Psalm 119:116

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 116. Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may have. It was so necessary that the Lord should hold up his servant, that he could not even live without it. Our soul would die if the Lord did not continually sustain it, and every grace which makes spiritual life to be truly life would decay if he withdrew his upholding hand. It is a sweet comfort that this great necessity of upholding is provided for in the word, and we have not to ask for it as for an uncovenanted mercy, but simply to plead for the fulfilment of a promise, saying, "Uphold me according to thy word." He who has given us eternal life hath in that gift secured to us all that is essential thereto, and as gracious upholding is one of the necessary things we may be sure that we shall have it.

And let me not be ashamed of my hope. In Psalms 119:114 he had spoken of his hope as founded on the word, and now he begs for the fulfilment of that word that his hope might be justified in the sight of all. A man would be ashamed of his hope if it turned out that it was not based upon a sure foundation; but this will never happen in our case. We may be ashamed of our thoughts, and our words, and our deeds for they spring from ourselves; but we never shall be ashamed of our hope, for that springs from the Lord our God. Such is the frailty of our nature that unless we are continually upheld by grace, we shall all so foully as to be ashamed of ourselves, and ashamed of all those glorious hopes which are now the crown and glory of our life. The man of God had uttered the most positive resolves, but he felt that he could not trust in his own solemn determination: hence these players. It is not wrong to make resolutions, but it will be useless to do so unless we salt them well with believing cries to God. David meant to keep the law of the Lord, but he first needed the Lord of the law to keep him.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 116. -- Uphold me. A kite soaring on high is in a situation quite foreign to its nature; as much as the soul of man is when raised above this lower world to high and heavenly pursuits. A person at a distance sees not how it is kept in its exalted situation: he sees not the wind that blows it, nor the hand that holds it, nor the string by whose instrumentality it is held. But all of these powers are necessary to its preservation in that preternatural state. If the wind were to sink it would fall. It has nothing whatever in itself to uphold itself; it has the same tendency to gravitate towards the earth that it ever had; and if left for a moment to itself it would fall. Thus it is with the soul of every true believer. It has been raised by the Spirit of God to a new, a preternatural, a heavenly state; and in that state it is at held by an invisible and Almighty hand, through the medium of faith. And upheld it shall be, but not by any lower in itself. If left for a moment it would fall as much as ever. Its whole strength is in God alone; and its whole security is in the unchangeableness of his nature, and in the efficacy of his grace. In a word, "It is kept by the power of Gad, through faith, unto salvation." --From "The Book of Illustrations," by H. G. Salter, 1840.

Verse 116. -- That I may live. The life of a Christian stands in this, to have his soul quickened by the spirit of grace. For as the presence of the soul quickens the body, and the departure thereof brings instant death; and the body without it is but a dead lump of clay: so it is the presence of God's Spirit which giveth life to the soul of man. And this life is known by these two notable effects; for first, it brings a joyful sense of God's mercy; and next, a spiritual disposition to spiritual exercises. And without this, pretend a man what he will, he is but the image of a Christian, looking somewhat like him, but not quickened by his life. --William Cowper.

Verse 116. -- That I may live. The children of God think they have no life if they live not in God's life. For if we think we are alive, because we see, so do the brute beasts; if we think we are alive because we hear, so do the cattle; if we think we are alive because we eat and drink, or sleep, so do beasts; if we think we live because we do reason and confer, so do the heathen. The life of God's children is the death of sin; for where sin is alive, there that part is dead unto God...God's children, finding themselves dull and slow to good things, when they cannot either rejoice in the promises of God, or find their inward man delighted with the law of God, think themselves to be dead. -- Richard Greenham.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 116. --

  1. Upholding promised.
  2. Needful for holy living.
  3. The preventive of shameful acts.

Verse 116. -- Uphold me according unto thy word, etc.

  1. The Psalmist pleads the promise of God, his dependence upon the promise, and his expectation from it :"Uphold me according unto thy word," which word I hope in and if it be not performed I shall be "ashamed of my hope."
  2. He pleads the great need he had of God's grace, and the great advantage it would be to him: "Uphold me, that I may live"; intimating that he could not live without the grace of God. --M. Henry.