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PART VII - New York: Robert Carter, 1876

PART VII.

49. Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou

hast caused me to hope.

What is faith? It is hope upon God's word. The warrant

of faith is therefore the word. The object of faith is he

that causeth us to hope. He has not forgotten—he cannot

forget, his word. But he permits—nay, commands his

servants to remind him of it (Isa. lxii. 6. M. R.) in order

to exercise their faith, diligence, and patience. Often

indeed, "hope deferred maketh the heart sick." (Prov. xii

12.) But it is not needless delay (Hab. ii. 3)—not igno-

rance of the fittest time (Isa. xxx. 18)—not forgetfulness

(Ps. cxi. 5)—not changeableness (Mal. iii. 6)—not weak-

ness. (1 Sam. xv. 29.) Meanwhile, however, constantly

plead the promise—Remember the word unto thy servant.

This is the proper use of the promises, as "arguments

wherewith to fill our mouths, when we order our cause

before God." (Job, xxiii. 4.) When thus pleaded with

the earnestness and humility of faith, they will be found

to be the blessed realities of unchanging love.

Now—have not circumstances of Providence, or the

distinct application of the Spirit, made some words of God

especially precious to your soul? Such words are thus

made your own, to be laid up against some future time of

trial, when you may "put your God in remembrance"

(Isa. xliii. 26) of them. Apply this exercise of faith to

such a word as this—"Him that cometh unto me, I will in

VERSE 49. 123

no wise cast out." (John, vi. 37.) Then plead your in-

terest in it as a coming sinner —"Lord, I hope in this thy

word." "Thou hast caused me to hope" in it. "Remember

this word unto thy servant." Thus is prayer grounded upon

the promise, which it forms into a prevailing argument,

and sends back to heaven; nothing doubting, but that it

will be verified in God's best time and way.*

Take another case; God has engaged himself to be the

God of the seed of believers. His sacramental ordinance

is the seal of this promise. (Gen. xvii. 7, 10, with Acts, ii.

38, 39.) The believer brings his child to this ordinance,

as the exercise of his faith upon the faithfulness of God.

Let him daily put his finger upon this promise, Remember

the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to

hope. This is, as Augustine said of his mother, 'bringing

before God his own hand-writing.' Will he not remember

his word? Faith may be tried, perhaps long tried. "But

he abideth faithful. He cannot deny himself." (2 Tim.

ii. 13.) Faith trusts —not what the eye sees, but what

the word promises.

Again— Have we ever found God's word hoped on, a

covering and strength against besetting sin? This will

surely be an encouragement to cry under the same tempt-

ation —Remember thy word. "He who hath delivered, doth

deliver, and will even to the end deliver." (2 Cor. i. 10.)

He "hath done great things for us." And is not this an

earnest of continued mercy? "Because thou hast been my

help, therefore under the shadow of thy wings will I re-

joice." (Ps. lxiii. 7.) Thus may we confidently receive a

* We may observe Jacob making precisely this use of the word

of promise to great advantage, at a time of personal extremity.

Gen. xxxii. 9, 10, 12; with xxxi. 3, 13; xxviii. 13-45. Was not

this in fact pleading—Remember the word unto thy servant, upon,

which thou hast caused me to hope? Comp. also verse 38 of this

Psalm.

124 EXPOSITION OF PSALM CXIX.

promise as the distinct message to our soul, when we are

conscious of a readiness to receive the whole word as the

rule of our life. And does it not set an edge upon prayer,

to eye a promising God, and to consider his promises—not

as hanging in the air, without any definite direction or

meaning, but as individually spoken and belonging to

myself as a child and servant of God? This is the expe-

rience and comfort of the life of faith. This unfolds the

true secret of living to God; ending at last with the

honourable death-bed testimony—"Behold, this day I am

going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your

hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed

of all the good things, which the Lord your God spoke

concerning you; all are come to pass unto you; and not

one thing hath failed thereof." (Josh. xxiii. 14.)

