Verse 4. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. So that when we have done all we are unprofitable servants, we have done only that which it was our duty to have done, seeing we have our Lord's command for it. God's precepts require careful obedience: there is no keeping them by accident. Some give to God a careless service, a sort of hit or miss obedience, but the Lord has not commanded such service, nor will he accept it. His law demands the love of all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and a careless religion has none of these. We are also called to zealous obedience. We are to keep the precepts abundantly: the vessels of obedience should be filled to the brim, and the command carried out to the full of its meaning. As a man diligent in business arouses himself to do as much trade as he can, so must we be eager to serve the Lord as much as possible. Nor must we spare pains to do so, for a diligent obedience will also be laborious and self denying. Those who are diligent in business rise up early and sit up late, and deny themselves much of comfort and repose. They are not soon tired, or if they are they persevere even with aching brow and weary eye. So should we serve the Lord. Such a Master deserves diligent servants; such service he demands, and will be content with nothing less. How seldom do men render it, and hence many through their negligence miss the double blessing spoken of in this Psalm.
Some are diligent in superstition and will worship; be it ours to be diligent in keeping God's precepts. It is of no use travelling fast if we are not in the right road. Men have been diligent in a losing business, and the more they have traded the more they have lost: this is bad enough in commerce, we cannot afford to have it so in our religion.
God has not commanded us to be diligent in making precepts, but in keeping them. Some bind yokes upon their own necks, and make bonds and rules for others: but the wise course is to be satisfied with the rules of holy Scripture, and to strive to keep them all, in all places, towards all men, and in all respects. If we do not this, we may become eminent in our own religion, but we shall not have kept the command of God; nor shall we be accepted of him.
The Psalmist began with the third person: he is now coming near home, and has already reached the first person plural, according to our version; we shall soon hear him crying out personally and for himself. As the heart glows with love to holiness, we long to have a personal interest in it. The word of God is a heart affecting book, and when we begin to sing its praises it soon comes home to us, and sets us praying to be ourselves conformed to its teachings.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 4. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. It is not a matter adiaforoj, and left to the discretion of men, either to hear, or to neglect sacred discourses, theological readings, and expositions of the Sacred Book; but God has commanded, and not commanded cursorily when speaking of another matter, but dam, earnestly and greatly he has commanded us to keep his precepts. There should be infixed in our mind the words found in Deuteronomy 6:6 , "My words shall be in thy heart:" in Matthew 17:5 , "Hear ye him." in John 5:39 , "Search the Scriptures." Above all things, students of theology should remember the Pauline rule in 1Ti 3:, "Give attention to reading." Solomon Gesner.
Verse 4. Thou hast commanded us, etc. Hath God enjoined us to observe his precepts so exceedingly carefully and diligently? Then let nothing draw us therefrom, no, not in the least circumstance; let us esteem nothing needless, frivolous, or superfluous, that we have a warrant for out of his word; nor count those too wise or precise that will stand resolutely upon the same: if the Lord require anything, though the world should gainsay it, and we be derided and abused for the doing of it, yet let us proceed still in the course of our obedience. Richard Greenham.
Verse 4. Diligently. For three causes should we keep the commandments of the Lord with diligence: first, because our adversary that seeks to snare us by the transgression of them is diligent in tempting, for he goes about, night and day, seeking to devour us; next, because we ourselves are weak and infirm, by the greater diligence have we need to take heed to ourselves; thirdly, because of the great loss we sustain by every vantage Satan gets over us; for we find by experience, that as a wound is sooner made than it is healed, so guiltiness of conscience is easily contracted, but not so easily done away. William Cowper.
Verse 4. Diligently. In this verse he reminds the reader how well he knew that this study of the divine law must necessarily be severe, (earnest), since God has commanded that it should be observed diligently; that is, with the profoundest study; as that which alone is good, and as everything is good which it commands. Antonio Brucioli, 1534.
Verse 4. The word translated "diligently," doth signify in the original tongue wonderful much, so that the words go thus: "Thou hast commanded to keep thy precepts wonderful much." Richard Greenham.
Verse 4-5. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently, Psalms 119:4 ; this is God's imperative. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Psalms 119:5 ; this should be our optative. Thomas Adams, 1614.
Verse 4-5. It is very observable concerning David, that when he prayeth so earnestly, O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes, he premises this as the reason, Thou hast commanded us to keep thy statutes diligently, thereby intimating that the ground of his obedience to God's precepts was the stamp of divine authority enjoining him. To this purpose it is that he saith in Psalms 119:94 , I have sought thy precepts, thereby implying that what he sought in his obedience was the fulfilling of God's will. Indeed, that only and properly is obedience which is done intuitu voluntatis divinae, with a respect to and eye upon the divine will. As that is only a divine faith which believeth a truth, not because of human reason but divine revelation, so that only is a true obedience which conforms to the command, not because it may consist with any selfish ends, but because it carrieth in it an impression of Christ's authority. Nathanael Hardy.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 4. --
- Take notice of the law giver: "Thou." :Not thy equal one that will be baffled, but the great God.
- He hath interposed authority: "hast commanded."
- The nature of this obedience, or thing commanded: "To keep thy precepts." --T. Manton.
Verse 4. -- The supplementary commandment. God having ordained moral law, supplements it with a commandment prescribing the manner keeping it. Hence:
- God is not indifferent to men's treatment of his -- whether they observe, neglect, or defy it.
- When observed, discriminates the spirit of its observance, whether slavish, partial, or diligent.
- There is but one spirit of obedience which satisfies requirement. "Diligently" implies an obedience which is, -- careful ascertain the law -- prompt to fulfil it ( Psalms 119:60 ) -- unreserved -- love inspired ("diligently," old meaning, through the Latin, "lovingly," Ps 119:47,113).
- Does our obedience come up to this standard? --C A.D.
Verse 4. -- Not only is service commanded, but the manner of it. Heartiess, care, perseverance required, because without these it will not be uniform, or victorious over difficulty.
Verse 4. -- How to obey: "Diligently."
- Not, partially, but fully.
- Not doubtfully, but confidently.
- Not reluctantly, but readily.
- Slovenly, but carefully.
- Not coldly, but earnestly.
- Not fitfully, but regularly. --W. J.