Psalm 119:80

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 80. Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed. This is even more important than to be held in esteem by good men. This is the root of the matter. If the heart be sound in obedience to God, all is well, or will be well. If right at heart we are right in the main. If we be not sound before God, our name for piety is an empty sound. Mere profession will fail, and undeserved esteem will disappear like a bubble when it bursts; only sincerity and truth will endure in the evil day. He who is right at heart has no reason for shame, and he never shall have any; hypocrites ought to be ashamed now, and they shall one day be put to shame without end; their hearts are rotten, and their names shall rot. This eightieth verse is a variation of the prayer of the seventy-third verse; there be sought sound understanding, here he goes deeper, and begs for a sound heart. Those who have learned their own frailty by sad experience, are led to dive beneath the surface, and cry to the Lord for truth in the inward parts. In closing the consideration of these eight verses, let us join with the writer in the prayer, "Let my heart be sound in thy statutes."

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 80. -- Let my heart be sound. What is a sound heart? It notes reality and solidity in grace. The Septuagint hath it, Let my heart be without spot and blemish. It implies the reality of grace, opposed to the bare form of godliness, or the fair shows of hypocrites, and the sudden and vanishing motions of temporaries.

If you would have me unfold what this sound heart is, there is required these four things: --

  1. An enlightened understanding; that is, the directive part of the soul; and it is sound when it is kept free from the leaven and contagion of error: "A man of understanding walketh uprightly," Proverbs 15:21 . A sound mind is a good help to a sound heart.
  2. There is required an awakened conscience, that warns of our duty, and riseth up in dislike of sin upon all occasions: "When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, -- it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee" (Pr 6:22): to have a constant monitor in our bosoms to put us in mind of God, when our reins preach to us in the night season ( Psalms 16:7 ): there is a secret spy in our bosoms that observes all that we do, and think, and speak; a domestic chaplain, that is always preaching to us. His heart is his Bible.
  3. There is required a rightly disposed will, or a steadfast purpose to walk with God in all conditions, and to do what is good and acceptable in his sight: "He exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord," Acts 6:23 . Many have light inclinations, or wavering resolutions; but their hearts are not fixedly, habitually bent to please God; therein chiefly lieth this sound heart, that it doth inseparably cleave to God in all things.
  4. There is required that the affections be purged and quickened: these are the vigorous motions of the will, and therefore this must be heedfully regarded; purged they must be from that carnality and fleshliness that cleaveth to them. This is called in Scripture the circumcision of the heart ( Deuteronomy 30:6 ). --Condensed from Manton.

Verse 80. -- Let my heart be sound. "A sound mind in a sound body," was the prayer of a heathen, and his desire was according to the extent of his knowledge; but a heart sound in God's statutes, sound to the very core, with no speck, nor spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing, and like the king's daughter, "all glorious within." this is what the Psalmist prays for, this is what every child of God aims at, and prays for too, -- "Even as He is pure." -- Barton Bouchier.

Verse 80. -- Let my heart be sound.

True hearted, wholehearted, faithful and loyal,
King of our lives, by thy grace will we be!
Under thy standard, exalted and royal,
Strong in thy strength, we will battle for thee!
True hearted, wholehearted! Fullest allegiance
Yielding henceforth to our glorious King;
Valiant endeavour and loving obedience
Freely and joyously now would we bring.
True hearted, Saviour, thou knowest our story;
Weak are the hearts that we lay at thy feet,
Sinful and treacherous! yet for thy glory,
Heal them, and cleanse them from sin and deceit.
Wholehearted! Saviour, beloved and glorious,
Take thy great power, and reign thou alone,
Over our wills and affections victorious,
Freely surrendered, and wholly thine own.
Half hearted! false hearted! Heed we the warning!
Only the whole can be perfectly true;
Bring the whole offering, all timid thought scorning,
True hearted only if wholehearted too.
Half hearted! Saviour, shall aught be withholden,
Giving thee part who has given us all?
Blessings outpouring, and promises golden
Pledging, with never reserve or recall.
Half hearted! Master, shall any who know thee
Grudge thee their lives, who hast laid down thine own?
Nay; we would offer the hearts that we owe thee, --
Live for thy love and thy glory alone.
Sisters, dear sisters, the call is resounding,
Will ye not echo the silver refrain,
Mighty and sweet, and in gladness abounding, --
"True hearted, wholehearted!" ringing again?
Jesus is with us, his rest is before us,
Brightly his standard is waving above.
Brothers, dear brothers, in gathering chorus,
Peal out the watchword of courage and love!