50. This is my comfort in my affliction; for thy word hath

quickened me.

David was encouraged to plead the word of promise in

prayer, from the recollection of its comfort in his affliction,

For the man of God is not exempted from affliction, but

he is comforted in it with God's comforts, flowing from the

fountain-head. And truly no comforts are like God's com-

forts, and there are none beside his. (Ps. xciv. 19. 2 Cor.

i. 3, 4.) They are indeed strong consolations, both in their

foundation and their influence (Heb. vi. 18); supporting—

not only in the prospect, but under the actual pressure of

trouble, and fully proportioned to the need of the most

sinking calamity. (2 Cor. i. 5.) Never therefore are we

left unsupported in such a time, or called to drink a cup of

unmingled tribulation. In the moments of our bitterest

sorrow, how are we compelled to stand amazed at the ten-

derness, which is daily and hourly exercised towards us!

We have always some word exactly suited to our affliction,

VERSE 50. 125

and which we could not have understood without it; and

"a word" thus "spoken in due season, how good is it!"*

One word of God, sealed to the heart, infuses more sensible

relief, than ten thousand words of man. When therefore

the word assures of the presence of God in affliction (Isa.

xliii. 1, 2); of his continued pity and sympathy in his most

severe dispensations (Exod. iii. 7, 16); and of their cer-

tain issue to our everlasting good (Rom. viii. 28); must not

we say of it, This is our comfort in our affliction? How does

the Saviour's love stream forth from this channel on every

side; imparting life, refreshment, strength to those, who

but for this comfort would have "fainted" (Ps. xxvii. 13),

and "perished in their affliction!" (Verse 92.) This in-

deed was the end, for which the Scriptures were written

(Rom. xv. 4); and such power of consolation have they

sometimes administered to the afflicted saint, that tribula-

tion has almost ceased to be a trial, and the retrospect has

been the source of thankful recollection.

But first the word becomes life—then comfort. And

those only, who have felt the quickening power of the word,

can realize its consolations. Be thankful, then, Reader, if,

when dead in sins, it "quickened you" (Jam. i. 18. 1 Pet.

* Prov. xv. 23. 'I will show you a privilege that others want,

and you have in this case. Such as are in prosperity, and are filled with

earthly joys, and increased with children and friends; though the

Word of God, is indeed written for their instruction, yet to you who

are in trouble, and from whom the Lord hath taken many children,

and whom he hath otherwise exercised, there are some chapters,

some particular promises in the word of God, made in an espe-

cial manner, which would never have been yours, so as they now

are, if you had had your portion in this world like others. It is no

small comfort, that God hath written some scriptures to you, which

he hath not to others. Read these, and think God is like a friend,

who sendeth a letter to a whole house and family, but who speaketh

in his letter to some by name, that are dearest to him in the house.'

—Rutherford’s Letters.

126 EXPOSITION OF PSALM CXIX.

i. 23); and, when sunk in trouble, once and again it has

revived you. (Verses 81, 82.) Yet think not, that it is any

innate power of its own, that works so graciously for you,

No. The exhibition of the Saviour is the spring of life and

consolation. It is because it "testifies of him" (John, v,

39), "the consolation of Israel" (Luke, ii. 25)—"afflicted

in all our afflictions" (Isa. 9)—and never failing to

uphold with "grace sufficient for us." (2 Cor. xii. 9.) It

is not, however, the word without the Spirit, nor the Spirit

generally without the word; but the Spirit by the word—

first putting life into the word (John, vi. 63), and then by

the word quickening the soul. The word then is only the

instrument. The Spirit is the Almighty agent. Thus the

work is the Lord's; and nothing is left for us, but self-

renunciation and praise.

51. The proud have had me greatly in derision; yet have I not

declined from thy law.

