Psalm 119:6

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 6. Then shall I not be ashamed. He had known shame, and here he rejoices in the prospect of being freed from it. Sin brings shame, and when sin is gone, the reason for being ashamed is banished. What a deliverance this is, for to some men death is preferable to shame!

When I have respect unto all thy commandments. When he respects God he shall respect himself and be respected. Whenever we err we prepare ourselves for confusion of face and sinking of heart: if no one else is ashamed of me I shall be ashamed of myself if I do iniquity. Our first parents never knew shame till they made the acquaintance of the old serpent, and it never left them till their gracious God had covered them with sacrificial skins. Disobedience made them naked and ashamed. We, ourselves, will always have cause for shame till every sin is vanquished, and every duty is observed. When we pay a continual and universal respect to the will of the Lord, then we shall be able to look ourselves in the face in the looking glass of the law, and we shall not blush at the sight of men or devils, however eager their malice may be to lay somewhat to our charge.

Many suffer from excessive diffidence, and this verse suggests a cure. An abiding sense of duty will make us bold, we shall be afraid to be afraid. No shame in the presence of man will hinder us when the fear of God has taken full possession of our minds. When we are on the king's highway by daylight, and are engaged upon royal business, we need ask no man's leave. It would be a dishonour to a king to be ashamed of his livery and his service; no such shame should ever crimson the cheek of a Christian, nor will it if he has due reverence for the Lord his God. There is nothing to be ashamed of in a holy life; a man may be ashamed of his pride, ashamed of his wealth, ashamed of his own children, but he will never be ashamed of having in all things regarded the will of the Lord his God.

It is worthy of remark that David promises himself no immunity from shame till he has carefully paid homage to all the precepts. Mind that word "all," and leave not one command out of your respect. Partial obedience still leaves us liable to be called to account for those commands which we have neglected. A man may have a thousand virtues, and yet a single failing may cover him with shame.

To a poor sinner who is buried in despair, it may seem a very unlikely thing that he should ever be delivered from shame. He blushes, and is confounded, and feels that he can never lift up his face again. Let him read these words: "Then shall I not be ashamed." David is not dreaming, nor picturing an impossible case. Be assured, dear friend, that the Holy Spirit can renew in you the image of God, so that you shall yet look up without fear. O for sanctification to direct us in God's way, for then shall we have boldness both towards God and his people, and shall no more crimson with confusion.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 6. Then shall I not be ashamed. No one likes to be ashamed or to blush: therefore all things which bring shame after them must be avoided: Ezra 9:6 Jeremiah 3:25 Daniel 9:7 Daniel 9:9 . As the workman keeps his eye fixed on his pattern, and the scholar on the copy of his writing master; so the godly man ever and anon turns his eyes to the word of his God. Martin Geier.

Verse 6. There is a twofold shame; the shame of a guilty conscience; and the shame of a tender conscience. The one is the merit and fruit of sin; the other is an act of grace. This which is here spoken of is to be understood not of a holy self loathing, but a confounding shame. Thomas Manton.

Verse 6. Then shall I not be ashamed, etc. Then shall I have confidence both towards God and man, and mine own soul, when I can pronounce of myself that my obedience is impartial, and uniform, and universal, no secret sin reserved for my favour, no least commandment knowingly or willingly neglected by me. Henry Hammond.

Verse 6. Then shall I not be ashamed, etc. You ask, Why is he not ashamed who has respect unto all the commandments of God? I answer, the sense is, as if he had said, The commandments of God are so pure and excellent, that though thou shouldest regard the whole and each one of them most attentively, thou wouldest not find anything that would cause thee to blush. The laws of Lycurgus are praised; but they permitted theft. The statutes of Plato are praised; but they commended the community of wives. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul:" Psalms 19:7 . It is a mirror, reflecting the beautiful light of the stars on him who looks into it. Thomas Le Blanc.

Verse 6. The blessing here spoken of is freedom from shame in looking unto all the commandments. If God hear prayer, and establish the soul in this habit of keeping the commandments, there will be yet this further blessing of being able to look unto every precept without shame. Many men can look at some commandments without shame. Turning to the ten commandments, the honest man feels no shame as he gazes on the eighth, the pure man is free from reproach as he reads the seventh, he who is reverent and hates blasphemy is not rebuked by the thought that he has violated the third, while the filial spirit rather delights in than shuns the fifth. So on with the remainder. Most men perhaps can look at some of the precepts with comparative freedom from reproof. But who can so look unto them all? Yet this, also, the godly heart aspires to. In this verse we find the Psalmist consciously anticipating the truth of a word in the New Testament: "He that offends in one point is guilty of all." Frederick G. Marchant.

