Psalm 119:25
Such seems to be the tone and spirit of this section. There has been the waking up to a great peril, and hence there has come the tightening of the grasp on God, the clinging to him with the greater tenacity because of the one peril seen and felt.

I. THE PENITENT CONFESSION AND PRAYER. (Ver. 25.) The psalmist owns that the world is getting too much and terrible power over him; that his soul, instead of mounting up to God in holy aspiration and endeavor, cleaves to the dust; and he dreads lest he should fall away altogether, and therefore prays, "Quicken thou me," etc.

II. HE ENCOURAGES HIMSELF BY RECALLING GOD'S ANSWERS TO HIS PRAYERS IN THE PAST. When before he had made like confession and supplication, it had not been in vain.

III. HE PRAYS DEFINITELY for what he feels will really help him.

1. That God should teach him his statutes. (Ver. 26.) That God should do this; he cannot teach himself, others cannot teach him, but God can. This is what we all want.

2. That God should make him understand his Word. He had heard it, read it, but he wanted that deep realization of it which only a true understanding of it could supply.

3. And he wanted this that he might bear effectual testimony. "So shall I talk," etc. (ver. 27). Such testimony would not only bless others, but would react on himself, as it ever does, and would be one of the effectual ways in which God would quicken him.

IV. HE TELLS THE LORD HOW GREAT HIS TROUBLE IS, and prays and pleads for help.

1. His trouble was that he feared he was losing hold of God. He was breaking his heart over it, for, to a godly man, there is no greater trouble than to feel as if every good in him, all that God had given him of his grace, were falling away from him. That is trouble indeed.

2. He prays for help. "Strengthen thou me." As if he would say he could not hold on much longer; unless help came, he must give way.

3. He pleads the Word of God. "According to thy Word" (see homily on ver. 25).

V. HE CONFESSES AND PRAYS AGAINST THE EVIL WAY INTO WHICH HE HAD FALLEN - "the way of lying." Not - so scholars say - the habit of falsehood and lies in common Speech, but rather of unfaithfulness, falseness to God. Uttering vows and never fulfilling them, making holy resolves and forgetting and breaking them. How many do this! How easy it is to fall into this way! We use strong impassioned expressions in hymns and prayers, and when we look for the corresponding acts they are not to be found. And this, like the veriest vice, does, as Burns says-

"... hardens all within,
And petrifies the feeling." Well, therefore, may he pray, "Remove from me," etc. He asks for two things:

1. The taking away of the old evil. In all spiritual reformation this must come first. Repentance is just this. Then:

2. The imparting of God's Law. The forming and fashioning of the soul after that Law.

VI. HE MAKES PROTESTATION.

1. That his will is ever on God's side. (Ver. 30.) "I have chosen," etc. His deliberate choice and preference is, not the way of lying, but the way of truth, and hence he keeps ever before him God's judgments.

2. That he has acted according to his resolve. He has stuck unto God's testimonies. He had held on, clung tightly. He could appeal to the Lord's knowledge of this, and plead that he should not be put to shame.

3. That he will live the quickened life if God will enlarge his heart by shedding abroad therein his own love and the knowledge of his will. - S.C.







My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken Thou me according to Thy Word.
Several verses of this long psalm begin with the same words: "My soul melteth away from very heaviness"; "my soul hath longed for Thy salvation"; "my soul is always in my hand"; "oh, let my soul live, and it shall praise Thee." Often as the expression occurs it is the recognition from old time, and even under the old dispensation, of something in us, not imagination, not memory, not intellect, not even conscience; something which is real, important, and everlasting; something of which the health and disease, the welfare and adversity, the happiness and misery makes itself felt, can be marked and recorded, and is of vital moment to the being, the I, myself, I, of the immortal accountable man.

