This is a psalm by itself, like none of the rest; it excels them all,
and shines brightest in this constellation. It is much longer than any
of them more than twice as long as any of them. It is not making long
prayers that Christ censurers, but making them for a pretence, which
intimates that they are in themselves good and commendable. It seems to
me to be a collection of David's pious and devout ejaculations, the
short and sudden breathings and elevations of his soul to God, which he
wrote down as they occurred, and, towards the latter end of his time,
gathered out of his day-book where they lay scattered, added to them
many like words, and digested them into this psalm, in which there is
seldom any coherence between the verses, but, like Solomon's proverbs,
it is a chest of gold rings, not a chain of gold links. And we may not
only learn, by the psalmist's example, to accustom ourselves to such
pious ejaculations, which are an excellent means of maintaining
constant communion with God, and keeping the heart in frame for the
more solemn exercises of religion, but we must make use of the
psalmist's words, both for the exciting and for the expressing of our
devout affections; what some have said of this psalm is true, "He that
shall read it considerately, it will either warm him or shame him." The
composition of it is singular and very exact. It is divided into
twenty-two parts, according to the number of the letters of the Hebrew
alphabet, and 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, without any flaw throughout the whole psalm.
Archbishop Tillotson says, It seems to have more of poetical skill and
number in it than we at this distance can easily understand. Some have
called it the saints' alphabet; and it were to be wished we had it as
ready in our memories as the very letters of our alphabet, as ready as
our A B C. Perhaps the penman found it of use to himself to observe
this method, as it obliged him to seek for thoughts, and search for
them, that he might fill up the quota of every part; and the letter he
was to begin with might lead him to a word which might suggest a good
sentence; and all little enough to raise any thing that is good in the
barren soil of our hearts. However, it would be of use to the learners,
a help to them both in committing it to memory and in calling it to
mind upon occasion; by the letter the first word would be got, and that
would bring in the whole verse; thus young people would the more easily
learn it by heart and retain it the better even in old age. If any
censure it as childish and trifling, because acrostics are now quite
out of fashion, let them know that the royal psalmist despises their
censure; he is a teacher of babes, and, if this method may be
beneficial to them, he can easily stoop to it; if this to be vile, he
will be yet more vile.
II. The general scope and design of it is to magnify the law, and make
it honourable; to set forth the excellency and usefulness of divine
revelation, and to recommend it to us, not only for the entertainment,
but for the government, of ourselves, by the psalmist's own example,
who speaks by experience of the benefit of it, and of the good
impressions made upon him by it, for which he praises God, and
earnestly prays, from first to last, for the continuance of God's grace
with him, to direct and quicken him in the way of his duty. There are
ten different words by which divine revelation is called in this psalm,
and they are synonymous, each of them expressive of the whole compass
of it (both that which tells us what God expects from us and that which
tells us that we may expect from him) and of the system of religion
which is founded upon it and guided by it. The things contained in the
scripture, and drawn from it, are here called,
1. God's law, because they are enacted by him as our Sovereign.
2. His way, because they are the rule both of his providence and of
3. His testimonies, because they are solemnly declared to the world and
attested beyond contradiction.
4. His commandments, because given with authority, and (as the word
signifies) lodged with us as a trust.
5. His precepts, because prescribed to us and not left indifferent.
6. His word, or saying, because it is the declaration of his mind, and
Christ, the essential eternal Word, is all in all in it.
7. His judgments, because framed in infinite wisdom, and because by
them we must both judge and be judged.
8. His righteousness, because it is all holy, just, and good, and the
rule and standard of righteousness.
9. His statutes, because they are fixed and determined, and of
perpetual obligation. His truth, or faithfulness, because the
principles upon which the divine law is built are eternal truths. And I
think there is but one verse (it is
in all this long psalm in which there is not one or other of these ten
words; only in three or four they are used concerning God's providence
or David's practice (as
they are called God's name. The great esteem and affection David had
for the word of God is the more admirable considering how little he had
of it, in comparison with what we have, no more perhaps in writing than
the first books of Moses, which were but the dawning of this day, which
may shame us who enjoy the full discoveries of divine revelation and
yet are so cold towards it. In singing this psalm there is work for all
the devout affections of a sanctified soul, so copious, so various, is
the matter of it. We here find that in which we must give glory to God
both as our ruler and great benefactor, that in which we are to teach
and admonish ourselves and one another (so many are the instructions
which we here find about a religious life), and that in which we are to
comfort and encourage ourselves and one another, so many are the sweet
experiences of one that lived such a life. Here is something or other
to suit the case of every Christian. Is any afflicted? Is any merry?
Each will find that here which is proper for him. And it is so far from
being a tedious repetition of the same thing, as may seem to those who
look over it cursorily, that, if we duly meditate upon it, we shall
find almost every verse has a new thought and something in it very
lively. And this, as many other of David's psalms, teaches us to be
sententious in our devotions, both alone and when others join with us;
for, ordinarily, the affections, especially of weaker Christians, are
more likely to be raised and kept by short expressions, the sense of
which lies in a little compass, than by long and laboured periods.
1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in
the law of the LORD.
2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek
him with the whole heart.
3 They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
The psalmist here shows that godly people are happy people; they are,
and shall be, blessed indeed. Felicity is the thing we all pretend to
aim at and pursue. He does not say here wherein it consists; it is
enough for us to know what we must do and be that we may attain to it,
and that we are here told. All men would be happy, but few take the
right way; God has here laid before us the right way, which we may be
sure will end in happiness, though it be strait and narrow.
Blessednesses are to the righteous; all manner of blessedness. Now
observe the characters of the happy people. Those are happy,
1. Who make the will of God the rule of all their actions, and govern
themselves, in their whole conversation, by that rule: They walk in
the law of the Lord,
God's word is a law to them, not only in this or that instance, but in
the whole course of their conversation; they walk within the hedges of
that law, which they dare not break through by doing any thing it
forbids; and they walk in the paths of that law, which they will not
trifle in, but press forward in them towards the mark,
taking every step by rule and never walking at all adventures. This is
walking in God's ways
the ways which he has marked out to us and has appointed us to walk in.
It will not serve us to make religion the subject of our discourse, but
we must make it the rule of our walk; we must walk in his ways,
not in the way of the world, or of our own hearts,
2. Who are upright and honest in their religion--undefiled in the
way, not only who keep themselves pure from the pollutions of
actual sin, unspotted from the world, but who are habitually
sincere in their intentions, in whose spirit there is no guile,
who are really as good as they seem to be and row the same way as they
3. Who are true to the trust reposed in them as God's professing
people. It was the honour of the Jews that to them were committed
the oracles of God; and blessed are those who preserve pure and
entire that sacred deposit, who keep his testimonies as a
treasure of inestimable value, keep them as the apple of their eye, so
keep them as to carry the comfort of them themselves to another world
and leave the knowledge and profession of them to those who shall come
after them in this world. Those who would walk in the law of the
Lord must keep his testimonies, that is, his truths. Those
will not long make conscience of good practices who do not adhere to
good principles. Or his testimonies may denote his covenant; the
ark of the covenant is called the ark of the testimony. Those do
not keep covenant with God who do not keep the commandments of God.
4. Who have a single eye to God as their chief good and highest end in
all they do in religion
They seek him with their whole
heart. They do not seek themselves and their own things, but God
only; this is that which they aim at, that God may be glorified in
their obedience and that they may be happy in God's acceptance. He is,
and will be, the rewarder, the reward, of all those who thus seek
him diligently, seek him with the heart, for that is it that God
looks at and requires; and with the whole heart, for if the
heart be divided between him and the world it is faulty.
5. Who carefully avoid all sin
They do no iniquity; they do not allow themselves in any sin;
they do not commit it as those do who are the servants of sin; they do
not make a practice of it, do not make a trade of it. They are
conscious to themselves of much iniquity that clogs them in the ways of
God, but not of that iniquity which draws them out of those ways.
Blessed and holy are those who thus exercise themselves to have
always consciences void of offence.
4 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy
We are here taught,
1. To own ourselves under the highest obligations to walk in God's law.
The tempter would possess men with an opinion that they are at their
liberty whether they will make the word of God their rule or no, that,
though it may be good, yet it is not so necessary as they are made to
believe it is. He taught our first parents to question the command:
Hath God said, You shall not eat? And therefore we are concerned
to be well established in this
Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts, to make religion
our rule; and to keep them diligently, to make religion
our business and to mind it carefully and constantly. We are bound, and
must obey at our peril.
2. To look up to God for wisdom and grace to do so
O that my ways were directed accordingly! not only that all
events concerning us may be so ordered and disposed by the providence
of God as not to be in any thing a hindrance to us, but a furtherance
rather, in the service of God, but that our hearts may be so guided and
influenced by the Spirit of God that we may not in any thing transgress
God's commandments--not only that our eyes may be directed to behold
God's statutes, but our hearts directed to keep them. See how the
desire and prayer of a good man exactly agree with the will and command
of a good God: "Thou wouldest have me keep thy precepts, and, Lord, I
fain would keep them." This is the will of God, even our
sanctification; and it should be our will.
3. To encourage ourselves in the way of our duty with a prospect of the
comfort we shall find in it,
(1.) It is the undoubted character of every good man that he has a
respect to all God's commandments. He has a respect to
the command, eyes it as his copy, aims to conform to it, is sorry
wherein he comes short; and what he does in religion he does with a
conscientious regard to the command, because it is his duty. He has
respect to all the commandments, one as well as another,
because they are all backed with the same authority
and all levelled at the same end, the glorifying of God in our
happiness. Those who have a sincere respect to any command will have a
general respect to every command, to the commands of both testaments
and both tables, to the prohibitions and the precepts, to those that
concern both the inward and the outward man, both the head and the
heart, to those that forbid the most pleasant and gainful sins and to
those that require the most difficult and hazardous duties.
(2.) Those who have a sincere respect to all God's
commandments shall not be ashamed, not only they will thereby be
kept from doing that which will turn to their shame, but they shall
have confidence towards God and boldness of access to the throne
of his grace,
1 John 3:21.
They shall have credit before men; their honesty will be their honour.
And they shall have clearness and courage in their own souls; they
shall not be ashamed to retire into themselves, nor to reflect upon
themselves, for their hearts shall not condemn them. David speaks this
with application to himself. Those that are upright may take the
comfort of their uprightness. "As, if I be wicked, woe to me; so, if I
be sincere, it is well with me."
7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall
have learned thy righteous judgments.
8 I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.
I. David's endeavour to perfect himself in his religion, and to make
himself (as we say) master of his business. He hopes to learn
God's righteous judgments. He knew much, but he was still
pressing forward and desired to know more, as knowing this, that he
had not yet attained; but as far as perfection is attainable in
this life he reached towards it, and would not take up short of it. As
long as we live we must be scholars in Christ's school, and sit at his
feet; but we should aim to be head-scholars, and to get into the
highest form. God's judgments are all righteous, and therefore it is
desirable not only to learn them, but to be learned in them, mighty
in the scriptures.
II. The use he would make of his divine learning. He coveted to be
learned in the laws of God, not that he might make himself a name and
interest among men, or fill his own head with entertaining
1. That he might give God the glory of his learning: I will praise
thee when I have learned thy judgments, intimating that he could
not learn unless God taught him, and that divine instructions are
special blessings, which we have reason to be thankful for. Though
Christ keeps a free-school, and teaches without money and without
price, yet he expects his scholars should give him thanks both for his
word and for his Spirit; surely it is a mercy worth thanks to be taught
so gainful a calling as religion is. Those have learned a good lesson
who have learned to praise God, for that is the work of angels, the
work of heaven. It is an easy thing to praise God in word and tongue;
but those only are well learned in this mystery who have learned to
praise him with uprightness of heart, that is, are inward
with him in praising him, and sincerely aim at his glory in the course
of their conversation as well as in the exercises of devotion. God
accepts only the praises of the upright.
2. That he might himself come under the government of that learning:
When I shall have learned thy righteous judgments I will keep thy
statutes. We cannot keep them unless we learn them; but we learn
them in vain if we do not keep them. Those have well learned God's
statutes who have come up to a full resolution, in the strength of his
grace, to keep them.
III. His prayer to God not to leave him: "O forsake me not! that
is, leave me not to myself, withdraw not thy Spirit and grace from me,
for then I shall not keep thy statutes." Good men see
themselves undone if God forsakes them; for then the tempter will be
too hard for them. "Though thou seem to forsake me, and threaten to
forsake me, and dost, for a time, withdraw from me, yet let not the
desertion be total and final; for that is hell. O forsake me not
utterly! for woe unto me if God departs from me."
9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by
taking heed thereto according to thy word.
1. A weighty question asked. By what means may the next generation be
made better than this? Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his
way? Cleansing implies that it is polluted. Besides the original
corruption we all brought into the world with us (from which we are not
cleansed unto this day), there are many particular sins which young
people are subject to, by which they defile their way, youthful
(2 Timothy 2:22);
these render their way offensive to God and disgraceful to themselves.
Young men are concerned to cleanse their way--to get their hearts
renewed and their lives reformed, to make clean, and keep clean, from
the corruption that is in the world through lust, that they may
have both a good conscience and a good name. Few young people do
themselves enquire by what means they may recover and preserve their
purity; and therefore David asks the question for them.
2. A satisfactory answer given to this question. Young men may
effectually cleanse their way by taking heed thereto according
to the word of God; and it is the honour of the word of God that it
has such power and is of such use both to particular persons and to
communities, whose happiness lies much in the virtue of their youth.
(1.) Young men must make the word of God their rule, must acquaint
themselves with it and resolve to conform themselves to it; that will
do more towards the cleansing of young men that the laws of princes or
the morals of philosophers.
(2.) They must carefully apply that rule and make use of it; they must
take heed to their way, must examine it by the word of God, as a
touchstone and standard, must rectify what is amiss in it by that
regulator and steer by that chart and compass. God's word will not do
without our watchfulness, and a constant regard both to it and to our
way, that we may compare them together. The ruin of young men is either
living at large (or by no rule at all) or choosing to themselves false
rules: let them ponder the path of their feet, and walk by
scripture-rules; so their way shall be clean, and they shall have the
comfort and credit of it here and for ever.
10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander
from thy commandments.
1. David's experience of a good work God had wrought in him, which he
takes the comfort of and pleads with God: "I have sought thee,
sought to thee as my oracle, sought after thee as my happiness, sought
thee as my God; for should not a people seek unto their God? If
I have not yet found thee, I have sought thee, and thou never
saidst, Seek in vain, nor wilt say so to me, for I have sought thee
with my heart, with my whole heart, sought thee only, sought thee
2. His prayer for the preservation of that work: "Thou that hast
inclined me to seek thy precepts, never suffer me to wander from them."
The best are sensible of their aptness to wander; and the more we have
found of the pleasure there is in keeping God's commandments the more
afraid we shall be of wandering from them and the more earnest we shall
be in prayer to God for his grace to prevent our wanderings.
11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin
1. The close application which David made of the word of God to
himself: He hid it in his heart, laid it up there, that it might
be ready to him whenever he had occasion to use it; he laid it up as
that which he valued highly, and had a warm regard for, and which he
was afraid of losing and being robbed of. God's word is a treasure
worth laying up, and there is no laying it up safely but in our hearts;
if we have it only in our houses and hands, enemies may take it from
us; if only in our heads, our memories may fail us: but if our hearts
be delivered into the mould of it, and the impressions of it remain on
our souls, it is safe.
2. The good uses he designed to make of it: That I might not sin
against thee. Good men are afraid of sin, and are in care to
prevent it; and the most effectual way to prevent is to hide God's word
in our hearts, that we may answer every temptation, as our Master did,
with, It is written, may oppose God's precepts to the dominion
of sin, his promises to its allurements, and his threatenings to its
12 Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
1. David gives glory to God: "Blessed art thou, O Lord! Thou art
infinitely happy in the enjoyment of thyself and hast no need of me or
my services; yet thou art pleased to reckon thyself honoured by them;
assist me therefore, and then accept me." In all our prayers we should
2. He asks grace from God: "Teach me thy statutes; give me to
know and do my duty in every thing. Thou art the fountain of all
blessedness; O let me have this drop from that fountain, this blessing
from that blessedness: Teach me thy statutes, that I may know
how to bless thee, who art a blessed God, and that I may be blessed in
13 With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as
in all riches.
15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy
16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy
I. David looks back with comfort upon the respect he had paid to the
word of God. He had the testimony of his conscience for him,
1. That he had edified others with what he had been taught out of the
word of God
With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
This he did, not only as a king in making orders, and giving judgment,
according to the word of God, nor only as a prophet by his psalms, but
in his common discourse. Thus he showed how full he was of the word of
God, and what a holy delight he took in his acquaintance with it; for
it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth
speaks. Thus he did good with his knowledge; he did not hide God's
word from others, but hid it for them; and, out of that good
treasure in his heart, brought forth good things, as the
householder out of his store things new and old. Those whose
hearts are fed with the bread of life should with their lips feed many.
He had prayed
that God would teach him; and here he pleads, "Lord, I have endeavoured
to make a good use of the knowledge thou hast given me, therefore
increase it;" for to him that has shall be given.
2. That he had entertained himself with it: "Lord, teach me thy
statutes; for I desire no greater pleasure than to know and do them
I have rejoiced in the way of thy commandments, in a constant
even course of obedience to thee; not only in the speculations and
histories of thy word, but in the precepts of it, and in that path of
serious godliness which they chalk out to me. I have rejoiced in
this as much as in all riches, as much as ever any worldling
rejoiced in the increase of his wealth. In the way of God's
commandments I can truly say, Soul, take thy ease;" in true
religion there is all riches, the unsearchable riches of Christ.
II. He looks forward with a holy resolution never to cool in his
affection to the word of God; what he does that he will do,
2 Corinthians 11:12.
Those that have found pleasure in the ways of God are likely to proceed
and persevere in them.
1. He will dwell much upon them in his thoughts
I will meditate in thy precepts. He not only discoursed of them
to others (many do that only to show their knowledge and authority),
but he communed with his own heart about them, and took pains to digest
in his own thoughts what he had declared, or had to declare, to others.
Note, God's words ought to be very much the subject of our thoughts.
2. He will have them always in his eye: I will have respect unto
thy ways, as the traveller has to his road, which he is in care not
to miss and always aims and endeavours to hit. We do not meditate on
God's precepts to good purpose unless we have respect to them as our
rule and our good thoughts produce good works and good intentions in
3. He will take a constant pleasure in communion with God and obedience
to him. It is not for a season that he rejoices in this light, but
"I will still, I will for ever, delight myself in thy
statutes, not only think of them, but do them with delight,"
David took more delight in God's statutes than in the pleasures of his
court or the honours of his camp, more than in his sword or in his
harp. When the law is written in the heart duty becomes a delight.
4. He will never forget what he has learned of the things of God:
"I will not forget thy word, not only I will not quite forget
it, but I will be mindful of it when I have occasion to use it." Those
that meditate in God's word, and delight in it, are in no great danger
of forgetting it.
17 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live,
and keep thy word.
We are here taught,
1. That we owe our lives to God's mercy. David prays, Deal
bountifully with me, that I may live. It was God's bounty
that gave us life, that gave us this life; and the same bounty that
gave it continues it, and gives all the supports and comforts of it; if
these be withheld, we die, or, which is equivalent, our lives are
embittered and we become weary of them. If God deals in strict justice
with us, we die, we perish, we all perish; if these forfeited lives be
preserved and prolonged, it is because God deals bountifully with us,
according to his mercy, not according to our deserts. The continuance
of the most useful life is owing to God's bounty, and on that we must
have a continual dependence.
