(The following texts highlighted in this color of blue is taken from

The Treasury of David by Charles Haddon Spurgeon)  "Excerpted text

Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.  Materials are reproduced

by permission."

 

 

 

Psalm 119:81-96

 

This portion of the gigantic psalm sees the Psalmist in extremis. His enemies have

brought him to the lowest condition of anguish and depression; yet he is faithful to

the law and trustful in his God. This octave is the midnight of the psalm, and very

dark and black it is. Stars, however, shine out, and the last verse gives promise of

the dawn. The strain will after this become more cheerful; but meanwhile it should

minister comfort to us to see so eminent a servant of God so hardly used by the

ungodly:  evidently in our own persecutions, no strange thing has happened unto us.

(I Peter 4:12)

 

81  “My soul fainteth for thy salvation:” -  He wished for no deliverance

but that which came from God: his one desire was for "thy salvation." But

for that divine deliverance he was eager to the last degree, — up to the full

measure of his strength, yea, and beyond it till he fainted. So strong was his

desire that it produced prostration of spirit. He grew weary with waiting,

faint with watching, sick with urgent need. Thus the sincerity and the

eagerness of his desires were proved. Nothing else could satisfy him but

deliverance wrought out by the hand of God, his inmost mature yearned

and pined for salvation from the God of all grace, and he must have it or

utterly fail - “but I hope in thy word.” Therefore he felt that salvation would

come, for God cannot break His promise, nor disappoint the hope which His own

word has excited: yea, the fulfillment of His word is near at hand when our

hope is firm and our desire fervent. Hope alone can keep the soul from

fainting by using the smelling bottle of the promise. Yet hope does not

quench desire for a speedy answer to prayer; it increases our importunity,

for it both stimulates ardor and sustains the heart under delays. To faint

for salvation, and to be kept from utterly failing by the hope of it, is the

frequent experience of the Christian man. We are "faint yet pursuing" hope

sustains when desire exhausts. While the grace of desire throws us down,

the grace of hope lifts us up again.

 

 

82  “Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?”

His eyes gave out with eagerly gazing for the kind appearance of the Lord,

while his heart in weariness cried out for speedy comfort. To read the word

till the eyes can no longer see is but a small thing compared with watching

for the fulfillment of the promise till the inner eyes of expectancy begin to

grow dim with hope deferred. We may not set times to God, for this is to

limit the Holy One of Israel; yet we may urge our suit with importunity,

and make fervent enquiry as to why the promise tarries. David sought no

comfort except that which comes from God; his question is, "When wilt

thou comfort me?" If help does not come from heaven it will never come at

all: all the good man's hopes look that way, he has not a glance to dart in

any other direction. This experience of waiting and fainting is well known

by full grown saints, arid it teaches them many precious lessons which they

would never learn by any other means. Among the choice results is this

one— that the body rises into sympathy with the soul, both heart and flesh

cry out for the living God, and even the eyes find a tongue, "saying, When

wilt thou comfort me?" It must be an intense longing which is not satisfied

to express itself by the lips, but speaks with the eyes, by those eyes failing

through intense watching. Eyes can speak right eloquently; they use both

mutes and liquids, and can sometimes say more than tongues. (Without

going into detail, I have experienced this through the eyes of my one year

old grandson! – CY – 2011)  David says in another place, "The Lord

 hath heard the voice of my weeping" (ch.6:8).  Specially are our eyes

eloquent when they begin to fail with weariness and woe. A humble eye lifted

up to heaven in silent prayer may flash such flame as shall melt the bolts which

bar the entrance of vocal prayer, and so heaven shall be taken by storm with

the artillery of tears. Blessed are the eyes that are strained in looking after

God.  The eyes of the Lord will see to it that such eyes do not actually fail.

How much better to watch for the Lord with aching eyes than to have them

sparkling at the glitter of vanity.

 

83  For I am become like a bottle in the smoke;” -  The skins used for

containing wine, when emptied, were hung up in the tent, and when the

place reeked with smoke the skins grew black and sooty, and in the heat

they became wrinkled and worn. The Psalmist's face through sorrow had

become dark and dismal, furrowed and lined; indeed, his whole body had

so sympathized with his sorrowing mind as to have lost its natural

moisture, and to have become like a skin dried and tanned. His character

had been smoked with slander, and his mind parched with persecution; he

was half afraid that he would become useless and incapable through so

much mental suffering, and that men would look upon him as an old worn

out skin bottle, which could hold nothing and answer no purpose. What a

metaphor for a man to use who was certainly a poet, a divine, and a master

in Israel, if not a king, and a man after God's own heart! It is little wonder

if we, commoner folk, are made to think very little of ourselves, and are

filled with distress of mind. Some of us know the inner meaning of this

simile, for we, too, have felt dinghy, mean, and worthless, only fit to be

cast away. Very black and hot has been the smoke which has enveloped us;

