Psalms Chapter 119:1-16 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin
Psa 119:1
1Blessed are they who are upright In these words the prophet sets forth the same paradox which we met with at the commencement of the Book of Psalms. All men naturally aspire after happiness, but instead of searching for it in the right path, they designedly prefer wandering up and down through endless by-paths, to their ruin and destruction. The Holy Spirit deservedly condemns this apathy and blindness. And but for man’s cupidity, which, with brutish impetuosity, hurries him in the opposite direction, the meaning of the words would appear quite plain to him. And the further a man wanders from God, the happier does he imagine himself to be; and hence all treat, as a fable, what the Holy Spirit declares about true piety and the service of God. This is a doctrine which scarcely one among a hundred receives.

The term way, is here put for the manner, or course and way of life: and hence he calls those upright in their way, whose sincere and uniform desire it is to practice righteousness, and to devote their life to this purpose. In the next clause of the verse, he specifics more clearly, that a godly and righteous life consists in walking in the law of God If a person follow his own humor and caprice, he is certain to go astray; and even should he enjoy the applause of the whole world, he will only weary himself with very vanity. But it may be asked, whether the prophet excludes from the hope of happiness all who do not worship God perfectly? Were this his meaning, it would follow that none except angels alone would be happy, seeing that the perfect observance of the law is to be found in no part, of the earth. The answer is easy: When uprightness is demanded of the children of God, they do not lose the gracious remission of their sins, in which their salvation alone consists. While, then, the servants of God are happy, they still need to take refuge in his mercy, because their uprightness is not complete. In this manner are they who faithfully observe the law of God said to be truly happy; and thus is fulfilled that which is declared in Psa_32:2, “Blessed are they to whom God imputeth not sins.”

Adam Clarke
Psa 119:1
Blessed are the undefiled in the way – אשרי תמימי דרך ashrey temimey darech, “O the blessedness of the perfect ones in the way.” This Psalm begins something like the first, where see the notes Psa_1:1-6 (note). By the perfect, which is the proper meaning of the original word, we are to undertsand those who sincerely believe what God has spoken, religiously observe all the rules and ceremonies of his religion, and have their lives and hearts regulated by the spirit of love, fear, and obedience. This is farther stated in the second verse.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Psa 119:1
Psa_119:1-176. This celebrated Psalm has several peculiarities. It is divided into twenty-two parts or stanzas, denoted by the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each stanza contains eight verses, and the first letter of each verse is that which gives name to the stanza. Its contents are mainly praises of God’s Word, exhortations to its perusal, and reverence for it, prayers for its proper influence, and complaints of the wicked for despising it. There are but two verses (Psa_119:122, Psa_119:132) which do not contain some term or description of God’s Word. These terms are of various derivations, but here used, for the most part, synonymously, though the use of a variety of terms seems designed, in order to express better the several aspects in which our relations to the revealed word of God are presented. The Psalm does not appear to have any relation to any special occasion or interest of the Jewish Church or nation, but was evidently “intended as a manual of pious thoughts, especially for instructing the young, and its peculiar artificial structure was probably adopted to aid the memory in retaining the language.”

Aleph. (Psalm 119:1-8).

undefiled — literally, “complete,” perfect, or sincere (compare Psa_37:37).

in — or, “of”

the way — course of life.

walk — act

in the law — according to it (compare Luk_1:6).

law — from a word meaning “to teach,” is a term of rather general purport, denoting the instruction of God’s Word.

John Calvin
Ps 119:2
In the second verse, the same doctrine is confirmed more fully, by pronouncing blessed, not. such as are wise in their own conceit, or assume a sort of fantastical holiness, but those who dedicate themselves to the covenant of God, and yield obedience to the dictates of hits law. Farther, by these words, he tells us that God is by no means satisfied with mere external service, for he demands the sincere and honest affection of the heart. And assuredly, if God be the sole judge and disposer of our life:, the truth must occupy the principal place in our heart, because it is not sufficient to have our hands and feet only enlisted in his service.

