiliation: but the eye of the Lord affects his heart; and

therefore he never sees the distresses of his followers without

considering their situation, and affording them help.

Verse 154. Plead my cause] ribah ribi. "Be my

Advocate in my suit." Contend for us against the Babylonians, and

bring us out of our bondage.

According to thy word.] Spoken by thy prophets for our comfort

and encouragement.

Verse 155. Salvation is far from the wicked] There is no hope of

their conversion.

For they seek not thy statutes.] And they who do not seek, shall

not find.

Verse 156. Great are thy tender mercies] They are rabbim,

multitudes. They extend to all the wretchednesses of all men.

Verse 158. I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved]

Literally, I was affected with anguish.

Verse 160. Thy word is true from the beginning] rosh,

the head or beginning of thy word, is true. Does he refer to the

first word in the Book of Genesis, bereshith, "in the

beginning?" The learned reader knows that rash, or raash, is

the root in that word. Every word thou hast spoken from the first

in Bereshith (Genesis) to the end of the law and prophets, and all

thou wilt yet speak, as flowing from the fountain of truth, must

be true; and all shall have in due time, their fulfillment. And all

these, thy words endure for ever. They are true, and ever will be



I. 1. The psalmist begins with a petition: "Consider my


2. Begs that God would help him: "Deliver me."

3. The reason for both: "I do not forget thy law."

4. He begs God to be his Advocate: 1. "Plead my cause." At the

bar of men a just cause often miscarries for want of an able

advocate, and is borne down by an unjust judge. Be thou my

Advocate, and I shall not fail. 2. "Quicken me:" Revive my hopes,

give new life to my soul.

II. He believes he shall be heard, because-

1. "Salvation is far from the wicked:" But he does not forget

God's law.

2. "They seek not God's statutes:" But he meditates in God's law

day and night.

III. If he ever miscarries, or comes short, he flees to God for


1. On God's mercies he bestows two epithets: 1. They are great

or many, and they endure for ever. 2. They are tender; they are

misericordiae, q.d., miseria cordis, feelings which occasion

pain and distress to the heart. rachamim, such as

affect and flow from the tender yearnings of the bowels. The

word signifies what a mother feels for the infant that lay in her

womb, and hangs on her breast.

2. He prays to be quickened. Let me not die, but live.

IV. He complains of his adversaries:-

1. They are many: Many devils, many men; many visible,

more invisible.

2. Yet he continued steadfast: "I do not decline," &c.

3. They were "transgressors:" Not simple sinners, but workers of


4. He was greatly distressed on their account: "I beheld them,

and was grieved."

V. He brings this as a proof of his attachment to God.

1. "Consider how I love:" No man dare say to God, "Look upon

me," but he who is persuaded that when God looks upon him he

will like him. This was a sure proof of the psalmist's sincerity.

2. He loves not merely the blessings he receives from God, but

he loves God's law; and none will love this, who does not delight

in obedience. And how few are there of this character, even in the

Church of God!

3. And because he loves he prays to be quickened. The soul only

which is spiritually alive, can obey.

VI. He concludes with a commendation of God's word.

1. "Thy word is true," in its principle and in all its details,

from Adam to Moses; from Moses to Christ, from Christ to the

present time; and from the present time to the end of the world.

2. For it "endures for ever:" All other things wear out or

decay; lose their testimony, and become obsolete. But God will

ever bear testimony to his own word, and continue to support its

veracity by fulfilling it to all successive generations.

LETTER SCHIN.-Twenty-first Division

Verse 161. Princes have persecuted me] This may refer to what

was done by prime ministers, and the rulers of provinces, to sour

the king against the unfortunate Jews, in order still to detain

them in bondage. In reference to David, the plotting against him

in Saul's court, and the dangers he ran in consequence of the

jealousies of the Philistine lords while he sojourned among them,

are well known.

My heart standeth in awe] They had probably offers made them of

enlargement or melioration of condition, providing they submitted

to some idolatrous conditions; but they knew they had to do with a

jealous God; their hearts stood in awe, and they were thereby kept

from sin.

Verse 162. As one that findeth great spoil.] shalal rab.

This appears to refer to such spoil as is acquired by stripping

the dead in a field of battle, taking the rich garments of the

slain chiefs; or it may refer to plunder in general. As God opened

his eyes he beheld wonders in his law; and each discovery of this

kind was like finding a prize.

Verse 163. I-abhor lying] Perhaps they might have made the

confessions which the Chaldeans required, and by mental

reservation have kept an inward firm adherence to their creed; but

this, in the sight of the God of truth, must have been lying; and

at such a sacrifice they would not purchase their enlargement,

even from their captivity.

