Psalm 119:49 Bible Commentary

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

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

z, ZAIN.--The Seventh Part.

Verse 49. ZAIN. Remember the word unto thy servant,.... The word of promise made unto him, concerning establishing his house and kingdom for ever; which he desires God would show himself mindful of in fulfilling it, and renew and confirm his faith in it, and give him some fresh assurance of the performance of it, 2 Samuel 7:16. Not that God ever forgets his promise, or is unmindful of his word; but so it seems when he delays the accomplishment of it; and when unbelief prevails and doubts arise, and faith is not in lively exercise; and he has not so clear a view of the promise, and comfortable assurance of its being performed;

upon which thou hast caused me to hope; which, when first made, he received in faith, and hoped and waited for the accomplishment of. A word of promise is a good ground of hope, let it be on what account it will; whether it relates to interest in God, as a covenant God and Father; or to pardon of sin; or to salvation by Christ; or to fresh supplies of grace and strength from him; or to eternal life through him: and the hope which is exercised on the promise is not of a man's self; it is the gift of God, a good hope through grace; which the Lord, by his Spirit and power, produces, and causes to abound in, or to exercise in a comfortable manner.

Verse 50. This [is] my comfort in my affliction,.... David had his afflictions, and so has every good man; none are without; it is the will and pleasure of God that so it should be; and many are their afflictions, inward and outward: the word of God is often their comfort under them, the written word, heard or read; and especially a word of promise, powerfully applied: this is putting underneath everlasting arms, and making their bed in sickness. This either respects what goes before, concerning the word of promise hoped in, or what follows:

for thy word hath quickened me; not only had been the means of quickening him when dead in am, as it often is the means of quickening dead sinners, being the savour of life unto life; but of reviving his drooping spirits, when in affliction and distress; and of quickening the graces of the Spirit of God in him, and him to the exercise of them, when they seemed ready to die; and to the fervent and diligent discharge of duty, when listless and backward to it.

Verse 51. The proud have had me greatly in derision,.... Profane sinners, proud and haughty scorners, that make a jest of religion, and scoff at everything serious and good: these derided the psalmist for his piety and religion, his principles and practices; in which he was a type of Christ, who was both the song of the drunkards, and was derided by the proud and haughty Scribes and Pharisees; as all self-righteous persons are, they who trust in themselves, and despise others, Psalm 69:11;

[yet] have I not declined from thy law; from walking according to it, as a rule of life and conversation; from professing and maintaining the doctrine of the word, the truths of the Gospel, he had knowledge and experience of; and from going on in the ways of God and true religion he was directed in; and this testimony the Lord himself gave of him, 1 Kings 14:8 see Psalm 44:19.

Verse 52. I remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord,.... Either the judgments of God executed on wicked men; as the bringing a flood on the world of the ungodly; the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah; the destruction of Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea; the cutting off of the Canaanites, and dispossessing them of their land: or the providential dispensations of God towards his own people; who sometimes chastises and corrects them, and brings them very low, and then raises them up again, as in the case of Job. These things the psalmist called to remembrance, and revolved them in his mind, which gave him pleasure and comfort:

and have comforted myself; with such thoughts as these, that that God, who had cast down the mighty from their seats, and had scattered the proud in the imaginations of their hearts, and destroyed them, could easily rebuke the proud that had him in derision; and he that had shown himself so good and gracious to his people, when brought low, could raise him out of his afflictions and distresses.

Verse 53. Horror hath taken hold upon me,.... Trembling, sorrow, and distress, to a great degree, like a storm, or a blustering, scorching, burning wind, as the word {h} signifies, which is very terrible;

because of the wicked that forsake thy law: not only transgress the law of the Lord, as every man does, more or less; but wilfully and obstinately despise it, and cast it behind their backs, and live in a continued course of disobedience to it; or who apostatize from the doctrine of the word of God; wilfully deny the truth, after they have had a speculative knowledge of it, whose punishment is very grievous, Hebrews 10:26; and now partly on account of the daring impiety of wicked men, who stretch out their hands against God, and strengthen themselves against the Almighty, and run upon him, even on the thick bosses of his bucklers; because of the shocking nature of their sins, the sad examples thereby set to others, the detriment they are of to themselves, and dishonour they bring to God; and partly because of the dreadful punishment that shall be inflicted on them here, and especially hereafter, when a horrible tempest of wrath will come upon them. Hence such trembling seized the psalmist; and often so it is, that good men tremble more for the wicked than they do for themselves; see Psalm 119:120.