Peal out the watchword, and silence it never, Song of our spirits, rejoicing and free! "True hearted, wholehearted, now and for ever, King of our lives, by thy grace we will be!" Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879) in "Loyal Responses."

Verse 80. -- Let my heart be sound, etc. This is a plain difference between a sound heart and a false heart; in the receiving of Christ the sound heart receives him as a favourite receives a prince, he gives up all to him, and lets him have the command of all. A mere innkeeper entertains him that comes next to him; he will take any man's money, and will give welcome to any man; if it be the worst man that comes he cares not, for he loves gain above all things. Not so the good heart; he welcomes Christ alone, and resigns up all to Christ. Whatsoever is pleasing to Christ he will do it, and whatsoever comes from Christ he will welcome. --Thomas Hooker (1586-1647) in "The Soules Implantation."

Verse 80. -- Be sound. Heb. Be perfect; as the word from the same root is rendered in Job 1:1. Dr. R. Young gives as the meaning of the word as used by the Psalmist, whole, complete, plain.

Verse 80. -- Sound in thy statutes, etc. Though an orthodox creed does not constitute true religion, yet it is the basis of it and it is a great blessing to have it. --Nicolson, quoted by W. S. Plumer.

Verse 80. -- If you would be faithful to Christ, be sincere in your profession of him, make David's prayer and desire to be yours: "Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed." Religion which is begun in hypocrisy will certainly end in apostasy, and this always carries with it reproach and ignominy. --William Spurstowe (1666)

Verse 80. -- Ashamed. We may be ashamed either before God or men, ourselves or others.

  1. Before God: either in our addresses to him at the throne of grace, or when summoned to appear at the last day before the tribunal of his justice.

    1. If you understand it of our approach to him, we cannot come into his presence with confidence if we have not a sound heart. "If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God": 1 John 3:21 . We lose that holy familiarity and cheerfulness, when we are unbosoming ourselves to our heavenly Father, when our hearts are not sound.

(b) When we are summoned to appear before the tribunal of his justice. Many, now, with a bold impudence, will obtrude themselves upon the worship of God, because they see him not, and have not a due sense of his majesty; but the time will come, when the most impudent and outbraving sinners will be astonished, even then when the secrets of all hearts shall be laid open and made manifest, and hidden things brought to light ( 1 Corinthians 4:5 ); and every one is to receive his judgment from God according to what he hath done, either good or evil.

  1. Before men man may be ashamed, and so before ourselves and others.

    1. Ourselves. It was a saying of Pythagoras, Reverence thyself; be not ashamed of thyself. God hath a spy and deputy within us, and taketh notice of our conformity and unconformity to his will, and, after sin committed, lashes the soul with the sense of its own guilt and folly, as the body is lashed with stripes: "What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?" Romans 6:21 .

(2) Before others. And so our shame may be occasioned by our scandals, or our punishments; it is hard to say which is intended here. --Condensed from Manton.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 80. --

  1. David's prayer for sincerity -- that his heart might be brought to God's statutes, and that it might be sound in them, not rotten or deceitful.
  2. His dread of the consequences of hypocrisy: "that I be not ashamed." Shame is the portion of hypocrites, here or hereafter. --M. Henry.

Verse 80. --

  1. The heart in religion.
  2. The necessity of its being sound in it.
  3. The result of such sound heartedness.