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142. Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.
Men may decree wickedness by a law, or they may change their decrees, and, with them, what was right to-day, may be worng to morrow. But the law of God is " righteousness," and it is "truth, to-day and for ever. His justice, goodness, and fidelity are unchangeable ; he will never forsake us, unless we forsake him, but will remember us in our lowest estate, if, in that estate, we do not forget his precepts."
143. Trouble and anguish hare taken hold upon, or, have found me, yet thy commandments are my delights.
We need not take pains, as many do, “to find trouble and anguish,” for they will one day “find us.” In that day, the revelations of God must be to us instead of all worldly "delights" and pleasures, which will then have forsaken us; and how forlorn and desolate will be our state, if we shall have no other delights, no other pleasures, to suceed them, and to accompany us into eternity! Let our study be now in the Scriptures, if we expect our comfort from them in time to come.
144. The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live.
In every sense, O Lord Jesu, thy righteousness is "everlasting." Grant us the “understanding” of it, in every sense, and we “shall live,” in thee now, and with thee for ever.
TWENTY-SIXTH DAY.-EVENING PRAYER.
145. I cried with my whole heart ; hear me, O Lord: I will keep thy statutcs. 146. I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies.
Believers, in time of affliction, make their prayer to God with fervour and importunity, petitioning for deliverance, that they may the better serve their Deliverer, and keep his laws.
147. I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried : I hoped in thy word. 149. Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.
It is a certain sign that our hearts are set upon a work, when the thoughts of it cause sleep to depart from us, and we awake readily, constantly, and early, to the performance of it. David delighted in the holy exercises of prayer and meditation; therefore he "prevented the dawning of the morning,” and was beforehand with the light itself; therefore his "eyes prevented the watches,” that is, the last of those watches, into which the night was by the Jews divided; he needed not the watchman's call, but was stirring before it could be given. Climate and constitution will, doubtless, make a difference,
and claim considerable allowance; but by Christians, who enjoy their health, in temperate weather, the sun should not be suffered to shine in vain, nor the golden hours of the morning to glide away unimproved ; since of David's Lord, as well as of David, it is said, "in the morning rising up, a great while before day, he went out and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” Mark, i. 35.
149. Hear my voice, according unto thy loving-kindness; O Lord, quicken me according to thy judgment, that is thy word. 150. They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law. 151. Thou art near, O Lord; and all thy commandments are truth.
If our enemies "draw nigh” to destroy us, God is still "nearer" to preserve us; and, however his “word” may be rejected by the wicked, the faithful always find it to be "true,"to their great and endless comfort.
152. Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old, that thou hast founded them for ever.
This portion of our Psalm endeth with the triumph of faith over all dangers and temptations. Concerning thy testimonies," the revelations of thy will, thy counsels for the salvation of thy servants, “I have known of old," by faith, and by my own experience, as well as that of others, "that thou hast founded them for ever;" they are unalterable and everlasting as the attributes of their great Author, and can never fail those who rely upon them, in time, or in eternity.
153. Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law.
It is happy when our "afflictions” do not make us to "forget the law of God;" then have we confidence toward him in our prayers, that he will “consider" and regard our sufferings, as he did those of Israel in Egypt, and come down to “deliver” us out of all our troubles; for Israel is still in Egypt, while the church is in the world; but let us remember the promise, and rejoice in hope.
154. Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word.
God is the patron of his people, to "plead” their “cause;" their Redeemer, to "deliver” them out of troubles; the Author and Fountain of their life, to "quicken" and support them. We may, therefore, have recourse to bim at all times, as an Advocate, a Saviour, and a Comforter, for the defence of our cause, the deliverance of our persons, and the support of our hearts. And all this, “ according to his word,” in which he hath engaged thus to patronize, to rescue, and to strengthen those who trust in him, and apply to him.
155. Salvation is far from the wicked : for they seek not thy statutes.
The “salvation” which is nigh to the faithful because they diligently and earnestly seek to know and to do the will of God revealed to them in his word, is " far from the wicked,” because they seek
not his statutes," nor concerų themselves to know what they are, much less to observe and practise them.
156. Great are thy tender mercies, O Lord : quicken me according to thy judgments, that is, thy word. 157. Many are my persecutors, and mine ene mies; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies. 158. I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved ; because they kept not thy word.
Persecution tempteth men to apostacy, and is the great trial of our fidelity to God and to his word. He who, in such circumstances, forgetteth his own sufferings, to commiserate the sin and folly of his persecutors, is a true follower, as David was a forerunner, of Jesus Christ.
159. Consider how I love thy precepts : quicken me, O Lord, according to thy loving-kindness. 160. Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
It is observable how the Psalmist delighteth to dwell on these two sweet notes; the “loving-kindness” of God in promising salvation, and his “truth” in the constant performance of that promise to his church, while she “loves" and adheres to his “precepts." Thus it hath been “from the beginning,” and thus it will be, until the whole counsel of heaven shall at length be fulfilled, by the resurrection and salvation of the just.
161. Princes have persecuted me without a cause : but my heart standeth in awe of thy word. 162. I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.