Albert Barnes
Psa 119:2
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies – His commandments or laws, considered as what he bears witness to concerning that which is just, wise, good. Every law of a parent is to his children a testimony on his part of what is wise and right and good; and so every law of God is his solemn testimony as to what is right and good for man. See Psa_19:7, note; Psa_25:10, note.

And that seek him with the whole heart – With a sincere desire to know his will and to do it; without hypocrisy or guile; with no selfish or sinister aims. As God knows the heart, all other modes of “seeking” him must be in vain. It is impossible for man to impose on him by appearances.

John Calvin
Psa 119:3
3.Surely they do not work iniquity The statement, that they who follow God as their guide do not work iniquity, may seem to be a mere common-place, and universally admitted truth. The prophet has two reasons for making it; first, to teach us that our life must be entirely under the direction of God; and, secondly, that we may more diligently and carefully attend to his doctrine. It is acknowledged by every one, that those who render obedience to God are in no danger of going astray, and yet every one is found turning aside to his own ways. Does not such licentiousness or presumption palpably demonstrate that they have a greater regard for their own devices than for the unerring law of God? And after all, as often as a man happens to fall, is not the plea of inadvertence instantly alleged, as if none ever sinned knowingly and voluntarily; or as if the law of God, which is an antidote to all delinquencies, because it keeps all our vicious propensities in check, did not furnish us with sufficient wisdom to put us upon our guard? The prophet, therefore, very justly declares, that those who are instructed in the law of God, cannot set up the plea of ignorance when they fall into sin, seeing they are willfully blind. Were they to attend carefully to God’s voice, they would be well fortified against all the snares of Satan. To strike them with terror, he informs them in the fourth verse, that God demands a rigid observance of the law; from which it may be gathered, that he will not suffer the contemners of it to escape with impunity. Besides, by speaking to God in the second person, he places him before our eyes as a Judge.

Matthew Poole
Psa 119:3
Do no iniquity; or, are not workers of iniquity, i.e. do not knowingly, and resolvedly, and industriously, and customarily continue in sinful courses. So this phrase is understood Job_31:3 34:8 Psa_5:5 6:8 125:5 Pro_10:29 Luk_13:27; otherwise there is not a just man upon earth that sinneth not, Ecc_7:20.

They walk: this is their constant practice, and the general course of their lives, which is commonly signified by walking, as Psa_1:1, and every where.

In his ways; in the paths which God hath prescribed to them.

Albert Barnes
Psa 119:3
They also do no iniquity – See the notes at 1Jo_3:9. The meaning is, that they are righteous; their character is that they do that which is right. It cannot mean that all persons who are religious are actually and absolutely perfect – for no man would hold this opinion; no one does hold it. It is general language such as is commonly used to describe an upright or righteous man. The declaration is true of all who are the friends of God – or, who are truly; religious – in the following senses:

(1) That they are habitually and characteristically righteous;

(2) That they intend to do right – for a man who deliberately purposes to do wrong – to lead a life of sin and disobedience, cannot be a pious man.

(3) That when they do err, it is not the result of intention, or the design of their life, but because they are tempted; are overcome with passion; are led by the power of their native corruption of heart to act contrary to their better judgment and their true character.

See Rom_7:14-17. On the other hand, it is true that a man who is not characteristically righteous; who is not an upright man in his dealings; who is not true, and honest, and temperate, and just, and benevolent, cannot be a child of God and heir of heaven. No exactness of orthodoxy, and no fervour of emotion, and no zeal in the cause of religion, can constitute true piety without this.

They walk in his ways – Habitually; constantly; characteristically. They are not merely honest, upright, and just in their dealings with men, but they walk in the ways of God; they are religious.

Adam Clarke
Psa 119:4
Thy precepts diligently – מאד meod, “superlatively, to the uttermost.” God has never given a commandment, the observance of which he knew to be impossible. And to whatsoever he has commanded he requires obedience; and his grace is sufficient for us. We must not trifle with God.

