Verse 19. In the multitude of my thoughts within me. When I am tossed to and fro with various reasonings, distractions, questions, and forebodings, I will fly to my true rest, for thy comforts delight my soul. From my sinful thoughts, my vain thoughts, my sorrowful thoughts, my griefs, my cares, my conflicts, I will hasten to the Lord; he has divine comforts, and these will not only console but actually delight me. How sweet are the comforts of the Spirit! Who can muse upon eternal love, immutable purposes, covenant promises, finished redemption, the risen Saviour, his union with his people, the coming glory, and such like themes, without feeling his heart leaping with joy? The little world within is, like the great world without full of confusion and strife; but when Jesus enters it, and whispers "Peace be unto you," there is a calm, yea, a rapture of bliss. Let us turn away from the mournful contemplation of the oppression of man and the present predominance of the wicked, to that sanctuary of pure rest which is found in the God of all comfort. Good will to us, and to give us some evidence and assurance of his love and favour towards us; these are his comforts.
"Delight." This is a transcendant expression, which the Holy Ghost in the pen of the prophet David comes up unto. It had been a great matter to have said, they satisfy my soul, or, they quiet me, no more but so, that is the highest pitch which a perplexed spirit can wish to itself. Those which are in great pain, they would be glad if they might have but ease, they cannot aspire so high as pleasure and delight, this is more than can be expected by them; but see here now the notable efficacy of these Divine comforts; they do not only pacify the mind, but they joy it; they do not only satify it, but ravish it; they not only quiet, but delight it. Thy comforts delight my soul. That is, not only take away the present grief, but likewise put in the room and place of it most unspeakable comfort and consolation; as the sun does not only dispel darkness, but likewise brings in a glorious light in the stead of it.
"My soul." We showed before how the grief was in the mind, and therefore the comfort must be so also, that the remedy may answer the malady. Bodily pleasure will not satisfy for mind distraction: nothing will ease the soul but such comforts as are agreeable to itself, and such are these present comforts of God, they delight the soul. Thomas Horton.
Verse 19. Thoughts considered simply in themselves do not contain any matter of grief or evil; they are the proper and natural issue and emanations of the soul which come from it with a great deal of easiness, and with a great deal of delight; but it is the exorbitance and irregularity of them which is here intended, when they do not proceed evenly and fairly, as they ought to do, but with some kind of interruption; and so the word which is here used in the text seems to import; the Hebrew sagnaphim carrying an affinity with segnaphim, which is derived from a root which signifies properly a bough. Now we know that in a bough there are two things especially considerable, as pertinent to our present purpose. First, there's the perplexity of it. And, secondly, there's the agitation. Boughs usually catch, and entangle one another, and boughs they are easily shaken, and moved up and down by the wind. If there be never so little air or breath stirring abroad, the boughs presently discover it, and are made sensible of it. So that this expression does serve very well to imitate and set forth unto us the perplexity and inconstancy of thoughts, which David was now troubled withal, and whereof he now complains, as grievous and offensive to him. They were not thoughts in any consideration, but thoughts of distraction, such thoughts as did bring some grief and trouble with them. This the Septuagint translators were so fully apprehensive of, that they quite leave out thoughts, and render it only by griefs, kata to pkhqoj twn odunwn mou: according to the multitude of my sorrows. But it is more full and agreeable to the word to put them both together -- my grievous and sorrowful thoughts -- such thoughts as in regard of the carriage and ordering of them, do bring grief and sorrow with them.
And here we may by the way observe thus much, that God need not go far to punish and afflict men when he pleases; he can do it even with their own thoughts, no more but so. He can gather a rod of these boughs, and make a scourge of these twistings, wherewith to lash them, and that to purpose. If he does but raise a tempest in the mind, and cause these thoughts to bluster and bustle one with another, there will be trouble and affliction enough, though there were nothing else. It is no matter whether there be any ground or occasion for it in the things themselves; it is enough that there be so but in the conceit and apprehension. God can so use a fancy, a mere toy and imagination itself, and so set it on upon the soul, that there shall be no quiet nor rest for it. Thomas Horton.
