Psalm 119:91

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 91. They continue this day according to thine ordinances. Because the Lord has bid the universe abide, therefore it stands, and all its laws continue to operate with precision and power. Because the might of God is ever present to maintain them, therefore do all things continue. The word which spake all things into existence has supported them till now, and still supports them both in being and in well being. God's ordinance is the reason for the continued existence of creation. What important forces these ordinances are! "For all are thy servants." Created by thy word they obey that word, thus answering the purpose of their existence, and working out the design of their Creator. Both great things and small pay homage to the Lord. No atom escapes his rule, no world avoids his government. Shall we wish to be free of the Lord's sway and become lords unto ourselves? If we were so, we should be dreadful exceptions to a law which secures the well being of the universe. Rather while we read concerning all things else -- they continue and they serve, let us continue to serve, and to serve more perfectly as our lives are continued. By that word which is settled may we be settled; by that voice which establishes the earth may we be established; and by that command which all created things obey may we be made the servants of the Lord God Almighty.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 91. -- They continue this day according to thine ordinances, etc. Which of the works of God are not pervaded by a beautiful order? Think of the succession of day and night. Think of the revolution of the seasons. Think of the stars as they walk in their majestic courses, -- one great law of harmony "binding the sweet influence of the Pleiades,...and guiding Arcturus with his sons": Job 38:31-32 . Look upwards, amid the magnificence of might, to that crowded concave, -- worlds piled on worlds, -- and yet see the calm grandeur of that stately march; -- not a discordant note there to mar the harmony, though wheeling at an Inconceivable velocity in their intricate and devious orbits! These heavenly sentinels all keep their appointed watch towers. These Levites in the upper firmament, light their altar fires "at the time of the evening incense," and quench them again, when the sun, who is appointed to rule the day, walks forth from his chamber. "These wait all upon thee": Psalms 104:27 . "They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants." --J.R. Macduff, in "Sunsets on the Hebrew Mountains," 1862.

Verse 91. -- They continue this day according to thine ordinances. Man may destroy a plant, but he is powerless to force it into disobedience to the laws given it by the common Creator. "If," says one, "man would employ it for his use, he must carefully pay attention to its wants and ways, and bow his own proud will to the humblest grass at his feet. Man may forcibly obstruct the path of a growing twig, but it turns quietly aside, and moves patiently and irresistibly on its appointed way.". Do what he may, turf wilt not grow in tile tropics, nor the palm bear its fruit in a cold climate. Rice refuses to thrive out of watery swamps, or cotton to form its fleece of snowy fibres where the rain can reach them. Some of the handsomest flowers in the world, and stranger still, some of the most juicy and succulent plants with which we are acquainted, adorn the arid and desolate sands of the Cape of Good Hope, and wilt not flourish elsewhere. If you twist the branch of a tree so as to turn the under surface of its leaves towards the sky, in a very little while all those leaves will turn down and assume their appointed position. This process will be performed sooner or later, according to the heat of the sun and the flexibility of the leaves, but none the less it will surely take place. You cannot induce the Sorrowful tree of India to bloom by day, or cause it to cease all the year round from loading the night air with the rich perfume of its orange like flowers. The philosopher need not go far to find the secret of this. The Psalmist declares it when, speaking of universal nature, he traces the true cause of its immutable order. God, he says, "hath established them for ever and ever: He hath made a decree which shall not pass;" or, as it is in the Prayer book version, "hath given them a law which shall not be broken": Psalms 148:6 . Truly is it said in another Psalms 114:91 , "They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants." Wilful man may dare to defy his Maker, and set at nought his wise and merciful commands; but not so all nature besides. Well, indeed, is it for us that his other works have not erred after the pattern of our rebellion; that seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, with all their accompanying provision, have not ceased! To the precepts imposed upon vegetation when first called into being on creation's third day, it stilt yields implicit submission, and the most tender plant will die rather than transgress. What an awful contrast to this is the conduct of man, God's noblest work, endowed with reason and a never dying soul, yet too often ruining his health, wasting and destroying his mental power, defiling his immortal spirit, and, in a word, madly endeavouring to frustrate every purpose for which he was framed. --James Neil, in "Rays from the Realms of Nature," 1879.

Verse 91. -- All creatures punctually observe the law he hath implanted on their nature, and in their several capacities acknowledge him their sovereign; they move according to the inclinations he imprinted on them. The sea contains itself in its bounds, and the sun steps not out of his sphere; the stars march in their order: "They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants." If he orders things contrary to their primitive nature they obey him. When he speaks the word, the devouring fire becomes gentle, and toucheth not the hair of the children he will preserve; the hunger starved lions suspend their ravenous nature when so good a morsel as Daniel is set before them; and the sun, which had been in perpetual motion since its creation, obeys the writ of ease God sent in Joshua's time, and stands still. --Stephen Charnock.

Verse 91. -- All are thy servants. We should consider how great is that perversity by which man only, formed in the image of God, together with reprobate angels, has fallen away from obedience to God; so that what is said of all other creatures cannot be said of him, unless renewed by singular grace. --Wolfgang Musculus.

Verse 91. -- All are thy servants. Since all creatures must serve God, therefore we ought neither to use them for any other purpose, nor turn them to the service of sin. The creature by the sin of our first parents has been made subject to vanity, and groans, and longs to be delivered, Romans 8: Christians, therefore, who use the creature and the world, should use as not abusing, 1 Corinthians 7; but enjoy them with praise of the divine majesty and goodness, 1 Timothy 4. --Solomon Gesner.

Verse 91. -- All are thy servants.

Say not, my soul, "From whence
Can God relieve my care?
Remember that Omnipotence
Has servants everywhere." --Thomas T. Lynch, 1855.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 91. -- Our starry monitors. They teach us,

  1. To serve: though we cannot shine with their brightness.
  2. To do all with strict regard to God's will.
  3. To "continue" -- "according to thine ordinances." --W.B.H.

Verse 91. -- The service of nature.

  1. Universal: "all are thy servants."
  2. Obedient: "according to thy ordinances."
  3. Perpetual: "they continue."
  4. Derived: "thou hast established the earth."