Albert Barnes
Psa 119:4
Thou hast commanded – All this is here traced to the command of God; to the fact that he has required it. It is not mere human prudence; it is not mere morality; it is not because it will be for our interest; it is because God requires it. This is the foundation of all true virtue; and until a man acts from this motive it cannot be said that he is in the proper sense a righteous man.

To keep thy precepts diligently – Hebrew, “very much;” that is, to do it constantly; faithfully. Each one of his laws is to be observed, and to be observed always, and in all circumstances.

John Calvin
Psa 119:5
5I wish that my ways may be directed The original word כון, kun, is sometimes rendered to establish, and, accordingly, it may seem as if the prophet were soliciting for himself the virtue of perseverance. I am rather inclined to understand it as signifying to direct; for, although God’s plainly instructing us in his law, the obtuseness of our understanding, and the perversity of our hearts, constantly need the direction of his Spirit. Our main desire, therefore, ought to be for an understanding wisely regulated by the law of God, and also for a docile and obedient heart.

Albert Barnes
Psa 119:5
O that my ways were directed … – Indicating the desire of the pious heart. That desire – a prevailing, constant, uniform desire – is to keep the law of God. It is the aim of the life; it is the supreme purpose of the soul; it is the ruling wish of the man, thus to keep the law of God. He in whose bosom this is not the constant wish cannot be a pious man. The Hebrew particle used here, and rendered “O that,” is a particle denoting a wish, or an earnest desire. The word “ways” denotes the course of life. The whole is expressive of an earnest desire to live in accordance with the law of God. It implies also a sense of dependence on God.

John Calvin
Ps 119:6
Next, he adds, if a man carefully observe the law of God, he need be under no apprehension that he will ever regret what he has done or undertaken to do. The word respect intimates, that we must not be influenced by our own designs, nor decide, according to Carnal reason, what we are to do, but must at once come to the determination, that they who turn not aside, either to the right hand or the left, from the observance of God’s commandments, are indeed in the right path. They who reverently respect his law, may not escape the censure of the great bulk of mankind, yet the prophet declares, that They shall not be ashamed, because they have a good conscience in the presence of God and the angels, and, with the approval of this celestial assembly, they are well satisfied and contented; for if they depended upon the opinion of the world, their courage would presently fail. He says, all thy precepts, intimating, that among the snares of Satan, amid such thick darkness and so great insensibility as ours, the utmost vigilance and caution are necessary, if we would aim at being entirely exempted from blame. Wherefore, in all that we do, we must endeavor to have the law before us, to keep us from falling.

Adam Clarke
Psa 119:6
Then shall I not be ashamed – Every act of transgression in the wicked man tends to harden his heart; and render it callous. If a man who fears God is so unhappy as to fall into sin, his conscience reproaches him, and he is ashamed before God and man. This is a full proof that God’s Spirit has not utterly departed from him, and that he may repent, believe and be healed.

Unto all thy commandments – God requires universal obedience, and all things are possible to him whom Christ strengthens; and all things are possible to him that believes. Allow that any of God’s commandments may be transgressed, and we shall soon have the whole decalogue set aside.

Albert Barnes
Psa 119:6
Then shall I not be ashamed – On the word ashamed, see Job_6:20, note; Psa_25:2-3, note. The meaning here is, that he would not have occasion to be ashamed; he would not be disappointed; all his hopes would be realized. He would have full evidence of piety; he would enjoy the comforts which he sought in religion; he would feel assured of ultimately obtaining eternal life.

When I have respect unto all thy commandments – literally, “In my looking at all thy commandments.” That is, in his regarding them; in his feeling that all were equally binding on him; and in his having the consciousness that he had not intentionally neglected, violated, or disregarded any of them. There can be no true piety except where a man intends to keep all the commands of God. If he makes a selection among them, keeping this one or that one, as may be most convenient for him, or as may be most for his interest, or as may be most popular, it is full proof that he knows nothing of the nature of true religion. A child has no proper respect for a parent if he obeys him only as shall suit his whim or his convenience; and no man can be a pious man who does not purpose, in all honesty, to keep All the commandments of God; to submit to his will in everything.

