In this ninth section the verses all begin with the letter Teth. They are the witness of experience, testifying to the goodness of God, the graciousness of his dealings, and the preciousness of his word. Especially the Psalmist proclaims the excellent uses of adversity, and the goodness of God in afflicting him. The sixty-fifth verse is the text of the entire octave.
Verse 65. Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O Lord, according unto thy word. This is the summary of his life, and assuredly it is the sum of ours. The Psalmist tells the Lord the verdict of his heart; he cannot be silent, he must speak his gratitude in the, presence of Jehovah, his God. From the universal goodness of God in nature, in Psalms 119:64 , it is an easy and pleasant step to a confession of the Lord's uniform goodness to ourselves personally. It is something that God has dealt at all with such insignificant and under serving beings as we are, and it is far more that he has dealt well with us, and so well, so wondrously well. He hath done all things well: the rule has no exception. In providence and in grace, in giving prosperity and sending adversity, in everything Jehovah hath dealt well with us. It is dealing well on our part to tell the Lord that we feel that he hath dealt well with us; for praise of this kind is specially fitting and comely. This kindness of the Lord is, however, no chance matter: he promised to do so, and he has done it according to his word. It is very precious to see the word of the Lord fulfilled in our happy experience; it endears the Scripture to us, and makes us love the Lord of the Scripture. The book of providence tallies with the book of promise: what we read in the page of inspiration we meet with again in the leaves of our life story. We may not have thought that it would be so, but our unbelief is repented of now that we see the mercy of the Lord to us, and his faithfulness to his word; henceforth we are bound to display a firmer faith both in God and in his promise. He has spoken well, and he has dealt well. He is the best of Masters; for it is to a very unworthy and incapable servant that he has acted thus blessedly: does not this cause us to delight in his service more and more? We cannot say that we have dealt well with our Master; for when we have done all, we are unprofitable servants; but as for our Lord, he has given us light work, large maintenance, loving encouragement, and liberal wages. It is a wonder that he has not long ago discharged us, or at least reduced our allowances, or handled us roughly; yet we have had no hard dealings, all has been ordered with as much consideration as if we had rendered perfect obedience. We have bad bread enough and to spare, our livery has been duly supplied, and his service has ennobled us and made us happy as kings. Complaints we have none. We lose ourselves in adoring thanksgiving, and find ourselves again in careful thanks living.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
TETH. -- In the original each stanza begins with 'T', and in our own version it is so in all but Psalms 119:67 Psalms 119:70 , which can easily be made to do so by reading, "Till I was afflicted," and "It is good for me that I have been afflicted." --C.H.S.
Verse 65. -- Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, Lord.
- The party dealing is God himself: all good is to be referred to God as the author of it.
- The benefit received is generally expressed, "Thou hast dealt well." Some translate it out of the Hebrew, "Bonum feeisti", thou hast done good with thy servant; the Septuagint, krhststhta epoihsaj meta ton doulou sou, thou hast made goodness to or with thy servant; out of them, the Vulgate, "Bonitatern fecisti". Some take this clause generally, "Whatever thou dost for thy servants is good": they count it so, though it be never so contrary to the interest of the flesh: sickness is good, loss of friends is good; and so are poverty and loss of goods, to an humble and thankful mind. But surely David speaketh here of some supply and deliverance wherein God had made good some promise to him. The Jewish rabbis understand it of his return to the kingdom; but most Christian writers understand it of some spiritual benefit; that good which God had done to him. If anything may be collected from the subsequent verses, it was certainly some spiritual good. The Septuagint repeat krhstothta twice in this and the following verse, as if he acknowledged the benefit of that good judgment and knowledge of which there he begs an increase. It was in part given him already, and that learned by afflictions, as we see, in the third verse of this portion: "Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now have I kept thy word." His prayer is -- Now, then, go on to increase this work, this goodness which thou hast shown to thy servant.
- The object, "thy servant": it is an honourable, comfortable style; David delighted in it. God is a bountiful and a gracious master, ready to do good to his servants, rewarding them with grace here, and crowning that grace with glory hereafter: "He that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" ( Hebrews 11:6 ). --Thomas Manton.
Verse 65. -- Thou hast dealt well. If the children of God did but know what was best for them, they would perceive that God did that which was best for them. --John Mason.
Verse 65. -- Thou hast dealt well with thy servant. He knew that God's gifts are without repentance, and that he is not weary of well doing, but will finish the thing he hath begun; and therefore he pleads past favours. Nothing is more forcible to obtain mercy than to lay God's former mercies before him. Here are two grounds, First. If he dealt well with him when he was not regenerate, how much more will he now? and Secondly, all the gifts of God shall be perfectly finished, therefore he will go on to deal well with his servant. Here is a difference between faith and an accusing conscience: the accusing conscience is afraid to ask more, because it hath abused the former mercies: but faith, assuring us that all God's benefits are tokens of his love bestowed on us according to his word, is bold to ask for more. --Richard Greenham.
