This Psalm is so very peculiar and distinguished from every other, that it would form a long chapter of contents to give the summary of it. Before the Reader enters upon it, I beg him to remark some of its most striking particulars. As, first, its great length, being more than double in point of quantity, the longest of all the Psalms besides. Next, the Reader should remark the division of it into twenty-two portions, corresponding to the Hebrew Alphabet, each portion consisting of eight verses, and beginning with the Hebrew letters, regular and in order as they stand in the grammar. The third particularity to be remarked, and which deserves much to be noticed, for the better apprehension of the Psalm throughout, is, that there are ten words, which every verse but one (namely Psalms 119:122) hath, one or other of them in it: namely, the words WAY, LAW, TESTIMONIES, COMMANDMENTS PRECEPTS, STATUTES, JUDGMENTS, WORD, RIGHTEOUSNESS, TRUTH. Fourthly, and above all; one verse in it (namely, Psalms 119:139) demands the first and greatest attention, because it contains the words of Christ, My zeal hath consumed me; the well known words of Jesus. See John 2:17; Psalms 69:9. And it should seem as if the Holy Ghost had graciously designed, by the introduction of these memorable words in the midst of this Psalm, to lead the church to perceive the Lord Christ in and through every part of it. With these several particularities in view, and especially this last, let us enter upon the perusal, and may He who hath the Key of David open its blessed contents to our diligent researches after Him, that we may have expounded to us, by that infallible Teacher, the things herein contained concerning himself.
Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and designed, perhaps, on that account, to mark the first part of this Psalm. Some have thought that the division of this Psalm is according to the poetry of the Hebrews; but if so, we have lost all knowledge what that poetry means. The Holy Ghost, however, leads us to what is much more important to know, namely, how these scriptures shall make us wise unto salvation, through the faith which is in Christ Jesus. The blessedness of the undefiled, or, as the Hebrew word might have been rendered, the perfect, is the first object in this psalm. And to whom shall we look for this undefiled, this perfect character, but to Him who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens? Hebrews 7:26. Secondarily, and subordinately to our view of Jesus in this verse, we may indeed safely consider all his redeemed in him, as blessed also; for they walk in him, and are one in him, who is himself the way, the truth, and the life, John 14:6. I detain the Reader in this place to offer a short observation upon the word Law, one of those ten words which form so important a part in this Psalm. By the word torah, a law, if we are to understand the law delivered by Moses, nothing can serve to prove more pointedly, that the whole must refer to Christ; for he, and he only, was perfect and undefiled in the law of the Lord; and Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth, Romans 10:4. If we accept the word in this sense, wherever we meet with it through the whole Psalm, with reference to Jesus our law-fulfiller, what a beauty doth it throw over the whole of this blessed scripture, in beholding all pointing to Him, as so many rays of light to one centre, and forming a constellation in the person of Jesus, as being blessed as our glorious head, and blessing all his people in him! Precious, precious Jesus!
I beg the Reader very particularly to remark the alteration here made in the manner of expression, from what it was before. Here it is said, Blessed are they that keep his testimonies: implying numbers, namely, the people of the Lord. In the former verse the word are is in Italics, and might more properly have been is. And the learned Reader will know that the word, ashrei, blessed, is only found a noun-plural, and is a proof of the beauty and fulness of the Hebrew language, because blessedness is not made up of anything single, but from an assemblage of many things in one. And the learned Reader will know also, that this word is so used in the first verse of the first psalm; for the word is the same: "Blessed is the man, " etc. But to return to the psalm before us; if I am right in supposing the first verse speaks wholly of Jesus, and this second verse wholly of his people; what a lovely and most interesting scripture hath the Holy Ghost given us? For then the sense will be, "Blessed is the Lord Jesus, the undefiled, " etc. And then follows, "Blessed are they, his people, his redeemed, who keep his testimonies, and who seek him (that is Jesus) with their whole heart." And is not the whole analogy of scripture to this effect, men shall be blessed in him? There is not a blessing out of him; Psalms 72:17; Ephesians 1:3. For the right apprehension of the word testimonies, we may have recourse to various scriptures. The tables of stone were called the tables of testimony, Exodus 31:18; no doubt they were intended to refer to Christ; and in like manner there was a tabernacle of testimony, Exodus 38:21. And when Jesus tabernacled in substance of our flesh, was not that scripture fulfilled? Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, Revelation 21:3. Moreover, the testimony of Jesus is said to be the spirit of prophecy, Revelation 19:10. And indeed the very word testimony is derived from a word, or root, intimating somewhat future. Therefore when it is said in this Psalm, "the people of God keep his testimonies, " it carries with it an idea of believing in and resting upon God's testimonies of grace here, and glory hereafter, in and from the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is a precious verse. The new creature in Christ lives upon Christ; and as long as the soul thus lives upon him as his life and source, he walks in him, and is living to him and with him. 1 Peter 2:2.