2. That therefore we ought to spend our lives in God's service. Life is
therefore a choice mercy, because it is an opportunity of
obeying God in this world, where there are so few that do glorify him;
and this David had in his eye: "Not that I may live and grow
rich, live and be merry, but that I may live and keep thy word,
may observe it myself and transmit it to those that shall come after,
which the longer I live the better I shall do."
18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out
of thy law.
1. That there are wondrous things in God's law, which we
are all concerned, and should covet, to behold, not only strange
things, which are very surprising and unexpected, but excellent things,
which are to be highly esteemed and valued, and things which were long
hidden from the wise and prudent, but are now revealed unto
babes. If there were wonders in the law, much more in the gospel,
where Christ is all in all, whose name is Wonderful. Well may
we, who are so nearly interested, desire to behold these wondrous
things, when the angels themselves reach to look into them,
1 Peter 1:12.
Those that would see the wondrous things of God's law and gospel must
beg of him to open their eyes and to give them an understanding.
We are by nature blind to the things of God, till his grace cause the
scales to fall from our eyes; and even those in whose hearts God has
said, Let there be light, have yet need to be further
enlightened, and must still pray to God to open their eyes yet more and
more, that those who at first saw men as trees walking may come
to see all things clearly; and the more God opens our eyes the more
wonders we see in the word of God, which we saw not before.
19 I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments
Here we have,
1. The acknowledgment which David makes of his own condition: I am a
stranger in the earth. We all are so, and all good people confess
themselves to be so; for heaven is their home, and the world is but
their inn, the land of their pilgrimage. David was a man that knew as
much of the world, and was as well known in it, as most men. God built
him a house, established his throne; strangers submitted to him, and
people that he had not known served him; he had a name like the names
of the great men, and yet he calls himself a stranger. We are all
strangers on earth and must so account ourselves.
2. The request he makes to God thereupon: Hide not thy commandments
from me. He means more: "Lord, show thy commandments to me; let me
never know the want of the word of God, but, as long as I live, give me
to be growing in my acquaintance with it. I am a stranger, and
therefore stand in need of a guide, a guard, a companion, a comforter;
let me have thy commandments always in view, for they will be all this
to me, all that a poor stranger can desire. I am a stranger
here, and must be gone shortly; by thy commandments let me be prepared
for my removal hence."
20 My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy
judgments at all times.
David had prayed that God would open his eyes
and open the law
now here he pleads the earnestness of his desire for knowledge and
grace, for it is the fervent prayer that avails much.
1. His desire was importunate: My soul breaketh for the longing it
hath to thy judgments, or (as some read it) "It is taken up, and
wholly employed, in longing for thy judgments; the whole stream of
its desires runs in this channel. I shall think myself quite broken and
undone if I want the word of God, the direction, converse, and comfort
2. It was constant--at all times. It was not now and then, in a
good humour, that he was so fond of the word of God; but it is the
habitual temper of every sanctified soul to hunger after the word of
God as its necessary food, which there is no living without.
21 Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err
from thy commandments.
1. The wretched character of wicked people. The temper of their minds
is bad. They are proud; they magnify themselves above others.
And yet that is not all: they magnify themselves against God, and set
up their wills in competition with and opposition to the will of God,
as if their hearts, and tongues, and all, were their own. There is
something of pride at the bottom of every wilful sin, and the tenour of
their lives is no better: They do err from thy commandments, as
Israel, that did always err in their hearts; they err in
judgment, and embrace principles contrary to thy commandments, and then
no wonder that they err in practice, and wilfully turn aside out of the
good way. This is the effect of their pride; for they say, What is
the Almighty, that we should serve him? As Pharaoh, Who is the
2. The wretched case of such. They are certainly cursed, for God
resists the proud; and those that throw off the commands of the law
lay themselves under its curse
and he that now beholds them afar off will shortly say to them,
Go, you cursed. The proud sinners bless themselves; God curses
them; and, though the most direful effects of this curse are reserved
for the other world, yet they are often severely rebuked in this world:
Providence crosses them, vexes them, and, wherein they dealt proudly,
God shows himself above them; and these rebukes are earnests of worse.
David took notice of the rebukes proud men were under, and it made him
cleave the more closely to the word of God and pray the more earnestly
that he might not err from God's commandments. Thus saints get
good by God's judgments on sinners.
22 Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy
1. David prays against the reproach and contempt of men, that they
might be removed, or (as the word is) rolled, from off
him. This intimates that they lay upon him, and that neither his
greatness nor his goodness could secure him from being libelled and
lampooned. Some despised him and endeavoured to make him mean; others
reproached him and endeavoured to make him odious. It has often been
the lot of those that do well to be ill-spoken of. It intimates that
they lay heavily upon him. Hard and foul words indeed break no bones,
and yet they are very grievous to a tender and ingenuous spirit;
therefore David prays, "Lord, remove them from me, that I may
not be thereby either driven from my duty or discouraged in it." God
has all men's hearts and tongues in his hand, and can silence lying
lips, and raise up a good name that is trodden in the dust. To him we
may appeal as the assertor of right and avenger of wrong, and may
depend on his promise that he will clear up our righteousness as the
Reproach and contempt may humble us and do us good and then it shall be
2. He pleads his constant adherence to the word and way of God: For
I have kept thy testimonies. He not only pleads his innocency, that
he was unjustly censured, but,
(1.) That he was jeered for well-doing. He was despised and abused for
his strictness and zeal in religion; so that it was for God's name's
sake that he suffered reproach, and therefore he could with the more
assurance beg of God to appear for him. The reproach of God's people,
if it be not removed now, will be turned into the greater honour
(2.) That he was not jeered out of well-doing: "Lord, remove it from
me, for I have kept thy testimonies notwithstanding." If in a
day of trial we still retain our integrity, we may be sure it will end
23 Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy
servant did meditate in thy statutes.
1. How David was abused even by great men, who should have known better
his character and his case, and have been more generous: Princes did
sit, sit in council, sit in judgment, and speak against me.
What even princes say is not always right; but it is sad when judgment
is thus turned to wormwood, when those that should be the protectors of
the innocent are their betrayers. Herein David was a type of Christ,
for they were the princes of this world that vilified and crucified
the Lord of glory,
1 Corinthians 2:8.
2. What method he took to make himself easy under these abuses: he
meditated in God's statutes, went on in his duty, and did not
regard them; as a deaf man, he heard not. When they spoke against him,
he found that in the word of God which spoke for him, and spoke comfort
to him, and then none of these things moved him. Those that have
pleasure in communion with God may easily despise the censures of men,
even of princes.
24 Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.
Here David explains his meditating in God's statutes
which was of such use to him when princes sat and spoke against him.
1. Did the affliction make his sad? The word of God comforted him, and
was his delight, more his delight than any of the pleasures
either of court or camp, of city or country. Sometimes it proves that
the comforts of the word of God are most pleasant to a gracious soul
when other comforts are embittered.
2. Did it perplex him? Was he at a loss what to do when the princes
spoke against him? God's statutes were his counsellors, and they
counselled him to bear it patiently and commit his cause to God. God's
testimonies will be the best counsellors both to princes and
private persons. They are the men of my counsel; so the word is.
There will be found more safety and satisfaction in consulting them
than in the multitude of other counsellors. Observe here, Those that
would have God's testimonies to be their delight must take them for
their counsellors and be advised by them; and let those that take them
for their counsellors in close walking take them for their delight in
25 My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me
according to thy word.
I. David's complaint. We should have thought his soul soaring to
heaven; but he says himself, My soul not only rolls in the dust,
but cleaves to the dust, which is a complaint either,
1. Of his corruptions, his inclination to the world and the body (both
which are dust), and that which follows upon it, a deadness to holy
duties. When he would do good evil was present with him. God
intimated that Adam was not only mortal, but sinful, when he said,
Dust thou art,
David's complaint here is like St. Paul's of a body of death that he
carried about with him. The remainders of in-dwelling corruption are a
very grievous burden to a gracious soul. Or,
2. Of his afflictions, either trouble of mind or outward trouble.
Without were fightings, within were fears, and both together
brought him even to the dust of death
and his soul clave inseparably to it.
II. His petition for relief, and his plea to enforce that petition:
"Quicken thou me according to thy word. By thy providence put
life into my affairs, by thy grace put life into my affections; cure me
of my spiritual deadness and make me lively in my devotion." Note, When
we find ourselves dull we must go to God and beg of him to quicken us;
he has an eye to God's word as a means of quickening (for the words
which God speaks, they are spirit and they are life to those
that receive them), and as an encouragement to hope that God would
quicken him, having promised grace and comfort to all the saints, and
to David in particular. God's word must be our guide and plea in every
26 I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy
27 Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I
talk of thy wondrous works.
We have here,
1. The great intimacy and freedom that had been between David and his
God. David had opened his case, opened his very heart to God: "I
have declared my ways, and acknowledged thee in them all, have
taken thee along with me in all my designs and enterprises." Thus
Jephthah uttered all his words, and Hezekiah spread his letters,
before the Lord. "I have declared my ways, my wants, and
burdens, and troubles, that I meet with in my way, or my sins, my
by-ways (I have made an ingenuous confession of them), and thou
heardest me, heardest patiently all I had to say, and tookedst
cognizance of my case." It is an unspeakable comfort to a gracious soul
to think with what tenderness all its complaints are received by a
1 John 5:14,15.
2. David's earnest desire of the continuance of that intimacy, not by
visions and voices from heaven, but by the word and Spirit in an
ordinary way: Teach me thy statutes, that is, Make me to
understand the way of thy precepts. When he knew God had heard his
declaration of his ways he did not say, "Now, Lord, tell me my lot, and
let me know what the event will be;" but, "Now, Lord, tell me my duty;
let me know what thou wouldst have me to do as the case stands." Note,
Those who in all their ways acknowledge God may pray in faith that he
will direct their steps in the right way. And the surest way of
keeping up our communion with God is by learning his statutes and
walking intelligently in the way of his precepts. See
1 John 1:6,7.
3. The good use he would make of this for the honour of God and the
edification of others: "Let me have a good understanding of the way
of thy precepts; give me a clear, distinct, and methodical
knowledge of divine things; so shall I talk with the more
assurance, and the more to the purpose, of thy wondrous works."
We can talk with a better grace of God's wondrous works, the wonders of
providence, and especially the wonders of redeeming love, when we
understand the way of God's precepts and walk in that way.
28 My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according
unto thy word.
29 Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law
1. David's representation of his own griefs: My soul melteth for
heaviness, which is to the same purport with
My soul cleaveth to the dust. Heaviness in the heart of man
makes it to melt, to drop away like a candle that wastes. The penitent
soul melts in sorrow for sin, and even the patient soul may melt in the
sense of affliction, and it is then its interest to pour out its
supplication before God.
2. His request for God's grace.
(1.) That God would enable him to bear his affliction well and
graciously support him under it: "Strengthen thou me with
strength in my soul, according to thy word, which, as the bread
of life, strengthens man's heart to undergo whatever God is pleased to
inflict. Strengthen me to do the duties, resist the temptations, and
bear up under the burdens, of an afflicted state, that the spirit may
not fail. Strengthen me according to that word
As thy days so shall thy strength be."
(2.) That God would keep him from using any unlawful indirect means for
the extricating of himself out of his troubles
Remove from me the way of lying. David was conscious to himself
of a proneness to this sin; he had, in a strait, cheated Ahimelech
(1 Samuel 21:2),
1 Samuel 21:13,27:10.
Great difficulties are great temptations to palliate a lie with the
colour of a pious fraud and a necessary self-defence; therefore David
prays that God would prevent him from falling into this sin any more,
lest he should settle in the way of it. A course of lying, of deceit
and dissimulation, is that which every good man dreads and which we are
all concerned to beg of God by his grace to keep us from.
(3.) That he might always be under the guidance and protection of God's
government: Grant me thy law graciously; grant me that to keep
me from the way of lying. David had the law written with his own
hand, for the king was obliged to transcribe a copy of it for his own
but he prays that he might have it written in his heart; for then, and
then only, we have it indeed, and to good purpose. "Grant it me more
and more." Those that know and love the law of God cannot but desire to
know it more and love it better. "Grant it me graciously;" he
begs it as a special token of God's favour. Note, We ought to reckon
God's law a grant, a gift, an unspeakable gift, to value it, and pray
for it, and to give thanks for it accordingly. The divine code of
institutes and precepts is indeed a charter of privileges; and God is
truly gracious to those whom he makes gracious by giving them his
30 I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid
31 I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to
32 I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt
enlarge my heart.
I. That those who will make anything to purpose of their religion must
first make it their serious and deliberate choice; so David did: I
have chosen the way of truth. Note,
1. The way of serious godliness is the way of truth; the principles it
is founded on are principles of eternal truth, and it is the only true
way to happiness.
2. We must choose to walk in this way, not because we know no other
way, but because we know no better; nay we know no other safe and good
way. Let us choose that way for our way, which we will walk in, though
it be narrow.
II. That those who have chosen the way of truth must have a constant
regard to the word of God as the rule of their walking: Thy
judgments have I laid before me, as he who learns to write lays his
copy before him, that he may write according to it, as the workman lays
his model and platform before him, that he may do his work exactly. As
we must have the word in our heart by an habitual conformity to it, so
we must have it in our eye by an actual regard to it upon all
occasions, that we may walk accurately and by rule.
III. That those who make religion their choice and rule are likely to
adhere to it faithfully: "I have stuck to thy testimonies with
unchanged affection and an unshaken resolution, stuck to them at all
times, through all trials. I have chosen them, and therefore
I have stuck to them." Note, The choosing Christian is likely to
be the steady Christian; while those that are Christians by chance tack
about if the wind turn.
IV. That those who stick to the word of God may in faith expect and
pray for acceptance with God; for David means this when he begs,
"Lord, put me not to shame; that is, never leave me to do that
by which I shall shame myself, and do thou not reject my services,
which will put me to the greatest confusion."
V. That the more comfort God gives us the more duty he expects from us,
Here we have,
1. His resolution to go on vigorously in religion: I will run the
way of thy commandments. Those that are going to heaven should make
haste thither and be still pressing forward. It concerns us to redeem
time and take pains, and to go on in our business with cheerfulness. We
then run the way of our duty, when we are ready to it, and
pleasant in it, and lay aside every weight,
2. His dependence upon God for grace to do so: "I shall then
abound in thy work, when thou shalt enlarge my heart." God, by
his Spirit, enlarges the hearts of his people when he gives them wisdom
(for that is called largeness of heart,
1 Kings 4:29),
when he sheds abroad the love of God in the heart, and puts
gladness there. The joy of our Lord should be wheels to our
33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall
keep it unto the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I
shall observe it with my whole heart.
I. David prays earnestly that God himself would be his teacher; he had
prophets, and wise men, and priests, about him, and was himself well
instructed in the law of God, yet he begs to be taught of God, as
knowing that none teaches like him,
1. What he desires to be taught, not the notions or language of God's
statutes, but the way of them--"the way of applying them to
myself and governing myself by them; teach me the way of my duty which
thy statutes prescribe, and in every doubtful case let me know what
thou wouldst have me to do, let me hear the word behind me, saying,
This is the way, walk in it"
2. How he desires to be taught, in such a way as no man could teach
him: Lord, give me understanding. As the God of nature, he has
given us intellectual powers and faculties; but here we are taught to
pray that, as the God of grace, he would give us understanding to use
those powers and faculties about the great things which belong to our
peace, which, through the corruption of nature, we are averse to:
Give me understanding, an enlightened understanding; for it is
as good to have no understanding at all as not to have it sanctified.
Nor will the spirit of revelation in the word answer the end unless we
have the spirit of wisdom in the heart. This is that which we are
indebted to Christ for; for the Son of God has come and has given us
1 John 5:20.
II. He promises faithfully that he would be a good scholar. If God
would teach him, he was sure he should learn to good purpose: "I
shall keep thy law, which I shall never do unless I be taught of
God, and therefore I earnestly desire that I may be taught." If God, by
his Spirit, give us a right and good understanding, we shall be,
1. Constant in our obedience: "I shall keep it to the end, to
the end of my life, which will be the surest proof of sincerity." It
will not avail the traveller to keep the way for a while, if he do not
keep it to the end of his journey.
2. Cordial in our obedience: I shall observe it with my whole
heart, with pleasure and delight, and with vigour and resolution.
That way which the whole heart goes the whole man goes; and that should
be the way of God's commandments, for the keeping of them is the whole
35 Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein
do I delight.
36 Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to
He had before prayed to God to enlighten his understanding, that he
might know his duty, and not mistake concerning it; here he prays to
God to bow his will, and quicken the active powers of his soul, that he
might do his duty; for it is God that works in us both to will and
to do, as well as to understand, what is good,
Both the good head and the good heart are from the good grace of God,
and both are necessary to every good work. Observe here,
I. The grace he prays for.
1. That God would make him able to do his duty: "Make me to go;
strengthen me for every good work." Since we are not sufficient of
ourselves, our dependence must be upon the grace of God, for from him
all our sufficiency is. God puts his Spirit within us, and so causes us
to walk in his statutes
and this is that which David here begs.
2. That God would make him willing to do it, and would, by his grace,
subdue the aversion he naturally had to it: "Incline my heart to thy
testimonies, to those things which thy testimonies prescribe; not
only make me willing to do my duty, as that which I must do and
therefore am concerned to make the best of, but make me desirous to do
my duty as that which is agreeable to the new nature and really
advantageous to me." Duty is then done with delight when the heart is
inclined to it: it is God's grace that inclines us, and the more
backward we find ourselves to it the more earnest we must be for that
II. The sin he prays against, and that is covetousness: "Incline my
heart to keep thy testimonies, and restrain and mortify the
inclination there is in me to covetousness." That is a sin which
stands opposed to all God's testimonies; for the love of money is such
a sin as is the root of much sin, of all sin. Those therefore that
would have the love of God rooted in them must get the love of the
world rooted out of them; for the friendship of the world is enmity
with God. See in what way God deals with men, not by compulsion,
but he draws with the cords of a man, working in them an inclination to
that which is good and an aversion to that which is evil.
III. His plea to enforce this prayer: "Lord, bring me to, and keep me
in, the way of thy commandments, for therein do I delight; and
therefore I pray thus earnestly for grace to walk in that way. Thou
hast wrought in me this delight in the way of thy commandments; wilt
thou not work in me an ability to walk in them, and so crown thy own
37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken
thou me in thy way.
1. David prays for restraining grace, that he might be prevented and
kept back from that which would hinder him in the way of his duty:
Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity. The honours, pleasures,
and profits of the world are the vanities, the aspect and prospect of
which draw multitudes away from the paths of religion and godliness.
The eye, when fastened on these, infects the heart with the love of
them, and so it is alienated from God and divine things; and therefore,
as we ought to make a covenant with our eyes, and lay a charge
upon them, that they shall not wander after, much less fix upon, that
which is dangerous
so we ought to pray that God by his providence would keep vanity out of
our sight and that by his grace he would keep us from being enamoured
with the sight of it.
2. He prays for constraining grace, that he might not only be kept from
every thing that would obstruct his progress heaven-ward, but might
have that grace which was necessary to forward him in that progress:
"Quicken thou me in thy way; quicken me to redeem time, to
improve opportunity, to press forward, and to do every duty with
liveliness and fervency of spirit." Beholding vanity deadens us and
slackens our pace; a traveller that stands gazing upon every object
that presents itself to his view will not rid ground; but, if our eyes
be kept from that which would divert us, our hearts will be kept to
that which will excite us.
38 Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy
1. The character of a good man, which is the work of God's grace in
him; he is God's servant, subject to his law and employed in his
work, that is, devoted to his fear, given up to his direction
and disposal, and taken up with high thoughts of him and all those acts
of devotion which have a tendency to his glory. Those are truly God's
servants who, though they have their infirmities and defects, are
sincerely devoted to the fear of God and have all their
affections and motions governed by that fear; they are engaged and
addicted to religion.
