Because this psalm was very large, and the matter of it of the greatest importance, the psalmist thought fit to divide it into two and twenty several parts, according to the number of the Hebrew letters, that he might both prevent tediousness, and fix it in the memory. Each part consists of eight verses. All the verses of the first part beginning with Aleph, all the verses of the second with Beth, and so on. It is observable, that the word of God is here called by the names of law, statutes, precepts or commandments, judgments, ordinances, righteousness, testimonies, way and word. By which variety, he designed to express the nature and perfection of God's word. It is called his word, as revealed by him to us; his way, as prescribed by him for us to walk in; his law, as binding us to obedience; his statutes, as declaring his authority of giving us laws; his precepts as directing our duty; his ordinances, as ordained by him; his righteousness, as exactly agreeable to God's righteous nature and will; his judgments, as proceeding from the great judge of the world, and being his judicial sentence to which all men must submit; and his testimonies, as it contains the witness of God's will, and of man's duty. And there is but one of these one hundred and seventy six verses, in which one or other of these titles is not found. The general scope and design of this psalm is, to magnify the law and make it honourable: to shew the excellency and usefulness of divine revelation, and recommend it to us, by the psalmist's own example, who speaks by experience of the benefits of it, for which he praises God, and earnestly prays for the continuance of God's grace, to direct and quicken him in his way.
Respect - A due respect, which implies hearty affection, diligent study, and constant practice. To all - So as not to allow myself in any known sin, or in the neglect of any known duty.
When - When by thy good spirit I shall he more fitly instructed in the meaning of thy word.
Forsake me not - For then I shall fall into the foulest sins.
A young man - Or, any man. But he names the young man, because such are commonly void of wisdom and experience, and exposed to many and great temptations. Cleanse - Purge himself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit.
Hid - I have laid it up in my mind like a choice treasure, to be ready upon all occasions to counsel, quicken or caution me.
Live - Safely and comfortably.
Open - Enlighten my mind by the light of thy Holy Spirit, and dispel all ignorance and error. Behold - Those great and marvellous depths of Divine wisdom and goodness, and those profound mysteries of Christ, and God's grace to mankind, and of that everlasting state, which are not to be known but by Divine illumination.
A stranger - I am not here as in my home, but as a pilgrim travelling homeward in a strange land. Commandments - Which are my chief support and guide in my pilgrimage.
Breaketh - Faints, as it frequently does, when a thing vehemently desired is delayed. Judgments - To a more sound knowledge and serious practice of them.
The proud - Obstinate and presumptuous sinners, who sin with an high hand. Err - Or, wander, knowingly or wilfully.
The dust - I am in danger of present death: I am like one laid in the grave. Quicken - Preserve my life, or raise me out of the dust. Word - According to thy promise.
My ways - My sins; and all my cares, and fears, and troubles.
Understand - More throughly.
Melteth - Like wax before the fire.
Grant me - Vouchsafe me an accurate knowledge of thy word, and let me govern myself by it in all things.
Laid - Or, set before me as a mark to aim at; as a rule to direct me.
Run - I will obey thy precepts with all readiness, fervency, and diligence. Enlarge - When thou shalt replenish my heart with wisdom, and love to thee and thy law.
Covetousness - He mentions this in particular, because it is most opposite to God's testimonies, and does most commonly hinder men from receiving his word, and from profiting by it: and because it is most pernicious, as being the root of all evil.
Vanity - The vain things of this present world, such as riches, honours, pleasures: from beholding them, with desire or affection. Quicken - Make me lively, vigorous and fervent in thy service.
Stablish - Confirm and perform thy promises.
I fear - For my instability in thy ways; which in respect to my own weakness, I have great cause to fear.
Longed - After a more solid knowledge and constant performance of them. In - According to thy faithfulness.
Take not - Do not deal so with me, that I shall be ashamed to mention thy word. Judgments - In thy word.
At liberty - Enjoy great freedom and comfort in thy ways.
Lift up - To receive and embrace thy precepts and promises.
Thy word - Thy promises.
Judgments - Thy ancient dispensations to the children of men in punishing the ungodly.
Horror - A mixed passion, made up of abhorrence of their sins, and dread and sorrow at the consideration of the judgments of God coming upon them.
The house - In this world, wherein I am a stranger and pilgrim, as all my fathers were.
Thy name - Thy holy nature and attributes, thy blessed word, and thy wonderful works. In the night - When darkness causes fear in others, I took pleasure in remembering thee; and when others gave themselves up to sleep, my thoughts and affections were working towards thee.
This - This comfortable remembrance.
Said - I have professed and owned it.
Thought - I seriously considered both my former courses, and my duty in all my future actions.
Robbed - Done me many injuries, for my respect to thy law.
Judgment - Whereby I may rightly discern between truth and falsehood. Knowledge - A spiritual experimental knowledge.
Fat - They are stupid and insensible.
Glad - For the encouragement they have by my example to trust in God. See me|-Alive and in safety. Word - In thy promise, and have not been disappointed of my hope.
Judgments - Thy corrections. Of faithfulness - In pursuance of thy promises, and in order to my good.
Known - Loved and practised them.
Sound - That I may love and obey them sincerely, constantly, and universally.
Fainteth - With long desire and earnest expectation.
Bottle - A leathern bottle. My natural moisture is dryed and burnt up.
The days - The days of my life. I have but a little while to live; give me some respite before I die.
Who - Who have no respect to thy law.
Faithful - Just and true.
In heaven - With thee in thy heavenly habitation.
They - The heaven and the earth. Ordinances - As thou hast appointed. For - All things are subject to thy power and pleasure.
Perfection - Of the greatest and most perfect enjoyments in this world. Commandment - Thy word; one part of it being put for the whole. Broad - Or, large, both for extent, and for continuance: it is useful to all persons: it is of everlasting truth and efficacy; it will never deceive those who trust to it, as all worldly things will, but will make men happy both here and for ever.
Because - The practice of religion is the best way to understand it.
Taught me - By thy blessed spirit, illuminating my mind, and working upon my heart.
Offerings - The sacrifices of prayer and praise.
Is - Exposed to perpetual danger.
Deceit - Their deceitful devices, shall bring that destruction upon themselves which they design for others.
Judgment, &c. - Just judgment.
Surety - Do thou undertake and plead my cause.
The word - For the performance of thy faithful or merciful promise.
To work - To put forth thy power for the restraint of evil-doers. They - The wicked. Made void - Or, abrogated thy law, have openly cast off its authority.
Therefore - Because the general apostacy of others makes this duty more necessary.
Wonderful - In regard of the deep mysteries, the most excellent directions, and the exceeding great and precious promises of God contained in them.
Panted - I thirst after thy precepts, and pursue them eagerly.
Steps - My motions and actions.
Rivers - Plentiful tears, witness of my deep sorrow for God's dishonour, and for the miseries which sinners bring upon themselves.
Pure - Without the least mixture of falsehood.
Everlasting - The same in all ages and places.
Trouble - Outward troubles and anguish of spirit.
Watches - The middle watch, which was set in the middle of the night; and the morning watch, which was set some hours before the dawning of the day.
Judgment - According to thy word.
Nigh - To me, they are at hand and ready to seize upon me. Are far - They cast away from them all thoughts of thy law.
Of old - By long experience. Founded - Thou hast established them upon everlasting foundations.
The beginning - From the beginning of the world.
But - But I feared thine offence and displeasure more than their wrath.
Seven times - Many times; a certain number being put for an uncertain.
Offend - Heb. they shall have no stumbling-block, at which they shall stumble and fall into mischief.
Judgments - Thy word or testimonies, which are the only ground of my hope in thy help.