Psalm 119:36
Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(36) Covetousness.—Literally, rapine, prey. In Psalm 30:9 simply, “gain.”

Psalm 119:36. Incline my heart, &c. — As the wisdom of man may conceive, and his tongue utter, great things of God and holiness, while his heart is averse from both; therefore David saith, not only, Give me understanding, but, incline my heart unto thy testimonies — To the love and practice of them; and not to covetousness — He mentions this in particular, because it is most opposite to God’s testimonies, and does most commonly hinder men from receiving his word, and from profiting by it; and because it is most pernicious, as being the root of all evil.

119:33-40 Teach me thy statutes, not the mere words, but the way of applying them to myself. God, by his Spirit, gives a right understanding. But the Spirit of revelation in the word will not suffice, unless we have the Spirit of wisdom in the heart. God puts his Spirit within us, causing us to walk in his statutes. The sin here prayed against is covetousness. Those that would have the love of God rooted in them, must get the love of the world rooted out; for the friendship of the world is enmity with God. Quicken me in thy way; to redeem time, and to do every duty with liveliness of spirit. Beholding vanity deadens us, and slackens our pace; a traveller must not stand gazing upon every object that presents itself to his view. The promises of God's word greatly relate to the preservation of the true believer. When Satan has drawn a child of God into worldly compliances, he will reproach him with the falls into which he led him. Victory must come from the cross of Christ. When we enjoy the sweetness of God's precepts, it will make us long for more acquaintance with them. And where God has wrought to will, he will work to do.Incline my heart unto thy testimonies - Cause my heart to be inclined to them, or to be disposed to keep them. This, too, is a recognition of dependence, and a prayer for guidance.

And not to covetousness - To gain; to the love of money. This seems to be referred to here as the principal thing which would turn away the heart from religion, or as that from which the most danger was to be feared. There are undoubtedly many other things which will do this - for all sin will do it; but this was the chief danger which the psalmist apprehended in his own case, and perhaps he meant to refer to this as the principal danger on this subject which besets the path of man. There are manymore persons turned away from the service of God, and kept away from it, by covetousness than there are by any other one sin. When the psalmist prays that God would not "incline" his heart to covetousness, the language is similar to that in the Lord's prayer - "And lead us not into temptation." That is, Restrain us from it; let us not be put in circumstances where we shall be in danger of it. We are not to suppose that God exerts any positive influence either to make a man covetous, or to tempt him. See James 1:13-14.

HE. (Ps 119:33-40).

33-38. To encourage us in prayer for divine aid in adhering to His truth, we are permitted to believe that by His help we shall succeed.

the way of thy statutes—that is, the way or manner of life prescribed by them. The help we hope to obtain by prayer is to be the basis on which our resolutions should rest.

Unto thy testimonies; to the love and practice of them.

Not to covetousness; not to the inordinate love and desire of riches: which particular lust he mentions, partly, be cause this lust is most spreading and universal, and there is scarce any man who doth not desire riches either for the love of riches, or upon pretence of necessity, or for the service of pride or luxury, or some other lust; partly, because, this lust is most opposite to God’s testimonies, and doth most commonly hinder men from receiving God’s word, and from profiting by it; see Matthew 13:22 Luke 16:2 and partly, because this lust is most pernicious, as being the root of all evil, 1 Timothy 6:10, and is most mischievous in princes and governors, such as David was, and therefore in a special manner forbidden to them, Exodus 18:21.

Incline my heart unto thy testimonies,.... To read the word of God, to hear it opened and explained, to observe and keep the things contained in it; to which there is a disinclination in men naturally: but the Lord, who fashions the hearts of men, and has them in his hands, can bend and incline them by his efficacious grace to regard these his testimonies; which, as Aben Ezra observes, are more precious than all substance, and so are opposed to what follows:

and not to covetousness; not to mammon or money, as the Targum; the love of it, which is the root of all evil, and very pernicious and harmful; in hearing the word it chokes it, and makes it unfruitful, 1 Timothy 6:9. Not that God inclines the heart to evil, as he does to good; but he may suffer the heart to be inclined, and may leave a man to the natural inclinations of his heart, and to the temptations of Satan, and the snares of the world, which may have great influence upon him; and this is what is here deprecated; see Psalm 141:4.

Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to {c} covetousness.

(c) By this, meaning all other vices, because covetousness is the root of all evil.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
36. covetousness] Or, unjust gain. With this and the following verse cp. Isaiah 33:15.

Verse 36. - Incline my heart unto thy testimonies. The writer recognizes that the right inclination of the heart, which he claims to have (vers. 7, 10, 32, 34, etc.), is itself the gift of God. And not to covetousness; or, "to gain" (comp. ver. 72). Psalm 119:36The eightfold He. He further prays for instruction and guidance that he may escape the by-paths of selfishness and of disavowal. The noun עקב, used also elsewhere as an accus. adverb., in the signification ad extremum (Psalm 119:33 and Psalm 119:112) is peculiar to our poet. אצּרנּה (with a Shebג which takes a colouring in accordance with the principal form) refers back to דּרך. In the petition "give me understanding" (which occurs six times in this Psalm) חבין is causative, as in Job 32:8, and frequently in the post-exilic writings. בּצע (from בּצע, abscindere, as κέρδος accords in sound with κείρειν) signifies gain and acquisition by means of the damage which one does to his neighbour by depreciating his property, by robbery, deceit, and extortion (1 Samuel 8:3), and as a name of a vice, covetousness, and in general selfishness. שׁוא is that which is without real, i.e., without divine, contents or intrinsic worth, - God-opposed teaching and life. בּדרכך

(Note: Heidenheim and Baer erroneously have בּדרכיך with Jod. plural., contrary to the Masora.)

is a defective plural; cf. חסדך, Psalm 119:41, וּמשׁפּטך, Psalm 119:43, and frequently. Establishing, in Psalm 119:38, is equivalent to a realizing of the divine word or promise. The relative clause אשׁר ליראתך is not to be referred to לעבדּך according to Psalm 119:85 (where the expression is different), but to אמרתך: fulfil to Thy servant Thy word or promise, as that which (quippe quae) aims at men attaining the fear of Thee and increasing therein (cf. Psalm 130:4; Psalm 40:4). The reproach which the poet fears in Psalm 119:39 is not the reproach of confessing, but of denying God. Accordingly משׁפּטיך are not God's judgments i.e., acts of judgment, but revealed decisions or judgments: these are good, inasmuch as it is well with him who keeps them. He can appeal before God to the fact that he is set upon the knowledge and experience of these with longing of heart; and he bases his request upon the fact that God by virtue of His righteousness, i.e., the stringency with which He maintains His order of grace, both as to its promises and its duties, would quicken him, who is at present as it were dead with sorrow and weariness.

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