Subject. It would be idle to enquire into the particular period when this delightful poem was composed, for their is nothing in its title or subject to assist us in the enquiry. The heading, “To the Chief Musician, a Psalm of David, “informs us that David wrote it, and that it was committed to the Master of the service of song in the sanctuary for the use of the assembled worshippers. In his earliest days the psalmist, while keeping his father’s flock, had devoted himself to the study of God’s two great books—nature and Scripture; and he had so thoroughly entered into the spirit of these two only volumes in his library that he was able with a devout criticism to compare and contrast them, magnifying the excellency of the Author as seen in both. How foolish and wicked are those who instead of accepting the two sacred tomes, and delighting to behold the same divine hand in each, spend all their wits in endeavouring to find discrepancies and contradictions. We may rest assured that the true “Vestiges of Creation” will never contradict Genesis, nor will a correct “Cosmos” be found at variance with the narrative of Moses. He is wisest who reads both the world book, and the Word book as two volumes of the same work, and feels concerning them, “My Father wrote them both.”
Division. This song very distinctly divides itself into three parts, very well described by the translators in the ordinary heading of our version. The creatures show God’s glory, Psalms 19:1-6. The word showeth his grace, Psalms 19:7-11. David prayeth for grace, Psalms 19:12-14. Thus praise and prayer are mingled, and he who here sings the work of God in the world without, pleads for a work of grace in himself within.
The Treasury of David.
The statutes of the Lord are right. His precepts and decrees are founded in righteousness, and are such as are right or fitted to the right reason of man. As a physician gives the right medicine, and a counsellor the right advice, so does the Book of God.
Rejoicing the heart. Mark the progress; he who was converted was next made wise and is now made happy; that truth which makes the heart right then gives joy to the right heart. Free grace brings heart joy. Earthborn mirth dwells on the lip, and flushes the bodily powers; but heavenly delights satisfy the inner nature, and fill the mental faculties to the brim. There is no cordial of comfort like that which is poured from the bottle of Scripture.
“Retire and read thy Bible to be gay.”
The commandment of the Lord is pure. No mixture of error defiles it, no stain of sin pollutes it; it is the unadulterated milk, the undiluted wine.
Enlightening the eyes, purging away by its own purity the earthly grossness which mars the intellectual discernment: whether the eye be dim with sorrow or with sin, the Scripture is a skilful oculist, and makes the eye clear and bright. Look at the sun and it puts out your eyes, look at the more than sunlight of Revelation and it enlightens them; the purity of snow causes snow blindness to the Alpine traveller, but the purity of God’s truth has the contrary effect, and cures the natural blindness of the soul. It is well again to observe the gradation; the convert becomes a disciple and next a rejoicing soul, he now obtains a discerning eye and as a spiritual man discerneth all things, though he himself is discerned of no man.
Ver. 7-8. The testimony of the Lord is sure, enlightening the eyes, revealing the object, ennobling the organ. Richard Stock.
The statutes. Many divines and critics, and Castalio in particular, have endeavoured to attach a distinct shade of meaning to the words, law, testimony, the statutes, commandments, fear, judgments, occurring in this context. (תוֹרָה), the law, has been considered to denote the perceptive part of revelation. (עֵדוּת), the testimony, has been restricted to the doctrinal part. (פִּקּוּדִים), the statutes, has been regarded as relating to such things as have been given in charge. (מִצְוָה), the commandment, has been taken to express the general body of the divine law and doctrine. (יִרְאֶה), religious fear. (מִשְׁפָּטִים), the judgments, the civil statutes of the Mosaic law, more particularly the penal sanctions. John Morison.
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. How odious is the profaneness of those Christians who neglect the Holy Scriptures, and give themselves to reading other books! How many precious hours do many spend, and that not only on work days, but holy days, in foolish romances, fabulous histories, lascivious poems! And why this, but that they may be cheered and delighted, when as full joy is only to be had in these holy books. Alas! the joy you find in those writings is perhaps pernicious, such as tickles your lust, and promotes contemplative wickedness. At the best it is but vain, such as only pleaseth the fancy and affecteth the wit; whereas those holy writings (to use David’s expression), are “right, rejoicing the heart.” Again, are there not many who more set by Plutarch’s morals, Seneca’s epistles, and such like books, than they do by the Holy Scriptures? It is true, beloved, there are excellent truths in those moral writings of the heathen, but yet they are far short of these sacred books. Those may comfort against outward trouble, but not against inward fears; they may rejoice the mind, but cannot quiet the conscience; they may kindle some flashy sparkles of joy, but they cannot warm the soul with a lasting fire of solid consolations. And truly, brethren, if ever God give you a spiritual ear to judge of things aright, you will then acknowledge there are no bells like to those of Aaron’s, no harp like to that of David’s, no trumpet like to that of Isaiah’s, no pipes like to those of the apostle’s; and, you will confess with Petrus Damianus, that those writings of heathen orators, philosophers, poets, which formerly were so pleasing, are now dull and harsh in comparison of the comfort of the Scriptures. Nathanael Hardy, D.D., 1618-1670.
Ver. 7-9. The Hexapla. See notes.
(first clause). The heart cheering power of the Word.
(second clause). Golden ointment for the eyes.
The Treasury of David.
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