Psalm 119:87
They had almost consumed me on earth; but I forsook not your precepts.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(87) Upon earth.—Rather, on the land. (Comp. Psalm 58:2.)

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.They had almost consumed me upon earth - The word which is here translated "consumed" is the same which is used in Psalm 119:81, and there rendered "fainteth." See the notes at that verse. The idea is, that their persecutions had been so severe, and so long continued, that his strength was almost exhausted; he was ready to faint and to die.

But I forsook not thy precepts - I still adhered to thee, even in the extremity of my suffering. The effect of persecution was not to drive me from thee, or to lead me to abandon thee. See Psalm 119:61, note; Psalm 119:69, note.

87. consumed me upon earth—Hengstenberg translates, "in the land"; understanding "me" of the nation Israel, of which but a small remnant was left. But English Version is simpler; either, "They have consumed me so as to leave almost nothing of me on earth"; or, "They have almost destroyed and prostrated me on the earth" [Maurer].

I forsook not—Whatever else I am forsaken of, I forsake not Thy precepts, and so am not mistaken of Thee (Ps 39:5, 13; 2Co 4:8, 9), and the injuries and insults of the wicked increase the need for it. But, however they act regardless of God's law, the pious, adhering to its teaching, receive quickening grace, and are sustained steadfast.

They had almost consumed me upon earth, as to my present life and all my happiness upon earth; whereby he implies that his immortal soul and eternal happiness in heaven, of which he speaks, Psalm 16:11 17:15, and elsewhere, was safe, and out of their reach. They had almost consumed me upon earth,.... Almost destroyed his good name, wasted his substance, took away his crown and kingdom, and even his life; it was within a little of it, his soul had almost dwelt in silence; they had almost cast him down to the ground, and left him there. But all this was only on earth; they could not reach any thing that belonged to him in heaven; not his name, which was written there in the Lamb's book of life; nor his riches and inheritance there, the never fading crown of glory laid up for him there; or that eternal life, which is hid with Christ in God for him;

but I forsook not thy precepts; did not decline the service and worship of God, nor neglect his word and ordinances, though thus persecuted, and all these things came upon him for the sake of religion; see Psalm 44:17.

They had almost consumed {f} me upon earth; but I forsook not thy precepts.

(f) Finding no help on earth, he lifts up his eyes to heaven.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
87. His persecutors had almost succeeded in making an end of him, yet he still held fast to the law. The second line brings the godlessness of their conduct into prominence.

upon earth] The scene of life: or, in the land: the Psalmist and such as he were almost exterminated. Cp. Psalm 12:1.Verse 87. - They had almost consumed me upon earth; or, "made an end of me," "destroyed me." But I forsook not thy precepts (comp. vers. 69, 78, 83). Persecution made the psalmist cling the more to God's Law. The eightfold Kaph. This strengthening according to God's promise is his earnest desire (כּלה) now, when within a very little his enemies have compassed his ruin (כּלּה). His soul and eyes languish (כּלה as in Psalm 69:4; Psalm 84:3, cf. Job 19:27) for God's salvation, that it may be unto him according to God's word or promise, that this word may be fulfilled. In Psalm 119:83 כּי is hypothetical, as in Psalm 21:12 and frequently; here, as perhaps also in Psalm 27:10, in the sense of "although" (Ew. ֗362, b). He does not suffer anything to drive God's word out of his mind, although he is already become like a leathern bottle blackened and shrivelled up in the smoke. The custom of the ancients of placing jars with wine over the smoke in order to make the wine prematurely old, i.e., to mellow it (vid., Rosenm׬ller), does not yield anything towards the understanding of this passage: the skin-bottle that is not intended for present use is hung up on high; and the fact that it had to withstand the upward ascending smoke is intelligible, notwithstanding the absence of any mention of the chimney. The point of comparison, in which we agree for the most part with Hitzig, is the removal of him who in his dungeon is continually exposed to the drudgery of his persecutors. כּמּה in Psalm 119:84 is equivalent to "how few." Our life here below is short, so also is the period within which the divine righteousness can reveal itself. שׁיחות (instead of which the lxx erroneously reads שׂיחות), pits, is an old word, Psalm 57:7. The relative clause, Psalm 119:85, describes the "proud" as being a contradiction to the revealed law; for there was no necessity for saying that to dig a pit for others is not in accordance with this law. All God's commandments are an emanation of His faithfulness, and therefore too demand faithfulness; but it is just this faithfulness that makes the poet an object of deadly hatred. They have already almost destroyed him"in the land." It is generally rendered "on earth;" but "in heaven" at the beginning of the following octonary is too far removed to be an antithesis to it, nor does it sound like one (cf. on the other hand ἐν τοῖς ouranoi's, Matthew 5:12). It is therefore: in the land (cf. Psalm 58:3; Psalm 73:9), where they think they are the only ones who have any right there, they have almost destroyed him, without shaking the constancy of his faith. But he stands in need of fresh grace in order that he may not, however, at last succumb.
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