Psalm 119:129

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 129. -- Thy commands are wonderful. Full of wonderful revelations, commands and promises. Wonderful in their nature, as being free from all error, and bearing within themselves overwhelming self evidence of their truth; wonderful in their effects as instructing, elevating, strengthening, and comforting the soul. Jesus the eternal Word is called Wonderful, and all the uttered words of God are wonderful in their degree. Those who know them best wonder at them most. It is wonderful that God should have borne testimony at all to sinful men, and more wonderful still that his testimony should be of such a character, so clear, so full, so gracious, so mighty.

Therefore doth my soul keep them. Their wonderful character so impressed itself upon his mind that he kept them in his memory: their wonderful excellence so charmed his heart that he kept them in his life. Some men wonder at the words of God, and use them for their speculation; but David was always practical, and the more he wondered the more he obeyed. Note that his religion was soul work; not with head and hand alone did he keep the testimonies; but his soul, his truest and most real self, held fast to them.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 129. -- Thy testimonies are wonderful. The Scriptures are "wonderful," with respect to the matter which they contain, the manner in which they are written, and the effects which they produce. They contain the most sublime spiritual truths, veiled under external ceremonies and sacraments, figurative descriptions, typical histories, parables, similitudes, etc. When properly opened and enforced, they terrify and humble, they convert and transform, they console and strengthen. Who but must delight to study and to "observe" these "testimonies" of the will and the wisdom, the love and the power of God Most High! While we have these holy writings, let us not waste our time, misemploy our thoughts, and prostitute our admiration, by doting on human follies, and wondering at human trifles. --George Horne.

Verse 129. -- Thy testimonies are wonderful. God's testimonies are "wonderful"

  1. In their majesty and composure, which striketh reverence into the hearts of those that consider; the Scripture speaketh to us at a God like rate.
  2. It is "wonderful" for the matter and depth of mystery, which cannot be found elsewhere, concerning God, and Christ, the creation of the world, the souls of men, and their immortal and everlasting condition, the fall of man, etc.
  3. It is "wonderful" for purity and perfection. The Decalogue in ten words comprise the whole duty of man, and reacheth to the very soul, and all the motions of the heart.
  4. It is "wonderful" for the harmony and consent of all the parts. All religion is of a piece, and one part doth not interfere with another, but conspires to promote the great end, of subjection of the creature to God.
  5. It is "wonderful" for the power of it. There is a mighty power which goeth along with the word of God, and astonishes the hearts of those that consider it and feel it. 1 Thessalonians 1:5 . --Thomas Manton.

Verse 129. -- Thy testimonies are wonderful. The Bible itself is an astonishing and standing miracle. Written fragment by fragment through the course of fifteen centuries, under different states of society, and in different languages, by persons of the most opposite tempers, talents, and conditions, learned and unlearned, prince and peasant, bond and free; cast into every form of instructive composition and good writing; history, prophecy, poetry, allegory, emblematic representation, judicious interpretation, literal statement, precept, example, proverbs, disquisition, epistle, sermon, prayer -- in short, all rational shapes of human discourse, and treating, moreover, on subjects not obvious, but most difficult; its authors are not found like other men, contradicting one another upon the most ordinary matters of fact and opinion, but are at harmony upon the whole of their sublime and momentous scheme. --J. Maclagan, 1788-1852.

