Verse 7. I will praise thee. From prayer to praise is here, a long or a difficult journey. Be sure that he who prays for holiness will one day praise for happiness. Shame having vanished, silence is broken, and the formerly silent man declares, "I will praise thee." He cannot but promise praise while he seeks sanctification. Mark how well he knows upon what head to set the crown. "I will praise thee." He would himself be praiseworthy, but he counts God alone worthy of praise. By the sorrow and shame of sin he measures his obligations to the Lord who would teach him the art of living so that he should clean escape from his former misery.
With up righteous of heart. His heart would be upright if the Lord would teach him, and then it should praise its teacher. There is such a thing as false and feigned praise, and this the Lord abhors; but there is no music like that which comes from a pure soul which standeth in its integrity. Heart praise is required, uprightness in that heart, and teaching to make the heart upright. An upright heart is sure to bless the Lord, for grateful adoration is a part of its uprightness; no man can be right unless he is upright towards God, and this involves the rendering to him the praise which is his due.
When I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. We must learn to praise, learn that we may praise, and praise when we have learned. If we are ever to learn, the Lord must teach us, and especially upon such a subject as his judgments, for they are a great deep. While these are passing before our eyes, and we are learning from them, we ought to praise God, for the original is not, "when I have learned," but, "in my learning." While yet I am a scholar I will be a chorister: my upright heart shall praise thine uprightness, my purified judgment shall admire thy judgments. God's providence is a book full of teaching, and to those whose hearts are right it is a music book, out of which they chant to Jehovah's praise. God's word is full of the record of his righteous providence, and as we read it we feel compelled to burst forth into expressions of holy delight and ardent praise. When we both read of God's judgments and become joyful partakers in them, we are doubly moved to song -- song in which there is neither formality, nor hypocrisy, nor lukewarmness, for the heart is upright in the presentation of its praise.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 7. I will praise thee... when I shall have learned, etc. There is no way to please God entirely and sincerely until we have learned both to know and do his will. Practical praise is the praise God looks after. Thomas Manton.
Verse 7. I will praise thee. What is the matter for which he praises God? It is that he has been taught something of him and by him amongst men. To have learned any tongue, or science, from some school of philosophy, bindeth us to our alma mater. We praise those who can teach a dog, a horse, this or that; but for us ass colts to learn the will of God, how to walk pleasing before him, this should be acknowledged of us as a great mercy from God. Paul Bayne.
Verse 7. Praise thee...when I shall have learned, etc. But when doth David say that he will be thankful? Even when God shall teach him. Both the matter and the grace of thankfulness are from God. As he did with Abraham, he commanded him to worship by sacrifice, and at the same time gave him the sacrifice: so doth he with all his children; for he gives not only good things, for which they should thank him, but in like manner grace by which they are able to thank him. William Cowper.
Verse 7. When, I shall have learned. By learning he means his attaining not only to the knowledge of the word, but the practice of it. It is not a speculative light, or a bare notion of things: "Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me" ( John 6:45 ). It is such a learning as the effect will necessarily follow, such a light and illumination as doth convert the soul, and frame our hearts and ways according to the will of God. For otherwise, if we get understanding of the word, nay, if we get it imprinted in our memories, it will do us no good without practice. The best of God's servants are but scholars and students in the knowledge and obedience of his word. For saith David, "When I shall have learned." The professors of the Christian religion were primitively called disciples or learners: to plhqoj twn maqhtwn; "the multitude of the disciples" ( Acts 6:2 .) Thomas Manton.
Verse 7. Learned thy righteous judgments. We see here what David especially desired to learn, namely, the word and will of God: he would ever be a scholar in this school, and sought daily to ascend to the highest form; that learning to know, he might remember; remembering, might believe; believing, might delight; delighting might admire; admiring, might adore; adoring, might practise; and practising, might continue in the way of God's statutes. This learning is the old and true learning indeed, and he is best learned in this art, who turneth God's word into good works. Richard Greenham.
Verse 7. Judgments of thy righteousness are the decisions concerning right and wrong which give expression to and put in execution the righteousness of God. Franz Delitzsch.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 7. -- The best of praise, the best of learning, the best of blendings, viz., praise and holiness.
Verse 7. --
- The professor of sacred music: "I will praise."
- The subject of his song: "Thee."
- The instrument: "Heart."
- The instrument tuned: "Uprightness of heart."
- The musician's training academy: "Judgments." --W.D.
Verse 7. -- Learning and praising.
- They are two spiritual exercises. It is possible for learners and singers to be carnal and sensual; but in this case they are employed about the righteous ends, works, and ways of the Lord.
- They are two appropriate exercises. What can be more seemly than to learn of God and to praise him?
- They are two profitable exercises. The expectations of the most utilitarian are surpassed. The pleasure and the profit yield abundant reward. Heart, head, life are all benefited.
- They are two mutually assisting exercises. In the one we are receptive, and in the other communicative. By the one we are fitted to do the other. By the former we are stimulated to do the latter. How wonderfully the lesson is turned into a song, and the learner into a singer. --W.J.
Verse 7. --
- Deficiency confessed: "When I shall have learned." This is essential to growth. It is an admission all can truly make.
- Progress anticipated. He gave his heart to the work of learning. He sought divine help.
- Praise promised. He promised it to God alone. He vowed it should be sincere: "with upright heart." --W. Williams, of Lambeth, 1882.