John Calvin
Psa 119:7
7.I will praise thee He affirms it to be a singular instance of the loving-kindness of God, if a person has made considerable proficiency in his law. As a token and testimony of this, he here puts the giving of thanks to God; as if he should say, Lord, thou wilt confer upon me an inestimable blessing, if thou instruct me in thy law. It follows, therefore, that nothing in this life is more to be desired than this; and my fervent prayer is, that we may be fairly and fully convinced of the truth of it. For while searching carefully after such things as we deem advantageous to us, we do not overlook any earthly convenience, and yet we neglect that which is of most importance. The phrase, the judgments of thy righteousness, is the same with the commandments, in which perfect righteousness is comprehended; and thus the prophet commends God’s law on account of the thorough perfection of the doctrine contained in it. From this verse we learn, that none will praise God unfeignedly and cordially but he who has made such proficiency in his school as to mold his life into subjection to him. It is vain to make a pretense of praising God with the mouth and the tongue if we dishonor him by our life. Hence the prophet very justly here makes the fruit of genuine piety to consist in celebrating the praises of God without hypocrisy.

Albert Barnes
Psa 119:7
I will praise thee with uprightness of heart – With an upright and sincere heart.

When I shall have learned – Hebrew, “In my learning.” In the practice or act of learning them. His own experience of their nature, influence, and value would lead him to sincere praise. He had no doubt of finding that they were worthy of his praises, and of seeing in them more and more occasion to glorify and honor God. The more we know of God, the more shall we see in him to praise. The larger our acquaintance and experience, the more our hearts will be disposed to magnify his name. This remark must extend to all that there is in God to be learned; and as that is infinite, so there will be occasion for renewed and more elevated praise to all eternity.

Thy righteous judgments – Margin, as in Hebrew, “Judgments of thy righteousness.” The laws or statutes which God, as a righteous or just God, appoints to be the rule of conduct to his creatures.

John Calvin
Psa 119:8
8 I will observe thy statutes In these words he avers it to be his intention to observe the law of God, but, conscious of his own weakness, he utters a prayer that God would not deprive him of his grace. The term forsake is susceptible of two interpretations, either that God withdraws his Spirit, or that he permits his people to be brought low by adversity, as if he had forsaken them. The latter interpretation agrees best with the context, and is most in accordance with the phrase immediately subjoined, very far. The prophet is not altogether averse to the trial of his faith, only he is apprehensive lest it might fail were the trial to be too long protracted, and therefore he desires to be treated with tenderness in his infirmity.,’ O God! thou sees my frame of mind, and, as I am but a man, do not conceal too long from me the tokens of thy favor, or defer helping me longer than is proper for me, lest, imagining myself to be forsaken of thee, I turn aside from the direct pursuit of godliness.”

Adam Clarke
Psa 119:8
O forsake me not utterly – עד מאד ad meod, “to utter dereliction;” never leave me to my own strength, nor to my own heart!

Albert Barnes
Psa 119:8
I will keep thy statutes – Thy commands; thy laws. This expresses the firm purpose of the psalmist, He meant to keep the law of God; he could confidently say that he would do it – yet coupled with the prayer which follows, that God would not forsake him.

O forsake me not utterly – Hebrew, “To very much;” so as to leave me to myself. His confidence that he would keep the commandments of God was based on the prayer that God would not leave him. There is no other ground of persuasion that we shall be able to keep the commandments of God than that which rests on the belief and the hope that He will not leave us.