Verse 129. -- Highly prize the Scriptures, or you will not obey them. David said, "therefore doth my soul keep them"; and why was this, but that he counted them to be wonderful? Can he make a proficiency in any art, who doth slight and deprecate it? Prize this book of God above all other books. St. Gregory calls the Bible "the heart and soul of God." The rabbins say, that there is a mountain of sense hangs upon every apex and tittle of Scripture. "The law of the Lord is perfect" ( Psalms 14:7 ). The Scripture is the library of the Holy Ghost; it is a pandect of divine knowledge, an exact model and platform of religion. The Scripture contains in it the credenda, "the things which we are to believe," and the agenda, "the things which we are to practise." It is "able to make us wise unto salvation": 2 Timothy 3:15 . "The Scripture is the standard of truth," the judge of controversies; it is the pole star to direct us to heaven ( Isaiah 8:20 ). "The commandment is a lamp": Proverbs 6:23 . The Scripture is the compass by which the rudder of our will is to be steered; it is the field in which Christ, the Pearl of price, is hid; it is a rock of diamonds, it is a sacred collyrium, or "we salve;" it mends their eyes that look upon it; it is a spiritual optic glass in which the glory of God is resplendent; it is the panacea or "universal medicine" for the soul. The leaves of Scripture are like the leaves of the tree of life, "for the healing of the nations": Revelation 22:2 . The Scripture is both the breeder and feeder of grace. How is the convert born, but by "the word of truth"? James 1:18 . How doth he grow, but by "the sincere milk of the word"? 1 Peter 2:2 . The word written is the book out of which our evidences for heaven are fetched; it is the sea mark which shows us the rocks of sin to avoid; it is the antidote against error and apostasy, the two edged sword which wounds the old serpent. It is our bulwark to withstand the force of lust; like the Capitol of Rome, which was a place of strength and ammunition. The Scripture is the "tower of David," whereon the shields of our faith hang: Song of Solomon 4:4 . "Take away the word, and you deprive us of the sun," said Luther. The word written is above an angelic embassy, or voice from heaven. "This voice which came from heaven we heard. We have also," bebaioteron lolon, "a more sure word": 2Pe 1:18-19 O, prize the word written; prizing is the way to profiting. If Caesar so valued his Commentaries, that for preserving them he lost his purple robe, how should we estimate the sacred oracles of God? "I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food": Job 23:12 . King Edward the Sixth, on the day of his coronation, had presented before him three swords, signifying that he was monarch of three kingdoms. The king said, there was one sword wanting; being asked what that was, he answered, "The Holy Bible, which is the sword of the Spirit, and is to be preferred before these ensigns of royalty." Robert King of Sicily did so prize God's word, that, speaking to his friend Petrarcha, he said, "I protest, the Scriptures are dearer to me than my kingdom; and if I must be deprived of one of them, I had rather lose my diadem than the Scriptures." -- Thomas Watson, in "The Morning Exercises."

Verse 129. -- The word contains matter to exercise the greatest minds. Many men cannot endure to spend their thoughts and time about trivial matters; whereas others think it happiness enough if they can, by the meanest employments, procure subsistence. Oh, let all those of high aspirations exercise themselves in the law of God; here are objects fit for great minds, yea, objects that will elevate the greatest: and indeed none in the world are truly great but the saints, for they exercise themselves in the great counsels of God. We account those men the greatest that are employed in state affairs: now the saints are lifted up above all things in the world, and regard them all as little and mean, and are exercised in the great affairs of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Hence the Lord would have the kings and the judges to have the book of the law written, Deuteronomy 17:18-19 ; and it is reported of Alphonsus, king of Arragon, that in the midst of all his great and manifold occupations, he read over the Scriptures fourteen times with commentaries. How many have we, men of great estates, and claiming to be of great minds, that scarce regard the law of God: they look upon his law as beneath them. Books of history and war they will peruse with diligence; but for the Scripture, it is a thing that has little in it. It is a special means to obedience to have high thoughts of God's law. That is the reason why the prophet speaks thus, "I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing": Hosea 8:12 . As if he should say, if they had had the things of my law in their thoughts, they would never so have acted. Psalms 114:129 , "Thy testimonies are wonderful, therefore doth my soul keep them." He saith not, therefore do I keep them; but, therefore doth my soul keep them; my very soul is in this, in keeping thy testimonies, for I look upon them as wonderful things. It is a good sign that the spirit of the great God is in a man, when it raises him above other things, to look upon the things of his word as the only great things in the world. "All flesh is grass, and all the godliness thereof is as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever:" Isa 40:6,8. There is a vanity in all things of the world; but in that which the word reveals, in that there is an eternity: we should therefore admire at nothing so as at the word, and we should greatly delight in God's commandments; an ordinary degree of admiration or delight is not sufficient, but great admiration and great delight there should be in the law of God. And all arguments drawn from God's law should powerfully prevail with you. -- Jeremiah Burroughs.

Verse 129. -- Thy testimonies are wonderful. Wonders will never cease. Air, earth, water, the world above, the world beneath, time, eternity, worms, birds, fishes, beasts men, angels are all full of wonders. The more all things are studied, the more do wonders appear. It is idle, therefore, to find fault with the mysteries of Scripture, or to deny them. Inspiration glories in them. He who rejects the mysteries of love, grace, truth, power, justice and thankfulness of God's word, rejects salvation. It has marvels in itself, and marvels in its operation. They are good cause of love, not of offence; of keeping, not of breaking God's precepts. --William S. Plumer.