it seemed to come not alone from the Egyptian furnace, but from the

bottomless pit; and it had a clinging power which made the soot of it fasten

upon us and blacken us with miserable thoughts - “yet do I not forget thy

statutes Here is the patience of the saints and the victory of faith. Blackened

the man of God might be by falsehood, but the truth was in him, and he never

gave it up. He was faithful to his King when he seemed deserted and left to the

vilest uses. The promises came to his mind, and, what was a still better evidence

of his loyalty, the statutes were there too: he stuck to his duties as well as to his

comforts. The worst circumstances cannot destroy the true believer's hold upon

his God. Grace is a living power which survives that which would suffocate all

other forms of existence. Fire cannot consume it, and smoke cannot smother it.

A man may be reduced to skin and bone, and all his comfort may be dried out of

him, and yet he may hold fast his integrity and glorify his God. It is, however, no

 marvel that in such a case the eyes which are tormented with the smoke cry out

for the Lord's delivering hand, and the heart heated and faint longs for the divine

salvation.

 

84  “How many are the days of thy servant?” I cannot hope to live long

in such a condition, thou must come speedily to my rescue, or I shall die!

Shall all my short life be consumed in such destroying sorrows? The brevity

of life is a good argument against the length of an affliction. Perhaps the

Psalmist means that his days seemed too many when they were spent in

such distress. He half wished that they were ended, and therefore he asked

in trouble, "How many are the days of thy servant?" Like a hired servant,

he had a certain term to serve, and he would not complain; but still the time

seemed long because his griefs were so heavy. No one knows the

appointed number of our days except the Lord, and therefore to Him the

appeal is made that he would not prolong them beyond his servant's

strength. It cannot be the Lord's mind that His own servant should always

be treated so unjustly; there must be an end to it; when would it be?

“When wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?” He had

placed his case in the Lord's hands, and he prayed that sentence might be

given and put into execution. He desired nothing but justice, that his

character might be cleared and his persecutors silenced. He knew that God

would certainly avenge His own elect, but the day of rescue tarried, the hours

dragged heavily along, and the persecuted one cried day and night for deliverance.

 

85  “The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law.”

As men who hunt wild beasts are wont to make pitfalls and snares, so did

David's foes endeavor to entrap him. They went laboriously and cunningly

to work to ruin him, "they digged pits"; not one, but many. If one would

not take him, perhaps another would, and so they digged again and again.

One would think that such haughty people would not have soiled their

fingers with digging; but they swallowed their pride in hopes of swallowing

their victim. Whereas they ought to have been ashamed of such meanness,

they were conscious of no shame, but, on the contrary, were proud of their

cleverness; proud of setting a trap for a godly man. "Which are not after

thy law." Neither the men nor their pits were according to the divine law:

they were cruel and crafty deceivers, and their pits were contrary to the

Levitical law, and contrary to the command which bids us love our

neighbor. If men would keep to the statutes of the Lord, they would lift

the fallen out of the pit, or fill up the pit so that none might stumble into it;

but they would never spend a moment in working injury to others. When,

however, they become proud, they are sure to despise others; and for this

reason they seek to circumvent them, that they may afterwards hold them

up to ridicule. It was well for David that his enemies were God's enemies,

and that their attacks upon him had no sanction from the Lord. It was also

much to his gain that he was not ignorant of their devices, for he was thus

put upon his guard, and led to watch his ways lest he should fall into their

pits. While he kept to the law of the Lord he was safe, though even then it

was an uncomfortable thing to have his path made dangerous by the craft

of wanton malice.

 

86  “All thy commandments are faithful:” - He had no fault to find with

God's law, even though he had fallen into sad trouble through obedience to

it. Whatever the command might cost him it was worth it; he felt that

God's way might be rough, but it was right; it might make him enemies, but

still it was his best friend. He believed that in the end God's command

would turn out to his own profit, and that he should be no loser by obeying

it - “they persecute me wrongfully:” The fault lay with his persecutors, and

neither with his God nor with himself. He had done no injury to anyone,

nor acted otherwise than according to truth and justice; therefore he

confidently appeals to his God, and cries, "help thou me." This is a golden

prayer, as precious as it is short. The words are few, but the meaning is

full. Help was needed that the persecuted one might avoid the snare, might

bear up under reproach, and might act so prudently as to baffle his foes.