2. The confidence that a good man has towards God, in dependence upon
the word of his grace to him. Those that are God's servants may, in
faith and with humble boldness, pray that God would establish his
word to them, that is, that he would fulfil his promises to them in
due time, and in the mean time give them an assurance that they shall
be fulfilled. What God has promised we must pray for; we need not be so
aspiring as to ask more; we need not be so modest as to ask less.
39 Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are
1. David prays against reproach, as before,
David was conscious to himself that he had done that which might give
occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, which would
blemish his own reputation and turn to the dishonour of his family; now
he prays that God, who has all men's hearts and tongues in his hands,
would be pleased to prevent this, to deliver him from all his
transgressions, that he might not be the reproach of the
foolish, which he feared
or he means that reproach which his enemies unjustly loaded him with.
Let their lying lips be put to silence.
2. He pleads the goodness of God's judgments: "Lord, thou sittest in
the throne, and thy judgments are right and good, just
and kind, to those that are wronged, and therefore to thee I appeal
from the unjust and unkind censures of men." It is a small thing to be
judged of man's judgment, while he that judges us is the Lord.
Or thus: "Thy word, and ways, and thy holy religion, are very good, but
the reproaches cast on me will fall on them; therefore, Lord, turn
them away; let not religion be wounded through my side."
40 Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy
1. David professes the ardent affection he had to the word of God:
"I have longed after thy precepts, not only loved them, and
delighted in what I have already attained, but I have earnestly desired
to know them more and do them better, and am still pressing forward
towards perfection." Tastes of the sweetness of God's precepts will but
set us a longing after a more intimate acquaintance with them. He
appeals to God concerning this passionate desire after his precepts:
"Behold, I have thus loved, thus longed; thou knowest all
things, thou knowest that I am thus affected."
2. He prays for grace to enable him to answer this profession. "Thou
hast wrought in me this languishing desire, put life into me, that I
may prosecute it; quicken me in thy righteousness, in thy
righteous ways, according to thy righteous promise." Where God has
wrought to will he will work to do, and where he has wrought to desire
he will satisfy the desire.
41 Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy
salvation, according to thy word.
42 So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me:
for I trust in thy word.
1. David's prayer for the salvation of the Lord. "Lord, thou art my
Saviour; I am miserable in myself, and thou only canst make me happy;
let thy salvation come to me. Hasten temporal salvation to me
from my present distresses, and hasten me to the eternal salvation, by
giving me the necessary qualifications for it and the comfortable
pledges and foretastes of it."
2. David's dependence upon the grace and promise of God for that
salvation. These are the two pillars on which our hope is built, and
they will not fail us:--
(1.) The grace of God: Let thy mercies come, even thy salvation.
Our salvation must be attributed purely to God's mercy, and not to any
merit of our own. Eternal life must be expected as the mercy of our
Lord Jesus Christ,
"Lord, I have by faith thy mercies in view; let me by prayer prevail to
have them come to me."
(2.) The promise of God: "Let it come according to thy word, thy
word of promise. I trust in thy word, and therefore may expect
the performance of the promise." We are not only allowed to trust in
God's word, but our trusting in it is the condition of our benefit by
3. David's expectation of the good assurance which that grace and
promise of God would give him: "So shall I have wherewith to answer
him that reproaches me for my confidence in God, as if it would
deceive me." When God saves those out of their troubles who trusted in
him he effectually silences those who would have shamed that counsel
of the poor
and their reproaches will be for ever silenced when the salvation of
the saints is completed; then it will appear, beyond dispute, that it
was not in vain to trust in God.
43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for
I have hoped in thy judgments.
44 So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.
1. David's humble petition for the tongue of the learned, that he might
know how to speak a word in season for the glory of God: Take
not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth. He means, "Lord, let
the word of truth be always in my mouth; let me have the wisdom and
courage which are necessary to enable me both to use my knowledge for
the instruction of others, and, like the good householder, to bring out
of my treasury things new and old, and to make profession of my
faith whenever I am called to it." We have need to pray to God that we
may never be afraid or ashamed to own his truths and ways, nor deny him
before men. David found that he was sometimes at a loss, that the
word of truth was not so ready to him as it should have been,
but he prays, "Lord, let it not be taken utterly from me; let my always
have so much of it at hand as will be necessary to the due discharge of
2. His humble profession of the heart of the upright, without which the
tongue of the learned, however it may be serviceable to others, will
stand us in no stead.
(1.) David professes his confidence in God: "Lord, make me ready and
mighty in the scriptures, for I have hoped in those judgments of
thy mouth, and, if they be not at hand, my support and defence have
departed from me."
(2.) He professes his resolution to adhere to his duty in the strength
of God's grace: "So shall I keep thy law continually. If I have
thy word not only in my heart, but in my mouth, I shall do all I should
do, stand complete in thy whole will." Thus shall the man of God be
perfect, thoroughly furnished for every good word and work,
2 Timothy 3:17,Col+3:16.
Observe how he resolves to keep God's law,
[1.] Continually, without trifling. God must be served in a constant
course of obedience every day, and all the day long.
[2.] For ever and ever, without backsliding. We must never be
weary of well-doing. If we serve him to the end of our time on
earth, we shall be serving him in heaven to the endless ages of
eternity; so shall we keep his law for ever and ever. Or thus:
"Lord, let me have the word of truth in my mouth, that I may
commit that sacred deposit to the rising generation
(2 Timothy 2:2)
and by them it may be transmitted to succeeding ages; so shall thy law
be kept for ever and ever," that is, from one generation to
another, according to that promise
My word in thy mouth shall not depart out of the mouth of thy seed,
nor thy seed's seed.
45 And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.
46 I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will
not be ashamed.
47 And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have
48 My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I
have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.
We may observe in these verses,
1. What David experienced of an affection to the law of God: "I seek
I desire to know and do my duty, and consult thy word accordingly; I do
all I can to understand what the will of the Lord is and to
discover the intimations of his mind. I seek thy precepts, for
I have loved them,
I not only give consent to them as good, but take complacency in them
as good for me." All that love God love his government and therefore
love all his commandments.
2. What he expected from this. Five things he promises himself here in
the strength of God's grace:--
(1.) That he should be free and easy in his duty: "I will walk at
liberty, freed from that which is evil, not hampered with the
fetters of my own corruptions, and free to that which is good, doing it
not by constraint, but willingly." The service of sin is perfect
slavery; the service of God is perfect liberty. Licentiousness is
bondage to the greatest of tyrants; conscientiousness is freedom to the
meanest of prisoners,
(2.) That he should be bold and courageous in his duty: I will speak
of thy testimonies also before kings. Before David came to the
crown kings were sometimes his judges, as Saul, and Achish; but, if he
were called before them to give a reason of the hope that was in him,
he would speak of God's testimonies, and profess to build his
hope upon them and make them his council, his guards, his crown, his
all. We must never be afraid to own our religion, though it should
expose us to the wrath of kings, but speak of it as that which we will
live and die by, like the three children before Nebuchadnezzar,
After David came to the crown kings were sometimes his companions; they
visited him and he returned their visits; but he did not, in
complaisance to them, talk of every thing but religion, for fear of
affronting them and making his conversation uneasy to them. No; God's
testimonies shall be the principal subject of his discourse with the
kings, not only to show that he was not ashamed of his religion, but to
instruct them in it and bring them over to it. It is good for kings to
hear of God's testimonies, and it will adorn the conversation of
princes themselves to speak of them.
(3.) That he should be cheerful and pleasant in his duty
"I will delight myself in thy commandments, in conversing with
them, in conforming to them. I will never be so well pleased with
myself as when I do that which is pleasing to God." The more delight we
take in the service of God the nearer we come to the perfection we aim
(4.) That he should be diligent and vigorous in his duty: I will
lift up my hands to thy commandments, which denotes not only a
vehement desire towards them
--"I will lay hold of them as one afraid of missing them, or letting
them go;" but a close application of mind to the observance of them--"I
will lay my hands to the command, not only to praise it, but practise
it; nay, I will lift up my hands to it, that is, I will put forth all
the strength I have to do it." The hands that hang down, through sloth
and discouragement, shall be lifted up,
(5.) That he should be thoughtful and considerate in his duty
"I will meditate in thy statutes, not only entertain myself with
thinking of them as matters of speculation, but contrive how I may
observe them in the best manner." By this it will appear that we
truly love God's commandments, if we apply both our minds and our hands
49 Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou
hast caused me to hope.
Two things David here pleads with God in prayer for that mercy and
grace which he hoped for, according to the word, by which his requests
1. That God had given him the promise on which he hoped: "Lord, I
desire no more than that thou wouldst remember thy word unto thy
servant, and do as thou hast said;" see
1 Chronicles 17:23.
"Thou art wise, and therefore wilt perfect what thou hast purposed, and
not change thy counsel. Thou art faithful, and therefore wilt perform
what thou hast promised, and not break thy word." Those that make God's
promises their portion may with humble boldness make them their plea.
"Lord, is not that the word which thou hast spoken; and wilt thou not
make it good?"
2. That God, who had given him the promise in the word, had by his
grace wrought in him a hope in that promise and enabled him to depend
upon it, and had raised his expectations of great things from it. Has
God kindled in us desires towards spiritual blessings more than towards
any temporal good things, and will he not be so kind as to satisfy
those desires? Has he filled us with hopes of those blessings, and will
he not be so just as to accomplish these hopes? He that did by his
Spirit work faith in us will, according to our faith, work for us, and
will not disappoint us.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath
Here is David's experience of benefit by the word.
1. As a means of his sanctification: "Thy word has quickened me.
It made me alive when I was dead in sin; it has many a time made me
lively when I was dead in duty; it has quickened me to that which is
good when I was backward and averse to it, and it has quickened me in
that which is good when I was cold and indifferent."
2. Therefore as a means of his consolation when he was in affliction
and needed something to support him: "Because thy word has quickened my
at other times, it has comforted me then." The word of God has much in
it that speaks comfort in affliction; but those only may apply
it to themselves who have experienced in some measure the quickening
power of the word. If through grace it make us holy, there is enough
in it to make us easy, in all conditions, under all events.
51 The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not
declined from thy law.
David here tells us, and it will be of use to us to know it,
1. That he had been jeered for his religion. Though he was a man of
honour, a man of great prudence, and had done eminent services to his
country, yet, because he was a devout conscientious man, the proud
had him greatly in derision; they ridiculed him, bantered him, and
did all they could to expose him to contempt; they laughed at him for
his praying, and called it cant, for his seriousness, and called
it mopishness, for his strictness, and called it needless
preciseness. They were the proud that sat in the scorner's seat and
valued themselves on so doing.
2. That yet he had not been jeered out of his religion: "They have done
all they could to make me quit it for shame, but none of these things
move me: I have not declined from thy law for all this; but,
if this be to be vile" (as he said when Michal had him greatly
in derision), "I will be yet more vile." He not only had not
quite forsaken the law, but had not so much as declined from it. We
must never shrink from any duty, nor let slip an opportunity of doing
good, for fear of the reproach of men, or their revilings. The
traveller goes on his way though the dogs bark at him. Those can bear
but little for Christ that cannot bear a hard word for him.
52 I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have
When David was derided for his godliness he not only held fast his
1. He comforted himself. He not only bore reproach, but bore it
cheerfully. It did not disturb his peace, nor break in upon the repose
of his spirit in God. It was a comfort to him to think that it was for
God's sake that he bore reproach, and that his worst enemies could find
no occasion against him, save only in the matter of his God,
Those that are derided for their adherence to God's law may comfort
themselves with this, that the reproach of Christ will prove, in
the end, greater riches to them than the treasures of
2. That which he comforted himself with was the remembrance of God's
judgments of old, the providences of God concerning his people
formerly, both in mercy to them and in justice against their
persecutors. God's judgments of old, in our own early days and in the
days of our fathers, are to be remembered by us for our comfort and
encouragement in the way of God, for he is still the same.
53 Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that
forsake thy law.
1. The character of wicked people; he means those that are openly and
grossly wicked: They forsake thy law. Every sin is a
transgression of the law, but a course and way of wilful and avowed sin
is downright forsaking it and throwing it off.
2. The impression which the wickedness of the wicked made upon David;
it frightened him, it put him into an amazement. He trembled to think
of the dishonour thereby done to God, the gratification thereby given
to Satan, and the mischiefs thereby done to the souls of men. He
dreaded the consequences of it both to the sinners themselves (and
cried out, O gather not my soul with sinners! let my enemy be as the
wicked) and to the interests of God's kingdom among men, which he
was afraid would be thereby sunk and ruined. He does not say,
"Horror has taken hold on me because of their cruel designs
against me," but "because of the contempt they put on God and his law."
Sin is a monstrous horrible thing in the eyes of all that are
Hos. vi. 10; Jer. ii. 12.
54 Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my
1. David's state and condition; he was in the house of his
pilgrimage, which may be understood either as his peculiar
trouble (he was often tossed and hurried, and forced to fly) or as his
lot in common with all. This world is the house of our pilgrimage, the
house in which we are pilgrims; it is our tabernacle; it is our inn. We
must confess ourselves strangers and pilgrims upon earth, who
are not at home here, nor must be here long. Even David's palace is but
the house of his pilgrimage.
2. His comfort in this state: "Thy statutes have been my songs,
with which I here entertain myself," as travellers are wont to divert
the thoughts of their weariness, and take off something of the
tediousness of their journey, by singing a pleasant song now and then.
David was the sweet singer of Israel, and here we are told whence he
fetched his songs; they were all borrowed from the word of God. God's
statutes were as familiar to him as the songs which a man is accustomed
to sing; and he conversed with them in his pilgrimage-solitudes. They
were as pleasant to him as songs, and put gladness into his
heart more than those have that chant to the sound of the
Is any afflicted then? Let him sing over God's statutes, and try
if he cannot so sing away sorrow,
55 I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have
kept thy law.
56 This I had, because I kept thy precepts.
1. The converse David had with the word of God; he kept it in mind, and
upon every occasion he called it to mind. God's name is the discovery
he has made of himself to us in and by his word. This is his
memorial unto all generations, and therefore we should always keep
it in memory--remember it in the night, upon a waking bed, when
we are communing with our own hearts. When others were sleeping David
was remembering God's name, and, by repeating that lesson, increasing
his acquaintance with it; in the night of affliction this he called to
2. The conscience be made of conforming to it. The due remembrance of
God's name, which is prefixed to his law, will have a great influence
upon our observance of the law: I remembered thy name in the
night, and therefore was careful to keep thy law all day.
How comfortable will it be in the reflection if our own hearts can
witness for us that we have thus remembered God's name, and kept his
3. The advantage he got by it
This I had because I kept thy precepts. Some understand this
indefinitely: This I had (that is I had that which satisfied me;
I had every thing that is comfortable) because I kept thy
precepts. Note, All that have made a business of religion will own
that it has turned to a good account, and that they have been
unspeakable gainers by it. Others refer it to what goes immediately
before: "I had the comfort of keeping thy law because I kept it." Note,
God's work is its own wages. A heart to obey the will of God is a most
valuable reward of obedience; and the more we do the more we may do,
and shall do, in the service of God; the branch that bears fruit is
made more fruitful,
57 Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I
would keep thy words.
We may hence gather the character of a godly man.
1. He makes the favour of God his felicity: Thou art my portion, O
Lord! Others place their happiness in the wealth and honours of
this world. Their portion is in this life; they look no further; they
desire no more; these are their good things,
But all that are sanctified take the Lord for the portion of their
inheritance and their cup, and nothing less will satisfy them. David
can appeal to God in this matter: "Lord, thou knowest that I have
chosen thee for my portion, and depend upon thee to make me happy."
2. He makes the law of God his rule: "I have said that I would keep
thy words; and what I have said by thy grace I will do, and will
abide by it to the end." Note, Those that take God for their portion
must take him for their prince, and swear allegiance to him; and,
having promised to keep his word, we must often put ourselves in
mind of our promise,
58 I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful
unto me according to thy word.
David, having in the foregoing verse reflected upon his covenants with
God, here reflects upon his prayers to God, and renews his petition.
1. What he prayed for. Having taken God for his portion, he
entreated his favour, as one that knew he had forfeited it, was
unworthy of it, and yet undone without it, but for ever happy if he
could obtain it. We cannot demand God's favour as a debt, but must be
humble suppliants for it, that God will not only be reconciled to us,
but accept us and smile upon us. He prays, "Be merciful to me,
in the forgiveness of what I have done amiss, and in giving me grace to
do better for the future."
2. How he prayed--with his whole heart, as one that knew how to
value the blessing he prayed for. The gracious soul is entirely set
upon the favour of God, and is therefore importunate for it. I will
not let thee go except thou bless me.
3. What he pleaded--the promise of God: "Be merciful to me,
according to thy word. I desire the mercy promised, and depend upon
the promise for it." Those that are governed by the precepts of the
word and are resolved to keep them
may plead the promises of the word and take the comfort of them.
59 I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy
60 I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.
David had said he would keep God's word
and it was well said; now here he tells us how and in what method he
pursued that resolution.
1. He thought on his ways. He thought beforehand what he should
do, pondering the path of his feet
that he might walk surely, and not at all adventures. He thought after
what he had done, reflected upon his life past, and recollected the
paths he had walked in and the steps he had taken. The word signifies a
fixed abiding thought. Some make it an allusion to those who work
embroidery, who are very exact and careful to cover the least flaw, or
to those who cast up their accounts, who reckon with themselves, What
do I owe? What am I worth? "I thought not on my wealth (as the
but on my ways, not on what I have, but what I do:" for what we
do will follow us into another world when what we have must be left
behind. Many are critical enough in their remarks upon other people's
ways who never think of their own: but let every man prove his own
2. He turned his feet to God's testimonies. He determined to
make the word of God his rule, and to walk by that rule. He turned
from the by-paths to which he had turned aside, and returned to God's
testimonies. He turned not only his eye to them, but his feet, his
affections to the love of God's word and his conversation to the
practice of it. The bent and inclinations of his soul were towards
God's testimonies and his conversation was governed by them Penitent
reflections must produce pious resolutions.
3. He did this immediately and without demur
I made haste
and delayed not. When we are under convictions of sin we must
strike while the iron is hot, and not think to defer the prosecution of
them, as Felix did, to a more convenient season. When we are
called to duty we must lose no time, but set about it to-day, while
it is called to-day. Now this account which David here gives of
himself may refer either to his constant practice every day (he
reflected on his ways at night, directed his feet to God's testimonies
in the morning, and what his hand found to do that was good he did it
without delay), or it may refer to his first acquaintance with God and
religion, when he began to throw off the vanity of childhood and youth,
and to remember his Creator; that blessed change was, by the grace of
God, thus wrought. Note,
(1.) Conversion begins in serious consideration,
(2.) Consideration must end in a sound conversion. To what purpose have
we thought on our ways if we do not turn our feet with all speed to
61 The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not
forgotten thy law.
1. The malice of David's enemies against him. They were wicked men, who
hated him for his godliness. There were bands or troops of them
confederate against him. They did him all the mischief they could; they
robbed him; having endeavoured to take away his good name
they set upon his goods, and spoiled him of them, either by plunder in
time of war or by fines and confiscations under colour of law. Saul (it
is likely) seized his effects, Absalom his palace, and the Amalekites
rifled Ziklag. Worldly wealth is what we may be robbed of. David,
though a man of war, could not keep his own. Thieves break through
2. The testimony of David's conscience for him that he had held fast
his religion when he was stripped of every thing else, as Job did when
the bands of the Chaldeans and Sabeans had robbed him: But I have
not forgotten thy law. No care nor grief should drive God's word
out of our minds, or hinder our comfortable relish of it and converse
with it. Nor must we ever think the worse of the ways of God for any
trouble we meet with in those ways, nor fear being losers by our
religion at last, however we may be losers for it now.
