Psalm 119:81
My soul faints for your salvation: but I hope in your word.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
CAPH.

(81) Fainteth.—The same Hebrew word as fail in the next verse.

CAPH.

Psalm 119:81-84. My soul fainteth for thy salvation — With longing desire, earnest expectation, and hope deferred. Mine eyes fail — With looking hither and thither, and to thee for help. I am become like a bottle in the smoke — A bottle of skin or leather, (the only ones then in use,) which, being hung up in the smoke, and by that means parched and dry, aptly represents a person worn out and dried up with long suspense and expectation, The sense is, My natural moisture is dried up; I am withered, deformed, and despised, and my case grows worse and worse every day. How many are the days of thy servant? — Either, 1st, The days of my life; I have but a little while to live in the world; give me some respite before I die; or the days of my misery. How long, Lord, shall my misery last? For ever?119:81-88 The psalmist sought deliverance from his sins, his foes, and his fears. Hope deferred made him faint; his eyes failed by looking out for this expected salvation. But when the eyes fail, yet faith must not. His affliction was great. He was become like a leathern bottle, which, if hung up in the smoke, is dried and shrivelled up. We must ever be mindful of God's statutes. The days of the believer's mourning shall be ended; they are but for a moment, compared with eternal happiness. His enemies used craft as well as power for his ruin, in contempt of the law of God. The commandments of God are true and faithful guides in the path of peace and safety. We may best expect help from God when, like our Master, we do well and suffer for it. Wicked men may almost consume the believer upon earth, but he would sooner forsake all than forsake the word of the Lord. We should depend upon the grace of God for strength to do every good work. The surest token of God's good-will toward us, is his good work in us.My soul fainteth for thy salvation - The new division of the psalm, which begins here, is indicated by the Hebrew letter Kaph (כ k), equivalent to "k" or "c" (hard). The word here rendered "fainteth" is the same that in Psalm 73:26 is translated "faileth": "My flesh and my heart faileth." The idea is, that his strength gave way; he had such an intense desire for salvation that he became weak and powerless. Any strong emotion may thus prostrate us; and the love of God - the desire of his favor - the longing for heaven - may be so intense as to produce this result.

I hope in thy word - I trust in thy promises, and am sustained. My powers, which would otherwise wholly fail, are upheld by thy word, and on that I rely. See Psalm 119:74.

CAPH. (Ps 119:81-88).

81-83. In sorrow the pious heart yearns for the comforts of God's promises (Ps 73:26; 84:2).

81 My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.

82 Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?

83 For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes.

84 How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?

85 The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law.

86 All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully: help thou me.

87 They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not thy precepts.

88 Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.

This portion of the gigantic Psalm sees the Psalmist in extremis. His enemies have brought him to the lowest condition of anguish and depression; yet he is faithful to the law and trustful in his God. This octave is the midnight of the Psalm, and very dark and black it is. Stars, however, shine out, and the last verse gives promise of the dawn. The strain will after this become more cheerful; but meanwhile it should minister comfort to us to see so eminent a servant of God so hardly used by the ungodly: evidently in our own persecutions, no strange thing has happened unto us.

Psalm 119:81

"My soul fainteth for thy salvation." He wished for no deliverance but that which came from God, his one desire was for "thy salvation." But for that divine deliverance he was eager to the last degree, - up to the full measure of his strength, yea, and beyond it till he fainted. So strong was his desire that it produced prostration of spirit. He grew weary with waiting, faint with watching, sick with urgent need. Thus the sincerity and the eagerness of his desires were proved. Nothing else could satisfy him but deliverance wrought out by the hand of God, his inmost nature yearned and pined for salvation from the God of all grace, and he must have it or utterly fail. "But I hope in thy word." Therefore he felt that salvation would come, for God cannot break his promise, nor disappoint the hope which his own word has excited: yea, the fulfilment of his word is near at hand when our hope is firm and our desire fervent. Hope alone can keep the soul from fainting by using the smelling-bottle of the promise. Yet hope does not quench desire for a speedy answer to prayer; it increases our importunity, for it both stimulates ardour and sustains the heart under delays. To faint for salvation, and to be kept from utterly failing by the hope of it, is the frequent experience of the Christian man. We are "faint yet pursuing." Hope sustains when desire exhausts. While the grace of desire throws us down, the grace of hope lifts us up again.