{h} hpelz "procella," Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schmidt; "horror tanquam procella," Cocceius.

Verse 54. Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. Meaning either his unsettled state, fleeing from place to place before Saul; or, literally, his house of cedar, his court and palace, which he considered no other than as an inn he had put into upon his travels homeward; or rather the earthly house of his tabernacle, in which, as long as he continued, he was but a pilgrim and stranger; or, best of all, the whole course of his life; which Jacob calls the days of the years of his pilgrimage, Genesis 47:9; so Hipparchus the Pythagorean {i} calls this life a sort of a pilgrimage; and Plato also. This world is not the saints house and home; this is not their rest and residence; they confess themselves pilgrims and strangers here; and that they belong to another city, and a better country, an heavenly one, which they are seeking and travelling to, Hebrews 11:13. And as travellers sing songs to themselves as they pass on, which makes the way the more easy and pleasant to them, so the psalmist had his songs which he sung in his pilgrimage state; and these were the statutes, or word of the Lord, and the things in it, which were as delightful to him as the songs of travellers to them. Or the songs he made and sung were composed out of the word of God; and which may serve to recommend the psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, made by him, the sweet psalmist of Israel, to the Gospel churches, to be sung by them, Ephesians 5:19.

{i} De Anim. Tranquill. inter Fragm. Pythagor. p. 11. Ed. Gale.

Verse 55. I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night,.... In the night of distress and affliction, as Jarchi; or rather literally, in the night season, when on his bed and awake: while others were asleep, he revolved in his mind the greatness of the divine Being; the perfections of his nature; his wonderful works of creation, providence, and grace; his word and ordinances, by which he was made known unto the sons of men; and these he called to mind and meditated upon in the night watches, to encourage his faith and hope in the Lord, and draw out his love and affection to him;

and have kept thy law: though imperfectly, yet spiritually, sincerely, heartily, and from a principle of love and gratitude, and with a view to the glory of God, and without mercenary and sinister ends.

Verse 56. This I had, because I kept thy precepts. Either the comfort he had from the word, the pleasure and delight he had in it, being his songs in his pilgrimage, Psalm 119:50; see Psalm 119:165; or this knowledge of the name of God, and the remembrance of it, and his carefulness and diligence in it in the night season, were of the Lord, and gifts of his: or rather this he had from the Lord, that he kept the precepts and commands of God in the manner that he did; it was all owing to grace and strength received from him; for so the words may be rendered, "this was [given] unto me, that I have kept thy precepts" {k}.

{k} yk "quod," Pagninus, Montanus.

x, CHETH.--The Eighth Part.

Verse 57. CHETH. [Thou art] my portion, O Lord,.... Which he chose and preferred to all others; to the riches, honours, and profits of this world; the grant of which was made to him in the covenant of grace; the first discovery of it was from the Lord himself; and the choice and claim were made under the influence of his grace; and a great act of faith it is to assert this, and a wonderful blessing to enjoy it. This is a large portion indeed, immense and inconceivable, soul satisfying, safe, and for ever! see Psalm 73:26;

I have said that I would keep thy words; keep his commandments, lay up his promises, observe his doctrines, profess and retain them; this he determined within himself to do, under a sense of the love of God to him, in being his portion and inheritance. Some render the words, in connection with the former, thus, "my portion, O Lord, I said, [is]," or "[shall be], to keep thy words" {l}; it is the part and portion of some to preach the word, and of others to hear it; and of all to keep or observe it, its precepts, promises, and truths. Aben Ezra gives the sense of them thus,

"This I said to many, perhaps they will keep thy words;"

namely, that the Lord was his portion, which he thought might induce them to an observance of them, as he had done.

{l} So Montanus, Piscator.

Verse 58. I entreated thy favour with [my] whole heart,.... Or, "thy face" {m}; to see it; or thy presence, to enjoy it; to have communion with God, and the light of his countenance; than which nothing is more desirable and delightful to a gracious man: as also to be remembered with the special favour of God, in which is life; to have his love shed abroad in the heart; to have large views of interest in it, and to be rooted and grounded therein; and this the psalmist entreated, not in an hypocritical manner, but with all sincerity, heartiness, and affection, having tasted that the Lord was gracious. Or, "made thy face sick" {n}; wearied him with supplications, gave him no rest until he obtained his request;

be merciful unto me, according to thy word: have compassion on me; sympathize with me in all my troubles; grant me fresh supplies of grace; and particularly show and apply thy pardoning grace and mercy to me, according to thy word of promise in the covenant of grace, in which provision is made for forgiveness of sins; see Psalm 51:1; Aben Ezra and Kimchi think reference is had to Exodus 33:19, but rather it is to 2 Samuel 12:13.