I. A DIRE MALADY OF THE SOUL. It is not the occasional, but the habitual loss of interest in things spiritual. It is the inability ever or anyhow to hold conscious intercourse with Him who is our life. It is the hanging for hours over a prayer which will not speak; or, to take the commoner case, it is rather the acquiescing in that dumbness, treating it as a misfortune, or calling it a sin, yet going on in it as though a hardship or else a punishment, but in either view to be let alone and made the best of. It is the shelving of the Bible as a book which may have a voice for others, but which has no voice for us. It is the going about the daily business as a machine that has neither heart nor will in it.

II. THE POSSIBLE CAUSES OF A CONDITION SO LAMENTABLE. Either the strength has been undermined, before any effort was made after God, by some evil habit of boyhood, youth, or manhood, fatal to moral and spiritual energy; or else the very virtue has gone out of the religion by the attempt to serve two masters, the one in name and appearance, the other in deed and in truth. But without this last and saddest supposition, there may have been at some point a definite failure in duty or affection which has given a shock to the better nature from which it has never recovered, and of which this paralysis of the higher being is the Nemesis and the retribution. Yet, again, without any such definiteness of cause and effect, there is much of explanation in that Egyptian taunt of old, "Ye are idle, ye are idle," in its bearing upon the secret life and the Godward relationship. Men who are vigorous in all else, in business or polities, in field sports or personal habits, are unmanly and effeminate in spiritual effort.

III. THE CRY FOR HELP. "My soul cleaveth to the dust;" and, though I was taken from the dust, and to dust shall return, yet God breathed into me afterwards a living soul, and that soul is not dust, and that soul must return to the God that gave it. Tell me, thou man of God, how to snap this chain, how to disengage this attachment of the God-breathed soul to the dust from which its mere shell and husk were taken.

IV. THE ANSWER TO THE CRY. The psalmist seems to have had but one answer to this request. It forms the last part of the text: "Quicken Thou me; oh, quicken Thou me." You see hew he felt that the thing impossible with men is possible with God. To cleave to the dust before God, consciously and purposely, in the sight of God, is at once to pray, to beseech Him to look upon you, and to call Him in to witness my misery, is to pray. We de not say — for it would be untrue — that the soul which has long cleaved to the dust will all at once spread her wings for the everlasting flight. It is not so. It would not be a moral doctrine to leave out of sight and mention efforts, daily possible relapses and frequent disappointments. Only we say, that which God has once done in quickening, God will do again, day by day; will de again and again without upbraiding; and will not leave you until He has done it effectually.

(Dean Vaughan.)

I. A CONFESSION. The psalmist felt that his mind had become sordid.

1. One in such a state will neglect duty. It is a burden, because there is no pleasure felt in the performance.

2. A state of relapse is generally marked by a heartless performance of those duties which are not entirely neglected.

3. This state is always attended with a pressure of worldly care.

4. The wandering believer must be the subject of small enjoyments.

II. A PRAYER.

III. THE PLEA used by the psalmist in his guilty and gloomy circumstances. "Quicken Thou me according to Thy Word," according to Thy gracious promises. In making this plea, the psalmist discovered both his humility and his faith.

IV. CONCLUSION.

1. The subject gives us a humiliating picture of the human heart.

2. The subject gives us enlarged views of the mercy of God, that He will make beings so depraved the objects of His affectionate regard.

(D. A. Clark.)

I. THE PSALMIST'S COMPLAINT. "My soul cleaveth unto the dust." This is the complaint of one:

1. Conscious of the spirit of worldliness. Worldliness is a false relation to human creatures and to worldly things.(1) An unnatural thing — that the immortal should be loaded with thick clay.(2) A dishonourable thing — to subordinate the spirit to things and relations which it ought to use and rule.(3) A destructive thing. Being too much with the world, coveting it, finding our pleasure in it, forgetting its higher uses, we lose our spiritual insights, sensibilities, strivings, delights, and become of the earth earthy. To be carnally minded is death to all the nobler senses.

