Psalm 119:70

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 70. Their heart is as fat as grease. They delight in fatness, but I delight in thee. Their hearts, through sensual indulgence, have grown insensible, coarse, and grovelling; but thou hast saved me from such a fate through thy chastening hand. Proud men grow fat through carnal luxuries, and this makes them prouder still. They riot in their prosperity, and fill their hearts therewith till they become insensible, effeminate, and self indulgent. A greasy heart is something horrible; it is a fatness which makes a man fatuous, a fatty degeneration of the heart which leads to feebleness and death. The fat in such men is killing the life in them. Dryden wrote,

"O souls! In whom no heavenly fire is found,
Fat minds and ever grovelling on the ground."

In this condition men have no heart except for luxury, their very being seems to swim and stew in the fat of cookery and banqueting. Living on the fat of the land, their nature is subdued to that which they have fed upon; the muscle of their nature has gone to softness and grease.

But I delight in thy law. How much better is it to joy in the law of the Lord than to joy in sensual indulgences! This makes the heart healthy, and keeps the mind lowly. No one who loves holiness has the slightest cause to envy the prosperity of the worldling. Delight in the law elevates and ennobles, while carnal pleasure clogs the intellect and degrades the affections. There is and always ought to be a vivid contrast between the believer and the sensualist, and that contrast is as much seen in the affections of the heart as in the actions of the life: their heart is as fat as grease, and our heart is delighted with the law of the Lord. Our delights are a better test of our character than anything else: as a man's heart is, so is the man. David oiled the wheels of life with his delight in God's law, and not with the fat of sensuality. He had his relishes and dainties, his festivals and delights, and all these he found in doing the will of the Lord his God. When law becomes delight, obedience is bliss. Holiness in the heart causes the soul to eat the fat of the land. To have the law for our delight will breed in our hearts the very opposite of the effects of pride; deadness, sensuality, and obstinacy will be cured, and we shall become teachable, sensitive, and spiritual. How careful should we be to live under the influence of the divine law that we fall not under the law of sin and death.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 70. -- Their heart is as fat as grease. The word fpj occurs nowhere else in Scripture, but with the Chaldees fpj signifies to fatten, to make fat; also to make stupid and doltish, because such the fat ofttimes are... For this reason the proud, who are mentioned in the preceding verse, are described by their fixed resolve in evil, because they are almost insensible; as is to be seen in pigs, who pricked through the skin with a bodkin, and that slowly, as long as the bodkin only touches the fat, do not feel the prick until it reaches to the flesh. Thus the proud, whose great prosperity is elsewhere likened to fatness, have a heart totally insusceptible, which is insensible to the severe reproofs of the Divine word, and also to its holy delights and pleasures, by reason of the affluence of carnal things; aye, more, is altogether unfitted for good impulses; just as elsewhere is to be seen with fat animals, how slow they are and unfit for work, when, on the contrary, those are agile and quick which are not hindered by this same fatness. --Martin Geier.

Verse 70. -- Their heart is as fat as grease. This makes them --

  1. Senseless and secure; they are past feeling: thus the phrase is used ( Isaiah 6:10 ): "Make the heart of the people fat." They are not sensible of the teaching of the word of God, or his rod.
  2. Sensual and voluptuous: "Their eyes stand out with fatness" ( Psalms 73:7 ); they roll themselves in the pleasures of sense, and take up with them as their chief good; and much good may it do them: I would not change conditions with them; "delight in thy law." --Matthew Henry.

Verse 70. -- Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law; as if he should say, My heart is a lean heart, a hungry heart, my soul loveth and rejoiceth in thy word. I have nothing else to fill it but thy word, and the comforts I have from it; but their hearts are fat hearts: fat with the world, fat with lust: they hate the word. As a full stomach loatheth meat and cannot digest it; so wicked men hate the word, it will not go down with them, it will not gratify their lusts. --William Fenner.

Being anxious to know the medical significance of fatty heart, I applied to an eminent gentleman who is well known as having been President of the College of Physicians. His reply shows that the language is rather figurative than literal. He kindly replied to me as follows: --

There are two forms of so called "fatty heart". In the one there is an excessive amount of fatty tissue covering the exterior of the organ, especially about the base. This may be observed in all cases where the body of the animal is throughout over fat, as in animals fattened for slaughter. It does not necessarily interfere with the action of the heart, and may not be of much importance in a medical point of view. The second form is, however, a much more serious condition. In this, the muscular structure of the heart, on which its all important function, as the central propelling power, depends, undergoes a degenerative change, by which the contractile fibres of the muscles are converted into a structure having none of the properties of the natural fibres, and in which are found a number of fatty, oily globules, which can be readily seen by means of the microscope. This condition, if at all extensive, renders the action of the heart feeble and irregular, and is very perilous, not infrequently causing sudden death. It is found in connection with a general unhealthy condition of system, and is evidence of general mal-nutrition. It is brought about by an indolent, luxurious mode of living, or, at all events, by neglect of bodily exercise and those hygienic rules which are essential for healthy nutrition. It cannot, however, be said to be incompatible with mental rigour, and certainly is not necessarily associated with stupidity. But the heart, in this form of disease, is literally, "greasy", and may be truly described as "fat as grease." So much for physiology and pathology. May I venture on the sacred territory of biblical exegesis without risking the charge of fatuousness. Is not the Psalmist contrasting those who lead an animal, self indulgent, vicious life, by which body and mind are incapacitated for their proper uses, and those who can run in the way of God's commandments, delight to do his will, and meditate on his precepts? Sloth, fatness and stupidity, versus activity, firm muscles, and mental rigour. Body versus mind. Man become as a beast versus man retaining the image of God. --Sir James Risdon Bennett, 1881.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 70. --

  1. Fatty degeneration of the heart.
  2. Thorough regeneration of the heart.

Verse 70. -- A fatty heart.

  1. The diagnosis of the disease.
  2. Its symptoms. Pride; no delight in God, nor in his law; dislike to his people; readiness to lie: Psalms 119:69 .
  3. Its fatal character.
  4. Its only cure. Psalms 101:10 Ezekiel 36:26 . --C.A.D.

Verse 71. --

  1. David knew what was good for him.
  2. David learned what is good essentially. Active obedience is learned by passive obedience.

Verse 71. -- Affliction an instructor.

  1. Never welcomed: "Have been."
  2. Often impatiently endured.
  3. Always gratefully remembered: "It is good," etc.
  4. Efficient for a perverse scholar: "That I might learn."
  5. Indispensable in the education of all. --J.F.

Verse 71. -- The school of affliction.

  1. The reluctant scholar sent to school.
  2. The scholar's hard lesson.
  3. The scholar's blessed learning.
  4. The scholar's sweet reflection. --C.A.D.