Verse 19. Observe the greatness of this man's distress. This is forcibly expressed in the text, though in our translation it is scarcely obvious. The word in it rendered "thoughts," scholars tell us, signifies originally the small branches of trees. The idea in the psalmist's mind appears to be this: `Look at a tree, with its branches shooting in every direction, entangling and entwining themselves one with another; let the wind take them -- see how they feel it, how restless they become and confused, beating against and striving one with another. Now my mind is like that tree. I have a great many thoughts in it; and thoughts which are continually shifting and changing; they are perplexed and agitated thoughts, battling one with another'. There is no keeping the mind quiet under them; they bring disorder into it as well as sorrow. And mark the word "multitude" in the text; there is exactly the same idea in that. It signifies more than number; confusion. Think of a crowd collected and hurrying about: `so,' says the psalmist, `are my thoughts. I have a crowd of them in my mind, and a restless confused crowd. One painful thought is bad enough, but I have many; a multitude of them; and almost countless, a disturbed throng.' We now, then, understand the case we have before us. The man's sorrow arose, at this time, from disquieting thoughts within his own breast; and his sorrow was great, because these thoughts were many, and at the same time tumultuous. When the psalmist says, "Thy comforts," he means more than comforts of which God is the author or giver. God is the author and giver of all our comforts -- of all the earthly comforts that surround us; they are all the work and gift of his gracious hand... We are to understand here such comforts as are peculiarly and altogether God's, such as flow at once from God; not from him through creatures to us, but from him immediately to us without the intervention of creatures. The comforts that we get from his attributes -- from meditating on, and what we call realising them; the comforts we get from his promises -- believing and hoping in him; and the comforts of his presence, he drawing near to our souls and shining into them -- we knowing he is near us, conscious of it by the light and happiness and renewed strength within us. "Thy comforts" -- the comforts we get from the Lord Jesus Christ; from looking at him, considering him; thinking of his person, and offices, and blood, and righteousness, and intercession, and exaltation, and glory, and his second coming; our meeting him, seeing him, being like him. "Thy comforts" -- the comforts which come from the Holy Spirit, "the Comforter": when he opens the Scriptures to us, or speaks through ceremonies and ordinances, or witnesses within us of our adoption of God; shining in on his own work of grace in our hearts; enabling us to see that work, and to see in it God's peculiar, eternal love to us; not opening to us the book of life, anal showing us our names there, but doing something that makes us almost as joyful as though that book were opened to us; showing us the hand of God in our own souls -- his converting, saving hand -- his hand apprehending us as his own; making us feel as it were, his grasp of love, and feel, too, that it is a grasp which he will never loosen. Charles Bradley.
Verse 19. Thy comforts delight my soul Xerxes offered great rewards to him that could find out a new pleasure; but the comforts of the Spirit are satisfactory, they recruit the heart. There is as much difference between heavenly comforts and earthly, as between a banquet that is eaten and one that is painted on the wall. Thomas Watcom.
Verse 19. Thy comforts. Troubles may be of our own begetting; but true comforts come only from that infinite fountain, the God of consolation; for so he hath styled himself. Thomas Adams.
Verse 19. Delight my soul. The original word w[f[fy, signifies "to cause to leap or dance for joy;" but the English language will not bear an application of this image to the soul; though we say "to make the heart leap for joy." Samuel Horsley.
Verse 19. Because the malignant host is first entered into the ground of my text, consider with me:
- The rebels, or mutineers, "thoughts."
- The number of them, no less than a "multitude."
- The captain whose colours they bear; a disquieted mind; "my thoughts."
- The field where the battle is fought; in the heart; apud me, "within me." In the other army we find,
- Quanta, how puissant they are; comforts.
- Quota, how many they are; indefinitely set down; abundant comfort.
- Cujus, whose they are; the Lord's, he is their general; thy comforts.
- Quid operantur, what they do; they delight the soul. In the nature of them being comforts, there is tranquillity; in the number of them, being many comforts, there is sufficiency; in the owner of them, being thy comforts, there is omnipotence; and in the effect of them, delighting the soul, there is security. From Thomas Adams' Sermon entitled "Man's comfort."
Verse 19. A text of this kind shows us forcibly the power of Divine grace in the human heart: how much it can do to sustain and cheer the heart. The world may afflict a believer, and pain him; but if the grace which God has given him is in active exercise in his soul, the world cannot make him unhappy. It rather adds by its ill treatment to his happiness; for it brings God and his soul nearer together -- God the fountain of all happiness, the rest and satisfaction of his soul.
This psalm was evidently written by a deeply afflicted man. The wicked, he says, were triumphing over him; and had been so for a long while. He could find no one on earth to take his part against them. Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? he asks in Ps 94:16; or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? And it seemed, too, as though God had abandoned him. His enemies thought so, and he seems to have been almost ready to think so himself. But what was the fact? All this time the Lord was secretly pouring consolation into his soul, and in the end made that consolation abundant. In appearance a wretched, he was in reality a happy man; suffering, yet comforted; yea, the text says delighted -- Thy comforts delight my soul. Charles Bradley, 1845.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- In the multitude of my unbelieving thoughts thy comforts delight my soul.
- In the multitude of my penitential thoughts thy comforts, etc.
- In the multitude of my worldly thoughts, etc.
- In the multitude of my family or social thoughts, etc.
- Of my desponding thoughts, etc.
- Of my prospective thoughts, etc.
- There is no consolation for man in himself.
- There is no consolation for him in other creatures.
- His only consolation is in God. G.R.
- The soul jostled in the thoroughfare of anxious thoughts.
- The delectable company nevertheless enjoyed. C.A.D.