God's help is our hope. Whoever may hurt us, it matters not so long as the

Lord helps us; for if indeed the Lord help us, none can really hurt us. Many

a time have these words been groaned out by troubled saints, for they are

such as suit a thousand conditions of need, pain, distress, weakness, and

sin. "Help, Lord," will be a fitting prayer for youth and age, for labor and

suffering, for life and death. No other help is sufficient, but God's help is all

sufficient, and we cast ourselves upon it without fear.

 

87  “They had almost consumed me upon earth;” - His foes had almost

destroyed him so as to make him altogether fail. If they could they would

have eaten him, or burned him alive; anything so that they could have made

a full end of the good man. Evidently he had fallen under their power to a

large extent, and they had so used that power that he was well nigh

consumed. He was almost gone from off the earth; but almost is not

altogether, and so he escaped by the skin of his teeth. The lions are

chained: they can rage no further than our God permits. The Psalmist

perceives the limit of their power: they could only touch his earthly life and

earthly goods. Upon earth they almost ate him up, but he had an eternal

portion which they could not even nibble at - "but I forsook not thy

precepts." Nothing could drive him from obeying the Lord. If we stick to

the precepts we shall be rescued by the promises. If ill usage could have

driven the oppressed saint from the way of right the purpose of the wicked

would have been answered, and we should have heard no more of David. If

we are resolved to die sooner than forsake the Lord, we may depend upon

it that we shall not die, but shall live to see the overthrow of them that hate us.

 

88  “Quicken me after thy loving-kindness:” -  Most wise, most blessed

prayer! If we are revived in our own personal piety we shall be out of reach

of our assailants. Our best protection from tempters and persecutors is

more life. Loving-kindness itself cannot do us greater service than by

making us to have life more abundantly. When we are quickened we are

able to bear affliction, to baffle cunning, and to conquer sin. We look to the

loving-kindness of God as the source of spiritual revival, and we entreat the

Lord to quicken us, not according to our deserts, but after the boundless

energy of His grace. What a blessed word is this "loving-kindness." (I am

greatly impressed with the idea that God’s loving-kindness is better than

life!” – [ch. 63:3] - I have known nothing better than true life! CY – 2011)

Take it to pieces, and admire its double force of love - "so shall I keep the

testimony of thy mouth." If quickened by the Holy Ghost we shall be sure

to exhibit a holy character. We shall be faithful to sound doctrine when the

Spirit visits us and makes us faithful. None keep the word of the Lord's

mouth unless the word of the Lord's mouth quickens them. We ought

greatly to admire the spiritual prudence of the Psalmist, who does not so

much pray for freedom from trial as for renewed life that he may be

supported under it. When the inner life is vigorous all is well. David prayed

for a sound heart in the closing verse of the last octave, and here he seeks a

revived heart; this is going to the root of the matter, by seeking that which

is the most needful of all things. Lord, let it be heart work with us, and let

our hearts be right with thee.

 

89  “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” The strain is

more joyful, for experience has given the sweet singer a comfortable

knowledge of the word of the Lord, and this makes a glad theme. After

tossing about on a sea of trouble the Psalmist here leaps to shore and

stands upon a rock. Jehovah's word is not fickle nor uncertain; it is settled,

determined, fixed, sure, immovable. Man's teachings change so often that

there is never time for them to be settled; but the Lord's word is from of

old the same, and will remain unchanged eternally. Some men are never

happier than when they are unsettling everything and everybody; but God's

mind is not with them. The power and glory of heaven have confirmed

each sentence which the mouth of the Lord has spoken, and so confirmed it

that to all eternity it must stand the same, — settled in heaven, where

nothing can reach it. In the former section David's soul fainted, but here the

good man looks out of self and perceives that the Lord fainteth not, neither

is weary, neither is there any failure in His word  (Isaiah 40:28; Matthew

24:35).  The verse takes the form of an ascription of praise: the faithfulness and

immutability of God are fit themes for holy song, and when we are tired

with gazing upon the shifting scene of this life, the thought of the

immutable promise fills our mouth with singing. God's purposes, promises,

and precepts are all settled in His own mind, and none of them shall be

disturbed. Covenant settlements will not be removed, however unsettled

the thoughts of men may become; let us therefore settle it in our minds that

we abide in the faith of our Jehovah as long as we have any being.

