Psalm 119:101

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 101. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. There is no treasuring up the holy word unless there is a casting out of all unholiness: if we keep the good word we must let go the evil. David had zealously watched his steps and put a check upon his conduct, -- he had refrained his feet. No one evil way could entice him, for he knew that if he went astray but in one road he had practically left the way of righteousness, therefore he avoided every false way. The bypaths were smooth and flowery, but he knew right well that they were evil, and so he turned his feet away, and held on along the strait and thorny pathway which leads to God. It is a pleasure to look back upon self conquests, -- "I have refrained," and a greater delight still to know that we did this out of no mere desire to stand well with our fellows, but with the one motive of keeping the law of the Lord. Sin avoided that obedience may be perfected is the essence of this verse; or it may be that the Psalmist would teach us that there is no real reverence for the book where there is not carefulness to avoid every transgression of its precepts. How can we keep God's word if we do not keep our own works from becoming vile?

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 101 -- I have refrained my feet, etc. 1. We have David's practice: "I have refrained my feet from every evil way." 2. His end or motive: "That I might keep thy word;" that he might be exact and punctual with God in a course of obedience.

First, In his practice. You may note the seriousness of it: I have refrained my feet. By the feet are meant the affections: "Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God," Ecclesiastes 5:1 . Our affections which are the rigorous bent of the soul, do engage us to practice; therefore fitly resembled by the feet, by which we walk to any place that we do desire: so that, "I have refrained my feet," the meaning is, I keep a close and strict band over my affections, that they might not lead me to sin. Then you may note the extent of it; he doth not only say, I refrained from evil, but universally, "from every evil way." But how could David say this in truth of heart, if conscious of his offence in the matter of Uriah? Answer: This was the usual frame and temper of his soul, and the course of his life; and such kind of assertions concerning the saints are to be interpreted, voce et canatu, licet non semper eventu. This was his errand and drift, his purpose and endeavour, his usual course, though he had his failings.

Secondly, What was his end and motive in this? That I might keep thy word; that I might be exact and punctual with God in a course of obedience, and adhere to his word universally, impartially. --Thomas Manton.

Verse 101. -- I have refrained my feet, etc. Where there is real holiness, there is a holy hatred, detestation, and indignation against all ungodliness and wickedness, and that upon holy accounts:" I have refrained my feet from every evil way." But why? "That I may keep thy word." "Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way;" Psalms 119:104 . The good that he got by divine precepts stirred up his hatred against every false way: Psalms 119:128 , "Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way." His high esteem of every precept raised up in him a holy indignation against every evil way. A holy man knows that all sin strikes at the holiness of God, the glory of God, the nature of God, the being of God, and the law of God; and therefore his heart rises against all; he looks upon every sin as the Scribes and Pharisees that accused Christ; and as that Judas that betrayed Christ; and as that Pilate that condemned Christ; and as those soldiers that scourged Christ; and as those spears that pierced Christ; and therefore his heart cries out for justice upon all. --Thomas Brooks.

Verse 101. -- Refrained...that I might keep. By doing what is right we come both to know right and to be better able to do it. --"Plain Commentary."

Verse 101. -- I have refrained my feet, etc. The word "refrained" warns us that we are naturally borne by our feet into the path of every kind of sin, and are hurried along it by the rush of human passions, so that even the wise and understanding need to check, recall, and retrace their steps, in order that they may keep God's word, and not become castaways. And further note that the Hebrew verb here translated "refrained" is even stronger in meaning, and denotes "I fettered, or imprisoned, my feet," whereby we may learn that no light resistance is enough to prevent them from leading us astray. --Agellius and Genebrardus, in Neale and Littledale.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 101. -- Self restraint needful to piety.