Psalm 119:104

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 104. Through thy precepts I get understanding. God's direction is our instruction. Obedience to the divine will begets wisdom of mind and action. As God's way is always best, those who follow it are sure to be justified by the result. If the Lawgiver were foolish his law would be the same, and obedience to such a law would involve us in a thousand mistakes; but as the reverse is the case, we may count ourselves happy to have such a wise, prudent, and beneficial law to be the rule of our lives. We are wise if we obey and we grow wise by obeying!

Therefore I hate every false way. Because he had understanding, and because of the divine precepts, he detested sin and falsehood. Every sin is a falsehood; we commit sin because we believe a lie, and in the end the flattering evil turns a liar to us and we find ourselves betrayed. True hearts are not indifferent about falsehood, they grow warm in indignation: as they love the truth, so they hate the lie. Saints have a universal horror of all that is untrue, they tolerate no falsehood or folly, they set their faces against all error of doctrine or wickedness of life. He who is a lover of one sin is in league with the whole army of sins; we must have neither truce nor parley with even one of these Amalekites, for the Lord hath war with them from generation to generation, and so must we. It is well to be a good hater. And what is that? A hater of no living being, but a hater of "every false way." The way of self will, of self righteousness, of worldliness, of pride, of unbelief, of hypocrisy, -- these are all false ways, and therefore not only to be shunned, but to be abhorred.

This final verse of the strophe marks a great advance in character, and shows that the man of God is growing stronger, bolder, and happier than aforetime. He has been taught of the Lord, so that he discerns between the precious and the vile, and while he loves the truth fervently he hates falsehood intensely. May all of us reach this state of discrimination and determination, so that we may greatly glorify God.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 104. -- Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. In this sentence the prophet seems to invert the order set down in Psalms 119:101 . He had said, "I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word," where the avoiding of evil is made the means of profiting by the word; here his profiting by the word is made the cause of avoiding evil. In the one verse you have an account of his beginning with God; in the other, of his progress. --Thomas Manton.

Verse 104. -- I hate every false way. David saith, "I hate every false way"; I hate not only the way when I have been misled into it, but I hate to go in it; and he professes at the Ps 119:163, "I hate and abhor lying, but thy law do I love." To abstain from and forbear lying is a sign of a gracious heart, much more to hate and abhor it. A godly man not only doth that which is good, but he delights to do it, his soul cleaves to it; he is in his clement when he is doing it, nothing comes more suitably to him than the business of his duty, he loveth to do it, yea, he loveth it when he cannot do it: Romans 7:22 . Paul complained much that his corruptions clogged, hindered and shackled him; he was in lime twigs as to the doing of good, yet (saith he) "I delight in the law of God after the inward man"; that is, the inward man delightfully moves after the law of God, when I am basely moved by my corrupt heart, and stirred by temptation against it. Now, as a godly man not only chooseth to do the holy will of God, but delights and rejoiceth to do it, and hath sweet content in doing it; so likewise a godly man not only refuseth to do the will of the flesh, or to follow the course of the world, but hates to do it, and is never so discontented with himself as when through carelessness and neglect of his watch he hath been overtaken and hath fallen. A carnal man may forbear the doing of evil, and do what is materially good, but he never abhors what is evil, nor delights in what is good. Though he abstain from acting those things which God forbids, yet he doth not say, with Job, "God forbid, I should act them."...To delight in good is better than the doing of it, and to abhor evil is better than abstaining from it. And if we compare the nature of sin with the new nature of a godly man, we may see clear grounds why his abstinence from sin is joined with an abhorrence of it. --Joseph Caryl.

Verse 104. -- Through thy; precepts I get understanding. Spiritual understanding is connected with the taste of spiritual sweetness. (Compare Proverbs 2:10-11 .) "The sweetness of the lips" -- as the wise man observes -- "increaseth learning. The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips." Proverbs 16:21 Proverbs 16:23 . Thus having learned "the principles of the doctrine of Christ," we are encouraged to "go on to perfection" -- "growing in grace and in the knowledge of Christ." For the connexion between "grace and knowledge" is clearly manifested. --Charles Bridges.

Verse 104. -- I hate every false way. Universality in this is a sure sign of sincerity. Herod spits out some sins, when he rolls others as sweet morsels in his mouth. A hypocrite ever leaves the devil some nest egg to sit upon, though he take many away. Some men will not buy some commodities, because they cannot have them at their own price, but they lay out the same money on others; so hypocrites forbear some sins, yea, are displeased at them; because they cannot have them without disgrace or disease, or some other disadvantage; but they lay out the same love upon other sins which will suit better with their designs. Some affirm that what the sea loseth in one place it gains in another; so what ground the corruption of the unconverted loseth one way, it gains another. There is in him some one lust especially which is his favourite; some king sin, like Agag, which must be spared when others are destroyed. "In this the Lord be merciful to thy servant," saith Naaman. But now the regenerate laboureth to cleanse himself from all pollutions, both of flesh and spirit. 2 Corinthians 7:1 . --George Swinnock.

Verse 104. -- I hate. The Scriptures place religion very much in the affection of love; love to God, and the Lord Jesus Christ; love to the people of God, and to mankind. The texts in which this is manifest, both in the Old Testament and the New, are innumerable. The contrary affection of hatred also, as having sin for its object, is spoken of in Scripture as no inconsiderable part of true religion. It is spoken of as that by which true religion may be known and distinguished. Proverbs 8:13 . "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil." Accordingly, the saints are called upon to give evidence of their sincerity by this, Psalms 97:10 . "Ye that love the Lord, hate evil." And the Psalmist often mentions it as an evidence of his sincerity: Ps 101:2-3, "I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside." So Psalms 114:128 , and the present place. Again, Psalms 139:21 : "Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee?" -- Jonathan Edwards.

Verse 104. -- I hate. Hatred is a stabbing, murdering affection, it purposes sin with a hot heart to death, as an avenger of blood, that is to say, of the blood of the soul which sin would spill, and of the blood of Christ which sin hath shed. Hate sin perfectly and perpetually and then you will not spare it but kill it presently. Till sin be hated it cannot be mortified; you will not cry against it, as the Jews did against Christ, Crucify it! Crucify it! but shew indulgence to it as David did to Absalom and say, Deal gently with the young man, -- with this or that lust, for my sake. Mercy to sin is cruelty to the soul. -- Edward Reyner, 1600-1670.

Verse 104. -- False way. It is not said, "evil way," but "false way": or, as it is in the original, every path of lying and falsehood. Falsehood is either in point of opinion or practice. If you take it in the first sense, for falsehood in opinion, or error in judgment, or false doctrine, or false worship, this sentence holds good. Those that get understanding by the word are established against error, and not only established against error, or against the embracing or possession of it, but they hate it. --Thomas Manton.

Verse 104. -- False way. All sin is a lie. By it we attempt to cheat God. By it we actually cheat our souls: Proverbs 14:12 . There is no delusion like the folly of believing that a course of sin will conduce to our happiness. --William S. Plumer.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 104. -- The influence of the precepts.

  1. Upon the understanding.
  2. Upon the affections.
  3. Upon the life.

Verse 104. --

  1. The intellectual effect of the Scriptures: "I get understanding."
  2. Their moral effect: "I hate," etc. --G.R.

Verse 104. -- The understanding derived from God's precepts begets holy hatred.

  1. To the false ways of conventional morality.
  2. To the false ways of a formal religiousness.
  3. To the false ways of an erring theology.
  4. To the false ways of hypocritical practice.
  5. To the false ways of sinful suggestions.
  6. To the false ways of one's own deceitful heart. --J.F.