Psalm 119:98

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 98. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies. The commands were his book, but God was his teacher. The letter can make us knowing, but only the divine Spirit can make us wise. Wisdom is knowledge put to practical use. Wisdom comes to us through obedience: "If any man will do his will he shall know of the doctrine." We learn not only from promise, and doctrine, and sacred history, but also from precept and command; in fact, from the commandments we gather the most practical wisdom and that which enables us best to cope with our adversaries. A holy life is the highest wisdom and the surest defence. Our enemies are renowned for subtlety, from the first father of them, the old serpent, down to the last cockatrice that has been hatched from the egg; and it would be vain for us to try to be a match with them in the craft and mystery of cunning, for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. We must go to another school and learn of a different instructor, and then by uprightness we shall baffle fraud, by simple truth we shall vanquish deep laid scheming, and by open candour we shall defeat slander. A thoroughly straightforward man, devoid of all policy, is a terrible puzzle to diplomatists; they suspect him of a subtle duplicity through which they cannot see, while he, indifferent to their suspicions, holds on the even tenor of his way, and baffles all their arts. Yes, "honesty is the best policy." He who is taught of God has a practical wisdom such as malice cannot supply to the crafty; while harmless as a dove he also exhibits more than a serpent's wisdom.

For they are ever with me. He was always studying or obeying the commandments; they were his choice and constant companions. If we wish to become proficient we must be indefatigable. If we keep the wise law ever near us we shall become wise, and when our adversaries assail us we shall be prepared for them with that ready wit which lies in having the word of God at our fingers' ends. As a soldier in battle must never lay aside his shield, so must we never have the word of God out of our minds; it must be ever with us.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 98. -- Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies. Now he praiseth the word for the singular profit and fruit which he reaped by it; to wit, that he learned wisdom by it. And this he amplifies, by comparing himself with three sorts of men; his enemies, his teachers, and the ancients. And this he doth, not of vain glory (for bragging is far from him who is governed by the Spirit of grace); but to commend the word of the Lord, and to allure others to love it, by declaring to them what manifold good he found in it.

Wiser than mine enemies. But how can this be, seeing that our Saviour saith that the men of this world are wiser in their own generation than the children of God? The answer is, our Saviour doth not call worldlings wise men simply; but wiser in their own generation; that is, wise in things pertaining to this life. Or as Jeremy calls them, "wise to do evil"; and when they have so done, wise to conceal and cloak it. All which in very deed is but folly; and therefore David, who by the light of God's word saw that it was so, could not be moved to follow their course. Well; there is a great controversy between the godly and the wicked: either of them in their judgment accounts the other to be fools; but it is the light of God's word which must decide it. --William Cowper.

Verse 98. -- Wiser than mine enemies. They are wiser than their enemies as to security against their attempts, and that enmity and opposition that they carry on against them; they are far more safe by walking under the convert of God's protection than their enemies can possibly be, who have all manner of worldly advantages. A godly wise man is careful to keep in with God: he is more prepared and furnished, can have a higher hope, more expectation of success, than others have; or, if not, he is well enough provided for, though all things fall out never so cross to his desires. As to success, who hath made wiser provision, think you, he that hath made God his friend, or he that is borne up with worldly props and dependencies? They that are guided by the Spirit of God, or they that are guided by Satan those that make it their business to walk with God step by step, or those that not only forsake him, but provoke him to his face? Those that break with men, and keep in with God, or those that break with God? Surely, a child of God hath more security by piety than his enemies can have by secular policy, whereby they think to overreach and ruin him. The safety of a child of God lieth in two things:

  1. God is his friend.
  2. As long as God hath work for him to do, he will maintain him, and bear him out in it. --Thomas Manton.

Verse 98. -- They are ever with me. The meaning of the last clause is not merely "it is ever with me, but it is for ever to me," i.e, mine, my inalienable, indefeasible possession. -- Joseph Addison Alexander.

Verse 98. -- They are ever with me. God gives knowledge to whom he pleaseth; but those that meditate most, thrive most. This may imply also that the word should be a ready help. Such as derive their wisdom from without cannot have their counsellors always with them to give advice. But, when a man hath gotten the word in his heart, he finds a ready help: he hath a seasonable word to direct him in all difficulties, in all straits, and in all temptations, to teach him what to do against the burden of the present exigence; to teach him what to do and what to hope for. --Thomas Manton.

Verse 98. -- They are ever with me. A good man, wherever he goes, carries his Bible along with him, if not in his hands, yet in his head and in his heart. --Matthew Henry.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 98-100. -- Three sorts of men he mentions, "enemies," "teachers," "ancients"; the enemies excel in policy, teachers in doctrine, and ancients in counsel; and yet by the word was David made wiser than all these. Malice sharpens the wit of enemies, and teacheth them the arts of opposition; teachers are furnished with learning because of their office; and ancients grow wise by experience; yet David, by the study of the word, excelled all these. --Thomas Manton.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 98. -- Constant communion with truth the student's road to proficiency.

Verse 98-100. -- The truly wise man.

  1. The source of his wisdom. The word of "the only wise God," here described as
    1. Thy commandments.
(b) Thy testimonies.
(c) Thy precepts.

  1. The increase of his wisdom. It arises from
(a) The abiding indwelling of the word: "ever with me,"
Ps 119:98 .
(b) Meditation upon the word, Psalms 119:99 .
(c) Obedience to the word, Psalms 119:100 .

  1. The measure of his wisdom.
(a) Wiser than his enemies, whose wisdom was "not from
above, but earthly, sensual, devilish."
(b) Wiser than his teachers, whose wisdom was "of this
world."
(c) Wiser than the ancients, whose wisdom was that of
unsanctified age and experience. --W.H.J. Page, of Chelsea, 1882.