David was "persecuted" by Saul and his assooiates, "without a cause.” The life of Saul was spared by him, because “ he stood in awe of God's word," and preferred the comfortable reflection of having obeyed its injunctions, to all the "spoil,” and to those many advantages, that would have accrued to him, by the overthrow and death of his implacable adversary, who acknowledged, upon the occasion, “Thou art more righteous than I.” 1 Sam. xxiv. 17. The sufferings of the body are soon over; the joys of conscience have no end.
163. I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love. The word of truth is the proper object of our "love," and every thing which is contrary to it deserveth our “ hatred and abhorrence; nor is life itself worth preserving at the expense either of our faith or our virtue. 164. Seven times a day do I praise thee, because of thy righteous judgments.
They who, like David, during the time of persecution and affliction, put their trust in God, and wait his decision of their cause, will always find reason, as David did, to "praise bim seven times a day," or continually, for his just decrees and righteous judgments" concerning them.
165. Great peace have they which love thy laro: and nothing shall offend them.
Amidst the storms and tempests of the world, there is a perfect calm in the breasts of those who not only do the will of God, but “ love” to do it. They are at peace with God, by the blood of reconciliation; at peace with themselves, by the answer of a good conscience, and the subjection of those desires which war against the soul; at peace with all men, by the spirit of charity; and the whole creation is so at peace with them, that all things work together for their good. No external troubles can rob them of this great peace,” no “offences” or stumbling-blocks, which are thrown in their way by persecution or temptation, by the malice of enemies or the apostacy of friends, by any thing which they see, hear of, or feel, can detain or divert them from their course. Heavenly love surmounts every obstacle, and runs with delight the way of God's commandments.
166. Lord, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.
This is the true posture of a Christian, in which he need not fear to be found by his last and great enemy, death,“ doing” his duty, and " hoping for salvation from the person who is his Maker, as well as his Redeemer, and who, consequently, expecteth to be obeyed, no less than to be believed in.
167. My soul hath kept Ihy testimonies, and I love them exceedingly. 168. I hade kepi thy precepls und ihy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee.
The “love of God's testimonies," and the consideration, that all "our ways are before him," and subject to his immediate inspection, are two powerful motives to obedience. The plea of having " kept the divine precepts,” &c. in the mouth of David, or any other believer, intendeth sincerity, not perfection, and is alleged as an evidence of grace, not as a claim of merit. Christ alone kept the old law, and he enableth us to observe the new.
169. Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord: give me understanding according to thy word. 170. Lel my supplication come before thee : deliver me according to thy word.
The Psalmist still continueth instant in prayer for "understanding," to direct him in the midst of dangers and temptations, and for “deliverance” out of ihem all, when God shall see fit to accomplish the promises made in his “word.” These are blessings for which a man cannot be too frequent, or too earnest, in his petitions to the throne of heaven.
171. My lips shall ulter praise, when thou hast taught me thy stalutes. 172. My longue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.
He who obtaineth bis requests, and is made a partaker of that grace and salvation for which he so fervently prayed, will edify men,
by singing the “praises," and proclaiming the “rigateousness” of God his Saviour.
173. Let thine hand help me: for I have chosen thy precepts. 174. I hate longed for thy salvation, O Lord: and thy law is my delight.
“Salvation" by the “hand,” or arm of Jehovah (which is often in Scripture a title of Messiah) hath been the object of the hopes, the desires, and "longing" expectation of the faithful, from Adam to this hour; and will continue so to be, until He, who hath already visited us in great humility, shall come again in glorious majesty, to complete our redemption, and take us to himself.
175. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help
The “life” which God granteth and preserveth to us, whether it be the natural life of the body, or the spiritual life of the soul, (for both are from him,) should be employed in “praising” him. This return for his mercies we are always ready to promise, when we are in danger, but often forgetful to perform, when delivered out of it.
176. I have gone astray like a lost sheep: seek thy serrant; for 1 do not forget thy commandments.
It is doubtful whether David here speaks of his misery or his sin; of his “wandering,” as an exile in foreign lands, or of his "going astray” from the commandments” of his God, though he had not altogether "forgotten,” but was desirous of returning again to the observance of them, and therefore beseeches the great Shepherd to “ seek” and bring back his "lost sheep."* In the application of the passage to ourselves, it matters not which interpretation we adopt, since we are both sinners and exjles; exiles, because sinners; "we have erred and strayed from God's ways, like lost sheep," and are, for that reason, excluded from our heavenly city and country, to wander for a time in the wilderness. Restore us, O Lord Jesu, by thy grace, to righteousness, and by thy power, to glory!
*“ Erravi sicut ovisOmnes nos quasi oves erravimus." Isa. liii. 6.
" Sed nos bonus ille Pastor humeris reportavit.” Luc. xv. 5.—Bossuet. Mr. Merrick's Poetical Paraphrase of this verse is so beautiful and affecting, that I cannot refrain from subjoining it:
“ Thine eyes in me the sheep behold,
Whose feet have wander'd from the fold;