Verse 129. -- My soul, not merely I, but I with all my heart and soul. --Joseph Addison Alexander.

Verse 129. -- I have completed reading the whole Bible through since January last. I began it on the first day of the present year, and finished it on the 26th of October. I have read it in that space four times, and not without real profit to myself. I always find in it something new; it being, like its Author, infinite and inexhaustible. --Samuel Eyles Pierce, 1814.

Verse 129. -- What do I not owe to the Lord for permitting me to take a part in the translation of his word? Never did I see such wonders, and wisdom, and love, in the blessed book, as since I have been obliged to study every expression; and it is a delightful reflection, that death cannot deprive us of the pleasure of studying its mysteries. -- Henry Martyn.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

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

Verse 129-136. -- The wonderfulness of God's testimonies. ( Psalms 119:129 ), instanced as light giving ( Psalms 119:130 ), pantingly longed ( Psalms 119:131 ). An appeal for divine ordering in the word ( Psalms 119:132-135 ) at its rejection by others ( Psalms 119:136 ).

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 129-136. -- In this division the Psalmist --

  1. Praises God's word.
  2. Shows his affection to it.
  3. Prays for grace to keep it.
  4. Mourns for those who do not. --Adam Clarke.

Verse 129. -- The wonderful character of the word a reason for obedience. So wonderfully pure, just, balanced, elevating. So much for our own benefit, for the good of society, and for the divine glory.

Verse 129. --

  1. What is wonderful in God's word should be believed.
  2. What is believed should be obeyed. --G.R.

Verse 129. -- Thy testimonies are wonderful.

  1. The facts which they record are wonderful -- so wonderful, that, if the book recording them were now published for the first time, there would be no bounds to the avidity and curiosity with which it would be sought and perused.
  2. The morality which they inculcate is wonderful.
  3. If you turn from the morality to the doctrines of the Bible, your admiration will rather increase than diminish at the contents of the singular book.
  4. These testimonies are wonderful for the style in which they are written.
  5. They are wonderful for their preservation in the world.
  6. They are wonderful for the effects which they have produced. --Hugh Hughes, 1838.

Verse 129. -- Thy testimonies are wonderful. The ceremonial law is wonderful, because the mystery of our redemption by the blood of Christ is pointed out in it.

  1. The prophecies are wonderful, as predicting things, humanly speaking, so uncertain, and at such great distance of time, with so much accuracy.
  2. The decalogue is wonderful, as containing in a very few words all the principles of justice and charity.
  3. Were we to go to the New Testament, here wonders rise on wonders! All is astonishing; but the Psalmist could not have had this in view. --Adam Clarke.

Verse 129. (first clause). --

  1. Let us look at five of the wonders of the Bible.
(a) Its authority. It prefaces every statement with a "Thus
saith the Lord."
(b) Its light.
(c) Its power -- it has a convincing, awakening, drawing,
life giving power.
(d) Its depth.
(e) Its universal adaptation.

  1. Indicate three practical uses.
(a) Study the Bible daily.
(b) Pray for the Spirit to grave it on your heart with a
pen of iron.
(c) Practise it daily. --D. Macgregor.

Verse 129. -- To whom and in what respects are God's testimonies wonderful?

  1. To whom? To those, and those only, who through grace do know, believe, and experience the truth and power of them for themselves.
  2. In what respects wonderful, i.e., astonishingly pleasing, delightful, and profitable (see Psalms 119:174 ).
    1. In respect of the Author and origin of them, whose they
      are and from whence they come.
(b) In respect of the subject matter of them, which they
contain and reveal.
(c) In respect of the manner of language in which they are
revealed and declared.
(d) In respect of the multitude and variety of them suited
to every case.
(e) In respect of the usefulness of them, and the great
benefit and advantage he received from them.

(f) In the respect of the pleasure and delight he finds in them (see Psalms 119:111 ).

(g) In respect of the final design, intent, and end of
them: viz., eternal life, salvation, and glory. --Samuel Medley, 1738-1799.