Psalm 119:1 Bible Commentary

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

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Psalm 119:1
| Verses 1-48 | Verses 49-88 | Verses 89-136 | Verses 137-176 |

This psalm is generally thought to be written by David, but when is uncertain; very probably towards the decline of life; and, as some think, for the sake or his son Solomon. It seems to be a collection of observations on the word of God and its precepts, the usefulness and excellency of it, he had made in the course of his life; interspersed with various petitions for the grace of God, to enable him to observe it. The psalm is a very extraordinary one; partly on account of the unusual length of it, it being more than double the length of the longest psalm in the whole book; and partly on account of its curious composition. It consists of twenty two parts, according to the number of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet; the names of which letters stand between each part; and every part consists of eight verses, all of which begin with the same letter: thus, for instance, the first eight verses begin with the letter a, "aleph," and the second eight verses begin with the letter b, "beth," and so on throughout; hence the Masorah calls this psalm the Great Alphabet. This the psalmist did, perhaps to excite attention to what he said, and also to help the memory. And it is observable that there are very few verses in the whole, not more than one or two, but what has something in it concerning the word of God, and its precepts and ordinances; there are nine or ten different words used relative to it, which signify much one and the same thing; as laws, statutes, judgments, testimonies, &c. Luther {m} observes, that neither Cicero, nor Virgil, nor Demosthenes, are to be compared with David for eloquence, as we see in the hundred nineteenth Psalm, where he divideth one sense and meaning into twenty two sorts. And it may also be remarked, that there is nothing in it concerning the tabernacle worship, or the rites and ceremonies of the legal dispensation; so that it seems to be calculated for, and is suited to, the word of God, and the ordinances of it, as we now have them in their full perfection: and the design of the whole is to show the fervent affection the psalmist had for the word of God, and to stir up the same in others.

{m} Mensal. Colloqu. c. 32. p. 365.

a, ALEPH.--The First Part.

Verse 1. ALEPH. Blessed [are] the undefiled in the way,.... Who are in the right way to heaven and happiness, which is Jesus Christ; the strait gate, and narrow way to eternal life; the only true way of life and salvation, in which way believers walk by faith. All out of this way are altogether become filthy; but all in this way are clean, even every bit: they are without spot and blemish, blameless and unreproveable, and without fault, before the throne of God and in his sight; being washed from their sins in the blood of the Lamb, and clothed with his righteousness; and even "perfect" and complete in him, as the Targum renders the word. These are also found in the way of their duty, and walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless before men, and are sincere and upright in the sight of God; and are upon all accounts happy persons:

who walk in the law of the Lord: within the boundaries and limits of it, according to its direction, as it is a rule of walk and conversation in the hands of Christ the Lawgiver; and who continue to walk in it, as in a pleasant path, with great delight; and cheerfully obey its precepts, as influenced by the love of God, and assisted by the Spirit and grace of Christ. The word "law," or "doctrine," as it signifies, may design every revelation of the divine will; and even the doctrine of Christ, which believers should abide in, and not transgress; and should walk uprightly according to the truth of it, and as becomes it, and as they are enabled to do.

Verse 2. Blessed [are] they that keep his testimonies,.... The whole word of God, the Scriptures of truth, are his testimonies: they testify of the mind of God, and of his love and grace in the method of salvation by Christ; they testify of Christ, his person, offices, and grace; of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow; and of all the happiness that comes to the people of God thereby. The law is called a testimony, which being put into the ark, that had the name of the ark of the testimony. This is a testimony of the perfections of God, his holiness, justice, and goodness displayed in it; and of his good and perfect will, what should or should not be done. The Gospel is the testimony of Christ, of what he is, has done and suffered for his people, and of the blessings of grace by him; the ordinances of it, baptism and the Lord's supper, testify of the love of God, and grace of Christ; and all these good men keep: they keep the Scriptures as a sacred "depositum"; they hold fast the faithful word of the Gospel, that no man take it from them; and are desirous of observing both the law of God, as in the hands of Christ; and the ordinances of the Gospel, as delivered by him, from a principle of love to him; and such are happy persons in life, at death, and to all eternity;

[and that] seek him with the whole heart; that is, that seek the Lord by prayer and supplication, with a true heart, and in sincerity; that seek to know more of him, and that in good earnest; that seek for communion and fellowship with him, with the Spirit within them, with all their heart and soul; that seek Christ, and God in Christ, his kingdom, and his righteousness, and that in the first place, early, earnestly, and diligently. The Targum is, "they seek his doctrine with the whole heart."

Verse 3. They also do no iniquity,.... Not that they are free from indwelling sin, nor from the acts of sin, nor that what they do are not sins; but they do not make a trade of sinning, it is not the course of their lives; nor do they do iniquity with that ease and pleasure, without reluctance and remorse, as others do: or rather as new creatures, as born again, they do not and cannot commit sin; for the new man is pure, spiritual, and holy; and nothing can come out of that, or be done by it, which is the contrary. This is a distinct I from the old man, or corrupt nature, to which all the actions of sin are to be ascribed; see 1 John 3:9;

they walk in his ways; in the ways of God and Christ, into which they are guided and directed, and where they are kept, and in which they find both pleasure and profit. Here end the descriptive characters of good and happy men.

Verse 4. Thou hast commanded [us] to keep thy precepts diligently. Here, and in the following verses, the psalmist expresses his great regard to the precepts, commandments, statutes, and judgments of God; and that as such, because they were commanded by him; were not the precepts of men, but the commands of God; who had a right to command, as Creator, Preserver, Redeemer, and King; and whose commands are not to be reckoned as indifferent things, that are at the option and choice of a creature, to be done or let alone at his pleasure; but are what God has enjoined, and are binding upon men; and which love should and does constrain the saints to have a regard unto, and to keep them diligently or vehemently; with all a man's might and strength, as the word is used in Deuteronomy 6:5. These are not at any time to be dispensed with, but, to be kept always constantly and steadily.

