Psalm 119:147

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 147. -- I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried. He was up before the sun, and began his pleadings before the dew began to leave the grass. Whatever is worth doing is worth doing speedily. This is the third time that he mentions that he cried. He cried, and cried, and cried again. His supplications had become so frequent, fervent, and intense, that he might hardly be said to be doing anything else from morning to night but crying unto his God. So strong was his desire after salvation that he could not rest in his bed; so eagerly did he seek it that at the first possible moment he was on his knees.

I hoped in thy word. Hope is a very powerful means of strengthening us in prayer. Who would pray if he had no hope that God would hear him? Who would not pray when he has a good hope of a blessed issue to his entreaties? His hope was fixed upon God's word, and this is a sure anchorage, because God is true, and in no case has he ever run back from his promise, or altered the thing that has gone forth from his mouth. He who is diligent in prayer will never be destitute of hope. Observe that as the early bird gets the worm, so the early prayer is soon refreshed with hope.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 147. -- I prevented the dawning of the morning. The manner of speech is to be marked. He saith he prevented the morning watch, thereby declaring that he lived, as it were, in a strife with time, careful that it should not overrun him. He knew that time posts away, and in running by wearieth man to dust and ashes. But David pressed to get before it, by doing some good in it, before that it should spur away from him. And this care which David had of every day, alas, how may it make them ashamed who have no care of a whole life! He was afraid to lose a day; they take no thought to lose months and years without doing good in them: yea, having spent the three ages of their life in vanity and licentiousness, scarce will they consecrate their old and decrepit age to the Lord. -- William Cowper.

Verse 147. -- I prevented the dawning of the morning, etc. Those that make a business of prayer will use great vigilance and diligence therein. I say, that make a business of prayer; others that use it as a compliment and customary formality, will not be thus affected; they do it as a thing by-the-by, or a work that might well be spared, and do not look upon it as a necessary duty; but if a man's heart be in it, he will be early at work, and follow it close, morning and night: his business is to maintain communion with God, his desires will not let him sleep, and he gets up early to be calling upon God. "But unto thee have I cried, O Lord: and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee." Psalms 88:13 . Thus will good men even break their sleep to give themselves to prayer, and calling upon the name of God. --Thomas Manton.

Verse 147. -- I prevented the dawning of the morning. It is a grievous thing if the rays of the rising sun find thee lazy and ashamed in thy bed, and the bright light strike on eyes still weighed down with slumbering sloth. Knowest thou not, O man, that thou owest the daily firstfruits of thy heart and voice to God? Thou hast a daily harvest, a daily revenue. The Lord Jesus remained all night in prayer, not that he needed its help, but putting an example before thee to imitate. He spent the night in prayer for thee, that thou mightest learn how to ask for thyself. Give him again, therefore what he paid for thee. -- Ambrose.

Verse 147. -- I prevented the dawning of the morning. David was a good husband, up, early at it: at night he was late at this duty: "At midnight will I rise to give thanks unto thee": Psalms 119:62 . This surely was his meaning when he said he should dwell in the house of the Lord for ever; he would be ever in the house of prayer... I wish that when I first open my eyes in the morning, I may then, in soul ejaculatory prayer, open my heart to my God, that at night prayer may make my bed soft, and lay my pillow easy; that in the daytime prayer may perfume my clothes, sweeten my food, oil the wheels of my particular vocation, keep me company upon all occasions, and gild over all my natural, civil, and religious actions. I wish that, after I have poured out my prayer in the name of Christ, according to the will of God, having sowed my seed, I may expect a crop, looking earnestly for the springing of it up, and believing assuredly that I shall reap in time if I faint not. --George Swinnock.

Verse 147. -- I prevented the dawning of the morning. Early prayers are undisturbed by the agitating cares of life, and resemble the sweet melody of those birds which sing loudest and sweetest when fewest cars are open to listen to them. O my soul, canst thou say that thou hast thus "prevented the dawning of the morning" in thy approaches to God? Has the desire of communion with heaven raised thee from thy slumbers, shaken off thy sloth, and carried thee to thy knees? --John Morison.

Verse 147. -- And cried. Here is a repetition of the same prayer, "I cried"; yea, again I cried, and a third time, "I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried." We use to knock at a door thrice, and then depart. Our Lord Jesus "prayed the third time, saying the same words" ( Matthew 26:44 ), "Father, if it he possible, let this cup pass from me." So the apostle Paul: "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me": 2Co 12:8. So, "And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again": 1Ki 17:21. This, it seemeth, was the time in which they expected an answer in weighty cases; and yet I will not confine it to that number; for here we are to reiterate our petitions for one and the same thing as often as occasion requireth, till it be granted. --Thomas Manton.

