Psalm 119:97


Then follows a series of reasons why.

I. IT FURNISHES HIM WITH HAPPY THOUGHT ALL THE DAY LONG. (Ver. 97.) It is good to cultivate the habit of turning our thoughts to the things of God as they are told of in his Word. The habit is not natural to us, but God, by his Spirit, will help us to cultivate it. And how full of help and blessedness it is, none but those who have acquired it can declare; but such have declared this, as the psalmist here, again and again.

II. WITH PRACTICAL WISDOM, SO THAT HE CAN ORDER HIS WAY ARIGHT. This is what is meant here by "wisdom" and "understanding." By means of it he can:

1. Outwit his enemies (ver. 98), no matter how crafty their policy.

2. Become wiser than his teachers. They may be full of sound doctrine, but the soul that is partaker of God's grace is wiser than they.

3. Understands more than the men of olden time. "Understanding gotten by the precepts of the Word is better than that gotten by long experience.

III. HOLDS HIM BACK FROM SIN. (Ver. 101.) He has come to love righteousness and hate iniquity; but he knows that if he is to keep in this mind he must refrain, etc. He that will go into sin grieves and banishes from his soul the Spirit of God. Many people desire to be holy, but they desire ever so many other things along with it - this, for example, that occasionally they may allow themselves in some evil way. And so they never attain to holiness; such double-hearted ones never can. God must teach us this (ver. 102).

IV. BECOMES HIS DELIGHT. (Ver. 103.) This is the meaning of the metaphor of this verse. The soul has its relish as well as the palate. And it is a blessed thing when the soul has a real relish for the things of God. Christ said, "I delight to do thy will, O my God." So was it foretold of him (Psalm 40.). And he himself said, "My meat and my drink is to do the will of him that sent me." The religion of fear, of conscience, of sense, of duty, of hope, of reward, is feeble - must be so - but the religion that delights in God is strong for all things.

V. GIVES HOLY HATRED OF ALL SIN. (Ver. 104.) He whom God has taught so to understand will thus hate all sin. Blessed hatred is this. - S.C.







O how love I Thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
I. THEY ARE INDUBITABLY AUTHENTICATED AND DIVINELY INSPIRED. 1 The concurrent testimony of Jew and Gentile, of friend and foe, borne through successive ages to the present time, ascertains their authenticity and truth.

2. Existing rites and festivals attest the truth of sacred history.

3. The veracity and accuracy of the inspired books received additional confirmation from the undesigned coincidences of expression in the writings of the sacred penmen, with the relations of facts and occurrences by others, or those narrated by themselves on other occasions.

4. But it is not mere accuracy for which we contend, but also for the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures. They were written under the direction and influence of the Holy Ghost.

II. THEY ARE THE ONLY INFALLIBLE DEPOSITORIES OF ALL TRUE THEOLOGY AND MORALS.

III. THEY HAVE BEEN TRANSMITTED TO US WITHOUT ANY MATERIAL ALTERATIONS OR CORRUPTIONS.

IV. THEY HAVE SURVIVED THE MOST RIGOROUS ATTEMPTS OF PAGANISM AND SUPERSTITION TO SUPPRESS OR DESTROY THEM.

V. THE SCRIPTURES ARE EVERY WAY DESERVING OF INCESSANT AND DELIGHTFUL STUDY.

1. They develop the origin and destination of man.

2. They unveil the dispensations of Divine Providence.

3. They unfold the astonishing mysteries of redemption.

4. They contain the most sublime morality.

5. They reveal the solemnities of eternity.

(J. Townley, D. D.)

I. ITS AUTHORSHIP. It is the Word of God: its contents were dictated by eternal wisdom; its laws are the laws of heaven; its teachings are the teachings of Jehovah. It is an embodiment of the eternal mind God has adopted every method for instructing man. When teaching us about Himself, His milder character is painted in a thousand hues, delightfully blended. Instead of employing a pen, He ordered the sun to photograph His lovelier attributes upon the landscape; while His majesty stands out in bold relief in mountains whose snow-capped heads, towering in haughty grandeur, appear to prop up with their broad based pillar-like support, the spacious firmament. But His mind, in reference to man, is conveyed in the language of men, by inbreathing His thoughts and intentions into the minds of the sacred penmen, and then, by His Spirit's infallible unerringness, guiding the hand to write them. When James

I. wrote a book for the edification of his son Charles, it was pompously called by that high-sounding title, "Basilikon Doron" — a royal gift. How much more may the Bible be called "A royal gift," since its Author is the King of kings — compared with whose kingliness the greatest and brightest of earthly crowns no more resembles royalty than a crown of thorns does one sparkling with diamonds! Not only is this Book a royal, but a parental, gift-the gift of our heavenly Father: a Book dedicated to, and designed for, the eternal benefit of His children. Yes, it is our Father's legacy to us.

II. ITS CONTENTS. The very first sentence of Scripture dispels a dark cloud of ignorance, which for ages enveloped the most learned and far-seeing sages of the Grecian schools. Even to that great emporium of learning, Athens, the world's origin was enchambered, locked up in some dark, mysterious recess, to which she herself could find no key. But in the very first sentence of the Bible we see the Omnipotent Jehovah emerging from the still quiet of eternal solitude, speaking His creative fiat, and a world is born. Not only do we learn our origin, but our destiny. This was one of the most perplexing enigmas which the ancients tried — but tried in vain — to solve. A dense mist hung heavily over the boundaries of the spirit world, which no optic glass of man's device could penetrate. The wisest and best of heathen philosophers could not follow man beyond the horizon of death.