The scorn of an ungodly world is one of the afflictions,

which realize to us the comfort of the word. And this is a

trial, from which no exemption is to be expected—"All

that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

(2 Tim. iii. 12. Comp. 1 Cor. iv. 13.) Not even David—

though a king — a man of wisdom and prudence, and there-

fore not likely to give unnecessary offence; and whose

character and rank might be expected to command respect

—not even was he shielded from the derision of the proud

on account of the profession and service of his God. (Ps.

xxxv. 15, 16; cxxiii. 3, 4.) Thus it ever was and ever

will be. Faith in the doctrine of Christ, and conformity

to the strict commandments of the gospel, must expose us

to the taunts of the unbeliever and the worldling. Yet

where the heart is right with God, the derision of the

proud, instead of forcing us to decline from the law of

VERSE 51. 127

God, will strengthen our adherence to it. David answered

the bitter derision of Michal with a stronger resolution to

abide by his God—"I will yet be more vile than thus."

(2 Sam. vi. 20-22.) He counted it his glory, his duty, his

joy. None, however, but a believer knows what it is to bear

this cross: and none but a real believer can bear it. It is

one of the touchstones of sincerity, the application of which

has often been the means of "separating the precious from

the vile," and has unmasked the self-confident professor to

his own confusion. Oh! how many make a fair profession,

and appear "good soldiers of Jesus Christ," until the hour

of danger proves them deserters, and they reap only the

fruits of their self-confidence in their own confusion!

It is, therefore, of great importance to those who are just

setting out in the warfare, to be well armed with the word

of God. It kept David stedfast amidst the derision of

the proud; and it will keep young Christians from being

frightened or overcome by the sneer of an ungodly world.

But that it may "dwell in us richly in all wisdom" (Col.

iii. 16), and be suited to our own case, it will be well, under

circumstances of reproach, to acquaint ourselves with the

supporting promises and encouragements to suffer for

righteousness' sake.* Above all, the contemplation of the

great sufferer himself—meeting this poignant trial in

meekness (Ps. xxii. 6-8. 1 Pet. ii. 23), compassion, and

prayer (Luke, 34), — will exhibit a refuge from

the storm, and a shadow from the heat, when the blast

of the terrible ones is as the storm against the wall." (Isa.

xxv. 4.) The mere professor knows not this refuge; he

possesses not this armour; so that when "affliction or

* Such as the benediction of the Saviour, Luke, vi. 22, 23, con-

firmed by the recorded experience of the Lord's most favoured ser-

vants, the Apostles—Acts, v. 41: Paul especially, 2 Cor. xii. 10;

Col. i. 24—the disciples of Thessalonica, 1 Thess. i. 6,—the Hebrew

Christians, Heb. x. 34.

128 EXPOSITION OF PSALM CXIX.

persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately he is

offended." (Mark, iv. 17.)

Christian! be satisfied with the approbation of your

God. Has he not adopted you into his family, stamped

you with his image, assured you by his Spirit, sealed you

for his kingdom? And is not this "honour that cometh

from God only" enough—far more than enough—to

counterbalance the derision of the proud? Think of the day,

when "the rebuke of the people shall be taken away from

off all the earth," when "he will confess their name before

his Father, and before his angels," when "the saints shall

judge the world," when "the upright shall have dominion

over them in the morning." Can we be Christians, if this

sure prospect does not infinitely more than compensate for

all "the hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken

against us?" (Isa. xxv. 8. Rev. iii. 5. 1 Cor. vi. 2. Ps.

xlix. 14. Jude, 14, 15.)

Thus—blessed be God—the weapons of our warfare

are drawn from the Divine armoury; and therefore depend-

ing on the grace, and following the example, of Jesus, we

suffer, as the way to victory—the road to an everlasting

crown.

52. I remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord; and have

comforted myself.

The Lord's dealings with his people were a frequent

subject of meditation to the Psalmist (Ps. lxxvii. 5, 11,

12; cxliii. 5), and now were they his present support under

"the scourge of the tongue." (Job, v. 21.) Evidently they

are put upon record for the encouragement of future gene-

rations. (Ps. xliv. 1-3; lxxviii. 3-8; cv. 5, 6; cxlv. 4.

