Psalm 119:148
My eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in your word.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
119:145-152 Supplications with the whole heart are presented only by those who desire God's salvation, and who love his commandments. Whither should the child go but to his father? Save me from my sins, my corruptions, my temptations, all the hinderances in my way, that I may keep thy testimonies. Christians who enjoy health, should not suffer the early hours of the morning to glide away unimproved. Hope in God's word encourages us to continue in prayer. It is better to take time from sleep, than not to find time for prayer. We have access to God at all hours; and if our first thoughts in the morning are of God, they will help to keep us in his fear all the day long. Make me lively and cheerful. God knows what we need and what is good for us, and will quicken us. If we are employed in God's service, we need not fear those who try to set themselves as far as they can out of the reach of the convictions and commands of his law. When trouble is near, God is near. He is never far to seek. All his commandments are truth. And God's promises will be performed. All that ever trusted in God have found him faithful.Mine eyes prevent the night watches - Luther renders this, "I wake up early." The Hebrew word means a "watch" - a part of the night, so called from military watches, or a dividing of the night to "keep guard." See the notes at Psalm 90:4. The idea of the psalmist here is, that he anticipated these regular divisions of the night in order that he might engage in devotion. Instead of waiting for their return, he arose for prayer before they recurred - so much did his heart delight in the service of God. The language would seem to be that of one who was accustomed to pray in these successive "watches" of the night - the early, the middle, and the dawn. This may illustrate what occurs in the life of all who love God. They will have regular seasons of devotion, but they will often anticipate those seasons. They will be in a state of mind which prompts them to pray; when nothing will meet their state of mind but prayer; and when they cannot wait for the regular and ordinary season of devotion - like a hungry man who cannot wait for the usual and regular hour of his meals. The meaning of the phrase, "mine eyes prevent," is that he awoke before the usual time for devotion.

That I might meditate in thy word - See the notes at Psalm 1:2.

147. prevented—literally, "came before," anticipated not only the dawn, but even the usual periods of the night; when the night watches, which might be expected to find me asleep, come, they find me awake (Ps 63:6; 77:4; La 2:19). Such is the earnestness of the desire and love for God's truth.Ver. 148. The night watches, Heb. the watches; which were kept only by night. And these watches were then three, as hath been more than once observed. And this is not to be understood of the first watch, which was at the beginning of the night, for the prevention thereof was very easy, and frequent, and inconsiderable; but of the middle watch, as it is called, Judges 7:19, which was set in the middle of the night; and especially of the morning watch, as it is called, Exodus 14:24, which was set some hours before the dawning of the day; and so this is an aggravation and addition to what he said Psalm 119:147. Mine eyes prevent the night watches,.... The Targum is,

"the morning and evening watches.''

There were three of them; Kimchi interprets it of the second and third; the meaning is, that the psalmist was awake and employed in one religious exercise or another, praying, reading, or meditating; either before the watches were set, or however before the time that some of them took place, or at least before they were all over;

that I might meditate in thy word; he rose so early, in order to give himself up to meditation on the word of God; that he might be better instructed in the knowledge of divine things; that he might have solace and comfort from thence under his afflictions; and that he might be better furnished for the work of prayer; for the more familiar the word of God is to us, the better able we are to speak to God in his own language.

Mine eyes {b} prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

(b) He was more earnest in the study of God's word, than they who kept the watch were in their charge.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
148. Mine eyes prevent [or are beforehand with, the same word as in Psalm 119:147] the night watches] The night was divided into three watches by the Israelites (Lamentations 2:19; Jdg 7:19; 1 Samuel 11:11). He compares himself to a sentinel who wakes before it is time for him to go on duty. Possibly, as Baethgen suggests, there is a reference to the author’s duties as a Levite. Before the hour when he must rise for his watch in the Temple he is awake, and meditating on God’s words. Cp. Psalm 119:62; Psalm 63:6.Verse 148. - Mine eyes prevent the night watches. As ver. 146 is a repetition of ver. 145, so this verse is very nearly a repetition of ver. 147. The only change of idea is in the second clause - that I might meditate in thy Word; or, "on thy promise" - which makes meditation rather than prayer the psalmist's object in his early rising. The eightfold Tsade. God rules righteously and faithfully according to His word, for which the poet is accordingly zealous, although young and despised. The predicate ישׂר in Psalm 119:137 precedes its subject משׁפּטיך (God's decisions in word and in deed) in the primary form (after the model of the verbal clause Psalm 124:5), just as in German [and English] the predicative adjective remains undeclined. The accusatives צדק and אמוּנה in Psalm 119:138 are not predicative (Hitzig), to which the former ("as righteousness") - not the latter however - is not suited, but adverbial accusatives (in righteousness, in faithfulness), and מאד according to its position is subordinate to ואמונה as a virtual adjective (cf. Isaiah 47:9): the requirements of the revealed law proceed from a disposition towards and mode of dealing with men which is strictly determined by His holiness (צדק), and beyond measure faithfully and honestly designs the well-being of men (אמונה מאד). To see this good law of God despised by his persecutors stirs the poet up with a zeal, which brings him, from their side, to the brink of extreme destruction (Psalm 69:10, cf. צמתּת, Psalm 88:17). God's own utterance is indeed without spot, and therefore not to be carped at; it is pure, fire-proved, noblest metal (Psalm 18:31; Psalm 12:7), therefore he loves it, and does not, though young (lxx νεώτερος, Vulgate adolescentulus) and lightly esteemed, care for the remonstrances of his proud opponents who are old and more learned than himself (the organization of Psalm 119:141 is like Psalm 119:95, and frequently). The righteousness (צדקה) of the God of revelation becomes eternal righteousness (צדק), and His law remains eternal truth (אמת). צדקה is here the name of the attribute and of the action that is conditioned in accordance with it; צדק the name of the state that thoroughly accords with the idea of that which is right. So too in Psalm 119:144 : צדק are Jahve's testimonies for ever, so that all creatures must give glory to their harmony with that which is absolutely right. To look ever deeper and deeper into this their perfection is the growing life of the spirit. The poet prays for this vivifying insight.
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