Psalm 119:23
Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
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(23) Speak.—Comp. Psalm 50:20 for the same implied sense in this verb. This verse reads as if Israel, and not a mere individual, were the subject of the psalms.

119:17-24 If God deals in strict justice with us, we all perish. We ought to spend our lives in his service; we shall find true life in keeping his word. Those that would see the wondrous things of God's law and gospel, must beg him to give them understanding, by the light of his Spirit. Believers feel themselves strangers on earth; they fear missing their way, and losing comfort by erring from God's commandments. Every sanctified soul hungers after the word of God, as food which there is no living without. There is something of pride at the bottom of every wilful sin. God can silence lying lips; reproach and contempt may humble and do us good, and then they shall be removed. Do we find the weight of the cross is above that we are able to bear? He that bore it for us will enable us to bear it; upheld by him we cannot sink. It is sad when those who should protect the innocent, are their betrayers. The psalmist went on in duty, and he found comfort in the word of God. The comforts of the word of God are most pleasant to a gracious soul, when other comforts are made bitter; and those that would have God's testimonies to be their delight, must be advised by them. May the Lord direct us in exercising repentance of sin, and faith in Christ.Princes also did sit and speak against me - This would have been applicable to David many times in his life, but it was also applicable to many others, and there is nothing in the language which would limit it to David. It is evident that the author of the psalm had been subject to reproach from those who were of exalted rank; it is clear also that he felt this keenly. It is natural, whether proper or not, that we should feel the reproach and contempt of those in elevated life - the rich, the honored, the learned - more than of those in humbler life. Their good opinion can be of value only as they may be better qualified than others to judge of what constitutes true excellence, or as they may have it in their power to do us more harm, or to do more to aid us in doing good, than others have; but truth and principle are never to be sacrificed that we may secure their favor; and if, in the faithful discharge of our duty, and the zealous adherence to the principles of our religion, we incur their frowns, we are to bear it - as the great Lord and Saviour of his people did. Hebrews 13:13.

But thy servant did meditate in thy statutes - I was engaged in this; I continued to do it; I was not deterred from it by their opposition; I found comfort in it, when they sat and talked against me. This would seem to have reference to some occasion when they were together - in public business, or in the social circle. They, the princes and nobles engaged in the ordinary topics of conversation, or in conversation connected with revelry, frivolity, or sin. Unwilling to participate in this - having different tastes - feeling that it was improper to be one of their companions in such a mode of spending time, or in such subjects of conversation, "he" withdrew, he turned his thoughts on the law of God, he sought comfort in meditation on that law and on God. He became, therefore, the subject of remark - perhaps of their jests - "because" he thus refused to mingle with them, or because he put on what seemed to be hypocritical seriousness, and was (what they deemed) stern, sour, unsocial, as if he thus publicly, though tacitly, meant to rebuke them. Nothing will be more "likely" to subject one to taunting remarks, to rebuke, to contempt, than to manifest a religious spirit, and to introduce religion in any way in the circles of the worldly and the frivolous.

21-24. God will rebuke those who despise His word and deliver His servants from their reproach, giving them boldness in and by His truth, even before the greatest men. Did sit and speak; did speak against me continually, (for sitting notes continuance,) and when they sat upon their seats of judicature, and when they sat together in companies, entertaining one another with discourses.

Did meditate in thy statutes; all their contumelies and reproaches did not discourage nor divert me from the study, belief, and practice of thy word.

Princes also did sit and speak against me,.... The princes in the court of Saul, who suggested to him that David sought his hurt; the princes of his own court, Absalom, his own son, a prince of the blood, and Ahithophel, a counsellor of state: or the princes of the Gentiles, as Jarchi; so the princes of the Philistines spake against him in a very disdainful manner, "make this fellow return to his place again", 1 Samuel 29:4. Such as these might speak against him, as they sat and rode in their chariots; when at their tables, conversing together; or at their council boards, forming schemes against him: the phrase denotes their constant practice, as Kimchi observes; see Psalm 50:20; herein David was a type of Christ, whom the princes of this world conspired against, and whose life they took away, Psalm 2:2;

but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes; what the princes did or said against him did not divert his mind, or take off his thoughts from the word of God, and the ordinances of it; he thought of them, he spoke and discoursed of them; he declared them, as the word (w) sometimes signifies, and so the Targum takes it here; he was not afraid nor ashamed to profess his regard unto them: as Daniel, when he knew that the presidents and princes had obtained a royal decree, and the writing was signed; yet went into his chamber, as at other times, and kneeled down and prayed to God, Daniel 6:10.