Joel, i. 3.) We are ready to imagine something peculiar

in our own case, and to "think it strange concerning the

fiery trial which is to try us, as though some strange thing

VERSE 52. 129

happened unto us. But when we remember the Lord's

judgments of old, with his people, we comfort ourselves in

the assurance, that "the same afflictions are accomplished

in our brethren, that have been in the world" (1 Pet. iv.

12; v. 9); and that "as the sufferings of Christ have

abounded in them, so their consolation also abounded by

Christ." (2 Cor. i. 5.) They also encountered the same

derision of the proud, and always experienced the same

support from the faithfulness of their God. We do not

sufficiently consider the mercy and gracious wisdom of God,

in occupying so much of his written word with the records

of his judgments of old. One class will pay a prominent

attention to the preceptive, another to the doctrinal, parts

of revelation— each forgetting that the historical records

comprise a full and striking illustration of both, and have

always proved most supporting grounds of consolation to

the Lord's people. The important design in casting so large

a portion of the small volume of Revelation into an his-

torical form, is every way worthy of its author. "What-

soever things were written aforetime, were written for our

learning; that we through patience and comfort of the

Scriptures might have hope" (Rom. xv. 4); and how ad-

mirably adapted the means are to the end, the diligent

student in the Scripture field will bear ample witness.

Wilfully, therefore, to neglect the historical portion of the

sacred volume, from the idea of confining our attention to

what we deem the more spiritual parts of scripture—would

show a sad deficiency of spiritual apprehension, and deprive

ourselves of the most valuable instruction, and most

abundant comfort. This neglect would exclude us from

one eminent means of increasing "patience," in the example

of those "who through faith and patience inherit the pro-

mises;" of receiving "comfort," in the experience of the

faithfulness of God manifested in every age to his people:

and of enlivening our "hope," in marking the happy issue

130 EXPOSITION OF PSALM CXIX.

of the "patience of the saints," and the heavenly support

administered unto them.* So far, therefore, are we from

being little interested in the Scriptural records of past ages,

that it is evident that the sacred historians, as well as the

prophets, "ministered not unto themselves, but unto us

the things which are now reported." (1 Pet. i. 12.)

Let us select one or two instances as illustrative of this,

subject. Why were the records of the deluge, and of the

overthrow of the cities of the plain, preserved, but as ex-

hibitions to the church, that "the Lord"—the Saviour of

Noah, the eighth person, and the deliverer of just Lot—

"knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations,

and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment

to be punished?" (2 Pet. ii. 5-9.) What a source of

comfort then to the tempted people of God is the remem-

brance of these judgments of old! Take again the wonder-

ful history of the overthrow of the Egyptians, and the

consequent deliverance of God's ancient people. How

often does the church recollect this interposition as a

ground of assurance, that under similar circumstances of

trial, the same illustrious displays of Divine faithfulness

and love may be confidently expected! She looks back

upon what the "arm of the Lord hath done in ancient

days, and in the generation of old," as the pattern of what

he ever would be, and ever would do, for his purchased

people. (Isa. li. 9-11.) Thus also God himself recalls

to our mind this overthrow and deliverance as a ground

of present encouragement and support—"According to the

days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I show

unto him marvellous things" (Mic. vii. 15)—and

Church echoes back this remembrance in the expression

her faith, gratitude, and expectation for spiritual blessing.

* In this view, the recollection of the Lord's judgments of old

puts a new song into the mouth" of the Church, of "thanks-

giving unto her God." Isa. xxv. 1-4.

VERSE 53. 131

"He will subdue our iniquities, and thou wilt cast all their

sins into the depths of the sea." (Verse 19.) Such is the

interesting use that may be made of the historical parts of

Scripture! Such is the comfort to be derived from the

remembrance of the Lord's judgments of old! And is not

the recollection of his judgments of old with ourselves, pro-

ductive of the same support? Does not the retrospect of

his dealings with our own souls serve to convince us, that

"all his paths are mercy and truth?" (Ps. xxv. 10.) The

assurance is therefore warranted alike by experience and

by Scripture—"We know that all things work together

for good to them that love God, to them who are the

called according to his purpose." (Rom. viii. 28.)

