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Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 19
To the chief Musician, a Psalm of David. This psalm was penned by David, and inscribed to the chief musician, as others, to be used in public service, and was designed for Gospel times, as the subject of it shows; which is first, not an account of the light of nature, and then of the law of Moses, but of the Gospel of Christ; and especially as ministered in the times of the apostles, as a citation out of it in Romans 10:18, makes clear.
1‹‹To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.›› The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
The heavens declare the glory of God,.... By which we are to understand not the heavens literally taken, though these with the firmament are the handiworks of God, and do declare the glory of his perfections, especially his wisdom and power; these show that there is a God, and that he is a glorious one: but either Gospel churches, often signified by the kingdom of heaven, in the New Testament; the members of them being heaven-born souls, and the doctrines and ordinances ministered among them being from heaven; and there being a very great resemblance between them and heaven, in the company and communion enjoyed in them; and who declare the glory of the divine perfections, which is very great in the handiwork of their redemption; and who ascribe the glory of their whole salvation to God: or rather the apostles and first preachers of the word, as appears from Romans 10:18; who were set in the highest place in the church; had their commission, doctrine, and success from heaven; and who may be called by this name, because of the purity and solidity of their ministry, and their constancy and steadfastness in it, and because of their heavenly lives and conversations: these declared the glory of the divine perfections; such as those particularly of grace, goodness, and mercy, which are not discoverable by the light of nature or law of Moses, as, they are displayed in the salvation of men by Christ, in the forgiveness of their sins, the justification of their persons, and the gift of eternal life unto them: they taught men to ascribe the glory of salvation to God alone, Father, Son, and Spirit; they set forth in their ministry the glory of Christ, of his person, and of his offices and grace; and they showed that redemption was his handiwork, as follows:
and the firmament showeth his handiwork; for the same persons may be called the firmament, since they that are wise are said to shine as the brightness of it, Daniel 12:3. These were like to stars in it, and were the light of the world, and declared that redemption is the work which Christ undertook, and came into this world to perform, and which he has finished; his hands have wrought it, and his own arm has brought salvation to him. The Targum interprets the heavens and the firmament, of such persons as contemplate the heavens, and look upon the firmament or air; and so do some other Jewish writers (w).
(w) Jarchi & Kimchi in loc.
2Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
Day untoday uttereth speech,.... This, with the following clause,
and night untonight showeth knowledge, some understand of the constant and continued succession of day and night; which declares the glory of God, and shows him to be possessed of infinite knowledge and wisdom; and which brings a new accession of knowledge to men; others, of the continual declaration of the glory of God, and of the knowledge of him made by the heavens and the firmament, the ordinances of which always continue; the sun for a light by day, and the moon and stars for a light by night; and so night and day constantly and successively proclaim the glory and wisdom of God: but rather this is to be understood of the constancy of the Gospel ministry, and the continuance of the evangelic revelation. The apostles of Christ persevered in their work, and laboured in the word and doctrine night and day: they were in it at all seasons; yea, were instant in season and out of season; and though they are dead, the Gospel continues, and will do as long as day and night remain: and these, like overflowing fountains, sent forth in great abundance, as the word (x) rendered "uttereth" signifies, the streams of divine light and knowledge; they were full of matter, and their tongues were as the pen of a ready writer; they diffused the savour of the knowledge of Christ, in great plenty, in every place where they came. These words express the continuance of the Gospel revelation, as the next do the extent of it.
(x) "eructat", Musculus, Munster, Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Ainsworth; "scaturit", Muis; "scaturiendo effundit", Cocceius; "copiose ac constanter instar foecundae cujusdam scaturiginis protrudit, emittit", Gejerus; so Michaelis.
3There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard,.... Not the voice of the day and night; as if the sense was, that there is no people, of any speech or language under the sun, but there is something said every day and night of the weather, what it is, or will be, as the face of the heavens appears morning and evening: but of the heavens and firmament; the meaning of which some take to be this; either that though they have no proper speech nor language, yet there is a voice in them which is heard, declaring the glory of God and his handiworks; and the words may very well be rendered, "they have no speech nor words, without these their voice is heard"; or that there is no people, nation, or language under the heavens; see Daniel 3:4; though they are ever so different one from another, so as not to be able to understand each other; yet the voice of the heavens, uttering and proclaiming the glory of their Maker, is heard and understood by them all: but rather this is to be interpreted of the extent of the Gospel ministry by the apostles; who, according to their commission, went everywhere preaching the word, to men of all nations, of every speech and language; for which they were qualified, by having the gift of various tongues bestowed upon them; so that there were no nations, of ever so barbarous a speech and language, but they were capable of speaking to and of being understood by them; and though they could not understand one another, they all heard the apostles speak in their own tongues the wonderful works of God, Acts 2:4. Their voice, in the ministration of the Gospel, was heard in every nation externally, and by many internally: faith came by hearing; and they received the word with gladness and readiness. This gives the Gospel revelation a superiority to the legal one; that was only made to one nation, to the nation of the Jews; the voice of that was not heard elsewhere; but the voice of the Gospel is heard in all nations; this revelation is published throughout the world: and this shows that these words belong to the times of the apostles, after they had received a commission from Christ, to go into, all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature; which was done before the destruction of Jerusalem, Matthew 24:14; and which is further confirmed by what follows.
4Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
Their line is gone out through all the earth,.... Not the line or writings in the book of the creatures, the heavens, and the earth, which lie open, and are legible, and to be seen and read of all men; nor the line and writings in the book of the Scriptures, called line upon line, and precept upon precept, Isaiah 28:13, which, though first given to the Jews, were written for the instruction of others, and have been communicated to them; but the line of the apostles: everyone had his line or measure; or the course he was to steer was measured out and directed to him; the line of one, where he was to go and preach the Gospel, reached so far one way, and the line of another reached so far another way; and what with one and another, their line reached throughout all the earth; see 2 Corinthians 10:13; the apostle citing these words in Romans 10:18; renders them, "their sound went", &c. the sound of the Gospel, as published by them; which agrees with the next clause;
and their words to the end of the world; to the isles afar off, even to these northern and distant ones of England, Scotland, and Ireland, which were reached and visited with the Gospel, either by the apostles, or at least by some of the first ministers of the word;
in them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun; that is, in the heavens and firmament, where the natural sun is placed; and its habitation is fitly called a tabernacle, because it is always in motion and never stops: or this may have some respect to its setting, when, according to the common appearance, and to common understandings, it seems to be hid as in a tent or tabernacle; to be as it were gone to bed, and at rest; when in the morning it rises gay and cheerful, and comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber, as is said in Psalm 19:5, but this is all to be understood, spiritually and mystically, of Christ the sun of righteousness, who has his tabernacle among his people, his churches; and particularly has a place, and the chief place, in the ministry of the Gospel, being the sum and substance of it; and this is of God's putting there, who committed to his apostles the word of reconciliation, the sum of which is Christ; and this is what makes the Gospel so glorious a light, so clear a revelation as it is: the nature, continuance, and extent of this revelation, are described in the foregoing verses; the perspicuity and clearness of it is set forth in this clause, and in what follows.
5Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,.... His nuptial chamber, on which Elias writes (y),
"we call the garment (or canopy) spread over the head of the bridegroom and bride, supported by four pillars, in the time of their espousals, ''
who looks lovely and beautiful in his nuptial robes, cheerful and pleasant in his countenance, creating pleasure and delight in all his friends that see him and hear his voice: and this simile is expressive of the brightness and glory of the sun when it rises; and of the joy and pleasure which it produces in the minds of men when they behold it: all which sets forth the loveliness and beauty of Christ, as he is held forth in the ministration of the Gospel, and the joy unspeakable and full of glory which his presence yields, after a short departure from his people; see Isaiah 61:10;
and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race; in which he shows his readiness, velocity, and strength; and this denotes the swiftness of the sun in running its course, and its indefatigableness in its constant motion; though it has been employed therein for so many thousands of years, yet every morning rises with the same cheerfulness, pursues its course, and is never weary: all which may point at the readiness of Gospel ministers, their swiftness to run to and fro, and their strength to fulfil the course of their ministry, in which Christ, the sun of righteousness, is held forth in so glorious a manner.
(y) Elias, in his Tishbi, p. 119. The same word is used Isa. iv. 5. and translated "a defence".
6His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
His going forth is from the end of the heaven,.... From the east, where it rises:
and his circuit to the ends of it; to the west, where it sets; which is expressive of the large compass the Gospel administration took in the times of the apostles; whereby the grace of God appeared to all men, shone out in a very illustrious manner, and Christ became, what the sun is to the earth, the light of the world;
and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof; though things may be hid from the light of it, yet not from its heat, so forcible and penetrating it is Christ, in the administration of the Gospel to all to whom it comes with power, not only enlightens their minds, but quickens their souls, warms their hearts, causes them to burn within them, arises with healing in his wings upon them, and makes his Gospel the savour of life unto life unto them. The psalmist goes on to say more and excellent things of the Gospel, its nature and usefulness.