62 At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of
thy righteous judgments.
Though David is, in this psalm, much in prayer, yet he did not neglect
the duty of thanksgiving; for those that pray much will have much to
give thanks for. See,
1. How much God's hand was eyed in his thanksgivings. He does not say,
"I will give thanks because of thy favours to me, which I have
the comfort of," but, "Because of thy righteous judgments, all
the disposals of thy providence in wisdom and equity, which thou hast
the glory of." We must give thanks for the asserting of God's honour
and the accomplishing of his word in all he does in the government of
2. How much David's heart was set upon his thanksgivings. He would
rise at midnight to give thanks to God. Great and good thoughts
kept him awake, and refreshed him, instead of sleep; and so zealous was
he for the honour of God that when others were in their beds he was
upon his knees at his devotions. He did not affect to be seen of men in
it, but gave thanks in secret, where our heavenly Father sees. He had
praised God in the courts of the Lord's house, and yet he will
do it in his bed-chamber. Public worship will not excuse us from secret
worship. When David found his heart affected with God's judgments, he
immediately offered up those affections to God, in actual adorations,
not deferring, lest they should cool. Yet observe his reverence; he did
not lie still and give thanks, but rose out of his bed, perhaps in the
cold and in the dark, to do it the more solemnly. And see what a good
husband he was of time; when he could not lie and sleep, he would rise
63 I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them
that keep thy precepts.
David had often expressed the great love he had to God; here he
expresses the great love he had to the people of God; and observe,
1. Why he loved them; not so much because they were his best friends,
most firm to his interest and most forward to serve him, but because
they were such as feared God and kept his precepts, and
so did him honour and helped to support his kingdom among men. Our love
to the saints is then sincere when we love them for the sake of
what we see of God in them and the service they do to him.
2. How he showed his love to them: He was a companion of them.
He had not only a spiritual communion with them in the same faith and
hope, but he joined with them in holy ordinances in the courts of the
Lord, where rich and poor, prince and peasant, meet together. He
sympathized with them in their joys and sorrows
he conversed familiarly with them, communicated his experiences to
them, and consulted theirs. He not only took such to be his companions
as did fear God, but he vouchsafed himself to be a companion with all,
with any, that did so, wherever he met with them. Though he was a king,
he would associate with the poorest of his subjects that feared God,
64 The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy
1. David pleads that God is good to all the creatures according to
their necessities and capacities; as the heaven is full of God's glory,
so the earth is full of his mercy, full of the instances of his
pity and bounty. Not only the land of Canaan, where God is known and
worshipped, but the whole earth, in many parts of which he has no
homage paid him, is full of his mercy. Not only the children of men
upon the earth, but even the inferior creatures, taste of God's
goodness. His tender mercies are over all his works.
2. He therefore prays that God would be good to him according to his
necessity and capacity: "Teach me thy statutes. Thou feedest the
young ravens that cry, with food proper for them; and wilt thou not
feed me with spiritual food, the bread of life, which my soul needs and
craves, and cannot subsist without? The earth is full of thy
mercy; and is not heaven too? Wilt thou not then give me spiritual
blessings in heavenly places?" A gracious heart will fetch an argument
from any thing to enforce a petition for divine teaching. Surely he
that will not let his birds be unfed will not let his children be
65 Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD,
according unto thy word.
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed
1. David makes a thankful acknowledgment of God's gracious dealings
with him all along: Thou hast dealt well with thy servant.
However God has dealt with us, we must own he has dealt well
with us, better than we deserve, and all in love and with design to
work for our good. In many instances God has done well for us beyond
our expectations. He has done well for all his servants; never any of
them complained that he had used them hardly. Thou hast dealt well
with me, not only according to thy mercy, but according to thy
word. God's favours look best when they are compared with the
promise and are seen flowing from that fountain.
2. Upon these experiences he grounds a petition for divine instruction:
"Teach me good judgment and knowledge, that, by thy grace, I may
render again, in some measure, according to the benefit done unto me."
Teach me a good taste (so the word signifies), a good relish, to
discern things that differ, to distinguish between truth and falsehood,
good and evil; for the ear tries words, as the mouth tastes
meat. We should pray to God for a sound mind, that we may have
spiritual senses exercised,
Many have knowledge who have little judgment; those who have both are
well fortified against the snares of Satan and well furnished for the
service of God and their generation.
3. This petition is backed with a plea: "For I have believed thy
commandments, received them, and consented to them that they are
good, and submitted to their government; therefore, Lord, teach
me." Where God has given a good heart a good head too many in faith
be prayed for.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept
David here tells us what he had experienced,
1. Of the temptations of a prosperous condition: "Before I was
afflicted, while I lived in peace and plenty, and knew no sorrow,
I went astray from God and my duty." Sin is going astray; and we
are most apt to wander from God when we are easy and think ourselves at
home in the world. Prosperity is the unhappy occasion of much iniquity;
it makes people conceited of themselves, indulgent of the flesh,
forgetful of God, in love with the world, and deaf to the reproofs of
the word. See
It is good for us, when we are afflicted, to remember how and wherein
we went astray before we were afflicted, that we may answer the
end of the affliction.
2. Of the benefit of an afflicted state: "Now have I kept thy
word, and so have been recovered from my wanderings." God often
makes use of afflictions as a means to reduce those to himself who have
wandered from him. Sanctified afflictions humble us for sin and show us
the vanity of the world; they soften the heart, and open the ear to
discipline. The prodigal's distress brought him to himself first and
then to his father.
68 Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.
1. David praises God's goodness and gives him the glory of it: Thou
art good and doest good. All who have any knowledge of God and
dealings with him wilt own that he does good, and therefore will
conclude that he is good. The streams of God's goodness are so
numerous, and run so full, so strong, to all the creatures, that we
must conclude the fountain that is in himself to be inexhaustible. We
cannot conceive how much good our God does every day, much less can we
conceive how good he is. Let us acknowledge it with admiration and
with holy love and thankfulness.
2. He prays for God's grace, and begs to be under the guidance and
influence of it: Teach me thy statutes. "Lord, thou doest good
to all, art the bountiful benefactor of all the creatures; this is the
good I beg thou wilt do to me,--Instruct me in my duty, incline me to
it, and enable me to do it. Thou art good, and doest good;
Lord, teach me thy statutes, that I may be good and do good, may
have a good heart and live a good life." It is an encouragement to poor
sinners to hope that God will teach them his way because he is
good and upright,
69 The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep
thy precepts with my whole heart.
70 Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.
David here tells us how he was affected as to the proud and wicked
people that were about him.
1. He did not fear their malice, nor was he by it deterred from his
duty: They have forged a lie against me. Thus they aimed to take
away his good name. Nay, all we have in the world, even life itself,
may be brought into danger by those who make no conscience of forging a
lie. Those that were proud envied David's reputation, because it
eclipsed them, and therefore did all they could to blemish him. They
took a pride in trampling upon him. They therefore persuaded themselves
it was no sin to tell a deliberate lie if it might but expose him to
contempt. Their wicked wit forged lies, invented storied which there
was not the least colour for, to serve their wicked designs. And what
did David do when he was thus belied? He will bear it patiently; he
will keep that precept which forbids him to render railing for railing,
and will with all his heart sit down silently. He will go on in his
duty with constancy and resolution: "Let them say what they will, I
will keep thy precepts, and not dread their reproach."
2. He did not envy their prosperity, nor was he by it allured from his
duty. Their heart is as fat as grease. The proud are at
they are full of the world, and the wealth and pleasures of it; and
this makes them,
(1.) Senseless, secure, and stupid; they are past feeling: thus the
phrase is used,
Make the heart of this people fat. They are not sensible of the
touch of the word of God or his rod.
(2.) Sensual and voluptuous: "Their eyes stand out with fatness
they roll themselves in the pleasures of sense, and take up with them
as their chief good; and much good may it do them. I would not change
conditions with them. I delight in thy law; I build my security
upon the promises of God's word and have pleasure enough in communion
with God, infinitely preferable to all their delights." The children of
God, who are acquainted with spiritual pleasures, need not envy the
children of this world their carnal pleasures.
71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might
learn thy statutes.
1. That it has been the lot of the best saints to be afflicted. The
proud and the wicked lived in pomp and pleasure, while David, though he
kept close to God and his duty, was still in affliction. Waters of a
full cup are wrung out to God's people,
2. That it has been the advantage of God's people to be afflicted.
David could speak experimentally: It was good for me; many a
good lesson he had learnt by his afflictions, and many a good duty he
had been brought to which otherwise would have been unlearnt and
undone. Therefore God visited him with affliction, that he might
learn God's statutes; and the intention was answered: the afflictions
had contributed to the improvement of his knowledge and grace. He that
chastened him taught him. The rod and reproof give wisdom.
72 The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of
gold and silver.
This is a reason why David reckoned that when by his afflictions he
learned God's statutes, an the profit did so much counterbalance the
loss, he was really a gainer by them; for God's law, which he
got acquaintance with by his affliction, was better to him than
all the gold and silver which he lost by his affliction.
1. David had but a little of the word of God in comparison with what
we have, yet see how highly he valued it; how inexcusable then are we,
who have both the Old and New Testament complete, and yet account them
as a strange thing! Observe, Therefore he valued the law,
because it is the law of God's mouth, the revelation of his
will, and ratified by his authority.
2. He had a great deal of gold and silver in comparison with what we
have, yet see how little he valued it. His riches increased, and yet he
did not set his heart upon them, but upon the word of God. That was
better to him, yielded him better pleasures, and better maintenance,
and a better inheritance, than all the treasures he was master of.
Those that have read, and believe, David's Psalms and Solomon's
Ecclesiastes, cannot but prefer the word of God far before the
wealth of this world.
73 Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me
understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.
1. David adores God as the God of nature and the author of his being:
Thy hands have made me and fashioned me,
Every man is as truly the work of God's hands as the first man was,
"Thy hands have not only made me, and given me a being,
otherwise I should never have been, but fashioned me, and given
me this being, this noble and excellent being, endued with these powers
and faculties;" and we must own that we are fearfully and
2. He addresses himself to God as the God of grace, and begs he will be
the author of his new and better being. God made us to serve him and
enjoy him; but by sin we have made ourselves unable for his service and
indisposed for the enjoyment of him; and we must have a new and divine
nature, otherwise we had the human nature in vain; therefore David
prays, "Lord, since thou hast made me by thy power for thy glory, make
me anew by thy grace, that I may answer the ends of my creation and
live to some purpose: Give me understanding, that I may learn thy
commandments." The way in which God recovers and secures his
interest in men is by giving them an understanding; for by that door he
enters into the soul and gains possession of it.
74 They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I
have hoped in thy word.
1. The confidence of this good man in the hope of God's salvation:
"I have hoped in thy word; and I have not found it in vain to do
so; it has not failed me, nor have I been disappointed in my
expectations from it. It is a hope that maketh not ashamed; but
is present satisfaction, and fruition at last."
2. The concurrence of other good men with him in the joy of that
salvation: "Those that fear thee will be glad when they see me
relieved by my hope in thy word and delivered according to my hope."
The comforts which some of God's children have in God, and the favours
they have received from him, should be matter of joy to others of them.
Paul often expressed the hope that for God's grace to him thanks would
be rendered by many,
2 Corinthians 1:11,4:15.
Or it may be taken more generally; good people are glad to see one
another; they are especially pleased with those who are eminent for
their hope in God's word.
75 I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that
thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
Still David is in affliction, and being so he owns,
1. That his sin was justly corrected: I know, O Lord! that thy
judgments are right, are righteousness itself. However God is
pleased to afflict us, he does us no wrong, nor can we charge him with
any iniquity, but most acknowledge that it is less than we have
deserved. We know that God is holy in his nature and wise and just in
all the acts of his government, and therefore we cannot but know, in
the general, that his judgments are right, though, in some
particular instances, there may be difficulties which we cannot easily
2. That God's promise was graciously performed. The former may silence
us under our afflictions, and forbid us to repine, but this may satisfy
us, and enable us to rejoice; for afflictions are in the covenant, and
therefore they are not only not meant for our hurt, but they are really
intended for our good: "In faithfulness thou hast afflicted me,
pursuant to the great design of my salvation." It is easier to own, in
general, that God's judgments are right, than to own it when it
comes to be our own case; but David subscribes to it with application,
"Even my afflictions are just and kind."
76 Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort,
according to thy word unto thy servant.
77 Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for
thy law is my delight.
1. An earnest petition to God for his favour. Those that own the
justice of God in their afflictions (as David had done,
may, in faith, and with humble boldness, be earnest for the mercy of
God, and the tokens and fruits of that mercy, in their affliction. He
prays for God's merciful kindness
his tender mercies,
He can claim nothing as his due, but all his supports under his
affliction must come from mere mercy and compassion to one in misery,
one in want. "Let these come to me," that is, "the evidence of
them (clear it up to me that thou hast a kindness for me, and mercy in
store), and the effects of them; let them work my relief and
2. The benefit he promised himself from God's lovingkindness: "Let it
come to me for my comfort
that will comfort me when nothing else will; that will comfort me
whatever grieves me." Gracious souls fetch all their comfort from a
gracious God, as the fountain of all happiness and joy: "Let it come
to me, that I may live, that is, that I may be revived, and my life
may be made sweet to me, for I have no joy of it while I am under God's
displeasure. In his favour is life; in his frowns are death." A
good man cannot live with any satisfaction any longer than he has some
tokens of God's favour to him.
3. His pleas for the benefits of God's favour. He pleads,
(1.) God's promise: "Let me have thy kindness, according to thy word
unto thy servant, the kindness which thou hast promised and because
thou hast promised it." Our Master has passed his word to all his
servants that he will be kind to them, and they may plead it with him.
(2.) His own confidence and complacency in that promise: "Thy law is
my delight; I hope in thy word and rejoice in that hope." Note,
Those that delight in the law of God may depend upon the favour of God,
for it shall certainly make them happy.
78 Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me
without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.
79 Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have
known thy testimonies.
Here David shows,
I. How little he valued the will--will of sinners. There were those that
dealt perversely with him, that were peevish and ill-conditioned
towards him, that sought advantages against him, and misconstrued all
he said and did. Even those that deal most fairly may meet with those
that deal perversely. But David regarded it not, for,
1. He knew it was without cause, and that for his love they were
his adversaries. The causeless reproach, like the curse causeless, may
be easily slighted; it does not hurt us, and therefore should not move
2. He could pray, in faith, that they might be ashamed of it;
God's dealing favourably with him might make them ashamed to think that
they had dealt perversely with him. "Let them be ashamed,
that is, let them be brought either to repentance or to ruin."
3. He could go on in the way of his duty, and find comfort in that.
"However they deal with me, I will meditate in thy precepts, and
entertain myself with them."
II. How much he valued the good-will of saints, and how desirous he was
to stand right in their opinion, and keep up his interest in them and
communion with them: Let those that fear thee turn to me. He
does not mean so much that they might side with him, and take up arms
in his cause, as that they might love him, and pray for him, and
associate with him. Good men desire the friendship and society of those
that are good. Some think it intimates that when David had been guilty
of that foul sin in the murder of Uriah, though he was a king, those
that feared God grew strange to him and turned from him, for they were
ashamed of him; this troubled him, and therefore he prays, Lord, let
them turn to me again. He desires especially the company of
those that were not only honest, but intelligent, that have known
thy testimonies, have good heads as well as good hearts, and whose
conversation will be edifying. It is desirable to have an intimacy with
80 Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not
1. David's prayer for sincerity, that his heart might be brought to
God's statutes, and that it might be sound in them, not
rotten and deceitful, that he might not rest in the form of godliness,
but be acquainted with the subject to the power of it,--that he might
be hearty and constant in religion, and that his soul might be in
2. His dread of the consequences of hypocrisy: That I be not
ashamed. Shame is the portion of hypocrites, either here, if it be
repented of, or hereafter, if it be not: "Let my heart be sound,
that I fall not into scandalous sin, that I fall not quite off from the
ways of God, and so shame myself. Let my heart be sound, that I
may come boldly to the throne of grace, and may lift up my face
without spot at the great day."
81 My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in
82 Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort
Here we have the psalmist,
I. Longing for help from heaven: My soul faints; my eyes fail.
He longs for the salvation of the Lord and for his word,
that is, salvation according to the word. He is not thus eager for the
creatures of fancy, but for the objects of faith, salvation from the
present calamities under which he was groaning and the doubts and fears
which he was oppressed with. It may be understood of the coming of the
Messiah, and so he speaks in the name of the Old-Testament church; the
souls of the faithful even fainted to see that salvation of
which the prophets testified.
(1 Peter 1:10);
their eyes failed for it. Abraham saw it at a distance, and so did
others, but at such a distance that it put their eyes to the stretch
and they could not stedfastly see it. David was now under prevailing
dejections, and, having been long so, his eyes cried our, "When wilt
thou comfort me? Comfort me with thy salvation, comfort me
with thy word." Observe,
1. The salvation and consolation of God's people are secured to them by
the word, which will certainly be fulfilled in its season.
2. The promised salvation and comfort may be, and often are, long
deferred, so that they are ready to faint and fall in the expectation
3. Though we think the time long ere the promised salvation and comfort
come, yet we must still keep our eye upon that salvation, and resolve
to take up with nothing short of it. "Thy salvation, thy word, thy
comfort, are what my heart is still upon."
II. Waiting for that help, assured that it will come, and tarrying till
it come: But I hope in thy word; and but for hope the heart
would break. When the eyes fail yet the faith must not; for
the vision is for an appointed time, and at the end it shall speak
and shall not lie.
83 For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not
forget thy statutes.
David begs God would make haste to comfort him,
1. Because his affliction was great, and therefore he was an object of
God's pity: Lord, make haste to help me, for I have become like a
bottle in the smoke, a leathern bottle, which, if it hung any while
in the smoke, was not only blackened with soot, but dried, and parched,
and shrivelled up. David was thus wasted by age, and sickness, and
sorrow. See how affliction will mortify the strongest and stoutest of
men! David had been of a ruddy countenance, as fresh as a rose; but
now he is withered, his colour is gone, his cheeks are furrowed. Thus
does man's beauty consume under God's rebukes, as a moth fretting a
garment. A bottle, when it is thus wrinkled with smoke, is thrown by,
and there is no more use of it. Who will put wine into such old
bottles? Thus was David, in his low estate, looked upon as a
despised broken vessel, and as a vessel in which there was no
pleasure. Good men, when they are drooping and melancholy,
sometimes think themselves more slighted than really they are.
2. Because, though his affliction was great, yet it had not driven him
from his duty, and therefore he was within the reach of God's promise:
Yet do I not forget thy statutes. Whatever our outward condition
is we must not cool in our affection to the word of God, nor let that
slip out of our minds; no care, no grief, must crowd that out. As some
drink and forget the law
so others weep and forget the law; but we must in every condition, both
prosperous and adverse, have the things of God in remembrance; and, if
we be mindful of God's statutes, we may pray and hope that he will be
mindful of our sorrows, though for a time he seems to forget us.
84 How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou
execute judgment on them that persecute me?
I. David prays against the instruments of his troubles, that God would
make haste to execute judgment on those that persecuted him. He prays
not for power to avenge himself (he bore no malice to any), but that
God would take to himself the vengeance that belonged to him, and
as the God that sits in the throne judging right. There is a day
coming, and a great and terrible day it will be, when God will execute
judgment on all the proud persecutors of his people, tribulation to
those that troubled them; Enoch foretold it
whose prophecy perhaps David here had an eye to; and that day we are to
look for and pray for the hastening of. Come, Lord Jesus, come
2. He pleads the long continuance of his trouble: "How many are the
days of thy servant? The days of my life are but few" (so some);
"therefore let them not all be miserable, and therefore make haste to
appear for me against my enemies, before I go hence and shall be
seen no more." Or rather, "The days of my affliction are
many; thou seest, Lord, how many they be; when wilt thou return in
mercy to me? Sometimes, for the elect's sake, the days of trouble
are shortened. O let the days of my trouble be shortened; I am
thy servant; and therefore, as the eyes of a servant are to the
hand of his master, so are mine to thee, until thou have mercy on
85 The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy
86 All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me
wrongfully; help thou me.