If we accept the word precepts in the first and most obvious sense of it, the diligent attention to the commandments of God will be, living to Christ. For when the Jews demanded of our Lord what they must do, that they might work the works of God? the Lord Jesus gave this answer, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent, John 6:28-29. Faith in God's Christ is the foundation for right obedience to his precepts, Hebrews 11:6. But I rather conceive, that as the word precepts is derived from a root signifying a superintending or visiting, it refers to that act of a gracious soul, that is always on the look-out for the visits of Jesus in the influences of his Spirit. Here it may well be supposed that we are commanded to be diligent! here it may well be said by gracious souls, when visited and refreshed in the renewed tokens of Jesus's love: Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness, Psalms 119:40. But this could never be Said of the moral or ceremonial law of Moses!
Here again, we cannot possibly conceive that the word statutes hath a reference to the statutes of Moses. The law (saith an apostle) having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect, Hebrews 10:1. But if we explain the word, as the original will allow, as referring to the design and will of Jehovah in the gracious plan of salvation in the one ordinance of Christ; then it will be evident, that the sacred writer desireth above all things, to have his whole mind directed to Jesus, and to be kept in those statutes which proclaim salvation wholly in and by him.
Here we find what confidence the truly regenerated soul is put in possession of, when living upon Jesus as Jehovah hath appointed. All the commandments will be alike the delight of such a soul. And the holiness of Jehovah will be as dear and precious to the believer as any other of the divine perfections; because in the Lord shall one say, I have righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come, and all that believe in him shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end. Isaiah 45:17-24.
If by judgments were meant the strict letter of God's law, how is it possible to conceive that the Psalmist should express himself, as he hath in this Psalm, in love with them? My soul (saith he) breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times, Psalms 119:20. But if by judgments, considered with reference to Christ, the believer beholds God's righteous servant justifying many in bearing their iniquities; what a different aspect is immediately put upon the term. Then it may be truly said; I remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord, and have comforted myself, Psalms 119:52. As if he had said, Because I now see in thy judgments how Christ hath fully answered them; then the Lord Jehovah can be just and yet the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Romans 3:26.
The sum and substance of all this divine meditation, here folds up in this pious resolution, formed by grace; seeing that in Jesus, his people are undefiled, are enabled to keep his testimonies, to love his precepts, to delight in his statutes, and have respect unto all his commandments: Oh! the happy state of the redeemed in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit! Keep me then, Lord, in this way by thine almighty power, through faith unto salvation. Romans 8:1; 1 Peter 1:5.
The question here put, and with which this second part opens, is not simply intended for the youthful part, but for all. And the answer, in referring to Christ the uncreated word, and to the scriptures of Christ the written word, plainly manifests its reference to be universal. And I cannot but beg the Reader, that as he passed through the whole, of this beautiful Psalm, whenever he comes to the expression, WORD, he will pause over it, and examine whether it is not spoken of the person of Him, who is the eternal WORD, that in the beginning was with God, and is God. Oh! how blessed to look to him in all things! John 1:1.
