Psalm 119:12

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 12. Blessed art thou, O LORD. These are words of adoration arising out of an intense admiration of the divine character, which the writer is humbly aiming to imitate. He blesses God for all that he has revealed to him, and wrought in him; he praises him with warmth of reverent love, and depth of holy wonder. These are also words of perception uttered from a remembrance of the great Jehovah's infinite happiness within himself. The Lord is and must be blessed, for he is the perfection of holiness; and this is probably the reason why this is used as a plea in this place. It is as if David had said -- I see that in conformity to thyself my way to happiness must lie, for thou art supremely blessed; and if I am made in my measure like to thee in holiness, I shall also partake in thy blessedness.

No sooner is the word in the heart than a desire arises to mark and learn it. When food is eaten, the next thing is to digest it; and when the word is received into the soul, the first prayer is -- Lord, teach me its meaning.

Teach me thy statutes; for thus only can I learn the way to be blessed. Thou art so blessed that I am sure thou wilt delight in blessing others, and this boon I crave of thee that. I may be instructed in thy commands. Happy men usually rejoice to make others happy, and surely the happy God will willingly impart the holiness which is the fountain of happiness. Faith prompted this prayer and based it, not upon anything in the praying man, but solely upon the perfection of the God to whom he made supplication. Lord, thou art blessed, therefore bless me by teaching me.

We need to be disciples or learners -- "teach me;" but what an honour to have God himself for a teacher: how bold is David to beg the blessed God to teach him! Yet the Lord put the desire into his heart when the sacred word was hidden there, and so we may be sure that he was not too bold in expressing it. Who would not wish to enter the school of such a Master to learn of him the art of holy living? To this Instructor we must submit ourselves if we would practically keep the statutes of righteousness. The King who ordained the statutes knows best their meaning, and as they are the outcome of his own nature he can best inspire us with their spirit. The petition commends itself to all who wish to cleanse their way, since it is most practical, and asks for teaching, not upon recondite lore, but upon statute law. If we know the Lord's statutes we have the most essential education.

Let us each one say, "Teach me thy statutes." This is a sweet prayer for everyday use. It is a step above that of Psalms 119:10 , "O let me not wander," as that was a rise beyond that of Psalms 119:8 , "O forsake me not utterly." It finds its answer in Psalms 119:98-100 : "Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies," etc.: but not till it had been repeated even to the third time in the "Teach me" of Psalms 119:33 Psalms 119:66 , all of which I beg my reader to peruse. Even after this third pleading the prayer occurs again in so many words in Psalms 119:124 Psalms 119:139 , and the same longing conics out near the close of the Psalm in Psalms 119:171 -- "My lips shall utter praise when thou hast taught me thy statutes."

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 12. Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes. This verse contains a prayer, with the reason of the prayer. The prayer is, "Teach me thy statutes"; the reason, moving him to seek this, ariseth of a consideration of that infinite good which is in God. He is a blessed God, the fountain of all felicity, without whom no welfare or happiness can be to the creature. And for this cause David earnestly desiring to be in fellowship and communion with God, which he knows none can attain unto unless he be taught of God to know God's way and walk in it; therefore, I say, he prayeth the more earnestly that the Lord would teach him his statutes. Oh that we also could wisely consider this, that our felicity stands in fellowship with God. William Cowper.

Verse 12. In this verse we have two things,

  1. An acknowledgment of God's blessedness, Blessed art thou, O LORD; i.e., being possessed of all fulness, thou hast an infinite complacency in the enjoyment of thyself; and thou art he alone in the enjoyment of whom I can be blessed and happy; and thou art willing and ready to give out of thy fulness, so that thou art the fountain of blessedness to thy creatures.
  2. A request or petition, Teach me thy statutes; q.d., seeing thou hast all fulness in thyself, and art sufficient to thy own blessedness; surely thou hast enough for me. There is enough to content thyself, therefore enough to satisfy me. This encourages me in my address.

Again, -- Teach me that I may know wherein to seek my blessedness and happiness, even in thy blessed self; and that I may know how to come by the enjoyment of thee, so that I may be blessed in thee. Further, -- Thou art blessed originally, the Fountain of all blessing; thy blessedness is an everlasting fountain, a full fountain; always pouring out blessedness: O, let me have this blessing from thee, this drop from the fountain. William Wisheart, in "Theologia, or, Discourses of God," 1716.

Verse 12. Since God is blessed, we cannot but desire to learn his ways. If we see any earthly being happy, we have a great desire to learn out his course, as thinking by it we might be happy also. Every one would sail with that man's wind who prospereth; though in earthly things it holdeth not alway: yet a blessed God cannot by any way of his bring to other than blessedness. Thus, he who is blessedness itself, he will be ready to communicate his ways to other: the most excellent things are most communicative. Paul Bayne.

Verse 12. Teach me. He had Nathan, he had priests to instruct him, himself was a prophet; but all their teaching was nothing without God's blessing, and therefore he prays, "Teach me." William Nicholson.

Verse 12. Teach me. These words convey more than the simple imparting of knowledge, for he said before he had such, when he said he hid God's words in his heart; and in Ps 119:7 he said he "had learned the judgments of his justice": it includes grace to observe his law. Robert Bellarmine, 1542-1621.

Verse 12. Teach me. If this were practised now, to join prayer with hearing, that when we offer ourselves to be taught of men, we would there with send up prayer to God, before preaching, in time of preaching and after preaching, we would soon prove more learned and religious than we are. William Cowper.

Verse 12. Teach me thy statutes. Whoever reads this Psalm with attention must observe in it one great characteristic, and that is, how decisive are its statements that in keeping the commandments of God nothing can be done by human strength; but that it is he who must create the will for the performance of such duty. The Psalmist entreats the Lord to open his eyes that he may behold the wondrous things of the law, to teach him his statutes, to remove from him the way of lying, to incline his heart unto his testimonies, and not to covetousness, to turn away his eyes from beholding vanity, and not to take the word of truth utterly out of his mouth. Each of these petitions shows how deeply impressed he was of his entire helplessness as regarded himself, and how completely dependent upon God he felt himself for any advancement he could hope to make in the knowledge of the truth. All his studies in the divine law, all his aspirations after holiness of life, he was well assured could never meet with any measure of success, except by the grace of God preventing and cooperating, implanting in him a right desire, and acting as an infallible guide, whereby alone he would be enabled to arrive at the propel sense of Holy Scripture, as welt as to correct principles of action in his daily walk before God and man. George Phillips, 1846.

Verse 12. Teach me thy statutes. If it be asked wily the Psalmist entreats to be taught, when he has just before been declaring his knowledge, the answer is that he seeks instruction as to the practical working of those principles which he has learnt theoretically. Michael Ayguan (1416), in Neale and Littledale.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 12. -- The blessedness of God, and the mode of entering into it.

Verse 12. --

  1. David gives glory to God: "Blessed art thou, 0 LORD."
  2. He asks grace from God. --Matthew Henry.

Verse 12. --

  1. What it is, or how God doth teach us.
(a) God doth teach us outwardly; by his ordinances, by the
ministry of men.
(b) Inwardly; by the inspiration and work of the Holy
Ghost.

  1. The necessity of his teaching.
  2. The benefit and utility of it. --T. Manton.

Verse 12. -- Desire for Divine Teaching excited by the Recognition of Divine Blessedness.

  1. Unveil in some inadequate degree the happiness of the ever blessed God, arising from his purity, benevolence, love.
  2. Show the way in which man may become partaker of that blessedness by conformity to his precepts.
  3. Utter the prayer of the text. --C.A.D.