John Calvin
Psa 119:9
9.Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way? In this place he repeats, in different words, the same truth which he formerly advanced, That, however much men may pique themselves upon their own works, there is nothing pure in their life until they have made a complete surrender of themselves to the word of the Lord. The more effectually to excite them to this, he produces, in an especial manner, the example of children or youths. In mentioning these, he by no means gives an unbridled license to those who have arrived at mature years, or who are aged, as if they were competent to regulate their own life, and as if their own prudence served as a law to them; but because youth puts men where two ways meet, and renders it imperative for them to select the course of life which they mean to follow, he declares that, when a person sets about the regulation of his life, no advice will prove of any advantage, unless he adopts the law of God as his rule and guide. In this way the prophet stimulates men to an early and seasonable regulation of their manners, and not to delay doing so any longer, agreeably to the words of Solomon, “Remember thy Creator in thy youth, ere the days of trouble come, and the years which shall be grief unto thee,” Ecc_12:1 They who defer from time to time become hardened in their vicious practices, and arrive at mature years, when it is too late to attempt a reformation. There is another reason, arising from the fact, of the carnal propensities being very powerful in youth, requiring a dortble restraint; and the more they are inclined to excess, the greater is the necessity for curbing their licentiousness. The prophet, therefore, not without reason, exhorts them particularly to attend to the observance of the law. We may reason from the greater to the less; for if the law of God possesses the power of restraining the impetuosity of youth, so as to preserve pure and upright all who take it for their guide, then, assuredly, when they come to maturity, and their irregular desires are considerably abated, it will prove the best antidote for correcting their vices. The reason, therefore, of so much evil prevailing in the world, arises from men wallowing in their own impurity, and being disposed to yield more to their own inclination than to heavenly instruction. The only sure protection is, to regulate ourselves according to God’s word. Some, wise in their own conceit, throw themselves into the snares of Satan, others, from listlessness and languor, live a vile and wicked life.

Adam Clarke
Psa 119:9
A young man cleanse his way – ארח orach, which we translate way here, signifies a track, a rut, such as is made by the wheel of a cart or chariot. A young sinner has no broad beaten path; he has his private ways of offense, his secret pollutions: and how shall he be cleansed from these? how can he be saved from what will destroy mind, body, and soul? Let him hear what follows; the description is from God.

1. He is to consider that his way is impure; and how abominable this must make him appear in the sight of God.

2. He must examine it according to God’s word, and carefully hear what God has said concerning him and it.

3. He must take heed to it, לשמר lishmor, to keep guard, and preserve his way – his general course of life, from all defilement.

Albert Barnes
Psa 119:9
Wherewithal – This begins the second portion of the psalm, extending to Psa_119:16, in which all the verses begin with the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet (ב b), indicated in our translation by the word Beth. These names of the letters, inserted for convenience, are no part of the psalm, as it is not so marked in the original. This mode of indicating the divisions of the psalm is special to our version. It is not in the Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate, or the German versions. The word wherewithal means “by what” (Hebrew); that is, What means shall a young man adopt by which he may “cleanse his way?” it indicates a state of inquiry. The case supposed is that of a young man pondering the question how he may be saved from the corruptions of his own heart, and escape the temptations to which he is exposed in early years, and lead a pure and upright life. There can be no more important inquiry for one just entering on the journey of life; there can be found nowhere a more just and comprehensive answer than is contained in this single verse. All the precepts of ancient and modern wisdom, all the teachings of pagan morality and religion, and all the results of the experience of mankind, could furnish nothing in addition to what is here suggested. The world has no higher wisdom than this by which to guide a young man, so that he may lead a holy life.

Shall a young man – The remark here might be applied also to those who are in middle life, or even to those who are in more advanced years, but it is applied here especially to the young, because it may be supposed that in the other cases the matter may be regarded as settled by experience; because to the young, as they commence life, the inquiry is so momentous; and because it is a question which it may be supposed will come up before the mind of every young man who has any right aspirations, and any proper conception of the dangers which encompass his path.