After the explanation which I endeavored very humbly to offer in the first part, concerning the several words there made use of and which we meet with again here: it will only be necessary to examine the terms with reference to these devout breathings, to see their correspondence. And I pray the great Teacher of his people to give both him that writes, and him that reads, a right understanding in all things. Blessed Lord! I would say for both, grant us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, that we may never forget thy word, but may be everlastingly feasting our souls upon the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
Here are again many very gracious and fervent breathings after divine favor, which need nothing explanatory by way of comment. Some of them very highly correspond with what might be supposed to be the language of Jesus as the great head and surety of his people. And when we consider the grace and condescension of the Son of God, in his assumption of our nature, and that it behoved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, we cannot but feel a particular satisfaction, and holy joy, whenever we see him going before us in all the paths of duty. Reader! how shall you and I find equal encouragement as when we look up to the ever-blessed Jesus, who, though Lord of all, yet became servant of all, that we through his poverty might be made rich? 2 Corinthians 8:9.
These verses compose the fourth part of this divine Psalm. Whether David, the supposed writer of it, thus complains in himself; or whether it means the Son of David, who in another part declares, that he is brought into the dust of death, I am not able to determine; Psalms 22:15. But if, as the sinner's surety, Jesus was thus brought down to the earth, well may it be supposed that our souls cleave to the dust. O for grace, everlastingly to be sending forth the prayer of faith, to be quickened with continued renewings in Christ Jesus! The melting of soul, and the enlargement of the heart, are sweet and gracious feelings, when under divine influences. Lord! I would say, grant these blessed effects from day to day, in Christ Jesus!
How very beautiful is this portion of the psalm, considered as descriptive of the work of the Holy Ghost. It is his blessed province, and from his great love to the persons of Christ's people, he delights in it, to teach, and to lead to Christ, and to give us a spirit of wisdom and understanding in the knowledge of him. And he not only thus teacheth the way, but makes us, by inclining our hearts, to go in the way, and in the path of his commandments. And it is most blessed indeed to wait, and to observe the tendencies of his visits and his grace towards us. His it is to quicken also the soul, and to renew us again after many relapses, and the wanderings and coldness of our minds. Oh! blessed and almighty Teacher! of thy grace and goodness, do thou work all these tokens of thy favor in me, and bless me in Christ; for it is thou that worketh in us, both to will and to do of thy good pleasure, Philippians 2:13; John 14:26.
V A U.
The Reader will not need information that Jesus is Jehovah's salvation unto the ends of the earth; Isaiah 49:6. And the answers of Jesus to those that reproached him, are fully set forth in the gospel; Psalms 69:7-9. Christ is not only the law-fulfiller; but the law of God was in his very heart; Psalms 40:8. And as Jesus hath made his people free, they are free indeed; John 8:36. What a memorable testimony was that of Jesus before Pontius Pilate, when he witnessed a good confession! 1 Timothy 6:13. It is very blessed to behold the Lord Jesus in all those leadings in the exercise and path of duty. While we see Jesus delighting himself in his Father's law, fulfilling and obeying every tittle of it in our nature, for us and for our salvation; with what holy confidence may we come before the throne, and seek acceptance in him the beloved! Hence the whole church is represented as crying out, with uplifted hands, to Jehovah, Behold, O God, our shield! and look upon the face of thine anointed, Psalms 84:9.