Verse 5. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!] The psalmist, sensible of his own inability, as every good man is, to keep the commands of God, prays for grace, direction, and assistance in it; that the ways of his mind, his thoughts, affections, and inclinations, might be directed to an observance of the divine precepts; knowing he could not command his thoughts, raise his affections, dispose his mind, and incline his heart thereunto; and finding a backwardness to religious exercises and spiritual duties, and that the ways and actions of his life might be guided to the same; being sensible he could not take one step aright without God and Christ; that the way of man is not in himself, and that it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps; that a good man's steps are ordered by the Lord, and he directs his paths: besides the direction of the word, there is need of the Spirit and grace of God, to cause a person to walk in his statutes, and to keep his judgments, and do them; see Jeremiah 10:23.

Verse 6. Then shall I not be ashamed,.... Of hope in God, of a profession of faith in him, and of a conversation agreeable to it before men; nor of appearing before God in his house, worshipping him there; nor at the throne of his grace, nor at the day of judgment, and before Christ at his coming;

when I have respect unto all thy commandments; or "look" {n} at them constantly, as the rule of walk and conversation; and to copy after, as a scholar looks at his copy to write after; and affectionately esteem all his precepts concerning all things to be right, and none of his commandments grievous; and practically, not in the theory only; but observing them in order to practise them, and diligently attending to them, and steadfastly continuing in them; impartially regarding them, one as another; and especially as beholding them fulfilled perfectly in Christ, who is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes.

{n} yjybhb "quum intuebor," Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus, Michaelis.

Verse 7. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart,.... In the most sincere manner, in the most affectionate way, with the whole heart; sensible of great favours received, and great obligations laid under; see Psalm 9:1;

when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments; or, "the judgments of thy righteousness" {o}: of the righteousness of God, declared in his righteous law; which is founded upon, and is according to, the strictest rules of justice and equity; and so are all the precepts of it: and of the righteousness of Christ, revealed in the Gospel; by which God appears to be just, while he is the justifier of him that believes in Jesus. Now the precepts of the one, and the doctrines of the other, are to be learned, and learned of God, in his word and by his Spirit. The psalmist had been learning them, but was desirous of learning more of them, not being a complete proficient in them; and of learning them, not merely in the theory, but in the practice and experience of them; which, when he had attained unto, as he hoped he should, it would be matter of the most sincere praise and thankfulness.

{o} Kqdu yjpvm "judicia justitiae tuae," Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Musculus, Gejerus; so Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Michaelis.

Verse 8. I will keep thy statutes,.... This is a resolution taken up in the strength of divine grace, to answer the end of learning the judgments of God; which he did, not merely to have a notional knowledge of them, but to put them in practice; and not that he thought he could perfectly keep them, but was desirous of observing them in the best manner he could, as assisted by the grace of God; from love to God, in the faith and name of Christ, and with a view to the glory of God; without dependence upon them for life and salvation;

O forsake me not utterly; totally and finally, or not at all; otherwise as if he should say, I shall never be able to keep thy statutes; so sensible was he of the necessity of the divine Presence and grace, to assist him in the observance of them: or, "for ever," as Ben Balaam interprets it, and so the Ethiopic version; R. Moses reads the words, "O forsake me not," in a parenthesis, and joins the rest thus, "I will keep thy statutes vehemently"; or with all my strength and might; and so Kimchi reads them: but such an interpretation is very forced, and contrary to the accents.

b, BETH.--The Second Part.

Verse 9. BETH. Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way?.... Some think David means himself, and that he was a young man when he wrote this psalm; and which they think is confirmed by Psalm 119:100; but neither of them seem conclusive; rather any young man is meant, and who is particularly mentioned, because young men are liable to sins and snares, to carnal lusts and sensual pleasures, which are of a defiling nature. Some are of opinion that a young man, or babe in Christ, is intended, that needs direction in his way, and instruction about the manner of cleansing it. But the former sense seems best, and expresses the concern of the psalmist for the education and right information of youth; which is a matter of great moment and advantage to families, neighbourhoods, and commonwealths. The question supposes the young man to be impure, as every man is by birth, being conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity; is a transgressor from the womb, and his heart, ways, and actions, evil from his youth: and the difficulty is, how he shall be cleansed; how one so impure in his nature, heart, and ways, can be just with God, or become undefiled in the way, as in Psalm 119:1; to which some reference may be had: or how he can have his heart made pure, or a clean one be created in him; or how his way, life, and conversation, may be corrected, reformed, and amended. The answer is,

by taking heed [thereto] according to thy word; that is, to his way and course of life, and steering it according to the direction of the word of God. But I think the words may be better rendered and supplied thus, "by observing [what is] according to thy word" {p}; which shows how a sinner is to be cleansed from his sins by the blood of Christ, and justified by his righteousness, and be clean through his word; and also how and by whom the work of sanctification is wrought in the heart, even by the Spirit of God, by means of the word; and what is the rule of a man's walk and conversation: he will find the word of God to be profitable, to inform in the doctrines of justification and pardon, to acquaint him with the nature of regeneration and sanctification; and for the correction and amendment of his life and manners, and for his instruction in every branch of righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16.

{p} Krbdk rmvl "observando secundum verbum tuum," Cocceius.