Verse 6. Ashamed. I can bear scorpion's stings, tread fields of fire, In frozen gulfs of cold eternal lie; Be tossed aloft through tracts of endless void, But cannot live in shame. Joanna Baillie, 1762-1851.

Verse 6. When I have respect unto all thy commandments. Literally, "In my looking at all thy commandments." That is, in his regarding them; in his feeling that all were equally binding on him; and in having the consciousness that he had not intentionally neglected, violated, or disregarded any of them. There can be no true piety except where a man intends to keep ALL the commands of God. If he makes a selection among them, keeping this one or that one, as may be most convenient for him, or as may be most for his interest, or as may be most popular, it is full proof that he knows nothing of the nature of true religion. A child has no proper respect for a parent if he obeys him only as shall suit his whim or his convenience; and no man can be a pious man who does not purpose, in all honesty, to keep ALL, the commandments of God; to submit to his will in everything. Albert Barnes.

Verse 6. All thy commandments. There is the same reason for obedience to one command as another, -- God's authority, who is the Lawgiver ( James 2:11 ); and therefore when men choose one duty and overlook others, they do not so much obey the will of God, as gratify their own humours and fancies, pleasing Him only so far as they can please themselves too; and this is not reasonable; we never yield him a "reasonable service," but when it is universal. Edward Veal (1632-1708), in "The Morning Exercises."

Verse 6. All thy commandments. A partial obedience will never satisfy a child of God. The exclusion of any commandment from its supreme regard in the heart is the brand of hypocrisy. Even Herod could "do many things," and yet one evil way cherished, and therefore unforsaken, was sufficient to show the sovereign power of sin undisturbed within. Saul slew all the Amalekites but one; and that single exception in the path of universal obedience marked the unsoundness of his profession, cost him the loss of his throne, and brought him under the awful displeasure of his God. And thus the foot, or the hand, or the right eye, the corrupt unmortified members, bring the whole body to hell. Reserves are the canker of Christian sincerity. Charles Bridges.

Verse 6. Unto all thy commandments. Allow that any of God's commandments may be transgressed, and we shall soon have the whole decalogue set aside. Adam Clarke, 1760-1832.

Verse 6. Many will do some good, but are defective in other things, and usually in those which are most necessary. They cull out the easiest and cheapest parts of religion, such as do not contradict their lusts and interests. We can never have sound peace till we regard all. Then shall I not be ashamed when I have respect unto all thy commandments. Shame is fear of a just reproof. This reproof is either from the supreme or the deputy judge. The supreme judge of all our actions is God. This should be our principal care, that we may not be ashamed before him at his coming, nor disapproved in the judgment. But there is a deputy judge which every man has in his own bosom. Our consciences do acquit or condemn us as we are partial or sincere in our duty to God, and much depends on that. 1 John 3:20-21 , "For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God." Well, then, that our hearts may not reprove or reproach us, we should be complete in all the will of God. Alas, otherwise you will never have evidence of your sincerity. Thomas Manton.

Verse 6. Such is the mercy of God in Christ to his children, that lie accepts their weak endeavours, joined with sincerity and perseverance in his service, as if they were a full obedience... O, who would not serve such a Lord? You hear servants sometimes complain of their masters as so rigid and strict, that they can never please them; no, not when they do their utmost: but this cannot be charged upon God. Be but so faithful as to do thy best, and God is so gracious that he will pardon thy worst. David knew this gospel indulgence when he said, Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments, when my eye is to all thy commandments. The traveller hath his eye on or towards the place he is going to, though he be as yet short of it; there he would be, and he is putting on all he can to reach it: so stands the saint's heart to all the commands of God; he presseth on to come nearer and nearer to full obedience; such a soul shall never be put to shame. William Gurnall, 1617-1679.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 6. -- See "Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 1443: "A Clear Conscience."

Verse 6. -- Holy confidence the offspring of universal obedience.

Verse 6. -- The armour of proof.

  1. Universal obedience will give unabashed confidence --
(a) Before the criticising world.
(b) In the court of conscience.
(c) At the throne of grace.
(d) In the day of judgment.

  1. But our obedience is far from universal, and leaves us open to
(a) The world's shafts.
(b) The rebukes of conscience.
(c) It paralyses our prayers
(d) It dares not appear for us at the bar of God.

  1. Then let us by faith wrap ourselves in the perfect righteousness of Christ. Our answer to the world's cavil. We are not faultless, and for salvation we rest wholly on another. This righteousness is --
    1. The salve of our wounded conscience.
(b) Our mighty plea in prayer.
(c) Our triumphant vindication in the judgment day. --C. A.D.

Verse 6. -- Topic: -- Self respect depends on respect for one greater than self. --W. D.