Sermon 2688. 'Good Judgment'
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, AUGUST 19, 1900.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, JULY 21, 1881.
"You have dealt well with Your servant, O LORD, according unto Your Word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I havebelieved Your Commandments." Psalm 119:65, 66.
WHEN the Psalmist wrote these words, he was contemplating the goodness of God. In the verse preceding our text, the 64th,he sang, "The earth, O Jehovah, is full of Your mercy!" as if he could not walk abroad without seeing evidences of it, orlook upward, or backward, or around him, without everywhere perceiving the Omnipresent goodness of the Most High. Whateverseason of the year it is in which we take our walks abroad into the field of Nature, we ought to be in such a condition ofmind and heart as to see proofs of the fullness of God's love everywhere around us, but especially, I think, it should beso in these summer months when the fields are ripening toward the harvest and we see how God is fulfilling His ancient Covenant,"While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."How thankful we ought to be that the Lord thus remembers the earth and makes it bring forth the corn and everything else thatis necessary to supply the needs of men! So let us bless God that the earth is still full of His mercy.
Is our own life in the same condition, or are we strangers to the goodness of God? Is there mercy all around us, yet nonefor us? Well, let others answer these questions as they may, there are many here present who can reply most emphatically,"No, the earth is full of God's mercy and we can, each one of us, say to Him, 'You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord.'Though You have had so many others of Your creatures to care for, You have not forgotten poor me. Though I am but the merestatom, dwelling in a world which is, itself, nothing more than a speck when compared with the innumerable worlds that throngYour universe, yet You have not failed to let Your mercy come to me, even to me."
I have sometimes lighted upon a little flower right in the depths of the forest glades. It seemed as if it were hidden quiteaway, utterly concealed by the towering trees and yet it bloomed as sweetly as if it had been watched over and cared for bythe utmost skill, for somewhere between the branches-I could not tell where-there was a little window through which the sunshone into the heart of that tiny flower, kissing it into perfume, and tinting it with those lovely colors which made it soattractive! All around it, the soil was bare, but this sweet flower flourished all by itself, and so, Brothers and Sisters,if you have lived in the midst of those who have forgotten your God, you have been hidden away in obscurity, yet the Lordhas not forgotten you and, somehow-yes, and continually-the beams of His gracious sunlight have come even to you and you mustbless and praise and magnify Him to whom you owe all that you have and are! Therefore cheerfully bear witness with the restof God's people to this blessed fact and join with the Psalmist in saying, "You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord,according unto Your Word."
You may go further and say, "You have dealt well with all Your servants, O Lord, according to Your Word." David had not alwaysthought so, but he did think so when he came to sum up the total of his life's experience and to write it down in his diary-forI suppose that the 119th Psalm was made up of the entries in David's diary as he went along. This was the summary of all thathe had experienced, that God had dealt well with him-but as he had not always thought so, he felt that he had been very muchmisled and mistaken in judgment-and therefore he prayed this prayer: "Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I have believedYour Commandments."
There will be three things for me to talk about tonight. First, judgment expressed. David expressed his judgment as to howGod had dealt with him and very sound and judicious judgment it was-"You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, accordingunto Your Word." Secondly, I shall have to speak to you about judgment desired-"Teach me good judgment and knowledge." And,thirdly, I shall tell you about judgment possessed. The Psalmist already possessed a measure of good judgment-he was not altogetherleft to be as the foolish, for he could truthfully say to the Lord, "I have believed Your Commandments." He had possessedjudgment enough for that and that is one reason why he might expect to have more, for it is an old law of God's Kingdom, "Whoeverhas, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance."
I. First, then, here is David's JUDGMENT EXPRESSED-"You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord."
Looking through his past life, he came to the conclusion, first, that God had dealt with him. It is a very awe-inspiring Truthof God and one that should make us feel that this life is a solemn thing, because in it God deals with us. We thought thatwe had been having dealings with our fellow men and so we have, but, all the while, there has been Another who has also beendealing with us. And we say, "Under all, and over all, and within all, have been the dealings of His Providence." Or, rather,let us say, "the dealings of God, Himself," so that we can personally say, "You have dealt with Your servant." It will notbe strange if we add, "How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the House of God and this is the gate of Heaven.Surely the Lord is in this place."