7The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
The law of the Lord is perfect,.... By which is meant, not the law of Moses, or the ten commandments, but the "doctrine" of the Lord; as the word "torah", signifies, even the whole word of God, as in Isaiah 8:20. All the Scriptures of truth, which are profitable for doctrine; for setting doctrine in a clear light, and for the vindication and establishment of it, and are the rule of doctrine both to preachers and hearers; and which are "perfect", contain the whole mind and will of God, both with respect to faith and practice; whereby the man of God is made perfect, and thoroughly furnished to all good works, 2 Timothy 3:16; and especially the Gospel part of the word of God may be designed, which both in the Old and New Testament is called "a law" or "doctrine", being eminently so; the doctrine of the Messiah, and of justification by faith in his righteousness, Isaiah 2:3, Romans 3:27. The Gospel is a perfect plan and scheme of spiritual and saving truths: it gives an account of perfect things; as of the perfect righteousness of Christ, and complete justification by it; of the full as well as free pardon of sins by the blood of Christ; and of redemption and salvation from all sin and evils by him: and it also shows where true perfection is; namely, in Christ, in whom the saints are complete, be being made to them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; see James 1:25. This character, therefore, suits better with the Gospel than with the moral law; though that, as it is to be gathered out of the whole word of God, contains the good and perfect will of God, with respect to what is to be done or avoided; nor is anything to be added to it; nor did our Lord come to add unto it, or to make it more perfect, but to fulfil it, which men could not do; nor could the law make any man or anything perfect, either perfectly sanctify, or justify, or save; whereas the bringing in of the better hope in the Gospel does, Hebrews 9:7. The effect, under a divine influence and blessing ascribed to it, is,
converting the soul; which is a further proof that the law of Moses is not intended: for though by it is the knowledge of sin, or conviction of sin, which often falls short of conversion; yet the Spirit of God, as a spirit of regeneration, conversion, and sanctification, is not received through the doctrine or preaching of the law, but through the ministration of the Gospel; which is designed to turn men from darkness to light, and from the powers of Satan to God; and which use it has when it is attended with the demonstration of the Spirit and of power; see Romans 3:20, though the words may be rendered "relieving", that is, refreshing and comforting the "soul" (z) as in Lamentations 1:11; Through want of bodily food, which is the case in the passage retorted to, the spirits faint and sink, the soul is almost gone, when, by the ministration of proper food, it is as it were brought back again, as the word (a) here used signifies, and the animal spirits are cheered and revived: and of like use is the Gospel; it is the food of the soul, by which it is refreshed and exhilarated, when ready to sink and faint away; hereby it is restored and revived, comforted and nourished;
the testimony of the Lord is sure; this is another name for the word of God, or the Holy Scriptures; so called because they testify of Christ, of his person, office, and grace; of what he is, was to do, and suffer, and perform for his people, and of his glory that should follow thereon, John 5:39; and particularly the doctrine of the Gospel is the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ, both which he himself testified, and which is a testimony concerning him, 2 Timothy 1:8. And this is "sure", or "to be believed" (b); the whole of Scripture is true, coming from the God of truth; having for its principal subject Christ, who is truth itself, and being dictated by the Spirit of truth; and particularly the Gospel part of it, and all the truths therein contained, especially the doctrine of salvation by Christ, which is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation: the Gospel is a testimony of record which God himself has bore concerning his Son, and eternal life by him, and therefore sure and to be depended upon; for if the witness of men is received, the witness of God is greater, 1 John 5:9. The effect ascribed to the word of God, Or to the Gospel under this character, is,
making wise the simple. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, render it "babes" or "children"; and so Apollinarius; and the word here used in the Arabic language, is said to (c) signify such; and here it intends babes and children not in years, but in understanding, to whom God is pleased to reveal the truths of his Gospel, when he hides them from the wise and prudent: these simple ones are such who are sensible of their simplicity and folly, and of their want of understanding; who, with Agur, think themselves more foolish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man; and these, by the word of God, are made wise to know themselves, their folly, sinfulness, imperfections, and impotence; and are made wise unto salvation, to know the right way of salvation by Christ; see 2 Timothy 3:15; where the same phrase is used as here, and seems to be borrowed from hence, and is used of the Scriptures; which also make men wise in the knowledge of Gospel doctrines, the wisdom of God in a mystery, which to know is the greatest wisdom and understanding, and much more so than to be acquainted with the law only, Deuteronomy 4:6.