{m} Kynp "tuam faciem," Pagninus; "tuae facies," Montanus. {n} ytylx "tuum velut fatigavi vultum," Gejerus. So Horace, Carmin. l. 1. Ode. 2. v. 26. "prece qua fatigent virgines."

Verse 59. I thought on my ways,.... What they were, whether right or wrong; whither they led, what would be the consequences of walking in them: the Septuagint and Arabic versions read, "thy ways"; no doubt the psalmist thought of both; of his own ways, in which he had walked; and of God's ways, which he directed him to walk in: and, considering the superior pleasure and profit of the latter, he preferred them to the former. The Targum is, "I thought to mend my ways," or "make [them] good." Hence he took the following step:

and turned my feet unto thy testimonies; betook himself to the word of God, which testifies of his will, and directs to those ways he would have his people to walk in; and he steered his course of life and actions thereby; he turned from his own ways into the ways of God; under the influence of divine grace, he turned, being turned.

Verse 60. I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments. As soon as he was sensible of his duty, he immediately complied with it; he consulted not with flesh and blood, but at once yielded a cheerful obedience to the commands of God. Instances of evangelical obedience of this kind we have in the three thousand converts, in Saul, and in the jailer and his house, Acts 2:41.

Verse 61. The bands of the wicked have robbed me,.... Very probably Saul and his ministers seized on his effects, when he fled from him; and the Amalekites plundered him of all his substance, when they took Ziklag; and Absalom and the conspirators with him robbed him, when he was obliged, because of them, to flee from his palace and court, which they entered and took possession of. But Aben Ezra rejects this sense of the word, which Jarchi and Kimchi espouse, and we follow, and renders it, "took hold of me"; and so the Targum, "the company of the wicked were gathered together against me:" they surrounded him and put him into fear, great numbers of them encompassing him about; see Psalm 18:4;

[but] I have not forgotten thy law; this was written in his heart; he kept it in his memory, and retained an affection for it; and could not be deterred from obedience to it by the numbers and violence of wicked men, who hated and persecuted him for his attachment to it.

Verse 62. At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee,.... Not only send up an ejaculatory thanksgiving upon his bed, but rise up from it and shake off his sleep, and in a set, serious, solemn manner, praise the Lord. This shows a great regard to him, and affection to this work, since it is with difficulty men prevail upon themselves to rise at midnight upon any occasion; at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sung praises to God, Acts 16:25;

because of thy righteous judgments; upon the wicked, as Aben Ezra; the hands and troops of them that encompassed him about, and robbed him; but God avenged him of them, and for this he gave thanks, or for such like things. Sometimes the judgments of God have been executed at midnight; as the destruction of the firstborn in Egypt, and of Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea, when Israel sang his praise, Exodus 12:29; and for the judgments of God upon antichrist the church will rejoice and give thanks, Revelation 18:20. Or rather by these may be meant the word of God, the precepts and ordinances of it, which are all just and good; such is the law of God, and such are the ordinances of Christ, Psalm 19:9.

Verse 63. I [am] a companion of all [them] that fear thee,.... Not of the rich and mighty, much less of the wicked and ungodly; but of such who had the true fear of God upon their hearts, and before their eyes; who feared the Lord and his goodness, and truly served and worshipped him; even "all" of these, whether poor or rich, of whatsoever condition, or of whatsoever nation, being no respecter of persons. With these he was a partner in the blessings of the covenant, in the promises of it, in the graces of the Spirit, and in a right and meetness for the same eternal glory and happiness: he went in company with them to the house of God, and joined with them in all acts of religious worship; he conversed privately with them about what God had done for the souls of him and them; he delighted in their company; he sympathized with them in their troubles; and was a companion with them in their tribulation, sorrows, and sufferings, as well as in their joys and comforts;

and of them that keep thy precepts; as all such do who truly fear the Lord; for by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil, and cannot do those things that others do; cannot allow themselves in a wilful transgression of the divine precepts; but, influenced by the fear of God, observe and keep them.

Verse 64. The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy,.... "Goodness" or "grace" {o}; both of the providential mercy and goodness of God, which extends to all his creatures; and of his special grace and goodness to his own people, held forth in his word and ordinances; see Psalm 33:5;

teach me thy statutes: as an instance of mercy, grace, and goodness; see Psalm 119:12.