Verse 10. With my whole heart have I sought thee,.... Not himself, his own honour and applause, as formal worshippers and self-righteous persons do; but the Lord and his glory, his face, his presence, and communion with him, his grace, and fresh supplies of it, to help in time of need; his doctrine, as the Targum; and to know more of it, and of him, and of his mind and will; and this he did in the most sincere manner, with all his heart and soul. The character of the good man, in Psalm 119:2; the psalmist applies to himself; see Isaiah 26:9; and uses it as an argument to obtain the following request:

O let me not wander from thy commandments; the way of them. Good men are apt to go astray, as David, Psalm 119:176; their hearts, their affections, and their feet, wander from, the way of their duty: there are many things which lead them aside, and cause them to turn to the right hand or the left, at least solicit them to do so; as a corrupt nature, an evil heart, a body of sin and death, the snares of the world, and the temptations of Satan; and, what is worst of all, when God leaves them to themselves, withdraws the influences of his grace, and brings them into such circumstances as expose them to going astray, which the psalmist here deprecates; "suffer me not to wander," but uphold my goings in thy ways; preserve me by thy grace, and keep me by thy power; hold me by thy right hand, and guide and direct me. Or, "cause me not to wander" {q} &c. a like petition to those in Psalm 141:3, Matthew 6:13; with which last Kimchi compares these words.

{q} yngvt la "ne errare facias me," Pagninus, Montanus.

Verse 11. Thy word have I hid in mine heart,.... Not only heard and read it, but received it into his affections; mixed it with faith, laid it up in his mind and memory for future use; preserved it in his heart as a choice treasure, where it might dwell richly, and be of service to him on many occasions; and particularly be of the following use:

that I might not sin against thee; the word of God is a most powerful antidote against sin, when it has a place in the heart; not only the precepts of it forbid sin, but the promises of it influence and engage to purity of heart and life, and to the perfecting of holiness in the fear of the Lord; and all the doctrines of grace in it effectually teach the saints to deny all sin and worldly lusts, and to live a holy life and conversation; see 2 Corinthians 7:1.

Verse 12. Blessed [art] thou, O Lord,.... In himself, in his nature, persons, and perfections; the fountain of all happiness to angels and men, in time and to eternity; to whom all blessing, honour, and glory, are to be given. The psalmist takes this method of praising and ascribing blessing to God, for what he had received from him; particularly for teaching him what he had learned, Psalm 119:7; in hopes of succeeding in his following request:

teach me thy statutes; the knowledge of the best is imperfect. Good men desire to know more of God, of his mind and will, even of his revealed will; and that they may have grace and strength to act in conformity to it; for it is not the bare theory of things they desire to be taught, but the practice of them; and though ministers, and the ministry of the word, and administration of ordinances, may be and are means of teaching; yet there is none teaches like the Lord, Father, Son, and Spirit. The Targum and Syriac versions render it, "teach me thy decrees."

Verse 13. With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. Not the judgments of his hand, what he executes on an ungodly world; nor the intricate dispensations of his providence; those judgments of his now unsearchable, though before long will be manifest; these the psalmist could not declare: but the revelation of the will of God, what his mouth has uttered, doctrines and precepts of righteousness and truth; these, though David had them in his heart, he did not conceal them from men; but out of the abundant experience he had of them in his heart, his lips spake of them, of their nature and excellency, and usefulness unto others: and whereas he desired to be instructed more and more in them, it was in order to teach them, and declare them to others; even all of them, in the most sincere and impartial manner; see Acts 20:27.

Verse 14. I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies,.... The way which the Scriptures, that testify of God and Christ, direct unto; and the principal way is Christ himself, the only way of life and salvation; in which believers walk and go on rejoicing; rejoicing in his person, offices, grace, righteousness, and salvation: the lesser ways the Scriptures point unto are the ways of duty and paths of ordinances; in which truly gracious souls find a great deal of peace, pleasure, and delight;

as [much as] in all riches; or, "as above all riches" {r}: the joy that believers have in the ways of God is superior to that which any natural or worldly man has in his substance of every sort, or be it ever so great; yea, they find such riches in the ways of God, as are vastly preferable to the riches of this world; they find Christ, the pearl of great price, and his unsearchable riches, the riches of grace, and the riches of glory; and even the word of God itself, those testimonies of his, are more desirable than thousands of gold and silver, and give a greater pleasure than the increase of corn and wine.

{r} Nwh lk lek "sicut super omnibus divitiis," Pagninus; so Junius & Tremellius, Michaelis, Ainsworth.

Verse 15. I will meditate in thy precepts,.... In his own mind; revolve them in his thoughts; consider well the nature, excellency, usefulness, and importance of them, and the obligations he lay under to observe them. The Targum is, "I will speak of thy precepts;" in conversation to others, and recommend them to them; so the Arabic version:

and have respect unto thy ways; or "look" {s} unto them; take heed unto them, and walk in them, and not wander from them; make them the rule of walk and conversation; as travellers look well to their ways, that they do not miss them, and go into wrong ways; they observe the directions that have been given them, and keep unto them; and so good men refer to the ways of the Lord, which the Scriptures point out unto them; see Jeremiah 6:16.

{s} hjybaw "et aspiciam," Pagninus, Montanus; "et intueor," Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

Verse 16. I will delight myself in thy statutes,.... In looking over them; in meditating on them; in obeying them, and walking according to them; as every good man does delight in the law of the Lord, after the inward man, Romans 7:22; see Psalm 119:24;

I will not forget thy word: he took all proper methods to fix it in his memory; he laid it up in his mind; he meditated upon it in his heart, and he talked of it with his lips, Psalm 119:11.

g, GIMEL.--The Third Part.

Verse 17. GIMEL. Deal bountifully with thy servant,.... Which character is mentioned, not by way of plea or argument for favour, but as expressive of modesty, sense of duty, and obligation to it. He pleads not his services by way of merit; but prays that God would deal bountifully with him, in a way of grace and mercy: or "render good" unto him, as the Targum; bestow it on him as a free gift. The Lord deals bountifully with men, when he gives himself unto them as their portion and inheritance; his Son, and all things along with him; his Spirit, and the graces of it; and every daily needful supply of grace;

[that] I may live, and keep thy word; life natural is the bounty of God; he grants life and favour, he grants life as a favour, and all the mercies and blessings of it; and through the gracious dealings of God with his people, they live spiritually and live comfortably; in his favour is life; the life of faith is encouraged and invigorated in them by it; and eternal life is the free gift and bounty of God through Christ, by whom they have both a right unto it and meetness for it: and the desire of good men to live in this world is not to indulge themselves in carnal lusts and pleasures; not to live to themselves, nor to the lusts of the flesh, nor to the will of men; but to live soberly, righteously, and godly; to live by faith in Christ, and in hope of eternal life through him; and while they live to keep the word of God, and not forget it, as Aben Ezra interprets it, to lay it up for their own use, and preserve it for others, and observe its instructions, cautions, and directions.