Cleanse his way? – Make his course of life pure and upright. The language does not necessarily imply that there had been any previous impurity or vice, but it has particular reference to the future: not how he might cleanse himself from past offences, but how he might make the future pure. The inquiry is, how he might conduct himself – what principles he could adopt – under what influence he could bring himself – so that his future course would be honest, honorable, upright.

By taking heed thereto … – The word “thereto” is not in the original. The Hebrew is, “To keep according to thy word;” or, “in keeping according to thy word.” Prof. Alexander supposes that this means “to keep it (his way) according to thy word;” and that the whole is a question – “How may a young man so cleanse his way as to keep it according to thy word?” – and that the answer to the question is to be found in the general strain of the psalm, or in the general principles laid down in the psalm. But it is clear that the answer to the question must be found in the verse, or not found at all; and the most natural construction is that in our translation. So DeWette renders it: “How can a young man walk guiltless? If (or, when) he holds (or, keeps) himself according to thy word.” The meaning clearly is If he governs himself according to the law of God – if he makes that law the rule of his life and conduct, he would be enabled to do it. All other things might fail; this rule would never fail, in making and keeping a man pure. The more principles of common honesty, the principles of honor, the considerations of self-interest, the desire of reputation – valuable as they may be – would not constitute a security in regard to his conduct; the law of God would, for that is wholly pure.

John Calvin
Psa 119:10
10.With my whole heart Conscious of the integrity of his heart, the prophet still implores the help of God, that he might not stumble by reason of his infirmity. He makes no boast of self-preparation, as if he had spontaneously begun to inquire after God, but in praising the grace which he had experienced, he at the same time aspires after steadfastness to persevere in walking in his ways. It is folly on the part of the Papists to seize upon this and similar passages, as if the saints, of their own free will, anticipated the grace of the Holy Spirit, and afterwards were favored with his aid. The prophet does not make a division between God and himself, but rather prays God to continue his work till it is completed, agreeably with what we are generally taught, to keep God mindful of his benefits until he accomplish them.

In the meantime, there is good cause for presenting our supplication to God, to stretch out his hand towards us when he sees our minds so settled, that we are solicitous of nothing so much as acting uprightly. And as he elevates us with confidence to ask the gift of perseverance, when he inspires our hearts with proper affection towards him, so also does he entreat us for the future not to sink into a careless and languid state like soldiers who have been discharged, but seek to be constantly directed by the spirit of wisdom, and to be sustained by the principles of fortitude and virtue. David here, from his own example, points out to us a rule, that by how much a man finds himself succored by God, by so much ought he to be induced the more carefully and earnestly to implore the continuance of his aid; for unless he restrain us, we will instantly wander and go astray. This sentiment is more explicitly stated in the original word תשגני, tashqeni, which is in the passive voice, and signifies, to be led astray From the import of the term, I do not mean to establish the doctrine that God secretly incites us to commit sin, but only to let my readers know, that such is our liability to err, that we immediately relapse into sin the instant he leaves us to ourselves. This passage also admonishes us that the man who swerves but a little from God’s commandments is guilty of going astray.

Adam Clarke
Psa 119:10
With my whole heart have I sought thee –
4. He must seek God, make earnest prayer and supplication to him for Divine light, for a tender conscience, and for strength to walk uprightly.

5. His whole heart; all his affections must be engaged here, or he cannot succeed. If he keep any affection for the idol or abomination; if his heart do not give it before the Lord, he may make many prayers, but God will answer none of them.

6. He must take care to keep in the path of duty, of abstinence and self-denial; not permitting either his eye, his hand, or his heart to wander from the commandments of his Maker.

