Verse 143. Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me. This affliction may have arisen from his circumstances, or from the cruelty of his enemies, or from his own internal conflicts, but certain it is that he was the subject of much distress, a distress which apprehended him, and carried him away a captive to its power. His griefs, like fierce dogs, had taken hold upon him; he felt their teeth. He had double trouble: trouble without and anguish within, as the apostle Paul put it, "without were rightings and within were fears."
Yet thy commandments are my delights. Thus he became a riddle; troubled, and yet delighted; in anguish, and yet in pleasure. The child of God can understand this enigma, for well he knows that while he is cast down on account of what he sees within himself he is all the more lifted up by what he sees in the word. He is delighted with the commandments, although he is troubled because he cannot perfectly obey them. He finds abundant light in the commandments, and by the influence of that light he discovers and mourns over his own darkness. Only the man who is acquainted with the struggles of the spiritual life will understand the expression before us. Let the reader herein find a balance in which to weigh himself. Does he find even when he is begin with sorrow that it is a delightful thing to do the will of the Lord? Does he find more joy in being sanctified than sorrow in being chastised? Then the spot of God's children is upon him.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 143. -- Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights. This is strange, that in the midst of anguish David had delight: but indeed the sweetness of God's word is best perceived under the bitterness of the cross. The joy of Christ and the joy of the world cannot consist together. A heart delighted with worldly joy cannot feel the consolations of the Spirit; the one of these destroys the other: but in sanctified trouble, the comforts of God's word are felt and perceived in a most sensible manner. Many a time hath David protested this delight of his in the word of God; and truly it is a great argument of godliness, when men come not only to reverence it, but to love it, and delight in it. Let this be considered by those unhappy men who hear it of custom, and count it but a weariness. --Abraham Wright.
Verse 143. -- Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me, or "found me," etc. We need not take pains, as many do, "to find trouble and anguish;" for they will, one day, "find us." In that day the revelations of God must be to us instead of all worldly "delights" and pleasures, which will then have forsaken us; and how forlorn and desolate will be our state if we should have no other delights, no other pleasures, to succeed them, and to accompany us into eternity. Let our study be then in the Scriptures, if we expect our comfort in them in time to come. --George Horne.
Verse 143. -- Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me. You may conceive a bold figure here, as if Trouble and Anguish were being sent out against the helpless sons of men. These, like enemies, were going round. Instead of seizing upon the wicked, they had found the righteous man. So it was by the ordering of God. I suppose many of us have remarked, that the believer is never long at ease. He is in the world; he is in the flesh; there is indwelling sin; there are enemies around; there is the great enemy; besides all this, the Lord, for wise purposes, hides his face. Then the believer is in trouble and anguish. --John Stephen.
Verse 143. -- Have taken hold on me. Hebrew, found me. Like dogs tracking out a wild beast hiding or fleeing. --A.R. Fausset.
Verse 143. -- Thy commandments are my delights. Delight in moral things (saith Aquinas) is the rule by which we may judge of men's goodness or badness. Delectatio est quies voluntatis in bono. Men are good and bad as the objects of their delight are: they are good who delight in good things, and they are evil who delight in evil things. --Thomas Manton.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 143. -- Mingled emotions.
Verse 143. --
- The dark cloud. Trouble, etc.
- His silver lining. Yet, etc.
Verse 143. --
- The Saint cast into prison.
(a) The jailers: "Trouble and anguish."
(b) Their proceeding: "take hold" and make him fast.
- Songs in the night.
(a) Blessed theme: "thy commandments."
(b) Ecstatic melodies: "delights."
- Let the prisoners hear them.
(a) Pain held, sin held, despair held.
(b) It is matter and melody to open prisons. --W.B.H.
Verse 143. -- Consider, --
- The excellency of the word, in that it gives delight when trouble and anguish oppress.
- The great kindness of God in so framing his word that it can give delight at such a time, and under such circumstances.
- The disposition of the believer to resort to the word for delight, when others give themselves over to vain grief and despondency.
- The blessed position of the believer, in that he need never be without joy. --J.F.