(z) "recreans animam", Vatablus, Schmidt; "refocillat", Piscator. (a) "Restituens animam", Junius & Tremellius, Cocceius; "reducens", Gejerus, Montanus; so Ainsworth. (b) "fidele", V. L. Musculus, Pagninus; "fide dignum", Piscator, Michaelis. (c) Shemot Rabba, s. 3. fol. 93. 2.
8The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The statutes of the Lord are right,.... The word of God may be called "statutes", or "visitations" (d) because that God will visit, in a way of resentment, such persons as despise its authority, do not act according to it, or add unto it, or detract from it; or the word may be rendered "commissions" (e), things committed to trust, as the Scriptures were to the Jews, Romans 3:1; and as the Gospel is committed to the trust of the ministers of it, who faithfully dispense it, 2 Corinthians 5:19. Now these may be said to be right, as the word of the Lord is, Psalm 33:4; since they set men right in their principles, and direct them to right practices; they are the means of making them upright in heart, and in conversation: the doctrines of the word of God have nothing crooked, froward, and perverse in them; are without sophism, and the hidden things of dishonesty; they are all in righteousness, and plain and easy in everything respecting salvation, to those who have a spiritual knowledge and understanding of them, Proverbs 8:8; they lead into right and straight paths of truth and holiness, in which wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err; and particularly the Gospel directs to the right way of salvation and eternal life by Jesus Christ; the effect of which is
rejoicing the heart. This cannot be understood of the law, which is a voice of terror, pronounces guilty, curses and condemns, is the killing letter, and works wrath; but of the Gospel part of the word, which is a joyful sound; publishes good tidings of good things; and, when applied by the Spirit of God, is found to have this effect, see Jeremiah 15:16;
the commandment of the Lord is pure; not only the Scriptures in general may bear this name, because they deliver out the commands of God to men, as those of a moral and ceremonial kind to the Jews under the former dispensation; so the ordinances of Christ, which are his commands under the Gospel dispensation; yea, the Gospel itself may be so called, though, strictly speaking, it has no command in it; because, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, it is made known to all nations for the obedience of faith, Romans 16:25; besides, the commandment is no other than the word or doctrine, see 1 John 2:7; and as every commandment of the Lord, of what kind soever it is, is pure and holy, so is every word of God, Proverbs 30:5; being without any mixture of men's inventions, or the dross of corrupt doctrine, sincere, unadulterated, clear of all chaff and impurity, consistent, uniform, and all of a piece, and which tends to promote purity of heart, life, and conversation;
enlightening the eyes: that is, of the understanding, so as for a man to see his lost state and condition by nature; to see the glory, fulness, and grace of Christ; to behold wondrous things in the doctrine of the Gospel, and to observe the way of duty in which he should walk: this is the eyesalve in Revelation 3:18; and so the Jewish doctors (f) explaining this text call the law, using the same word as there.
(d) "visitationes", Ainsworth. (e) "Commissiones", Munster; "deposita", so some in Rivetus; "depositum", Gejerus, Michaelis. (f) Vajikra Rabba, s. 12. fol. 155. 3. & Debarim Rabba, s. 8. fol. 243. 3.
9The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
The fear of the Lord is clean,.... Still the word of God is intended, which teaches men to fear the Lord; gives a full account of the worship of God, which is often meant by the fear of God; it instructs in the matter and manner of worship; and nothing more powerfully engages to serve the Lord with reverence and godly fear than the Gospel does: and this is "clean"; and the doctrines of it direct to the blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin, and to the righteousness of Christ, the fine linen, clean and white; the promises of it put the saints on cleansing themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit; and the whole of it is the word of truth, by which God and Christ sanctify the church and the members of it, John 15:2. And this word is
enduring for ever; the law is done away; the ceremonial law entirely, and the moral law, as a covenant of works, and as to the ministration of it by Moses; but the Gospel continues; it is an everlasting one; it endures for ever, notwithstanding all the opposition made to it by open persecution, or false teachers;
the judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether; "the judgments of the Lord" are the same with "the word of God", as appears from Psalm 119:25; and these seem to design that part of the word, which contains rules of God's judging and governing his people; or the laws, orders, and ordinances of Christ in his house, which his people should observe, and yield a cheerful obedience to, he being their King, Judge, and Lawgiver: and these are "true", or "truth" (g) itself; being wisely made, according to the truth of things, and agreeable to the holiness and righteousness of God, and so righteous; not at all grievous, but easy, pleasant, and delightful, one and all of them.
