In this section the Psalmist seems to draw still nearer to God in prayer, and to state his case and to invoke the divine help with more of boldness and expectation. It is a pleading passage, and the key word of it is, "Consider." With much boldness he pleads his intimate union with the Lord's cause as a reason why he should be aided. The special aid that he seeks is personal quickening, for which he cries to the Lord again and again.
Verse 153. -- Consider mine affliction, and deliver me. The writer has a good case, though it be a grievous one, and he is ready, yea anxious, to submit it to the divine arbitration. His matters are right, and he is ready to lay them before the supreme court. His manner is that of one who feels safe at the throne. Yet there is no impatience: he does not ask for hasty action, but for consideration. In effect he cries -- "Look into my grief, and see whether I do not need to be delivered. From my sorrowful condition judge as to the proper method and time for my rescue." The Psalmist desires two things, and these two things blended: first, a full consideration of his sorrow; secondly, deliverance; and, then, that this deliverance should come with a consideration of his affliction. It should be the desire of every gracious man who is in adversity that the Lord should look upon his need, and relieve it in such a way as shall be most for the divine glory, and for his own benefit. The words, "mine affliction," are picturesque; they seem to portion off a special spot of woe as the writer's own inheritance: he possesses it as no one else had ever done, and he begs the Lord to have that special spot under his eye: even as a husbandman looking over all his fields may yet take double care of a certain selected plot. His prayer is eminently practical, for he seeks to be delivered; that is, brought out of the trouble and preserved from sustaining any serious damage by it. For God to consider is to act in due season: men consider and do nothing; but such is never the case with our God.
For I do not forget thy law. His affliction was not sufficient, with all its bitterness, to drive out of his mind the memory of God's law; nor could it lead him to act contrary to the divine command. He forgot prosperity, but he did not forget obedience. This is a good plea when it can be honestly urged. If we are kept faithful to God's law we may be sure that God will remain faithful to his promise. If we do not forget his law the Lord will not forget us. He will not long leave that man in trouble whose only fear in trouble is lest he should leave the way of right.
Verse 153. -- Consider mine affliction, and deliver me. God looks upon or considers man in various ways, and for different ends. To give him light; for "as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth" ( John 9:1 ). To convert him; "He saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me" ( Matthew 9:9 ). To restore him; "And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter" ( Luke 22:61 ). To deliver him; "I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt" ( Exodus 3:7 ). To advance him; "He hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden" ( Luke 1:48 ): and to reward him; "The Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering" ( Genesis 4:4 ). --Hugh de St. Victor (1098-1141), in Neale and Littledale.
Verse 153. -- Consider mine affliction, and deliver me. We must pray that God will help and deliver us, not after the device of our own brains, but after such wise as seemeth best unto his tender wisdom, or else that he will mitigate our pain, that our weakness may not utterly faint. Like as a sick person, although he doubt nothing of the faithfulness and tenderness of his physician, yet, for all that, desireth him to handle his wound as tenderly as possible, even so may we call upon God, that, if it be not against his honour and glory, he will vouchsafe to give some mitigation of the pain. --Otto Wermuellerus.
Verse 153. -- Consider mine affliction. These prayers of David are penned with such heavenly wisdom that they are convenient for the state of the whole church, and every member thereof. The church is the bush that burneth with fire, but cannot be consumed; every member thereof beareth a part of the cross of Christ; they are never without some affliction, for which they have need to pray with David, "Behold mine affliction."
We know that in afflictions it is some comfort to us to have our crosses known to those of whom we are assured that they love us: it mitigates our dolour when they mourn with us, albeit they be not able to help us. But the Christian hath a more solid comfort; to wit, that in all his troubles the Lord beholds him; like a king, rejoicing to see his own servant wrestle with the enemy. He looks on with a merciful eye, pitying the infirmity of his own, when he sees it; and with a powerful hand ready to help them. But because many a time the cloud of our corruption cometh between the Lord and us, and lets us not see his helping hand, nor his loving face looking upon us, we have need to pray at such times with David, "Behold mine affliction." --William Cowper.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verses 153-160. -- Divine consideration besought. "Consider my affliction" ( Psalms 119:153 ); my cause ( Psalms 119:154 ); "for thy mercies' sake" ( Psalms 119:156 ). Consider my persecutors (Ps 119:157-158), and my love to thy precepts ( Psalms 119:160 ) and act accordingly.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 153-159. -- The two considers. The subjects, the prayers, the arguments.
Verse 153,154. -- Here --
- David prays for succour in distress. "Is any afflicted? let him pray"; let him pray as David doth here.
- He hath an eye to God's pity, and prays, "Consider mine affliction"; take it unto thy thoughts, and all the circumstances, and sit not by as one unconcerned. God is never unmindful of his people's afflictions, but he will have us to "put him in remembrance" ( Isaiah 43:26 ), to spread our case before him, and then leave it to his compassionate consideration to do in it as in his wisdom he shall think fit, in his own time and way.
(b) He has an eye to God's power, and prays, "Deliver me," and again, "Deliver me." Consider my troubles and bring me out of them. God has promised deliverance ( Psalms 1:15 ), and we may pray for it with submission to his will, and with regard to his glory, that we may serve him the better.
(c) He has an eye to God's righteousness, and prays, "Plead
my cause": be thou my patron and advocate, and take me
for thy client. David had a just cause, but his adversaries
were many and mighty, and he was in danger of being
run down by them: he therefore begs of God to clear his
integrity, and silence their false accusations. If God do
not plead his people's cause, who will? He is righteous,
and they commit themselves to him, and therefore he will do
it, and do it effectually: Isaiah 51:22 ; Jeremiah 1:34 .
(d) He has an eye to God's grace, and prays, "Quicken me."
Lord, I am weak, and unable to bear my troubles; my spirit
is apt to droop and sink: Oh, that thou wouldst revive and
comfort me, till the deliverance is wrought!
- He pleads his dependence upon the word of God, and his devotedness to his conduct. "Quicken" and "deliver me according to thy word" of promise; "for I do not forget thy precepts." The closer we cleave to the word of God, both as our rule and as our stay, the more assurance we may have of deliverance in due time. --M. Henry.
Verse 153. -- The sick man's prayer.
- The medicine remembered.
- The physician sent for.
- The physician considering the case.
- The healing wrought.
Verse 153. --
- Lord, do not forget my sorrow.
- I do not forget thy law.