Verse 92. Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction. That word which has preserved the heavens and the earth also preserves the people of God in their time of trial. With that word we are charmed; it is a mine of delight to us. We take a double and treble delight in it, and derive a multiplied delight from it, and this stands us in good stead when all other delights are taken from us. We should have felt ready to lie down and die of our griefs if the spiritual comforts of God's word had not uplifted us; but by their sustaining influence we have been borne above all the depressions and despairs which naturally grow out of severe affliction. Some of us can set our seal to this statement. Our affliction, if it had not been for divine grace, would have crushed us out of existence, so that we should have perished. In our darkest seasons nothing has kept us from desperation but the promise of the Lord: yea, at times nothing has stood between us and self destruction save faith in the eternal word of God. When worn with pain until the brain has become dazed and the reason well nigh extinguished, a sweet text has whispered to us its heart cheering assurance, and our poor struggling mind has reposed upon the bosom of God. That which was our delight in prosperity has been our light in adversity; that which in the day kept us from presuming has in the night kept us from perishing. This verse contains a mournful supposition "unless"; describes a horrible condition -- "perished in mine affliction"; and implies a glorious deliverance, for he did not die, but live to proclaim the honours of the word of God.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 92. -- Unless thy law had been my delights, etc. This text sets out the great benefit and comfort which David found in the law of God in the time of his affliction. It kept him from perishing: "Had not thy law been my delights, I had perished in ray affliction"...David speaks this (saith Musculus) of the distressful condition he was in when persecuted by Saul, forced to fly to the Philistines, and sometimes to hide himself in the rocks and caves of the earth. It is very likely (saith he) that he had the book of God's law with him, by the reading of which he mitigated and allayed his sorrows, and kept himself pure from communicating with the heathen in their superstitions. The Greek scholiasts say that David uttered these words when driven from Saul, and compelled to live among the Philistines, etc. For he would have been allured to have communicated with them in their impieties had he not carried about him the meditation of the word of God.
The word of God delighted in is the afflicted saint's antidote against ruin and destruction. The word of God is the sick saint's salve, the dying saint's cordial, a precious medicine to keep God's people from perishing in time of affliction. This upheld Jacob from sinking, when his brother Esau came furiously marching to destroy him ( Genesis 32:12 ). He pleaded, "And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good," etc. Thus the promise of God supported him. This also upheld Joshua and enabled him courageously to fight the Lord's battles, because God had said, "He would never leave him nor forsake him" ( Joshua 1:5 ). Melanethon saith that the Landgrave of Hesse told him at Dresden that it had been impossible for him to have borne up under the manifold miseries of so long an imprisonment, Nisi habuisset consolationem verbo divino in suo corde, but for the comfort of the Scriptures in his heart. --Edmund Catamy (1600-1666) in "The Godly Man's Ark."
Verse 92. -- Certainly the reading of most part of the Scriptures must needs be a very comfortable thing; and I think a godly heart (disposed as it ought to be) can hardly tell how to be sad while it does it. For what a comfort is it for a man to read an earthly father's letters sent to him, though they were written long ago? With what care do we keep such letters in our chests? With how much delight do we ever and anon take them out and look upon them? and with how much sorrow do we lose them? Is my love to my earthly father so great, and shall my love to my heavenly Father be less? Can my heart choose but rejoice and my bones flourish like an herb, as oft as I look upon my Redeemer's last will and testament, whereby I know that he me so much and that he doth so for me continually, and that I shall be ever with him.
How is David ever and anon talking of his delight in the law of God, and in his statutes and testimonies. It was to him instead of all other delights; standing by him when all delights else left him; "Unless thy law had been my delight (or, my very great delight), I should then have perished in mine affliction," Psalms 119:92 . Let princes sit and speak against him never so much; yet will he meditate in God's statutes, Psalms 119:23 . Let him have never so many persecutors and enemies; yet will he not decline from God's testimonies, Psalms 119:157 . Let him be in a strange place, there shall God's statutes be his song, Psalms 119:54 . Let him be a stranger in the earth all his life; so that he be not a stranger to God's commandments he cares not, Psalms 119:19 . Although he should have never so much contempt cast upon him, yet will he not forget God's precepts, Psalms 119:141 . Although his soul should be continually in his hand, yet that should not make him forget God's law. Yea, although he became like a bottle in the smoke, yet will he not forget God's precepts, Psalms 119:83 . And therefore was it that he rejoiced, because he had been afflicted upon this account, that it made him learn God's statutes. He cared for no other wealth. "Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart," Ps 119:111. Neither cared he much for life, but only to keep God's word, Psalms 119:17 . Whatever he had said before, or meant to say next, he still cries, "Teach me thy statutes," and, "I have longed for thy precepts," &c.; or some such expression or other. He could not forbear to speak of them, for they were still before him, Psalms 119:30 . No wonder, then, that he meditated upon them so often, as he saith he did. "O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day," Psalms 119:97 . And "Thy testimonies are my meditation," Psalms 119:99 . God's commandments were to David sweeter in his mouth than honey, to talk and discourse of them, Psalms 119:103 . --Zachary Bogan, 1653.