87 They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not
David's state was herein a type and figure of the state both of
Christ and Christians that he was grievously persecuted; as there are
many of his psalms, so there are many of the verses of this psalm,
which complain of this, as those here. Here observe,
I. The account he gives of his persecutors and their malice against
1. They were proud, and in their pride they persecuted
him, glorying in this, that they could trample upon one who was so
much cried up, and hoping to raise themselves on his ruins.
2. They were unjust: They persecuted him wrongfully; so far was
he from giving them any provocation that he had studied to oblige them;
but for his love they were his adversaries.
3. They were spiteful: They dug pits for him, which intimates
that they were deliberate in their designs against him and that what
they did was of malice prepense; it intimates likewise that they were
subtle and crafty, and had the serpent's head as well as the serpent's
venom, that they were industrious and would refuse no pains to do him a
mischief, and treacherous, laying snares in secret for him, as hunters
do take wild beasts,
Such has been the enmity of the serpent's seed to the seed of the
4. They herein showed their enmity to God himself. The pits they dug
for him were not after God's law; he means they were very
much against his law, which forbids to devise evil to our
neighbour, and has particularly said, Touch not my anointed.
The law appointed that, if a man dug a pit which occasioned any
mischief, he should answer for the mischief
much more when it was dug with a mischievous design.
5. They carried on their designs against him so far that they had
almost consumed him upon earth; they went near to ruin him and all
his interests. It is possible that those who shall shortly be
consummate in heaven may be, for the present, almost consumed on
earth; and it is of the Lord's mercies (and, considering the
malice of their enemies, it is a miracle of mercy) that they are not
quite consumed. But the bush in which God is, though it burns,
shall not be burnt up.
II. His application to God in his persecuted state.
1. He acknowledges the truth and goodness of his religion, though he
suffered: "However it be, all thy commandments are faithful, and
therefore, whatever I lose for my observance of them, I know I shall
not lose by it." True religion, if it be worth any thing, is worth
every thing, and therefore worth suffering for. "Men are false; I find
them do; men of low degree, men of high degree, are so, there is no
trusting them. But all thy commandments are faithful; on them I
2. He begs that God would stand by him, and succour him: "They
persecute me; help thou me; help me under my troubles, that I may
bear them patiently, and as becomes me, and may still hold fast my
integrity, and in due time help me out of my troubles." God help
me is an excellent comprehensive prayer; it is a pity that it
should ever be used lightly and as a by-word.
III. His adherence to his duty notwithstanding all the malice of his
But I forsook not thy precepts. That which they aimed at was to
frighten him from the ways of God, but they could not prevail; he would
sooner forsake all that was dear to him in this world than forsake the
word of God, would sooner lose his life than lose the comfort of doing
88 Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the
testimony of thy mouth.
1. David in care to be found in the way of his duty. His constant
desire and design are to keep the testimony of God's mouth, to
keep to it as his rule and to keep hold of it as his confidence and
portion for ever. This we must keep, whatever we lose.
2. David at prayer for divine grace to assist him therein: "Quicken
me after thy lovingkindness (make me alive and make me lively),
so shall I keep thy testimonies," implying that otherwise he
should not keep them. We cannot proceed, nor persevere, in the good
way, unless God quicken us and put life into us; we are therefore here
taught to depend upon the grace of God for strength to do every good
work, and to depend upon it as grace, as purely the fruit of God's
favour. He had prayed before, Quicken me in thy righteousness
but here, Quicken me after thy lovingkindness. The surest token
of God's good-will toward us is his good work in us.
89 For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
90 Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast
established the earth, and it abideth.
91 They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for
all are thy servants.
1. The psalmist acknowledges the unchangeableness of the word of God
and of all his counsels: "For ever, O Lord! thy word is settled.
Thou art for ever thyself (so some read it); thou art the same, and
with thee there is no variableness, and this is a proof of it. Thy
word, by which the heavens were made, is settled there in
the abiding products of it;" or the settling of God's word in heaven is
opposed to the changes and revolutions that are here upon earth. All
flesh is grass; but the word of the Lord endures for ever.
It is settled in heaven, that is, in the secret counsel of God,
which is hidden in himself and is far above out of our sight, and is
immovable, as mountains of brass. And his revealed will is as
firm as his secret will; as he will fulfil the thoughts of his heart,
so no word of his shall fall to the ground; for it follows here,
Thy faithfulness is unto all generations, that is, the promise
is sure to every age of the church and it cannot be antiquated by lapse
of time. The promises that look ever so far forward shall be performed
in their season.
2. He produces, for proof of it, the constancy of the course of nature:
Thou hast established the earth for ever and it abides; it is
what it was at first made, and where it was at first placed, poised
with its own weight, and notwithstanding the convulsions in its own
bowels, the agitations of the sea that is interwoven with it, and the
violent concussions of the atmosphere that surrounds it, it remains
unmoved. "They" (the heavens and the earth and all the hosts of
both) "continue to this day according to thy ordinances; they
remain in the posts wherein thou hast set them; they fill up the place
assigned them, and answer the purposes for which they were intended."
The stability of the ordinances of the day and night, of heaven and
earth, is produced to prove the perpetuity of God's covenant,
It is by virtue of God's promise to Noah
that day and night, summer and winter, observe a steady course.
"They have continued to this day, and shall still continue to the end
of time, acting according to the ordinances which were at first given
them; for all are thy servants; they do thy will, and set forth thy
glory, and in both are thy servants." All the creatures are, in
their places, and according to their capacities, serviceable to their
Creator, and answer the ends of their creation; and shall man be the
only rebel, the only revolter from his allegiance, and the only
unprofitable burden of the earth?
92 Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have
perished in mine affliction.
1. The great distress that David was in. He was in affliction, and
ready to perish in his affliction, not likely to die, so much as
likely to despair; he was ready to give up all for gone, and to look
upon himself as cut off from God's sight; he therefore admires the
goodness of God to him, that he had not perished, that he kept the
possession of his own soul, and was not driven out of his wits by his
troubles, but especially that he was enabled to keep close to his God
and was not driven off from his religion by them. Though we are not
kept from affliction, yet, if we are kept from perishing in our
affliction, we have no reason to say, We have cleansed our hands in
vain; or, What profit is it that we have served God?
2. His support in this distress. God's law was his delight,
(1.) It had been so formerly, and the remembrance of that was a comfort
to him, as it afforded him a good evidence of his integrity.
(2.) It was so now in his affliction; it afforded him abundant matter
of comfort, and from these fountains of life he drew living waters,
when the cisterns of the creature were broken or dried up. His converse
with God's law, and his meditations on it, were his delightful
entertainment in solitude and sorrow. A Bible is a pleasant companion
at any time if we please.
93 I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast
1. A very good resolution: "I will never forget thy precepts,
but will always retain a remembrance of and regard to thy word as my
rule." It is a resolution for perpetuity, never to be altered. Note,
The best evidence of our love to the word of God is never to forget it.
We must resolve that we will never, at any time, cast off our religion,
and never, upon any occasion, lay aside our religion, but that we will
be constant to it and persevere in it.
2. A very good reason for it: "For by them thou hast quickened
me; not only they are quickening, but,"
(1.) "They have been so to me; I have found them so." Those speak best
of the things of God who speak by experience, who can say that by the
word the spiritual life has been begun in them, maintained and
strengthened in them, excited and comforted in them.
(2.) "Thou hast made them so;" the word of itself, without the grace of
God, would not quicken us. Ministers can but prophesy upon the dry
bones, they cannot put life into them; but, ordinarily, the grace of
God works by the word and makes use of it as a means of quickening, and
this is a good reason why we should never forget it, but should highly
value what God has put such honour upon, and dearly love what we have
found and hope still to find such benefit by. See here what is the best
help for bad memories, namely, good affections. If we are quickened by
the word, we shall never forget it; nay, that word that does really
quicken us to and in our duty is not forgotten; though the expressions
be lost, if the impressions remain, it is well.
94 I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts.
1. David claims relation to God: "I am thine, devoted to thee
and owned by thee, thine in covenant." He does not say, Thou art
mine (as Dr. Manton observes), though that follows of course,
because that were a higher challenge; but, I am thine,
expressing himself in a more humble and dutiful way of resignation; nor
does he say, I am thus, but, I am thine, not pleading his
own good property or qualification, but God's propriety in him: "I
am thine, not my own, not the world's."
2. He proves his claim: "I have sought thy precepts; I have
carefully enquired concerning my duty and diligently endeavoured to do
it." This will be the best evidence that we belong to God; all that are
his, though they have not found perfection, are seeking it.
3. He improves his claim: "I am thine; save me; save me from
sin, save me from ruin." Those that have in sincerity given up
themselves to God to be his may be sure that he will protect them and
preserve them to his heavenly kingdom,
95 The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will
consider thy testimonies.
1. David complains of the malice of his enemies: The wicked (and
none but such would be enemies to so good a man) have waited for me
to destroy me. They were very cruel, and aimed at no less than his
destruction; they were very crafty, and sought all opportunities to do
him a mischief; and they were confident (they expected,
so some read it), that they should destroy him; they thought themselves
sure of their prey.
2. He comforts himself in the word of God as his protection: "While
they are contriving my destruction, I consider thy testimonies,
which secure to me my salvation." God's testimonies are then
likely to be our support, when we consider them, and dwell in our
thoughts upon them.
96 I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment
is exceeding broad.
Here we have David's testimony from his own experience,
1. Of the vanity of the world and its insufficiency to make us happy:
I have seen an end of all perfection. Poor perfection which one
sees an end of! Yet such are all those things in this world which pass
for perfections. David, in his time, had seen Goliath, the strongest,
overcome, Asahel, the swiftest, overtaken, Ahithophel, the wisest,
befooled, Absalom, the fairest, deformed; and, in short, he had seen
an end of perfection, of all perfection. He saw it by faith;
he saw it by observation; he saw an end of the perfection of the
creature both in respect of sufficiency (it was scanty and defective;
there is that to be done for us which the creature cannot do) and in
respect of continuance; it will not last our time, for it will not last
to eternity as we must. The glory of man is but as the flower of the
2. Of the fulness of the word of God, and its sufficiency for our
satisfaction: But thy commandment is broad, exceedingly broad.
The word of God reaches to all cases, to all times. The divine law lays
a restraint upon the whole man, is designed to sanctify us wholly.
There is a great deal required and forbidden in every commandment. The
divine promise (for that also is commanded) extends itself to all our
burdens, wants, and grievances, and has that in it which will make a
portion and happiness for us when we have seen an end of all
97 MEM. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the
1. David's inexpressible love to the word of God: O how love I thy
law! He protests his affection to the word of God with a holy
vehemency; he found that love to it in his heart which, considering the
corruption of his nature and the temptations of the world, he could not
but wonder at, and at that grace which had wrought it in him. He not
only loved the promises, but loved the law, and delighted in it after
the inner man.
2. An unexceptionable evidence of this. What we love we love to think
of; by this it appeared that David loved the word of God that it
was his meditation. He not only read the book of the law, but
digested what he read in his thoughts, and was delivered into it as
into a mould: it was his meditation not only in the night, when he was
silent and solitary, and had nothing else to do, but in the day, when
he was full of business and company; nay, and all the day; some
good thoughts were interwoven with his common thoughts, so full was he
of the word of God.
98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine
enemies: for they are ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy
testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy
We have here an account of David's learning, not that of the Egyptians,
but of the Israelites indeed.
I. The good method by which he got it. In his youth he minded business
in the country as a shepherd; from his youth he minded business in the
court and camp. Which way then could he get any great stock of
learning? He tells us here how he came by it; he had it from God as the
author: Thou hast made me wise. All true wisdom is from God. He
had it by the word of God as the means, by his commandments and
his testimonies. These are able to make us wise to
salvation and to furnish the man of God for every good work.
1. These David took for his constant companions: "They are ever with
me, ever in my mind, ever in my eye." A good man, wherever he goes,
carries his Bible along with him, if not in his hands, yet in his head
and in his heart.
2. These he took for the delightful subject of his thoughts; they were
his meditation, not only as matters of speculation for his
entertainment, as scholars meditate on their notions, but as matters of
concern, for his right management, as men of business think of their
business, that they may do it in the best manner.
3. These he took for the commanding rules of all his actions: I keep
thy precepts, that is, I make conscience of doing my duty in every
thing. The best way to improve in knowledge is to abide and abound in
all the instances of serious godliness; for, if any man do his will,
he shall know of the doctrine of Christ, shall know more and more
The love of the truth prepares for the light of it; the pure in
heart shall see God here.
II. The great eminency he attained to in it. By studying and practising
God's commandments, and making them his rule, he learnt to behave
himself wisely in all his ways,
1 Samuel 18:14.
2. He outwitted his enemies; God, by these means, made him wiser to
baffle and defeat their designs against him than they were to lay them.
Heavenly wisdom will carry the point, at last, against carnal policy.
By keeping the commandments we secure God on our side and make him our
friend, and therein are certainly wiser than those that make him their
enemy. By keeping the commandments we preserve in ourselves that peace
and quiet of mind which our enemies would rob us of, and so are wise
for ourselves, wiser than they are for themselves, for this world as
well as for the other.
2. He outstripped his teachers, and had more understanding than
all of them. He means either those who would have been his teachers,
who blamed his conduct and undertook to prescribe to him (by keeping
God's commandments he managed his matters so that it appeared, in the
event, he had taken the right measures and they had taken the wrong),
or those who should have been his teachers, the priests and Levites,
who sat in Moses's chair, and whose lips ought to have kept knowledge,
but who neglected the study of the law, and minded their honours and
revenues, and the formalities only of their religion; and so David, who
conversed much with the scriptures, by that means became more
intelligent than they. Or he may mean those who had been his teachers
when he was young; he built so well upon the foundation which they had
laid that, with the help of his Bible, he became able to teach them, to
teach them all. He was not now a babe that needed milk, but had
spiritual senses exercised,
It is no reflection upon our teachers, but rather an honour to them, to
improve so as really to excel them, and not to need them. By meditation
we preach to ourselves, and so we come to understand more than our
teachers, for we come to understand our own hearts, which they
3. He outdid the ancients, either those of his day (he was
young, like Elihu, and they were very old, but his keeping God's
precepts taught more wisdom than the multitude of their years,
or those of former days; he himself quotes the proverb of the ancients
(1 Samuel 24:13),
but the word of God gave him to understand things better than he could
do by tradition and all the learning that was handed down from
preceding ages. In short, the written word is a surer guide to heaven
than all the doctors and fathers, the teachers and ancients, of the
church; and the sacred writings kept, and kept to, will teach us more
wisdom than all their writings.
101 I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might
keep thy word.
1. David's care to avoid the ways of sin: "I have refrained my feet
from the evil ways they were ready to step aside into. I checked
myself and drew back as soon as I was aware that I was entering into
temptation." Though it was a broad way, a green way, a pleasant way,
and a way that many walked in, yet, being a sinful way, it was an evil
way, and he refrained his feet from it, foreseeing the end of that way.
And his care was universal; he shunned every evil way. By the words
of thy lips I have kept myself from the paths of the destroyer,
2. His care to be found in the way of duty; That I might keep thy
word, and never transgress it. His abstaining from sin was,
(1.) An evidence that he did conscientiously aim to keep God's word and
had made that his rule.
(2.) It was a means of his keeping God's word in the exercises of
religion; for we cannot with any comfort or boldness attend on God in
holy duties, so as in them to keep his word, while we are under guilt
or in any by-way.
102 I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast
1. David's constancy in his religion. He had not departed from God's
judgments; he had not chosen any other rule than the word of God,
nor had he wilfully deviated from that rule. A constant adherence to
the ways of God in trying times will be a good evidence of our
2. The cause of his constancy: "For thou hast taught me; that
is, they were divine instructions that I learned; I was satisfied that
the doctrine was of God, and therefore I stuck to it." Or rather, "It
was divine grace in my heart that enabled me to receive those
instructions." All the saints are taught of God, for he it is that
gives the understanding; and those, and those only, that are taught of
God, will continue to the end in the things that they have learned.
103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than
honey to my mouth!
104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate
every false way.
1. The wonderful pleasure and delight which David took in the word of
God; it was sweet to his taste, sweeter than honey. There is
such a thing as a spiritual taste, an inward savour and relish of
divine things, such an evidence of them to ourselves, by experience, as
we cannot give to others. We have heard him ourselves,
To this scripture-taste the word of God is sweet, very sweet, sweeter
than any of the gratifications of sense, even those that are most
delicious. David speaks as if he wanted words to express the
satisfaction he took in the discoveries of the divine will and grace;
no pleasure was comparable to it.
2. The unspeakable profit and advantage he gained by the word of God.
(1.) It helped him to a good head: "Through thy precepts I get
understanding to discern between truth and falsehood, good and
evil, so as not to mistake either in the conduct of my own life or in
(2.) It helped him to a good heart: "Therefore, because I have
got understanding of the truth, I hate every false way, and am
stedfastly resolved not to turn aside into it." Observe here,
[1.] The way of sin is a false way; it deceives, and will ruin, all
that walk in it; it is the wrong way, and yet it seems to a man right,
[2.] It is the character of every good man that he hates the way of
sin, and hates it because it is a false way; he not only refrains his
feet from it
but he hates it, has an antipathy to it and a dread of it.
[3.] Those who hate sin as sin will hate all sin, hate every false way,
because every false way leads to destruction. And,
[4.] The more understanding we get by the word of God the more rooted
will our hatred of sin be (for to depart from evil, that is
and the more ready we are in the scriptures the better furnished we are
with answers to temptation.
105 NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my
1. The nature of the word of God, and the great intention of giving it
to the world; it is a lamp and a light. It discovers to us,
concerning God and ourselves, that which otherwise we could not have
known; it shows us what is amiss, and will be dangerous; it directs us
in our work and way, and a dark place indeed the world would be without
it. It is a lamp which we may set up by us, and take into our hands for
our own particular use,
The commandment is a lamp kept burning with the oil of the Spirit; it
is like the lamps in the sanctuary, and the pillar of fire to Israel.
2. The use we should make of it. It must be not only a light to out
eyes, to gratify them, and fill our heads with speculations, but a
light to our feet and to our path, to direct us in the
right ordering of our conversation, both in the choice of our way in
general and in the particular steps we take in that way, that we may
not take a false way nor a false step in the right way. We are then
truly sensible of God's goodness to us in giving us such a lamp and
light when we make it a guide to our feet, our path.
106 I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy
1. The notion David had of religion; it is keeping God's righteous
judgments. God's commands are his judgments, the dictates of
infinite wisdom. They are righteous judgments, consonant to the eternal
rules of equity, and it is our duty to keep them carefully.
2. The obligation he here laid upon himself to be religious, binding
himself, by his own promise, to that which he was already bound to by
the divine precept, and all little enough. "I have sworn (I have
lifted up my head to the Lord, and I cannot go back) and therefore
must go forward: I will perform it." Note,
(1.) It is good for us to bind ourselves with a solemn oath to be
religious. We must swear to the Lord as subjects swear allegiance to
their sovereign, promising fealty, appealing to God concerning our
sincerity in this promise, and owning ourselves liable to the curse of
we do not perform it.
(2.) We must often call to mind the vows of God that are upon us, and
remember that we have sworn.
