Psalm 119:103

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 103. How sweet are thy words into my taste. He had not only heard the words of God, but fed upon them: they affected his palate as well as his ear. God's words are many and varied, and the whole of them make up what we call "the word": David loved them each one, individually, arid the whole of them as a whole; he tasted an indescribable sweetness in them. He expresses the fact of their sweetness, but as he cannot express the degree of their sweetness he cries, "How sweet!" Being God's words they were divinely sweet to God's servant; he who put the sweetness into them had prepared the taste of his servant to discern and enjoy it. David makes no distinction between promises and precepts, doctrines and threatenings; they are all included in God's words, and all are precious in his esteem. Oh for a deep love to all that the Lord has revealed, whatever form it may take.

Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth. When he did not only eat but also speak the word, by instructing others, he felt an increased delight in it. The sweetest of all temporal things fall short of the infinite deliciousness of the eternal word. Honey itself is outstripped of the Lord Widen the Psalmist fed on it he in sweetness by the word found it sweet; but when he bore witness of it it became sweeter still. How wise it will be on our part to keep the word on our palate by meditation and on our tongue by confession. It must be sweet to our taste when we think of it, or it will not be Sweet to our mouth when we talk of it.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 103. -- How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Even the words of a fellow creature of earth, how inexpressibly sweet sometimes, how beyond all calculation precious! All gold and silver would be despised in comparison with them. They come freighted with love, and the heart is enriched with them as though the breath of God had come into it. But does not this rainbow of earthly joy die gradually out? Do not the enrapturing words sooner or later become exsiccated in the memory, and may they not meet with contemptuous treatment as reminders of an earthly illusion? Indeed they do; indeed they may.

Nevertheless the heart may find its happiness, its true and undying happiness, in words. At this moment there is nothing in the whole world so much to be desired as certain words. Words of love. Words expressive of infinite love. Treasures, pleasures, honours of earth, what are they? My unsatisfied soul cries out, Give me words. Words whereby I may know the love that God has towards me. Words declaring the unchangeable attachment of the Saviour. Words purifying my heart. Emboldening me in prayer. Exhibiting to me the blissful future. Words that shall give life to my dead powers, and change me from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord. --George Bowen, in "Daily Meditations," 1873.

Verse 103. -- How sweet are thy words unto my taste! etc. There is given to the regenerated a new, supernatural sense, a certain divine, spiritual taste. This is in its whole nature diverse from any of the other five senses, and something is perceived by a true saint in the exercise of this new sense of mind, in spiritual and divine things, as entirely different from anything that is perceived in them by natural men, as the sweet taste of honey is diverse from the ideas men get of honey by looking on it or feeling of it. Now the beauty of holiness is that which is perceived by this spiritual sense, so diverse from all that natural men perceive in them; or, this kind of beauty is the quality that is the immediate object of this spiritual sense; this is the sweetness that is the proper object of this spiritual taste. The Scripture often represents the beauty and sweetness of holiness as the grand object of a spiritual taste and a spiritual appetite. This was the sweet food of the holy soul of Jesus Christ, John 4:32 John 4:34 . "I have meat to eat that ye know not of...My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." I know of no part of the Holy Scriptures where the nature and evidence of true and sincere godliness are so fully and largely insisted on and delineated, as in the 119th Psalm. The Psalmist declares his design in the first verses of the psalm, keeps his eye on it all along, and pursues it to the end. The excellency of holiness is represented as the immediate object of a spiritual taste and delight. God's law, that grand expression and emanation of the holiness of God's nature, and prescription of holiness to the creature, is all along represented as the great object of the love, the complacence, and rejoicing of the gracious nature, which prizes God's commandments above gold, yea, the finest gold, and to which they are sweeter than honey, and the honeycomb; and that upon account of their holiness. The same psalmist declares that this is the sweetness that a spiritual taste relishes in God's law: Psalms 19:7-10 . -- Jonathan Edwards, 1703-1758.

Verse 103. -- How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Why does he not rather say, How pleasant are thy words to my ears? than that they are sweet to his taste and his mouth? I answer: It is most meet that when God speaks by the mouth of his ministers we should be hearers, and the words of God should be the most joyous of all to our ears. But it is also the practice of the godly to converse about the words of God, and their words are so sweet to their own taste that they are more pleased and delighted than by any honey from the comb. And this is most necessary when either there is a scarcity of teachers, as with David in the wilderness or dwelling among the Philistines; or when those who hold the office of teaching, adulterate and vitiate the pure word of God. --Wolfgang Musculus.

Verse 103. -- That which is here called "word," I take rather for "judgments," partly because in the proper tongue the word is left out, and partly because he had used this word "judgments" in the verse immediately going before. But some will say, How can the judgments of God be "sweet," which are so troublesome, fearful, and grievous? I answer, that the godly have no greater joy than when they feel either the mercies of God accomplished towards them that fear him, or his judgments showered upon the reprobates. --Richard Greenham.

Verse 103. -- Unto my taste. "To my mouth." That is, I take as great pleasure in talking, conferring, and persuading, thy judgments, as my mouth, or the mouth of any that loveth honey, is delighted therewith. --Richard Greenham.

Verse 103. -- Sweeter. As there are always among violets some that are very much sweeter than others, so among texts there are some that are more precious to us than others. --Henry Ward Beecher, 1879.

Verse 103. -- An affectionate wife often says, "My husband! your words are sweeter to me than honey; yes, they are sweeter than the sugar cane." "Alas! my husband is gone," says the widow: "how sweet were his words! Honey dropped from his mouth: his words were ambrosia." --Joseph Roberts.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 103. -- Experience in religion the source of enjoyment in it; or,

  1. Tasting the word: its sweetness.
  2. Declaring the word with the mouth: its greater sweetness.

Verse 103. --

  1. The word is positively sweet:" sweet to my taste."
  2. Comparatively sweet: "sweeter the honey."
  3. Superlatively sweet: "how sweet," etc. --G.R.

Verse 103. -- The comparison, setting forth the precious property of sweetness in the word: "Sweeter than honey." "Better than honey," would not do as well. It is --

  1. The purest sweetness; even precepts and rebukes.
  2. Uncloying sweetness.
  3. Always a beneficial sweetness.
  4. A specially grateful sweetness -- in affliction, in the hour of death. --J.F.

Verse 103. -- Spiritual delicacy.

  1. The taste needed to relish it.
  2. The life that alone is nourished by it.
  3. The rare enjoyment derived from it. --G.A.D.

Verse 103. --

  1. It is sweet.
  2. Let us enjoy it.
  3. The best effects will follow. George Herbert says: --
"O Book! infinite sweetness! let my heart
Suck every letter, and a honey gain,
Precious for any grief in any part;
To clear the breast, to mollify all pain."

Verse 103. -- If we would taste the honey of God, we must have the palate of faith. -- A.R. Fausset.