 

90 “Thy faithfulness is unto all generations:” -  This is an additional

glory: God is not affected by the lapse of ages; He is not only faithful to one

man throughout his lifetime, but to his children's children after him, yea,

and to all generations so long as they keep His covenant and remember His

commandments to do them (Exodus 34:6-7).  The promises are ancient things,

yet they are not worn out by centuries of use, for the divine faithfulness endureth

for ever. He who succored His servants thousands of years ago still shows

Himself strong on the behalf of all them that trust in Him. "thou hast

established the earth, and it abideth." Nature is governed by fixed laws; the

globe keeps its course by the divine command, and displays no erratic

movements: the seasons observe their predestined order, the sea obeys the

rule of ebb and flow, and all things else are marshaled in their appointed

order. There is an analogy between the word of God and the works of

God, and specially in this, that they are both of them constant, fixed, and

unchangeable. God's word which established the world is the same as that

which He has embodied in the Scriptures; by the word of the Lord were the

heavens made, and specially by Him who is emphatically THE WORD

(ch. 33:6; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 11:3).  When we see the

world keeping its place and all its laws abiding the same, we have herein assurance

that the Lord will be faithful to His covenant, and will not allow the faith

of His people to be put to shame. If the earth abideth the spiritual creation

will abide; if God's word suffices to establish the world surely it is enough for the

establishment of the individual believer.

 

91  “They continue this day according to thine ordinances:” -  Because

the Lord has bid the universe abide, therefore it stands, and all its laws

continue to operate with precision and power. Because the might of God is

ever present to maintain them, therefore do all things continue. The word

which spake all things into existence has supported them till now, and still

supports them both in being and in well being. God's ordinance is the

reason for the continued existence of creation. What important forces these

ordinances are! "for all are thy servants." Created by thy word they obey

that word, thus answering the purpose of their existence, and working out

the design of their Creator. Both great things and small pay homage to the

Lord. No atom escapes His rule, no world avoids his government. Shall we

wish to be free of the Lord's sway and become lords unto ourselves? (ch. 2:3) –

If we were so, we should be dreadful exceptions to a law which secures the well

being of the universe. Rather while we read concerning all things else—

they continue and they serve, let us continue to serve, and to serve more

perfectly as our lives are continued. By that word which is settled may we

be settled; by that voice which establishes the earth may we be established;

and by that command which all created things obey may we be made the

servants of THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY!

 

92 “Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished

in mine affliction.” That word which has preserved the heavens and the

earth also preserves the people of God in their time of trial. With that word

we are charmed; it is a mine of delight to us. We take a double and treble

delight in it, and derive a multiplied delight from it, and this stands us in

good stead when all other delights are taken from us. We should have felt

ready to lie down and die of our griefs if the spiritual comforts of God's

word had not uplifted us; but by their sustaining influence we have been

borne above all the depressions and despairs which naturally grow out of

severe affliction. Some of us can set our seal to this statement. Our

affliction, if it had not been for divine grace, would have crushed us out of

existence, so that we should have perished. In our darkest seasons nothing

has kept us from desperation but the promise of the Lord: yea, at times

nothing has stood between us and self destruction save faith in the eternal

word of God. When worn with pain until the brain has become dazed and

the reason well nigh extinguished, a sweet text has whispered to us its

heart cheering assurance, and our poor struggling mind has reposed upon

the bosom of God (Hebrews 10:35).  That which was our delight in prosperity

has been our light in adversity; that which in the day kept us from presuming has

in the night kept us from perishing. This verse contains a mournful supposition

"unless"; describes a horrible condition— "perished in mine affliction"; and

implies a glorious deliverance, for he did not die, but live to proclaim the

honors of the word of God.

 

93  “I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast

quickened me.”  When we have felt the quickening power of a precept we

never can forget it. We may read it, learn it, repeat it, and think we have it,

and yet it may slip out of our minds; but if it has once given us life or

renewed that life, there is no fear of its falling from our recollection.

Experience teaches, and teaches effectually. How blessed a thing it is to

have the precepts written on the heart with the golden pen of experience,

and graven on the memory with the divine stylus of grace. Forgetfulness is

a great evil in holy things; we see here the man of God fighting against it,

and feeling sure of victory because he knew the life giving energy of the

word in his own soul. That which quickens the heart is sure to quicken the

memory.  It seems singular that he should ascribe quickening to the precepts,

and yet it lies in them and in all the words of the Lord alike. It is to be noted that

when the Lord raised the dead He addressed to them the word of

command. He said, "Lazarus, come forth, " or "Maid, arise." We need not

fear to address gospel precepts to dead sinners, since by them the Spirit

gives them life. Remark that the Psalmist does not say that the precepts

quickened him, but that the Lord quickened him by their means: thus he

traces the life from the channel to the source, and places the glory where it

is due. Yet at the same time he prized the instruments of the blessing, and

resolved never to forget them. He had already remembered them when he

likened himself to a bottle in the smoke, and now he feels that whether in

the smoke or in the fire the memory of the Lord's precepts shall never

depart from him.

