Psalm 119:117

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 117. Hold thou me up: as a nurse holds up a little child. "And I shall be safe," and not else; for unless thou hold me up I shall be falling about like an infant that is weak upon its knees. We are saved by past grace, but we are not safe unless we receive present grace. The Psalmist had vowed to keep the Lord's commands, but here he pleads with the Lord to keep him: a very sensible course of procedure. Our version roads the word "uphold," and then "hold up;" and truly we need this blessing in every shape in which it can come, for in all manner of ways our adversaries seek to cast us down. To be safe is a happy condition; there is only one door to it, and that is to be held up by God himself; thank God, that door is open to the least among us.

And I will have respect unto thy statutes continually. In obedience is safety; in being held up is obedience. No man will outwardly keep the Lord's statutes for long together unless he has an inward respect for them, and this will never be unless the hand of the Lord perpetually upholds the heart in holy love. Perseverance to the end, obedience continually, comes only through the divine power; we start aside as a deceitful bow unless we are kept right by him that first gave us grace. Happy is the man who realizes this verse in his life: upheld through his whole life in a course of unswerving integrity, he becomes a safe and trusted man, and maintains a sacred delicacy of conscience which is unknown to others. He feels a tender respect for the statutes of the Lord, which keeps him clear of inconsistencies and conformities to the world that are so common among others, and hence he is a pillar in the house of the Lord. Alas, we know some professors who are not upright, and therefore they lean to sin till they fall over, and though they are restored they are never safe or reliable, neither have they that sweet purity of soul which is the charm of the more sanctified who have been kept from falling into the mire.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 117. -- Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe. Not only the consciousness of my weakness, but the danger of the slippery path before me, reminds me, that the safety of every moment depends upon the upholding power of my faithful God. The ways of temptation are so many and imperceptible -- the influence of it so appalling -- the entrance into it so deceitful, so specious, so insensible -- and my own weakness and unwatchfulness are so unspeakable -- that I can do nothing but go on my way, praying at every step, "Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe." --Charles Ridges.

Verse 117. -- Hold thou me up. Three things made David afraid. First, great temptation without; for from every air the wind of temptation blows upon a Christian. Secondly, great corruption within. Thirdly, examples of other worthy men that had fallen before him, and are written for us: not that we should learn to fall, but to fear lest we fall. These three should always hold us humble, according to that warning, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." --William Cowper.

Verse 117. -- Up, up above the littleness in which I have lived too long, -- above the snares which have so often caught me, -- above the stumbling blocks upon which I have so often fallen, -- above the world, -- above myself, -- higher than I have ever reached yet, -- above the level of my own mortality: worthy of thee, -- worthy of the blood, with which I have been bought, -- nearer to heaven, -- nearer to thee, -- "hold thou me up."

God's methods of holding his people up are many. Sometimes it is by the preacher's word, when the word comes fitly spoken to the heart and conscience. May God, in his infinite condescension, enable his servants in this church so to hold you up. Sometimes it is by the ordained means and sacraments which his grace commanded. Sometimes it is by the efficacy of the Holy Scriptures, when some passage in your own room strikes the mind, Just in season; or the stay of some sweet promise comes in sustaining to your spirit. Sometimes by the simple in working of the Holy Ghost in a man's own thoughts, as he will work "Uphold me with thy free Spirit." Sometimes by the ministration of angels, -- "They shall hold thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." Sometimes by putting you very low indeed, making you feel that the safe place is the valley. There is no elevation like the elevation of abasement. Sometimes by severe discipline to brace up the heart, and strengthen it, and make it independent of external things. Sometimes by heavy affliction, which is the grasp of his hand, that he may hold you tighter. Sometimes by putting into your heart to think the exact thing that you need, -- to pray the very prayer which he intends at the moment to grant. Sometimes by appearing to let you go, and forsake you, while at the same time -- like the Syro Phoenician woman -- he is giving you the wish to hold on that he may give you the more at the last. --James Vaughan, of Brighton, 1877.

Verse 117. -- I will have respect unto that statutes continually. I will employ myself, so some; I will delight myself, so others; in thy statutes. If God's right hand uphold us, we must in his strength go on in our duty, both with diligence and With pleasure. -- Matthew Henry.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 117. --

  1. Upholding -- God's holding us up. It implies a danger, and that danger takes many forms. The believer's life may be described as walking in uprightness; he is a pilgrim. He needs upholding, for --
    1. The way is slippery.
(b) Our feet make the danger as well as the way.
(c) Cunning foes seek to trip us up.
(d) Sometimes the difficulty is not caused by the way, but
by the height to which God may elevate us.
(e) The prayer is all the more needful because the most of
people do not keep upright.

  1. Two blessed things that come out of this holding up.
(a) We shall be safe for ourselves, as examples, and as
pillars of the church.
(b) We shall be watchful and sensitive: "I will have
respect unto thy statutes continually." Without this no man
is safe. See "Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 1657: "My Hourly
Prayer."

Verse 117. -- Hold thou me up, etc.

  1. The good man is up.
  2. The good man wishes to keep up.
  3. The good man prays to be held up.
  4. The good man knows that divine support is abundantly sufficient. --W.J.

Verse 117. --

  1. Dependence for the future: "Hold," etc.
  2. Resolution for the future: "I will have," etc. --G.R.