What an aggregate of guilt and misery is comprehended in this short word "sin"! Sin is the greatest curse that ever entered the universe of God, and the parent of every other curse! Its guilt is aggravated beyond the conception of thought. Injury to a Superior—a Father—a Sovereign! Its power is misery wherever it extends—in the family—in the world. In eternity its power is unrestrained. Sometimes the death-bed scene casts a fearful gleam of light upon "the worm that never dies, and the fire that never shall be quenched." But experience alone, can develop its full-grown horrors.
How supremely important therefore is the object of our preservation from sin! and how wisely adapted are the means to the end! That word—which the man of God had just before mentioned as the guide to the cleansing of the way—he hides within his heart—not for concealment, but for security, that it may be ready for constant use. It is not therefore a mere acquaintance with the word, that will avail us. There must be a cordial assent—a sound digestion—a constant respect. It must be to us the rule that we would not transgress—the treasure that we are afraid to lose.
Often indeed Satan shuts out its entrance. He "catches away that which was sown." Too often, again, it is "withered or choked" in the soil. But "the honest and good heart" "hides it, keeps it, and brings forth fruit with perseverance, unto perfection."Here it "dwells richly in all wisdom," the storehouse, as occasion requires; a principle of holiness; a covering from sin. In this view it is recommended by one who had well acquainted himself with its valuable uses: "My son, let them (the Divine precepts) not depart from your eyes; keep sound wisdom and discretion. So shall they be life to your soul, and grace to your neck. Then shall you walk in your way safely, and your foot shall not stumble." David also gives us the same experience: "By the word of Your lips I have kept myself from the paths of the destroyer." And it was probably this recollection, combined with a sense of continual danger, that suggested the prayer, "Order my steps in Your word; and let not any iniquity have dominion over me."
The value of the word is inestimable, as our means of walking with God in the hurry, business, and temptation of the day. The Psalms furnish precious materials for spontaneous prayer; the promises, food for comfort; the rules, such light in perplexity; the instruction, such solid matter for godly conference—all operating for one end—a preservation from sin. Being from the word—a manifestation of the Savior's love—what a keeping of the heart! what a quickening motive! How seasonable in worldly temptation is the warning of the word hidden in the heart, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God!" So in the spiritual conflict, let this word, "Him who comes to Me, I will never cast out," be hidden in the heart—what a preservation is it against unbelief!
Take the word to the wavering believer, alarmed by ridicule or persecution, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you." Fearing that he shall never hold out to the end; "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Trembling lest his sins should rise up to his condemnation, "The blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God cleanses from all sin." And then as to duties: Let his Savior's word rebuke his indolence and unwatchfulness, "What! could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation." Hide in the heart the sorrowful story of His agony in the garden, and His death on the cross, that "sin may appear yet more exceedingly sinful."
But how is the word to gain entrance into hearts like ours? How shall it be "hid" in so unkindly a soil? No power of man surely can plant it there. The Holy Spirit's Almighty agency must be diligently sought; for in proportion as we are filled with His gracious influence shall we be armed, as was our Master, for the effectual resistance of our spiritual temptations.
Lastly, connected with this subject, mark the Christian's character, "In whose heart is my law." His security, "None of his steps shall slide." His happiness, "O how I love Your law." His victory, "The word of God abides in him, and he has overcome the wicked one." All infallibly provided by the covenant promise, "I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts." Oh! let us not then shrink from a close contact with the word, though the cost may be the cutting off a right hand for the saving of the life. There is no better test of our security, than our willingness to come to the searching light of the word.
When a godly man sues for a favor from God he should carefully use every means for obtaining it, and accordingly, as the Psalmist had asked to be preserved from wandering, he here shows us the holy precaution which he had taken to prevent his falling into sin. "Your word have I hid in my heart." His heart would be kept by the word because he kept the word in his heart All that he had of the word written, and all that had been revealed to him by the voice of God—all, without exception, he had stored away in his affections, as a treasure to be preserved in a casket, or as a choice seed to be buried in a fruitful soil: what soil more fruitful than a renewed heart, wholly seeking the Lord? The word was God's own, and therefore precious to God's servant. He did not wear a text on his heart as a charm, but he hid it in his heart as a rule. He laid it up in the place of love and life, and it filled the chamber with sweetness and light. We must in this imitate David, copying his heart-work as well as his outward character. First, we must mind that what we believe is truly God's word; that being done, we must hide or treasure it each man for himself; and we must see that this is done, not as a mere feat of the memory, but as the joyful act of the affections.
"That I might not sin against you." Here was the object aimed at. As one has well said—Here is the best thing, "your word"; hidden in the best place, "in my heart"; for the best of purposes, "that I might not sin against you." This was done by the Psalmist with personal care, as a man carefully hides away his money when he fears thieves: in this case the thief dreaded was sin. Sinning "against God" is the believer's view of moral evil; other men care only when they offend against men. God's word is the best preventive against offending God, for it tells us his mind and will, and tends to bring our spirit into conformity with the divine Spirit No cure for sin in the life is equal to the word in the seat of life, which is the heart.
A very pleasant variety of meaning is obtained by laying stress upon the words "your" and "you." He speaks to God, he loves the word because it is Gods word, and he hates sin because it is sin against God himself. If he vexed others, he minded not so long as he did not offend his God. If we would not cause God displeasure we must treasure up his own word.
The personal way in which the man of God did this is also noteworthy: "With my whole heart have I sought you." Whatever others might choose to do, he had already made his choice, and placed the Word in his innermost soul as his dearest delight; and however others might transgress, his aim was after holiness: "That I might not sin against you." This was not what he proposed to do, but what he had already done: many are great at promising, but the Psalmist had been true in performing: hence he hoped to see a sure result. When the word is hidden in the heart the life shall be hidden from sin.
The parallelism between the second octave and the first is still continued. Verse 3 speaks of doing no iniquity, while this verse treats of the method of not sinning. When we form an idea of a blessedly holy man (verse 3), it becomes us to make an earnest effort to attain unto the same sacred innocence and divine happiness; and this can only be through heart-piety founded on the Scriptures.