John Calvin
Psa 119:11
11.I have hid thy word in my heart.This psalm not being composed for the personal and peculiar use of the author only, we may therefore understand, that as frequently as David sets before us his own example, under this model he points out the course we ought to pursue. Here we are informed that we are well fortified against the stratagems of Satan when God’s law is deeply seated in our hearts. For unless it have a fast and firm hold there, we will readily fall into sin. Among scholars, those whose knowledge is confined to books, if they have not the book always before them, readily discover their ignorance; in like manner, if we do not imbibe the doctrine of God, and are well acquainted with it, Satan will easily surprise and entangle us in his meshes. Our true safeguard, then, lies not in a slender knowledge of his law, or in a careless perusal of it, but in hiding it deeply in our hearts. Here we are reminded, that however men may be convinced of their own wisdom, they are yet destitute of all right judgment, except as far as they have God as their teacher.

Matthew Poole
Psa 119:11
I have not contented myself with bare hearing or reading thy word, but have received it in the love of it, have diligently pondered it, and laid it up in my mind and memory like a choice treasure, to be ready upon all occasions, to counsel, or comfort, or quicken, or caution me, as need requires; that by a diligent and affectionate consideration of thy precepts, and promises, and threatenings, I might be kept from sinful courses, against which these are the best antidote.

Albert Barnes
Psa 119:11
Thy word have I hid in mine heart – Compare the notes at Psa_37:31. The word rendered “hid” means properly to conceal, so that a thing may be secret, private, inaccessible; then, to lay up in private, to treasure up. to hoard – as money or jewels – commonly “hidden” from public view. Job_20:26; Psa_17:14. Then it means to lay up in one’s heart, as a secret, inaccessible place; to hide one’s thoughts; purposes, designs; or to lay up knowledge or wisdom in the heart as a treasure, Job_10:13; Pro_2:1; Pro_7:1. The meaning here is, that he had “treasured” up the word of God, as the most valuable thing, in his heart; it was “there,” though unseen; it constituted the secret power by which he was governed; it was permanently deposited there, as the most valuable of his treasures.

That I might not sin against thee – That it might protect me from sinning against thee. That I might be continually guided by its precepts; that I might be admonished of duty; that I might be deterred from going astray.

John Calvin
Psa 119:12
12.Blessed art thou, O Jehovah! Such had been the prophet’s proficiency, that he was not only one of ‘God’s disciples, but also a public teacher of the Church. Nevertheless, acknowledging himself and all the upright to be only one their journey till they arrive at the close of life, he fails not to ask for the spirit of understanding. This passage informs us generally, that if God do not enlighten us with the spirit of discernment, we are not competent to behold the light which shines forth from his law, though it be constantly before us. And thus it happens, that not a few are blind even when surrounded with the clear revelation of this doctrine, because, confident in their own perspicacity, they contemn the internal illumination of the Holy Spirit. Farther, let us learn from this passage, that none are possessed of such superiority of intellect as not to admit of constant increase. If the prophet, upon whom God had conferred so honorable an office as a teacher of the Church, confesses himself to be only a disciple or scholar, what madness is it for those who are, greatly behind him in point of attainments not to strain every nerve to rise to higher excellence? Nor does he depend upon his own merits for obtaining his requests; he beseeches God to grant them from a regard to his own glory. This appears from the phraseology by which he introduces his request, Blessed art thou, O Jehovah! intimating, that his confidence of success originated in God’s being fully entitled to all praise on account of his unbounded goodness, justice, and mercy.

Albert Barnes
Psa 119:12
Blessed art thou, O Lord – Blessed art thou as the author of such a law. This language of benediction or doxology is an outbreak of feeling or adoration in view of such a law – so good, so holy, so suited to direct and guide man. The mind is full of the subject; and the lips give vent to the feeling of gratitude and joy that such a law had been revealed to people.

Teach me thy statutes – Make me more and more acquainted with a law so pure, so rich, so valuable.

John Calvin
Psa 119:13
13.With my lips In this verse he declares that the law of God was not only deeply engraven on his own heart, but that it was his earnest and strenuous endeavor to gain over many of his fellow-disciples into subjection to God. It is indeed a heartless matter to speak of the law of God abstractly, as we see hypocrites do, who talk very fluently about the whole doctrine of godliness, to which they are entire strangers. What the prophet noticed above, respecting the affection of the heart for God’s law, he now likewise applies to the lips.