Verse 147. -- Poets have delighted to sing of the morning as "Mother of the Dews," "sowing the earth with orient pearl"; and many of the saints rising up from their beds at the first blush of dawn have round the poetry of nature to be the reality of grace as they have felt the dews of heaven refreshing their spirit. Hence morning exercises have ever been dear to the enlightened, heaven cloying souls, and it has been their rule, never to see the face of man till they have first seen the face of God. The breath of morn redolent of the smell of flowers is incense offered by earth to her Creator, and living men should never let the dead earth excel them; truly living men tuning their hearts for song, like the birds, salute the radiant mercy which reveals itself in the east. The first fresh hour of every morning should be dedicated to the Lord whose mercy gladdens it with golden light. The eye of day openeth its lids, and in so doing opens the eyes of hosts of heaven protected slumberers; it is fitting that those eyes should first look up to the great Father of Lights, the fount and source of all the good upon which the sunlight gleams. It augurs for us a day of grace when we begin betimes with God; the sanctifying influence of the season spent upon the mount operates upon each succeeding hour. Morning devotion anchors the soul so that it will not very readily drift far away from God during the day; it perfumes the heart so that it smells fragrant with piety until nightfall; it girds up the soul's garments so that it is less apt to stumble, and feeds all its rowers so that it is not permitted to faint. The morning is the gate of the day, and should be well guarded with prayer. It is one end of the thread on which the day's actions are strung, and should be well knotted with devotion. If we felt more the majesty of life we should be more careful of its mornings. He who rushes from his bed to his business and waiteth not to worship, is as foolish as though he had not put on his clothes, or cleansed his face, and as unwise as though he dashed into battle without arms or armour. Be it ours to bathe in the softly flowing river of communion with God, before the heat of the wilderness and the burden of the way begin to oppress us. --C.H.S.

Verse 147. -- I hoped in thy word. Even if there should not be actual enjoyment, at least let us honour God by the spirit of expectancy. --Charles Bridges.

Verse 147,148. -- The student of theology and the minister of the word should begin the day with prayer, and this chiefly to seek from God, that he may rightly understand the word of God, and be able to teach others. -- Solomon Gesner Brethren, note this! -- C.H.S.

Verse 147,148. -- See here:

  1. That David was an early riser, which perhaps contributed to his eminency. He was none of those that say, "Yet a little sleep."
  2. That he began the day with God; the first thing he did in the morning, before he admitted any business, was to pray; when his mind was most fresh and in the best frame. If our first thoughts in the morning be of God, it will help to keep us in his fear all the day long.
  3. That his mind was so full of God and the cares and delights of his religion, that a little sleep served his turn, even in "the night watches," when he awaked from his first sleep, he would rather meditate and pray, than turn him and go to sleep again. He esteemed the words of God's mouth more than his necessary repose, which we can as ill want as our food: Job 23:12 .
  4. That he would redeem time for religious exercises; he was full of business all day, but that will excuse no man from secret devotion; it is better to take time from sleep, as David did, than not find time for prayer. And this is our comfort when we pray in the night, that we can never come unseasonably to the throne of grace, if we may have access to it at all hours. Baal may be asleep, but Israel's God never slumbers, nor are there any hours in which he may not be spoken with. --Matthew Henry.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 147,148. --

  1. The heavenly Companions: prayer and meditation. Inseparable. Mutually helpful.
  2. Their favourite seasons: times of stillness; night; the hour before day.
  3. Their volume and night lamp: "Thy word;" "Hope." Or --

    1. A grand plea: "Thy lovingkindness." Who can match it? Who can measure it? Who can mar it?

b) An insignificant pleader: "my voice.' What can "my voice" ever say to keep step with "thy loving kindness"? Asking too much out of the question.

c) A clever petition ("according to thy judgment"); requesting life; stolen from God's mouth. God's lovingkindness is matched by God's own promise.

W. B. H.

Verse 147. Observe in this David's diligence.

  1. That it was a personal, closet, or secret prayer; "I cried"; I alone, with thee in secret.
  2. That it was an early morning prayer: "I prevented the dawning of the morning."
  3. That it was a vehement and earnest prayer; for it is expressed by crying. -- T. Manton

Verse 147 -- Early rising commended.

  1. A fit time for prayer.
  2. For reading the word.
  3. For indulging the emotions excited by it: "I hoped in they word."