Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

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66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge : fori have believed thy com-

mandments.

67 Sefore I was afflicted I went astray : but now have I kept thy word.

68 Thou art good, and doest good ; teach me thy statutes.

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.

71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted ; that I might learn thy

statutes.

72 The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.

The pilgrim is satisfied in the service of God, and with his
dealings hitherto.

" Kindly hast thou dealt with thy servant,
Lord, according to thy ivoi'd." (Ver. 65.)

The Lord of pilgrims had never ought but good to say of his
Father ; neither have the followers of that Lord any fault to
find. " He never wronged me nor mine/' was the saying of a
Scottish saint, even when the bloody head of his martyred son
was held up to his view. So good, so infinitely satisfying to
the soul are the Lord's ways and the Lord's revelations of
himself, that the pilgrim says (ver. 67), " 1 kept thy words,
without being driven to them by afiliction." (See above, in
the introduction, p. 857.) He then (ver. 68) prays to be taught
more still, as he prayed in verse 66 for " discernment" (DS?^),
the faculty to see spiritual things clearly. When in verse 71
he expresses satisfaction in having been afflicted, it is because
by the hand of afiliction these grapes were pressed for the re-
freshing of his thirst ; thereby he experienced somewhat more
of the infinite adaptation of these statutes to a pilgrim's wants.

JOD.

73 Thy hands have made me and fashioned me :

Give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.

74 They that fear thee will be glad when they see me ; because I have hoped

in thy word.

75 I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right,
And that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.



PSALM CXIX. — THE PILGRIM GUIDED BY GOD's WORD. 365

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.

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.

80 Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.

The pilgrim speaks to the Lord about his future course.
He goes back to his creation — his being clay in the hands
of the potter. This is a reason for pleading to be led on
(ver. 73). Then, the joy it will give others is a reason,
verses 74 and 79. And complete soundness (ver. 80, D'^DD)
is the goal of his desires, that is, power to complete the work
given him to do, his heart impartial, sincere, thoroughly at one
with God. Every disciple breathes this desire —
'^ Let my Tieaii he perfect in thy precepts,
That I may not he ashamed." (Ver. 80.)

The desire is the same with that of the apostle in 1 John iv.
28, " Abide in Him, that we may have confidence, and not be
ashamed before Him at his coming," even as the assurance
breathed in the " 1 know " of verse 75 is like Rom, viii. 28,
and 1 John v. 1 8.

CAPH.

81 My soul fainteth for thy salvation : but I hope in thy word.

82 Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me ?

83 For I am become like a bottle in the smoke ; yet do I not forget thy

statutes.

84 How many are the days of thy servant ?

When wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me ?

85 The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law.

86 All thy commandments are faithful : they persecute me wrongfully ; help

thou me.

87 They had almost consumed me npon earth ; but I forsook not thy precepts.

88 Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy

mouth.

The pilgrim oppressed, draws strength from the thought of
future glory. The " salvation " of verse 81 is like Jacob's in
Gen. xlix. 18, the deliverance in prospect for all the Lord's
children — the glory to come — the kingdom. Trials send for-



366 PSALM t'XIX. — THE PILGRIM GUIDED BY GODS WORD.

ward our hopes to that time of peace. Our Lord, " for the joy
that was set before him, endured the cross" (Heb. xii. 3), hav-
ing respect to the reward and the rest ; and so his followers also,
expecting the fulfilment of his promises.

" My soul fainidh for thy salvation.
I loaitfor thy tvor-d.'" (Ver. 81.)

As the worshippers went up to Zion "fainting" (Psa, Ixxxiv.
2) for the courts of the Lord, that is, thirsting even to faint-
ness, even thus does the pilgrim for the Day of the Lord,
''waiting" (as Kom. viii. 19) for the fulfilment of promises and
hopes. There is here, too, an amxa^ohoxia, for

" Mine eyes faint (!)73 as ver. 81)^0?' thy word,
Saying, When wilt thou comfort me V (Ver. 82.)

