Verse 55. I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night. When others slept I woke to think of thee, thy person, thy actions, thy covenant, thy name, under which last term he comprehends the divine character as far as it is revealed. He was so earnest after the living God that he woke up at dead of night to think upon him. These were David's Night Thoughts. If they were not Sunny Memories they were memories of the Sun of Righteousness. It is well when our memory furnishes us with consolation, so that we can say with the Psalmist, -- Having early been taught to know thee, I had only to remember the lessons of thy grace, and my heart was comforted. This verse shows not only that the man of God had remembered, but that he still remembered the Lord his God. We are to hallow the name of God, and we cannot do so if it slips from our memory.
And have kept thy law. He found sanctification through meditation; by the thoughts of the night he ruled the actions of the day. As the actions of the day often create the dreams of the night, so do the thoughts of the night produce the deeds of the day. If we do not keep the name of God in our memory we shall not keep the law of God in our conduct. Forgetfulness of mind leads up to forgetfulness of life.
When we hear the night songs of revellers we have in them sure evidence that they do not keep God's law; but the quiet musings of gracious men are proof positive that the name of the Lord is dear to them. We may judge of nations by their songs, and so we may of men; and in the case of the righteous, their singing and their thinking are both indications of their love to God: whether they lift up their voices, or sit in silence, they are still the Lord's. Blessed are the men whose "night thoughts" are memories of the eternal light; they shall be remembered of their Lord when the night of death comes on. Reader, are your thoughts in the dark full of light, because full of God? Is his name the natural subject of your evening reflections? Then it will give a tone to your morning and noonday hours. Or do you give your whole mind to the fleeting cares and pleasures of this world? If so, it is little wonder that you do not live as you ought to do, No man is holy by chance. If we have no memory for the name of Jehovah we are not likely to remember his commandments: if we do not think of him secretly we shall not obey him openly.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 55. -- I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night, etc. As the second Clause of the verse depends on the first, I consider the whole verse as setting forth one and the same truth; and, therefore, the prophet means that he was induced, by the remembrance he had of God, to keep the law. Contempt of the law originates in this, that few have any regard for God; and hence, the Scripture, in condemning the impiety of men, declares that they have forgotten God ( Psalms 1:22 78:11; 106:21.) The word "night" is not intended by him to mean the remembering of God merely for a short time, but a perpetual remembrance of him; he, however, refers to that season in particular, because then almost all our senses are overpowered with sleep. "When other men are sleeping, God occurs to my thoughts during my sleep." He has another reason for alluding to the night season -- that we may be apprised, that though there was none to observe him, and none to put him in remembrance of it; yea, though he was shrouded in darkness, yet he was as solicitous to cherish the remembrance of God as if he occupied the most public and conspicuous place. --John Calvin.
Verse 55. -- I have remembered thy name in the night, and therefore I "have kept thy law" all day. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 55. -- I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night. This verse contains a new protestation of his honest affection toward the word of God. Wherein, first, let us mark his sincerity; he was religious not only in public, but in private; for private exercises are the surest trials of true religion. In public, oftentimes hypocrisy carries men to simulate that which they are not; it is not so in the private devotion; for then, either doth a man, if he make no conscience of God's worship, utterly neglect it, because there is no eye of man to see him; or otherwise if he be indeed religious, even in private he presents his heart to God, seeking it to be approved by him; for his "praise is not of man, but of God."
Again, this argues his fervency in religion: for as elsewhere he protests that he loved the word more than his appointed food; so here he protests that he gave up his night's rest that he might meditate in the word. But now, so far is zeal decayed in professors, that they will not forego their superfluities, far less their needful refreshment, for love of the word of God. --William Cowper.
Verse 55. -- Thy name, O Lord. The "name" of the Lord is his character, his nature, his attributes, the manifestations he hath made of his holiness, his wisdom, goodness and truth. --John Stephen.
Verse 55. -- In the night. First, that is, continually, because he remembered God in the day also. Secondly, sincerely, because he avoided the applause of men. Thirdly, cheerfully, because the heaviness of natural sleep could not overcome him. All these show that he was intensely given to the word; as we see men of the world will take some part of the night for their delights. And in that he did keep God's testimonies in the night, he showeth that he was the same in secret that he was in the light; whereby he condemned all those that will cover their wickedness with the dark. Let us examine ourselves whether we have broken our sleeps to call upon God, as we have to fulfil our pleasures. -- Richard Greenham.
Verse 55. -- In the night. Pastor Harms of Hermansburg used to preach and pray and instruct his people for nine hours on the Sabbath. And then when his mind was utterly exhausted, and his whole body was thrilling with pain, and he seemed almost dying for the want of rest, he could get no sleep. But he used to say that he loved to lie awake all night in the silence and darkness and think of Jesus. The night put away everything else from his thoughts, and left his heart free to commune with the One whom his soul most devoutly loved, and who visited and comforted his weary disciple in the night watches. And so God's children have often enjoyed rare seasons of communion with him in the solitude of exile, in the deep gloom of the dungeon, in the perpetual night of blindness, and at times when all voices and instructions from the world have been most completely cut off, and the soul has been left alone with God. --Daniel March, in "Night unto Night." 1880.
Verse 55. -- In the night. There is never a time in which it is not proper to turn to God and think on his name. In the darkness of midnight, in the darkness of mental depression, in the darkness of outward providence, God is still a fitting theme. --William S. Plumer.
Verse 55. -- The night.
"Dear night! this world's defeat;
The stop to busy fools; Care's check and curb;
The day of spirits, my soul's calm retreat
Which none disturb!
Christ's progress, and his prayer time;
The hours to which high heaven doth chime."
"God's silent, searching flight;
When my Lord's head is filled with dew, and all
His locks are wet with the clear drops of night;
His still, soft call;
His knocking time; the soul's dumb watch,
When spirits their fair kindred catch." --Henry Vaughan, 1621-1695.
Verse 55. -- And have kept thy law; though imperfectly, yet spiritually, sincerely, heartily, and from a principle of love and gratitude, and with a view to the glory of God, and without mercenary, sinister ends. --John Gill.
Verse 55. -- And have kept thy law. Hours of secret fellowship with God must issue in the desire of increased conformity to his holy will. It is the remembrance of God that leads to the keeping of his laws, as it is forgetfulness of God that fosters every species of transgression. --John Morison.
Verse 55. -- And have kept. The verb is in the future, and perhaps is better so rendered, thus making it the expression of a solemn, deliberate purpose to continue his obedience. - -William S. Plumer.
Verse 55-56. -- He that delights to keep God's law, God will give him more grace to keep it, according to that remarkable text, "I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night, and have kept thy law. This I had, because I kept thy precepts." What had David for keeping God's precepts? He had power to keep his law; that is, to grow and increase in keeping of it. As the prophet ( Hosea 6:8 ) speaks of the knowledge of God: "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord"; that is, if we industriously labour to know God, we shall have this reward, to be made able to know him more. So may I say of the grace of God: he that delights to keep God's law shall have his reward, -- to be enabled to keep it more perfectly. A true delight in God's word is grace increasing. Grace is the mother of all true joy ( Isaiah 32:17 ), and joy is as the daughter, and the mother and daughter live and die together. --Edmund Calamy (1600-1666), in "The Godly Man's Ark."
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 55,49. -- "Remember." "I have remembered."
Verse 55. -- Night memories. Day duties. How they act and react upon each other.
Verse 55. -- Dark nights. Bright memories. Right results. --C.A.D.
Verse 55. --
- Happy though restless night.
- Happy though busy day. --W.D.