Psalm 119:97

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 97. O how love I thy law! It is a note of exclamation. He loves so much that he must express his love, and in making the attempt he perceives that it is inexpressible -- and therefore cries, "O how I love!" We not only reverence but love the law, we obey it out of love, and even when it chides us for disobedience we love it none the less. The law is God's law, and therefore it is our love. We love it for its holiness, and pine to be holy; we love it for its wisdom, and study to be wise; we love it for its perfection, and long to be perfect. Those who know the power of the gospel perceive an infinite loveliness in the law as they see it fulfilled and embodied in Christ Jesus.

It is my meditation all the day. This was both the effect of his love and the cause of it. He meditated in God's word because he loved it, and then loved it the more because he meditated in it. He could not have enough of it, so ardently did he love it: all the day was not too long for his converse with it. His main prayer, his noonday thought, his evensong were all out of Holy Writ; yea, in his worldly business he still kept his mind saturated with the law of the Lord. It is said of some men that the more you know them the less you admire them; but the reverse is true of God's word. Familiarity with the word of God breeds affection, and affection seeks yet greater familiarity. When "thy law," and "my meditation" are together all the day, the day grows holy, devout, and happy, and the heart lives with God. David turned away from all else; for in the preceding verse he tells us that he had seen an end of all perfection; but he turned in unto the law and tarried there the whole day of his life on earth, growing henceforth wiser and holier even sick of love, as the church saith ( Song of Solomon 2:5 5:8), she was sick of love towards Christ: so seemeth the prophet to be sick of love towards the word of God. This word "how," also imports a comparison, and notes a greater love in David towards the word than towards riches or any other thing; in which respect he saith afterward in this very Psalm ( Psalms 119:127 ), that he loveth the Lord's commandments "above gold, yea, above fine gold"; yea, as whosoever so loveth not Christ, that in respect of Christ, and for Christ's sake, he forsaketh father, and mother, and brethren, and sisters, wife and children, and his own life also (much more riches and other things not to be compared to life) is not worthy of him: so he that doth not love the word above all other things; yea, he that hateth not all other things below here, ill respect of the word, is not worthy of the word. Christ himself loved the word of God more than he loved any riches; for did he not for the performance of the word submit himself to such want, that the foxes had holes, and the birds had nests, but he had not whereon to lay his head? and that, although he were the heir of all things, yet he was ministered unto by certain women? He loved the word of God moro than he loved his mother, brethren, and sisters...Yea, Christ loved the word of God more than he loved his own life; for did he not lay down his life to fulfil the word of God?...If Christ Jesus himself loved the word more than all other things, yea, more than his life, which was more than the life of all angels, was there not great reason why David should love it in like manner? Had not David as much need of it as Christ?...

It is my meditation. The noun "meditation" seemeth to be more than if he had said only that he meditated. For he seemeth to mean that though he did often think upon other matters, yet he made nothing his "meditation" but that which he here speaketh of, and that this was his only, or his chief and principal meditation and set study.

The object of David's meditation is not only to be understood of the bare letter of the word, as if he did always meditate of some text or other of the word before written; but also of the matters contained in the word; as of the justice, power, wisdom, mercy and goodness of God; of the frailty, corruption, and wickedness that is in man naturally, of the sins that God forbiddeth, and of the virtues that God commandeth in the word, and other the like. For he that meditates of these things, though he meditate not of any one text of the word, yet he may be truly said to meditate of the word.

All the day. We are not to imagine that the prophet did nothing else but meditate on the word; but this, first of all; that no day passed over his head wherein he did not meditate on the word; yea, that he took every occasion of meditating on the word. He was never weary of meditating. Though he had many other things wherein to employ himself, yet he forgot not the meditation of the word. His mind was not by any other employment alienated from the meditation of the word, but the more thereby provoked thereunto. As a man that hath laboured never so much one day in his calling, is not to be wearied thereby, but that he laboureth afresh the next day, and so day after day: so was it with the prophet touching this act of meditation. Secondly, when he saith he meditated on the word continually, or all the day, he meaneth that he did nothing at any time of the day without meditation on the word for doing thereof. Therefore we may safely say that continual meditation of the word is more necessary than continual praying, as being necessary before the doing of everything, and in the very doing of everything; yea, even before the said duty of prayer, and in the very act thereof, this work of meditation of the word is always necessary; as without which, we know not either for what to pray, or in what sort and manner to pray: it is God's word only that can and must teach us both what to pray for and also how to pray. --Thomas Stoughton, in "Two Profitable Treatises," 1616.

Verse 97. -- O how love I thy law! Who without love attempts anything in the law of God, does it coldly, and quickly gives it up. For the mind cannot give itself earnestly and perseveringly to things which are not loved. Only he who loves the law makes it his meditation all the day. --Wolfgang Musculus.

Verse 97. -- O how love I thy law! Were I to enjoy Hezekiah's grant, and to have fifteen years added to my life, I would be much more frequent in my applications to the throne of grace. Were I to renew my studies, I would take my leave of those accomplished trifles -- the historians, the orators, the poets of antiquity -- and devote my attention to the Scriptures of truth. I would sit with much greater assiduity at my Divine Master's feet, and desire to know nothing but "Jesus Christ, and him crucified." This wisdom, whose fruits are peace in life, consolation in death, and everlasting salvation after death -- this I would trace -- this I would seek -- this I would explore through the spacious and delightful fields of the Old and New Testament. --James Hervey, 1714-1758.

