Psalms 119

* The general scope and design of this psalm is to magnify the

Divine law, and make it honourable. There are ten words by which

Divine revelation is called in this psalm, and each expresses

what God expects from us, and what we may expect from him.

1. God's law; this is enacted by him as our Sovereign.

2. His way; this is the rule of his providence.

3. His testimonies; they are solemnly declared to the world.

4. His commandments; given with authority.

5. His precepts; not left as indifferent matters to us.

6. His word, or saying; it is the declaration of his mind.

7. His judgments; framed in infinite wisdom.

8. His righteousness; it is the rule and standard of what is


9. His statutes; they are always binding.

10. His truth or faithfulness; it is eternal truth, it shall

endure for ever.1-8 This psalm may be considered as the statement of a

believer's experience. As far as our views, desires, and

affections agree with what is here expressed, they come from the

influences of the Holy Spirit, and no further. The pardoning

mercy of God in Christ, is the only source of a sinner's

happiness. And those are most happy, who are preserved most free

from the defilement of sin, who simply believe God's

testimonies, and depend on his promises. If the heart be divided

between him and the world, it is evil. But the saints carefully

avoid all sin; they are conscious of much evil that clogs them

in the ways of God, but not of that wickedness which draws them

out of those ways. The tempter would make men think they are at

them out of those ways. The tempter would make men think they

are at liberty to follow the word of God or not, as they please.

But the desire and prayer of a good man agree with the will and

command of God. If a man expects by obedience in one thing to

purchase indulgence for disobedience in others, his hypocrisy

will be detected; if he is not ashamed in this world,

everlasting shame will be his portion. The psalmist coveted to

learn the laws of God, to give God the glory. And believers see

that if God forsakes them, the temper will be too hard for them.
9-16 To original corruption all have added actual sin. The ruin

of the young is either living by no rule at all, or choosing

false rules: let them walk by Scripture rules. To doubt of our

own wisdom and strength, and to depend upon God, proves the

purpose of holiness is sincere. God's word is treasure worth

laying up, and there is no laying it up safe but in our hearts,

that we may oppose God's precepts to the dominion of sin, his

promises to its allurements, and his threatenings to its

violence. Let this be our plea with Him to teach us his

statutes, that, being partakers of his holiness, we may also

partake of his blessedness. And those whose hearts are fed with

the bread of life, should with their lips feed many. In the way

of God's commandments there is the unsearchable riches of

Christ. But we do not meditate on God's precepts to good

purpose, unless our good thoughts produce good works. I will not

only think of thy statutes, but do them with delight. And it

will be well to try the sincerity of our obedience by tracing

the spring of it; the reality of our love by cheerfulness in

appointed duties.
17-24 If God deals in strict justice with us, we all perish. We

ought to spend our lives in his service; we shall find true life

in keeping his word. Those that would see the wondrous things of

God's law and gospel, must beg him to give them understanding,

by the light of his Spirit. Believers feel themselves strangers

on earth; they fear missing their way, and losing comfort by

erring from God's commandments. Every sanctified soul hungers

after the word of God, as food which there is no living without.

There is something of pride at the bottom of every wilful sin.

God can silence lying lips; reproach and contempt may humble and

do us good, and then they shall be removed. Do we find the

weight of the cross is above that we are able to bear? He that

bore it for us will enable us to bear it; upheld by him we

cannot sink. It is sad when those who should protect the

innocent, are their betrayers. The psalmist went on in duty, and

he found comfort in the word of God. The comforts of the word of

God are most pleasant to a gracious soul, when other comforts

are made bitter; and those that would have God's testimonies to

be their delight, must be advised by them. May the Lord direct

us in exercising repentance of sin, and faith in Christ.
25-32 While the souls of the children of this world cleave to

the earth as their portion, the children of light are greatly

burdened, because of the remains of carnal affections in their

hearts. It is unspeakable comfort to a gracious soul, to think

with what tenderness all its complaints are received by a

gracious God. We can talk of the wonders of redeeming love, when

we understand the way of God's precepts, and walk in that way.

The penitent melts in sorrow for sin: even the patient spirit

may melt in the sense of affliction, it is then its interest to

pour out its soul before God. The way of lying means all false

ways by which men deceive themselves and others, or are deceived

by Satan and his instruments. Those who know and love the law of

the Lord, desire to know it more, and love it better. The way of

serious godliness is the way of truth; the only true way to

happiness: we must always have actual regard to it. Those who

stick to the word of God, may in faith expect and pray for

acceptance with God. Lord, never leave me to do that by which I

shall shame myself, and do not thou reject my services. Those

that are going to heaven, should still press forward. God, by

his Spirit, enlarges the hearts of his people when he gives them

wisdom. The believer prays to be set free from sin.
33-40 Teach me thy statutes, not the mere words, but the way of

applying them to myself. God, by his Spirit, gives a right

understanding. But the Spirit of revelation in the word will not

suffice, unless we have the Spirit of wisdom in the heart. God

puts his Spirit within us, causing us to walk in his statutes.

The sin here prayed against is covetousness. Those that would

have the love of God rooted in them, must get the love of the

world rooted out; for the friendship of the world is enmity with

God. Quicken me in thy way; to redeem time, and to do every duty

with liveliness of spirit. Beholding vanity deadens us, and

slackens our pace; a traveller must not stand gazing upon every

object that presents itself to his view. The promises of God's

word greatly relate to the preservation of the true believer.