Verse 164. Seven times a day do I praise thee] We have often

seen that seven was a number expressing perfection, completion,

&c., among the Hebrews; and that it is often used to signify many,

or an indefinite number, see Pr 24:16; Le 26:28. And here it

may mean no more than that his soul was filled with the spirit of

gratitude and praise, and that he very frequently expressed his

joyous and grateful feelings in this way. But Rabbi Solomon says

this is to be understood literally, for they praised God twice in

the morning before reading the decalogue, and once after; twice in

the evening before the same reading, and twice after; making in

the whole seven times. The Roman Church has prescribed a similar


In a manuscript Saxon Homily, Domin. 3, in Quadrag, A.D. 971, I

find the following singular directions:-


1. [Anglo-Saxon]

2. [Anglo-Saxon]

3. [Anglo-Saxon]

4. [Anglo-Saxon]

5. [Anglo-Saxon]

6. [Anglo-Saxon]

7. [Anglo-Saxon]

Every Christian man is commanded that he always his body seven

times bless with the sign of Christ's cross.

1. First, at day-break.

2. Second time at undern tide, (nine o'clock in the morning.)

3. The third time at midday.

4. The fourth time at noon-tide. (3 o'clock P.M.)

5. The fifth time in the evening.

6. The sixth time at night ere he go to rest.

7. The seventh time at midnight. A good man would do so if he


It seems that the sign of the cross was thought sufficient, even

without prayer.

Verse 165. Great peace have they] They have peace in their

conscience, and joy in the Holy Spirit; and

Nothing shall offend] Stumble, or put them out of the way.

Verse 166. Lord, I have hoped] Thou hast promised deliverance,

and I have expected it on the ground of that promise.

Verse 167. My soul hath kept] I have not attended to the latter

merely, but my spirit has entered into the spirit and design of

thy testimonies.

Verse 168. For all my ways are before thee.] Thou knowest that I

do not lie; thy eye has been upon my heart and my conduct, and

thou knowest that I have endeavoured to walk before thee with a

perfect heart.

ANALYSIS OF LETTER SCHIN.-Twenty-first Division

In this section the psalmist shows:-

I His love to God; and

II. The ardour and perfection of that love.

I. The first sign of his love was, that it stood in the midst of


1. "Princes have persecuted."

2. But "without a cause," though they pretended many.

3. "But my heart standeth in awe." My love and confidence have

due respect to thy infinite justice and immaculate purity.

The second sign of his love is the joy and delight he took in

God's law; it was greater than a conqueror could feel at the

fortunate issue of a battle, and the spoils of the vanquished,

howsover rich or immense.

The third sign was his hatred to all iniquity: "I hate and abhor


The fourth sign was his fervour and earnestness in-devotion:

"Seven times," &c.

The fifth sign was the satisfaction he took in the welfare of


1. "Great peace have they which love thy law."

2. "Nothing shall offend them." They go on their way rejoicing;

and they that love God rejoice with them that do rejoice.

II. He shows the perfection of his love,-

1. By his hope and confidence: "Lord, I have hoped," &c.

2. By his obedience: "And done thy commandments."

3. By keeping God's testimonies with all his soul.

And this he repeats.

1. "I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies."

2. I have done this through the purest motives, as thou knowest:

"For all my ways are before thee." Whatever he did he did in God's

sight; for he well knew that the eye of the Lord was constantly

upon him.

For other particulars see the preceding notes.

LETTER TAU.-Twenty-second Division

Verse 169. Let my cry come near before thee] This is really a

fine image; it is of frequent occurrence, and is little heeded.

Here the psalmists cry for deliverance is personified; made an

intelligent being, and sent up to the throne of grace to negotiate

in his behalf. He pursues this prosopopoeia in the next verse, and

sends his supplication in the same way. I have already had

occasion to refer to a similar figure in Homer, where prayers are

represented as the daughters of Jupiter. See on Ps 88:2.

Verse 171. My lips shall utter praise] tehillah, a song

of praise.

Verse 172. My tongue shall speak of thy word] There is a curious

distinction here. In the preceding verse he says, "My lips shall

utter;" here no reference is made to articulate sounds, except as

affixed to musical notes. In this verse he says, "My tongue shall

speak; " here articulate and intelligible words are intended. He

first utters sounds connected with words expressive of his

grateful feelings; in the second he speaks words, principally

those which God himself had spoken, containing promises of

support, purposes relative to the redemption of his people, and

denunciations against their enemies.

Verse 173. Let thine hand help me] Exert thy power in my


Verse 175. Let my soul live] Let my life be preserved, and my

soul quickened!

Verse 176. I have gone astray like a lost sheep] A sheep, when

it has once lost the flock, strays in such a manner as to render

the prospect of its own return utterly hopeless. I have seen them

bleating when they have lost the flock, and when answered by the

others, instead of turning to the sound, have gone on in the same

direction in which they were straying, their bleatings answered by

the rest of the flock, till they were out of hearing! This fact

shows the propriety of the next clause.

Seek thy servant] I shall never find thee; come to the

wilderness, take me up, and carry me to the flock. See the notes

on the parable of the lost sheep, Lu 15:4, &c. The psalmist began

with "Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of

the Lord;" and he concludes with "I have gone astray like a lost

sheep; seek thy servant." And thus, conscious of the blessedness

of those who are in the way or righteousness, he desires to be

brought into it, that he may walk in newness of life. Ver. 1: "It

is a good way, and they are blessed that walk in it." Verse the

last, "Bring me into this way, that I may be blessed." And thus

the Psalm, in sentiment, returns into itself; and the latter verse

is so connected with the former, as to make the whole a perfect

circle, like the serpent biting its own tail.

