|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
119:161-168 Those whose hearts stand in awe of God's word, will rather endure the wrath of man, than break the law of God. By the word of God we are unspeakable gainers. Every man hates to have a lie told him, but we should more hate telling a lie; by the latter we give an affront to God. The more we see the beauty of truth, the more we shall see the hateful deformity of a lie. We are to praise God even for afflictions; through grace we get good from them. Those that love the world have great vexation, for it does not answer what they expect; those that love God's word have great peace, for it outdoes what they expect. Those in whom this holy love reigns, will not perplex themselves with needless scruples, or take offence at their brethren. A good hope of salvation will engage the heart in doing the commandments. And our love to the word of God must subdue our lusts, and root out carnal affections: we must make heart work of it, or we make nothing of it. We must keep the commandments of God by obedience to them, and his promises by reliance on them. God's eye is on us at all times; this should make us very careful to keep his commandments.
Verse 161. - Princes have persecuted me without a cause. The "princes" may be either foreign or native; but from ver. 23 it would rather appear that native princes are intended. But my heart standeth in awe of thy Word. Yet I do not fear them, or heed what they say. Of nothing do I stand in awe, except "thy Word."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
SCHIN.--The Twenty-first Part.
SCHIN. Princes have persecuted me without a cause,.... These were either the princes of the Philistines at the court of Achish; or the princes of Israel, who joined in the conspiracy with Absalom; or the princes in Saul's court, as Kimchi observes; who insinuated that David had evil designs against the king, drove him from abiding in the Lord's inheritance, and pursued him from place to place, as a partridge on the mountains, 1 Samuel 29:4; and all which was without any cause or reason on his part; and which, as it was an aggravation of the sin of his persecutors, so it was an alleviation of his affliction: in this he was, a type of Christ, against whom the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers took counsel together; Herod, Pontius Pilate, and others, the princes of this world, who crucified the Lord of glory, and hated him without a cause; who was holy and harmless, and never did any injury to any man's person or property, Psalm 2:2;
but my heart standeth in awe of thy word: not in awe of the princes, but of the word of God; he had a greater regard to that than to them: when they in effect said, "go, serve other gods", 1 Samuel 26:19; he remembered what the word of God says, "thou shall have no other gods before me", Exodus 20:3; and this was a means of preserving him from sinning. Kimchi thinks some respect is had to the word of God by Nathan the prophet, "I will raise up evil against thee out of thine house", &c. 2 Samuel 12:11; and he was afraid, on account of this word, lest he should fall into the hands of the princes: but it seems not to be an excruciating tormenting fear that is here meant; but a high regard for, and a holy reverence of the word of God, or a reverential affection for it; such as is consistent with the highest joy on account of it, as follows.
The Treasury of David
161 Princes have persecuted me without a cause, but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.
162 I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.
163 I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do Ilove.
164 Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.
165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
166 Lord, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.
167 My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.
168 I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies; for all my ways are before thee.
"Princes have persecuted me without a cause." Such persons ought to have known better; they should have had sympathy with one of their own rank. A man expects a fair trial at the hand of his peers: it is ignoble to be prejudiced. Moreover, if honour be banished from all other breasts it should remain in the bosom of kings, and honour forbids the persecution of the innocent. Princes are appointed to protect the innocent and avenge the oppressed, and it is a shame when they themselves become the assailants of the righteous. It was a sad case when the man of God found himself attacked by the judges of the earth, for eminent position added weight and venom to their enmity. It was well that the sufferer could truthfully assert that this persecution was without cause. He had not broken their laws, he had not injured them, he had not even desired to see them injured, he had not been an advocate of rebellion or anarchy, he had neither openly nor secretly opposed their power, and therefore, while this made their oppression the more inexcusable, it took away a part of its sting, and helped the brave-hearted servant of God to bear up. "But my heart standeth in awe of thy word." He might have been overcome by awe of the princes had it not been that a greater fear drove out the less, and he was swayed by awe of God's word. How little do crowns and sceptres become in the judgment of that man who perceives a more majestic royalty in the commands of his God. We are not likely to be disheartened by persecution, or driven by it into sin, if the word of God continually has supreme power over our minds.
"I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil." His awe did not prevent hi, joy; his fear of God was not of the kind which perfect love casts out, but of the sort which it nourishes. He trembled at the word of the Lord, and yet rejoiced at it. He compares his joy to that of one who has been long in battle, and has at last won the victory and is dividing the spoil. This usually falls to the lot of princes, and though David was not one with them in their persecutions, yet he had his victories, and his spoil was equal to their greatest gains. The profits made in searching the Scriptures were greater than the trophies of war. We too have to fight for divine truth; every doctrine costs us a battle, but when we gain a full understanding of it by personal struggles it becomes doubly precious to us. In these days godly men have a full share of battling for the word of God; may we have for our spoil a firmer hold upon the priceless word. Perhaps, however, the Psalmist may have rejoiced as one who comes upon hidden treasure for which he had not fought, in which case we find the analogy in the man of God who, while reading the Bible, makes grand and blessed discoveries of the grace of God laid up for him, - discoveries which surprise him, for he looked not to find such a prize. Whether we come by the truth as finders or as warriors fighting for it, the heavenly treasure should be equally dear to us. With what quiet joy does the ploughman steal home with his golden find! How victors shout as they share the plunder! How glad should that man be who has discovered his portion in the promises of holy writ, and is able to enjoy it for himself, knowing by the witness of the Holy Spirit that it is all his own.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
SCHIN. (Ps 119:161-168).
161-165. (Compare Ps 119:46, 86).
awe—reverential, not slavish fear, which could not coexist with love (Ps 119:163; 1Jo 4:8). Instead of fearing his persecutors, he fears God's Word alone (Lu 12:4, 5). The Jews inscribe in the first page of the great Bible (Ge 28:17), "How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!"
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