{o} Kdox "gratia tua," Cocceius, Gejerus.

j, TETH.--The Ninth Part.

Verse 65. TETH. Thou hast dealt well with thy servant,.... In a providential way, ever since he had a being; by the protection and preservation of him, by following and loading him with benefits, by raising him from a low estate to the throne of Israel, by delivering him from many dangers and enemies, and by giving him rest from them all; and in a way of special grace and mercy, by making an everlasting covenant with him, by blessing him with all spiritual blessings, by giving him an interest in salvation by Christ, and hope of eternal glory. And thus he deals with all his servants; he does all things well by them; he deals well with them even when he afflicts them; he treats them as his Davids, his beloved and chosen ones, and his children. The Syriac version renders it as a petition, "do good with thy servant"; bestow benefits on him, or deal bountifully with him, as in Psalm 119:17;

O Lord, according unto thy word; thy word of promise: providential mercies are according to promise, for godliness or goodly persons have the promise of the things of this life; and so are spiritual blessings, they are laid up in exceeding great and precious promises, which are yea and amen in Christ; and so is eternal glory and happiness; it is a promise which God, that cannot lie, made before the world began; so that there is a solid foundation laid for faith and hope as to these things; and this confirms and commends the faithfulness of God to his people.

Verse 66. Teach me good judgment and knowledge,.... Or, "a good taste" {p}: of the Lord himself, how good and gracious he is; of his grace and love, which is better than wine; of his word and the truths of it, which are sweeter to a spiritual taste than honey or the honeycomb; and of the things of the Spirit of God, which are seventy to a spiritual man, a distinguishing taste of things; for as "the taste discerns perverse things" in food, so a man of a spiritual taste distinguishes good from evil, truth from error; discerns things that differ, and approves of those that are most excellent, and abides by them. Or, "a good sense" {q}, as it may be rendered; a good sense of the Scriptures, the true and right sense of them; and to have the mind of God and of Christ, and of the Spirit of Christ, in the word; and to have distinguishing light in it, and a well established judgment in the truths of it, is very desirable: as is also a spiritual and experimental "knowledge" of them, a growing and increasing one; a knowledge of God in Christ, and of his will; a knowledge of Christ, his person and offices, and the mysteries of his grace; which a truly gracious and humble soul desires to be taught, and is taught of God more or less;

for I have believed thy commandments; the whole word of God, and all that is said in it; that it is of God, is the word of God and not the word of man; and therefore he was desirous of being taught the true meaning of it, and to be experimentally acquainted with it; the word of God is called his commandment, Psalm 19:7. Or the precepts of the word; he believed these were the commandments of God, and not of men; delivered out by him, and enforced by his authority; and therefore he gave credit to them, and loved them, and desired better to understand and do them: or the promises and threatenings annexed to them, which he believed would be punctually fulfilled upon the doers or transgressors of them; and as for himself, he cheerfully yielded the obedience of faith unto them.

{p} Mej bwj "bonitatem gustus," Piscator, Michaelis. {q} "Bonitatem sensus," Montanus; i.e. "sensum bonum," Gejerus.

Verse 67. Before I was afflicted, I went astray,.... From God; from his word, his ways and worship; like a lost sheep from the shepherd, the fold, the flock, and the footsteps of it; see Psalm 119:176; Not that he wilfully, wickedly, maliciously, and through contempt, departed from his God; this he denies, Psalm 18:21; but through the weakness of the flesh, the prevalence of corruption, and force of temptation, and very much through a careless, heedless, and negligent frame of spirit, he got out of the right way, and wandered from it before he was well aware. The word is used of erring through ignorance, Leviticus 5:18; this was in a time of prosperity, when, though he might not, like Jeshurun, wax fat and kick, and forsake and lightly esteem the Rock of his salvation; or fall into temptations and harmful lusts, and err from the faith, and be pierced with many sorrows, as too much love of the world brings men into; yet he might become inattentive to the duties of religion, and be negligent of them, which is a common case;

but now have I kept thy word: having been afflicted with outward and inward afflictions, afflictions of body and mind; afflictions in person, in family and estate; afflictions in soul, through indwelling sin, the temptations of Satan, and the hidings of God's face: all this brought him back again to God, to his word, ways, and worship; he betook himself to reading and hearing the word, if he might find any thing to relieve and comfort him under his trials; he observed the doctrines of grace in it, and kept the precepts of it, and walked in all the commandments and ordinances of it, being restored by afflictions.

