|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
18:20-28 Those that forsake the ways of the Lord, depart from their God. But though conscious to ourselves of many a false step, let there not be a wicked departure from our God. David kept his eye upon the rule of God's commands. Constant care to keep from that sin, whatever it be, which most easily besets us, proves that we are upright before God. Those who show mercy to others, even they need mercy. Those who are faithful to God, shall find him all that to them which he has promised to be. The words of the Lord are pure words, very sure to be depended on, and very sweet to be delighted in. Those who resist God, and walk contrary to him, shall find that he will walk contrary to them, Le 26:21-24. The gracious recompence of which David spoke, may generally be expected by those who act from right motives. Hence he speaks comfort to the humble, and terror to the proud; Thou wilt bring down high looks. And he speaks encouragement to himself; Thou wilt light my candle: thou wilt revive and comfort my sorrowful spirit; thou wilt guide my way, that I may avoid the snares laid for me. Thou wilt light my candle to work by, and give me an opportunity of serving thee. Let those that walk in darkness, and labour under discouragements, take courage; God himself will be a Light to them.
Verse 21. - For I have kept the ways of the Lord. Compare the statement of the young man whom Jesus "looked upon and loved' (Mark 10:21), "All these commandments have I observed from my youth" (ver. 20). And have not wickedly departed from my God. It is observed that the word translated by "departed wickedly" implies "wilful and persistent wickedness" ('Speaker's Commentary') - "an entire alienation from God" (Calvin). Not even in the humblest of the penitential psalms, when David is bewailing his great offence, does he use this verb of himself. He is an example to all men not to indulge in a false humility, nor employ phrases concerning himself which go beyond the truth.
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For I have kept the ways of the Lord,.... Not those which the Lord himself walks in, his ways of providence, or of grace; though these are and should be taken notice of and observed by good men, as the word (y) used will bear to be rendered; but the ways which he has prescribed and directed men to walk in, the ways of his commandments, in which they should go; these were, in some measure, kept by David, who often, in the hundred nineteenth psalm speaks of his keeping the testimonies and statutes, and commandments of the Lord; as they are by good men, with some degree of pleasure, they take delight to walk in them; and with some degree of constancy, they keep walking in them, without turning to the right hand or the left, though solicited to it; but yet not perfectly, for they have many a slip and fall in them; wherefore this cannot be a reason of their being rewarded according to their righteousness: in strict justice, the words better agree with Christ, who kept the law of God perfectly, did his will completely; he came from heaven to do it; it was his meat and drink to accomplish it; and he always did the things which pleased his father, wherefore he rewarded him;
and have not wickedly departed from my God; which was, in some sense, true of David; not as by disbelieving the power and providence, the promises, truth, and faithfulness of God, and his covenant interest in him; which to do would have been a wicked departure from God; see Hebrews 3:12; nor by forsaking the house and worship of God; though he was driven from thence by wicked men, yet sore against his will, and which during his exile he frequently laments and complains of; nor by sinning wilfully and presumptuously, only through error, inadvertency, infirmity, and temptation: but when it is observed, how much unbelief, which is a partial departing from the living God, and how many there are that neglect private and public worship, and what a proneness there is to sin and wickedness, and how much there is of the will in sinful actions, in the best of men; it is right and best to understand this of Christ, who never was guilty of sin, nor committed any wickedness in departing from God in the least: as man, God was his God, and he always believed his interest in him, and claimed it even when he forsook him on the cross; nor did he quit his service, desert his cause, nor depart from the work and business he enjoined him, till it was finished.
(y) "observaveram", Tigurine version, Vatablus; "observo", Junius & Tremellius; "observavi", Gejerus, Michaelis; so Ainsworth.
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