Verse 97. -- This most precious jewel is to be preferred above all treasure. If thou be hungry, it is meat to satisfy thee; if thou be thirsty, it is drink to refresh thee; if thou be sick, it is a present remedy; if thou be weak, it is a staff to lean unto; if thine enemy assault thee, it is a sword to fight withal; if thou be in darkness, it is a lantern to guide thy feet; if thou be doubtful of the way, it is a bright shining star to direct thee; if thou be in displeasure with God, it is the message of reconciliation; if thou study to save thy soul, receive the word engrafted, for that is able to do it: it is the word of life. Whose loveth salvation will love this word, love to read it, love to hear it; and such as will neither read nor hear it, Christ saith plainly, they are not of God. For the spouse gladly heareth the voice of the bridegroom; and "my sheep hear my voice," saith the Prince of pastors (Joh 5:27). --Edwin Sundys, 1519-1587.

Verse 97. -- O how love I thy law! As faith worketh by love unto God, so it worketh by love unto his word. Love me, love my word: love a king, love his laws. So it did on David; so it should do on us: "O how love I thy law!" saith David. "O how love I thy law!" should every one of us say; not only because it is a good law, but chiefly because it is God's law. --Richard Capel, 1586-1656.

Verse 97. -- O how love I thy law! He calls God himself to be judge of his love to the word; witnessing thereby that it was no counterfeit love, but complete and sincere love which he bore unto it. The like protestation was used by S. Peter: "Thou knowest, O Lord, that I rove thee!" --William Cowper.

Verse 97. -- Thy law. In every one of these eight verses the Bible is spoken of as the Lord's, as, indeed, all through the Psalm. Who is the author of Scripture? God. What is the matter of Scripture? God; it was not fit that any should write of God, but God himself. What is the end of Scripture? God. Why was the Scripture written, but that we might everlastingly enjoy the blessed God As Caesar wrote his own commentaries; so God, when there was none above him of whom he could write, he wrote of himself; by histories, laws, prophecies, and promises, and many other doctrines, hath he set himself forth to be the Creator, Preserver, Deliverer, and Glorifier of mankind; and all this is done in a perfect manner. --Thomas Manton.

Verse 97. -- It is my meditation. Holy Scripture is not a book for the slothful: it is not a book which can be interpreted without, and apart from, and by the deniers of, that Holy Spirit by whom it came. Rather is it a field, upon the surface of which, if sometimes we gather manna easily and without labour, and given, as it were, freely to our hands, yet of which also, many portions are to be cultivated with pains and toil ere they will yield food for the use of man. This bread of life also is to be eaten in the wholesome sweat of our brow. --Richard Chenevix Trench, 1807-.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Outlines Upon Keywords of the Psalm, By Pastor C. A. Davis.

Verse 97-104. -- The profitableness of holy meditation. Its theme -- "thy law," ( Psalms 119:97 ), its effect -- "wisdom" ( Psalms 119:98-100 ), practically shown in daily life ( Psalms 119:101-102 ), its sweetness ( Psalms 119:103 ), and hallowing influence ( Psalms 119:104 ).

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 97. --

  1. Unusual Exclamation.
  2. Unusual Application. --W.D.

Verse 97. -- Indescribable love and insatiable thought. The action and reaction of affection and meditation.

Verse 97. --

  1. The object of love: "thy law."
  2. The degree of that love: "oh, how love I," etc.
  3. The evidence of that love: "it is my meditation," etc. --G.R.

Verse 97. -- Love to the law.

  1. An ardent confession of love.
  2. An unanswerable evidence of love. --C.A.D.

Verse 97. (first clause). -- Vehemency of love for God's word.

  1. Its recognisable marks.
(a) Profound reverence for the authority of the word.
(b) Admiration for its holiness.
(c) Jealousy. For its honour; God's servant feels acute
pain when men show it any slight.
(d) Respect for its wholeness; he would not divorce
precepts from promises, nor ignore a single statement in
it.
(e) Indefatigability in its study.
(f) Eager desire to obey it.
(g) Forwardness in praising it.
(h) Activity in spreading it abroad.

  1. Its reasonableness.
(a) The word well deserves it.
(b) It is a proof of true intelligence.
(c) It is not less than a regard for our own interest
demands.

  1. Its requisiteness to the true worship of God. Men sneeringly call such an affection bibliolatry, as though it were the worship of a book. In truth, it is an essential element in the due worship of God. For --
    1. Without it there cannot be the faith which honours God.
(b) It is involved in that love to God which constitutes
the very essence of worship.
(c) It is itself an act of homage, that a worshipper dare
not withhold. --J.F.

Verse 97-100. -- Spiritual wisdom.

  1. God's word the source of surpassing wisdom -- excelling that of "mine enemies," "my teachers," "the ancients."
  2. The three methods of acquiring this wisdom -- love, meditation, practice.
  3. The one Giver of this wisdom: "Thou:" Psalms 119:98 . --C.A.D.