Verse 18. Open thou mine eyes,.... The eyes of my heart or understanding, as Kimchi; or, "reveal mine eyes" {t}; take off the veil from them: there is a veil of darkness and ignorance on the hearts of all men, with respect to divine and spiritual things; their understandings are darkened, yea, darkness itself. This veil must be removed; the scales must drop from their eyes; their eyes must be opened and enlightened, before they can discern spiritual things contained in the word of God; and even good men need to have the eyes of their understandings more and more enlightened into these things, as the psalmist here petitions, and the apostle prays for his Ephesians, Ephesians 1:17;

that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law; the law strictly taken, which had great and excellent things in it; and was wonderful for the compendiousness of it; for the justice, holiness, and equity of its precepts; especially for its spirituality, and above all for Christ, being the end of it; the two last more particularly could only be discerned by a spiritual man: or rather the five books of Moses, the almost only Scriptures extant in David's time, in which there were many wonderful things concerning Christ; some delivered by way of promise and prophecy of him, under the characters of the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the Shiloh, and the great Prophet; and many others in dark figures, types, and shadows, which required a spiritual sight to look into; of which the rock and manna, the brasen serpent, passover, &c. are instances: but rather, as the word "law" signifies "doctrine," the doctrine of the Gospel may be meant; which contains mysteries in it, respecting the trinity of Persons in the Godhead, the person of Christ, his incarnation, sufferings and death; the blessings of grace through him; the doctrines of peace, pardon, righteousness, eternal life, and the resurrection of the dead; with many others.

{t} ynye lg "revela oculos meos," Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis; "velamen detrahe oculis meis," Tigurine version.

Verse 19. I [am] a stranger in the earth,.... As all his fathers were, and all the saints are; not to divine and spiritual things; to God, and communion with him; to Christ, and the knowledge of him; to the Spirit, and his operations in their hearts; to their own hearts, and the plague of them; to the Gospel, and its truths; nor to the people of God, and fellowship with them: but to the world, among whom they are, not being known, valued, and respected by them; and they also behaving as strangers to the world, having no fellowship with them in their sinful works; as also not being natives here, but belonging to another city and country, an heavenly one; see 1 Chronicles 29:15;

hide not thy commandments from me; the doctrines of the Gospel, the word which God has commanded to a thousand generations; which is pure, and enlightens the eyes, and so needful to strangers in their pilgrimage, Psalm 19:8; which God sometimes hides from the wise and prudent, and which the psalmist here deprecates with respect to himself, Matthew 11:25. Or the precepts of the world may be meant, which are a light to the feet, and a lamp to the paths, a good direction to travellers and strangers in the way: David, being such an one, prayed that these might not be hid from him, but be showed unto him; that he might know his way, and not go out of it; but walk as a child of light, wisely and circumspectly.

Verse 20. My soul breaketh for the longing,.... His heart was just ready to break, and his soul fainted; he was ready to die, through a vehement desire of enjoying the object longed for, after mentioned; "hope deferred makes the heart sick," Proverbs 13:1; the phrase is expressive of the greatness, vehemence, and eagerness of his mind after the thing he desired, which follows:

[that it hath] unto thy judgments at all times; not the judgments of God on wicked men, though these are desirable for the glorifying of his justice; nor his dark dispensations of providence, though good men cannot but desire and long for the time when these judgments shall be made manifest: but rather the righteous laws and precepts of God are designed, which he desired to have a more perfect knowledge of, and yield a more constant obedience unto; or, best of all, the doctrines of grace and righteousness, that should be more clearly revealed in the times of the Messiah; who was to set judgment in the earth, his Gospel; and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and glorify the justice of God; than which nothing was more earnestly and importunately wished and longed for by Old Testament saints; see Psalm 119:81.

Verse 21. Thou hast rebuked the proud,.... Which some understand of the fallen angels, who, in proud wrath, left their habitations, because they would not be subject to the Son of God in human nature; wherefore he scattered them in the imaginations of their hearts, and cast down these mighty ones into hell, where they are reserved in chains of darkness to the judgment of the great day. Others of the Scribes and Pharisees in Christ's time, this psalm being suited, as is thought, to Gospel times; who were proud of their own righteousness, and despised others less holy than themselves; and submitted not to the righteousness of Christ, whom he often rebuked, and at last punished. Rather all proud atheistical persons, profane and wicked men, are meant; who, Pharaoh like, say, who is the Lord that we should obey him? who reckon, their tongues to be their own, and employ them both against God and men, and regard neither: these God resists, sets himself against, and sooner or later severely punishes; for in the things they deal proudly he is above them, Exodus 18:11;

[that are] cursed which do err from thy commandments; according to the law of God, being transgressors of it, and will hear the awful sentence, "go, ye cursed," Matthew 25:41. The Targum, Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, join this with the next clause: "cursed are they which do err from thy commandments"; from the way of them, not observing them; from the end of them, Christ, not looking to him for righteousness.