There are some who cannot or who will not see that God deals with men in this mortal life. Alas, for them! God is the veryLife of life and there are some of us who could not be made to think otherwise than that God has dealt with us, for therehave been portions of our life which have been so surprising that whenever we look back upon them, they amaze us! There isno novel that ever was written that can equal in interest the true life of a believing man. His path is strewn with wondersand thick with marvelous displays of his Lord's love. I will not refer especially to any man's life. If I did, it would haveto be the one I know best, that is, my own. Each man must speak according to his own experience and I am compelled to say,and to say it without the slightest hesitation, "The Lord has dealt with my soul." As surely as I live, I have spoken withHim and He has spoken with me. No, more than that, He has dealt out innumerable mercies to me and constantly dealt with me-andthrough me He has dealt with many others, also. And this I know, that life would not be worth living if it did not continuallytouch the hem of Jehovah's garments! The very virtue of life streams into our life through our being in contact with Him.Where the little circle of our existence impinges upon the unutterably vast circumference of His power and Glory is wherewe get the blessings that we need!
I wish that we recognized far more clearly than we do that God is around us at all times. In the olden days, the saints oftenmet with God-sometimes beneath a tree, or beside a bush, or in a lone desert, or outside a city wall, or by a brook at midnight,or in a furnace all aglow-they met Him in all manner of places, for He was much about in those good old days, or else therewere men about, then, who were quick to record His manifestations to His people. But have not we also beheld His face againand again? Have not we often had communion with the Well-Beloved? Has He not had dealings with us, also? Surely the beamsand timbers of this House of Prayer would cry out against us if we did not say, "Verily, the Lord has been mindful of us andHe has manifested Himself unto us as He does not unto the world. Truly, God has dealt with us."
This is also true of every man, though not in the same sense, nor to the same extent. God has dealt with you all. Into whateverposition you have been cast, God has had some dealings with you. Take heed lest His dealings of long-suffering, being slighted,He should begin to deal with you after another fashion, for He has a rod of iron, and woe be to the potter's vessels in theday when He begins to dash them in pieces! Oh, that He might deal with us only in mercy and never come to deal with us inwrath, as He will have to do with the men who go on in their iniquities! That is the first judgment of David, that God haddealt with him.
But he also judged that God had dealt well with him-"You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord." And this, too, is ourconclusion. Taking God's dealings as a whole, He has dealt well with us. There are some points in His dealings with us whichhave been so special that the words of our text hardly appear emphatic enough to describe them. For instance, when I thinkof God's purposes concerning us from before the foundation of the world, it hardly seems sufficient to say, "The Lord hasdealt well with us." When I remember the Covenant, that "Everlasting Covenant, ordered in all things, and sure," I want tosay something much stronger than that God has dealt well with us-I prefer to say that He
has dealt with us like a God, in a Divine way for which there is no earthly comparison! Then, when He gave His Son to bleedand die for us and when He sent His Spirit to convert us, and then to dwell in us, it is not enough if I say, "You have dealtwell with Your servants." It is better than well! It is indescribably, unutterably well that God has dealt with us in theway of free, rich, Sovereign, Immutable, everlasting love-glory be to His holy name!
But take our personal experience, for I suppose the Psalmist is here referring to that. How well the Lord has dealt with usin Providence! Adding up all our varied experiences, we can truly say that all things have worked together for our good. Lifehas been a strange mixture for some of us-our coat of arms might be the checkers, black and white, for we have had sweetsand bitters intermingled-bitter sweets and sweet bitters. What strange compounds many of our lives are! The evening and themorning have made the day from the creation and we have had darkness and brightness, but, putting the whole together, theresult has been more than well. If we had been the pilot of our own ship, we could not have steered it better than God hasdone-no, we could not have guided it anything like as well as He has done. We would have been sure to make a spiritual shipwrecklong ago if we had been our own pilots. We would have been bankrupts before now if we had been our own managers! But God hasmanaged our affairs so successfully that looking upon the whole of them at this moment, we can truly say that God has dealtwell with us.
I may go much further than that and say that if we were to take to pieces the whole of God's dealings with us, there is notone fragment out of it all of which we would not have to say that God has dealt well with us in it. This is especially trueof those parts of His dealings with us which have seemed to be the roughest. Oh, how we ought to bless God for the use Hehas made of the rod! Among all the blessings of the Covenant, surely there is none that, for our present imperfect state,has in it greater immediate virtues than the rod of the Covenant from the strokes of which we have not been spared! How gratefulwe ought to be for sanctified affliction! Wisely did the poet write, concerning the varied experiences of God's children-
"'Tis well when on the mount They feast on dying love, And 'tis as well in God's account, When they the furnace prove."
I am sure that in looking back upon all the way that the Lord has led you, those of you who are His children will be boundto say that goodness and mercy have followed you all the days of your life! There has not been a single mistake or one unkindact on God's part. He has sometimes cut you with the very sharpest knife He had and it was necessary for Him to cut deeplywith it so as to get out the very roots of the cancer that was destroying you. You would have been lost if it had not beenthat you lost your all-but that loss was your greatest gain! I have heard of one who said that he never saw till he was blind.And of another who said that he never ran in the way of God's Commandments till he lost the use of both his legs. Oftentimesthat which has thrown us down has, in the best sense, lifted us up! So each Believer can adopt the language of the text, andsay, "You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord." In every place, and at every time, it has been all well!
It has also been well in every sense of the word. "Well"-that is to say, wise. "Well"-that is to say, kind, which is somethingmore than being simply wise. "Well"-that is to say, kinder than kind, the kindest of all! What God has done for us has alwaysbeen the best thing that could be done! It could not have been better. I sometimes fear that, on our part, it could hardlyhave been worse-shame on us that it was so bad! But, on His part, nothing could possibly have excelled it-every step thatHe has taken has been full of infinite love and wisdom. And as to the ultimate effects and results of it all, it is well.There will come something better for us out of all that God has prepared for us than has come out of it yet. All is well,and all shall be well. Pronounce the word with all the emphasis that you can lay upon it and look at it from all sides, andthen say, "You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord."
Now let me shift this kaleidoscope a little, that you may take another peep at all the marvels that it contains. Notice, next,that God has dealt well with us as His servants-"You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord." Of course He has dealt wellwith us as His children, giving us the child's portion and the heir's portion! He has dealt well with us as His bride, asthe members of His mystical body and so on. But David said to the Lord, "You have dealt well with Your servant," and I willtry to show you how He has dealt well with us as His servants.
First, He has given us blessed work to do. There is no such employment as serving God-this employment is our enjoyment! Toserve God is to reign! The Lord has sometimes given us difficult service-so we have thought-but He
has always given us proportionate strength and has never exacted of us more than He has enabled us to accomplish. On anotheroccasion, David wrote, "Unto You, O Lord, belongs mercy: for You render to every man according to his work." That is to say,"You have supplied the straw when you have expected the bricks to be made. You have given the five talents if you have lookedfor five other talents to be gained as interest on them. You have dealt well in giving little work to those who have had littlestrength and less work when the strength has grown less, and more strength when more work had to be done and most strengthof all when work and suffering came together. You have been very considerate of Your servant's broken bones and many weaknesses.You have dealt well with Your servant in that way."
But servants expect to receive not only work, but provision-and the Lord has dealt well with His servants in that respect,also. He has always kept us in livery-sometimes we may have thought that our clothes were getting pretty well worn out andthat it was time for us to have a change-and it has always come. We have also always had food. God has never kept a stintedtable and we may say of our Heavenly Father's house that there is always bread enough and to spare for all His servants. TheLord has supplied us in Providence and especially in Grace. What fat things full of marrow, what wines on the lees well-refinedhas He prepared for us! God never starves His servants or puts them on short commons. No, each one of them can truly say toHim, "You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your Word, both in provender and in labor."
And servants like, beside that, to get a word of encouragement now and then from their masters. There was one who left anexcellent master with whom he had traveled all over the Continent. And when his master asked the reason why he wished to leavehim, he answered, "You have not been unkind to me; you have given me all the wages that I needed, but when I have been withyou in the darkest nights, in the heaviest tempests, in the most terrible frosts, you have never spoken a cheering word tome and I cannot continue to live such a life as that." You know that a kind word or a smiling look will go a long way andin this respect, also, we can, each one, say, "You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord." How graciously He has smiledupon us when we have been trying to serve Him! How much He has made of our little! He has often commended us even when wehave been blaming ourselves-and when we confessed that we were unprofitable servants and only spoke the truth when we saidso, He has been ready to say, "Well done, good and faithful servants." He has often said to us, "I know your works," at thevery time when we have hardly known them ourselves! Or, if we have known them, we have wanted not to recognize them, but topass them by as if they were unworthy of notice. The Lord has, indeed, dealt well with His servants in the way of encouragement.
And so He has in respect to our wages. He has given us earnests of the pay which we shall receive at the end of our day'stoil. Oh, that blessed pay! How rich we shall be when we receive it, not of debt, but all of Grace-a whole Heaven and a wholeChrist, and a whole God for our whole hearts to enjoy throughout the whole of eternity! Was there ever such a "penny" as thatpaid to laborers at the close of their day's work? But even on the way the Lord has given us blessed earnests, sweet pledgesof what is yet to come to us. We have good cause to love our Master and to love His work, and to be grateful to Him for thepay He gives us for it. And again, each one of us can say to Him, "You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord." Is thereany one of His servants here who will not say this? I always think that God has dealt well with me in not turning me out ofdoors and I still pray the prayer-
"Dismiss me not from Your service, Lord"- for I count it my highest honor to be permitted to do anything for Him. He mightwell say to any of us, "You are not worth your salt," and send us adrift, but He has not done so and we can still say to Him,"You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, and still permitted him to take his place in the ranks of those that waitupon You and, therefore, blessed be Your holy name!"
So far, you see, David's judgment is one in which we fully coincide-"You have dealt with Your servant" and, "You have dealtwell with him." But we also agree with him that God has dealt with us according to His Word. It greatly sweetens a blessingwhen we know that it comes to us by way of the promises. Whatever God has done to us, in love and kindness, is only what Hesaid He would do! Look back, now, and see whether the print of Providence does not exactly answer to the type of the promise.Concerning many things that we have needed, God said, "I will give them to you." And now we can say to Him, "You have doneso." He promised that He would be with us. He promised that He would bless us. He promised that bread would be given us andthat our waters should be sure. He said, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you" and all along He has acted according toHis Word!
Even when He has chastened us, He has only fulfilled His own Word, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." His pruninghas been as Christ said it would be, "Every branch that bears fruit, He purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit." WhenHe chastises us for our disobedience, He only fulfils His threat, "If you walk contrary to Me, I will walk contrary to you."It is all according to the Word and if anybody wants to know what the life of a Christian is, let him read what the promiseof God is, for, as far as God is concerned in the life of a Christian-the promise is a prophecy of what it will be-and theprophecy is fulfilled in the life of every man who puts his trust in God.
Now this was a sound judgment on David's part, but it was a judgment at which he appears to have arrived after God's dealingswith him were almost ended. It would be far better and much wiser if we could daily learn to say, "You are dealing well withYour servant, O Lord, according to Your Word." But we are often so foolish that, like old Jacob, we say, "All these thingsare against us." David probably felt that in former days he had often made a mistake, so he here corrects himself and expressesa true and just judgment concerning the dealings of God with him. May we be taught to judge righteously of God while the workis still going on! Is there anybody here, out of all God's people, who will do otherwise? If so, let me just suggest thatif we cannot say, "You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your Word," then, in effect, do say this, "Youhave not dealt well with Your servant, O Lord-and You have not kept Your Word."
Is there any child of God prepared to talk like that? Not one! And if you or I cannot say, "You are dealing well with Yourservant, O Lord, according to Your Word," then we are, in effect, saying, "You are not dealing well with Your servant, andYou are not acting according to Your Word." Are we prepared to say that? No, not to say it-not to say it-perhaps we wouldbe more honest if we did, but if anybody thinks it, let him prostrate himself before the God of Heaven and earth and ask forthe forgiveness of his ungrateful unbelief in daring to think that God can be otherwise than good and kind towards a soulredeemed with the heart's blood of Christ, chosen from before the foundation of the world and ordained to everlasting glorywith God Himself! May we fall back again, then, upon the bold assertion of the text and say to God, if we do not say it toanybody else-say it as we walk home and say it as we kneel by our bedside-"You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord,according to Your Word-and blessed be Your holy name!"
Now I must pass on to speak very briefly concerning the other two heads-they are the practical application of this first one.
II. Secondly, we have to consider GOOD JUDGMENT DESIRED. "Teach me good judgment and knowledge." David felt that his judgmenthad been greatly at fault, so that he had made great mistakes with regard to God. And now that he had come to a more correctjudgment, he offered this prayer: "Teach me good judgment and knowledge." This is what all Christians need-better judgment-moregood judgment-more sound judgment. May God help us, for the future, first, to judge His Providence better!-
"Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His Grace." Next, judge your sufferings better and learn to believethat it is good for you that you have been afflicted. May we get our judgment more correct so that it may not be so hasty,or so unbelieving! May our judgments not be, as they sometimes have been, desponding, dark, dreary! We need to have our judgmentsbrightened up. Pray God to make them better.
Then we shall be able to have good judgment in matters of doctrine. I wish we could get all Christians to have good judgmentin this respect. They go to hear one man who is very fluent. He preaches Calvinistic doctrine and it is very sweet to them.Another preaches Arminian doctrine and contradicts all that the first one said-but to these people it is equally good, forhe, also, is an eloquent man. Almost any error is sucked down by nine out of ten of the professors of the present day so longas it is sufficiently sugared! If you will but spice it well, it matters not to them what it is. I have been shocked to findhow some will go and listen to the very drivel which is not the Gospel of God at all, so long as it is but fitly spoken! MayGod give us good judgment upon this matter! We have not as much as we ought to have, otherwise we would have judged more wiselyconcerning much that we have heard.
