Psalm 119:146

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 146. -- I cried unto thee. Again he mentions that his prayer was unto God alone. The sentence imports that he prayed vehemently, and very often; and that it had become one of the greatest facts of his life that he cried unto God. "Save me." This was his prayer; very short, but very full. He needed saving, none but the Lord could save him, to him he cried, "Save me" from the dangers which surround me, from the enemies that pursue me, from the temptations which beset me, from the sins which accuse me. He did not multiply words, and men never do so when they are in downright earnest. He did not multiply objects, and men seldom do so when they are intent upon the one thing needful: "save me" was his one and only prayer.

And I shall keep thy testimonies. This was his great object in desiring salvation, that he might be able to continue in a blameless life of obedience to God, that he might be able to believe the witness of God, and also to become himself a witness for God. It is a great thing when men seek salvation for so high an end. He did not ask to be delivered that he might sin with impunity; his cry was to be delivered from sin itself. He had vowed to keep the statutes or laws, here he resolves to keep the testimonies or doctrines, and so to be sound of head as well as clean of hand. Salvation brings all these good things in its train. David had no idea of a salvation which would allow him to live in sin, or abide in error: he knew right well that there is no saving a man while he abides in disobedience and ignorance.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 146. -- I cried unto thee. The distressed soul expresses itself in strong cries and tears. Of old they cried unto the Lord, and he heard them in their distress. So Israel at the Red Sea. The men of the Reformation thus expressed themselves in earnest prayer, and found relief. Luther at the Diet of Worms, when remanded for another day, spent the long night in the loud utterance of prayer, that he might appear for his Lord before an august earthly assembly. Our reading of the covenanting times will remind us of many instances of the same. We may think of John Welch, going into his garden night after night, in a night covering, and crying to the Lord to grant him Scotland. The expression of prayer, however, is manifold as the frame of the spirit. Intense feeling will beget strong cries in prayer; but prayer that is uttered under realizing views of our gracious God will be mild, and often delivered as it were in whispers. So was Alexander Peden accustomed to pray, as if he had been engaged in calm converse with a friend... But when the feeling is intense, when wrath lies heavy upon us, when danger is apprehended as near, when the Lord is conceived to be at a distance, or when there is eager desire after immediate attainment -- in all these cases there will be the strong cries. Such seems to have been the state of the Psalmist's mind when he poured forth the expressive utterance of this part. -- John Stephen.

Verse 146. -- Brief as are the petitions, the whole compass of language could not make them more comprehensive. "Hear me." The soul is in earnest, the whole heart is engaged in the "cry." "Save me" -- includes a sinner's whole need -- pardon, acceptance, access, holiness, strength, comfort, heaven, -- all in one word -- Christ. The way of access is not indeed mentioned in these short ejaculations. But it is always implied in every moment's approach and address to the throne of grace. "Hear me" in the name of my all prevailing Advocate. "Save me" through him, whose name is Jesus the Saviour. --Charles Bridges.

Verse 146. -- I cried unto thee. A crying prayer pierces the depths of heaven. We read not a word that Moses spake, but God was moved by his cry. Exodus 14:15 . It means not an obstreperous noise, but melting moans of heart. Yet sometimes the sore and pinching necessities and distresses of spirit extort even vocal cries not unpleasant to the inclined ears of God. "I cried unto God with my voice," says David, "and he heard me out of his holy hill": Psalms 3:4 . And this encourages to a fresh onset: "Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God": Psalms 5:2 . "Give ear unto my cry: hold not thy peace at my tears": Psalms 39:12 . Another time he makes the cave echo with his cries. "I cried, I cried. Attend unto my cry, for I am brought very low." --Samuel Lee (1625-1691), in "The Morning Exercises."

Verse 146. -- I cried unto thee; save me. In our troubles, we must have recourse to God, and sue to him by prayer and supplication for help and deliverance in due time; because he is the author of our trouble. In mercies and afflictions, our business lieth not with men, but God; by humble dealing with him we stop wrath at the fountain head: he that bindeth us must loose us; he is at the upper end of causes, and whoever be the instruments of our trouble, and how malicious soever, God is the party with whom we are to make our peace; for he hath the absolute disposal of all creatures, and will have us to acknowledge the dominion of his providence and our dependence upon him. In treaties of peace between two warring parties, the address is not made to private soldiers, but to their chief: "The Lord hath taken away," saith Job; "When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?" Job 34:29 . --Thomas Manton.

Verse 146. -- Save me, and I shall keep the testimonies. The servants of God regard life itself as chiefly desirable on account of the opportunity which it affords for serving God: "Save me, that I may keep thy testimonies," is the prayer of the believer in the day of trouble and conflict. "To me to live," says he, "is Christ, and to die is gain." How unlike is this to the wicked! Their whole desire in the day of trouble is expended on the wish to escape calamity; they have no desire to be delivered from sin, no wish to be conformed to God! --John Morison.

Verse 146. -- Save me. From my sins, my corruptions, my temptations, all the hindrances that lie in my way, that I may "keep thy testimonies." We must cry for salvation, not that we may have the case and comfort of it, but that we may have an opportunity of serving God the more cheerfully. --Matthew Henry.

Verse 146. -- God hears us, that we should hear him. --Thomas Manton.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 146. --

  1. Prayer remembered.
  2. Prayer continued: "Save me."
  3. Prayer yielding fruit: "I shall keep," etc.

Verse 146. -- Salvation.

  1. A likely path to it -- prayer: cry on.
  2. The proper place for it: "unto thee"; not man, not the heart.
  3. A sound view of it: "keep thy testimonies." Not to escape hell, or gain heaven, but to please and love God. --W.B.H.