Verse 22. Remove from me reproach and contempt,.... Or, "roll [it] from me" {u}. It lay as a load, as a heavy burden upon him, which pressed him sore; and he therefore desired ease from it, being probably in a low frame of soul; otherwise saints do and should rejoice when reproached for Christ's sake; and esteem it, with Moses, more than all the treasures in Egypt, being what is common to them with their Lord;

for I have kept that testimonies; which was the reason why he was reproached and despised; for having a regard to the word of God, and embracing and professing the doctrines of it. Thus the word of the Lord was made a reproach to Jeremiah, or he was reproached for delivering it; as many good men have been vilified, and have suffered for the testimony of Jesus, Jeremiah 20:8; and for walking according to the directions, of it; wicked men thinking it strange they do not run into the same excess of not with them, and therefore speak evil of them, 1 Peter 4:3.

{u} ylem lg "devolve a me," Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

Verse 23. Princes also did sit [and] speak against me,.... The princes in the court of Saul, who suggested to him that David sought his hurt; the princes of his own court, Absalom, his own son, a prince of the blood, and Ahithophel, a counsellor of state: or the princes of the Gentiles, as Jarchi; so the princes of the Philistines spake against him in a very disdainful manner, "make this fellow return to his place again," 1 Samuel 29:4. Such as these might speak against him, as they sat and rode in their chariots; when at their tables, conversing together; or at their council boards, forming schemes against him: the phrase denotes their constant practice, as Kimchi observes; see Psalm 50:20; herein David was a type of Christ, whom the princes of this world conspired against, and whose life they took away, Psalm 2:2;

[but] thy servant did meditate in thy statutes; what the princes did or said against him did not divert his mind, or take off his thoughts from the word of God, and the ordinances of it; he thought of them, he spoke and discoursed of them; he declared them, as the word {w} sometimes signifies, and so the Targum takes it here; he was not afraid nor ashamed to profess his regard unto them: as Daniel, when he knew that the presidents and princes had obtained a royal decree, and the writing was signed; yet went into his chamber, as at other times, and kneeled down and prayed to God, Daniel 6:10.

{w} xyvy "disserit," Tigurine version, Vatablus, Musculus; "loquitur," Piscator, Gejerus.

Verse 24. Thy testimonies also [are] my delight,.... Or "delights" {x}; exceeding delightful to me. The whole of Scripture is so to a good man; he delights in the law of God, after the inward man; the Gospel is a joyful sound to him; the doctrines of peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation by Christ, are very pleasant; the promises of it give more joy than the finding of a great spoil; and the precepts and ordinances of it are not grievous, but ways of pleasantness and peace;

[and] my counsellors; or, "the men of my counsel" {y}; though David took counsel with men about affairs of state; yet concerning spiritual ones, or what related to his soul, and the concerns of that, not they, but the Scriptures, were the men of his counsel. The Gospel is the whole counsel of God relating to salvation; in it Christ, the wonderful Counsellor, gives advice to saints and sinners: the whole word of God may be profitably consulted on every occasion, and in every circumstance in which a child of God may be; all Scripture, being divinely inspired, is profitable for doctrine, for correction, and instruction in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16.

{x} yevev "deliciae meae," Montanus, Tigurine version, Gejerus, Michaelis; "delectationes meae," Pagninus; "oblectationes meae," Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. {y} ytue yvna "viri consilii mei," Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus.

d, DALETH.--The Fourth Part.

Verse 25. DALETH. My soul cleaveth unto the dust,.... Either to the dust of death, having the sentence of it; being almost in despair of life, upon the brink of the grave seemingly, and free among the dead: or in a very low estate of mind, in great dejection and humiliation, rolling himself in the dust, and putting his mouth in it; if there might be any hope of deliverance; but despairing of it, unless the Lord appeared; or finding a proneness in him to the corruption of nature, the body of sin and death, which was very powerful and prevalent, ensnaring and captivating; and particularly to worldly things, comparable to dust, for their lightness, emptiness, and unprofitableness; which often have an undue influence on good men, and to which their affections are too much glued; and which greatly affect the exercise of grace and religious duties, and bring a deadness upon the soul, and make the following: petition necessary:

quicken thou me according to thy word; such who are quickened together with Christ, and who are quickened by his Spirit and grace, when they were dead in trespasses and sins, have often need to be quickened again, and to have the work of grace revived in them; which is done when grace is drawn forth into lively exercise, and which is necessary to the performance of duty; and this is done both by means of the word of God, which, as it is used for the quickening dead sinners, so for the reviving of drooping saints; see Psalm 119:50. And according to his word of promise, who has promised never to leave his people, nor forsake the work of his hand, but perform it until the day of Christ; Jarchi and Kimchi think reference is had to the promise in 2 Samuel 12:13; and Aben Ezra to Deuteronomy 32:39.

Verse 26. I have declared my ways,.... That is, to the Lord; either the ways he had chose and desired to walk in, and not wander from, and therefore entreated help and assistance, guidance and direction, in them; or his sinful ways and actions, which he acknowledged and confessed, lamented and bewailed, and entreated the forgiveness of; or all his counsels and cares, his affairs and business, in which he was concerned, and which he declared and committed to the Lord, to be directed and assisted in; or all his wants and necessities, which he spread before him at the throne of grace; which he did not as though the Lord was ignorant of these things, but partly as knowing it was the will of God that he should be inquired of by his people, to do the things for them they want; and partly to ease his own mind, and encourage his faith and hope in the Lord;

and thou heardest me: and directed him in the way he should go, and what he should do; forgave him his sins, and supplied his wants;

teach me thy statutes; which he desired to learn and obey, in gratitude for being heard and answered by him; See Gill on "Ps 119:12";

Verse 27. Make me to understand the way of thy precepts,.... The meaning of them, to have a more comprehensive, clear, and distinct knowledge of them; and to be led into the way they direct unto, and walk therein;

so shall I talk of thy wondrous works; the works of creation, providence, redemption, and grace; with more knowledge and understanding, with more spirit and cheerfulness, with more readiness and liberty, more to his own satisfaction, and for the good of others: or, "meditate on thy wondrous works" {z}; being in the ways of God, and freed from the distractions of the world and business of it.

