Psalm 119:118

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 118. Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes. There is no holding up for them; they are thrown down and then trodden down, for they choose to go down into the wandering ways of sin. Sooner or later God will set his foot on those who turn their foot from his commands: it has always been so, and it always will be so to the end. If the salt has lost its savour, what is it fit for but to be trodden under foot? God puts away the wicked like dross, which is only fit to be cast out as road metal to be trodden down.

For their deceit is falsehood. They call it far seeing policy, but it is absolute falsehood, and it shall be treated as such. Ordinary men call it clever diplomacy, but the man of God calls a spade a spade, and declares it to be falsehood, and nothing less, for he knows that it is so in the sight of God. Men who err from the right road invent pretty excuses with which to deceive themselves and others, and so quiet their consciences and maintain their credits; but their mask of falsehood is too transparent. God treads down falsehoods; they are only fit to be spurned by his feet, and crushed into the dust. How horrified must those be who have spent all their lives in contriving a confectionery religion, and then see it all trodden upon by God as a sham which he cannot endure!

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 118. -- Thou hast trodden down, etc. David here, by a new meditation, confirms himself in the course of godliness: for considering the judgments of God, executed according to his word in all ages upon the wicked, he resolves so much the more to fear God and keep his testimonies. Thus the judgments of God, executed on others, should be awe bands to keep us from sinning after their similitude.

The Lord in chastising his own children takes them in hand like a father to correct them; but when his wrath is kindled against the wicked he tramples them under his feet, as vile creatures which are no account with him. --William Cowper.

Verse 118. -- Thou hast trodden down. The Septuagint, ebouoenwsaj, ad nihil deduxisti; thou hast brought to nothing; Aquila, confixisti, thou hast stricken through: Symmachus, aphlebaj, reprobasti, thou hast disproved; the Vulgate sprevisti, thou hast contemned; Apollinarius, aferibaj, parvi pependisti, thou hast little esteemed: all to the same purpose. The phrase of treading tinder foot, used by us, implies,

  1. A full punishment;
  2. A disgraceful one.
  3. A full punishment. God will pull them down from their altitudes, even to the dust, though never so high and proudly exalting themselves against God. A full conquest of enemies is thus often expressed in Scripture. The Assyrian is said "to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets" ( Isaiah 5:6 ).
  4. It implies a disgraceful punishment: "Until I make thine enemies thy footstool" (Ps 105:1); an expression used to show the ignominy and contempt God will put upon them. Thus Sapores, the king of Persia, trampled upon Valentinian the emperor, and Tamerlane made Bajazet his footstool. The meaning is, God will not only bring them under, but reduce them to an abject mid contemptible condition. So Chrysostom on the text expounds this phrase, that God will make them eponeiooistouj kai katalelastouj, ignominious and contemptible. They shall not go off honourably, but with scorn and confusion of face, miserably broken. --Thomas Manton.

Verse 118. -- Thou hast trodden down, etc. There is a disposition to merge all the characteristics of the Divinity into one; and while with many of our most eminent writers, the exuberant goodness, the soft and yielding benignity, the mercy that overlooks and makes liberal allowance for the infirmities of human weakness, have been fondly and most abundantly dwelt upon -- there has been what the French would call, if not a studied, at least an actually observed reticence, on the subject of his truth and purity and his hatred of moral evil. There can be no government without a law; and the question is little entertained -- how are the violations of that law to be disposed of? Every law has its sanctions -- the hopes of proffered reward on the one hand, the fears of threatened vengeance on the other. Is the vengeance to be threatened only, but never to be executed? Is guilt only to be dealt with by proclamations that go before, but never by punishments that are to follow?...Take away from jurisprudence its penalties, or, what were still worse, let the penalties only be denounced but never exacted; and we reduce the whole to an unsubstantial mockery. The fabric of moral government falls to pieces; and, instead of a great presiding authority in the universe, we have a subverted throne and a degraded Sovereign...If there is only to be the parade of a judicial economy, without any of its power or its performance; if the truth is only to be kept in the promises of reward, but as constantly to be receded from in the threats of vengeance; if the judge is thus to be lost in the overweening parent -- there is positively nothing of a moral government over us but the name, we are not the subjects of God's authority; we are the fondlings of his regard. Under a system like this, the whole universe would drift, as it were, into a state of anarchy; and, in the uproar of this wild misrule, the King who sitteth on high would lose his hold on the creation that he had formed. --Thomas Chalmers.

Verse 118 -- For their deceit is falsehood. The true sense of the passage is, "for their cunning hath been fallacious," that is, it hath deceived them themselves and brought on their ruin. --Samuel Horsley, 1733-1806.

Verse 118. -- Their deceit is falsehood. He means not here of that deceit whereby the wicked deceive others, but that whereby they deceive themselves. And this is two fold: first, in that they look for a good in sin, which sin deceitfully promises, but they shall never find. Next, that they flatter themselves with a vain conceit to escape judgment, which shall assuredly overtake them. --William Cowper.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 118. -- Sin and falsehood: their connection, punishment, and cure.

Verse 118. --

  1. Hearken to the tramp of God's armies. In nature; providence; angelic hosts of last day.
  2. The mangled victims. Cunning deceivers specially obnoxious to God. Examples: Balaam, Pharaoh, Rome, the deceiver of the nations.
  3. The warnings to us of this Aceldama. Repent. Avoid deceit. Mind God's landmarks. Hide in Christ. --W.B.H.

Verse 118. -- God's punishment of the wicked though awfully severe is just and necessary.

  1. It is due as the merited wages of iniquity.
  2. It is demanded by the position of God as moral governor, and by his character as righteous.
  3. It is necessary to mark the real worth of righteousness and its reward. If the wicked are not punished, the full worth of righteousness cannot appear.
  4. In the nature of the case, it is absolutely unavoidable, except upon one condition, namely, the gift of genuine repentance and holiness after death; that no man has any right to expect, nor has God given the slightest intimation that he will bestow if.
  5. Hell lies in the bosom of sin; and if the wicked were taken to heaven, they would carry hell thither. Heaven supplies not the things in which the wicked delight, while it abounds in those they can neither understand nor sympathise with. --J.F.

Verse 118. (second clause). -- The deceits of the wicked are all falsehoods.

  1. The world they embrace is a false Delilah.
  2. The pleasure they enjoy is a Satanic snare.
  3. Their formal religiousness is a vain delusion.
  4. Their conceits of God are self invented lies. --J.F.

Verse 118-120. -- Saved by fear.

  1. The wrath of God revealed against sin.
  2. The judgment of God executed upon sinners.
  3. The fear of God created in the heart. --G.A.D.