(g) "veritas", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Gejerus, Rivetus.
10More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
More to be desired are they than gold,.... This refers to all the truths in the word of God; to all the doctrines of the Gospel; which, by good men, are more desirable, and by them more prized and valued, than all worldly riches and treasure;
yea, than much fine gold: more than gold, and the best of gold, and a great deal of it, than thousands of gold and silver; see Psalm 119:72, Proverbs 8:10;
sweeter also than honey, and the honeycomb; or "the dropping of the honeycombs" (h), which is the purest and sweetest of the honey; and what honey is to the natural taste of men, that is the Gospel, and the truths of it, to the spiritual taste of believers, Psalm 119:103; and when the presence of Christ is enjoyed, his love is shed abroad, and the blessings of his grace are partook of, the ordinances of the Gospel are very delightful, Sol 2:3; eloquence, and eloquent orators, are sometimes described by mellifluous words; or by their expressions being like honey, and sweeter than that (i).
(h) "stillatione favorum", Vatablus, Rivetus, Cocceius; so Ainsworth. (i) , Homer. Iliad. 1. v. 249.
11Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
Moreover, by them is thy servant warned,.... By whom the psalmist means himself, who was the servant of the Lord, not only in common with other saints, but as he was a king and prophet, and as such he received advantage from the word of God; all his instructions as a prophet, and all his rules of government as a king; and the whole of that wisdom, prudence, and knowledge, with which the conducted in both offices, were from the Lord by his word: and it may be applied to any servant of the Lord, and especially in an ecclesiastical office, as an apostle of Christ, and minister of the word; who serve God in the Gospel of his Son, and, by means of the Scriptures, are furnished for every good work; and also to believers in Christ in common; who, of whatsoever rank and quality, in whatsoever state and condition of life, whether high or low, rich or poor, bond or free, are Christ's servants; and whatsoever is written is for their instruction, and by the word of God they are "warned"; the Scriptures are a way mark to them, to direct them in a right way, and to caution them against turning to the right or left; either to immoral practices, or the errors and heresies of wicked men: it is a lamp to their feet, and a light to their path, and teaches them to walk circumspectly, and warns them of rocks, gins, and snares in the way; or, as the words may be rendered, "by them is thy servant made clear", or "bright" (k); so the word is used in Daniel 12:3; that is, in his understanding: the psalmist confirms, by his own experience, what he had said before of the word, Psalm 19:8; that it enlightened the eyes: the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ shining into the heart gives the light of the glory of God in the person of Christ; it illuminates and irradiates the mind, and gives clear ideas of the glory and perfections of God, of his counsels and covenant, of his works of nature and of grace; and makes a bright discovery of the person, offices, and grace of Christ; and of the blessed Spirit, and his operations; and of the blessings of grace, and of eternal glory and happiness;
and in keeping of them there is great reward; which is to be understood, not of keeping the law of Moses, and the precepts of that, which, if a man did keep perfectly and constantly, he should live in them; but of observing the word of God, and by diligent searching into it, reading and learning it, and meditating on it, to get and obtain knowledge of divine things; which carries its own reward with it, and is better than thousands of gold and silver; and of laying up the word of God, and the truths of the Gospel, and keeping them in mind and memory, which is very profitable and serviceable, to promote spiritual peace and comfort, and to preserve from sin, doctrinal and practical; and also of yielding a cheerful obedience to the Gospel, by cordially embracing and professing the doctrines, and submitting to the ordinances of it; from all which arise great profit, and much reward: such come at the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which is preferable to everything else, and is more precious than rubies; and all desirable things; such enjoy the presence of Christ, have much peace and comfort in their souls; they are made wise unto salvation, and are fitted for every good word and work.
(k) "illustratur", Pagninus, Montanus, Rivetus.
12Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
Who can understand his errors?.... Sin is an error, a wandering out of the way of God, swerving from the rule of his word; and many mistakes are made by the people of God themselves; even so many that they cannot number them; they are more than the hairs of their head; they cannot understand, find out and express, neither their number, nor their evil nature, nor the many aggravating circumstances which attend them: this the psalmist said, upon a view of the large extent, glory, and excellency of the word of God; and upon comparing himself with it, in which, as in a glass, he saw how far short he came of it, and what a disagreement and want of conformity there was in him unto it; see Psalm 119:97; and he suggests, that though the word he had been describing was perfect, pure, and clean, he was not; nor could he expect any reward of debt, but merely of grace, for his observance of it; and that it was best, under a sense of sin, to have recourse, not to works of righteousness done by men; but to the grace and mercy of God in Christ, as follows:
cleanse thou me from secret faults; by which are meant not such sins as are done in secret, and are unknown to men; such as David's sin with Bathsheba, 2 Samuel 12:12; nor the inward motions of sin in the heart, to which none are privy but God, and a man's own soul; not but that each of these may be properly enough included in such a petition; but sins, which are unknown to a man himself are meant: there are some actions, which, though known when committed, are not known to be sinful ones; and there are some sins which are committed unadvisedly, and through carelessness, and pass unobserved; not only many vain and sinful thoughts pass to and fro uncontrolled, without being taken notice of; but many foolish and idle words are spoken, and many evil actions, through infirmity and inadvertency, are done, which, when a good man, at the close of a day, comes to reflect upon the things that have passed in it, are quite hidden from him, are unknown to him, being unobserved by him; wherefore such a petition is highly proper to be inserted in his address at the throne of grace: and which also supposes the person sensible of the defiling nature of sin, and of his own impotency to cleanse himself from it; and that God only can do it, who does it by the application of the blood of his Son, which cleanses from all sin; for this respects not regenerating and sanctifying grace, but pardoning grace; a manifestation of it, a view of acquittance from sin by Christ, and of freedom from obligation to punishment for it.
13Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins,.... Some understand these words of persons: the Septuagint, and the versions that follow that, render it "from strangers": such who are strangers to God and godliness; that is, keep from all conversation with them in things sinful, or from others' sins; from having a fellowship with them, being a partaker of them, lest their plagues and punishments should be shared in: others, as the Targum, "from proud men", who are haughty, insolent, and conceited of themselves; lest he should be so corrupted and drawn aside by them: but rather the words are to be understood of sins wilfully, contumaciously, and presumptuously committed; and the petition supposes, that these may be committed by good men, if left to themselves; and that there is a proneness in them to them; and that they would rush into them, were they not kept back and restrained by the powerful and efficacious grace of God: and it also supposes that the saints cannot keep themselves; that God only can keep them from evil; and therefore they pray to him that he would, who does keep them by his power, at least from a final and total falling away
let them not have dominion over me: neither presumptuous sins, nor any other, Psalm 119:133; as they shall not, Romans 6:14; as sin has over wicked men; and they yield a ready obedience to the laws and lusts of it; it reigns over them as a king and tyrant, even unto death: it is something very powerful in good men; it prevails over them, and carries them captive; wherefore they pray it may not have a continued dominion, as it shall not; because they are in another kingdom, and under grace as a governing principle, which reigns through righteousness unto eternal life;
then shall I be upright; in heart, and walk uprightly in conversation; being cleansed from secret faults, and kept from notorious crimes, and gross enormities; and shall exercise a conscience void of offence, both to God and man; and be "perfect", as the word is sometimes rendered, at least comparatively; and absolutely so, as washed in Christ's blood, and justified by his righteousness;
and I shall be innocent from the great transgression; which some understand of pride, others of apostasy; perhaps the sin against the Holy Ghost may be intended; though the words may be rendered, "from much transgression" (k); and the sense is, that he should be cleared and acquitted of a multitude of transgressions he had been guilty of; or be preserved from much sin, which otherwise he should have fallen into.
(k) "multa", Montanus, Rivetus, Gejerus, Cocceius; so Ainsworth.
14Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Let the words of my mouth,.... Meaning either his speech in common conversation, which should not be filthy and foolish, rotten and corrupt; but such as ministers grace to the hearer: or else his address to God, both in prayer and thanksgiving;
and the meditation of my heart; his inward thoughts continually revolving in his mind; or his meditation on the word of God and divine things; or mental prayer, which is not expressed, only conceived in the mind;
be acceptable in thy sight; as words and thoughts are, when they are according to the word of God; and as the sacrifices of prayer, whether vocal or mental, and of praise, are through Jesus Christ our Lord. The psalmist, in order to strengthen his faith in God, that he should be heard and answered in the petitions he put up, makes use of the following epithets:
O Lord, my strength, or "rock" (l),
and my Redeemer; who had been the strength of his life and of his salvation, the rock on which he was built and established, and the Redeemer who had redeemed his life from destruction, and out of the hands of all his enemies, and from all his iniquities.
(l) "rupes mea", Musculus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius; "mea petra", Pagninus, Montanus, Rivetus; so Ainsworth.