(w) "disserit", Tigurine version, Vatablus, Musculus; "loquitur", Piscator, Gejerus.

{d} Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.

(d) When the powers of the world gave false sentence against me, your word was a guide and counsellor to teach me what to do, and to comfort me.

23. A further proof of his fidelity. Though those in authority sit in council and devise plans for his ruin, he continues to meditate on Jehovah’s statutes. Cp. Daniel 6:4 ff. It has been maintained that foreign princes must be meant, and consequently that the Psalmist must be speaking in the name of the nation, and not as an individual. But princes was the title commonly given to the Israelite nobles in post-exilic times, and the Psalmist was evidently persecuted by wealthy and powerful countrymen. Cp. Psalm 119:161, and see above, p. 702.

Verse 23. - Princes also did sit and speak against me. The great of the earth too often take part against the righteous, and join in persecuting them and calumniating them (comp. ver. 161). But thy servant did meditate in thy statutes; i.e. I took no heed of their calumnies - they did not trouble me. I gave myself to meditation on thy commandments. Psalm 119:23The eightfold Gimel. This is his life's aim: he will do it under fear of the curse of apostasy; he will do it also though he suffer persecution on account of it. In Psalm 119:17 the expression is only אחיה as Psalm 118:19, not ואחיה as in Psalm 119:77, Psalm 119:116, Psalm 119:144 : the apodosis imper. only begins with ואשׁמרה, whereas אחיה is the good itself for the bestowment of which the poet prays. גּל in Psalm 119:18 is imper. apoc. Piel for גּלּה, like גס in Daniel 1:12. נפלאות is the expression for everything supernatural and mysterious which is incomprehensible to the ordinary understanding and is left to the perception of faith. The Tפra beneath the surface of its letter contains an abundance of such "wondrous things," into which only eyes from which God has removed the covering of natural short-sightedness penetrate; hence the prayer in Psalm 119:18. Upon earth we have no abiding resting-place, we sojourn here as in a strange land (Psalm 119:19, Psalm 39:13; 1 Chronicles 29:15). Hence the poet prays in Psalm 119:19 that God would keep His commandments, these rules of conduct for the journey of life, in living consciousness for him. Towards this, according to Psalm 119:20, his longing tends. גּרס (Hiph. in Lamentations 3:16) signifies to crush in pieces, Arab. jrš, and here, like the Aramaic גּרס, גּרס, to be crushed, broken in pieces. לתאבה (from תּאב, Psalm 119:40, Psalm 119:174, a secondary form of אבה) states the bias of mind in or at which the soul feels itself thus overpowered even to being crushed: it is crushing form longing after God's judgment, viz., after a more and more thorough knowledge of them. In Psalm 119:21 the lxx has probably caught the meaning of the poet better than the pointing has done, inasmuch as it draws ἐπικατάρατοι to Psalm 119:21, so that Psalm 119:21 consists of two words, just like Psalm 119:59, Psalm 119:89; and Kamphausen also follows this in his rendering. For ארוּרים as an attribute is unpoetical, and as an accusative of the predicate far-fetched; whereas it comes in naturally as a predicate before השּׁגים ממּצותיך: cursed (ארר equals Arab. harra, detestari), viz., by God. Instead of גּל, "roll" (from גּלל, Joshua 5:9), it is pointed in Psalm 119:22 (מעל) גּל, "uncover" equals גּלּה, as in Psalm 119:18, reproach being conceived of as a covering or veil (as e.g., in Psalm 69:8), cf. Isaiah 22:8 (perhaps also Lamentations 2:14; Lamentations 4:22, if גּלּה על there signifies "to remove the covering upon anything"). גּם in Psalm 119:23, as in Jeremiah 36:25, has the sense of גּם־כּי, etiamsi; and גּם in Psalm 119:24 the sense of nevertheless, ὅμως, Ew. 354, a. On נדבּר בּ (reciprocal), cf. Ezekiel 33:30. As in a criminal tribunal, princes sit and deliberate how they may be able to render him harmless.
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