Psalm 119:124

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 124. Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy. Here he recollects himself: although before men he was so clear that he could challenge the word of righteousness, yet before the Lord, as his servant, he felt that he must appeal to mercy. We feel safest here. Our heart has more rest in the cry, "God be merciful to me," than in appealing to justice. It is well to be able to say, "I have done judgment and justice," and then to add in all lowliness, yet "deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy." The title of servant covers a plea; a master should clear the character of his servant if he be falsely accused, and rescue him from those who would oppress him; and, moreover, the master should show mercy to a servant? even if he deal severely with a stranger. The Lord condescendingly deals, or has communications with his servants, not spurning them, but communing with them; and this he does in a tender and merciful way, for in any other form of dealing we should be crushed into the dust. "And teach me thy statutes." This will be one way of dealing with us in mercy. We may expect a master to teach his own servant the meaning of his own orders. Yet since our ignorance arises from our own sinful stupidity, it is great mercy on God's part that he condescends to instruct us in his commands. For our ruler to become our teacher is an act of great grace, for which we cannot be too grateful. Among our mercies this is one of the choicest.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 124. -- Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy. If I am a "servant" of God, I can bring my services before him only upon the ground of "mercy"; feeling that for my best performances I need an immeasurable world of mercy -- pardoning -- saving -- everlasting mercy; and yet I am emboldened by the blood of Jesus to plead for my soul -- "Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy."

But then I am ignorant as well as guilty; and yet I dare not pray for divine teaching, much and hourly as I need it, until I have afresh obtained mercy. "Mercy" is the first blessing, not only in point of importance, but in point of order. I must seek the Lord, and know him as a Saviour, before I can go to him with any confidence to be my teacher. But when once I have found acceptance to my petition -- "Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy" -- my way will be opened to follow on my petition -- "Teach me thy statutes. Give me understanding, that if may know thy testimonies" -- that I may know, walk, yea, "run in the way of thy commandments" with an enlarged heart, Psalms 119:32 . My plea is the same as I have before urged with acceptance ( Psalms 119:94 ) -- "I am thy servant." --Charles Bridges.

Verse 124. -- Thy mercy. All the year round, every hour of every day, God is richly blessing us; both when we sleep and when we wake, his mercy waits upon us. The sun may leave off shining, but our God will never cease to cheer his children with his love. Like a river, his lovingkindness is always flowing with a fulness inexhaustible as his own nature, which is its source. Like the atmosphere which always surrounds the earth, and is always ready to support the life of man, the benevolence of God surrounds all his creatures; in it, as in their element, they live, and move, and have their being. Yet as the sun on summer days appears to gladden us with beams more warm and bright than at other times, and as rivers are at certain seasons swollen with the rain, and as the atmosphere itself on occasions is fraught with more fresh, more bracing, or more balmy influences than heretofore, so is it with the mercy of God; it hath its golden hours, its days of overflow, when the Lord magnifies his grace and lifteth high his love before the sons of men. --C.H.S.

Verse 124. -- Teach me. David had Nathan and Gad the prophets; and beside them, the ordinary Levites to teach him. He read the word of God diligently, and did meditate in the law night and day; but he acknowledgeth all this was nothing unless God did teach him. Other teachers speak to the ear, but God speaks to the heart: so Paul preached to Lydia, but God opened her heart. Let us pray for this grace. --William Cowper.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 124-125. -- The servant of God.

  1. Making profession: "I am thy servant."
  2. Making confession -- of guilt, dulness, ignorance.
  3. Making petition -- for mercy, understanding, and teaching. --C.A.D.

Verse 124. -- Heavenly instruction a great mercy.

Verse 124. --

  1. His confidence in divine mercy.
  2. His submission to divine authority.
  3. His prayer for divine teaching. --G.R.

Verse 124. -- A Perfect Prayer.

  1. As to the matter of it.
(a) Here is nothing superfluous; no petition for wealth,
nor for honours, nor for anything the worldling covets.
(b) Here is nothing wanting; "Deal with thy servant
according to thy mercy" comprehends everything the
guilty soul needs; "Teach me thy statutes" comprehends
all a saint needs to be anxious for.

  1. As to the manner of it.
(a) It is direct and definite.
(b) It is simple and fervent.
(c) It is reverent yet bold.

  1. As to the spirit of it.
(a) "Deal with thy servant"; a sense of obligation; a
feeling of devotedness; a spirit of consecration to
holy work.
(b) "Deal...according to thy mercy"; a sense of
unworthiness; becoming humility; submissiveness to the
divine will as to what form the mercy shall take; great
faith in the mercy, its freeness and sufficiency.
(c) "Teach me thy statutes." Longing for holiness, sense of
ignorance, of weakness, of dependence upon special
divine spiritual influence. --J.F.