Psalm 119:100

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 100. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. The men of old age, and the men of old time, were outdone by the holier and more youthful learner. He had been taught to observe in heart and life the precepts of the Lord, and this was more than the most venerable sinner had ever learned, more than the philosopher of antiquity had so much as aspired to know. He had the word with him, and so outstripped his foes; lie meditated on it, and so outran his friends; he practised it, and so outshone his elders. The instruction derived from Holy Scripture is useful in many directions, superior from many points of view, unrivalled everywhere and in every way. As our soul may make her boast in the Lord, so may we boast in his word. "There is none like it: give it me," said David as to Goliath's sword, and we may say the same as to the word of the Lord. If men prize antiquity they have it here. The ancients are had in high repute, but what did they all know compared with that which we perceive in the divine precepts? "The old is better" says one: but the oldest of all is the best of all, and what is that but the word of the Ancient of days

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 100. I understand...because l keep. Would we know the Lord? Let us keep his commandments. "By thy precepts," saith David, that is, by the observance of thy precepts, "I get understanding." "If any man do my will" (saith our blessed Saviour, John 7:17 ), "he shall know my doctrine." boulei qeololoj lenesqai taj entolaj fulasse saith Nazienzen: Wouldst thou be a divine? do the commandments; for action is (as it were) the basis of contemplation. It is St. Gregory's observation concerning the two disciples who, whilst Christ talked with them, knew him not; but in performing an act of hospitality towards him, to wit, breaking bread with him, they knew him, that they were enlightened, not by hearing him, but by doing divine precepts, Quisquis ergo vult audita intelligere; festinet ea quae jam audire potuit, opere implere, Whosoever therefore will understand, let him first make haste to do what he heareth. -- Nathanael Hardy, 1618-1670.

Verse 100. -- I understand more than the ancients. The ordinary answer of ignorant people is, "What! must we be wiser than our forefathers?" And yet those same people would be richer than their forefathers were. The maximum quod sic of a Christian is this, he must grow in grace, till his head reach up to heaven, till grace is perfected in glory. --Christopher Love, 1618-1651.

Verse 100. -- More than the ancients. Understanding gotten by the precepts of the word is better than understanding gotten by long experience. It is better in four regards. First, It is more exact. Our experience reacheth but to a few things; but the word of God reacheth to all cases that concern true happiness. The word is the result of God's wisdom, who is the Ancient of days; therefore exceeds the wisdom of the ancients, or experience of any men, or all men. Secondly, as it is more exact, so a more sure way of learning wisdom, whereas experience is more uncertain. Many have much experience, yet have not a heart to see and to gather wisdom from what they feel: Deuteronomy 29:2-4 . Thirdly, it is a safer and cheaper way of learning, to learn by rule, than to come home by weeping cross, and to learn wisdom by our own smart. Experience is too expensive a way; and, if we had nothing else to guide us, into how many thousand miseries should we run! Fourthly, it is shorter. The way by age and experience is a long way; and so, for a long time, all a man's younger age must needs be miserable and foolish. Now, here you may come betimes to be wise by studying the word of God. It concerns a man, not only to be wise at length, but to be wise betimes. The foolish virgins were wise too late: but never were any wise too soon. -- Condensed from Thomas Manton.

Verse 100. -- If this way the Word of God were thus perfect in David's time, what is it by the addition of so many parcels of Scripture since? If it then gave wisdom to the simple ( Psalms 14:7 ); if it made David, being brought up but as a shepherd, wiser than his enemies, than his ancients, than his teachers; as an angel of God in discerning right from wrong ( 1 Samuel 14:17 ); able to guide the people by the skilfulness of his hands ( Psalms 78:72 ); what kind of wisdom is there, which we may not now gather from thence? What depth of natural philosophy have we in Genesis and Job! What flowers of rhetoric in the prophets! What force of logic in Saint Paul's epistles! what art of poetry in the psalms! What excellent moral precepts, not only for private life, but for the regulation of families and commonwealth in the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes! To which may be added in a second rank as very useful, though apocryphal, the Book of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus. What reasonable and just laws have we in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, which moved the great Ptolemy to hire the Septuagints to translate them into Greek: what unmatchable antiquity, variety, and wonderful events, and certainty of story, in the books of Moses, Joshua, the Judges, Samuel, the Kings, and Chronicles, together with Ruth and Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah, and, since Christ, in the sacred Gospels and Acts of the Apostles. And, lastly, what profound mysteries have we in the prophecies of Ezekiel and Daniel, and the Revelation of Saint John. But in this it infinitely exceeds the wisdom of all human writings, that it is alone "able to make a man wise unto salvation" ( 2 Timothy 3:15 ). Upon these considerations, Charles the Fifth of France, surnamed The Wise, not only caused the Bible to be translated into French, but was himself very studious in the Holy Scriptures. And Alphonsus, King of Arragon, is said to have read over the whole Bible fourteen several times, with Lyra's notes upon it; though he were otherwise excellently well learned, yet was the law of God his delight, "more desired of him than gold, yea, than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." -- George Hakewell, 1579-1649.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 100. -- Antiquity no security for truth as contrasted with revelation: old age no proof of wisdom as contrasted with holy living: open confession no evidence of boasting as contrasted with sullen pride.

Verse 100. -- Obedience the high road to understanding. --W.B.H.

Verse 100. -- Obedience the key of knowledge. John 7:17 .