Psalm 119:44

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 44. So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. Nothing more effectually binds a man to the way of the Lord than an experience of the truth of his word, embodied in the form of mercies and deliverances. Not only does the Lord's faithfulness open our mouths against his adversaries, but it also knits our hearts to his fear, and makes our union with him more and more intense. Great mercies lead us to feel an inexpressible gratitude which, falling to utter itself in time, promises to engross eternity with praises. To a heart on flame with thankfulness, the "always, unto eternity and perpetuity," of the text will not seem to be redundant; yea, the hyperbole of Addison in his famous verse will only appear to be solid sense: --

"Through all eternity to thee

A joyful song I will raise;
But oh! eternity's too short
To utter all thy praise." Addison.

God's grace alone can enable us to keep his commandments without break and without end; eternal love must grant us eternal life, and out of this will come everlasting obedience. There is no other way to ensure our perseverance in holiness but by the word of truth abiding in us, as David prayed it might abide with him.

The verse begins with "So," as did Psalms 119:42 . When God grants his salvation we are so favoured that we silence our worst enemy and glorify our best friend. Mercy answereth all things. If God doth but give us salvation we can conquer hell and commune with heaven, answering reproaches and keeping the law, and that to the end, world without end.

We may not overlook another sense which suggests itself here. David prayed that the word of truth might not be taken out of his mouth, and so would he keep God's law: that is to say, by public testimony as well as by personal life, he would fulfil the divine will, and confirm the bonds which bound him to his Lord for ever. Undoubtedly the grace which enables us to bear witness with the mouth is a great help to ourselves as well as to others: we feel that the vows of the Lord are upon us, and that we cannot run back.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 44. So shall I keep thy law continually, etc. The Lord's keeping our heart in faith, and our mouth and outward man in the course of confession and obedience, is the cause of our perseverance. David Dickson.

Verse 44. So shall I keep. Mark, the promise of obedience is brought in by way of argument; "So shall I keep," "so," that is, this will encourage me, this will enable me.

First, The granting of his requests would give him encouragement: when God answers our hope and expectation, gratitude should excite and quicken us to give all manner of obedience. If he will give us a heart, and a little liberty to confess his name, and serve him, we should not be backward or uncertain, but walk closely with him.

Secondly, This would give him assistance and strength. If God do daily give assistance, we shall stand; if not, we fall and falter; this will be a means of his perseverance, not only to engage and oblige him, but to help him to hold on to the end.

Then mark the consistency of this obedience, "Continually, and for ever and ever." David would not keep it for a fit, or for a few days, or a year, but always, even to the end of his life. Here are three words to the same sense: "continually," "for ever," "and ever." And the Septuagint expresses it thus: "I shall keep thy law always, and for ever, and for ever, and ever;" four words there. This heaping of words is not in vain.

  1. It shows the difficulty of perseverance: unless believers do strongly persist in the resistance of temptation, they will soon be turned out of the way; therefore David binds his heart firmly: we must do it now, yea, always, unto the end.
  2. He expresses his vehemence of affection: those that are deeply affected with anything are wont to express themselves as largely as they can. As Paul, who had a deep sense of God's power: "Exceeding greatness of his power, according to the working of his mighty power" ( Ephesians 1:19 ). He heaps up several words, because his sense of them was so great: so David here doth heap up words -- "continually, and for ever, and ever, and ever."
  3. Some think the words are so many, that they may express not only this life, but that which is to come. I will keep them continually, and for ever, and ever; that is, all the days of my life, and in the other world. So Chrysostom, "I will keep them continually," etc., points out the other life, where there will be pure and exact keeping of the law of God. Here we are every hour in danger, but then we shall be put out of all danger, and without fear of sinning, we shall remain in a full and perfect righteousness; we hope for that which we have not attained unto, and this doth encourage us for the present: so would he make David express himself.
  4. If we must distinguish these words, I suppose they imply the continuity and perpetuity of obedience; the continuity of obedience, that he would serve God continually, without intermission; and the perpetuity of obedience, that he would serve God for ever and ever, without defection or revolt, at all times, and to the end. Constancy and perseverance in obedience is the commendation of it. Thomas Manton.

Verse 44. So shall I keep thy law continually. That is, if thou wilt not take the word of thy truth out of my mouth, "I will alway keep thy law." "Yea, unto age, and age of age:" he showeth what is meant by alway. For sometimes by "alway" is meant, as long as we live here; but this is not, "unto age, and age of age." For it is better thus translated than as some copies have, "to eternity, and to age of age," since they could not say, and to eternity of eternity. That law therefore should be understood, of which the apostle saith, "Love is the fulfilling of the law." For this will be kept by the saints, from whose mouth the word of truth is not taken, that is, by the church of Christ herself, not only during this world, that is, until this world is ended; but for another world which is styled world without end. For we shall not there receive the commandments of the law, as here, to keep them, but we shall keep the fulness of the law itself without any fear of sinning; for we shall love God the more fully when we shall have seen him; and our neighbour too; for "God will be all in all"; nor will there be room for any false suspicion concerning our neighbour, where no man will be hidden to any. Augustine.

Verse 44. Continually, for ever and ever. The language of this verse is very emphatic. Perfect obedience will constitute a large proportion of heavenly happiness to all eternity; and the nearer we approach to it on earth, the more we anticipate the felicity of heaven. Note in Bagster's Comprehensive Bible.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 44. -- The perpetuity of gracious living. On what it is conditioned: "So." How entirely it is consistent with free agency: "I keep." How continuous it is, and how eternal.

Verse 44. -- Heaven begun below.

  1. The present life of the believer -- keeping God's law.
  2. The continual care of the believer -- to keep God's law.
  3. The eternal prospect of the believer -- keeping God's law for ever and ever. -- C.A.D.