III. ITS STYLE. Here one finds the most majestic imagery, the sublimest figures, and the noblest strains of eloquence. Here is found poetry unparalleled for grandeur, pathos, and fire. "No songs," says Milton, "are like the songs of Zion." Here, in touching, melting passionateness, we are told the most affecting narratives; and here are pictures true to the very life, pencilled from the old world scenery. And though the book is comparatively small, what biographical encyclopaedia ever contained so much useful history?

IV. ITS POWER.

V. ITS SUITABILITY FOR OUR NEEDS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. It is the guide of youth and the staff of old age. No other lamp sheds such a bright, cheering radiance, as this does, to relieve the gloom in the chamber of sickness. It is a garden of healing balm for the wounded spirit; and to those who are tempest-tossed it affords many a peaceful haven to take refuge in. And then, this is the only book which contains light enough to guide us through the valley of the shadow of death. Shining brightest in the dark, it is then more than ever a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

(G. Terry.)

Many have expressed their indebtedness to this long psalm for encouragement, inspiration, direction. It has been a rod and a staff to comfort them. It might seem at first that such expressions as abound in this psalm cannot be applied to the law as we understand the term. This is an ill-advised opinion, and marks some mental confusion, for in truth law is exceedingly interesting. I do not know of any men who are more enamoured of their profession than lawyers. But I mark that two things are connected with the pleasure which these men have in their calling. There are two terms which are constantly used. I ask what a young man is doing, and I am told that he is studying law. I ask the same question a few years later, and I am told he is practising law. These two things belong in the delight of the man of the law, and are essential to its permanence. It is not enough that one should have a collection of law-books, should occasionally read in them, should admire very many things which they contain; but he must make a patient study of the law, and faithfully apply its principles to the interests of men. Grant me these two things, and I will promise a true delight in the law of the Lord. The law of the Lord includes all the announcements of His will. It embraces the Ten Commandments and all the legislation of Moses. The teachings of the prophets belong in it, and the words of Christ Himself and of His apostles. The term is now to be used in a wider sense than when this unknown psalmist pronounced his eulogium upon the statutes and testimonies of the law. It is the entire will of God, as this is given for the government of our life.

I. WHY SHOULD WE LOVE THE LAW OF THE LORD?

1. Because it is the Lord's law. It is His nature expressing itself. God is love, and law is love, guiding the men it loves. It is the revelation of His heart. Kings make laws: God reveals them. It is quietly given to us, not amid the thunders and lightnings of Sinai, but by voices long silent, in the pages of the Bible, in our conscience and reason. It is given in principles, not in regulations. It is given in outline, which we are to complete by such precepts as our life demands.

2. The law of the Lord is right. It is perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect. It fosters the right; it secures honesty in business, integrity in government, charity in society. It enlarges our joy. The fullest declaration we have of it begins with the note of pleasure. "I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt." So the Sermon on the Mount, more strict in its requirements than the Decalogue, opens with the Beatitudes. "Blessed and blessed," and from this beginning, the Teacher gives His precepts that the kindness of His heart may be fully enjoyed by those who hear Him. The law gives security also. It is the rule of the best. It is the guidance of the wisest. You wish to sail in the ship which has the best captain, and the one who is furnished with the best charts and compasses. In all our way through this world, with its confusion and its peril, we should love the law of the Lord which will guide us safely and in honour.

3. Again, the law of. the Lord is the law of heaven. Its principles belong in all the worlds. The loftiest angel and the humblest man of all the redeemed observe this taw with delight. The best proof that men are going to heaven is that they love the law of God before they reach its gate; that they delight to meditate in the law, to follow its commands, to live in its control. Unless this is true of us here, it can be little pleasure to anticipate the life in a world where the law of the Lord wilt surround us like the atmosphere, to be breathed in to-day and for ever.

4. Finally, we should love the law of the Lord because it is the law of Christ. It pervaded His life. "I came not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me." "I do always those things which please Him."

II. If we approve this which has been said, and agree that we should truly love the law of the Lord, the question may still come to our minds, BY WHAT MEANS SHALL I LOVE IT? I cannot compel my affection, though I could readily bring myself to obey the statutes. Yet delight in the law would not be more difficult than obedience if we would take the steps which lead to it.

1. If we are to love the law of the Lord, it is essential that we should know it. It has those attractive qualities which will commend themselves to any honest mind. It comes to us as the heart of God, and our heart will respond to it if we are true. It is not by admiring it afar off, by passing it upon the street and becoming familiar with its appearance, by being courteous and showing it favours, but by knowing it as one knows his friend. You think you knew the law of the Lord; but have you lived with it, taken it into your counsel, walked with it?

2. We find the love of the law by taking it from Christ. It is expressed in His life, it is spoken by His lips. The melody of a song depends greatly upon the voice of the singer. The law of the Lord has too often been spoken by human lips which had little grace upon them. Hear Christ teach the law. Mark the tone of His voice, the accent, the emphasis. See the radiance of His face. Mark the grace and truth which are upon Him, and the love of the law will spring readily in your heart. I wish that I could persuade you to try this. To do the will of God is a pleasant thing. Let us believe it, and live in the delight of it.

3. But if love delays to come, let us obey with all the heart we have, and all which rises at our summons; let us do the things which God would have us do. This will be right, and the beginning of right living, and the love will grow with the doing of His will till meditation will be delightful and obedience will be the freedom of a great joy. It is a good sign when a man loves the law of the Lord. One may be judged by what he loves. "There is something magnificent in having a country to love." There is something magnificent in having a God to love, and in having the heart to love Him. Happy man, that he can find solace in the statutes of God! Happy is he in his companions that they can enjoy the singing of his testimonies! Thus they charm away the weariness of the march, still their minds for the night, gather hope for the morning.

(A. MeKenzie, D. D.)

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