53. Horror hath taken hold upon me,* because of the wicked

that forsake thy law.

The remembrance of the Lord's judgments of old, while it

brings comfort to his people as regards themselves, stirs up

a poignancy of compassionate feeling for the ungodly. And

indeed to a feeling and reflecting mind, the condition of the

world must excite commiseration and concern! A "whole

world lying in wickedness" (1 John, v. 19)! lying therefore

in ruins! the image of God effaced! the presence of God

departed! Horror hath taken hold of me! to see the law

of Him, who gave being to the world, so utterly forsaken!

So much light and love shining from heaven in vain! The

earthly heart cannot endure that any restraint should be

imposed much less that any constraint, even of love,

should be employed to change its bias, and turn it back to

its God. Are you then a believer? then you will be most

* 'A burning horror hath seized me.'—Ainsworth. 'Faintness

and dejection of mind hath seized me.'— LXX.

132 EXPOSITION OF PSALM CXIX.

tender of the honour of the law of God. Every stroke at

his law you will feel as a stroke at your own heart. Are

you a believer? then will you consider every man as your

brother; and weep to see so many of them around you,

crowding the broad road to destruction, and perishing as

the miserable victims of their own deceivings. The pros-

pect on every side is, as if God were cast down from his

throne, and the creatures of his hand were murdering their

own souls.

But how invariably does a languor respecting our own

eternal interest affect the tenderness of our regard for the

honour of our God; so that we can look at the wicked that

forsake God's law, with comparative indifference! Awful

indeed is the thought, that it ever can be with us a small

matter, that multitudes are sinking! going down into per-

dition! with the name of Christ—under the seal of baptism

—partakers of the means of gospel grace—yet perishing!

Not, indeed, that we are to yield to such a feeling of horror,

as would paralyse all exertion on their behalf. For do we

owe them no duty—no prayer —no labour? (Acts, xvii.

16-18.) Shall we look upon souls hurrying on with such

dreadful haste to unutterable, everlasting torments; and

permit them to rush on blinded, unawakened, unalarmed!

If there is a horror to see a brand apparently fitting for the

fire, will there not be a wrestling endeavour to pluck that

brand out of the fire? Have we quite forgotten in our

own case the fearful terrors of an unconverted state—the

Almighty power of wrath and justice armed against us —

the thunder of that voice—"Vengeance belongeth unto

me, I will recompense, saith the Lord?" (Heb. x. 30;

with Deut. xxxii. 35.) Oh! if the love of the Saviour and

the love of souls were reigning with more mighty influence

in our hearts, how much more devoted should we be in our

little spheres of labour! how much more enlarged in our

VERSE 54. 133

supplications, until all the kingdom of Satan were subject

to the obedience of the Son of God, and conquered by the

force of his omnipotent love!

But if the spirit of David, renewed but in part, was

thus filled with horror in the contemplation of the wicked,

what must have been the affliction — what the intensity of

his sufferings, "who was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate

from sinners" (Heb. vii. 26)—yea, "of purer eyes than to

behold iniquity" (Hab. i. 13. Comp. Ps. v. 5)—during

thirty-three years of continued contact with a world of sin!

What shall we say of the condescension of his love, in

wearing "the likeness of sinful flesh" (Rom. viii. 3)—

dwelling among sinners — yea, "receiving sinners, and

eating with them!" (Luke, xv. 2.)

Blessed Spirit! impart to us more of "the mind that

was in Christ Jesus," that the law of God may be in-

creasingly precious in our eyes, and that we may be "ex-

ceedingly jealous for the Lord God of Hosts!" Help us

by thy gracious influence to plead with sinners for God,

and to plead for sinners with God!

54. Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pil-

grimage.

