Psalm 119:121

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 121. I have done judgment and justice. This was a great thing for an Eastern ruler to say at any time, for these despots mostly cared more far gain than justice. Some of them altogether neglected their duty, and would not even do judgment at all, preferring their pleasures to their duties; and many more of them sold their judgments to the highest bidders by taking bribes, or regarding the persons of men. Some rulers gave neither judgment nor justice, others gave judgment without justice, but David gave judgment and justice, and saw that his sentences were carried out. He could claim before the Lord that he had dealt out even handed justice, and was doing so still. On this fact he founded a plea with which he backed the prayer -- "Leave me not to mine oppressors." He who, as far as his power goes, has been doing right, may hope to be delivered from his superiors when attempts are made by them to do him wrong. If I will not oppress others, I may hopefully pray that others may not oppress me. A course of upright conduct is one which gives us boldness in appealing to the Great Judge for deliverance from the injustice of others. Nor is this kind of pleading to be censured as self righteous: when we are dealing with God as to our shortcomings, we use a very different tone from that with which we face the censures of our fellow men; when they are in the question, and we are guiltless towards them, we are justified in pleading our innocence.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 121. -- This commences a new division of the Psalm indicated by the Hebrew letter Ain -- a letter which cannot well be represented in the English alphabet, as there is, in fact, no letter in our language exactly corresponding with it. It would be best represented probably by what are called "breathings" in Greek. --Albert Barnes.

Verse 121. -- I have done judgment against the wicked, "and justice" towards the good. -- Simon de Muis, 1587-1644.

Verse 121. -- I have done judgment and justice. -- Here the view of David in his judicial capacity might present itself to us; and if so, we have David in the midst of large experience; for the words would take in a large portion of his life. How blessed were their reflections, if, after a long reign, all sovereign rulers could thus appeal unto God. It should be so; for to him all shall be accountable at last. Even although we only conceive of David as speaking in the character of a private man, the sentiment is worthy of all consideration... For parents to say this of their dealings with their children, masters of servants, a man of his neighbours, is very excellent. --John Stephen.

Verse 121. -- Judgment and "justice," are often put in Scripture for the same, and when put together, the latter is as an epithet to the former. "I have done judgment and justice," that is, I have done judgment justly, exactly, to a hair. --Joseph Caryl.

Verse 121. --

Do right and be a king,
Be this thy brazen bulwark of defence,
Still to preserve thy conscious innocence,
Nor ever turn pale with guilt. --Francis's Horace.

Verse 121. -- If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence before God: 1 John 3:21 . This "testimony of conscience" has often been "the rejoicing" of the Lord's people, when suffering under unmerited reproach or "proud oppression." They have been enabled to plead it without offence in the presence of their holy, heart searching God; nay, even when, in the near prospect of the great and final account, they might well have been supposed to shrink from the strict and unerring scrutiny of their Omniscient Judge. Perhaps, however, we are not sufficiently aware of the importance of moral integrity in connexion with our spiritual comfort. Mark the boldness which it gave David in prayer: "I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressors." --Charles Bridges.

Verse 121. -- Leave me not to mine oppressors. That is, maintain me against those who would wrong me, because I do right; interpose thyself between me and my enemies, as if thou wert my pledge. Impartial justice upon oppressors sometimes lays judges open to oppression; but yet they who run greatest hazards in zeal for God shall find God ready to be their surety, when they pray, "be surety for thy servant," as in the next verse. -- Abraham Wright.

Verse 121-122. -- I have done judgment and justice; but, that I may always do it, and never fail in doing it, "uphold thy servant unto good," by directing him, so that he may always relish what is good, and then the consequence will be that "the proud will not calumniate me;" for he that is well established "unto good," and so made up that nothing but what is good and righteous will be agreeable to him, he will so persevere that he will have no reason for fearing "the proud that calumniate him." --Robert Bellarmine.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verses 121-128. -- The just man's prayer against injustice. Out of the prison of oppression he appeals to God to be his surely ( Psalms 119:121-122 ); utters his weary longing for deliverance ( Psalms 119:123-125 ); points to the "time" ( Psalms 119:126 ); and professes his supreme love for God's law in contrast to the oppressors' contempt of it ( Psalms 119:127-128 ).

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Outlines Upon Keywords of the Psalm, by Pastor C. A. Davis.

Verse 121-122. -- The double appeal.

  1. Of conscious integrity: "I have done judgment," etc.
  2. Of conscious deficiency: "Be surety for thy servant for good." --C.A.D.