Verse 68. Thou [art] good, and doest good,.... Essentially, originally, and only good, and the fountain of all goodness to his creatures; who does good to all men in a providential way, and especially to his own people; to whom he is good in a way of special grace and mercy, in and through his Son Jesus Christ; and even he is good to them, and does good to them, when he afflicts them; he makes their afflictions work for their good, either temporal, spiritual, or eternal;

teach me thy statutes; as a fresh instance of goodness; this had been often desired, being what lay much on his mind, and was of moment and importance; see Psalm 119:12.

Verse 69. The proud have forged a lie against me,.... Or, "sewed a lie to him" {r}; fastened a lie upon him, or sewed and added one lie to another. Either with respect to politics, as the proud and haughty courtiers of Saul, who represented David to him as a traitor, that had treasonable designs against him to take away his life, and seize his crown and kingdom, 1 Samuel 24:9; or with respect to religion; so some proud scornful men, that derided him for his piety, and scoffed at his seriousness, gave out that it was all grimace and hypocrisy; raised calumnies upon him, and laid things to his charge he knew nothing of; and which were all lies, forged out of their own brains, and artfully and purposely put together to blacken his character, and lessen his esteem among men: and it is no unusual thing for wicked men to speak all manner of evil falsely against the people of God;

[but] I will keep thy precepts with [my] whole heart; observe the commands of God sincerely, heartily, and affectionately, and not in show and appearance only; and so make it evident that it was a lie that was forged against him; and this is the best way of answering such liars and defamers; see 1 Peter 3:16.

{r} wlpj "consuerunt," Tigurine version; "assuerunt," Muis.

Verse 70. Their heart is as fat as grease,.... Or tallow, a lump of it, fat or grease congealed. That is, the heart of the above proud persons, who abounded in riches, were glutted with the things of this world; had more than heart could wish, and so became proud and haughty: or their hearts were gross, sottish, senseless, and stupid, as persons fat at heart are; or as creatures over fat, which have little or no feeling: so these had no knowledge of the law of God, no sense of their duty, no remorse of conscience for sin; their hearts were hardened, and they past feeling, and given up to a reprobate mind; see Isaiah 6:9; The Targum is, "the imagination of their heart is become gross as fat:" the Septuagint is, "curdled like milk"; that is, hardened, as Suidas {s} interprets it;

[but] I delight in thy law; after the inward man; as the apostle did, Romans 7:22; as fulfilled in Christ; as in his hands, as King and Lawgiver; as written upon his own heart; and so yielding a ready and cheerful obedience to it; he delighted in reading the law, in meditating on it, and in observing it.

{s} In voce eturwyh.

Verse 71. [It is] good for me that I have been afflicted,.... The good and profit of which he had observed before; See Gill on "Ps 119:67." The following end being also answered thereby,

that I might learn thy statutes; to understand them, and to keep them. Afflictions are sometimes as a school to the people of God, in which they learn much both of their duty and of their privileges; and when they are teaching and instructive, they are for good; see Psalm 94:12.

Verse 72. The law of thy mouth [is] better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. The word of God, the doctrines contained in it; which, coming out of the mouth of God, and spoken by him, carries in it weight and authority, commands reverence and respect; and ought to be considered as indeed the word of God and not of man; and so of more value than thousands of pieces of gold and silver; or, as the Targum, than a thousand talents of gold and silver. The truths and doctrines of the word of God are not only comparable to gold and silver for their intrinsic worth and value; but are preferable to them, and to be received before them: David had his thousands of gold and silver, but he esteemed the word of God above them all; and willingly suffered afflictions, that he might understand it better; see Psalm 119:127.

y, JOD.--The Tenth Part.

Verse 73. JOD. Thy hands have made me and fashioned me,.... Not the psalmist himself, nor his parents, but the Lord alone: for though parents are fathers of our flesh, they are but instruments in the hand of the Lord; though man is produced by natural generation, yet the formation and fashioning of men are as much owing to the power and wisdom of God, which are his hands, as the formation of Adam was. Job owns this in much the same words as the psalmist does, Job 10:8; see
Psalm 139:13. God not only gives conception, and forms the embryo in the womb, but fashions and gives it its comely and proportionate parts. Or, "covered me"; the first word may respect conception, and this the covering of the fetus with the secundine {t}; see Psalm 139:13;

give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments; since he had a proper comely body, and a reasonable soul; though debased by sin, and brought into a state of ignorance, especially as to spiritual things, he desires he might have a spiritual understanding given him; of the word of God in general, the truths and doctrines of it, which are not understood by the natural man; and of the precepts of it in particular, that he might so learn them as to know the sense and meaning of them, their purity and spirituality; and so as to do them from a principle of love, in faith, and to the glory of God: for it is not a bare learning them by heart, or committing them to memory, nor a mere theory of them, but the practice of them in faith and love, which is here meant.