Come, Christian pilgrim, and beguile your wearisome

journey heavenward by "singing the Lord's song in this

strange land." (Ps. cxxxvii. 4.) With the statutes of God

in your hand and in your heart, you are furnished with a

song for every step of your way—"The Lord is my shep-

herd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in

green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He

restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteous-

ness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the

valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil; for thou

art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

134 EXPOSITION OF PSALM CXIX.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine

enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth

over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the

days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

for ever." (Ps. xxiii.) How delightfully does this song

bring before you Him, who having laid down his life for

you, engages himself as your Provider, your Keeper, your

Guide, your faithful and unchangeable Friend! Such a

song, therefore, will smooth your path, and reconcile you

to the many inconveniences of the way; while the recollec-

tion that this is only the house of your pilgrimage and

not your home; and that "there remaineth a rest for the

people of God" (Heb. iv. 9), will support the exercise of

faith and patience to the end. How striking the contrast

between the wicked that forsake the law, and the Christian

pilgrim, who makes it the subject of his daily song, and

the source of his daily comfort! Yes, these same statutes,

which are the yoke and burden of the ungodly, lead the

true servant of the Lord from pleasure to pleasure; and,

cherished by their vigorous influence, his way is made easy

and prosperous. Evidently, therefore, our knowledge and

delight in the Lord's statutes will furnish a decisive test

of our real state before him.

But it is important to remember that our cheerful song

is connected with a pilgrim-spirit. Never forget that we

are not at home (2 Cor. v. 6); only happy strangers on

our passage homewards. Here we have no settled habita-

tion (Heb. xiii. 14)—no rest. We are looking for a better

country (Heb. xi. 10,14-16): and as we look, we are seek-

ing for it. Our "hearts are in the ways of it." (Ps. lxxxiv.

5.) Every day advances us nearer to it. (Rom. xiii. 11.) In

this spirit the statutes of the Lord will be our song. Here

are the deeds of conveyance—our title made sure to an

estate—not small, of little account, or of uncertain interest

—but "an inheritance" of incalculable value, made over

VERSE 54. 135

to us. (1 Pet. i. 3-5.) Here we have sure direction—

such as cannot mislead us (Verse 105)— for the attainment

of it. Here we are stimulated by the examples of our

fellow-pilgrims, who have reached their home (Heb. vi. 11,

12); and as we follow their track, many are the cordials

by the way, and home brightens in the nearer prospect.

What reason have we then every moment to guard

against the debasing, stupifying influence of the world,

which makes us forget the proper character of a pilgrim!

And what an habitual conflict must be maintained with

the sloth and aversion of a reluctant heart to maintain our

progress in the journey towards Zion! Reader! have you

entered upon a pilgrim's life? Then what is your solace

and refreshment on the road? It is dull, heavy, wearisome,

to be a pilgrim without a song. And yet it is only the

blessed experience of the Lord's statutes, that will tune our

song. "If therefore you have tasted that the Lord is

gracious" (1 Pet. ii. 3); if he has thus "put a new song

into your mouth" (Ps. xl. 3), oh! do not suffer any care-

lessness or neglect to rob you of this heavenly anticipation.

And that your lips be not found mute, seek to maintain a

lively contemplation of the place whither you are going—

of Him who as your "forerunner is for you entered" (Heb.

vi. 20) thither—and of the prospect, that, having "pre-

pared a place for you, he will come again, and take you to

himself; that where he is, there you may be also." (John,

xiv. 2, 3.) In this spirit, and with these hopes before you,

you may take up your song―"O God, my heart is fixed:

I will sing and give praise. I will bless the Lord at all

times—his praise shall continually be in my mouth." (Ps.

cviii. 1; xxxiv. 1.) Thus may you go on your pilgrimage

singing in the ways of the Lord" (Ps. cxxxviii. 5), and

commencing a song below, which in the world of praise

above, shall never, never cease. (Rev. iv. 8.)

136 EXPOSITION OF PSALM CXIX.

55. I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night, and

have kept thy law.

