Lest the Psalmist should seem to have been self-confident in his rejection of the society of the ungodly, and his determination to adhere to his God; here, as on former occasions, mindful of his own weakness, he commits himself to the upholding grace of God. He does not content himself with commanding the evil-doer to depart. He pleads for his God to come to him. He wants not only the hindrances to be removed, but the vouchsafement of present supporting grace. Such is our urgent continual need! Every circumstance has its temptation. Every change of condition is specially trying—and what is he in himself? unstable as water! Indeed the highest Archangel before the throne stands only as he is upheld by the Lord, and may unite with the weakest child in the Lord's family in the acknowledgment, "By the grace of God I am what I am." Much more, therefore, must I, pressed on every side with daily conflict and temptation, and conscious of my own weakness and liability to fall, "come to the throne of grace," for "grace to help in time of need." My plea is the word of promise—according to Your word, "as your days, so shall your strength be." "Fear not"—is the language of my upholding God, "for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God: I will strengthen you: yes, I will help you: yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness." Blessed be the goodness that made the promise, and that guides the hand of my faith, as it were, to fasten upon it!
But why do I need the promise? why do I plead it? but that I may live—that I may know that life, which is found and enjoyed "in the favor" of God? Nothing seems worth a serious thought besides; nothing else deserves the name. And therefore new life, "life more abundantly"—let it be the burden of every prayer—the cry of every moment. Thus upheld by the Lord's grace, and living in His presence, I hope to feel the increasing support of my Christian hope. Though I have just before expressed it in God's word—though I have "made my boast in the Lord," as my hiding-place and my shield, yet conscious helplessness leads me earnestly to pray—Let me not be ashamed of my hope.
Yes—Jesus is the sinner's hope, "the hope set before" His people, to which they "flee for the refuge" of their souls. And well may our "hope" in Him be called "an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast." How does the distressed church plead with the hope of Israel, and put her God in remembrance of this His own name, that she might not be ashamed of her hope! And how does she—with every member of her body—eventually learn by this pleading, to say in the confidence of faith, "I know whom I have believed!" And is there not a solid ground for this confidence? Is not the "stone that is laid in Zion for a foundation," a "tried stone?" Has it not been tried by thousands and millions of sinners—no, more, tried by God Himself, and found to be "a sure foundation?" Yet still, that I may "hold fast the beginning of my confidence," and "the rejoicing of my hope, firm unto the end," I must persevere in prayer—Uphold me according unto Your word.
David, when left to his own weakness, was ashamed of his hope:, "I said in my haste, I am cut off from before Your eyes." At another time, when upheld in a season of accumulated trial, "he encouraged himself in the Lord his God." Thus I see "wherein my great strength lies," and how impotent I am, when left to myself. What a mercy, that my salvation will never for a single moment be in my own keeping! what need have I to pray to be saved from myself! How delightful is the exercise of faith in going to the Strong for strength! The issue of my spiritual conflicts is certain. He who is the author, will ever be the upholder, of the "hidden life" in His people. It is a part of His own life, and therefore can never perish. The Tempter himself will flee, when he marks the poor, feeble, fainting soul, upheld according to the word of his God, and placed in safety beyond the reach of his malice. Not, however, that, as I once supposed, my weakness will ever be made strong; but that I shall daily grow more sensible of it, shall, stay myself more simply upon infinite everlasting strength; and "most gladly shall I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
"Uphold me according unto your word, that I may live." It was so necessary that the Lord should hold up his servant, that he could not even live without it. Our soul would die, and every grace of spiritual life would die also, if the Lord withdrew his upholding hand. It is a sweet comfort that this great necessity of upholding is provided for in the Word, and we have not to ask for it as for an uncovenanted mercy, but simply to plead for the fulfillment of a promise, saying, "Uphold me according to your word." He who has given us eternal life has in that gift secured to us all that is essential thereto; and as gracious upholding is one of the necessary things, we may be sure that we shall have it. Note, that when David had chased away the evildoers, he did not therefore feel safe when alone. He knew that he needed to be preserved from his own weakness as well as from other men's evil examples, and so he prayed for upholding grace.
"And let me not be ashamed of my hope." In verse 114 he had spoken of his hope as founded on the word of the Lord, and now he begs for the fulfillment of the promise, that his hope may be justified in the sight of men. A man will soon be ashamed of his hope if it is not based upon a sure foundation: but this can never happen in our case, since we trust a faithful God. We may be ashamed of our thoughts, and our words, and our deeds, for they spring from ourselves; but we never shall be ashamed of our hope for that springs from the Lord. We may well be ashamed of our doubt, but we need never be ashamed of our hope. Such is the frailty of our nature that, unless we are continually upheld by grace, we shall fall so foully as to be ashamed of ourselves, and ashamed of all those glorious hopes which are now the crown and glory of our life. This may be the case even in solitude: when evildoers are gone, we may yet fall victims to our foolish fears. The man of God had uttered firm resolves, but he could not trust in his own resolves, however solemnly made: hence these prayers. It is not wrong to make resolutions, but it will be useless to do so unless we salt them well with believing cries to God. David meant to keep the law of the Lord, but he first needed the Lord of the law to keep him.