While we contemplate the ever-blessed Jesus thus hanging upon the promises of the Father, we may in him, and through him, humbly adopt the same language, and remind God our Father of all his covenant promises in Christ. See particularly Psalms 22:7-11. Jesus always cast himself thus upon his Father's covenant engagements. Hence through the whole course of his life, and in death, Jesus had an eye to that support promised him. And hence God's promises. See Psalms 89:26. But, unless we look at Christ as the whole of the covenant, not a promise can we plead; neither can we expect relief, but in and from him, and for his sake; 2 Corinthians 1:20. Never was there anything more true than what is here said of the derision of the proud, considered with reference to Christ. He was counted a blasphemer, a sabbath-breaker, a friend of publicans and sinners; and was made the song of the drunkard; Psalms 69:11-12. What a sweet verse is this, which speaks of Christ comforting himself in the remembrance of Jehovah's judgments of old, namely, the everlasting covenant, that when Christ had made his soul an offering for sin, he should see his seed, Isaiah 53:10. And ought not the believer to take comfort from the same cause, amidst all the exercises he meets with in his warfare? There is a rest, even Jesus, that remaineth for the people of God, Hebrews 4:9; Isaiah 28:12. And doth not this verse, which speaks of horror taking hold upon him, refer to Christ's soul agonies in the garden? Who shall enter into the full apprehension of Jesus's exercises in that solemn season? Luke 22:41-44. But as Jesus reposed himself in God's faithfulness and covenant love to himself and people; So, Reader, let us take these statutes, founded on the love, and made secure to Jesus and his people by the oath and promise of Jehovah, and make them our songs also in this house of our pilgrimage. This will give us sweet remembrance from the Holy Ghost, the Remembrancer in the night. And this we shall assuredly enjoy, because our great Law-fulfiller, both in his obedience and death, hath secured the everlasting salvation of his people!
This eighth part of this lovely Psalm opens most beautifully, in which we clearly behold Jesus as the speaker. The royal Prophet, under the Spirit's influence (as Peter was commissioned to explain) in the person of Christ, declared Jehovah to be his portion in another Psalm. And here the same is repeated. See Psalms 16:5, compared with Acts 2:22-31. Reader! it is blessed to see Jesus thus claiming the Father as his portion, for in this we find our claim in Jesus as our portion. And having the key at the door, in this part of the Psalm, to open to Christ, we may safely go through the whole of it, with an eye to him. And so far will this ever be from lessening our interest in what is said, that it strengthens our claims tenfold. Nay, without reference to the ever-blessed Jesus, no son or daughter of Adam can presume to say what is here said: For who hath made his heart clean? Who is it that hath made haste and delayed not to keep the Lord's commandments? Who is it that hath never forgotten God's law? Proverbs 20:9. But when we behold Christ in his all perfect obedience; and by faith behold Christ the common head and representative of all his church, as one with his people, who are beheld and accepted in him; we enter into the full enjoyment of these sweet and precious scriptures, and take interest in all that concerns him. And how blessed then becomes the promise of the Father: I have said (saith Jehovah) mercy shall be built up forever. How? I have made a covenant with my chosen: I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish forever. Psalms 89:3-4. Oh! the mercy of God in Christ!
As the first verse of the foregoing portion proved that Jesus was the speaker; so the last verse of this portion as plainly points to the same. None but the ever-blessed Jesus had such testimony to give as this. But of him the Prophet sang, The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found on his lips, Malachi 2:6. And hence the church intreated, Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, Song of Solomon 1:2. And wherefore? Because (saith another scripture) grace is poured into his lips, therefore God hath blessed him forever! Psalms 45:2. Reader! is it not precious thus to view Christ, and to know our interest in him? What a beauty appears in this whole Psalm, in beholding Jesus as the sum and substance of it! for then we behold an exact correspondence. We see the precepts of Jehovah kept with a whole heart; not one departure, not a single omission. The excellencies of our Jesus are all pure and unmixed: whereas with the best of his people, so much imperfection mingles, that there is nothing to be depended upon. But Jesus is the altogether lovely; comprehensive of all that is fair, and holy, and good; and excluding everything that is unpleasant, and unamiable. Oh! for grace to took to Christ; and from the continued communications of his love, to feel, and know, and enjoy, our interest in him! - Let not the Reader hesitate over these scriptures in making application of them to Christ, because he hears the confession: Before I was afflicted I went astray, and the like; let him recollect, that in all those scriptures the holy Sufferer is speaking as the sinner's surety, enduring the curse which the law denounced against the sinner, and consequently confessing in the sinner's name the divine justice of God, in taking vengeance for sin. Hence, being made sin, and then a curse for his people; he thus speaks in the sinner's person: see Galatians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21. Hence we find in other scriptures similar expressions: Mine iniquities are gone over my head as a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me, Psalms 38:3-4. That the Prophet is speaking in the person of the Redeemer, in these and the like scriptures, is evident from the other parts connected with them: see Psalms 38:13-14, compared with Isaiah 53:7, and Matthew 27:12-14. Reader! when you have duly pondered these grand points of redemption, I trust and hope, your views of these portions of the Psalm will be more plain. May the Lord give both you and me a right understanding in all things!