How did this man of God live in the statutes of God

In the day they were his pilgrim song—in the night his

happy meditation. (Ps. lxiii. 5, 6.) And, truly, if we can

ever spend the waking moments of the night with God,

"the darkness is no darkness with us, but the night shineth

as the day." Many a tried believer has found this cordial

for the restlessness of a wakeful night more restorative to

the quiet and health of his earthly frame, than the most

sovereign specifics of the medical world. "So he giveth

his beloved sleep." (Ps. cxxvii. 2.) And if in any night

of affliction we feel the hand of the Lord grievous to us,

do we not find in the remembrance of the Lord a never-

failing support? What does our darkness arise from, but

from our forgetfulness of God, blotting out for a while the

lively impressions of his tender care, his unchanging faith-

fulness, and his mysterious methods of working his gracious

will? And to bring up as it were from the grave, the

remembrance of God's name, as manifested in his promises,

and in the dispensation of his love; this is indeed the

"light that is sown for the righteous" (Ps. xcvii. 11), and

which "springeth up out of darkness." (Ps. cxii. 4.) It is

to eye the character of the Lord as All-wise to appoint,

Almighty to secure, All-compassionate to sympathize and

support. It is to recollect him as a "father pitying his

children" (Ps. ciii. 13); as a "friend that loveth at all

times" (Prov. xvii. 17), and that "sticketh closer than a

brother." (Ib. xviii. 24.) And even in those seasons of

depression, when unwatchfulness or indulgence of sin have

brought the darkness of night upon the soul, though the

remembrance of the name of the Lord may be grievous, yet

it opens the way to consolation. It tells us, that there is

VERSE 55. 137

a way made for our return; that "the Lord waiteth, that

he may be gracious" (Isa. xxx. 18); and that in the first

step of our return to our Father, we shall find him full of

mercy to his backsliding children. (See Luke, xv. 20-24.)

Thus, though "weeping may endure for a night, joy com-

eth in the morning." (Ps. xxx. 5.)

Study the Lord's revelation of his own name; and what

more full perception can we conceive of its support in the

darkest midnight of tribulations?" And the Lord de-

scended in the cloud, and stood with him (Moses), and pro-

claimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by

before him, and proclaimed—The Lord, the Lord God,

merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in

goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving

iniquity, transgression, and sin, and that will by no means

clear the guilty." (Ex. xxxiv. 5-7.) Can we wonder that

such a name as this should be exhibited as a ground of

trust? "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the

righteous runneth into it and is safe." "They that know

thy name will put their trust in thee." (Prov. xviii. 10. Ps.

1x. 10.) Even our suffering Lord appears to have derived

support from the remembrance of the name of the Lord in

the night of desertion—"O my God, I cry in the day-time,

and thou hearest not; and in the night-season, and am not

silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises

of Israel!" (Ps. xxii. 2, 3.) And from the experience of

this source of consolation, we find the tempted Saviour

directing his tempted people to the same support—"Who

is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice

of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light?

him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God."

(Isa. l. 10.)

The main principles of the Gospel are involved in this

remembrance of the Lord's name. Memory is the store-

house, in which the substance of our knowledge is treasured

138 EXPOSITION OF PSALM CXIX.

up. Recollections without faith are shadowy notions. But

we have confidence that our God in himself—and as en-

gaged to us―is all that the Bible declares him to be.

How vast then are our obligations to his dear Son—the

only medium, by which his name could be known or remem-

bered—"who hath" so "declared him!" (John, i. 18; also

xiv. 6. Matt. xi. 27.) And here is the spring of practical

religion. We shall keep his law when we remember his

name. A sense of our obligations will impel us forward

in diligence, heavenly-mindedness, and self-devotedness in

our appointed sphere. Obedience will partake far more of

the character of privilege than of duty, when an enlightened

knowledge of God is the principle of action.