 

94  “I am thine, save me;” – A comprehensive prayer with a prevailing

argument. Consecration is a good plea for preservation. If we are

conscious that we are the Lord's we may be confident that He will save us.

We are the Lord's by creation, election, redemption, surrender, and

acceptance; and hence our firm hope and assured belief that He will save us.

A man will surely save his own child: Lord, save me!  The need of salvation

is better seen by the Lord's people than by any others, and hence their

prayer— "save me"; they know that only God can save them, and hence

they cry to Him alone; and they know that no merit can be found in

themselves, and hence they urge a reason fetched from the grace of God,

— "I am thine." "For I have sought thy precepts." Thus had he proved

that he was the Lord's. He might not have attained to all the holiness which he

desired, but he had studiously aimed at being obedient to the Lord, and

hence he begged to be saved even to the end. A man may be seeking the

doctrines and the promises, and yet be unrenewed in heart; but to seek the

precepts is a sure sign of grace; no one ever heard of a rebel or a hypocrite

seeking the precepts. The Lord had evidently wrought a great work upon

the Psalmist, and he besought Him to carry it on to completion. Saving is

linked with seeking, "save me, for I have sought"; and when the Lord sets

us seeking He will not refuse us the saving. He who seeks holiness is

already saved: if we have sought the Lord we may be sure that the Lord

has sought us, and will certainly save us.  (John 6:44)

 

95  “The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider

thy testimonies.” -  They were like wild beasts crouching by the way, or

highway men waylaying a defenseless traveler; but the Psalmist went on

his way without considering them, for he was considering something

better, namely, the witness or testimony which God has borne to the sons

of men. He did not allow the malice of the wicked to take him off from his

holy study of the divine word. He was so calm that he could "consider"; so

holy that he loved to consider the Lord's "testimonies"; so victorious over

all their plots that he did not allow them to drive him from his pious

contemplations. If the enemy cannot cause us to withdraw our thoughts

from holy study, or our feet from holy walking, or our hearts from holy

aspirations, he has met with poor success in his assaults. The wicked are

the natural enemies of holy men and holy thoughts; if they could, they

would not only damage us but destroy us, and if they cannot do this today

they will wait for further opportunities, ever hoping that their evil designs

may be compassed. They have waited hitherto in vain, and they will have to

wait much longer yet; for if we are so unmoved that we do not even give

them a thought their hope of destroying us must be a very poor one.

Note the double waiting, — the patience of the wicked who watch long

and carefully for an opportunity to destroy the godly, and then the patience

of the saint who will not quit his meditations, even to quiet his foes. See

how the serpent's seed lie in wait as an adder that biteth at the horse's

heels; but see how the chosen of the Lord live above their venom, and take

no more notice of them than if they had no existence.

 

96  I have seen an end of all perfection:” -  He had seen its limit, for it

went but a little way; he had seen its evaporation under the trials of life, its

detection under the searching glance of truth, its exposure by the

confession of the penitent. There is no perfection beneath the moon.

Perfect men, in the absolute sense of the word, live only in a perfect world.

Some men see no end to their own perfection, but this is because they are

perfectly blind. The experienced believer has seen an end of all perfection

in himself, in his brethren, in the best man's best works. It would be well if

some who profess to be perfect could even see the beginning of perfection,

for we fear they cannot have begun aright, or they would not talk so

exceeding proudly. Is it not the beginning of perfection to lament your

imperfection? There is no such thing as perfection in anything which is the

work of man. "but thy commandment is exceeding broad." When the

breadth of the law is known the notion of perfection in the flesh vanishes:

that law touches every act, word, and thought, and is of such a spiritual

nature that it judges the motives, desires, and emotions of the soul. It

reveals a perfection which convicts us for shortcomings as well as for

transgressions, and does not allow us to make up for deficiencies in one

direction by special carefulness in others. The divine ideal of holiness is far

too broad for us to hope to cover all its wide arena, and yet it is no broader

than it ought to be. Who would wish to have an imperfect law? Nay, its

perfection is its glory; but it is the death of all glorying in our own

perfection. There is a breadth about the commandment which has never

been met to the full by a corresponding breadth of holiness in any mere

man while here below; ONLY IN JESUS  do we see it fully embodied.

The law is in all respects a perfect code; each separate precept of it is far

reaching in its hallowed meaning, and the whole ten cover all, and leave no space

wherein to please our passions. We may well adore the infinity of divine

holiness, and then measure ourselves by its standard, and bow before the

Lord in all lowliness, acknowledging how far we fall short of it.

 

 

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