Verse 62. At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments. He was not afraid of the robbers; he rose, not to watch his house, but to praise his God. Midnight is the hour for burglars, and there were bands of them around David, but they did not occupy his thoughts; these were all up and away with the Lord his God. He thought not of thieves, but of thanks; not of what they would steal, but of what he would give to his God. A thankful heart is such a blessing that it drives out fear and makes room for praise. Thanksgiving turns night into day, and consecrates all hours to the worship of God. Every hour is canonical to a saint.
The Psalmist observed posture; he did not lie in bed and praise. There is not much in the position of the body, but there is something, and that something is to be observed whenever it is helpful to devotion and expressive of our diligence or humility. Many kneel without praying, some pray without kneeling; but the best is to kneel and pray: so here, it would have been no virtue to rise without giving thanks, and it would have been no sin to give thanks without rising; but to rise and give thanks is a happy combination. As for the season, it was quiet, lonely, and such as proved his zeal. At midnight he would be unobserved and undisturbed; it was his own time which he saved from his sleep, and so he would be free from the charge of sacrificing public duties to private devotions. Midnight ends one day and begins another, it was therefore meet to give the solemn moments to communion with the Lord. At the turn of the night he turned to his God. He had thanks to give for mercies which God had given: he had on his mind the truth of Ps 119:57, "Thou art my portion," and if anything can make a man sing in the middle of the night that is it.
The righteous doings of the great Judge gladdened the heart of this godly man. His judgments are the terrible side of God, but they have no terror to the righteous; they admire them, and adore the Lord for them: they rise at night to bless God that he will avenge his own elect. Some hate the very notion of divine justice, and in this they are wide as the poles asunder from this man of God, who was filled with joyful gratitude at the memory of the sentences of the Judge of all the earth. Doubtless in the expression, "thy righteous judgments," David refers also to the written judgments of God upon various points of moral conduct; indeed, all the divine precepts may be viewed in that light; they are all of them the legal decisions of the Supreme Arbiter of right and wrong. David was charmed with these judgments. Like Paul, he could say, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man." He could not find time enough by day to study the words of divine wisdom, or to bless God for them, and so he gave up his sleep that he might tell out his gratitude for such a law and such a Lawgiver.
This verse is an advance upon the sense of Psalms 119:52 , and contains in addition the essence of Psalms 119:55 . Our author never repeats himself: though he runs up and down the same scale, his music has an infinite variety. The permutations and combinations which may be formed in connection with a few vital truths are innumerable.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 62. -- At midnight I will rise to give thanks. Though we cannot enforce the particular observance upon you, yet there are many notable lessons to be drawn from David's practice.
- The ardency of his devotion, or his earnest desire to praise God: "at midnight," when sleep doth most invade men's eyes, then he would rise up. His heart was so set upon the praising of God, and the sense of his righteous providence did so affect him, and urge and excite him to this duty, that he would not only employ himself in this work in the daytime, and so show his love to God, but he would rise out of his bed to worship God and celebrate his praise. That which hindereth the sleep of ordinary men, is either the cares of this world, the impatient resentment of injuries, or the sting of an evil conscience: these keep others waking, but David was awaked by a desire to praise God. No hour is unseasonable to a gracious heart: he is expressing his affection to God when others take their rest. Thus we read of our Lord Christ, that he spent whole nights in prayer ( Luke 6:12 ). It is said of the glorified saints in heaven, that they praise God continually: "Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them" ( Revelation 7:15 ). Now, holy men, though much hindered by their bodily necessities, will come as near to continual praise as present frailty will permit. Alas, we oftentimes begin the day with some fervency of prayer and praise, but we faint ere the evening comes.
- His sincerity, seen in his secrecy. David would profess his faith in God when he had no witness by him; "at midnight," when there was no hazard of ostentation. It was a secret cheerfulness and delighting in God: when alone he could have no respect to the applause of men, but only to approve himself to God who seeth in secret. See Christ's direction: "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" ( Matthew 6:6 ). Note also Christ's own practice: "Rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed" ( Mark 1:35 ): before day he went into a desert to pray; both time and place implied secrecy.
- We learn hence the preciousness of time: it was so to David; see how he spendeth the time of his life. We read of David, when he lay down at night, he watered his couch with his tears, after the examination of his heart ( Psalms 6:6 ); at midnight he rose to give thanks; in the morning he prevented the morning watches; and seven times a day he praised God: morning, noon, and night he consecrated. These are all acts of eminent piety. We should not content ourselves with so much grace as will merely serve to save us. Alas! we have much idle time hanging upon our hands: if we would give that to God, it were well.
- The value of godly exercises above our natural refreshing. The word is sweeter than appointed food: "I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food" ( Job 13:12 ). David prefers the praises of God before his sleep and rest in the night. Surely, this should shame us for our sensuality. We can dispense with other things for our vain pleasures: we have done as much for sin, for vain sports, etc.; and shall we not deny ourselves for God?
- The great reverence to be used in secret adoration. David did not only raise up his spirits to praise God, but rise up out of his bed, to bow the knee to him. Secret duties should be performed with solemnity, not slubbered over. Praise, a special act of adoration, requireth the worship of body and soul. --Thomas Manton.
Verse 62. -- At midnight I will rise to give thanks. He had praised God in the courts of the Lord's house, and yet he will do it in his bedchamber. Public worship will not excuse us from secret worship. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 62. -- At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee. Was he not ready also to praise God at midday? Certainly; but he says "at midnight," that he may express the ardour and longing of his soul. We are wont to assure our friends of our good will by saying that we will rise at midnight to consult about their affairs. --Wolfgang Musculus.
Verse 62. -- At midnight I will rise to give thanks, etc. In these words observe three things: --
- David's holy employment, or the duty promised, giving thanks to God.
- His earnestness and fervency implied in the time mentioned, "At midnight I will rise"; he would rather interrupt his sleep and rest, than God should want his praise.
- The cause or matter of his thanksgiving, "because of thy righteous judgments": whereby he meaneth the dispensations of God's providence in delivering the godly and punishing the wicked, according to his word. --Thomas Manton.
Verse 62. -- At midnight I will rise to give thanks. Cares of this world, impatience of wrongs, a bad conscience, keep awake the ungodly and disturb their sleep (Rivetus); but what I awake for is to give thanks to thee. --A. R. Faussett.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 62. --
- The duty of gratitude: "give thanks."
- The subject for gratitude: "thy righteous judgments."
- The season for gratitude: at night as well as in the day. --G.R.
Verse 62. -- Up in the night. Singing in the night. Reasons for such singular conduct.
Verse 62. -- The nightingale.
- A natural association of thought: "midnight" and "judgments." Exodus 7, etc.
- An incongruous association of feeling: "thanks" and "judgments."
- A full justification of this apparent incongruity: "thanks because of thy righteous judgments."
- A vigorous performance of an incumbent duty: "at midnight I will rise to give thanks." - -C.A.D.