(3.) We must make conscience of performing unto the Lord our oaths (an
honest man will be as good as his word); nor have we sworn to our own
hurt, but it will be unspeakably to our hurt if we do not perform.
107 I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according
unto thy word.
1. The representation David makes of the sorrowful condition he was in:
I am afflicted very much, afflicted in spirit; he seems to mean
that especially. He laboured under many discouragements; without were
fightings, within were fears. This is often the lot of the best
saints; therefore think it not strange if sometimes it be ours.
2. The recourse he has to God in this condition; he prays for his
grace: "Quicken me, O Lord! make me lively, make me cheerful;
quicken me by afflictions to greater diligence in my work. Quicken
me, that is, deliver me out of my afflictions, which will be as
life from the dead." He pleads the promise of God, guides his desires
by it, and grounds his hopes upon it: Quicken me according to thy
word. David resolved to perform his promises to God
and therefore could, with humble boldness, beg of God to make good his
word to him.
108 Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth,
O LORD, and teach me thy judgments.
Two things we are here taught to pray for, in reference to our
1. Acceptance of them. This we must aim at in all we do in religion,
that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of the Lord. What
David here earnestly prays for the acceptance of are the
free-will-offerings, not of his purse, but of his mouth,
his prayers and praises. The calves of our lips
the fruit of our lips
these are the spiritual offerings which all Christians, as spiritual
priests, must offer to God; and they must be
free-will-offerings, for we must offer them abundantly and
cheerfully, and it is this willing mind that is accepted. The more
there is of freeness and willingness in the service of God the more
pleasing it is to him.
2. Assistance in them: Teach me thy judgments. We cannot offer
any thing to God which we have reason to think he will accept of, but
what he is pleased to instruct us in the doing of; and we must be as
earnest for the grace of God in us as for the favour of God towards
109 My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget
110 The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from
1. David in danger of losing his life. There is but a step between him
and death, for the wicked have laid a snare for him; Saul did so
many a time, because he hated him for his piety. Wherever he was he
found some design or other laid against him to take away his life, for
it was that they aimed at. What they could not effect by open force
they hoped to compass by treachery, which made him say, My soul is
continually in my hand. It was so with him, not only as a
man (so it is true of us all; wherever we are we lie exposed to
the strokes of death; what we carry in our hands is easily snatched
away from us by violence, or if sandy, as our life is, it easily of
itself slips through our fingers), but as a man of war, a
soldier, who often jeoparded his life in the high places of the field,
and especially as a man after God's own heart, and, as such,
hated and persecuted, and always delivered to death
(2 Corinthians 4:11),
killed all the day long.
2. David in no danger of losing his religion, notwithstanding this,
thus in jeopardy every hour and yet constant to God and his duty. None
of these things move him; for,
(1.) He does not forget the law, and therefore he is likely to
persevere. In the multitude of his cares for his own safety he finds
room in his head and heart for the word of God, and has that in his
mind as fresh as ever; and where that dwells richly it will be a
well of living water.
(2.) He has not yet erred from God's precepts, and therefore it is to
be hoped he will not. He had stood many a shock and kept his ground,
and surely that grace which had helped him hitherto would not fail him,
but would still prevent his wanderings.
111 Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage for ever: for
they are the rejoicing of my heart.
112 I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway,
even unto the end.
The psalmist here in a most affectionate manner, like an Israelite
indeed, resolves to stick to the word of God and to live and die by
I. He resolves to portion himself in it, and there to seek his
happiness, nay, there to enjoy it; "Thy testimonies (the truths,
the promises, of thy word) have I taken as a heritage for ever, for
they are the rejoicing of my heart." The present delight he took in
them was an evidence that the good things contained in them were in his
account the best things, and the treasure which he set his heart upon.
1. He expected an eternal happiness in God's testimonies. The covenant
God had made with him was an everlasting covenant, and therefore he
took it as a heritage for ever. If he could not yet say, "They
are my heritage," yet he could say, "I have made choice of them for my
heritage; and will never take up with a portion in this life,"
God's testimonies are a heritage to all that have received the Spirit
of adoption; for, if children, then heirs. They are a
heritage for ever, and that no earthly heritage is
(1 Peter 1:4);
all the saints accept them as such, take up with them, live upon them,
and can therefore be content with but little of this world.
2. He enjoyed a present satisfaction in them: They are the rejoicing
of my heart, because they will be my heritage for ever. It
requires the heart of a good man to see his portion in the promise of
God and not in the possessions of this world.
II. He resolves to govern himself by it and thence to take his
measures: I have inclined my heart to do thy statutes. Those
that would have the blessings of God's testimonies must come under the
bonds of his statutes. We must look for comfort only in the way of
duty, and that duty must be done,
1. With full consent and complacency: "I have, by the grace of
God, inclined my heart to it, and conquered the aversion I had
to it." A good man brings his heart to his work and then it is done
well. A gracious disposition to do the will of God is the acceptable
principle of all obedience.
2. With constancy and perseverance. He would perform God's statutes
always, in all instances, in the duty of every day, in a constant
course of holy walking, and this to the end, without weariness.
This is following the Lord fully.
113 I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.
Here we have,
1. David's dread of the risings of sin, and the first beginnings of it:
I hate vain thoughts. He does not mean that he hated them
in others, for there he could not discern them, but he hated them in
his own heart. Every good man makes conscience of his thoughts, for
they are words to God. Vain thoughts, how light soever most make of
them, are sinful and hurtful, and therefore we should account them
hateful and dreadful, for they do not only divert the mind from that
which is good, but open the door to all evil,
Though David could not say that he was free from vain thoughts, yet he
could say that he hated them; he did not countenance them, nor give
them any entertainment, but did what he could to keep them out, at
least to keep them under. The evil I do I allow not.
2. David's delight in the rule of duty: But thy law do I love,
which forbids those vain thoughts, and threatens them. The more we love
the law of God the more we shall get the mastery of our vain thoughts,
the more hateful they will be to us, as being contrary to the whole
law, and the more watchful we shall be against them, lest they draw us
from that which we love.
114 Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy
1. God's care of David to protect and defend him, which he comforted
himself with when his enemies were very malicious against him: Thou
art my hiding-place and my shield. David, when Saul pursued him,
often betook himself to close places for shelter; in war he guarded
himself with his shield. Now God was both these to him, a hiding-place
to preserve him from danger and a shield to preserve him in danger, his
life from death and his soul from sin. Good people are safe under God's
protection. He is their strength and their shield, their help
and their shield, their sun and their shield, their
shield and their great reward, and here their hiding-place
and their shield. They may by faith retire to him, and repose in
him as their hiding-place, where they are kept in secret. They may by
faith oppose his power to all the might and malice of their enemies, as
their shield to quench every fiery dart.
2. David's confidence in God. He is safe, and therefore he is easy,
under the divine protection: "I hope in thy word, which has
acquainted me with thee and assured me of thy kindness to me." Those
who depend on God's promise shall have the benefit of his power and be
taken under his special protection.
115 Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the
commandments of my God.
1. David's firm and fixed resolution to live a holy life: I will
keep the commandments of my God. Bravely resolved! like a saint,
like a soldier; for true courage consists in a steady resolution
against all sin and for all duty. Those that would keep God's
commandments must be often renewing their resolutions to do so: "I
will keep them. Whatever others do, this I will do; though I be
singular, though all about me be evil-doers, and desert me; whatever I
have done hitherto, I will for the future walk closely with God. They
are the commandments of God, of my God, and therefore I will keep them.
He is God and may command me, my God and will command me nothing but
what is for my good."
2. His farewell to bad company, pursuant to this resolution: Depart
from me, you evil-doers. Though David, as a good magistrate, was a
terror to evil-doers, yet there were many such, even about court,
intruding near his person; these he here abdicates, and resolves to
have no conversation with them. Note, Those that resolve to keep the
commandments of God must have no society with evil-doers; for bad
company is a great hindrance to a holy life. We must not choose wicked
people for our companions, nor be intimate with them; we must not do as
they do nor do as they would have us do,
116 Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let
me not be ashamed of my hope.
117 Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have
respect unto thy statutes continually.
1. David prays for sustaining grace; for this grace sufficient he
besought the Lord twice: Uphold me; and again, Hold thou me
up. He sees himself not only unable to go on in his duty by any
strength of his own, but in danger of falling into sin unless he was
prevented by divine grace; and therefore he is thus earnest for that
grace to uphold him in his integrity
to keep him from falling and to keep him from tiring, that he might
neither turn aside to evil-doing nor be weary of well-doing. We stand
no longer than God holds us and go no further than he carries us.
2. He pleads earnestly for this grace.
(1.) He pleads the promise of God, his dependence upon the promise, and
his expectation from it: "Uphold me, according to thy word,
which word I hope in; and, if it be not performed, I shall be made
ashamed of my hope, and be called a fool for my credulity." But
those that hope in God's word may be sure that the word will not fail
them, and therefore their hope will not make them ashamed.
(2.) He pleads the great need he had of God's grace and the great
advantage it would be of to him: Uphold me, that I may live,
intimating that he could not live without the grace of God; he should
fall into sin, into death, into hell, if God did not hold him up; but,
supported by his hand, he shall live; his spiritual life shall be
maintained and be an earnest of eternal life. Hold me up, and I
shall be safe, out of danger and out of the fear of danger. Our
holy security is grounded on divine supports.
(3.) He pleads his resolution, in the strength of this grace, to
proceed in his duty: "Hold me up, and then I will have
respect unto thy statutes continually and never turn my eyes or
feet aside from them." I will employ myself (so some), I will
delight myself (so others) in thy statutes. If God's right
hand uphold us, we must, in his strength, go on in our duty both with
diligence and pleasure.
118 Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes:
for their deceit is falsehood.
119 Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross:
therefore I love thy testimonies.
120 My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy
I. God's judgment on wicked people, on those that wander from his
statutes, that take their measures from other rules and will not
have God to reign over them. All departure from God's statutes is
certainly an error, and will prove a fatal one. These are the wicked
of the earth; they mind earthly things, lay up their treasures in
the earth, live in pleasure on the earth, and are strangers and enemies
to heaven and heavenly things. Now see how God deals with them, that
you may neither fear them nor envy them.
1. He treads them all down. He brings them to ruin, to utter
ruin, to shameful ruin; he makes them his footstool. Though they are
ever so high, he can bring them low
he has done it many a time, and he will do it, for he resists the proud
and will triumph over those that oppose his kingdom. Proud persecutors
trample upon his people, but, sooner or later, he will trample upon
2. He puts them all away like dross. Wicked people are as dross,
which, though it be mingled with the good metal in the ore, and seems
to be of the same substance with it, must be separated from it. And in
God's account they are worthless things, the scum and refuse of the
earth, and no more to be compared with the righteous than dross with
fine gold. There is a day coming which will put them away from among
so that they shall have no place in their congregation
which will put them away into everlasting fire, the fittest place for
the dross. Sometimes, in this world, the wicked are, by the censures of
the church, or the sword of the magistrate, or the judgments of God,
put away as dross,
II. The reasons of these judgments. God casts them off because they
err from his statutes (those that will not submit to the
commands of the word shall feel the curses of it) and because their
deceit is falsehood, that is, because they deceive themselves by
setting up false rules, in opposition to God's statutes, which they err
from, and because they go about to deceive others with their
hypocritical pretences of good and their crafty projects of mischief.
Their cunning is falsehood, so Dr. Hammond. The utmost of their
policy is treachery and perfidiousness; this the God of truth hates and
III. The improvement David made of these judgments. He took notice of
them and received instruction from them. The ruin of the wicked helped
1. His love to the word of God. "I see what comes of sin; therefore
I love thy testimonies, which warn me to take heed of those
dangerous courses and keep me from the paths of the destroyer."
We see the word of Go fulfilled in his judgments on sin and sinners,
and therefore we should love it.
2. His fear of the wrath of God: My flesh trembles for fear of
thee. Instead of insulting over those who fell under God's
displeasure, he humbled himself. What we read and hear of the judgments
of God upon wicked people would make us,
(1.) To reverence his terrible majesty, and to stand in awe of him:
Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?
1 Samuel 6:20.
(2.) To fear lest we offend him and become obnoxious to his wrath. Good
men have need to be restrained from sin by the terrors of the
Lord, especially when judgment begins at the house of God
and hypocrites are discovered and put away as dross.
121 I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine
122 Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud
David here appeals to God,
1. As his witness that he had not done wrong; he could truly say, "I
have done judgment and justice, that is, I have made conscience of
rendering to all their due, and have not by force or fraud hindered any
of their right." Take him as a king, he executed judgment and
justice to all his people,
2 Samuel 8:15.
Take him in a private capacity, he could appeal to Saul himself that
there was no evil or transgression in his hand,
1 Samuel 24:11.
Note, Honesty is the best policy and will be our rejoicing in the day
2. As his Judge, that he might not be wronged. Having done justice for
others that were oppressed, he begs that God would do him justice and
avenge him of his adversaries: "Be surety for thy servant, for
good; undertake for me against those that would run me down and
ruin me." He is sensible that he cannot make his part good himself, and
therefore begs that God would appear for him. Christ is our surety with
God; and, if he be so, Providence shall be our surety against all the
world. Who or what shall harm us if God's power and goodness be engaged
for our protection and rescue? He does not prescribe to God what he
should do for him; only let it be for good, in such way and
manner as Infinite Wisdom sees best; "only let me not be left to my
oppressors." Though David had done judgment and justice, yet
he had many enemies; but, having God for his friend, he hoped they
should not have their will against him; and in that hope he prayed
again, Let not the proud oppress me. David, one of the best of
men, was oppressed by the proud, whom God beholds afar off; the
condition therefore of the persecuted is better than that of the
persecutors, and will appear so at last.
123 Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy
David, being oppressed, is here waiting and wishing for the salvation
of the Lord, which would make him easy.
1. He cannot but think that it comes slowly: My eyes fail for thy
salvation. His eyes were towards it and had been long so. He looked
for help from heaven (and we deceive ourselves if we look for it any
other way), but it did not come so soon as he expected, so that his
eyes began to fail, and he was sometimes ready to despair, and to think
that, because the salvation did not come when he looked for it, it
would never come. It is often the infirmity even of good men to be
weary of waiting God's time when their time has elapsed.
2. Yet he cannot hope that it comes surely; for he expects the word
of God's righteousness, and no other salvation than what is secured
by that word, which cannot fall to the ground because it is a word of
righteousness. Though our eyes fail, yet God's word does not, and
therefore those that build upon it, though now discouraged, shall in
due time see his salvation.
124 Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach
me thy statutes.
125 I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know
1. David's petition for divine instruction: "Teach me thy
statutes; give me to know all my duty; when I am in doubt, and know
not for certain what is my duty, direct me, and make it plain to me;
now that I am afflicted, oppressed, and my eyes are ready to
fail for thy salvation, let me know what my duty is in this
condition." In difficult times we should desire more to be told what we
must do than what we may expect, and should pray more to be led into
the knowledge of scripture-precepts than of scripture-prophecies. If
God, who gave us his statutes, do not teach us, we shall never learn
them. How God teaches is implied in the next petition: Give me
understanding (a renewed understanding, apt to receive divine
light), that I may know thy testimonies. It is God's prerogative
to give an understanding, that understanding without which we cannot
know God's testimonies. Those who know most of God's testimonies desire
to know more, and are still earnest with God to teach them, never
thinking they know enough.
2. His pleas to enforce this petition.
(1.) He pleads God's goodness to him: Deal with me according to thy
mercy. The best saints count this their best plea for any blessing,
"Let me have it according to thy mercy;" for we deserve no favour from
God, nor can we claim any as a debt, but we are most likely to be easy
when we cast ourselves upon God's mercy and refer ourselves to it.
Particularly, when we come to him for instruction, we must beg it as a
mercy, and reckon that in being taught we are well dealt with.
(2.) He pleads his relation to God: "I am thy servant, and have
work to do for thee; therefore teach me to do it and to do it
well." The servant has reason to expect that, if he be at a loss about
his work, his master should teach him, and, if it were in his power,
give him an understanding. "Lord," says David, "I desire to serve thee;
show me how." If any man resolve to do God's will as his servant, he
shall be made to know his testimonies,
126 It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have
made void thy law.
1. A complaint of the daring impiety of the wicked. David, having in
himself a holy indignation at it, humbly represents it to God: "Lord,
there are those that have made void thy law, have set thee and
thy government at defiance, and have done what in them lay to cancel
and vacate the obligation of thy commands." Those that sin through
infirmity transgress the law, but presumptuous sinners do in effect
make void the law, saying, Who is the Lord? What is the Almighty,
that we should fear him? It is possible a godly man may sin against
the commandment, but a wicked man would sin away the commandment, would
repeal God's laws and enact his own lusts. This is the sinfulness of
sin and the malignity of the carnal mind.
2. A desire that God would appear, for the vindication of his own
honour: "It is time for thee, Lord, to work, to do something for
the effectual confutation of atheists and infidels, and the silencing
of those that set their mouth against the heavens." God's time to work
is when vice has become most daring and the measure of iniquity is
full. Now will I arise, saith the Lord. Some read it, and the
original will bear it, It is time to work for thee, O Lord! it
is time for every one in his place to appear on the Lord's
side--against the threatening growth of profaneness and immorality. We
must do what we can for the support of the sinking interests of
religion, and, after all, we must beg of God to take the work into his
127 Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above
128 Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all
things to be right; and I hate every false way.
David here, as often in this psalm, professes the great love he had to
the word and law of God; and, to evidence the sincerity of it, observe,
1. The degree of his love. He loved his Bible better than he loved his
money--above gold, yea, above fine gold. Gold, fine gold, is what
most men set their hearts upon; nothing charms them and dazzles their
eyes so much as gold does. It is fine gold, a fine thing in their eyes;
they will venture their souls, their God, their all, to get and keep
it. But David saw that the word of God answers all purposes better than
money does, for it enriches the soul towards God; and therefore he
loved it better than gold, for it had done that for him which gold
could not do, and would stand him in stead when the wealth of the world
would fail him.
2. The ground of his love. He loved all God's commandments because he
esteemed them to be right, all reasonable and just, and suited to the
end for which they were made. They are all as they should be, and no
fault can be found with them; and we must love them because they bear
God's image and are the revelations of his will. If we thus consent
to the law that it is good, we shall delight in it after the inner
3. The fruit and evidence of this love: He hated every false
way. The way of sin being directly contrary to God's precepts,
which are right, is a false way, and therefore those that have a love
and esteem for God's law hate it and will not be reconciled to it.
129 Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul
See here how David was affected towards the word of God.
1. He admired it, as most excellent in itself: Thy testimonies are
wonderful. The word of God gives us admirable discoveries of God,
and Christ, and another world; admirable proofs of divine love and
grace. The majesty of the style, the purity of the matter, the harmony
of the parts, are all wonderful. Its effects upon the consciences of
men, both for conviction and comfort, are wonderful; and it is a sign
that we are not acquainted with God's testimonies, or do not understand
them, if we do not admire them.
2. He adhered to it as of constant use to him: "Therefore doth my
soul keep them, as a treasure of inestimable value, which I cannot
be without." We do not keep them to any purpose unless our souls keep
them. There they must be deposited, as the tables of testimony in the
ark, there they must have the innermost and uppermost place. Those that
see God's word to be admirable will prize it highly and preserve it
carefully, as that which they promise themselves great things from.
130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth
understanding unto the simple.
