Psalm 119:22

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 22. Remove from me reproach and contempt. These are painful things to tender minds. David could bear them for righteousness sake, but they were a heavy yoke, and he longed to be free from them. To be slandered, and then to be despised in consequence of the vile accusation, is a grievous affliction. No one likes to be traduced, or even to be despised. He who says, "I care nothing for my reputation," is not a wise man, for in Solomon's esteem, "a good name is better than precious ointment." The best way to deal with slander is to pray about it: God will either remove it, or remove the sting from it. Our own attempts at clearing ourselves are usually failures; we are like the boy who wished to remove the blot from his copy, and by his bungling made it ten times worse. When we suffer from a libel it is better to pray about it than go to law over it, or even to demand an apology from the inventor. O ye who are reproached, take your matters before the highest court, and leave them with the Judge of all the earth. God will rebuke your proud accuser; be ye quiet and let your advocate plead your cause.

For I have kept thy testimonies. Innocence may justly ask to be cleared from reproach. If there be truth in the charges alleged against us what can we urge with God? If, however, we are wrongfully accused our appeal has a locus standi in the court and cannot be refused. If through fear of reproach we forsake the divine testimony we shall deserve the coward's doom; our safety lies in sticking close to the true and to the right. God will keep those who keep his testimonies. A good conscience is the best security for a good name; reproach will not abide with those who abide with Christ, neither will contempt remain upon those who remain faithful to the ways of the Lord.

This verse stands as a parallel both in sense and position to Psalms 119:6 , and it has the catchword of "testimonies," by which it chimes with Psalms 119:14 .

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 22. Remove from me reproach and contempt. Here David prays against the reproach and contempt of men; that they might be removed, or, as the word is, rolled from off him. This intimates that they lay upon him, and neither his greatness nor his goodness could secure him from being libelled and lampooned: some despised him and endeavoured to make him mean, others reproached him and endeavoured to make him odious. It has often been the lot of those that do well to be ill spoken of. It intimates, that this burden lay heavy upon him. Hard words indeed and foul words break no bones, and yet they are very grievous to a tender and ingenuous spirit: therefore David prays, Lord, "remove" them from me, that I may not be thereby either driven from any duty, or discouraged in it. Matthew Henry

Verse 22. Remove from me reproach and contempt, etc. In the words (as in most of the other verses) you have, --

  1. A request: Remove from me reproach and contempt.
  2. A reason and argument to enforce the request: For I have kept thy testimonies.

First, for the request, Remove from me reproach and contempt; the word signifies, Roll from upon me, let it not come at me, or let it not stay with me. And then the argument: for I have kept thy testimonies. The reason may be either thus:

  1. He pleads that he was innocent of what was charged upon him, and had not deserved those aspersions.
  2. He intimates that it was for his obedience, for this very cause, that he had kept the word, therefore was reproach rolled upon him.
  3. It may be conceived thus, that his respect to God's word was not abated by this reproach, he still kept God's testimonies, how wicked soever he did appear in the eyes of the world. It is either an assertion of his innocency, or he shows the ground why this reproach came upon him, or he pleads that his respect to God and his service was not lessened, whatever reproach he met with in the performance of it.

The points from hence are many.

  1. It is no strange thing that they which keep God's testimonies should be slandered and reproached.
  2. As it is the usual lot of God's people to be reproached; so it is very grievous to them, and heavy to bear.
  3. It being grievous, we may lawfully seek the removal of it. So doth David, and so may we, with submission to God's will.
  4. In removal of it, it is best to deal with God about it; for God is the great witness of our sincerity, as knowing all things, and so to be appealed to in the case. Again, God is the most powerful asserter of our innocency; he hath the hearts and tongues of men in his own hands, and can either prevent the slanderer from uttering reproach, or the hearer from the entertainment of the reproach. He that hath such power over the consciences of men can clear up our innocency; therefore it is best to deal with God about it; and prayer many times proves a better vindication than an apology.
  5. In seeking relief with God from this evil, it is a great comfort and ground of confidence when we are innocent of what is charged. In some cases we must humble ourselves, and then God will take care for our credit; we must plead guilty when, by our own fault, we have given occasion to the slanders of the wicked: so, "Turn away my reproach, which I fear: for thy judgments are good" ( Psalms 119:39 ). "My reproach," for it was in part deserved by himself, and therefore he feared the sad consequences of it, and humbled himself before God. But at other times we may stand upon our integrity, as David saith here: "Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good." Thomas Manton.