With most peculiar reference to the ever-blessed Jesus must we read the opening of this portion. A body hast thou prepared me, was said by Christ when beholding the redemption work he came to perform. Hebrews 10:5, compared with Psalms 40:6. And in another scripture the same truth is expressed, only with a variation of words? My substance was not hid from thee when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Compare Psalms 139:15-16, with Luke 1:35. And how delightful is the succeeding verse in reference to the Lord's people; all in whom the Lord hath put his fear, which is the beginning of wisdom, must rejoice in Christ, the mercy promised, to whom all the faithful were looking with earnest expectation. Proverbs 9:10; Luke 1:27; Luk_2:25. The following verses are in sweet harmony with the same doctrine.
The opening of this portion is also very beautiful, in reference to the Lord Jesus, who waited with longing expectation for the time of his being manifested unto Israel. Hence we find him, in the days of his flesh, longing for the time of his baptism, as he graciously called it and as being straitened until it was accomplished, Luke 12:50. He seemed to long for the hour; and hence, through the whole of the Old Testament dispensation, all the ordinances instituted were types and shadows of good things to come, as if to tell his people that he waited with anxiety for the period to arrive, when he should enter upon the work of redemption, which he had covenanted with the Father to perform, for the saving of his church and people. Reader! it is a blessed thing, when the souls of the redeemed faint for Jesus and his salvation, in their ardent desires after him, as Jesus fainted with holy longings for finishing the work the Father gave him to do. Psalms 42:1-2. It is no small beauty in this portion of the Psalm, that as the first verse opens with an account of the soul's fainting with longing desires; so the last verse ends with earnest cries, for the quickening influence; of the Spirit. Reader! I do not know what correspondence your experience may have to these things; but I know that the souls of God's people, who most desire to feel the faintings after Jesus; will complain most of standing in need of his quickening influences. Oh! for grace to improve the love of Jesus to the soul, by going in that love after farther discoveries of his love and grace, and panting after larger, fuller, and more frequent manifestations of it continually. Precious Jesus! grant me this mercy, and let me have continual actings of faith upon thy glorious person and righteousness, until my whole soul is filled with thee, and thy love! Song of Solomon 2:5.
Here is a beautiful address to Jehovah, in contemplation of his own eternal nature, the everlasting purposes and unchangeableness of his councils, and all his ordinances, providences, and dispensations, as purposed in Jesus, the uncreated Word, before the world began! And in the contemplation of these, the great Surety of sinners may be supposed as here speaking, that unless the faithfulness of Jehovah had sustained him, he must have perished in the vast undertaking. Never can the people of God be too firmly, or too frequently, established in the assurance of these great things of God. When Christ undertook the redemption of his people, and engaged, as such, to take their name and their nature; he had an eye to the Father's engagements and promises through the whole. Not only had Jehovah promised to fit him for the work, by causing the Spirit of the Lord to rest upon him, and giving him the Spirit without measure; but to assist him through every part, and to carry him safely through all: and in the end to make his throne as the days of heaven. Hence therefore, with reference to these gracious purposes, the Prophet may be supposed, in this portion, to be introducing Christ as looking forward to the period of his advent with firm dependence, and embarking in the vast design in full assurance, agreeably to what is said in the succeeding verses. Compare Isaiah 11:2; John 3:34; Psalms 89:29.