2. Conscious of the bondage of sorrow. Cleaving to the dust suggests sitting in dust and ashes, as Job did when he was overwhelmed with grief. If we loved the world less, many woes would cease to consume and exhaust us. If we thought more of the honour that cometh from God, we should be less troubled by the reproach of men; if we thought more of the treasures of the soul, we should be less afflicted by the moth and rust which dissolve material treasures; if we lived more in the higher world of thought and feeling, we should be less affected by the ebb and flow of an ever-changing world of shadows and echoes.

II. THE PSALMIST'S APPEAL. "Quicken Thou me according to Thy Word." This appeal is to the right source.

1. God quickens us by granting new insight into the highest truth. The perception of a great truth invigorates our whole nature (Psalm 36:9).

2. God quickens us by kindling in us a new affection to Himself and to whatever reflects Him. When the love of God is shed abroad in the heart, the power and tyranny of terrestrial life abate.

3. God quickens us by inspiring us with a new hope.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

I. REASONS WHY WE SHOULD SEEK QUICKENING.

1. The deadening influence of the world.

2. The influence of that which is actually sinful (ver. 37).

3. We are surrounded by deceivers (vers. 87, 88).

4. In seasons of affliction we are apt to fall into a dark, cold, dead state of mind (ver. 107).

II. MOTIVES FOR SEEKING QUICKENING.

1. Because of what you are. Life is always aiming at more life.

2. Because of what you ought to be — like Jesus Christ; He was full of life.

3. Because of what you shall be. You are to be a pure spirit in heaven; be spiritual now.

4. In order to obedience (ver. 88).

5. Because it will be your comfort (ver. 107).

6. As the best security against attacks of enemies (vers. 87, 88).

III. SOME OF THE WAYS BY WHICH THIS QUICKENING MAY BE WROUGHT IN US. Of course the Lord Himself must do it. In prayer it must be sought, because by His power it must be wrought. God quickens His people:

1. By His Word (ver 50).

2. By affliction (ver. 107).

3. By means of Divine comfort (ver. 50).

IV. WHERE ARE OUR PLEAS WHEN WE COME BEFORE GOD TO ASK FOR QUICKENING? What arguments shall we use?

1. Use first the argument of your necessity. Whatever that necessity is, particularize it, as David does in ver. 107.

2. Plead the earnest desire that God has kindled in you (ver. 40).

3. Appeal to His righteousness.

4. Plead His lovingkindness (ver. 38).

5. Plead His Word (vers. 25, 107).

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

It sounds like a paradox for the spiritual man to say that he is bound by the material, and cannot emancipate himself from it. A paradox, however, only at first sight, and only in seeming. For it is only the spiritual man who is sensible of the humiliations and the degradations of the material, and therefore impatient of them. If he were of the dust, he would be content to remain on the dust-level. He would be in his own element, satisfied with it, unconscious of any higher aspirations. It is a question of spiritual sensitiveness. This is why it is that in the diaries of the saintliest people you find the deadliest self-accusation. John Bunyan, in his "Grace Abounding," paints himself as a villain of the deepest dye for peccadilloes that would never have troubled an ordinary conscience. His spiritual nature was like the outer membrane of the eyeball, and the presence of an infinitesimal evil in his soul caused him the acutest pain. We seem, even the best of us, to be ever sinking back to our native element; the spiritual is ever reverting to the original animal. This, indeed, is the source of all our conflict. Our souls "cleave unto the dust," because we are dust. We are not, however, to despise and hold cheap even our corporeal parts. Matter is evil only when we sustain a wrong relation to it. "First the natural, afterward that which is spiritual." But then the spiritual must dominate the natural. When we take Christ fully into our hearts, the higher elements within us become regal, and the lower subside into their place. They are not suppressed. If they were, our manhood would be left incomplete. But they are subordinated. We are no longer "carnally minded," though the flesh is still with us. "The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus" introduces a new and regnant principle into the soul, to which the animal passions and fleshly instincts transfer their allegiance. And it is while this process is going on, and because it is going on, that such confessions as that of our text break from the struggling heart. We no more belong to the dust when we can make this confession and offer its accompanying prayer. It is the sign and the song of our uprising. By force of old habit we cling to the dust, but not with longing, rather with loathing; not with desire for it, but with passion for freedom from it. We are often like the miserable fly struggling to extricate it, s cloyed wings from the honey which is its lawful food, but to which it has been too passionately addicted. The poor thing wants to rise, it tries to soar, but it is, as it were, glued to the lower element, and will be suffocated in it, unless some friendly finger comes to the rescue. There is the picture of our condition. Fain would we ascend to the heights of spiritual communion, fain would we breathe the heavenly air and behold the vision of God, but our sins and foolishness cause us to "cleave unto the dust." But for us, too, as for Paul, there is the friendly aid. "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord."