1. The great use for which the word of God was intended, to give light,
that is, to give understanding, to give us to understand that which
will be of use to us in our travels through this world; and it is the
outward and ordinary means by which the Spirit of God enlightens the
understanding of all that are sanctified. God's testimonies are not
only wonderful for the greatness of them, but useful, as a light in a
2. Its efficacy for this purpose. It admirably answers the end; for,
(1.) Even the entrance of God's word gives light. If we begin at
the beginning, and take it before us, we shall find that the very first
verses of the Bible give us surprising and yet satisfying discoveries
of the origin of the universe, about which, without that, the world is
utterly in the dark. As soon as the word of God enters into us, and
has a place in us, it enlightens us; we find we begin to see when we
begin to study the word of God. The very first principles of the
oracles of God, the plainest truths, the milk appointed for the babes,
bring a great light into the soul, much more will the soul be
illuminated by the sublime mysteries that are found there. "The
exposition or explication of thy word gives light;" then it is most
profitable when ministers do their part in giving the sense,
Some understand it of the New Testament, which is the opening or
unfolding of the Old, which would give light concerning life and
(2.) It would give understanding even to the simple, to
the weakest capacities; for it shows us a way to heaven so plain that
the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.
131 I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy
1. The desire David had towards the word of God: I longed for thy
commandments. When he was under a forced absence from God's
ordinances he longed to be restored to them again; when he enjoyed
ordinances he greedily sucked in the word of God, as new-born babes
desire the milk. When Christ is formed in the soul there are
gracious longings, unaccountable to one that is a stranger to the work.
2. The degree of that desire appearing in the expressions of it: I
opened my mouth and panted, as one overcome with hear, or almost
stifled, pants for a mouthful of fresh air. Thus strong, thus earnest,
should our desires be towards God and the remembrance of his name,
132 Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest
to do unto those that love thy name.
1. David's request for God's favour to himself: "Look graciously
upon me; let me have thy smiles, and the light of thy
countenance. Take cognizance of me and my affairs, and be merciful
to me; let me taste the sweetness of thy mercy and receive the
gifts of thy mercy." See how humble his petition is. He asks not for
the operations of God's hand, only for the smiles of his face; a good
look is enough; and for that he does not plead merit, but implores
2. His acknowledgment of his favour to all his people: As thou usest
to do unto those that love thy name. This is either,
(1.) A plea for mercy: "Lord, I am one of those that love thy
name, love thee and thy word, and thou usest to be kind to those
that do so; and wilt thou be worse to me than to others of thy people?"
(2.) A description of the favour and mercy he desired--"that which thou
usest to bestow on those that love thy name, which thou bearest to
He desires no more, no better, than neighbour's fare, and he will take
up with no less; common looks and common mercies will not serve, but
such as are reserved for those that love him, which are such as eye
has not seen,
1 Corinthians 2:9.
Note, The dealings of God with those that love him are such that a man
needs not desire to be any better dealt with, for he will make them
truly and eternally happy. And as long as God deals with us no
otherwise than as he uses to deal with those that love him we have no
reason to complain,
1 Corinthians 10:13.
133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have
dominion over me.
Here David prays for two great spiritual blessings, and is, in this
verse, as earnest for the good work of God in him as, in the verse
before, for the good-will of God towards him. He prays,
1. For direction in the paths of duty: "Order my steps in thy
word; having led me into the right way, let every step I take in
that way be under the guidance of thy grace." We ought to walk by rule;
all the motions of the soul must not only be kept within the bounds
prescribed by the word, so as not to transgress them, but carried out
in the paths prescribed by the word, so as not to trifle in them. And
therefore we must beg of God that by his good Spirit he would order our
2. For deliverance from the power of sin: "Let no iniquity have
dominion over me, so as to gain my consent to it, and that I should
be led captive by it." The dominion of sin is to be dreaded and
deprecated by every one of us; and, if in sincerity we pray against it,
we may receive that promise as an answer to the prayer
Sin shall not have dominion over you.
134 Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy
1. David prays that he might live a quiet and peaceable life, and might
not be harassed and discomposed by those that studied to be vexatious:
"Deliver me from the oppression of man--man, whom God can
control, and whose power is limited. Let them know themselves to be
and let me be delivered out of the hands of my enemies, that I may
serve God without fear; so will I keep thy precepts." Not but
that he would keep God's precepts, though he should be continued under
oppression; "but so shall I keep thy precepts more cheerfully and with
more enlargement of heart, my bonds being loosed." Then we may
expect temporal blessings when we desire them with this in our eye,
that we may serve God the better.
135 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy
David here, as often as elsewhere, writes himself God's servant, a
title he gloried in, though he was a king; now here, as became a good
1. He is very ambitious of his Master's favour, accounting that his
happiness and chief good. He asks not for corn and wine, for silver and
gold, but, "Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; let me be
accepted of thee, and let me know that I am so. Comfort me with the
light of thy countenance in every cloudy and dark day. If the world
frown upon me, yet do thou smile."
2. He is very solicitous about his Master's work, accounting that his
business and chief concern. This he would be instructed in, that he
might do it, and do it well, so as to be accepted in the doing of it:
Teach me thy statutes. Note, We must pray as earnestly for grace
as for comfort. If God hides his face from us, it is because we have
been careless in keeping his statutes; and therefore, that we may be
qualified for the returns of his favour, we must pray for wisdom to do
136 Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not
Here we have David in sorrow.
1. It is a great sorrow, to such a degree that he weeps rivers of
tears. Commonly, where there is a gracious heart, there is a
weeping eye, in conformity to Christ, who was a man of sorrows and
acquainted with grief. David had prayed for comfort in God's favour
now he pleads that he was qualified for that comfort, and had need of
it, for he was one of those that mourned in Zion, and those that do so
shall be comforted,
2. It is godly sorrow. He wept not for his troubles, though they were
many, but for the dishonour done to God: Because they keep not thy
law, either because my eyes keep not thy law, so some (the
eye is the inlet and outlet of a great deal of sin, and therefore it
ought to be a weeping eye), or, rather, they, that is, those
Note, The sins of sinners are the sorrows of saints. We must mourn for
that which we cannot mend.
137 Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are thy
138 Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous
and very faithful.
1. The righteousness of God, the infinite rectitude and perfection of
his nature. As he is what he is, so he is what he should be, and in
every thing acts as becomes him; there is nothing wanting, nothing
amiss, in God; his will is the eternal rule of equity, and he is
righteous, for he does all according to it.
2. The righteousness of his government. He rules the world by his
providence, according to the principles of justice, and never did, nor
ever can do, any wrong to any of his creatures: Upright are thy
judgments, the promises and threatenings and the executions of
both. Every word of God is pure, and he will be true to it; he
perfectly knows the merits of every cause and will judge accordingly.
3. The righteousness of his commands, which he has given to be the rule
of our obedience: "Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded,
which are backed with thy sovereign authority, and to which thou dost
require our obedience, are exceedingly righteous and
faithful, righteousness and faithfulness itself." As he acts like
himself, so his law requires that we act like ourselves and like him,
that we be just to ourselves and to all we deal with, true to all the
engagements we lay ourselves under both to God and man. That which we
are commanded to practise is righteous; that which we are commanded to
believe is faithful. It is necessary to our faith and obedience that we
be convinced of this.
139 My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have
forgotten thy words.
1. The great contempt which wicked men put upon religion: My enemies
have forgotten thy words. They have often heard them, but so little
did they heed them that they soon forgot them, they willingly forgot
them, not only through carelessness let them slip out of their minds,
but contrived how to cast them behind their backs. This is at the
bottom of all the wickedness of the wicked, and particularly of their
malignity and enmity to the people of God; they have forgotten the
words of God, else those would give check to their sinful courses.
2. The great concern which godly men show for religion. David reckoned
those his enemies who forgot the words of God because they were enemies
to religion, which he had entered into a league with, offensive and
defensive. And therefore his zeal even consumed him, when
he observed their impieties. He conceived such an indignation at their
wickedness as preyed upon his spirits, even ate them up (as
swallowed up all inferior considerations, and made him forget himself.
My zeal has pressed or constrained me (so Dr. Hammond reads it),
Zeal against sin should constrain us to do what we can against it in
our places, at least to do so much the more in religion ourselves. The
worse others are the better we should be.
140 Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.
1. David's great affection for the word of God: Thy servant loves
it. Every good man, being a servant of God, loves the word of God,
because it lets him know his Master's will and directs him in his
Master's work. Wherever there is grace there is a warm attachment to
the word of God.
2. The ground and reason of that affection; he saw it to be very
pure, and therefore he loved it. Our love to the word of God is
then an evidence of our love to God when we love it for the sake
of its purity, because it bears the image of God's holiness and is
designed to make us partakers of his holiness. It commands purity, and,
as it is itself refined from all corrupt mixture, so if we receive it
in the light and love of it it will refine us from the dross of
worldliness and fleshly-mindedness.
141 I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy
1. David pious and yet poor. He was a man after God's own heart, one
whom the King of kings did delight to honour, and yet small and
despised in his own account and in the account of many others.
Men's excellency cannot always secure them from contempt; nay, it often
exposes them to the scorn of others and always makes them low in their
own eyes. God has chosen the foolish things of the world, and it
has been the common lot of his people to be a despised people.
2. David poor and yet pious, small and despised for his strict
and serious godliness, yet his conscience can witness for him that he
did not forget God's precepts. He would not throw off his
religion, though it exposed him to contempt, for he knew that was
designed to try his constancy. When we are small and despised we have
the more need to remember God's precepts, that we may have them to
support us under the pressures of a low condition.
142 Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and
thy law is the truth.
1. That God's word is righteousness, and it is an everlasting
righteousness. It is the rule of God's judgment, and it is
consonant to his counsels from eternity and will direct his sentence
for eternity. The word of God will judge us, it will judge us in
righteousness, and by it our everlasting state will be determined. This
should possess us with a very great reverence for the word of God that
it is righteousness itself, the standard of righteousness, and it is
everlasting in its rewards and punishments.
2. That God's word is a law, and that law is truth. See the double
obligation we are under to be governed by the word of God. We are
reasonable creatures, and as such we must be ruled by truth,
acknowledging the force and power of it. If the principles be true, the
practices must be agreeable to them, else we do not act rationally. We
are creatures, and therefore subjects, and must be ruled by our
Creator; and whatever he commands we are bound to obey as a law. See
how these obligations are here twisted, these cords of a man. Here is
truth brought to the understanding, there to sit chief, and direct the
motions of the whole man; but, lest the authority of that should become
weak through the flesh, here is a law to bind the will and bring that
into subjection. God's truth is a law
and God's law is the truth; surely we cannot break such
words as these asunder.
143 Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy
commandments are my delights.
144 The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give
me understanding, and I shall live.
These two verses are almost a repetition of the two foregoing verses,
but with improvement.
1. David again professes his constant adherence to God and his duty,
notwithstanding the many difficulties and discouragements he met with.
He had said
I am small and despised, and yet adhere to my duty. Here he
finds himself not only mean, but miserable, as far as this world could
make him so: Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me--trouble
without, anguish within; they surprised him, they seized him, they held
him. Sorrows are often the lot of saints in this vale of tears; they
are in heaviness through manifold temptations. There he had
said, Yet do I not forget thy precepts; here he carries his
constancy much higher: Yet thy commandments are my delights. All
this trouble and anguish did not put his mouth out of taste for the
comforts of the word of God, but he could still relish them and find
that peace and pleasure in them which all the calamities of this
present time could not deprive him of. There are delights, variety of
delights, in the word of God, which the saints have often the sweetest
enjoyment of when they are in trouble and anguish,
2 Corinthians 1:5.
2. He again acknowledges the everlasting righteousness of God's word as
The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting and cannot
be altered; and, when it is admitted in its power into a soul, it is
there an abiding principle, a well of living water,
We ought to meditate much and often upon the equity and the eternity of
the word of God. Here he adds, by way of inference,
(1.) His prayer for grace: Give me understanding. Those that
know much of the word of God should still covet to know more; for there
is more to be known. He does not say, "Give me a further revelation,"
but, Give me a further understanding; what is revealed we should
desire to understand, and what we know to know better; and we must go
to God for a heart to know.
(2.) His hope of glory: "Give me this renewed understanding, and then
I shall live, shall live for ever, shall be eternally happy, and
shall be comforted, for the present, in the prospect of it." This is
life eternal, to know God,
145 I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I
will keep thy statutes.
146 I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy
Here we have,
I. David's good prayers, by which he sought to God for mercy; these he
mentions here, not as boasting of them, or trusting to any merit in
them, but reflecting upon them with comfort, that he had taken the
appointed way to comfort. Observe here,
1. That he was inward with God in prayer; he prayed with his
heart, and prayer is acceptable no further than the heart goes
along with it. Lip-labour, if that be all, is lost labour.
2. He was importunate with God in prayer; he cried, as one in
earnest, with fervour of affection and a holy vehemence and vigour of
desire. He cried with his whole heart; all the powers of his
soul were not only engaged and employed, but exerted to the utmost, in
his prayers. Then we are likely to speed when we thus strive and
wrestle in prayer.
3. That he directed his prayer to God: I cried unto thee.
Whither should the child go but to his father when any thing ails him?
4. That the great thing he prayed for was salvation: Save me. A
short prayer (for we mistake if we think we shall be heard for our much
speaking), but a comprehensive prayer: "Not only rescue me from ruin,
but make me happy." We need desire no more than God's salvation
and the things that accompany it,
5. That he was earnest for an answer; and not only looked up in his
prayers, but looked up after them, to see what became of them
"Lord, hear me, and let me know that thou hearest me."
II. David's good purposes, by which he bound himself to duty when he
was in the pursuit of mercy. "I will keep thy statutes; I am
resolved that by thy grace I will;" for, if we turn away our ear
from hearing the law, we cannot expect an answer of peace to our
This purpose is used as a humble plea
"Save me from my sins, my corruptions, my temptations, all the
hindrances that lie in my way, that I may keep thy testimonies."
We must cry for salvation, not that we may have the ease and comfort of
it, but that we may have an opportunity of serving God the more
147 I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped
in thy word.
148 Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might
meditate in thy word.
David goes on here to relate how he had abounded in the duty of prayer,
much to his comfort and advantage: he cried unto God, that is, offered
up to him his pious and devout affections with all seriousness.
I. The handmaids of his devotion. The two great exercises that attended
his prayers, and were helpful to them, were,
1. Hope in God's word, which encouraged him to continue instant in
prayer, though the answer did not come immediately: "I cried, and hoped
that at last I should speed, because the vision is for an appointed
time, and at the end it will speak and not lie. I hoped in thy
word, which I knew would not fail me."
2. Meditation in God's word. The more intimately we converse with the
word of God, and the more we dwell upon it in our thoughts, the better
able we shall be to speak to God in his own language and the better we
shall know what to pray for as we ought. Reading the word will not
serve, but we must meditate in it.
II. The hours of his devotion. He anticipated the dawning of the
morning, nay, and the night-watches. See here,
1. That David was an early riser, which perhaps contributed to his
eminency. He was none of those that say, Yet a little sleep.
2. That he began the day with God. The first thing he did in the
morning, before he admitted any business, was to pray, when his mind
was most fresh and in the best frame. If our first thoughts in the
morning be of God they will help to keep us in his fear all the day
3. That his mind was so full of God, and the cares and delights of his
religion, that a little sleep served his turn. Even in the
night-watches, when he awaked from his first sleep, he would rather
meditate and pray than turn himself and go to sleep again. He
esteemed the words of God's mouth more than his necessary
repose, which we can as ill spare as our food,
4. That he would redeem time for religious exercises. He was full of
business all day, but that will excuse no man from secret devotion; it
is better to take time from sleep, as David did, than not to find time
for prayer. And this is our comfort, when we pray in the night, that we
can never come unseasonably to the throne of grace; for we may have
access to it at all hours. Baal may be asleep, but Israel's God never
slumbers, nor are there any hours in which he may not be spoken
149 Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: O LORD,
quicken me according to thy judgment.
1. David applies to God for grace and comfort with much solemnity. He
begs of God to hear his voice: "Lord, I have something to say to thee;
shall I obtain a gracious audience?" Well, what has he to say? What is
his petition and what is his request? It is not long, but it has much
in a little: "Lord, quicken me; stir me up to that which is
good, and make me vigorous, and lively, and cheerful in it. Let habits
of grace be drawn out into act."
2. He encourages himself to hope that he shall obtain his request; for
(1.) Upon God's lovingkindness: "He is good, therefore he will be good
to me, who hope in his mercy. His lovingkindness manifested to me will
help to quicken me, and put life into me."
(2.) Upon God's judgment, that is, his wisdom ("He knows what I
need, and what is good for me, and therefore will quicken me"), or his
promise, the word which he has spoken, mercy secured by the new
covenant: Quicken me according to the tenour of that
150 They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far
from thy law.
151 Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are
I. The apprehension David was in of danger from his enemies.
1. They were very malicious, and industrious in prosecuting their
malicious designs: They follow after mischief, any mischief they
could do to David or his friends; they would let slip no opportunity
nor let fall any pursuit that might be to his hurt.
2. They were very impious, and had no fear of God before their eyes:
They are far from thy law, setting themselves as far as they can
out of the reach of its convictions and commands. The persecutors of
God's people are such as make light of God himself; we may therefore be
sure that God will take his people's part against them.
3. They followed him closely and he was just ready to fall into their
hands: They draw nigh, nigher than they were; so that they got
ground of him. They were at his heels, just upon his back. God
sometimes suffers persecutors to prevail very far against his people,
so that, as David said
(1 Samuel 20:3),
There is but a step between them and death. Perhaps this comes
in here as a reason why David was so earnest in prayer,
God brings us into imminent perils, as he did Jacob, that, like him, we
may wrestle for a blessing.
II. The assurance David had of protection with God: "They draw
nigh to destroy me, but thou art near, O Lord! to save me,
not only mightier than they and therefore able to help me against them,
but nearer than they and therefore ready to help." It is the happiness
of the saints that, when trouble is near, God is near, and no trouble
can separate between them and him. He is never far to seek, but he is
within our call, and means are within his call,
All thy commandments are truth. The enemies thought to defeat
the promises God had made to David, but he was sure it was out of their
power; they were inviolably true, and would be infallibly
152 Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou
hast founded them for ever.
This confirms what he had said in the close of the foregoing verses,
All thy commandments are truth; he means the covenant, the word
which God has commanded to a thousand generations. This is firm, as
true as truth itself. For,
1. God has founded it so; he has framed it for a perpetuity. Such is
the constitution of it, and so well ordered is it in all things, that
it cannot but be sure. The promises are founded for ever, so
that when heaven and earth shall have passed away every iota and tittle
of the promise shall stand firm,
2 Corinthians 1:20.
2. David had found it so, both by a work of God's grace upon his heart
(begetting in him a full persuasion of the truth of God's word and
enabling him to rely upon it with a full satisfaction) and by the works
of his providence on his behalf, fulfilling the promise beyond what he
expected. Thus he knew of old, from the days of his youth, ever
since he began to look towards God, that the word of God is what one
may venture one's all upon. This assurance was confirmed by the
observations and experiences of his own life all along, and of others
that had gone before him in the ways of God. All that ever dealt with
God, and trusted in him will own that they have found him faithful.
153 Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do
not forget thy law.
154 Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy
I. David prays for succour in distress. Is any afflicted? let him
pray; let him pray as David does here.
1. He has an eye to God's pity, and prays, "Consider my
affliction; take it into thy thoughts, and all the circumstances of
it, and sit not by as one unconcerned." God is never unmindful of his
people's afflictions, but he will have us to put him in
to spread our case before him, and then leave it to his compassionate
consideration to do in it as in his wisdom he shall think fit, in his
own time and way.
2. He has an eye to God's power and prays, Deliver me; and
again, "Deliver me; consider my troubles and bring me out of
them." God has promised deliverance
and we may pray for it, with submission to his will and with regard to
his glory, that we may serve him the better.
3. He has an eye to God's righteousness, and prays, "Plead my
cause; be thou my patron and advocate, and take me for thy client."