Albert Barnes
Psa 119:13
With my lips have I declared – That is, I have openly and publicly made thy words known to others; I have defended and vindicated them.

All the judgments – The word judgments here means the same as statutes or laws: and the idea is, that he had been on the side of those laws, and had endeavored by argument and persuasion to bring others under their influence. How he had done it we are not informed; but we have no reason to suppose that the author of the psalm was a minister of religion, and if not, then we have here an example of what a man who does not claim to be a public teacher may do, and should do, in making known and defending divine truth. Every man is as much bound to do this in his sphere as the minister of religion is in his; and private member’s of the church have often an opportunity of doing this to more advantage than the ministers of the gospel possess.

Of thy mouth – With my mouth I speak those things which have proceeded from thine. I speak in thy name; I declare thy truth. It is not my own; it is thine.

John Calvin
Ps 119:14 And, immediately afterwards, he again establishes the truth of what he had asserted about his cordial and unfeigned endeavors to instruct others; by saying, that he derived no less pleasure from the doctrine of God than from all the riches of the world. He indirectly contrasts his holy love for the law, with which he was inflamed, with the unholy avarice which has taken possession of almost all the world. “As wealth attracts to itself the hearts of mankind, so I have taken more exquisite delight in the progress which I make in the doctrine of godliness, than if I abounded in all manner of riches.”

Adam Clarke
Psa 119:14
I have rejoiced – 11. He must consider it his chief happiness to be found in the path of obedience, giving his whole heart and strength to God; and when enabled to do it, he should rejoice more in it than if he had gained thousands of gold and silver. O how great is the treasure of a tender and approving conscience!

John Calvin
Psa 119:15
15.In thy precepts That to which I formerly adverted must not be forgotten — the prophet’s not making a boast of his own acquirements, but setting before others an example for their imitation. We are aware that the majority of mankind are so much involved in the cares of the world, as to leave no time or leisure for meditating upon the doctrine of God. To meet this callous indifference, he very seasonably commends diligence and attention. And even were we not so ensnared by the world, we know how readily we lose sight of the law of God, in the daily temptations which suddenly overtake us. It is not therefore without reason that the prophet exhorts us to constant exercise, and enjoins us to direct all our energies to the subject of meditation on God’s precepts. And as the life of men is unstable, being continually distracted by the carnality of their minds, he declares that he will consider attentively the ways of God.

Adam Clarke
Psa 119:15
I will meditate –
12. He should encourage self-examination and reflection; and meditate frequently on God’s words, works, and ways – and especially on his gracious dealings towards him.

13. He should keep his eye upon God’s steps; setting the example of his Savior before his eyes, going where he would go, and nowhere else; doing what he would do, and nothing else; keeping the company that he would keep, and none else; and doing every thing in reference to the final judgment.

John Calvin
Ps 119:16 Subsequently, he repeats the exquisite pleasure he took in this pursuit. For our proficiency in the law of God will be small, until we cheerfully and heartily set our minds upon it. And, in fact, the commencement of a good life consists in God’s law attracting us to him by its sweetness. By the same means the lusts of the flesh, too, are subdued or mitigated. In our natural state, what is more agreeable to us than that which is sinful? This will be the constant tendency of our minds, unless the delight which we feel in the law carry us in the opposite direction.

Adam Clarke
Psa 119:16
I will delight myself – The word is very emphatical: אשתעשע eshtaasha, I will skip about and jump for joy.

14. He must exult in God’s word as his treasure, live in the spirit of obedience as his work, and ever glory in God, who has called him to such a state of salvation.

15. He must never forget what God has done for him, done in him, and promised farther to do; and he must not forget the promises he had made, and the vows of the Lord that are upon him. Any young man who attends to these fifteen particulars will get his impure way cleansed; victory over his sin; and, if he abide faithful to the Lord that bought him, an eternal heaven at last among them that are sanctified.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s