There is one extraordinary perfection in this Psalm: begin where

you will, you seem to be at the commencement of the piece; end

where you will, you seem to close with a complete sense. And yet

it is not like the Book of Proverbs, a tissue of detached

sentences; it is a whole composed of many parts, and all

apparently as necessary to the perfection of the Psalm, as the

different alphabetical letters under which it is arranged are to

the formation of a complete alphabet. Though there be a continual

recurrence of the same words, which would of itself prevent it

from having a pleasing effect upon the ear, yet these words are so

connected with a vast variety of others, which show their force

and meaning in still new and impressive points of light, that

attention is still excited, and devotion kept alive, during the

whole reading. It is constructed with admirable art, and every

where breathes the justest and highest encomiums on the revelation

of God; shows the glories of the God who gave it, the necessities

and dependence of his intelligent creatures, the bounty of the

Creator, and the praise and obedience which are his due. It is

elegant throughout; it is full of beauties, and I have endeavoured

in the preceding notes to mark some of them; but the number might

have been greatly multiplied. To no Psalm can its own words be

better applied, Ps 119:18: "Open thou mine eyes, that I may

behold wondrous things out of thy law."

ANALYSIS OF LETTER TAU.-Twenty-Second Division

In this last section the psalmist seems to sum up all his

preceding exercises.

I. He prays.

II. Gives thanks.

III. Confesses his errors.

IV. Craves mercy; and,

V. Promises obedience.

I. In the first two verses he prays for his prayers, begging God

to accept them.

1. "Let my cry come near before thee!"

2. "Let my supplication come before thee!" This repetition shows

his earnestness, fervency, importunity, and perseverance. See

Lu 11:1, &c.

That for which he prays is, 1. Understanding; 2. Deliverance.

1. "Give me understanding." I want more light.

2. Give me this "according to thy word." In the measure which

thou hast promised.

3. And give it to me for this end, that I may know thy law, be

obedient to its precepts, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain

everlasting life.

4. "Deliver me according to thy word." I want salvation, and

that measure of it which thy word promises.

II. He gives thanks.

1. "My lips shall utter praise." I will celebrate thy praises

with songs.

2. "My tongue shall speak." I shall set forth thy wondrous


3. Shall show that all thy commandments are righteousness; just,

holy, impartial.

4. But these things I cannot do till "thou hast taught me thy


III. He proceeds to other parts of prayer:-

1. "Let thy hand help me." My own strength will avail little.

2. "I have chosen thy statutes:" and without thy help I cannot

obey them.

3. "I have longed for thy salvation." Thou knowest my heart is

right with thee.

4. "And thy law is my delight." A man naturally longs for that

which he delights to possess.

Here he notes three things:-

1. I have "chosen thy precepts."

2. I have "longed for thy salvation."

3. "Delighted in thy law;" therefore "let thy hand be with me."

He prays for,-

1. Life: "Let my soul live."

2. "And it shall praise thee." When the soul is dead to God,

there is neither gratitude nor obedience.

3. "Let thy judgments help me." Cause the merciful dispensations

of thy providence ever to work in my behalf. In this sense the

word judgments is frequently taken in this Psalm.

IV. He confesses his errors.

1. "I have gone astray," departed from thee, my Shepherd.

2. "And like a lost sheep too." See the note.

3. My errors, however, have not been wilful and obstinate. I did

not sufficiently watch and pray, and my sheep-like simplicity was

practised upon by my arch enemy.

4. The consequence, however, has been, I am lost-far from thy

fold. But thou didst come to seek and save that which was lost.

5. Therefore, O Lord, seek me. I am in the wilderness; leave the

ninety and nine that do not need thee as I do, and seek me; for,

by thy grace, I seek thee.

V. I look for thee in the spirit of obedience.

1. Seek thy servant. I am ready to do thy will, though I erred

from thy ways.

2. "I do not forget thy commandments," though I have often come

short of my duty.

These words may be very suitable to a person who has

backslidden, and who is returning to God with a penitent and

believing heart.

1. Though he had fallen, the light of God continued to shine

into his conscience.

2. He had not forgotten God's way, nor lost sight of his own

state. The word of the Lord, applied by his Spirit, 1. When he was

slumbering, awakened him. 2. When he was dead, quickened him. 3.

When he was in danger, preserved him. 4. When he was wounded,

cured him. 5. When he was assailed by his foes, armed and

defended him. 6. And by this word he was nourished and

supported. It was ever well with the psalmist, and it is ever

well with all the followers of God, when they do not forget God's


It may be just necessary to note here, that if this Psalm be

considered as belonging to the times of the Babylonish captivity,

which it most probably does, the psalmist, though speaking in his

own person, is ever to be considered as speaking in the persons of

all the captives in Babylon.

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