Psalm 119:82

"Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?" His eyes gave out with eagerly gazing for the kind appearance of the Lord, while his heart in weariness cried out for speedy comfort. To read the word till the eyes can no longer see is but a small thing compared with watching for the fulfilment of the promise till the inner eyes of expectancy begin to grow dim with hope deferred. We may not set times to God, for this is to limit the Holy One of Israel; yet we may urge our suit with importunity, and make fervent enquiry as to why the promise tarries. David sought no comfort except that which comes from God; his question is, "When wilt thou comfort me?" If help does not come from heaven it will never come at all: all the good man's hopes look that way, he has not a glance to dart in any other direction. This experience of waiting and fainting is well-known by full-grown saints, and it teaches them many precious lessons which they would never learn by any other means. Among the choice results is this one - that the body rises into sympathy with the soul, both heart and flesh cry out for the living God, and even the eyes find a tongue, "saying, When wilt thou comfort me?" It must be an intense longing which is not satisfied to express itself by the lips, but speaks with the eyes, by those eyes failing through intense watching. Eyes can speak right eloquently; they use both mutes and liquids, and can sometimes say more than tongues. David says in another place, "The Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping" (Psalm 6:8). Specially are our eyes eloquent when they begin to fail with weariness and woe. A humble eye lifted up to heaven in silent prayer may flash such flame as shall melt the bolts which bar the entrance of vocal prayer, and so heaven shall be taken by storm with the artillery of tears. Blessed are the eyes that are strained in looking after God. The eyes of the Lord will see to it that such eyes do not actually fail. How much better to watch for the Lord with aching eyes than to have them sparkling at the glitter of vanity.

Psalm 119:83

continued...

CAPH

Fainteth, with longing desire, and earnest expectation, and hope deferred, and hitherto disappointed. CAPH.--The Eleventh Part.

CAPH. My soul fainteth for thy salvation, Either for temporal salvation and deliverance from enemies; which, being promised, was expected by him from the Lord; but not coming so soon as looked for, his spirits began to sink and faint: or for spiritual and eternal salvation, for a view of interest in it, for the joys and comforts of it, and for the full possession of is in heaven; and, particularly, for the promised Messiah, the author of it, often called the Salvation of God, because prepared and appointed by him to be the author of it: of him there was a promise, which gave the Old Testament saints reason to expect him, and for him they waited; his coming they earnestly wished for, but being long deferred, were sometimes out of heart, and ready to faint, which was here David's case;

but I hope in thy word; the word of promise concerning deliverance and salvation, especially by the Messiah, which supported him, and kept him from fainting; that being firm and sure, for ever settled in heaven, and has the oath of God annexed to it, for the confirmation of it; and God is faithful that has promised, and is also able to perform; so that his word lays a solid foundation for faith and hope.

CAPH. My soul {a} fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.

(a) Though my strength fails me, yet my soul groans and sighs, resting still in your word.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
81, 82. The soul grows faint, the eye dim, with the prolonged strain of watching for the fulfilment of God’s promise to deliver His servant. Cp. Psalm 119:123; Psalm 69:3; Psalm 84:2; Lamentations 4:17.

81–88. Kaph. Faith persevering in the midst of persecution when God defers His help, and seems to be leaving him to be the prey of his enemies.Verse 81. - My soul fainteth for thy salvation (comp. Psalm 84:2). The phrase used expresses the most intense desire possible. But I hope in thy Word. (So also ver. 74.) While almost fainting, the psalmist is sustained by his hope and trust in God's promises. The eightfold Jod. God humbles, but He also exalts again according to His word; for this the poet prays in order that he may be a consolatory example to the God-fearing, to the confusion of his enemies. It is impossible that God should forsake man, who is His creature, and deny to him that which makes him truly happy, viz., the understanding and knowledge of His word. For this spiritual gift the poet prays in Psalm 119:73 (cf. on 73a, Deuteronomy 32:6; Job 10:8; Job 31:15); and he wishes in Psalm 119:74 that all who fear God may see in him with joy an example of the way in which trust in the word of God is rewarded (cf. Psalm 34:3; Psalm 35:27; Psalm 69:33; Psalm 107:42, and other passages). He knows that God's acts of judgment are pure righteousness, i.e., regulated by God's holiness, out of which they spring, and by the salvation of men, at which they aim; and he knows that God has humbled him אמוּנה (accus. adverb. for בּאמוּנה), being faithful in His intentions towards him; for it is just in the school of affliction that one first learns rightly to estimate the worth of His word, and comes to feel its power. But trouble, though sweetened by an insight into God's salutary design, is nevertheless always bitter; hence the well-justified prayer of Psalm 119:76, that God's mercy may notwithstanding be bestowed upon him for his consolation, in accordance with the promise which is become his (ל as in Psalm 119:49), His servant's. עוּת, Psalm 119:78, instead of being construed with the accusative of the right, or of the cause, that is perverted, is construed with the accusative of the person upon whom such perversion of right, such oppression by means of misrepresentation, is inflicted, as in Job 19:6; Lamentations 3:36. Chajug' reads עוּדוּני as in Psalm 119:61. The wish expressed in Psalm 119:79 is to be understood according to Psalm 73:10; Jeremiah 15:19, cf. Proverbs 9:4, Proverbs 9:16. If instead of וידעי (which is favoured by Psalm 119:63), we read according to the Chethb וידעוּ (cf. Psalm 119:125), then what is meant by ישׁוּבוּ לּי is a turning towards him for the purpose of learning: may their knowledge be enriched from his experience. For himself, however, in Psalm 119:80 he desires unreserved, faultless, unwavering adherence to God's word, for only thus is he secure against being ignominiously undeceived.
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