Verse 14. I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies. Delight in the word of God is a sure proof that it has taken effect upon the heart, and so is cleansing the life. The Psalmist not only says that he does rejoice, but that he has rejoiced. For years it had been his joy and bliss to give his soul to the teaching of the word. His rejoicing had not only arisen out of the word of God, but out of the practical characteristics of it. The Way was as dear to him as the Truth and the Life. There was no picking and choosing with David, or if indeed he did make a selection, he chose the most practical first.
As much as in all riches. He compared his intense satisfaction with God's will with that of a man who possesses large and varied estates, and the heart to enjoy them. David knew the riches that come of sovereignty and which grow out of conquest; he valued the wealth which proceeds from labour, or is gotten by inheritance: he knew "all riches." The gracious king had been glad to see the gold and silver poured into his treasury that he might devote vast masses of it to the building of the Temple of Jehovah upon Mount Zion. He rejoiced in all sorts of riches consecrated and laid up for the noblest uses, and yet the way of God's word had given him more pleasure than even these. Observe that his joy was personal, distinct, remembered, and abundant. Wonder not that in the previous verse he glories in having spoken much of that which he had so much enjoyed: a man may well talk of that which is his delight.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 14. I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, etc. The Psalmist saith not only, "I have rejoiced in thy testimonies," but, "in the way of thy testimonies." Way is one of the words by which the law is expressed. God's laws are ways that lead us to God; and so it may be taken here, "the way which thy testimonies point out, and call me unto"; or else his own practice, as a man's course is called his way; his delight was not in speculation or talk, but in obedience and practice: "in the way of thy testimonies." He tells us the degree of his joy, as much as in all riches: "as much," not to show the equality of these things, as if we should have the same affection for the world as for the word of God; but "as much," because we have no higher comparison. This is that which worldlings dote upon, and delight in; now as much as they rejoice in worldly possessions, so much do I rejoice in the way of thy testimonies. For I suppose David doth not compare his own delight in the word, with his own delight in wealth; but his own choice and delight, with the delight and choice of others. If he had spoken of himself both in the one respect and in the other, the expression was very high. David who was called to a crown, and in a capacity of enjoying much in the world, gold, silver, land, goods, largeness of territory, and a compound of all that which all men jointly, and all men severally do possess; yet was more pleased in the holiness of God's ways, than in all the world: "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" ( Mark 8:36 ). Thomas Manton.
Verse 14. The way of thy testimonies. The testimony of God is his word, for it testifies his will; the "way" of his testimony is the practice of his word, and doing of that which he hath declared to be his will, and wherein he hath promised to show us his love. David found not this sweetness in hearing, reading, and professing the word only; but in practising of it: and in very deed, the only cause why we find not the comfort that is in the word of God is that we practise it not by walking in the way thereof. It is true, at the first it is bitter to nature, which loves carnal liberty, to render itself as captive to the word: laboriosa virtutis via, and much pains must be taken before the heart be subdued; but when it is once begun, it renders such joy as abundantly recompenses all the former labour and grief. William Cowper.
Verse 14. Riches are acquired with difficulty, enjoyed with trembling, and lost with bitterness. Bernard, 1091-1157.
Verse 14. A poor, good woman said, in time of persecution, when they took away the Christian's Bibles, "I cannot part with my Bible; I know not how to live without it." When a gracious soul has heard a profitable sermon, he says, "Methinks it does me good at heart; it is the greatest nourishment I have": I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. Oliver Heywood, 1629-1702.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 14. -- Practical religion, the source of a comfort surpassing riches. It gives a man ease of mind, independence of carriage, weight of influence, and other matters supposed to arise out of wealth.
Verse 14. --
- The subject of rejoicing. Not the "testimonies" merely, but their observances, "the way of," etc.
2.. The rejoicing in that subject.
(a) In its inward peace.
(b) In its external consequences.
- The degree of the rejoicing: "as much as," etc. --G.R.
Verse 14. -- The two scales of the balance. Whatever riches are good for, God's testimonies are good for.
- Riches are desirable as the means of procuring the necessaries of life; but God's testimonies supply the necessities of the soul.
- Riches are desirable as a means of procuring personal enjoyment; but God's testimonies produce the highest joy.
- Riches are desirable as a means of attaining personal improvement; but God's testimonies are the highest educators.
- Riches are desirable as a means of doing good; but God's testimonies work the highest good. --C.A.D.