Verse 6. When I remember thee upon my bed. Lying awake, the good man betook himself to meditation, and then began to sing. He had a feast in the night, and a song in the night. He turned his bedchamber into an oratory, he consecrated his pillow, his praise anticipated the place of which it is written, "There is no night there." Perhaps the wilderness helped to keep him awake, and if so, all the ages are debtors to it for this delightful hymn. If day's cares tempt us to forget God, it is well that night's quiet should lead us to remember him. We see best in the dark if we there see God best.
And meditate on thee in the night watches. Keeping up sacred worship in my heart as the priests and Levites celebrated it in the sanctuary. Perhaps David had formerly united with those "who by night stand in the house of the Lord," and now as he could not be with them in person, he remembers the hours as they pass, and unites with the choristers in spirit, blessing Jehovah as they did. It may be, moreover, that the king heard the voices of the sentries as they relieved guard, and each time he returned with renewed solemnity to his meditations upon his God. Night is congenial, in its silence and darkness, to a soul which would forget the world, and rise into a higher sphere. Absorption in the most hallowed of all themes makes watches, which else would be weary, glide away all too rapidly; it causes the lonely and hard couch to yield the most delightful repose -- repose more restful than even sleep itself. We read of beds of ivory, but beds of piety are better far. Some revel in the night, but they are not a tithe so happy as those who meditate in God.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 5-6. See Psalms on "Psalms 63:5" for further information.
Verse 6. When I remember thee upon my bed, (and) meditate on thee in the night watches. Thus the English version connects this verse with Psalms 63:5 . But the division of the strophes renders the following translation preferable, which, moreover, obviates the need of supplying "and:" Whenever I remember thee upon my bed, I meditate on thee in the night watches. The remembrance of thee on my bed so engrosses me, that I cannot draw my mind off the thought, so as to fall into the obliviousness of sleep; I often meditate on thee through the whole night watches. So Psalms 119:55 Psalms 119:148 1:2. The Hebrew is beds; probably alluding to the fact that in his unsettled life in exile, he seldom slept for many nights in the same bed, but through fear of adversaries slept in different places. There were three night watches: the first ( Lamentations 2:19 ); the middle ( Judges 7:19 ); the third, or morning watch ( Exodus 19:24 1Sa 2:11). In the New Testament, the Roman usage of four prevails. A. R. Faussett.
Verse 6. Remember -- and meditate. The meditation of anything hath more sweetness in it than bare remembrance. The memory is the chest to lay up a truth, but meditation is the palate to feed upon it. The memory is like the ark in which the manna was laid up; meditation is like Israel's eating of the manna. When David began to meditate upon God, it was sweet to him as marrow. There is as much difference between a truth remembered and a truth meditated, as between a cordial in the glass and a cordial drunk down. John Wells (1668), in "Sabbath Holiness."
Verse 6. Upon my bed. The bed may be looked upon as a place for the remembrance of God in it, according to a threefold notion.
- As a place of choice. In the bed, of choice, rather than anywhere else, where I am left to my liberty. David when he had a mind to remember God, he would make choice of his bed for it, as most suitable and agreeable to it. In case of excessive weariness contracted to the body from some occasion (this is often put accidentally in Scripture), "To commune with our hearts upon our bed," etc., the occasion of it here; it may fall out that the bed may be the fittest place for such a duty as this. Psalms 4:4 .
As it is a place of necessity. In my bed at least,
when I cannot anywhere else, as having restraints upon
me. David, when (as now it was with him) he was
detained from the public ordinances, whether by
sickness, or any other impediment which he could not
withstand, yet he would not now wholly forget God; he
would remember him even in his bed. This is another
notion in which we may take it.
As a place of indifference; that is, there as well
as anywhere besides. I will not only remember thee
when I am up, when I shall make it my business to
remember thee, but even in my bed too. I will take an
occasion and opportunity to remember thee there. By
commending myself to thee, when I lie down to rest, and
acknowledging and owning of thee when I first awake. Thomas Horton.
Verse 6. There were night watches kept in the tabernacle, for praising God ( Psalms 134:1 ), which it is probable David, when he had liberty, joined with the Levites in: but now he could not keep place with them, he kept time with them, and wished himself among them. Matthew Henry.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- The empty vessel filled. How? By meditation.
With what? God's goodness as marrow and fatness. To
what extent? Satisfaction.
- The full vessel running over. My mouth shall
praise thee with joyful lips. The soul overflows
with praise -- joyful praise. G. J. K.
Verse 5-6. Describe the nature of, and show the intimate connection between
- the believer's employments and
- his enjoyments. J. S. Bruce.
- Important duties too much neglected: "Remembering
God," "Meditating on Him."
Favourable seasons within reach of all: "Upon my bed;"
"In the night watches." J. S. B.