When Satan has drawn a child of God into worldly compliances, he

will reproach him with the falls into which he led him. Victory

must come from the cross of Christ. When we enjoy the sweetness

of God's precepts, it will make us long for more acquaintance

with them. And where God has wrought to will, he will work to

41-48 Lord, I have by faith thy mercies in view; let me by

prayer prevail to obtain them. And when the salvation of the

saints is completed, it will plainly appear that it was not in

vain to trust in God's word. We need to pray that we may never

be afraid or ashamed to own God's truths and ways before men.

And the psalmist resolves to keep God's law, in a constant

course of obedience, without backsliding. The service of sin is

slavery; the service of God is liberty. There is no full

happiness, or perfect liberty, but in keeping God's law. We must

never be ashamed or afraid to own our religion. The more delight

we take in the service of God, the nearer we come to perfection.

Not only consent to his law as good, but take pleasure in it as

good for us. Let me put forth all the strength I have, to do it.

Something of this mind of Christ is in every true disciple.
49-56 Those that make God's promises their portion, may with

humble boldness make them their plea. He that by his Spirit

works faith in us, will work for us. The word of God speaks

comfort in affliction. If, through grace, it makes us holy,

there is enough in it to make us easy, in all conditions. Let us

be certain we have the Divine law for what we believe, and then

let not scoffers prevail upon us to decline from it. God's

judgments of old comfort and encourage us, for he is still the

same. Sin is horrible in the eyes of all that are sanctified.

Ere long the believer will be absent from the body, and present

with the Lord. In the mean time, the statutes of the Lord supply

subjects for grateful praise. In the season of affliction, and

in the silent hours of the night, he remembers the name of the

Lord, and is stirred up to keep the law. All who have made

religion the first thing, will own that they have been

unspeakable gainers by it.
57-64 True believers take the Lord for the portion of their

inheritance, and nothing less will satisfy them. The psalmist

prayed with his whole heart, knowing how to value the blessing

he prayed for: he desired the mercy promised, and depended on

the promise for it. He turned from by-paths, and returned to

God's testimonies. He delayed not. It behoves sinners to hasten

to escape; and the believer will be equally in haste to glorify

God. No care or grief should take away God's word out of our

minds, or hinder the comfort it bestows. There is no situation

on earth in which a believer has not cause to be thankful. Let

us feel ashamed that others are more willing to keep from sleep

to spend the time in sinful pleasures, than we are to praise

God. And we should be more earnest in prayer, that our hearts

may be filled with his mercy, grace, and peace.
65-72 However God has dealt with us, he has dealt with us

better than we deserve; and all in love, and for our good. Many

have knowledge, but little judgment; those who have both, are

fortified against the snares of Satan, and furnished for the

service of God. We are most apt to wander from God, when we are

easy in the world. We should leave our concerns to the disposal

of God, seeing we know not what is good for us. Lord, thou art

our bountiful Benefactor; incline our hearts to faith and

obedience. The psalmist will go on in his duty with constancy

and resolution. The proud are full of the world, and its wealth

and pleasures; these make them senseless, secure, and stupid.

God visits his people with affliction, that they may learn his

statutes. Not only God's promises, but even his law, his

percepts, though hard to ungodly men, are desirable, and

profitable, because they lead us with safety and delight unto

eternal life.
73-80 God made us to serve him, and enjoy him; but by sin we

have made ourselves unfit to serve him, and to enjoy him. We

ought, therefore, continually to beseech him, by his Holy

Spirit, to give us understanding. The comforts some have in God,

should be matter of joy to others. But it is easy to own, that

God's judgments are right, until it comes to be our own case.

All supports under affliction must come from mercy and

compassion. The mercies of God are tender mercies; the mercies

of a father, the compassion of a mother to her son. They come to

us when we are not able to go to them. Causeless reproach does

not hurt, and should not move us. The psalmist could go on in

the way of his duty, and find comfort in it. He valued the good

will of saints, and was desirous to keep up his communion with

them. Soundness of heart signifies sincerity in dependence on

God, and devotedness to him.
81-88 The psalmist sought deliverance from his sins, his foes,

and his fears. Hope deferred made him faint; his eyes failed by

looking out for this expected salvation. But when the eyes fail,

yet faith must not. His affliction was great. He was become like

a leathern bottle, which, if hung up in the smoke, is dried and

shrivelled up. We must ever be mindful of God's statutes. The

days of the believer's mourning shall be ended; they are but for

a moment, compared with eternal happiness. His enemies used

craft as well as power for his ruin, in contempt of the law of

God. The commandments of God are true and faithful guides in the

path of peace and safety. We may best expect help from God when,

like our Master, we do well and suffer for it. Wicked men may

almost consume the believer upon earth, but he would sooner

forsake all than forsake the word of the Lord. We should depend

upon the grace of God for strength to do every good work. The

surest token of God's good-will toward us, is his good work in

89-96 The settling of God's word in heaven, is opposed to the

changes and revolutions of the earth. And the engagements of

God's covenant are established more firmly than the earth

itself. All the creatures answer the ends of their creation:

shall man, who alone is endued with reason, be the only

unprofitable burden of the earth? We may make the Bible a

pleasant companion at any time. But the word, without the grace

of God, would not quicken us. See the best help for bad

memories, namely, good affections; and though the exact words be

lost, if the meaning remain, that is well. I am thine, not my

own, not the world's; save me from sin, save me from ruin. The

Lord will keep the man in peace, whose mind is stayed on him. It

is poor perfection which one sees and end of. Such are all

things in this world, which pass for perfections. The glory of

man is but as the flower of the grass. The psalmist had seen the

fulness of the word of God, and its sufficiency. The word of the

Lord reaches to all cases, to all times. It will take us from

all confidence in man, or in our own wisdom, strength, and

righteousness. Thus shall we seek comfort and happiness from

Christ alone.
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