(J. Halsey.)

I. IT IS NOT A STRANGE EXPERIENCE FOR BELIEVERS TO BE IN THIS DEPRESSED CONDITION, THE SOUL CLEAVING TO THE DUST. — Sometimes there may be physical causes connected with a man's state of health, and sometimes other providences of God are concerned in producing this state of things, but it is a stage in a man's spiritual history. There are many causes which have to do with it. Generally it is connected with indwelling sin. More particularly it arises in connection with the failure of faith on the part of believers. Looking at it from the side of God's providence, it is permitted by God just as a step in the believer's history; because it is necessary that the believer's history should include an enlarged acquaintance with himself, with his own insufficiency, with his own tendency to unbelief, and darkness, and sin.

II. IT IS NOT CHARACTERISTIC OF A BELIEVER TO BE CONTENTED IN THIS CONDITION. How should he be? If he is a believer he has faith in the living God, and in the power of a life-giving Christ. Now, can any man have a believing consciousness that there is this living and life-giving Christ, this Mediator, this Redeemer, and be contented with an experience which in so humiliating a way contrasts with Christ and the fit state of Christ's people? The believer has faith also in the life-giving Spirit and in the mission and work of the Holy Ghost in its peculiar power and gentleness and love. What it is, perhaps, he can hardly feel when his soul is cleaving to the dust; but he believes it. How can a man who believes this be content to go on with his soul cleaving to the dust? And, again, the believer has the conviction and persuasion that his proper home and portion are above; that there is a heaven on high containing all elements that are pure and suitable to the life and blessedness of God, and he is on the way to it, and his Lust is that, through God's mercy, he will reach the country he seeks. And with these experiences how can he be contented to lie in the dust, making no progress — at least not feeling that he is making progress? Therefore he casts himself on God in prayer.

III. THERE IS A SURE REFUGE FOR THE BELIEVER WITH REFERENCE TO THIS CASE OF HIS. There is life for those who feel in themselves so much that looks like death. "Quicken thou me" — give me life, cause me to live — "according to Thy Word." This cry is not merely a cry of distress. He has the Word which he can plead made known to him. What Word? There are many particular promises adapting the provisions of the Gospel to the experience of believers; but we should always have regard to the root promise when we betake ourselves to God. That promise was given to Abraham: "I will be a God unto thee." Therefore, he whose soul cleaves to the dust is met and satisfied by that great promise that out of an experience in itself no way good to us or glorifying to God may come lessons good for us and glorifying to God. Application:

1. There is great reason for hopefulness in the condition of believers even when their souls cleave to the dust. There is comfort for the sorrowful, refreshing for the weary, strength for the weak, life for the faint, and forgiveness of sins for sinners.

2. There is great reason for earnestness. It is not a fitting thing that people should be contented while their souls are cleaving to the dust. There should be earnest and instant recourse to God, with the expectation that something very different from cleaving to the dust shall presently be ours.

3. There is a sure reward for those that seek the Lord.

(R. Rainy, D. D.)

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