Psalm 119:40

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 40. Behold, I have longed after thy precepts. He can at least claim sincerity. He is deeply bowed down by a sense of his weakness and need of grace; but he does desire to be in all things conformed to the divine will. Where our longings are, there are we in the sight of God. If we have not attained perfection, it is something to have hungered after it. He who has given us to desire, will also grant us to obtain. The precepts are grievous to the ungodly, and therefore when we are so changed as to long for them we have clear evidence of conversion, and we may safely conclude that he who has begun the good work will carry it on.

Quicken me in thy righteousness. Give me more life wherewith to follow thy righteous law; or give me more life because thou hast promised to hear prayer, and it is according to thy righteousness to keep thy word. How often does David plead for quickening! But never once too often. We need quickening every hour of the day, for we are so sadly apt to become slow and languid in the ways of God. It is the Holy Spirit who can pour new life into us; let us not cease crying to him. Let the life we already possess show itself by longing for more.

The last verses of the octaves have generally exhibited an onward look of resolve, hope, and prayer. Here past fruits of grace are made the plea for further blessing. Onward in the heavenly life is the cry of this verse.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 40. Behold, I have longed after, etc. This is given as a more intense form of the statement which he had just made, that he esteemed the judgments to be good. They were so good that he longed after them. Blot only so, but he desired to long after them even more. Thus he prays for even more life and rigour in pursuing the path which they pointed out -- Quicken me in thy righteousness. He who really longs after divine truth, mourns that he does not long more. When the heart has no love, thee mind has no light, and can only judge the precepts erroneously. "The pure in heart" see better with the mind than can the impure. "Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness." Love so enlarges discernment that he who really loves often finds that his judgment of the blessedness of truth has outstripped even his longing for it. Hence it is the quick who cry, "Quicken me"; it is those who have living desires who pray for yet more life in the way of righteousness.

Verse 40. I have longed after thy precepts. We are sometimes unconsciously led to "long" after the promises, more than "after the precepts" of God; forgetting that it is our privilege and safety to have an equal regard to both -- to obey his precepts in dependence on his promises, and to expect the accomplishment of the promises in the way of obedience to the precepts. Charles Bridges.

Verse 40. Precepts, from a word which means to place in trust, mean something entrusted to man, "that which is committed to thee"; appointments of God, which consequently have to do with the conscience, for which man is responsible, as an intelligent being. The precepts are not so obviously apprehended as the law and the testimonies. They must be sought out. "Behold, my desire is for thy precepts" ( Psalms 119:40 ). "Thy precepts I seek" ( Psalms 119:45 ). "Thy precepts I have sought" ( Psalms 119:94 )... They are a law of liberty: "And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts" ( Psalms 119:45 ). John Jebb.

Verse 40. Quicken me in thy righteousness. He said before, "Quicken me in thy word," here, "in thy righteousness"; all is one; for the word of God is the righteousness of God, in which is set down the will of righteousness. In this the prophet desires to be quickened, that is, to be confirmed, that in cheerfulness and gladness of spirit he might rely upon the word of God. Richard Greenham.

Verse 40. Quicken me in thy righteousness. The petition is for liveliness in the knowledge and practice of holiness, according to the tenor of God's word and by its operation on the heart. If any prefer by "righteousness" to understand the faithfulness or justice of God, whereby he has bound himself to give grace to those who trust in him, there is no objection to such an interpretation. It is in fact implied in the others. Whoever can truly use the language of this verse is regenerate. Before renewing grace the law was a dead letter. It was more; it was a hated letter. The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. A sinner desires no restraint from the divine precepts. William S. Plumer.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 40. --

  1. Gracious longings experienced.
  2. Great necessity felt -- more life needed.
  3. Wise petition offered.