Psalm 119:35

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 35. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. "To will is present with me; but how to perform that which good I find not." Thou hast made me to love the way, now make me to move in it. It is a plain path, which others are treading through thy grace; I see it and admire it; cause me to travel in it. This is the cry of a child that longs to walk, but is too feeble; of a pilgrim who is exhausted, yet pants to be on the march; of a lame man who pines to be able to run. It is a blessed thing to delight in holiness, and surely he who gave us this delight will work in us the yet higher joy of possessing and practising it. Here is our only hope; for we shall not go in the narrow path till we are made to do so by the Maker's own power. O thou who didst once make me, I pray thee make me again: thou hast made me to know; now make me to go. Certainly I shall never be happy till I do, for my sole delight lies in walking according to thy bidding.

The Psalmist does not ask the Lord to do for him what he ought to do for himself: he wishes himself to "go" or tread in the path of the command. He asks not to be carried while he lies passive; but to be made "to go." Grace does not treat us as stocks and stones, to be dragged by horses or engines, but as creatures endowed with life, reason, will, and active powers, who are willing and able to go of themselves if once made to do so. God worketh in us, but it is that we may both will and do according to his good pleasure. The holiness we seek after is not a forced compliance with command, but the indulgence of a whole hearted passion for goodness, such as shall conform our life to the will of the Lord. Can the reader say, "therein do I delight"? Is practical godliness the very jewel of your soul, the coveted prize of your mind? If so, the outward path of life, however rough, will be clean, and lead the soul upward to delight ineffable. He who delights in the law should not doubt but what he will be enabled to run in its ways, for where the heart already finds its joy the feet are sure to follow.

Note that the corresponding verse in the former eight ( Psalms 119:35 ) was "Make me to understand," and here we have "Make me to go." Remark the: order, first understanding and then going; for a clear understanding is a great assistance towards practical action.

During the last few octaves the fourth has been the heart verse: see Ps 119:20,28, and now Psalms 119:36 . Indeed in all the preceding fourths great heartiness is observable. This also marks the care with which this sacred song was composed.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 35. THE WORD SET BEFORE THE FEET. The word ygkwddh is from drd "to tread with the feet," "to trample." Hence, "Make me to go," alludes here to the very act of walking in the divine way, in distinction from mere perception of the way with the eyes and with the understanding. It is in this matter of practical walking that the actual difficulties of the way seem to come more forcibly into sight; hence we no longer have $dd used (as in Psalms 119:33 ) which may mean a broad open way, but Bytg, which (says Gesenius) "never denotes a public and royal road, such as was raised up and formed by art, but always a footpath." So the younger Buxtorf renders the word by Semita. When the feet really come to tread it, the way of truth is ever found to be "the narrow way."

Verse 35. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments. David, in the former verses, had begged for light, now for strength to walk according to this light. We need not only light to know our way, but a heart to walk in it. Direction is necessary because of the blindness of our minds; and the effectual impulsions of grace are necessary because of the weakness of our hearts. It will not answer our duty to have a naked notion of truths, unless we embrace and pursue them. So, accordingly, we need a double assistance from God; the mind must be enlightened, the will moved and inclined. The work of a Christian lies not in depth of speculation, but in the height of practice. The excellency of Divine grace consisteth in this, -- That God doth first teach what is to be done, and then make us to do whet is taught: "Make me to go in the path of thy commandments." Thomas Marten.

Verse 35. The path of thy commandments. They are termed "the paths," because paths are narrow, short, straight, clean passages for people on foot only, and not for horses and carriages; and such is the way of the Lord, as compared with that of the flesh and of the world, all the ways of which are broad, filthy, and crooked, trodden by the brute beasts, the type of carnal, animal man. He assigns a reason for being heard when he says, For this same I have desired; because, through God's grace, I have chosen this path, and desired to walk in it, and it is only meet that he who gives the will should give the grace to accomplish, as St. Paul says, "Who worketh in you both to will and to do." Robert Bellarmine.

Verse 35. The path is "the path of thy commandments." Not any new way, but the old and pathed way wherein all the servants of God have walked before him, and for which the Grecians (as Euthymius notes) called it tribon quasi viam tritam. But howsoever this way be pathed, by the walking and treading of many in it, yet he acknowledgeth it is but one, yea, and a narrow and difficult path to keep, and therefore seeks he to be guided into it. William Cowper.

Verse 35. The path. It is a "path" not a public road; a path where no beast goes, and men seldom. Adam Clarke.

Verse 35, 37. The path. Thy way: The Hindus call panth or way the line of doctrine of any sect followed, in older to attain to mukti, or deliverance from sin. Way signifies the chief means to an end, and is applied to the Scriptures, Psalms 119:27 , to God's counsels, to God's works. This spiritual way is --

  1. easy to find, Isaiah 35:8 ,
  2. clean, no mud of sin;
  3. never out of repair. Christ the same now as 6,000 years ago;
  4. no lion or wild beasts on;
  5. costly, the blood of Christ made it;
  6. not lonely, many believers on it, Hebrews 12:1 ;
  7. no toll, all may come;
  8. wide. The way to the cities of refuge was forty-eight feet wide. The map of the Bible shows this path;
  9. the end pleasant -- Heaven. J. Long, in "Eastern Proverbs and Maxims illustrating old Truths," 1881.

Verse 35-36. Therein do I delight. Incline my heart unto thy testimonies. A child of God hath not the bent of his heart so perfectly fixed towards God but it is ever and anon returning to its old bent and bias again. The best may find that they cannot keep their affections as loose from the world when they have houses, and lands, and all things at their will, as they could when they are kept low and bare. The best may find that their love to heavenly things is on the wane as worldly things are on the increase. It is reported of Pius Quintus that he should say of himself that, when he first entered into orders, he had some hopes of his salvation; when he came to be a cardinal, he doubted of it; but since he came to be pope, he did even almost despair. Many may find a very great change in themselves, much decay of zeal for God's glory, and love to and relish of God's word, and mindfulness of heavenly things, as it fares better with them in the world. Now it is good to observe this before the mischief increaseth. Look, as jealousy and caution are necessary to prevent the entrance and ginning of this mischief, so observation is necessary to prevent the increase of it. When the world doth get too deep an interest in our hearts, when it begins to insinuate and entice us from God, and weaken our delight in the ways of God and zeal for his glory, then we need often to tell you how it is for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Thomas Manton.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 35. -- The prayer of a child, and the delight of a child. Or, Our pleasure in holiness a plea for grace.

Verse 35. --

  1. Delight avowed.
  2. Disinclination implied.
  3. Constraint implored. --W. W.