The "truth of the commandments," which the Psalmist had just asserted, was an everlasting foundation. He stated it not upon slight conviction. But he knew it—and that not recently—but as the result of early consideration—he had known it of old. It is most important to have a full certainty of the ground of our faith. How else can we have that "good thing—a heart established with grace?"—how "continue in the faith grounded and settled?"—how be kept from being "moved away from the hope of the gospel?" Praised be God! We feel our ground to be firm. As God is the same, so must His testimonies be. We cannot conceive of His promising without performance, or threatening without effect. They are therefore expressly revealed as a firm foundation, in express contrast with this world's fairest promise.
But let us mark this eternal basis of the testimonies. The whole plan of redemption was emphatically founded forever. The Savior "was foreordained before the foundation of the world." The people of God are "chosen in Christ before the world began!" The great Author "declares the end from the beginning," and thus clears His dispensations from any charge of mutability or contingency. Every event in the church is fixed, permitted, and provided for—not in the passing moment of time, but in the counsels of eternity. All God's faithful engagements with His people of old are founded forever upon the oath and promise of God—the two "immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie." May we not then "have strong consolation" in venturing every hope for eternity upon this rock? nor need we be dismayed to see all our earthly stays, "the world, and the lust, and the fashion of it—passing away" before us. Yet we are most of us strangely attached to this fleeting scene, even when experience and Divine teaching have instructed us in its vanity and it is not until repeated proofs of this truth have touched us very closely in the destruction of our dearest consolations, that we take the full comfort of the enduring foundation of God's testimonies, and of the imperishable character of their treasure.
Now let me realize the special support of this view in a dying hour: 'I am on the borders of an unknown world; but "my hope makes not ashamed" at the moment of peril it is as "an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast;" and in the strength of it I do not fear to plunge into eternity. "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day." I know—not His sufficiency merely, but His All-sufficiency. I know His conquering power over the great enemies of my soul. I know that He has "spoiled the principalities and powers" of hell, of the strength to triumph over His ransomed people. I know also, that He is "the Lord; He changes not;" His word changes not; His testimonies abide the same: I have known of old, that He has founded them forever.' Thus we look for the removing of those "things which are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain." The scoffer may say, "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?"—Let God Himself give the answer, "Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and those who dwell therein shall die in like manner; but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished."
David found of old that God had founded his testimonies of old, and that they would stand firm throughout all ages. It is a very blessed thing to be so early taught of God that we know the substantial doctrines of the gospel even from our youth. Those who know the eternal truth in their early days will look back upon such knowledge with pleasure in their riper years.
Those who think that David was a young man when he wrote this psalm will find it rather difficult to reconcile this verse with their theory; it is much more probable that he was now grown grey, and was looking back upon what he had known long before. He knew at the very first that the doctrines of God's word were settled before the world began, that they had never changed, and never could by any possibility be altered. He had begun by building on a rock, by knowing that God's testimonies were "founded," that is, grounded, laid as foundations, settled and established; and that they were thus settled with a view to all the ages that should come, and all the changes that should happen. It was because David knew this that he had such confidence in prayer, and was so importunate in it. It is sweet to plead immutable promises with an immutable God. It was because of this that David learned to hope: a man cannot have much expectation from a changing friend, but he may well have confidence in a God who cannot change. It was because of this that he delighted in being near the Lord, for it is a most blessed thing to keep up close fellowship with a Friend who never varies. Let those who choose follow at the heels of the modern school and look for fresh light to break forth which will put the old light out of countenance; we are satisfied with the truth which is as old as the hills, and as fixed as the great mountains. Let "cultured intellects" invent another God, more gentle and effeminate than the God of Abraham; we are well content to worship Jehovah, who is eternally the same. Things everlastingly established are the joy of established saints. Bubbles please boys, but men prize those things which are solid and substantial, with a foundation and a bottom to them which will bear the test of the ages.
Exposition of Verses 153 to 160
CONSIDER my affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget your law.
Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to your word.
Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not your statutes.
Great are your tender mercies, O LORD: quicken me according to your judgments.
Many are my persecutors and my enemies; yet do I not decline from your testimonies.
I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not your word.
Consider how I love your precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to your loving-kindness.
Your word is true from the beginning: and every one of your righteous judgments endures forever.
In this section the Psalmist seems to draw still nearer to God in prayer, and to state his case and to invoke the divine help with more of boldness and expectation. It is a pleading passage, and the keyword of it is, "Consider." With much boldness he pleads his intimate union with the Lord's cause as a reason why he should be aided. The special aid that he seeks is personal quickening, for which he cries to the Lord again and again.