On that day, " the bottle in the smoke," the man of sorrows,
the pilgrim who has been subjected to humiliation and dis-
honour, shall appear as a diadem in the hand of the Lord. No
wonder, then, that again he cries —

" How many are the days of thy servants ?
WTien wilt thou execute judgment on my persecutors ?"

— the very prayer and appeal of the souls under the altar in
Rev. vi. 9. And the force of verse 85 seems to lie in a refer-
ence of the same kind, q. d., " The proud have digged pits for
me, but shall find themselves disappointed ; these pits are not
destined for me" — alluding to the Lord's judgment when his
" Law" shall assign each his portion, the persecutor and the
persecuted.* For his promises shall come to fulfilment ; they
are faithfulness itself

"All thy commandments are faithfulness ." (Ver. 86.)

LAMED.

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 abidcth.

91 They continue this day according to thine ordinances : for all are thy

servants.

92 Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine

affliction.

* Home remarks, the ^crw enacted punishment, Exod. xxi. 33, on the man
who left open a pit into which a beast accidentally fell ; much more here.



I'SALM CXIS?. — THE PILGRIM GUIDED BY GODS WOBD. SG?

93 I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thoti hast quickened me.

94 I am thine, save me ; for I have sought thy precepts.

95 The wicked have waited for me to destroy me : but I will consider thy

testimonies.

96 I have seen an end of all perfection ; but thy commandment is exceeding

broad.

The pilgrim meditates on the unfailing certainty of the
Law. The revelation of God in his word and ordinances is
just Himself presented to our view ; which being so, we find
his word like himself, sure and unfailing amid all changes.

" For ever is Jeliovah !
Thy word isjixed in the heavens !" (above reach of change ) (Ver. 89.)

To this Law he ever resorts. In all else, he finds a limit ;
other guides go only a certain length with you ; other supports
are capable of bearing only a certain measure of burden ; but
the Lord's revelation has no such limit ; " it is exceeding
broad" — the contrast to mere human "perfection," the com-
pleteness to which man may reach.

MEM.

97 O how love I thy law ! It is my meditation all the day.

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 precepts.

101 I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.

102 I have not departed for thy judgments : for thou hast taught me.

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.

The pilgriTn revels in the instructive properties of God's
law. " How I have loved thy law !" (ver. 97). The Law (see
Psa. xix.) is equivalent to God's revelation of himself, and his
will to man. His foes have a sort of wisdom, much craft, much
subtlety ; but as David, in 1 Sam. xviii. 30, was made wiser
than all his foes in conduct and in war, even so shall it be here.
" I'hy commandment shall make me wiser than mine enemies,
For it is mine for ever'' — my possession and portion for ever. (Ver. 98.)
Glancing at the future, he glories in the law as making him
wise, not only now, but for ever. " I have got (he says) what



368 PSALM CXIX. — THE PILGRIM GUIDED BY GOD'S WORD.

shall even in ages to come, in the kingdom, continue to teach
me." No earthly teachers (ver. 99), not even the elders* or
the aged (ver. 100), afford anything that equals this revelation
of God. No wonder ! for it is God's epistle to mankind offer-
ing reconciliation, peace, and union with himself in glory !

NUN.

105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

106 I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous

judgments.

107 I am afflicted very much : quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word.

108 Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord,
And teach me thy judgments.

10.Q My soul is continually in my hand : yet do I not forget thy law.

110 The wicked have laid a snare for me : yet I erred not from thy precepts.

111 Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the

rejoicing of my heart.

112 1 have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the

end.

The pilgrim proclaims God's law siifficient amid all dijffl-
culties. Yes, sufficient even in the darkest hour of the darkest
night of earth. It shall shed its light, like the Pillar Cloud,
on the pilgrim-path of those who travel in the Last Days, amid
the shades of the world's evening ; it has shed its light on the
gloomiest path ever trod by a saddened follower of the Lamb ;
it does at this hour shed light, the purest, and the sweetest,
into the souls of all who know the Lord.

"2% word is a lamp unto my feet,
And a light unto my pathy (Ver. 105.)

