Verse 31. I have stuck unto thy testimonies, -- or I have cleaved, for the word is the same as in Psalms 119:25 . Though cleaving to the dust of sorrow and of death, yet he kept fast hold of the divine word. This was his comfort, and his faith stuck to it, his love and his obedience held on to it, his heart and his mind abode in meditation upon it. His choice was so heartily and deliberately made that he stuck to it for life, and could not be removed from it by the reproaches of those who despised the way of the Lord. What could he have gained by quitting the sacred testimony? Say rather, what would he not have lost if he had ceased to cleave to the divine word? It is pleasant to look back upon past perseverance and to expect grace to continue equally steadfast in the future. He who has enabled us to stick to him will surely stick to us.
O LORD, put me not to shame. This would happen if God's promises were unfulfilled, and if the heart of God's servant were suffered to fail. This we have no reason to fear, since the Lord is faithful to his word. But it might also happen though the believer's acting in an inconsistent manner, as David had himself once done, when he fell into the way of lying, and pretended to be a madman. If we are not true to our profession we may be left to reap the fruit of our folly, and that will be the bitter thing called "shame." It is evident from this that a believer ought never to be ashamed, but act the part of a grave man who has done nothing to be ashamed of in believing his God, and does not mean to adopt a craven tone in the presence of the Lord's enemies. If we beseech the Lord not to put us to shame, surely we ought not ourselves to be ashamed without cause.
The prayer of this verse is found in the parallel verse of the next section ( Psalms 119:39 ): "Turn away my reproach which I fear." It is evidently a petition which was often on the Psalmist's heart. A brave heart is more wounded by shame than by any weapon which a soldier's hand can wield.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 31. I have stuck unto thy testimonies. It is not a little remarkable, that while the Psalmist says ( Psalms 119:25 ), "My soul cleaveth to the dust," he should say here, "I have cleaved unto thy testimonies"; for it is the same original word in both verses. The thing is altogether compatible with the experience of the believer. Within there is the body of indwelling sin, and within there is the undying principle of divine grace. There is the contest between them "the flesh lusteth a against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh" ( Galatians 5:17 ), and the believer is constrained to cry out, "O wretched man that I am" ( Romans 7:24 ). It is the case; and all believers find it so. While the soul is many times felt cleaving to the dust, the spirit strives to cleave unto God's testimonies. So the believer prays, Cause that I be not put to shame. And keeping close to Christ, brethren, you shall not be put to shame, world without end. John Stephen.
Verse 31. I have stuck unto thy testimonies. He adhered to them when momentary interests might have dictated a different line of conduct, when unbelief would have been ready to shrink from the path of duty, when outward appearances were greatly discouraging to fidelity, when all were ready to deride his preposterous determination. John Morison.
Verse 31. I have stuck. True godliness evermore wears upon her head the garland of perseverance. William Cowper.
Verse 31. Put me not to shame. Forasmuch as David, in a good conscience, endeavoured to serve God, he craves that the Lord would not confound him. This is two ways done; either when the Lord forsakes his children, so that in their trouble they feel not his promised comforts, and great confusion of mind and perturbation is upon them; or otherwise when he leaves them as a prey to their enemies, who scorn them for their godly and sincere life, and exult over them in their time of trouble; when they see that all their prayer and other exercises of religion cannot keep them out of their enemies' hands. "He trusted in God: let him deliver him." From this shame and contempt he desires the Lord would keep him, and that he should never be like unto them, who, being disappointed of that wherein they trusted, are ashamed. William Cowper.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 31. -- Reasons for sticking to the Divine testimonies.
Verse 31. -- A wholesome mixture.
- Sturdy fidelity.
- Self distrust,
- Importunate prayer. --C.A.D.