Psalm 119:97
MEM. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
MEM.

Psalm 119:97-100. O how I love thy law! — O Lord, thou knowest my love to it is inexpressible: to then I appeal herein against all the censures and calumnies of my enemies to the contrary. It is my meditation all the day — Because I desire to know and do thy will, which it declares in all things. Thou, through thy commandments — Which direct me into, and preserve me in, the way of righteousness; hast made me wiser than my enemies — Who pursue a different course, and take their own will or fancy, and not thy word, for the rule of their actions. I have more understanding — More true wisdom; than all my teachers — All those priests and Levites, or doctors of the law, of whom I have formerly learned; for, pursuing other knowledge, and secular objects, they neglect to make themselves acquainted with thy law: but thy testimonies are my meditation — The matter of my constant and most diligent study. I understand more than the ancients — Those elders and grave counsellors, who rely more on their own wisdom and sagacity than on that wisdom which springs from a meditation on thy truth; because I keep thy precepts — By which he intimates, that to practise religion is the best way to understand it, and that the corruption of men’s hearts and lives is the greatest hinderance of all true and solid knowledge of it. Thus our Lord, If any man will do his

(God’s) will, he shall known of the doctrine whether it be of God.

119:97-104 What we love, we love to think of. All true wisdom is from God. A good man carries his Bible with him, if not in his hands, yet in his head and in his heart. By meditation on God's testimonies we understand more than our teachers, when we understand our own hearts. The written word is a more sure guide to heaven, than all the fathers, the teachers, and ancients of the church. We cannot, with any comfort or boldness, attend God in holy duties, while under guilt, or in any by-way. It was Divine grace in his heart, that enabled the psalmist to receive these instructions. The soul has its tastes as well as the body. Our relish for the word of God will be greatest, when that for the world and the flesh is least. The way of sin is a wrong way; and the more understanding we get by the precepts of God, the more rooted will be our hatred of sin; and the more ready we are in the Scriptures, the better furnished we are with answers to temptation.O how love I thy law! - This commences a new division of the Psalm, indicated by the Hebrew letter Mem (מ m, "m"). The expression here, "O how love I thy law," implies intense love - as if a man were astonished at the fervour of his own emotion. His love was so ardent that it was amazing and wonderful to himself - perhaps wonderful that he, a sinner, should love the law of God at all; wonderful that he should ever have been brought so to love a law which condemned himself. Any man who reflects on what his feelings are by nature in regard to religion, will be filled with wonder that he loves it at all; all who are truly religious ought to be so filled with love to it, that it will be difficult for them to find words to express the intensity of their affection.

It is my meditation all the day - See the notes at Psalm 1:2.

MEM. (Ps 119:97-104).

97. This characteristic love for God's law (compare Ps 1:2) ensures increase.

97 O How love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.

98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.

99 I have more understanding than all my teachers - for they testimonies are my meditation.

100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.

101 have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.

102 I have not departed from thy judgments - for thou hast taught me.

103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

104 Through thy precepts I get understanding, therefore I hate every false way.

Psalm 119:97

"O how love I thy law!" It is a note of exclamation. He loves so much that he must express his love, and in making the attempt he perceives that it is inexpressible - and therefore cries, "O how I love!" We not only reverence but love the law, we obey it out of love, and even when it chides us for disobedience we love it none the less. The law is God's law, and therefore it is our love. We love it for its holiness, and pine to be holy; we love it for its wisdom, and study to be wise; we love it for its perfection, and long to be perfect. Those who know the power of the gospel perceive an infinite loveliness in the law as they see it fulfilled and embodied in Christ Jesus. "It is my meditation all the day." This was both the effect of his love and the cause of it. He meditated in God's word because he loved it, and then loved it the more because he meditated in it. He could not have enough of it, so ardently did he love it: all the day was not too long for his converse with it. His matin prayer, his noonday thought, his evensong were all out of Holy Writ; yea, in his worldly business he still kept his mind saturated with the law of the Lord. It is said of some men that the more you know them the less you admire them; but the reverse is true of God's word. Familiarity with the word of God breeds affection, and affection seeks yet greater familiarity. When "thy law," and "my meditation" are together all the day, the day grows holy, devout, and happy, and the heart lives with God. David turned away from all else; for in Psalm 119:96 he tells us that he had seen an end of all perfection; but he turned in unto the law and tarried there the whole day of his life on earth, growing henceforth wiser and holier.

Psalm 119:98

"Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies." The commands were his book, but God was his teacher. The letter can make us knowing, but only the divine Spirit can make us wise. Wisdom is knowledge put to practical use. Wisdom comes to us through obedience: "If any man will do his will he shall know of the doctrine." We learn not only from promise, and doctrine, and sacred history, but also from precept and command; in fact, from the commandments we gather the most practical wisdom, and that which enables us best to cope with our adversaries. A holy life is the highest wisdom and the surest defence. Our enemies are renowned for subtlety, from the first father of them, the old serpent, down to the last cockatrice that has been hatched from the egg; and it would be vain for us to try to be a match with them in the craft and mystery of cunning, for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. We must go to another school and learn of a different instructor, and then by uprightness we shall baffle fraud, by simple truth we shall vanquish deep-laid scheming, and by open candour we shall defeat slander. A thoroughly straightforward man, devoid of all policy, is a terrible puzzle to diplomatists; they suspect him of a subtle duplicity through which they cannot see, while he, indifferent to their suspicions, holds on the even tenor of his way, and baffles all their arts. Yes, "honesty is the best policy." He who is taught of God has a practical wisdom such as malice cannot supply to the crafty; while harmless as a dove he also exhibits more than the serpent's wisdom.