It has all sorts of light in it ; it is like what is said in
Rev. xxi. 23 ; it has sun light and temple-lamp light. It is
a " larti'p" — nay, the very " light" of day ! In this light, the
Lord of pilgrims walked ; and in this light each of his band
walks still, and purposes to walk, "for ever, continually, unto
the end," (ver. 112). The " e)icZ" contains in it a direct re-
ference to the reward ; for the word is 2jpy, a word used else-
where for wages or reward, e. g., Psa xix. 12, Prov. xxii. 14-

* Applying this passage to the Lord Jesus, Augustine says — "Agnosco
cum plane, qui super docentes se intellexit, quando cum esset duodecim an-
norum remansit puer Jesus in Hierusalem."



PSALM CXIX. — THE PILGRIM GUIDED BY GOD's WOKD. 869

The pilgrim has his eye on the blessed termination, and seems
to speak abruptly as he gazes — ^'Forever ! the end !" — the re-
warding close !

SAMECH.

113 I hate vain thoughts : but thy law do I love.

114 Thou art my hiding-place and my shield : I hope in thy word.

115 Depart from me, ye evil-doers : for I will keep the commandments of

my God.

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.

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 judgments.

The pilgrim, teTnpted to a compromise, cleaves to the Law. samech
Water and oil cannot intermingle ; the word of God and the
ways of fallen men are equally irreconcilable.
" / hate thougJds." (D''3yp)

I hate mere opinions on matters of duty, and on points of divine
worship. I hate " waverings," say some, implying the uncer-
tainty of merely human thoughts on divine truth.
" But thy law have I loved " — (thy revelation of thyself and of thy will).

In verse 116, " ashamed of my hope" is, ashamed so as to
abandon my hope as one disappointed. At verse 118, the end
of all who adopt another rule than the law of God is hinted at ;
and then dwelt upon in verses 119, 120. " Their deceit {i. e.,
the lie they trust in) leads to nothing" (Hengst.), or ends in
utter disappointment. It is a " spem meniita seges." The
wicked are put away as dross is flung out (ver. 1 ] 9), and this
with such accompaniments of terror, that the beholder, though
safe in that day within the cloud, exclaims —

" My flesh trembleth (horripilavit caro mea, Jerome) /oj-y^a?- of Thee ;
And I am afraid at thy judgments ! "

A IX.

121 I have done judgment and justice : leave me not to mine oppressors.

122 Be surety for thy servant for good : let not the proud oppress me.

A a



370 PSALM CXIX. — THE PILGRIM GUIDED BY GOD'S WORD.

123 Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteoitsness.

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 thy testi-

monies.

126 It is time for thee, Lord, to work : for they have made void thy law.

127 Therefore I love thy commandments above gold ; yea, above fine gold.

128 Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right ;
And I hate every false way.

The pilgrim seeks to endure to the end. Do not leave me !
Be surety for thy servant that it may be well with him ! It
is time for thee to work ! These appeals indicate a pilgrim
feeling himself beset with much that makes him wish that the
journey were done, besides the 123d verse —

" Mine eyes fail for tliy salvation ; (see ver. 81, 82)
Andfoi' the ivord which thou ivilt perform.^' (Ver. 123.)

It might seem as if the " therefore" p 7^ of verses 127, 128^
declared that the sight of the reckless course of the ungodly
has increased the pilgrim's love to the Lord's ways ; but we
incline to another view. The 126th verse is literally,

" Iliere is a time for the Lord to work.^' (Ver. 126.)
Vengeance is not speedily executed ; for God is long-suffering.
The effect of this delay is to tempt the ungodly to "make void
the law." But the effect of the Lord's having a time, a fixed
time, for the performance of his promises and threatenings, is
very different in regard to his servants ; they are thereby in-
duced to persevere in shewing love to him. ''Therefore," on
this account, " I have persevered till now in loving thy com-
mandments, approving of every one of thy precepts, (' all thy
precepts, even all') and hating every false way." Yes, it is he
who says in his heart, " My Lord delayeth his coming," that
begins to beat his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with
the drunken.

PE.

129 Thy testimonies are wonderful : therefore doth my soul keep them.

130 The entrance of thy words giveth light : it giveth understanding unto

the simple.

