Verse 3. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life. A reason for that which went before, as well as for that which follows. Life is dear, but God's love is dearer. To dwell with God is better than life at its best; life at ease, in a palace, in health, in honour, in wealth, in pleasure; yea, a thousand lives are not equal to the eternal life which abides in Jehovah's smile. In him we truly live, and move, and have our being; the withdrawal of the light of his countenance is as the shadow of death to us: hence we cannot but long after the Lord's gracious appearing. Life is to many men a doubtful good: lovingkindness is an unquestioned boon: life is but transient, mercy is everlasting: life is shared in by the lowest animals, but the lovingkindness of the Lord is the peculiar portion of the chosen.
My lips shall praise thee. Openly, so that thy glory shall be made known, I will tell of thy goodness. Even when our heart is rather desiring than enjoying we should still continue to magnify the Most High, for his love is truly precious; even if we do not personally, for the time being, happen to be rejoicing in it. We ought not to make our praises of God to depend upon our own personal reception of benefits; this would be mere selfishness; even publicans and sinners have a good word for those whose hands are enriching them with gifts; it is the true believer only who will bless the Lord when he takes away his gifts or hides his face.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 3. Thy lovingkindness is better than life; or, better than lives, as the Hebrew hath it (chaiim). Divine favour is better than life; it is better than life with all its revenues, with all its appurtenances, as honours, riches, pleasures, applause, etc.; yea, it is better than many lives put together. Now you know at what a high rate men value their lives; they will bleed, sweat, vomit, purge, part with an estate, yea, with a limb, yea, limbs, to preserve their lives. As he cried out, "Give me any deformity, any torment, any misery, so you spare my life." Now, though life be so dear and precious to a man, yet a deserted soul prizes the returnings of divine favour upon him above life, yea, above many lives. Many men have been weary of their lives, as is evident in Scripture and history; but no man was ever yet found that was weary of the love and favour of God. No man sets so high a price upon the sun as he that hath long lain in a dark dungeon, etc. Thomas Brooks.
Verse 3. Thy lovingkindness is better than life. The love of life is a very frequent and pernicious snare, which a sense of God's love must deliver us from being entangled by. What so desirable as life, if a man have no place in the heart of God? This is the greatest temporal blessing, and nothing can outdo it, but the favour of the God of our life; and this excels indeed. What comparison is there between the breath in our nostrils, and the favour of an eternal God? any more than there is between an everlasting light and a poor vanishing vapour. Compare Isaiah 60:19 , with James 4:14 . Who would not, therefore, hate his own life, which hangs in doubt continually before him, and of which he can have no assurance, when he knows that the living God is his certain portion? Who would not freely yield up and part with ten thousand such lives, one after another (if he had so many), rather than the wrath of God should be kindled but a little. Timothy Cruso (1657-1697).
Verse 3. (first clause). God's mercy is better than lives. What lives? Those which for themselves men have chosen. One hath chosen for himself a life of business, another a country life, another a life of usury, another a military life; one this, another that. Divers are the lives, but better is thy life than our lives. Better is that which thou givest to men amended, than that which perverse men choose? One life thou givest, which should be preferred to all our lives, whatsoever in the world we might have chosen. Augustine.
Verse 3. Life is an impure good. It is a good which is implicated and involved with abundance of evils. There are many crosses, and troubles, and calamities, which the life of man is subject unto; which, though it have some comfort in it, yet that comfort is much troubled and mixed yea, but now the favour of God it is good, and nothing but good. As it is said of his blessing, it adds no sorrow with it, nor has it any inconvenience in it, nor has it any evil attendant upon it. Thomas Horton.
Verse 3. My lips shall praise thee. Is it possible that any man should love another and not commend him, nor speak of him? If thou hast but a hawk or a hound that thou lovest, thou wilt commend it; and can it stand with love to Christ, yet seldom or never to speak of him nor of his love, never to commend him unto others, that they may fall in love with him also? You shall see the Spouse ( canticles 5:9 canticles 5:16 ) when she was asked, what her beloved was above others? she sets him out in every part of him, and concludes with this: "he is altogether lovely:" because thy lovingkindness (saith David) is better than life, my lips shall praise thee, and I will bless thee while I live. Can it stand with this life of love, to be always speaking about worldly affairs, or news at the best; both weekday and Sabbath day, in bed and at board, in good company and in bad, at home and abroad? I tell you, it will be one main reason why you desire to live, that you may make the Lord Jesus known to your children, friends, acquittance, that so in the ages to come his name might ring, and his memorial might be of sweet odour, from generation to generation. Psalms 71:18 . If before thy conversion, especially, thou hast poisoned others by thy vain and corrupt speeches, after thy conversion thou wilt seek to season the hearts of others by a gracious, sweet, and wise communication of savoury and blessed speeches; what the Lord hath taught thee thou wilt talk of it unto others, for the sake of him whom thou lovest. Thomas Sheppard (1605-1649), in "The Sound Believer."
Verse 3-6. David exalts lovingkindness as a queen above all other, even the most precious, blessings bestowed upon him, because thy lovingkindness is better than (above) life. Around her throne he places seven members of his body and faculties of his mind, as the seven chief angels... who stand before the Lord, that they may praise and admire her; these are his lips, his tongue, his hands, his will, his mouth, his memory, and his intellect. For first, he extols the lovingkindness of God with his lips ( Psalms 63:3 ): My lips shall praise thee. Secondly, with his tongue ( Psalms 63:4 ): Thus will I bless thee while I live. Thirdly, with his hands: I will lift up my hands in thy name. Fourthly, with his will ( Psalms 63:5 ): MY soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness. Fifthly, with his mouth: And my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips. Sixthly, with his memory ( Psalms 63:6 ): When I remember thee upon my bed. Seventhly, and lastly, with his intellect: And meditate on thee in the night watches. Thomas Le Blanc.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- Love's resolution. My lips shall praise thee.
- To praise. This is congenial to the renewed nature. It delights not in grumbling, reproaching, or scolding. Praise expresses appreciation, gratitude, happiness, affection.
- To praise God.
- To praise God practically. My lips. By speaking well to him; by speaking well of him; of his wisdom, justice, love, grace, etc.
- To praise God continually. As long as I live, etc.
- Love's reason. Because thy lovingkindness. Love must praise God because --
- It owes its existence to him. "We love him because he first loved us."
- Because it is fostered by him. "The love of God is shed abroad," etc.
- Because the expressions of his love demand praise. "Kindness" to needy, helpless, lost. Lovingkindness, not wounding our natures. Better than life; either the principle, pleasures, or pursuits of life. G. J. K.
Verse 3. Thy lovingkindness is better than life.
Love enjoyed with life. Love compared with life. Love preferred to life. G. J. K.