David had a just cause, but his adversaries were many and mighty, and
he was in danger of being run down by them; he therefore begs of God to
clear his integrity and silence their false accusations. If God do not
plead his people's cause, who will? He is righteous, and they commit
themselves to him, and therefore he will do it, and do it effectually,
(4.) He has an eye to God's grace, and prays, "Quicken me. Lord,
I am weak, and unable to bear my troubles; my spirit is apt to droop
and sink. O that thou wouldst revive and comfort me, till the
deliverance is wrought!"
II. He pleads his dependence upon the word oaf God and his obedient
regard to its directions: Quicken and deliver me according to
thy word of promise, for I do not forget thy precepts. The
more closely we cleave to the word of God, both as our rule and as our
stay, the more assurance we may have of deliverance in due time.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy
1. The description of wicked men. They do not only do God's statutes,
but they do not so much as seek them; they do not acquaint themselves
with them, nor so much as desire to know their duty, nor in the least
endeavour to do it. Those are wicked indeed who do not think the law of
God worth enquiring after, but are altogether regardless of it, being
resolved to live at large and to walk in the way of their heart.
2. Their doom: Salvation is far from them. They cannot upon any
good grounds promise themselves temporal deliverance. Let not that
man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. How can
those expect to seek God's favour with success, when they are in
adversity, who never sought his statutes when they were in prosperity?
But eternal salvation is certainly far from them. They flatter
themselves with a conceit that it is near, and that they are going to
heaven; but they are mistaken: it is far from them. They thrust it from
them by thrusting the Saviour from them; it is so far from them that
they cannot reach it, and the longer they persist in sin the further it
is; nay, while salvation is far from them, damnation is near; it
slumbers not. Behold, the Judge stands before the door.
156 Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD: quicken me
according to thy judgments.
1. David admires God's grace: Great are thy tender mercies, O
Lord! The goodness of God's nature, as it is his glory, so it is
the joy of all the saints. His mercies are tender, for he is full of
compassion; they are many, they are great, a fountain that can never be
exhausted. He is rich in mercy to all that call upon him. David had
spoken of the misery of the wicked
but God is good notwithstanding; there were tender mercies sufficient
in God to have saved them, if they had not "despised the riches of
those mercies." Those that are delivered from the sinner's doom are
bound for ever to own the greatness of God's mercies which delivered
2. He begs for God's grace, reviving quickening grace, according to
his judgments, that is, according to the tenour of the new covenant
(that established rule by which he goes in dispensing that grace) or
according to his manner, his custom or usage, with those that love his
157 Many are my persecutors and mine enemies; yet do I not
decline from thy testimonies.
1. David surrounded with difficulties and dangers: Many are my
persecutors and my enemies. When Saul the king was his persecutor
and enemy no marvel that many more were so: multitudes will follow the
pernicious ways of abused authority. David, being a public person, had
many enemies, but withal he had many friends, who loved him and wished
him well; let him set the one over-against the other. In this David was
a type both of Christ and his church. The enemies, the persecutors, of
both, are many, very many.
2. David established in the way of his duty, notwithstanding: "Yet
do I not decline from thy testimonies, as knowing that while I
adhere to them God is for me; and then no matter who is against me." A
man who is steady in the way of his duty, though he may have many
enemies, needs fear none.
158 I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they
kept not thy word.
1. David's sorrow for the wickedness of the wicked. Though he conversed
much at home, yet sometimes he looked abroad, and could not but see the
wicked walking on every side. He beheld the transgressors, those
whose sins were open before all men, and it grieved him to see
them dishonour God, serve Satan, debauch the world, and ruin their own
souls, to see the transgressors so numerous, so daring, so very
impudent, and so industrious to draw unstable souls into their snares.
All this cannot but be a grief to those who have any regard to the
glory of God and the welfare of mankind.
2. The reason of that sorrow. He was grieved, not because they were
vexatious to him, but because they were provoking to God: They kept
not thy word. Those that hate sin truly hate it as sin, as a
transgression of the law of God and a violation of his word.
159 Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD,
according to thy lovingkindness.
1. David's appeal to God concerning his love to his precepts: "Lord,
thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love them; consider it
then, and deal with me as thou usest to deal with those that love thy
word, which thou hast magnified above all thy name." He does not say,
"Consider how I fulfil thy precepts;" he was conscious to himself that
in many things he came short; but, "Consider how I love them." Our
obedience is pleasing to God, and pleasant to ourselves, only when it
comes from a principle of love.
2. His petition thereupon: "Quicken me, to do my duty with
vigour; revive me, keep me alive, not according to any merit of mine,
though I love thy word, but according to thy lovingkindness;" to
that we owe our lives, nay, that is better than live itself. We need
not desire to be quickened any further than God's lovingkindness will
160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of
thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
David here comforts himself with the faithfulness of God's word, for
the encouragement of himself and others to rely upon it.
1. It has always been found faithful hitherto, and never failed any
that ventured upon it; It is true from the beginning. Ever since
God began to reveal himself to the children of men all he said was true
and to be trusted. The church, from its beginning, was built upon this
rock. It has not gained its validity by lapse of time, as many
governments, whose best plea is prescription and long usage, Quod
initio non valet, tractu temporis convalescit--That which, at first,
wanted validity, in the progress of time acquired it. But the
beginning of God's word was true (so some read it); his
government was laid on a sure foundation. And all, in every age, that
have received God's word in faith and love, have found every saying in
it faithful and well worthy of all acceptation.
2. It will be found faithful to the end, because righteous: "Every
one of thy judgments remains for ever unalterable and of perpetual
obligation, adjusting men's everlasting doom."
161 Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my
heart standeth in awe of thy word.
David here lets us know,
1. How he was discouraged in his duty by the fear of man: Princes
persecuted him. They looked upon him as a traitor and an enemy to
the government, and under that notion sought his life, and bade him
go serve other gods,
1 Samuel 26:19.
It has been the common lot of the best men to be persecuted; and the
case is the worse if princes be the persecutors, for they have not only
the sword in their hand, and therefore can do the more hurt, but they
have the law on their side, and can do it with reputation and a colour
of justice. It is sad that the power which magistrates have from God,
and should use for him, should ever be employed against him. But
marvel not at the matter,
It was a comfort to David that when princes persecuted him he could
truly say it was without cause, he never gave them any provocation.
2. How he was kept to his duty, notwithstanding, by the fear of God:
"They would make me stand in awe of them and their word, and do as they
bid me; but my heart stands in awe of thy word, and I am
resolved to please God, and keep in with him, whoever is displeased and
falls out with me." Every gracious soul stands in awe of the word of
God, of the authority of its precepts and the terror of its
threatenings; and to those that do so nothing appears, in the power and
wrath of man, at all formidable. We ought to obey God rather than men,
and to make sure of God's favour, though we throw ourselves under the
frowns of all the world,
The heart that stands in awe of God's word is armed against the
temptations that arise from persecution.
162 I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.
1. The pleasure David took in the word of God. He rejoiced at it,
rejoiced that God had made such a discovery of his mind, that Israel
was blessed with that light when other nations sat in darkness, that he
was himself let into the understanding of it and had had experience of
the power of it. He took a pleasure in reading it, hearing it, and
meditating on it, and every thing he met with in it was agreeable to
him. He had just now said that his heart stood in awe of his word, and
yet here he declares that he rejoiced in it. The more reverence we have
for the word of God the more joy we shall find in it.
2. The degree of that pleasure--as one that finds great spoil.
This supposes a victory over the enemy. It is through much opposition
that a soul comes to this, to rejoice in God's word. But,
besides the pleasure and honour of a conquest, there is great advantage
gained by the plunder of the field, which adds much to the joy. By the
word of God we become more than conquerors, that is, unspeakable
163 I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.
Love and hatred are the leading affections of the soul; if those be
fixed aright, the rest move accordingly. Here we have them fixed aright
1. He had a rooted antipathy to sin; he could not endure to think of
it: I hate and abhor lying, which may be taken for all sin,
inasmuch as by it we deal treacherously and perfidiously with God and
put a cheat upon ourselves. Hypocrisy is lying; false doctrine is
lying; breach of faith is lying. Lying, in commerce or conversation, is
a sin which every good man hates and abhors, hates and doubly hates,
because of the seven things which the Lord hates one is a
lying tongue and another is a false witness that
Every man hates to have a lie told him; but we should more hate telling
a lie because by the former we only receive an affront from men, by the
latter we give an affront to God.
2. He had a rooted affection to the word of God: Thy law do I
love. And therefore he abhorred lying, for lying is contrary to the
whole law of God; and the reason why he loved the law of God was
because of the truth of it. The more we see of the amiable beauty of
truth the more we shall see of the detestable deformity of a lie.
164 Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous
David, in this psalm, is full of complaints, yet those did neither
jostle out his praises nor put him out of tune for them; whatever
condition a child of God is in he does not want matter for praise and
therefore should not want a heart. See here,
1. How often David praised God--Seven times a day, that is,
very frequently, not only every day, but often every day. Many think
that once a week will serve, or once or twice a day, but David would
praise God seven times a day at least. Praising God is a duty which we
should very much abound in. We must praise God at every meal, praise
him upon all occasions, in every thing give thanks. We should praise
God seven times a day, for the subject can never be exhausted and our
affections should never be tired. See
2. What he praised God for--because of thy righteous judgments.
We must praise God for his precepts, which are all just and good, for
his promises and threatenings and the performance of both in his
providence. We are to praise God even for our afflictions, if through
grace we get good by them.
165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall
Here is an account of the happiness of good men, who are governed by a
principle of love to the word of God, who make it their rule and are
ruled by it.
2. They are easy, and have a holy serenity; none enjoy themselves more
than they do: Great peace have those that love thy law, abundant
satisfaction in doing their duty and pleasure in reflecting upon it.
The work of righteousness is peace
such peace as the world can neither give nor take away. They may be in
great troubles without and yet enjoy great peace within, sat lucis
intus--abundance of internal light. Those that love the world have
great vexation, for it does not answer their expectation; those that
love God's word have great peace, for it outdoes their expectation, and
in it they have sure footing.
2. They are safe, and have a holy security: Nothing shall offend
them; nothing shall be a scandal, snare, or stumbling-block, to
them, to entangle them either in guilt or grief. No event of providence
shall be either an invincible temptation or an intolerable affliction
to them, but their love to the word of God shall enable them both to
hold fast their integrity and to preserve their tranquility. They will
make the best of that which is, and not quarrel with any thing that God
does. Nothing shall offend or hurt them, for every thing shall work for
good to them, and therefore shall please them, and they shall reconcile
themselves to it. Those in whom this holy love reigns will not be apt
to perplex themselves with needless scruples, nor to take offence at
1 Corinthians 13:6,7.
166 LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy
Here is the whole duty of man; for we are taught,
1. To keep our eye upon God's favour as our end: "Lord, I have hoped
for thy salvation, not only temporal but eternal salvation. I have
hoped for that as my happiness and laid up my treasure in it; I have
hoped for it as thine, as a happiness of thy preparing, thy promising,
and which consists in being with thee. Hope of this has raised me above
the world, and borne me up under all my burdens in it."
2. To keep our eye upon God's word as our rule: I have done thy
commandments, that is, I have made conscience of conforming myself
to thy will in every thing. Observe here how God has joined these two
together, and let no man put them asunder. We cannot, upon good
grounds, hope for God's salvation, unless we set ourselves to do his
But those that sincerely endeavour to do his commandments ought to keep
up a good hope of the salvation; and that hope will both engage and
enlarge the heart in doing the commandments. The more lively the hope
is the more lively the obedience will be.
167 My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them
168 I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my
ways are before thee.
David's conscience here witnesses for him,
I. That his practices were good.
1. He loved God's testimonies, he loved them exceedingly. Our love to
the word of God must be a superlative love (we must love it better than
the wealth and pleasure of this world), and it must be a victorious
love, such as will subdue and mortify our lusts and extirpate carnal
2. He kept them, his soul kept them. Bodily exercise profits little in
religion; we must make heart-work of it or we make nothing of it. The
soul must be sanctified and renewed, and delivered into the mould of
the word; the soul must be employed in glorifying God, for he will be
worshipped in the spirit. We must keep both the precepts and the
testimonies, the commands of God by our obedience to them and his
promises by our reliance on them.
II. That he was governed herein by a good principle: "Therefore
I have kept thy precepts, because by faith I have seen thy eye always
upon me; all my ways are before thee; thou knowest every step I
take and strictly observest all I say and do. Thou dost see and accept
all that I say and do well; thou dost see and art displeased with all I
say and do amiss." Note, The consideration of this, that God's eye is
upon us at all times, should make us very careful in every thing to
keep his commandments,
169 Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me
understanding according to thy word.
170 Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according
to thy word.
Here we have,
I. A general petition for audience repeated: Let my cry come near
before thee; and again, Let my supplication come before
thee. He calls his prayer his cry, which denotes the
fervency and vehemence of it, and his supplication, which
denotes the humility of it. We must come to God as beggars come to our
doors for an alms. He is concerned that his prayer might come before
God, might come near before him, that is, that he might have grace and
strength by faith and fervency to lift up his prayers, that no guilt
might interpose to shut out his prayers and to separate between him and
God, and that God would graciously receive his prayers and take notice
of them. His prayer that his supplication might come before God implied
a deep sense of his unworthiness, and a holy fear that his prayer
should come short or miscarry, as not fit to come before God; nor would
any of out prayers have had access to God if Jesus Christ had not
approached to him as an advocate for us.
II. Two particular requests, which he is thus earnest to present:--
1. That God, by his grace, would give him wisdom to conduct himself
well under his troubles: Give me understanding; he means that
wisdom of the prudent which is to understand his way; "Give me to know
thee and myself, and my duty to thee."
2. That God, by his providence, would rescue him out of his troubles:
Deliver me, that is, with the temptation make a way to escape,
1 Corinthians 10:13.
III. The same general plea to enforce these requests--according to
thy word. This directs and limits his desires: "Lord, give me such
an understanding as thou hast promised and such a deliverance as thou
hast promised; I ask for no other." It also encourages his faith and
expectation: "Lord, that which I pray for is what thou hast promised,
and wilt not thou be as good as thy word?"
171 My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy
1. A great favour which David expects from God, that he will teach him
his statutes. This he had often prayed for in this psalm, and
urged his petition for it with various arguments; and now that he is
drawing towards the close of the psalm he speaks of it as taken for
granted. Those that are humbly earnest with God for his grace, and
resolve with Jacob that they will not let him go unless he bless them
with spiritual blessings, may be humbly confident that they shall at
length obtain what they are so importunate for. The God of Israel will
grant them those things which they request of him.
2. The grateful sense he promises to have of that favour: My lips
shall utter praise when thou hast taught me.
(1.) Then he shall have cause to praise God. Those that are taught of
God have a great deal of reason to be thankful, for this is the
foundation of all these spiritual blessings, which are the best
blessings, and the earnest of eternal blessings.
(2.) Then he shall know how to praise God, and have a heart to do it.
All that are taught of God are taught this lesson; when God opens the
understanding, opens the heart, and so opens the lips, it is that the
mouth may show forth his praise. We have learned nothing to purpose if
we have not learned to praise God.
(3.) Therefore he is thus importunate for divine instructions,
that he might praise God. Those that pray for God's grace must aim at
172 My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments
1. The good knowledge David had of the word of God; he knew it so well
that he was ready to own, with the utmost satisfaction, that all God's
commandments are not only righteous, but righteousness itself, the rule
and standard of righteousness.
2. The good use he resolved to make of that knowledge: My tongue
shall speak of thy word, not only utter praise for it to the glory
of God, but discourse of it for the instruction and edification of
others, as that which he himself was full of (for out of the abundance
of the heart the mouth will speak) and as that which he desired others
also might be filled with. The more we see of the righteousness of
God's commandments the more industrious we should be to bring others
acquainted with them, that they may be ruled by them. We should always
make the word of God the governor of our discourse, so as never to
transgress it by sinful speaking or sinful silence; and we should often
make it the subject-matter of our discourse, that it may feed many and
minister grace to the hearers.
173 Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.
174 I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is
1. David prays that divine grace would work for him: Let thy hand
help me. He finds his own hands are not sufficient for him, nor can
any creature lend him a helping hand to any purpose; therefore he looks
up to God in hopes that the hand that had made him would help him; for,
if the Lord do not help us, whence can any creature help us? All our
help must be expected from God's hand, from his power and his bounty.
2. He pleads what divine grace had already wrought in him as a pledge
of further mercy, being a qualification for it. Three things he
(1.) That he had made religion his serious and deliberate choice: "I
have chosen thy precepts. I took them for my rule, not because I
knew no other, but because, upon trial, I knew no better." Those are
good, and do good indeed, who are good and do good, not by chance, but
from choice; and those who have thus chosen God's precepts may depend
upon God's helping hand in all their services and under all their
(2.) That his heart was upon heaven: I have longed for thy
salvation. David, when he had got to the throne, met with enough in
the world to court his stay, and to make him say, "It is good to be
here;" but still he was looking further, and longing for something
better in another world. There is an eternal salvation which all the
saints are longing for, and therefore pray that God's hand would help
them forward in their way to it.
(3.) That he took pleasure in doing his duty: "Thy law is my
delight. Not only I delight in it, but it is my delight, the
greatest delight I have in this world." Those that are cheerful in
their obedience may in faith beg help of God to carry them on in their
obedience; and those that expect God's salvation must take delight in
his law and their hopes must increase their delight.
175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy
judgments help me.
David's heart is still upon praising God; and therefore,
1. He prays that God would give him time to praise him: "Let my soul
live, and it shall praise thee, that is, let my life be prolonged,
that I may live to thy glory." The reason why a good man desires to
live is that he may praise God in the land of the living, and do
something to his honour. Not, "Let me live and serve my country, live
and provide for my family;" but, "Let me live that, in doing this, I
may praise God here in this world of conflict and opposition." When we
die we hope to go to a better world to praise him, and that is more
agreeable for us, though here there is more need of us. And therefore
one would not desire to live any longer than we may do God some service
here. Let my soul live, that is, let me be sanctified and
comforted, for sanctification and comfort are the life of the soul,
and then it shall praise thee. Our souls must be employed
in praising God, and we must pray for grace and peace that we may be
fitted to praise God.
2. He prays that God would give him strength to praise him: "Let thy
judgments help me; let all ordinances and all providences" (both
are God's judgments) "further me in glorifying God; let them be the
matter of my praise and let them help to fit me for that work."
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for
I do not forget thy commandments.
1. A penitent confession: I have gone astray, or wander up and
down, like a lost sheep. As unconverted sinners are like lost
so weak unsteady saints are like lost sheep,
We are apt to wander like sheep, and very unapt, when we have gone
astray, to find the way again. By going astray we lose the comfort of
the green pastures and expose ourselves to a thousand mischiefs.
2. A believing petition: Seek thy servant, as the good shepherd
seeks a wandering sheep to bring it back again,
"Lord, seek me, as I used to seek my sheep when they went astray;" for
David had been himself a tender shepherd. "Lord, own me for one of
thine; for, though I am a stray sheep, I have thy mark; concern thyself
for me, send after me by the word, and conscience, and providences;
bring me back by thy grace." Seek me, that is, find me;
for God never seeks in vain. Turn me, and I shall be turned.
3. An obedient plea: "Though I have gone astray, yet I have not
wickedly departed, I do not forget thy commandments." Thus he
concludes the psalm with a penitent sense of his own sin and believing
dependence on God's grace. With these a devout Christian will conclude
his duties, will conclude his life; he will live and die repenting and
praying. Observe here,
(1.) It is the character of good people that they do not forget
God's commandments, being well pleased with their convictions and
well settled in their resolutions.
(2.) Even those who, through grace, are mindful of their duty, cannot
but own that they have in many instances wandered from it.
(3.) Those that have wandered from their duty, if they continue mindful
of it, may with a humble confidence commit themselves to the care of