"For they are ever with me." He was always studying or obeying the commandments; they were his choice and constant companions. If we wish to become proficient we must be indefatigable. If we keep the wise law ever near us we shall become wise, and when our adversaries assail us we shall be prepared for them with that ready wit which lies in having the word of God at our fingers' ends. As a soldier in battle must never lay aside his shield, so must we never have the word of God out of our minds; it must be ever with us.

Psalm 119:99

continued...

MEM

O how love I thy law! O Lord, thou knowest it, and to thee I appeal herein against all the censures and calumnies of mine enemies to the contrary.

MEM.--The Thirteenth Part.

MEM. O how love I thy law!.... The whole word of God, the preceptive part of it; the commands of the moral law, which are holy, just, and good, and to be loved: but they are not loved by carnal men, whose minds are enmity to them, and therefore are not and cannot be subject to them, but despise and reject them; but to a good man, on whose heart they are written, they are delightful, and loved to admiration: though this is wholly owing to the grace of God; and marvellous it is that men so sadly depraved by sin should love the holy law of God; yet so it is, and David could appeal to God for the truth of it. So the ordinances of the Gospel, the commands of Jesus Christ, are not grievous to saints, but loved, valued, and esteemed by them; likewise the doctrinal part of the word, the truths of the Gospel, which may be more especially meant by the "thorah", or doctrine, here; which those who have had an experience of greatly love and justly value, because of the intrinsic worth of them, being comparable to gold, silver, and precious stones; and for the profit and benefit of them to their souls, they being wholesome words, soul nourishing doctrines, and so more to them than their necessary food; and for the pleasure they have in them, these being sweeter to them than the honey or honeycomb: particularly the exceeding great and precious promises of the word, which are more to be rejoiced at than a great spoil; and even the whole Gospel part of the word, that containing the doctrines of peace, pardon, righteousness, salvation, and eternal life through Christ; yea, the whole Scripture, which is both profitable and pleasant to read in, and hear explained;

it is my meditation all the day; not only in the night, when at leisure, and free from the incumbrance of business; but in the day, and while engaged in the affairs of life, yea, all the day long; see Psalm 1:2. Or, "it is my discourse" (c); what he talked of, as well as what he thought on. Good men cannot forbear speaking of this or the other passage of Scripture, which has been of use unto them: and this is a proof of affection for the word; for what men love, persons or things, they often think of, and frequently talk of; see Deuteronomy 6:6.

(c) "de qua meus sermo est", Tigurine version, Vatablus, Piscator; "vel colloquium meum", Cocceius; so Michaelis.

MEM. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation {a} all the day.

(a) He shows that we cannot love God's word unless we exercise ourselves in it and practise it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
97. P.B.V. follows LXX and Vulg. in adding Lord to the first clause, where it seems to be wanted.

97–104. Mçm. The sweetness and profitableness of the study of God’s law. This stanza and that of Shîn (Psalm 119:161 ff.) contain no petition.

Verse 97. - O how love I Thy law! (comp. vers. 47, 48, 113, 119, 127, etc.). As the psalmist goes on with his meditation he becomes more and more rated with a deep love of the Law of God, which is not to him a restraint or a burden, but a solace and a "delight." It is my meditation all the day (see ver. 15, 23, 48, 78, etc.). Psalm 119:97The eightfold Mem. The poet praises the practical wisdom which the word of God, on this very account so sweet to him, teaches. God's precious law, with which he unceasingly occupies himself, makes him superior in wisdom (Deuteronomy 4:6), intelligence, and judgment to his enemies, his teachers, and the aged (Job 12:20). There were therefore at that time teachers and elders (πρεσβύτεροι), who (like the Hellenizing Sadducees) were not far from apostasy in their laxness, and hostilely persecuted the young and strenuous zealot for God's law. The construction of Psalm 119:98 is like Joel 1:20; Isaiah 59:12, and frequently. היא refers to the commandments in their unity: he has taken possession of them for ever (cf. Psalm 119:111). The Mishna (Aboth iv. 1) erroneously interprets: from all my teachers do I acquire understanding. All three מן in Psalm 119:98-100 signify prae (lxx ὑπὲρ). In כּלאתי, Psalm 119:101, from the mode of writing we see the verb Lamed Aleph passing over into the verb Lamed He. הורתני is, as in Proverbs 4:11 (cf. Exodus 4:15), a defective mode of writing for הוריתני. נמלצוּ, Psalm 119:103, is not equivalent to נמרצוּ, Job 6:25 (vid., Job, at Job 6:25; Job 16:2-5), but signifies, in consequence of the dative of the object לחכּי, that which easily enters, or that which tastes good (lxx ὡς gluke'a); therefore surely from מלץ equals מלט, to be smooth: how smooth, entering easily (Proverbs 23:31), are Thy words (promises) to my palate or taste! The collective singular אמרתך is construed with a plural of the predicate (cf. Exodus 1:10). He has no taste for the God-estranged present, but all the stronger taste for God's promised future. From God's laws he acquires the capacity for proving the spirits, therefore he hates every path of falsehood ( equals Psalm 119:128), i.e., all the heterodox tendencies which agree with the spirit of the age.
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