{t} Vid. Hackmam. Praecid. Sacr. p. 195.

Verse 74. They that fear thee will be glad when they see me,.... In outward prosperity, delivered from all troubles, set on the throne of Israel, and at rest from all enemies round about: and in spiritual prosperity, being illuminated by the Spirit of God, having a spiritual understanding of divine things, an obedience of faith to the commands of God, in the lively exercise of grace upon him, in comfortable frames of soul, and flourishing circumstances. Now they that fear the Lord, that have the grace of fear in their hearts, and are true worshippers of God, as they delight to meet together, and are glad to see one another; so they rejoice in each other's prosperity, especially spiritual; see Psalm 34:1;

because I have hoped in thy Word; in Christ the essential Word, the hope of Israel; in the written word, which gives encouragement to hope; in the word of promise, on which he was caused to hope; and in which hope he was confirmed, and not disappointed, and so it made him not ashamed: and others rejoiced at it, because it was an encouragement to their faith and hope likewise.

Verse 75. I know, O Lord, that thy judgments [are] right,.... His word, the doctrines and precepts of it, they are all consistent with the holiness and righteousness of God; and so are his judgments on wicked men, they are righteous, just, and true: God is righteous in all his ways, there is no unrighteousness in any dispensation of his; and such are his corrections of his own people, and which seem to be chiefly intended here and are so called, because they are done in judgment, with moderation and gentleness, in wisdom, and to answer the best purposes; and they are all right, for the good and profit of the people of God, that they may be partakers of his holiness, and not be condemned with the world: this the psalmist knew by experience and owned and acknowledged;

and [that] thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me; in faithfulness to himself, his covenant, and promise; that upon forsaking his law, and not walking in his statutes, he would visit sin with a rod, and transgressions with stripes, though he would not take away his lovingkindness; and in faithfulness to David, for his spiritual and eternal good, in great sincerity, heartily, cordially, with real affection and love: his rebukes were faithful; the chastisement was not above measure or desert, nor above strength to bear it; see Psalm 89:30.

Verse 76. Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort,.... Shown in the provision and promise of a Saviour; in the forgiveness of sins through him; a discovery and application of which yields comfort under afflictions;

according to thy word unto servant; a word of promise, in which he had assured him of his love, grace, mercy, and kindness; and that he would continue it to him, and comfort him with it: to make such a promise, and show such favour, was an instance of condescending grace to him, who was but his servant, and unworthy of his regard.

Verse 77. Let thy tender mercies come unto me,.... See Gill on "Ps 119:41";

that I may live; not merely corporeally; though corporeal life is a grant and favour, and the continuance of it; it is owing to the tender mercies of God that men are not consumed: but spiritually; the first principle of spiritual life is from the rich mercy and great love of God; his time of love is a time of life. Here it seems to design the lively exercise of grace, which is influenced, animated, and quickened by the love of God, as faith, hope, and love; or a living comfortably: without the love of God, and a view of it, saints look upon themselves as dead men, forgotten as they are, free among the dead, that are remembered no more; but in the favour of God is life; let but that be shown, let the tender mercies of God come in full flow into the soul, and it will be revived, and live comfortably; and such also shall live eternally, as the fruit and effect of the same love and favour;

for thy law [is] my delight; or "delights" {u}; what he exceedingly delighted in, after the inward man, and yet could not live by it, without the mercy, love, and grace of God; see Psalm 119:24.

{u} yevev "deliciae meae," Montanus, Tigurine versions Cocceius; "oblectationes meae," Gejerus; so Michaelis.