131 I opened my mouth and panted : for I longed for thy commandments.

132 Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto mc,

As thou usest to do unto those that love tliv name.



PSALM CXIX. — THE PILGRIM GUIDED BY GOD's WORD, 371

133 Order my steps in thy word : and let not any iniquity have dominion

over me.

134 Deliver me from the oppression of man : so will I keep thy precepts.

135 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant ; and teach me thy statutes,

136 Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.

The 'pilgrim manifests increasing, as well as inteyise, delight
in the Law. It is a somewhat quaint, but at the same time
faithful, view of his state of mind that is given by one who
paraphrases verse 131 thus —

" With open moutJi I pant and run, like hart before the hounds,
Until my laioful prize hewon for which my spirit hounds.
Behold thou me, Lord my God, the master oftlie race ."

The Lord Jesus, the Son of David, could utter these words ;
and David, or any member of Christ, can find no better words
to express their soul's desire when getting a glimpse of " the
unsearchable riches." There is some difficulty, however, in
verse ISO, which is literally,

" The door oftliy words giveth light."
Some say, " The opening up of the true sense of thy word ;"
but this is not in the expression. The Lord's words are ap-
parently represented as the door (HJIS)) hy which we enter into
the chambers of his heart. The idea is this. You cannot
handle any saying of God in a true frame or spirit without find-
ing yourself in so doing at a door which may lead you far in to
the palace — to the innermost thoughts of God's heart toward
us. A door is opened to you every time you apprehend one
sentence or saying of the Lord's — "a door in heaven,"' shall
we say ?— a door like that of which John (Rev. iv. 1) speaks,
by which you are enabled, in the spirit, to pass farther in to
the secrets of God ? Only this is not a revelation of things
hidden from other saints — part of its blessedness is found in
its being the common privilege of all saints ; just as verse 132
has expressed it, "According to the manner* (Gen. xl. 13) to-

"TTpS^p^. The same expression occurs in verse 149, " Quicken me, O
Lord, 'TJjpSti;^^, according to thy manner." The sense would in this case be,
" Quicken, in answer to my cry ; for thou art wont to hear such cries." Per-
haps, also, verse 175 should be so understood.



372 PSALM CXIX. — THE PILGRIM GUIDED BY GOD'S WORD.

yard those that love thy name" — toward Abel, toward Enoch,
toward Abraham, toward Moses, toward us also who love " thy
name !" We may be able to say nothing else of ourselves but
this only, " We love thy name !" But this is enough. And
how real, how intense, is this love, since it draws forth the
heart in strains like verse 136 —

" Mine eyes run down as brooks of water,
Because of their not keeping thy laics I "

Their present wickedness, and their final doom, are both re-
ferred to. It is, " If thou hadst known, even thou !" (Luke
XX. 41.)

TZADDI.

137 Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thj' judgments.

138 Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very-

faithful.

139 My zeal hath consumed me, hecause mine enemies have forgotten thy

words.

140 Tliy word is veiy pure : therefore thy seiTant loveth it.

141 I am small and despised : yet do not I forget thy precepts.

142 Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the

truth.

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 understand-

ing, and I shall live.

2he pilgrim, adopts the tone of adoration. Getting nearer
his journey's end, it is natural for the man of God to praise
more than at the outset. At the close of their warfare, saints
are represented in Revelation (e. g., chap. xv. 4) as discerning the
Lord's righteousness and faiihfidness, " Just and true have
thy ways been, King of saints ! " They see this in his judg-
ments on the ungodly ; for it is not with them as is told of the
Emperor Mauritius, who uttered, in reference to his own suf-
ferings and his family at the hand of Phocas, " Righteous art
thou, Lord." And this is the utterance of verses 137, 138.
The more that enemies forget the Lord's word, the more he re-
members it. It is a word without dross, "pure," no defect in it.*
■' Thy righteousness is righteousness for ever.
And thy law is truth." (Ver. 142.)

* Pure gold (says Home) is said to be so fixed that an ounce of it set in
the eye of a glass-furnace, for two months, did not lose a single grain.



