Love for the precepts, such as this Psalm describes, is a distinguishing characteristic of a child of God. The transgressors neither love the precepts, nor desire quickening grace to keep them. For though "not grievous" in themselves, they are too strict, too humbling for the unrenewed, proud, worldly heart. Love therefore to them—not being the growth of the natural man—must be "a plant which our heavenly Father has planted," a witness of the Spirit of adoption, and the principle of Christian devotedness. And how encouraging is the recollection of the Lord's readiness to consider how we love His precepts! "I know Abraham, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken of him." Thus also did He challenge "the accuser of the brethren," to "consider His servant Job that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil."
But while love of the precepts realizes the full confidence of the Lord's consideration, the consciousness of its imperfection and scanty measure will always prevent us from urging it as the ground of acceptance. Christian! you know not—or at least you allow not—the proud boast, "God, I thank You, that I am not as other men are." No, rather—your constant cry to the end is—Quicken me. Your plea is not merit, but mercy. Not that you deserve to be helped—because you love the precepts: but you desire and trust to be helped—according to Your loving-kindness. And what must be the loving-kindness of a God of infinite love! Only do not sit still, and wait for the breezes of His love. Rather call to the "north wind to awake, and to the south wind to blow," to fill your sails, and urge you on. God—His word, His works, His perfections, His holiness; Jesus—His pity, His love, His grace—is your delight, your chief delight; yet how infinitely is it below the scriptural standard of privilege, attainment, and expectation!
Under the painful influence of straitened desires and heartless affections, how refreshing is it to mark the springs of life flowing from the loving-kindness of the Lord! Yes, indeed—He is the overflowing spring of His church. Every mercy is His grace. Every holy suggestion is His influence. Even the passing thought that our Christian progress proceeds from our own resources, opens the door of fearful departure from God. And yet such is the self-deceitfulness of the heart, that, in the very act of professing to "rejoice in Christ Jesus," the Omniscient eye traces a "confidence in the flesh." The real dependence is on the "mountain that stands strong," not on "the favor that makes" it so. Even our first father, in his original unimpaired strength, could "not quicken his own soul." Can we wonder that the fallen nature, even though partially upheld by Divine power, is changeable and unstable? The most advanced Christian needs the supply to the end, as much as he did in his first stage of infantile weakness. And will he not continue to need it throughout eternity, in every exercise of adoring service, as well as for his active existence?
But when we ask for this quickening, are we expecting, as we ought to be, a large answer to our prayer? Or are we "limiting" our God, by the scanty apprehensions of our poor faith? Remember He is glorified—not in possessing, but in dispensing His gifts. If we really expect His blessing, can we be satisfied without it? It is not our unworthiness, but our unbelief, that stops the current. Would that we gave Him full credit for His exuberant flow of free, rich, ceaseless mercy!
Blessed Jesus! we plead Your promise to be filled. We have life from You; but give it us "more abundantly"—as much as these houses of clay—as much as these earthen vessels—can contain. Our taste of Your love, and our knowledge of its unbounded fullness, encourage our plea to ask You still for more—Quicken us according to Your loving-kindness. Often as the Psalmist had repeated this prayer for quickening grace, it was not a "vain repetition." Each time was it enlivened with faith, feeling of necessity, and ardent affection: and should we, in the consciousness of our weakness and coldness, offer it a hundred times a-day, it would never fail of acceptance.
"Consider." or see, "how I love your precepts." A second time he asks for consideration. As he said before, "Consider my affliction," so now he says "Consider my affection." He loved the precepts of God—loved them unspeakably—loved them so as to be grieved with those who did not love them. This is a sure test: many there are who have a warm side towards the promises, but as for the precepts, they cannot endure them. The Psalmist so loved everything that was good and excellent, that he loved all that God had commanded. The precepts are all of them wise and holy, therefore the man of God loved them extremely, loved to know them, to think of them, to proclaim them, and principally to practice them. He asked the Lord to remember and consider this, not upon the ground of merit, but that it should serve as an answer to the slanderous accusations which at this time were the sting of his sorrow.
"Quicken me, O LORD, according to your loving-kindness." Here he comes back to his former prayer, "Quicken me" (v. 154), "quicken me" (v. 156). "Quicken me." He prays again the third time, using the same words. There is no harm in using repetitions: the thing forbidden is the using of vain repetitions, as the heathen do.
David felt like one who was half stunned with the assaults of his foes, ready to faint under their incessant malice; hence he cries, "Quicken me." What he wanted was revival, restoration, renewal; therefore he pleaded for more life. O you who did quicken me when I was dead, quicken me again, that I may not return to the dead! Quicken me, that I may outlive the blows of my enemies, the faintness of my faith, and the swooning of my sorrow. This time he does not say, "Quicken me according to your judgments," but, "Quicken me, O Lord, according to your loving-kindness." On the love and mercy of God he places his last and greatest reliance. This is the great gun which he brings up last to the conflict: it is his ultimate argument; if this succeed not, he must fail. He has long been knocking at mercy's gate, and with this plea he strikes his heaviest blow. When he had fallen into great sin this was his plea, "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your loving-kindness," and now that he is in great trouble he flies to the same effectual reasoning. Because God is love he will give us life; because he is kind he will again kindle the heavenly flame within us.