Verse 78. Let the proud be ashamed,.... The same persons he before speaks of as accursed, who had him in derision, and forged a lie against him. Here he prays that they might be ashamed of their scoffs and jeers, of their lies and calumnies, the evils and injuries they had done him; that they might be brought to a sense of them, and repentance for them; when they would be ashamed of them in the best manner: or that they might be disappointed of their ends, in what they had done, and so be confounded and ashamed, as men are when they cannot gain their point; or be brought to shame and confusion eternally;

for they dealt perversely with me without a cause; or, "they perverted me [with] falsehood" {w}; that is, they endeavoured to pervert him with lies and falsehood, and lead him out of the right way; or they attempted, by their lies and calumnies, to make him out to be a perverse and wicked man, and pronounced and condemned him as such, without any foundation or just cause for it;

[but] I will meditate in thy precepts; he was determined, in the strength of grace, that those ill usages should not take off his thoughts from religious things, or divert him from his duty to his God: none of these things moved him; he still went on in the ways of God, in his worship and service, as Daniel did, when in like circumstances.

{w} ynwtwe rqv "mendacio me opprimere quaerunt," Tigurine version; "mendaciis," Piscator, Cocceius, Michaelis.

Verse 79. Let those that fear thee turn unto me,.... Whose companion he was fond of being, Psalm 119:63; There were some good men, it seems, that turned from him, took the part of his enemies, and sided with them against him, which was matter of grief to him. Some think this refers to the affair of Bathsheba; when some that feared the Lord, that had been familiar with him, did not choose to keep company with him, but abstained from his conversation, having so foully sinned, and brought forth dishonour to God and on his ways. Jarchi and Kimchi both make mention of this. Now this grieved David; and he desires of all things that they would turn to him again, and favour him with their company; who were the excellent in the earth, in whom was all his delight. The Targum is, "turn to my doctrine;" to hear it, receive it, profess it, and abide by it;

and those that have known thy testimonies; as such as fear the Lord do: they know them, and have a spiritual understanding of what they testify of; they know them, and love them, and delight in them; they know them, and own, acknowledge, and profess them; they know them, and keep, and observe them; and an excellent character this is.

Verse 80. Let my heart be found in thy statutes,.... Or "perfect," and sincere: he desires that he might have a sincere regard to the ways and worship, ordinances and commands, of God; that he might have a cordial affection for them, and observe them, not in show and appearance only, but heartily as to the Lord, and in reality and truth, like an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile;

that I be not ashamed; before men, conscious of guilt; or before God, at the throne of grace; where a believer sometimes is ashamed to come, not having had that regard to the statutes of the Lord he should have had, and that he might not be ashamed before him at the last day; but have confidence, having the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, and the true grace of God implanted in him; which engaged him to a regard to all his commandments.

k, CAPH.--The Eleventh Part.

Verse 81. CAPH. My soul fainteth for thy salvation, Either for temporal salvation and deliverance from enemies; which, being promised, was expected by him from the Lord; but not coming so soon as looked for, his spirits began to sink and faint: or for spiritual and eternal salvation, for a view of interest in it, for the joys and comforts of it, and for the full possession of is in heaven; and, particularly, for the promised Messiah, the author of it, often called the Salvation of God, because prepared and appointed by him to be the author of it: of him there was a promise, which gave the Old Testament saints reason to expect him, and for him they waited; his coming they earnestly wished for, but being long deferred, were sometimes out of heart, and ready to faint, which was here David's case;

[but] I hope in thy word; the word of promise concerning deliverance and salvation, especially by the Messiah, which supported him, and kept him from fainting; that being firm and sure, for ever settled in heaven, and has the oath of God annexed to it, for the confirmation of it; and God is faithful that has promised, and is also able to perform; so that his word lays a solid foundation for faith and hope.

Verse 82. Mine eyes fail for thy word,.... Either with looking for the Messiah, the essential Word, that was to be, and afterwards was made flesh, and dwelt among men; or for the fulfilment of the word of promise, on which he was made to hope; but that being deferred; and he believing in hope against hope, and looking out continually till it was accomplished, his eyes grew weary, and failed him, and he was just ready to give up all expectation of it; see Psalm 77:8;

saying, when wilt thou comfort me? The people of God are sometimes very disconsolate, and need comforting, through the prevalence of sin, the power of Satan's temptations, the hidings of God's face, and a variety of afflictions; when they apply to God for comfort, who only can comfort them, and who has his set times to do it; but they are apt to think it long, and inquire, as David here, when it will be.

Verse 83. For I am become like a bottle in the smoke,.... Like a bottle made of the skins of beasts, as was usual in those times and countries: hence we read of old and new bottles, and of their rending, Judges 9:13 Matthew 9:17. Now such a bottle being hung up in a smoky chimney, would be dried and shrivelled up, and be good for nothing; so Jarchi's note is, "like a bottle made of skin, which is dried in smoke;" and the Targum is, "like a bottle that hangs in smoke."