Reader! let us listen to these sweet words, as the words of Jesus. Let us beg of God the Holy Ghost to give us grace to feel and know our interest in what he here saith, from our interest in him. And let us look up to God our Father, while we hear Jesus thus expressing, in our nature, his love to the law of the Father, his regard to all his commandments, and his uniform, undeviating rectitude in all he came to perform, and plead in his name and righteousness for every covenant blessing which becomes the right of his redeemed, by virtue of divine promises in the salvation by Jesus. Yes! thou blessed Lamb of God! thy Father's law was the whole of thy delight by day, and the heavenly bodies, in their travelling circuit, witnessed thy meditation by night. All that were before thee were servants only, ministering to thy word; Prophets and Patriarchs knew nothing compared to thy knowledge, the wonderful Counsellor of thy people. Give me to taste of thy grace and love, thou divine almighty Teacher, and may the meditation of my heart be so sweetly engaged on thee, that my lips may drop as the honeycomb, and the name of Jesus be the first and last in my mouth all the day.
I pass over several very interesting observations which might be offered on the verses in this portion, (for there is not a part of them but is well calculated to make our meditation sweet); but I pass them over to call the Reader's attention, and my own, to that very precious thought, contained in these expressions, as considered with reference to Jesus: Accept, I beseech thee, the free-will offering of my mouth. I beg that I may be clearly understood on this grand point. According to my apprehension, it is the willingness of Christ in his human nature, which is here spoken of, and which is highly proper to be considered, and well weighed and pondered in our thoughts; for it gives validity, importance, and efficacy, to the meritorious sacrifice. The human nature of Jesus, as distinct from the divine nature, had a distinct will also: for although, in the assumption of the human nature for the purposes of salvation, the Son of God coming into the world, putting his name among creatures, and entering into covenant engagements before the world began; though these purposes were solely in the acts and trans actions of the Persons of the Godhead, yet the free will and full consent of the human nature, when taken into union with the Son of God, and becoming one Christ by the junction of both, became necessary to make the offering of Christ's body a free-will sacrifice. Now, without enlarging on this subject, doth not such a view of Jesus in his human nature, thus speaking, and thus acting, refresh the soul? Thy law, saith Jesus, in another Psalm, is within my heart; not put there, but habitually there, formed there; or in a stronger expression, as the margin hath it, in the midst of my bowels. Psalms 40:8. Either of which phrases would be unsuitable, and indeed improper to be applied in the least respect to the divine nature, and can be only meant of the human. So that God's holy law is natural to his holy nature. And his zeal for that law made all his services, in the human nature as well as the divine, altogether free and voluntary. May my soul feel the blessedness of this view of Jesus! Here then is seen in our great Head and Husband, a holy nature, devoted to Jehovah. And such (by virtue of his people's union with him) are his people also. Hosea 2:19-20; Jeremiah 23:6; 1 Corinthians 1:30.
After the observations which have been proposed upon the foregoing portions of this most blessed Psalm, the Reader will not be surprised, neither, I hope, offended, if I go on to accept this portion also as having respect to the person of Jesus, first speaking himself, and then as the proper devout sentiments of all his people; for without considering our relation to him, sure I am, the sentiments can never suit the minds of a fallen race, like the sons and daughters of Adam. Hate vain thoughts we may, and a certain degree of love to God's law may also be within. But these sensations can only arise in our minds through our relationship to Jesus, How long shall thy vain thoughts edge within thee? is the inquiry of the prophet, Jeremiah 4:14. And Paul hath set it down as a truth perfectly incontrovertible, that the carnal mind is enmity against God; that it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be; and they that are in the flesh cannot please God, Romans 8:7-8. And though the mind be renewed by grace, still in the flesh dwelleth no good thing: The man that thinks otherwise, only manifests that he is a stranger to his own corruptions, and Paul's experience. None but Jesus could truly take up the language of this sweet portion. He whose nature was altogether holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens, and in the midst of whose bowels his Father's law was by nature formed, could say, I hate vain thoughts: thy law do I love.