{z} hxyva "meditabor," Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus, Michaelis; "ut mediter," Junius & Tremellius, Cocceius.

Verse 28. My soul melteth for heaviness,.... Like wax before the sun or fire; or flows like water; drops {a}, as the word signifies, and dissolves into tears, through grief and sorrow for sins committed; or by reason of Satan's temptations, or divine desertions, or grievous troubles and afflictions; which cause heaviness, lie heavy, and press hard;

strengthen thou me according unto thy word; to oppose corruptions, withstand temptations, bear up under trials and afflictions, and do the will of God. And the word of God is a means of strengthening his people to do these things; it is the spiritual bread which strengthens man's heart, and in the strength of which, like Elijah, he walks many days, and goes from strength to strength: and there are many gracious words of promise, which may be pleaded with God to this purpose; that he will help, strengthen, and uphold his people; that he will renew their strength, and that as their day is their strength shall be.

{a} hpld "stillavit"; Pagninus, Montanus; "distillet," Vatablus; "stillat," Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Michaelis.

Verse 29. Remove from me the way of lying,.... Not the sin of lying to men, and a course of it, which David was not addicted to; but a "false way," or "way of falsehood" {b}; as it may be rendered, and so the Targum; and is the same with what he expresses his abhorrence of, Psalm 119:128; and is opposed to the way of truth in Psalm 119:30; and designs all false doctrine and false worship, all errors and heresies, superstition and idolatry; which he desired to be at the utmost distance from, and those from him, as having a dislike and abhorrence of them; and as knowing how prejudicial they would be to him, and how contrary to the glory of God;

and grant me thy law graciously; not the fiery law, which works wrath, curses and condemns; the voice of words, which they that heard entreated they might hear no more; and which to have is no act of grace and favour, unless as fulfilled in Christ, and as it is a rule of walk and conversation in his hands: but rather "doctrine," as the word signifies; the doctrine of the Gospel, the law or doctrine of faith; which to have and understand is a gift of grace; it is the Gospel of the grace of God, the grace of God itself; and instructs in it, and shows that salvation is purely by it.

{b} rqv Krd "viam falsitatis," Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis.

Verse 30. I have chosen the way of truth,.... Christ, who is the way and the truth, the true way to God and to eternal happiness; and to choose him is to choose the good part, which shall never be taken away; and which choice is made, not by the free will of man, as left to itself, but under the influence and by the direction of the Spirit and grace of God; whereby a soul sees a preferableness in Christ to every thing else, and which determines the choice of him: or, "the way of faith," as the Targum; the doctrine of faith, particularly the doctrine of justification by faith in the righteousness of Christ; also each of the truths of the Gospel, a way in which believers walk with pleasure and by choice; as being preferable to, and more desirable by them, than thousands of gold and silver;

thy judgments have I laid [before me]; to be looked at continually, as being exceeding amiable and lovely, and having a strong affection for them; and as a copy to write after, and a rule to walk by.

Verse 31. I have stuck unto thy testimonies,.... The word of God, the Scriptures of truth, and the doctrines contained in them. These he closely adhered to, was glued unto them as it were; having firmly believed them, he steadfastly professed them; nor could he be moved from them by any temptations whatever, notwithstanding the reproach cast upon them and him for their sake, or the opposition made unto them;

O Lord, put me not to shame: or let me not be ashamed of the choice I have made, of the testimonies I adhere unto, of my hope and confidence in the Lord and his word; or suffer me not to do anything, any sinful action, that may expose me to shame and contempt.

Verse 32. I will run the way of thy commandments,.... Not only walk but run in it; which is expressive of great affection to the commands of God, of great readiness and cheerfulness, of great haste and swiftness in the way of them, and of great delight and pleasure therein;

when thou shall enlarge my heart; with the knowledge of God, his word, ways, worship, and ordinances; with his love more fully made known, and with an increase of love to him; with the fear of him, and a flow of spiritual joy and peace; and when delivered from straits and difficulties, from weights and pressures, and everything that may hinder walking or running; and being in circumstances which may lead and encourage to the one as to the other; see 1 Kings 4:29, Isaiah 60:5.

h, HE.--The Fifth Part.

Verse 33. HE. Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes,.... Which they point unto, and direct to walk in; not only the statutes and ordinances themselves, the theory of them, but the practice of them. This is taught in the word, and by the ministers of it; but none so effectually teach as the Lord himself, Isaiah 2:3;

and I shall keep it [unto] the end; keep the way unto the end of it: or rather to the end of life, all my days, and never depart out of it, or turn to the right hand or the left; but walk on in it as long as I live: or, "I shall observe it, [even] the end" {c}; the end of the way of thy statutes or commandments. Now the end of the commandment is charity or love, which is the fulfilling of it: though that is perfectly fulfilled by none but by Christ, the end of the law for righteousness, 1 Thessalonians 1:5. The word for "end" signifies a "reward"; so Aben Ezra interprets it, and refers to Psalm 19:11; but Kimchi denies the law is to be kept for the sake of reward; which is right: rather the sense is, I will keep it by way of retribution, or in gratitude for teaching the way. The Targum is,

"and I will keep unto perfection;"

which cannot be done by sinful man.

{c} bqe hnrua "et custodiam finem"; so some in Gejerus.

Verse 34. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law,.... A spiritual understanding; an understanding of the law, the perfection, purity, holiness, and spirituality of it; an understanding of the Gospel, and of Christ and the things of Christ; from whom grace and strength are to be had for the due observance of the law, as in his hands; which understanding must be given, and is a gift of pure, free, rich grace, to such who have it; though they cannot keep the law perfectly, as no mere man can, yet will keep it spiritually, from a principle of love and gratitude, and with a view to the glory of God and Christ, 1 John 5:20;

yea, I shall observe it with [my] whole heart; not only externally, and to be seen of men, and get applause from them; but doing the will of God from the heart, and with a good will and heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men; with a sincere affection for him, and with a single eye to his glory, Ephesians 6:6.

Verse 35. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments,.... Lead, guide, direct me in the path, and use me to it; work in me both to will and to do; give both ability and a willing mind to walk therein; by granting fresh supplies of grace, and more spiritual strength; by drawing with the cords of love, and by putting in him the good spirit of grace, to cause to walk in the statutes of the Lord, and keep his judgments and do them, Ezekiel 36:27;

for therein do I delight; in the law of God, after the inward man; in the commandments of Christ, which are not grievous; in wisdom's ways and paths, which are pleasantness and peace.

Verse 36. Incline my heart unto thy testimonies,.... To read the word of God, to hear it opened and explained, to observe and keep the things contained in it; to which there is a disinclination in men naturally: but the Lord, who fashions the hearts of men, and has them in his hands, can bend and incline them by his efficacious grace to regard these his testimonies; which, as Aben Ezra observes, are more precious than all substance, and so are opposed to what follows:

and not to covetousness; not to mammon or money, as the Targum; the love of it, which is the root of all evil, and very pernicious and harmful; in hearing the word it chokes it, and makes it unfruitful, 1 Timothy 6:9. Not that God inclines the heart to evil, as he does to good; but he may suffer the heart to be inclined, and may leave a man to the natural inclinations of his heart, and to the temptations of Satan, and the snares of the world, which may have great influence upon him; and this is what is here deprecated; see Psalm 141:4.

Verse 37. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity,.... As the things of this world, the riches, honours, and pleasures of it, which are all vanity and vexation of spirit; and yet these catch the eye, and allure the heart: and all false doctrines, glided over with the specious pretence of truth; and all false worship and superstition, set off with pomp and pageantry, with which the eyes of the body or the eyes of the mind are taken, and by which the heart is ensnared; and therefore it is desirable to have the eyes turned away from such objects unto better;

[and] quicken thou me in thy way; so as to walk and even run in the path of truth, in the way of true religion and godliness; and, instead of looking upon vanity, press towards the mark for the prize; keep Christ in view, while running the race; and look to things unseen, and not things that are seen; and set the affections on things above, and serve the Lord fervently; all which is done when God quickens the hearts of his people, and the graces of his Spirit in them.

Verse 38. Stablish thy word unto thy servant,.... Either God's word of promise, which never fails, is firm and stable in Christ; and the sense is, that God would assure him of the fulfilment of it, and give him a strong faith and firm belief of it; for otherwise the word of the Lord cannot be surer or more stable than it is: or else the word of his grace; and then the sense is, that he might be established in it, and the truths of it, and be established by it; for the word is a means of establishment, and a good thing it is to have the heart established with grace, with the doctrine of grace, Hebrews 13:9;

who [is devoted] to thy fear; who served the Lord with reverence and godly fear; who feared the Lord and his goodness; that grace being a reigning one in his heart, and ever before his eyes. Or, "which is unto thy fear" {d}; that is, which word is unto thy fear; which leads unto it, and has a tendency to promote and increase it; and so is a commendation of the word of God from this effect of it.

{d} Ktaryl rva "quod ad timorem tuum," Pagninus, Montanus; "quod ad timorem tui facit," Musculus; "et ducit," Schmidt; "quod datum est ad timorem tui," Michaelis.

Verse 39. Turn away my reproach which I fear,.... Either for the sake of religion, which was disagreeable to him; and he might be afraid it would be too heavy for him to bear, and be a temptation to him to forsake the good ways of God: or rather by reason of sin, which brings a reproach on good men; and causes the enemy to speak reproachfully, and is therefore dreaded by them who desire to be kept from sin, for that reason as well as others; see Psalm 39:8. Jarchi and Kimchi think that David has some reference to his sins, in the case of Uriah and Bathsheba; lest they should be a perpetual reproach on his name and family, which he greatly feared;

for thy judgments [are] good; the laws of God, and punishment of sin according to them; the Scriptures, and the doctrines contained in them; the ways of God, and true religion; which are evil spoken of, through the sins of the professors of them.

Verse 40. Behold, I have longed after thy precepts,.... After a greater degree of knowledge of them, and an opportunity of hearing them explained and enforced, and of yielding obedience to them; see Psalm 119:7;

quicken me in thy righteousness: in the way of righteousness, according to the word of righteousness, the Gospel, and with the righteousness of Christ revealed in it; and which is unto life, and quickens and comforts the heart, and from whence abundance of peace and joy flows.

w, VAU.--The Sixth Part.

Verse 41. VAU. Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord,.... Meaning not his providential mercies, but his special mercies and favours; his mercies of old, which were upon his heart and thoughts from everlasting; the sure mercies of David, or the blessings of the everlasting covenant; the spiritual blessings, wherewith the saints are blessed in Christ; the grace that was given to them in him, before the world was: these are desired by the psalmist to be remembered, shown, communicated, and applied unto him, and, as it were, that they might come into his heart and soul; which is done when the love of God is shed abroad there, when full flows of it come in, and all grace is made to abound, and every want is supplied;

[even] thy salvation, according to thy word; not temporal, but spiritual and eternal salvation; which God has appointed his people to, secured for them in covenant, promised them in Christ, whom he sent to work it out, and which is in him; and which in the effectual calling comes to the soul, being brought near and applied to a sensible sinner by the Spirit of God. Here a fresh view of interest in it, a fresh visit with it, and a restoration of the joys of it, are desired; and which salvation flows from the abundant mercy and free favour of God in Christ; and is, according to his word of promise, spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets, from the beginning of the world; and may here respect the particular word of promise made to David, that God would put away his sin, and save him, and that he should not die, 2 Samuel 12:13; or his word of promise in general, to all that seek and call upon the Lord, that they shall find grace and mercy, and be saved everlastingly.

