This octrain deals with the comfort of the word. It begins by seeking the main consolation, namely, the Lord's fulfilment of his promise, and then it shows how the word sustains us under affliction, and makes us so impervious to ridicule that we are moved by the harsh conduct of the wicked rather to horror of their sin than to any submission to their temptations. We are then shown how the Scripture furnishes songs for pilgrims, and memories for night watchers; and the psalm concludes by the general statement that the whole of this happiness and comfort arises out of keeping the statutes of the Lord.
Verse 49. Remember the word unto thy servant. He asks for no new promise, but to have the old word fulfilled. He is grateful that he has received so good a word, he embraces it with all his heart, and now entreats the Lord to deal with him according to it. He does not say, "remember my service to thee," but "thy word to me." The words of masters to servants are not always such that servants wish their lords to remember them; for they usually observe the faults and failings of the work done, in as much as it does not tally with the word of command. But we who serve the best of masters are not anxious to have one of his words fall to the ground, since the Lord will so kindly remember his word of command as to give us grace wherewith we may obey, and he will couple with it a remembrance of his word of promise, so that our hearts shall be comforted. If God's word to us as his servants is so precious, what shall we say of his word to us as his sons?
The Psalmist does not fear a failure in the Lord's memory, but he makes use of the promise as a plea, and this is the form in which he speaks, after the manner of men when they plead with one another. When the Lord remembers the sins of his servant, and brings them before his conscience, the penitent cries, Lord, remember thy word of pardon, and therefore remember my sins and iniquities no more. There is a world of meaning in that word "remember," as it is addressed to God; it is used in Scripture in the most tender sense, and suits the sorrowing and the depressed. The Psalmist cried, "Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions": Job also prayed that the Lord would appoint him a set time, and remember him. In the present instance the prayer is as personal as the "Remember me" of the thief, for its essence lies in the words -- "unto thy servant." It would be all in vain for us if the promise were remembered to all others if it did not come true to ourselves; but there is no fear, for the Lord has never forgotten a single promise to a single believer.
Upon which thou hast caused me to hope. The argument is that God, having given grace to hope in the promise, would surely never disappoint that hope. He cannot have caused us to hope without cause. If we hope upon his word we have a sure basis: our gracious Lord would never mock us by exciting false hopes. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, hence the petition for immediate remembrance of the cheering word. Moreover, it the hope of a servant, and it is pot possible that a great and good master would disappoint his dependent; if such a master's word were not kept could only be through an oversight, hence the anxious cry, "Remember Our great Master will not forget his own servants, nor disappoint the expectation which he himself has raised: because we are the Lord's, and endeavour to remember his word by obeying it, we may be sure that he think upon his own servants, and remember his own promise by making good."
This verse is the prayer of love fearing to be forgotten, of humility conscious of insignificance and anxious not to be overlooked, of trembling lest the evil of its sin should overshadow the promise, of a desire longing for the blessing, and of holy confidence which feels that that is wanted is comprehended in the word. Let but the Lord remember his promise, and the promised act is as good as done.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 49. -- Remember the word unto thy servant, etc. Those that make God's promises their portion, may with humble boldness make them their plea. God gave the promise in which the Psalmist hoped, and the hope by which he embraced the promise. -- Matthew Henry.
Verse 49. -- Remember the word unto thy servant, etc. When we hear any promise in the word of God, let us turn it into a prayer. God's promises are his bonds. Sue him on his bond. He loves that we should wrestle with him by his promises. Why, Lord, thou hast made this and that promise, thou canst not deny thyself, thou canst not deny thine own truth; thou canst not cease to be God, and thou canst as well cease to be God, as deny thy promise, that is thyself. "Lord, remember thy word." "I put thee in mind of thy promise, whereon thou hast caused me to hope." If I be deceived, thou hast deceived me. Thou hast made these promises, and caused me to trust in thee, and "thou never fullest those that trust in thee, therefore keep thy word to me." --Richard Sibbes.
Verse 49. -- Remember the word unto thy servant, etc. God promises salvation before he giveth it, to excite our desire of it, to exercise our faith, to prove our sincerity, to perfect our patience. For these purposes he seemeth sometimes to have forgotten his word, and to have deserted those whom he had engaged to succour and relieve; in which case he would have us, as it were, to remind him of his promise, and solicit his performance of it. The Psalmist here instructs us to prefer our petition upon these grounds; first, that God cannot prove false to his own word: "Remember thy word;" secondly, that he will never disappoint an expectation which himself hath raised: "upon which thou hast caused me to hope." --George Horne.
Verse 49,52,55. -- Remember. "I remembered." As David beseeches the Lord to remember his promise, so he protests, in Psalms 119:52 , that he remembered the judgments of God, and was comforted; and in Psalms 119:55 , that he remembered the name of the Lord in the night. It is but a mockery of God, to desire him to remember his promise made to us, when we make no conscience of the promise we have made to him. But alas, how often we fail in this duty, and by our own default, diminish that comfort we might have of God's promises in the day of our trouble. --William Cowper.
Verse 49. -- Thy servant. Be sure of your qualification; for David pleadeth here, partly as a servant of God, and partly as a believer. First, "Remember the word unto thy servant;" and then, "upon which thou hast caused me to hope." There is a double qualification: with respect to the precept of subjection, and the promise of dependence. The precept is before the promise. They have right to the promises, and may justly lay hold upon them, who are God's servants; they who apply themselves to obey his precepts, these only can rightly apply his promises to themselves. None can lay claim to rewarding grace but those who are partakers of sanctifying grace. Make it clear that you are God's servants, and then these promises which are generally offered are your own, no less than if your name were inserted in the promise, and written in the Bible. --Thomas Manton.
Verse 49. -- Thou hast caused me to hope. Let us remember, first, that the promises made to us are of God's free mercy; that the grace to believe, which is the condition of the promise, is also of himself; for "faith is the gift of God"; thirdly, that the arguments by which he confirms our faith in the certainty of our salvation are drawn from himself, not from us. --William Cowper.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Outlines Upon Keywords of the Psalm, By Pastor C. A. Davis.
Verse 49-56. -- Hope in affliction. It arises from God's word ( Psalms 119:49 ). It produces comfort ( Psalms 119:50 ), even in trouble caused by the wicked ( Psalms 119:51-53 ). It gladdens the believer's pilgrimage and his holy night seasons ( Psalms 119:54-56 ).
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 49. --
- The personality of the word: "The word unto thy servant."
- The application of the word: "upon which thou hast caused me to hope."
- The pleading of the word: "Remember the word," etc.
Verse 49. -- The word of hope.
- God's word the foundation of human hope. (The fact of a revelation. The substance of the revelation.)
- Particular words of God which have been found peculiarly hope enkindling.
- The pleading of such words at the throne of grace. --C.A.D.