Psalm 119:43

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 43. And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth. Do not prevent my pleading for thee by leaving me without deliverance; for how could I continue to proclaim thy word if I found it fail me? such would seem to be the run of the meaning. The word of truth cannot be a joy to our mouths unless we have an experience of it in our lives, and it may be wise for us to be silent if We cannot support our testimonies by the verdict of our consciousness. This prayer may also refer to other modes by which we may be disabled from speaking in the name of the Lord: as, for instance, by our falling into open sin, by our becoming depressed and despairing, by our labouring under sickness or mental aberration, by our finding no door of utterance, or meeting with no willing audience. He who has once preached the gospel from his heart is filled with horror at the idea of being put out of the ministry; he will crave to be allowed a little share in the holy testimony, and will reckon his dumb Sabbaths to be days of banishment and punishment.

For I have hoped in thy judgments. He had expected God to appear and vindicate his cause, that so he might speak with confidence concerning his faithfulness. God is the author of our hopes, and we may most fittingly entreat him to fulfil them. The judgments of his providence are the outcome of his word; what he says in the Scriptures he actually performs in his government; we may therefore look for him to show himself strong on the behalf of his own threatenings and promises, and we shall not look in vain.

God's ministers are sometimes silenced through the sins of their people, and it becomes them to plead against such a judgment; better far that they should suffer sickness or poverty than that the candle of the gospel should be put out among them, and that thus they should be left to perish without remedy. The Lord save us, who are his ministers, from being made the instruments of inflicting such a penalty. Let us exhibit a cheerful hopefulness in God, that we may plead it in prayer with him when he threatens to close our lips.

In the close of this verse there is a declaration of what the Psalmist had done in reference to the word of the Lord, and in this the thirds of the octaves are often alike. See Psalms 119:35 , "therein do I delight"; Psalms 119:43 , "I have hoped in thy judgments"; Psalms 119:51 , "yet have I not declined from thy law"; Psalms 119:59 , "I turned my feet to thy testimonies"; and Psalms 119:67 Psalms 119:83 Psalms 119:99 , etc. These verses would furnish an admirable series of meditations.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 43. Take not the word of truth, etc. It is well known that men do, when persecution threatens, either altogether deny the truth, or weakly and lukewarmly confess it; but lest this should happen to him, David therefore prays here, O Lord, take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, i.e., make me, with an intrepid spirit, always to confess the avowed truth boldly and manfully. In the Hebrew text it is dak d[, "very," "very much," or, as Augustine renders it, "wholly and altogether"; and he thinks that David prayed for this, that, if through human weakness it should happen to him to fall, and at some time or other not steadfastly to confess the word, yet that God would not allow him to continue in that sit,, but again restore and establish him; and he illustrates this by the example of Peter. Further, David adds the reason which has impelled him thus to pray: Because I have for, and even with great desire, as the Hebrew verb lhy signifies, "thy judgments," with which in the last day thou wilt openly pass sentence on heretics, fanatics, and all tyrants. Solomon Gesner.

Verse 43. Take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth. The word is taken out of the mouth, when it is said to the sinner, Wherefore dost thou declare thy statutes? And eloquence itself becomes dumb if the conscience be evil. The birds of heaven come and take the word out of thy mouth, even as they took the seed of the word from off the rock lest it should bring forth fruit. Ambrose.

Verse 43. The word is also taken out of our mouth when in strong temptations all things, as it were, fail, neither can we discover where we may make a stand: Psalms 69:2 . Martin Geier.

Verse 43. Take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth. Sometimes we are afraid to speak for the Saviour, lest we should incur the charge of hypocrisy. At other times we are ashamed to speak, from the absence of that only constraining principle -- "the love of Christ." And thus "the word of truth is taken out of our mouths." Often have we wanted a word to speak for the relief of the Lord's tempted people, and have not been able to find it; so that the recollection of precious lost opportunities may well give utterance to the prayer -- "Take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth." Not only do not take it out of my heart; but let it be ready in my mouth for a confession of my Master. Some of us know the painful trial of the indulgence of worldly habits and conversation, when a want of liberty of spirit has hindered us from standing up boldly for our God. We may perhaps allege the plea of bashfulness or judicious caution in excuse for silence; which however, in many instances, we must regard as a self deceptive covering for the real cause of restraint -- the want of apprehension of the mercy of God to the soul. Charles Bridges.

Verse 43. Take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth. Oh, what service can a dumb body do in Christ's house! Oh, I think the word of God is imprisoned also! Oh, I am a dry tree! Alas, I can neither plant nor water! Oh, if my Lord would make but dung of me, to fatten and make fertile his own corn ridges in Mount Zion! Oh, if I might but speak to three or four herd boys of my worthy Master, I would be satisfied to be the meanest and most obscure of all the pastors in this land, and to live in any place, in any of Christ's basest out houses! But he saith, "Sirrah, I will not send you; I have no errands for you there away." My desire to serve him is sick of jealousy, lest he be unwilling to employ me... I am very well every way, all praise to him in whose books I must stand for ever as his debtor! Only my silence pains me. I had one joy out of heaven, next to Christ my Lord, and that was to preach him to thiss faithless generation; and they have taken that from me. It was to me as the poor man's one eye, and they have put out that eye. Samuel Rutherford.

Verse 43. For I have hoped in thy judgments, the word ~mpfm, judgment, signifieth either the law, or the execution of the sentence thereof.

  1. The law or whole word of God; so that, "I have hoped in thy judgments," is no more, but in thy word do I hope; as it is, "I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope" ( Psalms 130:5 ).
  2. Answerable execution of the law, when the promise or threatening is fulfilled.
    1. When the promise is fulfilled: that is judgment in a sense when God accomplishes what he has promised for our salvation and deliverance. Thus God is said to judge his people, when he righteth and sayeth them according to his word: "O Lord, thou hast seen my wrong: judge thou my cause" ( Lamentations 3:59 ).
    2. But the more usual notion of judgment is the execution of the threatening on wicked men; which being a benefit to God's faithful servants, and done in their favour, David might well be said to hope for it. Their "judgment" is our obtaining the promise. Thomas Manton.

Verse 43-44. Lord, let me have the word of truth in "my mouth" that I may commit that sacred depositum to the rising generation ( 2 Timothy 2:22 ), and by them it may be transmitted to succeeding ages; so shall "thy law" be kept "for ever and ever," i.e., from one generation to another, according to that promise ( Isaiah 59:21 ): "My words in thy mouth shall not depart out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed." Matthew Henry.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 43. -- How the true preacher could be silenced, and his plea that he may not be so.