Verse 42. So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me,.... Saying there is no help and salvation for him in God; asking where is his God, in whom he trusted? and where is the promise of salvation, on which he depended? To which an easy and ready answer might be given, when the mercies and salvation of God came unto him, and he clearly appeared to be interested in them; see Psalm 3:2;

for I trust in thy word: in Christ the essential Word, the object of trust and confidence; or in the written word, it being divinely inspired and dictated by the Spirit of God, and so to be depended on as true and faithful; or rather God's word of promise concerning mercy, grace, and salvation, which God that has made is faithful and able to perform, as may be believed.

Verse 43. And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,.... The Scriptures, which are by divine inspiration, come from the God of truth, contain nothing but truth in them, and are called "the Scriptures of truth," Daniel 10:21. Or the Gospel, which is often so called, Ephesians 1:13; This comes from God, who cannot lie, and is a declaration of his mind and will concerning the salvation of men; in which Christ, who is the truth, is concerned, being the author, preacher, and substance of it; into which the Spirit of truth leads men, and makes it useful and effectual; which has many eminent and important truths in it, and nothing but truth, and stands opposed to the law, which is typical and shadowy, and to everything that is a falsehood and a lie. This the psalmist desires might not be taken out of his mouth, but kept in it as a sweet morsel there, rolled under his tongue; be eaten and fed upon by him, and be the rejoicing of his heart. Or his sense is, that he might not be left under a temptation to conceal, drop, or deny the word of truth, or be ashamed to own and confess it before men; but at all times, and upon all occasions, publicly declare it, and his faith in it: at least he desires that it might not "utterly" cease from him, or be wholly neglected by him, and he entirely apostatize. Some join the word rendered "utterly," and which signifies "exceedingly," with "the word of truth," thus: "take not out of my mouth the word of truth, [which is] exceedingly [so]"; that is, exceedingly true, to the highest degree {e};

for I have hoped in thy judgments; or, "have waited for thy judgments" {f}: either the judgments of God upon sinners, especially on apostates, which he knew would be very sore and severe, their last estate being worse than the first; or rather the last judgment, when those that confess Christ and his truths shall be confessed by him; and those that deny him and his Gospel will be denied by him: though it may be best of all to understand it of the word of God, and the doctrines of it, which the psalmist had an exceeding great regard unto, hoped, waited, and even longed for; see Psalm 119:20.

{e} So Gussetius Ebr. Comment. p. 452. dam de tma rbd "verbum veritatis usque valde," Pagninus, Montanus; so Musculus, Junius & Tremellius. {f} ytlxy Kyjpvml "ad judicia tua expectavi," Pagninus, Montanus; "judicia tua expecto," Tigurine version, Musculus, Vatablus, Gejerus; so Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

Verse 44. So shall I keep thy law continually,.... Which denotes not the perfection of keeping the law, but the constancy of it: the psalmist was persuaded, that so long as he had the word of truth in his mouth, and the judgments of God in his view, he should be diligent and constant in the discharge of his duty, which these directed and encouraged him unto;

for ever and ever; in this life and that to come; when the law of God will be kept, and his will done perfectly by the saints, as it now is by the angels in heaven; or this may be connected with the law of God; which law is for ever and ever, being of eternal duration and obligation. The whole may be understood of the law of faith, or doctrine of the Gospel, and be rendered, "so shall I observe thy doctrine continually"; contained in the word of truth; which doctrine is for ever and ever, it is the everlasting Gospel.

Verse 45. And I will walk at liberty,.... Not in licentious way, but in Gospel liberty, under the influence of the free spirit; where is liberty, in the exercise of grace and discharge of duty. Or, "I will walk at large" {g}; or, "in a broad way," as Aben Ezra and Kimchi supply it: not in the broad road that leads to destruction, but in the law of God, which is exceeding broad, Psalm 119:96; as the Targum, "in the breadth of the law." So a man walks when he walks in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord: and who also may be said to walk at large when delivered out of straits and difficulties; when he is brought into a large place, and his steps are enlarged under him; and having his heart enlarged with the love of God, and fear of him, and with spiritual joy, and having every grace in exercise, he not only walks in, but runs the way of God's commandments; see Psalm 119:32; and See Gill on "Ps 118:5";

for I seek thy precepts; out of love and affection to them, to know more of them, the mind and will of God in them, and to practise them.

{g} hbxrb "in latitudine," Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, &c.

Verse 46. I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings,.... As very likely he did before Saul and his courtiers, before the king of Achish and the princes of the Philistines, when as yet he was not a king himself; and when he was come to the throne, such kings as came to visit him, instead of talking with them about affairs of state, he spoke of the Scriptures, and of the excellent things they bear witness of; and such a practice he determined to pursue and continue in;

and will not be ashamed; of the testimonies of God, and of the truths contained in them; and of speaking of them and for them; or of being reproached and vilified on that account. So the Apostle Paul was a chosen vessel to bear the name of Christ before kings; nor was he ashamed to speak of him and of his Gospel before Nero the Roman emperor, Agrippa king of the Jews, and before Felix and Festus, Roman governors; nor ashamed of the reproaches and afflictions he endured on that account.

Verse 47. And I will delight myself in thy commandments,.... In perusing and practising them;

which I have loved; a good man loves the law of God, and the commandments of Christ, and delights in them after the inward man.

Verse 48. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved,.... Showing by such a gesture his great esteem of them, and affection for them; stretching out his hands, and embracing them with both arms, as it were: and this being a praying gesture, 2 Timothy 2:8, may signify his earnest desire and request that he might have grace and spiritual strength to enable him to observe them; and it being used in swearing, Genesis 14:22, may express his firm resolution in the strength of divine grace to keep them; and the phrase signifying a doing or an attempt to do anything, Genesis 41:44, may denote his practical observance of the commands, his putting his hand to do them with all his might;

and I will meditate in thy statutes; and thereby get a better understanding of them, and be in a better disposition and capacity to keep them.