Psalm 119:102

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 102. I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. They are well taught whom God teaches. What we learn from the Lord we never forget. God's instruction has a practical effect -- we follow his way when he teaches us; and it has an abiding effect, -- we do not depart from holiness. Read this verse in connection with the preceding and you get the believer's "I have," and his "I have not": he is good both positively and negatively. What he did, namely, "refrained his feet," preserved him from doing that which otherwise he might have done, namely, "departed from thy judgments." He who is careful not to go an inch aside will not leave the road. He who never touches the intoxicating cup will never be drunk. He who never utters an idle word will never be profane. If we begin to depart a little we can never tell where we shall end. The Lord brings us to persevere in holiness by abstinence from the beginning of sin; but whatever be the method he is the worker of our perseverance, and to him be all the glory.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 102. -- By "misphallim", "judgments," is meant God's law; for thereby he will judge the world. And the word "departed not" intimates both his exactness and constancy: his exactness, that he did not go a hair's breadth from his direction; "Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left" ( Deuteronomy 5:32 ); and his constancy is implied in it, for then we are said to depart from God and his law, when we fall off from him in judgment and practice. Jer 32:40. --Thomas Manton.

Verse 102. -- Thou hast taught me. God teacheth two ways: --

  1. By common illumination.
  2. By special operation.

  1. By common illumination, barely enlightening the mind to know or understand what he propounds by his messengers: so God showed it to the heathen: Romans 1:20 . But then,
  2. By way of special operation, effectually inclining the will to embrace and prosecute duties so known: "I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts": Jeremiah 31:33 . This way of teaching is always effectual and persuasive. Now, in this sense they are taught of God, so that they do not only get an ear to hear, but a heart to understand, learn, and practise.

    This teaching is the ground of constancy, because,

    1. They that are thus taught of God see things more clearly than others do; God is the most excellent teacher.
    2. They know things more surely, and with certainty of demonstration, whereas others have but dubious conjectures, and loose and wavering opinions about the things of God.
    3. This teaching is so efficacious and powerful, as that the effect followeth: "Teach me thy way, O Lord; I Will walk in thy truth" ( Psalms 86:11 ).
    4. God renews this teaching, and is always at hand to guide us, and give counsel to us, which is the cause of our standing. --Thomas Manton.

Verse 102. -- For thou hast taught me. Lest it should seem that David ascribed the praise of godliness to himself, or that it came from any goodness in him that he did refrain his feet from every evil way, he gives here all the glory to God, protesting, that because God did teach him, therefore he declined not. Wherefrom we learn, that if at any time we stand, or if when we have fallen we rise and repent, it is ever to be imputed to God that teacheth us; for there is no evil so abominable, but it would soon become plausible to us, if God should leave us to ourselves. David was taught by his ordinary teachers, and he did reverence them; but that he profited by them he ascribes unto God. Paul may plant, and Apollos water; God must give the increase. --William Cowper.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 102. -- Divine teaching necessary to secure perseverance, and effectual to that end.

Verse 102. -- Consider, --

  1. The path appointed for men to walk in: "Thy judgments."
(a) Right path.
(b) Clean path.
(c) Pleasant path.
(d) Safe path.
(e) The end -- eternal glory.

  1. The persistent pursuit of it: "I have not departed."
(a) Persecution would drive from it.
(b) Pleasures would allure from it.
(c) The flesh would weary in it.
(d) But the true believer determines to hold on his way to
the end.
(e) And carefully watches his steps lest they depart.

  1. The preserving power that holds the traveller to it: "For thou hast taught me."
    1. The traveller walks with God, and receives instruction
      by the special illumination of the Holy Spirit.
(b) The choice property of this teaching is, not only that
it makes wise, but that it captivates the soul, strengthens
it, and holds it to a holy obedience. --J.F.