By them indeed Your servant is warned; in keeping them is great reward.
I. WHAT THE DIVINE LAW TAUGHT THE PSALMIST. (Vers. 12, 13.)
1. His manifold sins and errors. "Who can understand his errors?" Who can tell how often he offendeth? Our sins and mistakes are greater in number than we can understand or reckon. Our moral infirmity is greater than we can estimate.
2. That he was largely an ignorant transgressor. "Cleanse thou me from the sins that I know not of." Arising from self-deception and self-ignorance. Others see in us what we cannot see in ourselves. The proud and covetous and unjust do not think themselves so. Cleanse us from the pretence to virtues which we have not.
3. To pray for deliverance from the temptation to deliberate sins. That he might not commit presumptuous, wilful sin. He does not ask for the pardon of such sins, but to be restrained from them. "If we sin wilfully after that we have come to the knowledge of the truth," etc. No sacrifice in the Jewish Law for such sins.
II. THE LAW GREATLY REWARDS THE STEADFASTLY OBEDIENT. (Vers. 11, 14, 15.)
1. By giving them an increasing spirit of consecration. "Let my words and meditations and actions be more and more acceptable in thy sight." Obedience leads to further obedience, and longs for nothing short of being perfectly acceptable to God.
2. By giving a more perfect consciousness of God's acquaintance with our thoughts and ways. The whole passage shows that, as well as the fourteenth verse. The disobedient think they can hide their ways from God. "How doth God know?" The obedient know that all things are naked and open before him; and rejoice in the thought, because they are aiming at what is acceptable to him.
3. By revealing God as a sure, faithful Redeemer from all evil. A rock is the image of faithful stability, and means that God will not swerve from his promise of redemption. The disobedient are the unbelievers; they attribute their own mind to God, and so cannot trust him. - S.
By them is Thy servant warned.
I. CALL ATTENTION TO SOME OF THEM THUS CONNECTED WITH OUR OWN HISTORY, and the warnings they give.
1. Those which relate to the heart of man. We are told its deceitful character.
2. Examples in human character. They, as well as the words of Scripture, warn us against sin.
3. Those that come from the truth of eternity and of judgment to come.
II. THE REWARD OF OBEDIENCE.
1. It is present in the conscience; and
2. Prospective, in heaven.
3. And it is great in comparison with our deserts.
4. And in obedience itself there is great reward.
(W. D. Horwood.)
In keeping of them there is great reward.
(T. Kennion, M. A.)
1. As to the mind; to be pious and religious brings a double advantage to the mind of man. It tends to the improvement of our understandings. It raises and enlarges the minds of men, and makes them more capable of true knowledge. It improves the understandings of men by subduing their lusts and moderating their passions. Intemperance, sensuality, and fleshly lusts debase men's minds. Religion purifies and refines our spirits. Freedom from irregular passions doth not only signify that a man is wise, but really contributes to the making of him such. Religion also tends to the ease and pleasure, the peace and tranquillity, of our minds. This is the natural fruit of a religious and virtuous course of life. Religion contributes to our peace, by allaying those passions which are apt to ruffle and discompose our spirits; and by freeing us from the anxieties of guilt and the fears of Divine wrath and displeasure.
2. Religion also tends to the happiness of the outward man. The blessings of this kind respect our health, or estate, or reputation, or relations.
II. RELIGION CONDUCETH TO THE ETERNAL HAPPINESS AND SALVATION OF MEN IN THE OTHER WORLD. The consideration of future happiness is our most powerful motive. How religion conduces to happiness in the new life is seen from —
1. The promises of God; and
2. From the nature of the thing. It is a necessary disposition and preparation of us for that future life. When all is done there is no man can serve his own interest better than by serving God.
(J. Tillotson, D. D.)
(S. S. Smith, D. D.)
(Henry Melvill, B. D.)after, but in the keeping of the commandments there is great reward. That reward is the pleasure which lies in God's service now, not in the payment which is judicially made for it afterwards; just as the eye is regaled in the instant by sights of beauty, or the ear by the melody which falls upon it.
I. WHAT ARE THE INGREDIENTS OF THE PRESENT REWARD?
1. There is the happiness that flows direct from the sense of doing or having done what is right. The testimony of a good conscience. There is a felt and present solace in the taste of that hidden manna which it administers.
2. The affections of the heart which prompt to obedience. For love, whether it be towards God or towards men, is blessed. In its play and exercise there is instantaneous joy; there is delight in the original conceptions of benevolence, and delight also in its outgoings, whilst malignity, envy, and anger do but rankle the bosom. And we can confidently appeal, even to ungodly men, for the truth that in the grovelling pursuits, whether of sense or avarice, they never experienced so true a delight as in those moments when their spirit was touched into sympathy with other spirits than their own. And not only of love, but of all the other virtues, the same can be said. They one and all of them yield an immediate satisfaction to the wearer. The moralities of the human character are what make up the happiness and harmony of the soul. They are the very streams of that well which, struck out in the bosom of regenerated man, spring up there into life everlasting.
II. THE ADVANTAGE OF THE REWARD BEING IN, AND NOT AFTER, THE KEEPING OF THE COMMANDMENTS. Suppose it had been after, and quite distinct from that enjoyment of which we have spoken, and which lies directly and essentially in the obedience itself. This can easily be imagined — a heaven of gratification to the senses as a reward for holiness. Virtue then would be so much work for so much wages; heaven would not be looked for as a place of holiness, but as the price that is given for it. The candidates of immortality would be so many labourers for hire. And it would be no evidence at all of the love which you have for a work, that you have a love for its wages. It makes all the difference whether or no we love our work. Sordidness and sacredness are not wirier apart. This is so in common and ordinary work. How much more when it is the service of God that is in question!
III. HOW THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST AFFECTS THIS QUESTION.
1. It releases you altogether from the law as a covenant. It tells you that you are not to work for heaven, because that heaven is secured to you in another way. Eternal life is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. We could never pay for it, and therefore God gives it to us. And how blessed this is even for our characters as the subject of God's will. The old economy of "do this and live" makes up the. very spirit of bondage, and of low mercenary bargaining. With the fears of legality, the sordidness of legality is sure to make entrance again into the heart. Hence the only access to a sinner's heart for the love of holiness in itself is by making him the free offer of heaven as an unconditional gift, and at the same time making him understand that it is, in truth, holiness and nothing else which forms the very essence of heaven's blessedness. These are the things which constitute the difference between the real and the formal Christian. The inferior creatures may be dealt with by terror or by joy as well as he; his very obedience may proceed from the earthliness of his disposition. Much of the Christian may be put on; but the question is, if you delight in the law of God after the inner man, or whether you obey it because of consequences? Whether you are allured to holiness by the beauty of its graces, or by the bribery of its gains? Surely there is nothing noble in him who labours for the reward that comes after keeping the commandments, and thinks not of the "great reward" that comes "in keeping the commandments."
(T. Chalmers, D. D.)
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