How sweetly do these words become Christ! but who, except Christ, could ever use them? One might be led to conclude, from the very many similar examples we meet with in the book of Psalms, that this precious book of God would be more generally regarded than it is, by those who are in the habit of frequently reading it, as speaking in the person of Christ. Who, for instance, that reads the fifteenth Ps 1-150 where the speaker saith, I will wash mine hands in innocency, so will I compass thine altar, O Lord; who would possibly conceive that any man should be so blind as to fancy that any, but the ever blessed Jesus, could assume such language? Reader! I know not what views you may have hitherto taken up with; of moral goodness among men; but pray God to give you in due season a real conviction of heart, that nothing short of the righteousness of Jesus can correspond to such language, and therefore none but Jesus can be supposed to say, I have done judgment and justice. How Jesus longed for the salvation of his people, every part of his ministry manifested; so that when he said, "his eyes failed for it, " it showed the love he had to his redeemed. And how his holy soul delighted in glorifying his Father's laws, and in magnifying that law, and making it honourable! Sweet and precious consideration to the minds of his people!
The verses in this portion form a beautiful reduplication of the same delightful truths. It is Jesus speaking through the whole of them, in his human nature, as the Head and Representative of his people. And when we consider that it is herein he comes home so very sweetly end eared to our hearts, because we see in him the holiness of our nature, and our acceptance in him; nothing surely can be more blessed than to be always looking unto Jesus as the perfection of beauty! But, Reader! think, when Jesus hath thus engaged and entered into covenant agreements for his people, that they shall be accepted in him, and be made comely in his comeliness; how wretched the return, in slighting him and his righteousness! It forms an interesting portrait of Jesus in the days of his flesh, his mourning over Jerusalem: and if this passage refers to him, rivers of water run down, because of the ingratitude and inattention of his people, it may serve to teach us how great is his love. Lamb of God! grant that I may never grieve thy Spirit by a neglect of thy love, and rebellion against thy gracious commands. Oh! for grace to follow thee in the regeneration: and as He who hath called us is holy, so may we be holy in all manner of conversation!
In this portion is that memorable verse which throws a light upon the whole Psalm, and fully authorizes us to apply many parts of it directly to the person of Jesus. The passage is, My zeal hath consumed me. Independently of the royal prophet, David, in another Psalm, applying it to Christ (Psalms 69:9) and of the disciples in the temple doing the same (John 2:17); certain it is, none but Christ could ever with truth use such language. No! thou blessed Lord! none but thine heart ever so glowed with zeal for God's glory. And thy zeal for thy Father's glory, added to the love thou hast had from everlasting to the eternal welfare of thy people, made thine heart burn with holy ardour, so as to prey upon thy strength, and at an early age induce all the marks of a worn-out frame and debility of body. Oh! Lord! grant me a portion of thy earnestness; I beseech thee, that, like one of thy servants, I may not count my life dear to myself, but determine that Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life or death; that to me to live may be Christ, and to die may be gain, Philippians 1:20-21.
These verses give us an interesting view of Jesus, and are descriptive of some of those conflicts, under which he was constrained to lift up his voice to God his Father, with strong cryings and tears. Learning as a Son (saith the apostle) obedience by the things which he suffered. When we consider the extent of those sufferings, their cause, and the vast and eternal ends to be accomplished by them; and when we consider moreover the nature into which Christ put himself, and the load of guilt in that nature, which Christ took upon himself when he died, the just for the unjust, to bring us unto God; we may estimate in some degree, how Jesus, the holy, patient, meek, and suffering Jesus, might be supposed to cry with his whole heart, and to cry out from the deep of soul distress, Save me! hear my voice, according to thy loving-kindness! And thus to cast himself upon his Father. Dear Lord! help me, in my little exercises, to keep in remembrance thy bright and glorious example. Make me to consider thee, who didst endure such contradiction of sinners against thyself, lest I be weary and faint in my mind. Oh! thou gracious High Priest! may I ever keep in view thy blessed pattern, and the sweet and consoling instruction it carries with it; that in that thou thyself hast suffered, being tempted, thou art able to succour them that are tempted.
The same cries of soul are continued through this portion as in the former; and we may, without any forced construction of the words, consider what is here said as peculiarly applicable to the meek and suffering Jesus. Indeed, without respect to Him, the language would lose all its energy; for in relation to all the church of Christ, and all his people, we may well take up the language of the prophet, and say, Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? Lamentations 3:39. But when we see Christ acting in all he did and suffered for us, and in our stead; when we recollect that though Jesus thus cried, and thus suffered, in himself, he had done no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who but must take interest in these cries of the Son of God, when for us, and not for himself, those sufferings and cries were all induced! I detain the Reader to make one remark on a passage in this portion, which indeed we have met with several times before: but one observation may serve for all, I mean the cry put up for the Lord's quickening Spirit. No less than nine times in the several portions of this Psalm, do we find this cry of the soul; Quicken me, O Lord, according to thy loving-kindness. Blessed Spirit! I would say, do thou mercifully quicken those souls of ours, which cleave to the dust. Penetrate them, - Lord; enlighten them; soften, revive, and bring them forth from all their languishing circumstances: thou knowest that none can quicken, none can give life, none can keep alive, none can restore his own soul. Raise up then, thou almighty Lord! raise up our souls, that by thy grace and power, we may ascend in heavenly affections and de sires after Jesus, that our lives being hid with Christ in God, when Christ who is our life shall appear, we may appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:3-4.
Still prosecuting the same subject of suffering, here are the same petitions lodged before the throne. The apostle to the Hebrews was commissioned by the Holy Ghost to teach the church some very sweet and leading truths, by way of accommodating the example of Jesus to his people: It became him (saith the apostle) for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. And, as if this was not enough, that every poor, exercised, tried, and buffetted believer might know where to apply in his affliction, with an assurance of being heard and answered; the apostle was taught to and, that those exercises of the ever blessed Jesus were intended partly by way of example, and partly by way of being the better fitted to administer aid to his afflicted ones. Wherefore (saith the apostle) in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest, in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people; Hebrews 2:16-17. Reader! let you and I think of this, and if possible never lose sight of it. Our great Intercessor was once a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He knows what our troubled days now are by his own. And he can and will give all suited grace, strength, and final deliverance. Precious Jesus! methinks I now hear thee by the ear of faith, in thine high priestly office, saying, Holy Father! keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are, John 17:11.
There is but little variation in this portion from the former. Jesus taught his disciples, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint, Luke 18:1; and here he sets the example. I do not think it necessary to enlarge upon this portion, nor indeed, after what hath been said, to detain the Reader with any further observations by way of comment. And shall only from one general reflection upon the whole, desire to close this Psalm, with recommending both the Reader and the few imperfect remarks interspersed in the review of it, together to the grace of God wherein we stand. If this beautiful Psalm be, according to the ideas here given of it, designed as specially looking to, and descriptive of, the person, offices, character, and relations of the Lord Jesus Christ; I shall find cause to bless God if such views as have been offered tend, as the Holy Ghost plainly in that case designed this psalm, to endear the Lord Jesus more and more to the heart, and thereby to form him therein the hope of glory. In this case the meditations suggested so often by the statutes, testimonies, precepts judgments, and the like, which run through the whole Psalm, will have a still greater tendency to endear Jesus and his fulness to the soul. And while we make him; what the w hole Bible makes him, the Alpha and Omega; the beginning and the end; the first and the last; the author and finisher of salvation; we shall be following up God the Father's will in his appointment of Christ as the one ordinance of salvation to sinners; and God the Spirit's design in glorifying the Lord Christ in all. Reader! the Lord merci fully grant these blessed ends may be accomplished, from our review of this sweet Psalm; and blessed be our Jesus for manifesting himself to us through every part of it, that God in all things may be glorified, through Jesus Christ! Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 119". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://pro.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30