56. This I had, because I kept thy precepts.

How is it, believer, that you are enabled to sing of

the Lord's statutes—and to remember his name? This you

have, because you keep his precepts. Thus you are able to

tell the world, that in keeping his "commandments there is

great reward" (Ps. xix. 11),—that the "work of righteous-

ness is peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness,

and assurance for ever." (Isa. xxxii. 17.) Christian! let

your testimony be clear and decided—that ten thousand

worlds cannot bestow the happiness of one day's devotedness

to the service of your Lord. For is it not in this path

that you realize fulness of joy, in "fellowship with the

Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ?" "He that hath

my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth

me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father;

and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him—my

Father will love him; and we will come unto him, and make

our abode with him." (John, xiv. 21, 23, with 1 John, i. 3,

4; iii. 24.) If you were walking more closely with God

in "the obedience of faith," the world would never dare to

VERSE 56. 139

accuse religion as the source of melancholy and despondency.

No man has any right to the hope of happiness in a world

of tribulation, but he that seeks it in the favour of his God.

Nor can any enjoy this favour, except as connected, in the

exercise of faith, with Conformity to the will, and delight in

the law, of his God. Thus not only are the "statutes of

the Lord right," but they "rejoice the heart." (Ps. xix. 8.)

There is a sweetness and satisfaction in the work, as well

as a good flowing out of it—a current as well as a con-

sequent privilege—cheering the soul in the act of exercise,

just as the senses arc regaled at the very instant with the

object of their gratification.

But let us remark how continually David was enriching

his treasury of spiritual experience with sonic fresh view of

the dealings of God with his soul: some answer to prayer,

or some increase of consolation, which he records for his own

encouragement, and for the use of the Church of God. Let

us seek to imitate him in this respect; and we shall often be

enabled to say as he does—This I had,—this comfort I

enjoyed—this support in trouble—this remarkable mani-

festation of his love—this confidence I was enabled to

maintain—it was made my own, because I kept thy pre-

cepts.

This I had—not, this I hoped for. He speaks of "the

promise of the life that now is"—that by which God clears

away the charge,—"It is vain to serve him; and what profit

is it, that we have kept his ordinances?" (Mal. iii. 14.)

Nor is it any boasting of merit, but only an acknowledg-

ment of the gracious dispensation of his God. Such a re-

ward for such poor service, can only be undeserved "mercy,"

(Ps. lxii. 12. Gal. vi. 16), having respect, not to the wor-

thiness of the work, but to the faithfulness of the promise.

Perfect keeping, according to the legal requirements, there

cannot be. (Gal. iii. 10.) Evangelical perfection, in aiming

140 EXPOSITION OF PSALM CXIX.

at the mark, and constantly pressing onward towards it,

there may be. (Phil. iii. 12-15.)

How important therefore is it—in the absence of this

Christian confidence—to examine, —"Is there not a cause?,

and what is the cause? Have not "strangers devoured

my strength; and I knew it not?" (Hos. vii. 9.) Is the

Lord "with me as in months past?" (Job, xxix. 2), —with

me in my closet?—with me in my family? — with me at

my table?— with me in my daily employments and inter-

course with the world? When I hear the faithful people

of God telling of his love, and saying—This I had; must

I not, if unable to join their cheerful acknowledgment, trace

it to my unfaithful walk, and say—This I had not, because

I have failed in obedience to thy precepts; because I have

been careless and self-indulgent; because I have slighted

thy love; because I have "grieved thy Holy Spirit," and

forgotten to ask for the "old paths, that I might walk,

therein, and find rest to my soul?" (Jer. vi. 16.) O let

this scrutiny and recollection of our ways realize the con-

stant need of the finished work of Jesus, as our ground of

acceptance, and source of strength. This will bring heal-

ing, restoration, increasing devotedness, tenderness of con-

science, circumspection of walk, and a determination not to

rest, until we can make this grateful acknowledgment our

own. At the same time, instead of boasting that our own

arm, our own diligence, or holiness, "have gotten us" into

this favour, we shall cast all our attainments at the feet of

Jesus, and crown him Lord of all for ever.

VERSE 57. 141

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