PSALM CXIX. — THE PILGRIM GUIDED BY GOD's WORD. 373

Joshua (xxiii. 1 4) testified to Israel, and they said Amen to the
testimony, that not one good thing had failed of all that the
Lord had spoken. His word of promise and of threatening
cannot deceive, cannot disappoint, cannot come short of its de-
clarations. And this is once more repeated, verse 1 44 —
" Righteousness (p*TiJ) are tliy testimonies for ever !
Cause me to understand this and I shall live."
Life eternal ! — the life of the redeemed in the everlasting king-
dom, when the Righteous One has triumphed, and expelled
ungodliness from earth !

KOrH.

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 testimonies.

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.

149 Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness :
O Lord, quicken me according to thy judgment.

150 They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law.

151 Thou art near, O Lord; and thy commandments are truth.

152 Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded

them for ever.

The pilgrim protests that all his expectation is from the Kopi..
Lord. Rising before daybreak, nay, even encroaching on the
night-watches (like Mark i. 35, and Luke vi. 12), the Lord of
pilgrims follows hard after God, going from strength to strength,
instead of abating in his zeal, as men often do in other pur-
suits, through length of time.

" / came before thee in the morning twilight." (Ver. 147.)

And all his true followers may be expected to resemble the
Lord in this hard pursuit, especially as they get nearer their
journey's end, and approach the Lord's dwelling-place. What
strength of comfort in verse 151 —

" Thou art near, Lord,
And all thy commandments are truth !" (cannot disappoint.)

There is an anomaly in verse 152, as to gender, if " Thou hast
founded them" (D"), is to be referred to " testimonies ;" but
probably it is meant to refer back to all the terms used in this



37-i PSAT,M CXIX. — THE PILGRIM GUIDED BY GOD'S WOED.

context, e.g., statutes (ver. 145), words (ver. 147), as well as
commandments and testimonies. And this is the sense. "Afore-
time" (Dljp before experience had given me palpable proofs),

" Aforetime I knew from out of thy testimonies (Ilengstenberg)
That tJiou hast founded these for ever." (Ver. 152.)

In the ages to come we shall still have God's words, and we shall
then look back and see how truthful our God was. The Lord
of pilgrims, who trod our path himself, will then lead us to
review the dealings of Jehovah, talking with us as he talked
with Moses and Elias about his own decease on the Transfigu-
ration Hill.

RESH.

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 word.

155 Salvation is far from the wicked : for they seek not thy statutes.

156 Great are thy tender mercies, O Lord : quicken me according to thy

judgments.

157 Many are my persecutors and mine enemies ; yet do I not dechne from

thy testimonies.

158 I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy

word.

159 Consider how I love thy precepts ! quicken me, O Lord, according to thy

lovingkindness.

160 Thy word is true from the beginning :

And every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

Continued opposition causes the pilgrim to pray for con-
tinued quickening. The end of the journey has as many
trials as the beginning ; we are to " hold fast the beginning of
our confidence stedfast to the end." Three times to cry for
" quicJcening'" arises here, viz., in verses 154, 156, 159 — an ap-
peal for more life — which we now may specially urge, since we
can hold up to the Lord his own words, " I am come that they
might have life, and have it more abundantly," (John x. 10).

One like Paul, whose sympathy was so entirely with his
Lord, might well use the words in 2 Tim. iv. 7, " I have fought
a good fight ;" but all pilgrims, and he too among the rest, would
gladly use to the last the appeal of verse 154, all the more
after a life-time experience of the trials by the way.
" Fiffhf rnyfght (Psa. xliv. 1, Ilengstenberg),
And redeem, mc." (>jbs:i) (Ver. 154.)



PSALM CXIX.— THE PILGRIM GUIDED BY GOD's WORD. 375

Be a Ooel to me ! Be to me what Job expected when he cried,
"I know that my (7^Jil^ Redeemer liveth, and that he shall
stand at the latter day upon the earth," (xix. 25). Mean-
while,

" Quicken me, according to thy word,'''' (ver. 154. Thy promises to thy

children who knock).
" Quicken me, according to thy J udgnients," (ver. 156. The pi'inciples of



Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 34 of 42)