It denotes the uncomfortable condition the psalmist was in, or at least thought himself to be in; as to be in the midst of smoke is very uncomfortable, so was he, being in darkness, and under the hidings of God's face; black and sooty, like a bottle in smoke, with sin and afflictions; like an empty bottle, had nothing in him, as he was ready to fear; or was useless as such an one, and a vessel in which there was no pleasure; like a broken one, as he elsewhere says, despised and rejected of men. It may also have respect unto the form of his body, as well as the frame of his mind; be who before was ruddy, and of a beautiful countenance, now was worn out with cares and old age, was become pale and wrinkled, and like a skin bottle shrivelled in smoke;

[yet] do I not forget thy statutes; he still attended to the word, worship, ways and ordinances of the Lord; hoping in due time to meet with comfort there, in which he was greatly in the right.

Verse 84. How many [are] the days of thy servant?.... If this is to be understood of the days of his life, they were very few, as the days of every man be; and if of his days of joy and comfort, peace and prosperity, they were fewer still; but if of days of adversity and affliction, which seems to be the sense, they were many indeed;

when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me? good men have their persecutors; there is a judgment that will be executed on them, if not here, yet hereafter; it is a righteous thing with God to do it; it is often deferred when the saints, through zeal for the glory of God, and the honour of his justice, as well as for their own deliverance and comfort, are at times somewhat impatient for it, and earnestly solicit it, as the psalmist here; see Revelation 6:9.

Verse 85. The proud have digged pits for me,.... Laid snares and temptations in his way, to draw him into sin, and so into mischief; they sought indeed to take away his life, and formed schemes for it. The allusion is to the digging of pits for the taking of wild beasts; which shows the ill opinion they had of David, and their ill usage of him; see Psalm 7:15;

which [are] not after thy law; no, contrary to it; which forbids the digging of a pit, and leaving it uncovered, so that a neighbour's beast might fall into it, Exodus 21:33; and if those might not be dug to the injury of beasts, then much less to the injury of men, to the hurt of the servants of the Lord, or to the shedding of innocent blood, which the law forbids.

Verse 86. All thy commandments [are] faithful,.... Or, "faithfulness" {x} they are made by a faithful God, who is holy, just, and true; they command faithfulness, sincerity, and uprightness; and require men to love their neighbours as themselves, and to do all they do faithfully, cordially, and affectionately; they are to be done in truth and faithfulness, in charity, out of a pure heart, and faith unfeigned; and therefore to dig pits for men must not be after, but contrary, to the law of God;

they persecute me wrongfully; without a cause, purely out of ill will and for religion's sake; which, as it is an argument with the saints to bear persecution patiently, it is used as an argument with the Lord, to arise and appear on the behalf of his persecuted ones, as follows:

help thou me; against my persecutors, and out of their hands: God is able to help his people; he has promised to do it; it may be expected from him; and he is a present help in time of trouble. This is a suitable petition in the mouths of God's people, and should be a prayer of faith.

{x} hnwma "fides," Tigurine version, Piscator; "veritas et fidelitas," Michaelis; so Ainsworth.

Verse 87. They had almost consumed me upon earth,.... Almost destroyed his good name, wasted his substance, took away his crown and kingdom, and even his life; it was within a little of it, his soul had almost dwelt in silence; they had almost cast him down to the ground, and left him there. But all this was only on earth; they could not reach any thing that belonged to him in heaven; not his name, which was written there in the Lamb's book of life; nor his riches and inheritance there, the never fading crown of glory laid up for him there; or that eternal life, which is hid with Christ in God for him;

but I forsook not thy precepts; did not decline the service and worship of God, nor neglect his word and ordinances, though thus persecuted, and all these things came upon him for the sake of religion; see Psalm 44:17.

Verse 88. Quicken me after thy lovingkindness,.... According to it, and with it; let me have some discoveries of it, and of interest in it; and that will quicken me, revive and comfort me, under all the reproaches, ill usage, and persecutions of men. The love of God shed abroad in the heart comforts and supports under all sorts of afflictions; it quickens the graces of the Spirit, and brings them forth into lively exercise, as faith, hope, and love; and to a diligent and fervent discharge of every duty: it constrains to love the Lord, and live to him, to his glory, in obedience to his will;

so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth; the word of God, which comes out of his mouth, testifies of him, and of his mind and will; and which is to be received and observed, as being greater than the testimony of men, 1 John 5:9.

  • John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible