Psalm 119:119

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 119. Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross. He does not trifle with them, or handle them with kid gloves. No, he judges them to be the scum of the earth, and he treats them accordingly by putting them away. He puts them away from his church, away from their honours, away from the earth, and at last away from himself. "Depart," saith he, "ye cursed." If even a good man feels forced to put away the evil doers from him, much more must the thrice holy God put away the wicked. They looked like precious metal, they were intimately mixed up with it, they were laid up in the same heap; but the Lord is a refiner, and every day He removes some of the wicked from among his people, either by making a shameful discovery of their hypocrisy or by consuming them from off the earth. They are put away as dross, never to be recalled. As the metal is the better for losing its alloy, so is the church the better for having the wicked removed. These wicked ones are "of the earth," -- "the wicked of the earth," and they have no right to be with those who are not of the world; the Lord perceives them to be out of place and injurious, and therefore he puts them away, all of them, leaving none of them to deteriorate his church. The process will one day be perfect; no dross will be spared, no gold will be left impure. Where shall we be when that great work is finished

Therefore I love thy testimonies. Even the severities of the Lord excite the love of his people. If he allowed men to sin with impunity, he would not be so fully the object of our loving admiration; he is glorious in holiness because he thus rids his kingdom of rebels, and his temple of them that defile it. In these evil days, when God's punishment of sinners has become the butt of proud sceptical contentions, we may regard as a mark of the true man of God that he loves the Lord none the less, but a great deal the more because of his condign judgment of the ungodly.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 119. -- Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross. The godly and the wicked live together in the visible church, as dross and good metal; but God, who is the purger of his church, will not fail by diversity of trials and judgments to put difference between them, and at last will make a perfect separation of them, and cast away the wicked as refuse. --David Dickson.

Verse 119. -- God's judgments upon others may be a necessary act of love to us. They are purged out as "dross," that they may not infect us by their example, or molest us by their persecutions or oppressions. Now, the more we are befriended in this kind, the more we are bound to serve God cheerfully: "That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life": Luke 1:74-75 . The world is one of those enemies, or the wicked of the earth; therefore we should serve him faithfully. --Thomas Manton.

Verse 119. -- Thou puttest away all the wicked. Many ways are wicked men taken away; sometime by the hand of other men, sometime by their own hand. The Philistines slew not Saul, but forced him to slay himself; yet the eye of faith ever looks to the finger of God, and sees that the fall of the wicked is the work of God. --William Cowper.

Verse 119. -- The wicked of the earth. Why are they thus characterized? Because here they flourish; their names "shall be written in the earth" ( Jeremiah 17:13 ); they grow great and of good reckoning and account here. Judas had the bag; they prosper in the world: "Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world" ( Psalms 73:12 ). Here they are respected: "They are of the world, therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them" ( 1 John 4:5 ). Their hearts and minds are in the world ( Matthew 6:19-20 ). It is their natural frame to be worldly, they only savour the things of the world; preferment, honour, greatness, it is their unum magnum; here is their pleasure, and here is their portion, their hope, and their happiness. A child of God looketh for another inheritance, immortal and undefiled. --Thomas Manton.

Verse 119. -- Like dross. The men of this world esteem God's children as the offscourings of the earth; so Paul (a chosen vessel of God) was disesteemed of men; but ye see here what the wicked are, in God's account, but dross indeed, which is the refuse of gold or silver. Let this confirm the godly against the contempt of men: only the Lord hath in his own hand the balance which weigheth men according as they are. --William Cowper.

Verse 119. -- Dross.

  1. The dross obscures the lustre and glory of the metal, yea, covers it up, so that it appears not; rust and filth compass and hide the gold, so that neither the nature nor lustre of it can be seen.
  2. Dross is a deceiving thing. It is like metal, but is not metal; the dross of silver is like it, and so the dross of gold is like gold, but the dross is neither silver nor gold.
  3. Dross is not bettered by the fire: put it into the fire time after time, it abides so still.
  4. Dross is a worthless thing. It is of no value -- base, vile, contemptible.
  5. It is useless, and to be rejected.
  6. Dross is an offensive thing: rust eats into the metal, endangers it, and makes the goldsmith to kindle the fire, to separate it from the gold and silver. --Condensed from William Greenhill.

Verse 119. -- Thy testimonies. So, very frequently, he calleth God's word, wherein there are both commands and promises: the commandments of God appertain to all, his testimonies belong to his children only; whereby more strictly, I understand his promises containing special declarations of his love and favour toward his own in Christ Jesus. -- William Cowper.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 119. -- An insight into the divine will, the best assistance in our journey through the earth. Or, what I am; where I am; where I am going; how am I to get there?

Verse 119. (first clause). -- The stranger in the earth.

  1. A short exposition. The text means, --
(a) That the saint is not born of the earth.
(b) That the saint is not known on earth.
(c) The saint's portion is not upon the earth.
(d) The saint is compassed with sorrows and trials upon earth.
(e) The saint is soon to leave the earth.

  1. A short application.
(a) Do not be like the world.
(b) Be prepared to be a sufferer on the earth.
(c) Sit loose to the world.
(d) Correspond with home.
(e) Cherish brotherly love for your fellow strangers on the
earth.
(f) Hasten home.
(g) Press others to come with you.

--Duncan Macgregor's Sermon in "The Shepherd in Israel," 1869.

Verse 119. -- The stranger's prayer.

  1. How he came to be a stranger in the earth. He was born again. He learned the manners of his foreign home. He spoke the language of his Fatherland; and so was misunderstood and rejected on earth.
  2. How he longed after everything homelike. Home rules: "thy commandments." Home teaching: "hide not." Specially his Father's voice.
  3. How in his loneliness he solaced himself by communication with his Father.
  4. Would you not like to be a stranger? --C.A.D.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 119. -- The saint's acquiescence in God's judgments. --W.B.H.

Verse 119. --

  1. Comparison of the wicked to dross.
  2. Comparison of their doom to the putting away of dross.
  3. The saint's admiration of divine justice as seen in the rejection of the wicked.

Verse 119. -- God's putting away the wicked like dross.

  1. God's judgments are a searching and separating fire.
  2. The final judgment of the great day will complete the separating process.
  3. The great result will be, the true metal and the dross, each gathered to its own place. -- J. F.