|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
119:73-80 God made us to serve him, and enjoy him; but by sin we have made ourselves unfit to serve him, and to enjoy him. We ought, therefore, continually to beseech him, by his Holy Spirit, to give us understanding. The comforts some have in God, should be matter of joy to others. But it is easy to own, that God's judgments are right, until it comes to be our own case. All supports under affliction must come from mercy and compassion. The mercies of God are tender mercies; the mercies of a father, the compassion of a mother to her son. They come to us when we are not able to go to them. Causeless reproach does not hurt, and should not move us. The psalmist could go on in the way of his duty, and find comfort in it. He valued the good will of saints, and was desirous to keep up his communion with them. Soundness of heart signifies sincerity in dependence on God, and devotedness to him.
Verse 73. - Thy hands have made me and fashioned me (comp. Psalm 100:3; Psalm 138:8; Psalm 139:14). The "fundamental passage" is Deuteronomy 32:6; but the present psalmist seems to follow Job 10:8. Give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments. If thou hast done so much for me, wilt thou not do more? Without "understanding" this body that thou hast given me is nothing worth (comp. ver. 34).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
JOD.--The Tenth Part.
JOD. Thy hands have made me and fashioned me,.... Not the psalmist himself, nor his parents, but the Lord alone: for though parents are fathers of our flesh, they are but instruments in the hand of the Lord; though man is produced by natural generation, yet the formation and fashioning of men are as much owing to the power and wisdom of God, which are his hands, as the formation of Adam was. Job owns this in much the same words as the psalmist does, Job 10:8; see Psalm 139:13. God not only gives conception, and forms the embryo in the womb, but fashions and gives it its comely and proportionate parts. Or, "covered me"; the first word may respect conception, and this the covering of the fetus with the secundine (t); see Psalm 139:13;
give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments; since he had a proper comely body, and a reasonable soul; though debased by sin, and brought into a state of ignorance, especially as to spiritual things, he desires he might have a spiritual understanding given him; of the word of God in general, the truths and doctrines of it, which are not understood by the natural man; and of the precepts of it in particular, that he might so learn them as to know the sense and meaning of them, their purity and spirituality; and so as to do them from a principle of love, in faith, and to the glory of God: for it is not a bare learning them by heart, or committing them to memory, nor a mere theory of them, but the practice of them in faith and love, which is here meant.
(t) Vid. Hackmam. Praecid. Sacr. p. 195.
The Treasury of David
73 Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.
74 They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.
75 I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
76 Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.
77 Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live' for thy law is my delight.
78 Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.
79 Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies.
80 Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.
We have now come to the tenth portion, which in each stanza begins with Jod, but it certainly does not treat of jots and titles and other trifles. Its subject would seem to be personal experience and its attractive influence upon others. The prophet is in deep sorrow, but looks to be delivered and made a blessing. Endeavouring to teach, the Psalmist first seeks to be taught (Psalm 119:73), persuades himself that he win be well received (Psalm 119:74), and rehearses the testimony which he intends to bear (Psalm 119:75). He prays for more experience (Psalm 119:76, 19 119:77), for the baffling of the proud (Psalm 119:78), for the gathering together of the godly to him (Psalm 119:79), and for himself again that he may be fully equipped for his witness-bearing and may be sustained in it (Psalm 119:80). This is the anxious yet hopeful cry of one who is heavily afflicted by cruel adversaries, and therefore makes his appeal to God as his only friend.
"Thy hands have made me and fashioned me." It is profitable to remember our creation, it is pleasant to see that the divine hand has had much to do with us, for it never moves apart from the divine thought. It excites reverence, gratitude, and affection towards God when we view him as our Maker, putting forth the careful skill and power of his hands in our forming and fashioning. He took a personal interest in us, making us with his own hands; he was doubly thoughtful, for he is represented both as making and moulding us. In both giving existence and arranging existence he manifested love and wisdom; and therefore we find reasons for praise, confidence, and expectation in our being and well-being. "Give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments." As thou hast made me, teach me. Here is the vessel which thou hast fashioned; Lord, fill it. Thou hast given me both soul and body; grant me now thy grace that my soul may know thy will, and my body may join in the performance of it. The plea is very forcible; it is an enlargement of the cry, "Forsake not the work of thine own hands." Without understanding the divine law and rendering obedience to it we are imperfect and useless; but we may reasonably hope that the great Potter will complete his work and give the finishing touch to it by imparting to it sacred knowledge and holy practice. If God had roughly made us, and had not also elaborately fashioned us, this argument would lose much of its force; but surely from the delicate art and marvellous skill which the Lord has shown in the formation of the human body, we may infer that he is prepared to take equal pains with the soul till it shall perfectly bear his image.
A man without a mind is an idiot, the mere mockery of a man; and a mind' without grace is wicked, the sad perversion of a mind. We pray that we may not be left without a spiritual judgment: for this the Psalmist prayed in Psalm 119:66, and he here pleads for it again; there is no true knowing and keeping of the commandments without it. Fools can sin; but only those who are taught of God can be holy. We often speak of gifted men; but he has the best gifts to whom God has given a sanctified understanding wherewith to know and prize the ways of the Lord. Note well that David's prayer for understanding is not for the sake of speculative knowledge, and the gratification of his curiosity: he desires an enlightened judgment that he may learn God's commandments, and so become obedient and holy. This is the best of learning. A man may abide in the College where this science is taught all his days, and yet cry out for ability to learn more. The commandment of God is exceeding broad, and so it affords scope for the most vigorous and instructed mind' in fact, no man has by nature an understanding capable of compassing so wide a field, and hence the prayer, "give me understanding"; - as much as to say - I can learn other things with the mind I have, but thy law is so pure, so perfect, spiritual and sublime, that I need to have my mind enlarged before I can become proficient in it. He appeals to his maker to do this, as if he felt that no power short of that which made him could make him wise unto holiness. We need a new creation, and who can grant us that but the Creator himself? He who made us to live must make us to learn; he who gave us power to stand must give us grace to understand. Let us each one breathe to heaven the prayer of this verse ere we advance a step further, for we shall be lost even in these petitions unless we pray our way through them, and cry to God for understanding.
"They that fear thee will be glad when they see me: because I have hoped in thy word." When a man of God obtains grace for himself he becomes a blessing to others, especially if that grace has made him a man of sound understanding and holy knowledge. God-fearing men are encouraged when they meet with experienced believers. A hopeful man is a God-send when things are declining or in danger. When the hopes of one believer are fulfilled his companions are cheered and established, and led to hope also. It is good for the eyes to see a man whose witness is that the Lord is true; it is one of the joys of saints to hold converse with their more advanced brethren. The fear of God is not a left-handed grace, as some have called it; it is quite consistent with gladness; for if even the sight of a comrade gladdens the God-fearing, how glad must they be in the presence of the Lord himself l We do not only meet to share each others' burdens, but to partake in each others' joys, and some men contribute largely to the stock of mutual gladness. Hopeful men bring gladness with them. Despondent spirits spread the infection of depression, and hence few are glad to see them, while those whose hopes are grounded upon God's word carry sunshine in their faces, and are welcomed by their fellows. There are professors whose presence scatters sadness, and the godly quietly steal out of their company: may this never be the case with us.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
JOD. (Ps 119:73-80).
73. As God made, so He can best control, us. So as to Israel, he owed to God his whole internal and external existence (De 32:6).
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