Verse 65. -- Thou hast dealt well with thy servant. "No doubt," said the late Rev. J. Brown, of Haddington, Scotland. "I have met with trials as well as others; yet so kind has God been to me, that I think if he were to give me as many years as I have already lived in the world, I should not desire one single circumstance in my lot changed, except that I wish I had less sin. It might be written on my coffin, `Here lies one of the cares of Providence, who early wanted both father and mother, and yet never missed them.'" -- Arvine's Anecdotes.
Verse 65. -- Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O Lord, according unto thy word. The expression, "according to thy word," is so often repeated in this psalm, that we are apt to overlook it, or to give it only the general meaning of "because of thy promise." But in reality it implies much more. Had God dealt "well" with David according to man's idea? If so, what mean such expressions as these -- "O forsake me not utterly," ( Psalms 119:8 ) -- "I am a stranger in the earth," ( Psalms 119:19 ) -- "My soul cleaveth unto the dust," ( Psalms 119:25 ) -- "My soul melteth for heaviness," ( Psalms 119:28 ) -- "Turn away my reproach which I fear," ( Psalms 119:39 ) -- "The proud have had me greatly in derision," ( Psalms 119:51 ) -- "Horror hath taken hold upon me" ( Psalms 119:53 )?
In view of such passages as these, can it be said that God "dealt well" with David, according to man's idea? David's experience was one of very great and very varied trial. There is not a phase of our feelings in sorrow which does not find ample expression in his psalms. And yet he says, "Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, according to thy word."
How, then, are we to interpret the expression, so often repeated here, in accordance with the facts of David's spiritual life?
God dealt well with him "according to his word," in the sense of dealing with him according to what his word explained was the true good -- not delivering him from all trial, but sending him such trial as he specially required. He felt truly that God had dealt well with him when he could say ( Psalms 119:67 ), "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept thy word." Again, ( Psalms 119:71 ), "It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes." Such dealing was hard for flesh and blood to bear, but it was indeed "well," in the sense of accomplishing most blessed results.
It was "according to his word" too, in the sense of being in accordance with his revealed manner of dealing with his people, who are chastened for their profit.
Again, God had "dealt well" with David according to his word or covenant; the present fulfilment (even if in itself bitter) being a sure earnest of his final perfecting of his work, and glorifying himself in the entire fulfilment of his word, in the completed salvation of his servant.
According to thy word, O Lord, thou hast dealt well with thy servant. Thy word is the light and lamp that shows things in their true aspect, and teaches us to know that all things work together for good to thy people; that thou doest all things well. "Open thou mine eyes, O Lord, that I may see wondrous things out of thy law." What can be more wonderful than such views to our eyes?
According to thy word: not only "because of thy promise," but in such a manner and measure as thy word declares. See how such an understanding of the expression opens out the idea of "Be merciful to me according to thy word" ( Psalms 119:58 ). All the sweet promises and declarations of God's infinite mercy rise before us, and make it a vast request. Again, "Quicken thou me," and "strengthen thou me according to thy word" -- up to the full measure of what thou hast promised and provided for thy people. See the fulness in this view, of Psalms 119:76 , "Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word." Again, Psalms 119:169 , "Give me understanding according to thy word"; Psalms 119:170 , "Deliver me according to thy word." In each of these we are led to feel that the request includes the thought of all that the word teaches on the subject.
Let our prayer then for mercy, and strength, and comfort, and understanding, and deliverance, ever be a prayer for these, in the full measure in which they are revealed and promised in the word of God. --Mary B.M. Duncan (1825- 1865), in "Under the Shadow."
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Outlines Upon Keywords of the Psalm, By Pastor C. A. Davis.
Verse 65-72. -- The Lord's dealings. Gratefully acknowledged ( Psalms 119:65 ), and their instructiveness still desired ( Psalms 119:66 ), even affliction from him is "good" ( Psalms 119:67-68 ), and with its beneficial result is preferred to the prosperity of the wicked ( Psalms 119:69-72 ).
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 65. -- The servant giving his master a character; or, tallying with Scripture: two fruitful themes.
Verse 65. --
- Experience confirmed by the word.
- The word by experience. --G.R.
Verse 65. -- A servant's story.
- Although he knew my faults he engaged me.
- Although I am so far beneath him, yet he familiarly teaches me.
- Although I am always ailing, he is very kind to me in my afflictions.
- Although I am one of the meanest of his servants, he permits me to feast his own table.
- Although I do little work, he will pay me good
- Although I am to have such great wages, I have very many perquisites.
- Although my Master is all this to me (can you believe it?) I murmur and repine at him if he crosses me in anything. Application: --
- Does the word: servant "sound like a misnomer?" -- "not
servants...but I have called you friends."
- Does the word: servant "sound like a misnomer?" -- "not
(b) Though he calls me "friend," I shall never cease
to call him "Master." --Richard Andrew Griffin, in "Stems and Twigs."