Psalm 119:115

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 115. Depart from me, ye evil doers. Those who make a conscience of their thoughts are not likely to tolerate evil company. If we fly to God from vain thoughts, much more shall we avoid vain men. Kings are all too apt to be surrounded by a class of men who flatter them, and at the same time take liberty to break the laws of God: David purged his palace of such parasites; he would not harbour them beneath his roof. No doubt they would have brought upon him an ill name, for their doings would have been imputed to him, since the acts of courtiers are generally set down as acts of the court itself; therefore the king sent them packing bag and baggage, saying, -- "Depart from me." Herein he anticipated the sentence of the last great day, when the Son of David shall say, "Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity." We cannot thus send all malefactors out of our houses, but it will often become a duty to do so where there is right and reason for it. A house is all the better for being rid of liars, pilferers, lewd talkers, and slanderers. We are bound at all hazards to keep ourselves clear of such companions as come to us by our own choice if we have any reason to believe that their character is vicious. Evil doers make evil counsellors. Those who say unto God, "Depart from us," ought to hear the immediate echo of their words from the mouths of God's children, "Depart from us. We cannot eat bread with traitors."

For I will keep the commandments of my God. Since he found it hard to keep the commandments in the company of the ungodly, he gave them their marching orders. He must keep the commandments, but he did not need to keep their company. What a beautiful title for the Lord this verse contains! The word God only occurs in this one place in all this lengthened psalm, and then it is attended by the personal word "my" -- "my God."

"My God! how charming is the sound!.
How pleasant to repeat!
Well may that heart with pleasure bound,
Where God hath fixed his seat."
Doddridge.

Because Jehovah is our God therefore we resolve to obey him, and to chase out of our sight those who would hinder us in his service. It is a grand thing for the mind to have come to a point, and to be steadfastly fixed m the holy determination, -- "I will keep the commandments." God's law is our pleasure when the God of the law is our God.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 115. -- Depart from me, ye evil doers, etc. As if he had said, talk no more of it, save your breath, I am resolved on my course, I have sworn, and am steadfastly purposed to keep the commandments of my God; with God's help, there will I hold me, and all the world shall not wrest me from it. --Robert Sanderson, 1587-1663.

Verse 115. -- Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, etc. It is common to sin for company, and that cup usually goeth round, and is handed from one to another. It is therefore wise to quit the company which is infected by sin. It can bring thee no benefit. At least evil company will abate the good in thee. The herb of grace will never thrive in such a cold soil. How poorly doth the good corn grow which is compassed about with weeds! Cordials and restoratives will do little good to the natural body, whilst it aboundeth with ill humours. Ordinances are little effectual to souls which are distempered with such noxious inmates. It is said of the mountain Kadish, that whatsoever vine be planted near it, it causeth it to wither and die: it is exceeding rare for saints to thrive near such pull backs. It is difficult, even to a miracle, to keep God's commandments and evil company too; therefore when David would marry himself to God's commands, to love them, and live with them, for better for worse, all his days, he is forced to give a bill of divorce to wicked companions, knowing that otherwise the match could never be made: "Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, for I will keep the commandments of my God." As if he had said, Be it known unto you, O sinners, that I am striking a hearty covenant with God's commands; I like them so well, that I am resolved to give myself up to them, and to please them well in all things, which I can never do unless ye depart; ye are like a strumpet, which will steal away the love from the true wife. I cannot, as I ought, obey my God's precepts, whilst ye abide in my presence; therefore depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, for I will keep the commandments of my God. --George Swinnock.

Verse 115. -- Depart from me, ye evil doers. Woe be to the wicked man, and woe to those who adhere to him and associate with him, saith Ben Sira. And even the pagans of old thought that a curse went along with those who kept evil company. To inhabit, or to travel with an impious man, and one not beloved of the gods, was held by them to be unlucky and unfortunate.

Vetabo qui Cercris sacrum
Vulgavit, sub isdem
Sit trabibus, fragilemque mecuin
Solvat phaselum,

as Horace speaks.

They who mysteries reveal
Beneath my roof shall never live,
Shall never hoist with me the doubtful sail.

To dwell under the same roof, or to sail in the same yacht or pleasure boat with profane persons was deemed unsafe and dangerous by men of Pagan principles. How much more, then, ought Christians to be thoroughly persuaded of the mischief and danger of conversing with wicked men? It can no ways be safe to hold correspondence with them. Yea, we are in great danger all the while we are with them. You have heard, I suppose, who it was that would not stay in the bath so long as an arch heretic was there. It was St. John the Evangelist; he would not (as Iranaeus acquaints us) remain in that place because Cerinthus, who denied the divinity of Christ, was then present there. That holy man thought no place was safe where such persons are.

Therefore be mindful of the Apostle's exhortation, and "Come out from among them" ( 2 Corinthians 6:17 ); listen to that voice from heaven: "Come out, that ye be not partakers of their sins, and that ye receive not of their plagues." Separate yourselves from them lest you not only in damage your souls, but your bodies, lest some remarkable judgment arrest you here, and lest the divine vengeance more furiously assault you hereafter. The fanciful poets tell us that Theseus and Perithous (a pair of intimate friends) loved one another so well that they went down to hell together. I am sure it is no poetical fiction that many do thus; that is to say, that they perish together, and descend into the bottomless pit for company's sake. --John Edwards (1637-1716), in "Theologia Reformata."

Verse 115. -- Depart from them that depart from God. --T. Manton.

Verse 115. -- Of my God. As a man can esteem of anything which he knows is his own; so if once he know that God is his, he cannot but love him, and carefully obey him: neither is it possible that any man can give to God hearty and permanent service, who is not persuaded to say with David, He is my God. All the pleasures, all the terrors of the world cannot sunder that soul from God, who can truly say, The Lord is my God. --W. Cowper.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 115. --

  1. Ill company hinders piety.
  2. Piety quits ill company.
  3. Piety, in compelling this departure, acts as God will do at the last.

Verse 115. -- Evil companionship incompatible with genuine righteousness.

  1. They necessitate concealment and compromise.
  2. They destroy the capability of communion with God, and the relish for spiritual things.
  3. They blunt the sensitiveness of conscience.
  4. They involve deliberate disobedience to God. --J.F.