Verse 52. I remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord; and have comforted myself. He had asked the Lord to remember, and here he remembers God and his judgments. When we see no present display of the divine power it is wise to fall back upon the records of former ages, since they are just as available as if the transactions were of yesterday, seeing the Lord is always the same. Our true comfort must be found in what our God works on behalf of truth and right, and as the histories of the olden times are full of divine interpositions it is well to be thoroughly acquainted with them. Moreover, if we are advanced in years we have the providence of our early days to review, and these should by no means be forgotten or left out of our thoughts. The argument is good and solid: he who has shown himself strong on behalf of his believing people is the immutable God, and therefore we may expect deliverance at his hands. The grinning of the proud will not trouble us when we remember how the Lord dealt with their predecessors in by gone periods; he destroyed them at the deluge, he confounded them at Babel, he drowned them at the Red Sea, he drove them out of Canaan: he has in all ages bared his arm against the haughty, and broken them as potters' vessels. While in our own hearts we humbly drink of the mercy of God in quietude, we are not without comfort in seasons of turmoil and derision; for then we resort to God's justice, and remember how he scoffs at the scoffers: "He that sitteth in the heavens doth laugh, the Lord doth have them in derision."
When he was greatly derided the Psalmist did not sit down in despair, but rallied his spirits He knew that comfort is needful for strength in service, and for the endurance of persecution, and therefore he comforted himself. In doing this he resorted not so much to the sweet as to the stern side of the Lord's dealings, and dwelt upon his judgments. If we can find sweetness in the divine justice, how much more shall we perceive it in divine love and grace. How thoroughly must that man be at peace with God who dan find comfort, not only in his promises, but in his judgments. Even the terrible things of God are cheering to believers. They know that nothing is more to the advantage of all God's creatures than to be ruled by a strong hand which will deal out justice. The righteous man, has no fear of the ruler's sword, which is only a terror to evil doers. When the godly man is unjustly treated he finds comfort in the fact that there is a Judge of all the earth who will avenge his own elect, and redress the ills of these disordered times.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 52. -- I remember thy judgments of old. It is good to have a number of examples of God's dealings with his servants laid up in the storehouse of a sanctified memory, that thereby faith may be strengthened in the day of affliction; for so are we here taught. -- David Dickson.
Verse 52. -- I remembered thy judgments. He remembered that at the beginning Adam, because of transgression of the divine command, was cast out from dwelling in Paradise; and that Cain, condemned by the authority of the divine sentence, paid the price of his parricidal crime; that Enoch, caught up to heaven because of his devotion, escaped the poison of earthly wickedness: that Noah, because of righteousness the victor of the deluge, became the survivor of the human race; that Abraham, because of faith, diffused the seed of his posterity through the whole earth; that Israel, because of the patient bearing of troubles, consecrated a believing people by the sign of his own name; that David himself, because of gentleness, having had regal honour conferred, was preferred to his elder brothers. --Ambrose.
Verse 52. -- I remembered, etc. Jerome writes of that religious lady Paula, that she had got most of the Scriptures by heart. We are bid to have the "word dwell in" us: Colossians 3:16 . The word is a jewel that adorns the hidden man; and shall we not remember it? "Can a maid forget her ornaments?" ( Jeremiah 4:32 ). Such as have a disease they call lienteria, in which the meat comes up as fast as they eat it, and stays not in the stomach, are not nourished by it. If the word stays not in the memory, it cannot profit. Some can better remember a piece of news than a line of Scripture: their memories are like those ponds, where frogs live, but fish die. --Thomas Watson in "The Morning Exercises."
Verse 52. -- I remembered thy judgments, and have comforted myself. A case of conscience may be propounded: how could David be comforted by God's judgments, for it seemeth a barbarous thing to delight in the destruction of any? it is said, "He that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished" ( Proverbs 17:5 ).
- It must be remembered that judgment implies both parts of God's righteous dispensation, the deliverance of the godly, and the punishment of the wicked. Now, in the first sense there is no ground of scruple, for it is said, "Judgment shall return unto righteousness" ( Psalms 94:15 ); the sufferings of good men shall be turned into the greatest advantages, as the context showeth that God will not cast off his people, but judgment shall return unto righteousness.
- Judgment, as it signifieth punishment of the wicked, may yet be a comfort, not as it imports the calamity of any, but either, --
- When the wicked is punished, the snare and allurement to sin is taken away, which is the hope of impunity; for by their punishment men see that it is dangerous to sin against God: "When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness" (Isa 26:9); the snare is removed from many a soul.
(b) Their derision and mocking of godliness ceaseth, they do no longer vex and pierce the souls of the godly, saying, "Aha, aha" ( Psalms 40:15 ); it is as a wound to their heart when they say, "Where is thy God?" ( Psalms 42:10 ). Judgment slayeth this evil.
(c) The impediments and hindrances of worshipping and serving God are taken away: when the nettles are rooted up, the corn hath the more room to grow.
(c) Opportunity of molesting God's servants is taken away, and they are prevented from afflicting the church by their oppressions; and so way is made for the enlarging of Christ's kingdom.
(d) Thereby also God's justice is manifested: When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: "and when the wicked perish, there is shouting" ( Proverbs 11:10 ); "The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him: lo, this is the man that made not God his strength" ( Psalms 52:6-7 ); rejoice over Babylon, "ye holy apostles and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her" ( Revelation 18:20 ). When the word of God is fulfilled, surely then we may rejoice that his justice and truth are cleared. --Thomas Mardon.
Verse 52. -- The word "mishphatim", "judgments," is used in Scripture either for laws enacted, or judgments executed according to those laws. The one may be called the judgments of his mouth, as, "Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth"
( Psalms 105:5 ), the other, the judgments of his hand. As both will bear the name of judgments, so both may be said to be "of old." His decrees and statutes which have an eternal equity in them, and were graven upon the heart of man in innocency, may well be said to be of old: and because from the beginning of the world God hath been punishing the wicked, anti delivering the godly in due time, his judiciary dispensations may be said to be so also, The matter is not much, whether we interpret it of either his statutes or decrees, for they both contain matter of comfort, and we may see the ruin of the wicked in the word, if we see it not in providence. Yet I rather interpret it of those righteous acts recorded in Scripture, which God as a just judge hath executed in all ages, according to the promises and threaten this annexed to his laws. Only in that sense I must note to you, judgments imply his mercies in the deliverance of his righteous servants, as well as his punishments on the wicked: the seasonable interpositions of his relief for the one in their greatest distresses, as well as his just vengeance on the other notwithstanding their highest prosperities. --Thomas Manton.
Verse 52,55. -- I remembered thy judgments, "thy name in the night." Thomas Fuller thus writes in his "David's Heartie Repentance": --
"For sundry duties he did dayes deride. Making exchange of worke his recreation; For prayer he set the precious morne aside. The midday he bequeathed to meditation: Sweete sacred stories he reserved for night. To reade of Moses' meeknes, Sampson's might: These were his joy, these onely his delight."
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 52. -- Comfort derived from a review of the ancient doings of the Lord towards the wicked and his people.
Verse 52. --
- The dead speaking to the living.
- The living listening to the dead. --G.R.
Verse 52. -- Sweet water from a dark well.
- God's judgments are calculated to inspire terror.
- But they prove God's superintending care over the world.
- They are ever against sin, and for holiness.
- In all times of judgment God delivers his people. Noah, Lot, etc.
- Therefore God's judgments are a source of comfort to the believer. --G.A.D.