Psalm 119:61

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 61. The bands of the wicked have robbed me. Aforetime they derided him, and now they have defrauded him. Ungodly men grow worse, aria become more and more daring, so that they go from ridicule to robbery. Much of this bold opposition arose from their being banded together: men will dare to do in company what they durst not have thought of alone. When firebrands are laid together there is no telling what a flame they will create. It seems that whole bands of men assailed this one child of God, they are cowardly enough for anything; though they could not kill him, they robbed him; the dogs of Satan will worry saints if they cannot devour them. David's enemies did their utmost: first the serpents hissed, and then they stung. Since words availed not, the wicked fell to blows. How much the ungodly have plundered the saints in all ages, and how often have the righteous borne gladly the spoiling of their goods!

But I have not forgotten thy law. This was well. Neither his sense of injustice, nor his sorrow at his losses, nor his attempts at defence diverted him from the ways of God. He would not do wrong to prevent the suffering of wrong, nor do ill to avenge ill. He carried the law in his heart, and therefore no disturbance of mind could take him off from following it. He might have forgotten himself if he had forgotten the law: as it was, he was ready to forgive and forget the injuries done him, for his heart was taken up with the word of God. The bands of the wicked had not robbed him of his choicest treasure, since they had left him his holiness and his happiness.

Some read this passage, "The bands of the wicked environ me." They hemmed him in, they cut him off from succour, they shut up every avenue of escape, but the man of God had his protector with him; a clear conscience relied upon the promise, and a brave resolve stuck to the precept. He could not be either bribed or bullied into sin. The cordon of the ungodly could not keep God from him, nor him from God: this was because God was his portion, and none could deprive him of it neither by force or fraud. That is true grace which can endure the test: some are barely gracious among the circle of their friends, but this man was holy amid a ring of foes.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 61. -- The bands of the wicked have robbed me. Two readings remain, either of which may be admitted: The cords of the wicked have caught hold of me, or, The companies of the wicked have robbed me. Whether we adopt the one or the other of these readings, what the prophet intends to declare is, that when Satan assailed the principles of piety in his soul, by grievous temptations, he continued with undeviating steadfastness in the love, and practice of God's law. Cords may, however, be understood in two ways; either, first, as denoting the deceptive allurements by which the wicked endeavoured to get him entangled in their society; or, secondly, the frauds which they practised to effect his ruin. --John Calvin.

Verse 61. -- The bands of the wicked have robbed me. Some have it, "Cords of wicked men have entwined me." Others, "Snares of wicked men surround me." The meaning is that wicked men by their plots and contrivances had beset him, as men would ensnare a wild beast in their toils. They might, indeed, hem him round about in the wilderness, but they could not enthral the free mind; he would still feel at liberty in spirit, he would not forget God's law. --John, Stephen.

Verse 61. -- The bands of the wicked have robbed me. They set upon his goods, and spoiled him of them, either by plunder in the time of war, or by fines and confiscations under colour of law. Saul (it is likely) seized his effects; Absalom his palace; the Amalekites rifled Ziklag. --Matthew Henry.

Verse 61. -- The friendship of the wicked must be shunned. First, because it binds us, as they are bound together -- "bands of the wicked." Every sinner is a gladiator with net and sword, going down into the arena, and endeavouring to enmesh any one who comes near him. A second reason for shunning the friendship of the wicked, which may be taken from the Hebrew word, is their cruelty and barbarity: for not only do the wicked bind their friends, but they make a spoil and a prey of them: "have robbed me." They are decoying thieves, journeying with an unwary traveller, until they have led him into thick and dark woods, where they strip him of heavenly riches. --Thomas Le Blanc.

Verse 61. -- The bands of the wicked have robbed me. Then said Christian to his fellow, Now I call to remembrance that which was told me of a thing that happened to a good man hereabout. The name of the man was Little Faith, but a good man, and he dwelt in the town of Sincere. The thing was this; at the entering in of this passage there comes down from Broadway gate a lane called Dead man's lane; so called because of the murders that are commonly done there. And this Little Faith going on pilgrimage, as we do now, chanced to sit down there and slept. Now there happened, at that time, to come down that lane from Broadway gate three sturdy rogues, and their names were Faint heart, Mistrust, and Guilt, (three brothers,) and they espying Little Faith where he was came galloping up with speed. Now the good man was just awaked from his sleep, and was getting up to go on his journey. So they came all up to him, and with threatening language bid him stand. At this, Little Faith looked as white as a cloud, and had neither power to fight nor flee. Then said Faint heart, Deliver thy purse; but he making no haste to do it, (for he was loath to lose his money,) Mistrust ran up to him, and thrusting his hand into his pocket, pulled out thence a bag of silver. Then he cried out, Thieves! Thieves! With that Guilt, with a great club that was in his hand, struck Little Faith on the head, and with that blow felled him flat to the ground, where he lay bleeding as one that would bleed to death...The place where his jewels were they never ransacked, so those he kept still; but, as I was told, the good man was much afflicted for his loss. For the thieves got most of his spending money. That which they got not (as I said) were jewels, also he had a little odd money left, but scarce enough to bring him to his journey's end; nay, (if I was not misinformed,) he was forced to beg as he went, to keep himself alive (for his jewels he might not sell). But beg, and do what he could he went (as we say) with many a hungry belly, the most part of the rest of the way. --John Bunyan.

Verse 61. -- Bands. Howsoever, to strengthen themselves in an evil course, the wicked go together by bands and companies, yet shall it not avail them, nor hurt us. Babel's builders; Moab, Ammon, Edom, conspiring in one, may tell us, "Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not escape unpunished." The wicked are like thorns before the fire; their multitude may well embolden the flame, but cannot resist it. --William Cowper.

Verse 61. -- It is a salutary reflection to bear in mind, that thousands of spiritual adversaries are ever watching to make us their prey. --John Morison.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 61. --

  1. Spiritual highway robbery.
  2. The traveller keeping his road. Or, what enemies can do, and what they cannot do.