Verse 92. -- The persons to whose delight the word of God actually conduces are the children of God, and none else. None but they are prepared to take in the consolation of the word.
- As they only are spiritually enlightened to discern the great and comfortable things contained in it, enlightened in a manner in which no others are: "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" ( 1 Corinthians 2:4 ).
- As they have the highest value for the word of God, this prepares them for receiving consolation from it.
- As they have their hearts and ways suited to the word of God, this is another reason of the delight they fetch from it. "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh," and take pleasure in them; "but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit" ( Romans 8:5 ). The comforts of the word are spiritual; and only the spiritual heart, as it is renewed by grace, can taste and relish them. The delight which the people of God have from the word, is a privilege peculiar to themselves: and this word hath enough to give delight to all of their numbers --Daniel Wilcox, 1676-1733.
Verse 92. -- My delights. The word signifieth delights in the plural number. Many were the sorrows of David's life; but against them all he found as many comforts and delectations in God's word. With such variety of holy wisdom hath God penned his word, that it hath convenient comfort for every state of life, and therefore the children of God account nothing so dear as it; they prefer it to their appointed food. --William Cowper.
Verse 92. -- Thy law...my delights...in mine affliction. I happened to be standing in a grocer's shop one day in a large manufacturing town in the west of Scotland, when a poor, old, frail widow came in to make a few purchases. There never was, perhaps, in that town a more severe time of distress. Nearly every loom was stopped. Decent and respectable tradesmen, who had seen better days, were obliged to subsist on public charity. So much money per day (but a trifle at most) was allowed to the really poor and deserving. The poor widow had received her daily pittance, and she had now come into the shop of the grocer to lay it out to the best advantage. She had but a few coppers in her withered hands. Carefully did she expend her little stock -- a pennyworth of this and the other necessary of life nearly exhausted all she had. She came to the last penny, and with a singular expression of heroic contentment and cheerful resignation on her wrinkled face, she said, "Now I must buy oil with this, that I may see to read my Bible during these long dark nights, for it is my only comfort now when every other comfort has gone away." -- Alexander Wallace, in "The Bible and the Working Classes," 1853.
Verse 92. -- This verse I may call a Perfume against the Plague; The Sick Man's Salve; The Afflicted Man's Consolation; and a blessed Triumph, in and over all troubles. -- Richard Greenham.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 92. -- The sustaining power of joy in God.
Verse 92. -- The word of God as a sustaining power amid the greater sorrows of life.
- Its necessity.
(a) For want of it, men have become drunkards to drown
their sorrows, have become suicides because life was
unbearable, have become broken and hopeless because they
had no strength to struggle against misfortune, have become
atheists in creed as, alas, they were before in practice;
all, in fact, become subject to sorrow's worst bitterness
and calamity's worst effects.
(b) Nothing can supply the place of God's word. Nature
throws no light on the mystery of suffering. Human
philosophy is at best cold comfort, and when most needed
- Its efficiency. Proved --
(a) In the experience of those who have tried it.
(b) By the character of its promises.
(c) By the discovery it makes of a beneficent providence
working through calamity and sorrow.
(d) By the revelation it gives of the pity of God and the
sympathy of Christ.
(e) By its record of the "Man of sorrows," who through
suffering wrought out man's salvation, and entered into
(f) By its teaching concerning the Incarnate Word; thus
showing a suffering God, which may well be a solace to
(g) By displaying the glory of heaven and the eternal
felicity awaiting those who overcome through the blood of
the Lamb. --J.F.
Verse 92. -- The Godly Man's Ark; or, City of Refuge in the day of his Distress. Discovered in divers (five) Sermons...By Edmund Calamy, B.D...Eighteenth edition. 1709. 12mo.
Verse 92. -- We have here set before us by the Psalmist,
- The case which he had been in, and which he now refers to -- one sad and sinking. He was under such affliction that he was ready to perish; which seems to include inward and outward trouble at once; trials without and pressure within.
- What it was that gave him relief, and this when nothing else could, etc., the law of God.
- How he looked back upon this relief received, namely, with thankfulness to God, to whom he speaks, and records it for the encouragement and direction of others: "Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction." -- Daniel Wilcox, 1676-1733.
Verse 92. -- The life buoy. Under the form of the narrative of a shipwrecked mariner, describe the experience of the soul struggling in the sea of affliction; almost overwhelmed: yet buoyed up over each successive billow: and finally saved by clinging to the Word of God. --C.A.D.
Verse 92. -- The Psalmist's shudder at recollected danger.
- Sore peril: affliction tending to despair and ruin.
- Fearful crisis: "then."
- Many handed help: "thy law my delights." --W.B.H.