"Lord, teach me good judgment and knowledge," means, "Let me know You. Let me know Your Truth. Let me know the voice of Christ,so that I may not follow a stranger, because I know not the voice of strangers and have that
discretion which is not to be deceived." There are some preachers who would deceive the very elect, if it were possible, butthe true saints shall not be deceived, for God will teach them "good judgment and knowledge."
We also need good judgment concerning our temptations. We are often like silly little birds, which, for want of judgment,are allured by a bird call. Satan, like a cunning fowler with foolish birds, makes sure work of uninstructed Christians! Theyare taken as in a net and if the Lord did not graciously deliver them, they could not escape. We need good judgment to spyout the hidden temptation and to see through the devil's tricks and traps. He does not come to men showing his hoofs and horns-buthe comes as an angel of light-and he is never so much a devil as when he appears to be an angel of light. I feel pleased tothink that the Revised Version has altered that clause in the Lord's prayer to, "Deliver us from the Evil One." Some do notlike it because they do not believe in the Evil One. Or, perhaps, because they are too much his friend to wish to pray againsthim! But, in these days he is so intensely an Archenemy and he slinks about so craftily, that many people have begun to imaginethat he no longer exists! And he can do ten times more mischief because of that delusion, so we will pray against him flatto his face, "Deliver us from the Evil One. Give us good judgment and knowledge, that we may not be ignorant of his devices."We also need good judgment as to the many false spirits that are gone forth into the world. "Try the spirits," is an admonitionthat is still necessary and we need to be taught good judgment that we may be able to do it-and discern between good and evil.
I will not detain you by speaking at any length upon this point, only I just want to say that if we have been mistaken aboutGod, the probability is that we have been mistaken about other things. And even if the dealings of our own Heavenly Fatherhave sometimes perplexed us and we have come to wrong conclusions concerning them, we ought to distrust our own judgment aboutother things and constantly go to God the Holy Spirit for teaching and enlightening, offering this prayer, "Teach me goodjudgment." I wish that those who are troubled with skepticism and doubt would go to God in this way. If men who have difficultieswould tell them to God in prayer, spreading out their dilemmas before the Most High, I believe He would teach them good judgmentand they would see their way where now everything seems to be dark and dubious. Let this plan be tried and I believe it willnot be tried in vain!
III. My last point is concerning JUDGMENT POSSESSED.
The Psalmist had some good judgment and, therefore, he asked for more. He possessed a measure of right judgment, which heexpressed in these words, "I have believed Your Commandments." That is a very unusual expression because, generally, peoplebelieve doctrines, or believe promises. But David says that he believed God's Commandments. That is a phase of faith thatis very seldom spoken of and it means that, notwithstanding all David's troubles, he had believed God's sacred Law to be awise one, a just one and a true one. He had believed that it came from God and he had, therefore, reverenced it. He had believedit to be infinitely wise and, therefore, he followed it. He believed it to be right and, therefore, he stuck to it. He believedthat in the end it would turn out to be the wisest policy to do as God had bidden him, so he stood to that. He seems to say,"Lord, I am very foolish, yet I have had wit enough given me, by Your Spirit, to believe that Your Commandments are the bestthat can be, so I wish to keep them and to believe that Your Commandments are the best guide to me in life and, therefore,I desire to follow them."
Brothers and Sisters, if you do not know much, yet if you know enough to be able to say to God, "I have believed Your Commandmentsand, by Your Grace, I have not departed from Your Truth," then all will come right with you. Suppose a man is tempted to steal.I do not mean to go and pilfer, but to falsify an account, or cheat in business, or what is much the same thing-to get moneyby borrowing it when he knows he cannot repay it? Well, the man who acts like that does not really believe God's Commandment,"You shall not steal." I have heard of one who needed wood in winter time and his neighbor in the next farm had a stack ofwood. As he walked along the road, something whispered in his ear, "All things are yours." "Well," he said, "that thoughtcomes from God! I will go and take home a log or two." When he had climbed over into the field and begun to get the wood outof the stack, there came to his mind another passage of Scripture, "You shall not steal," and he dropped the wood at once!
My dear Friends, never believe an impression that is contrary to God's Word! In fact, I would like you not to believe anyimpression but that which comes from Scripture, itself. I met, the other day, a person who was impressed that he was to preachfor me. He said that it was revealed to him, by the Spirit of God, that he should preach for me one Sunday. I told him thathe could do so when the Spirit of God also revealed it to me, for I did not believe in lopsided revelations. I thought thatit was necessary for the revelation to come to me as well as to him. When it does, I will attend to it. Some
people have, every now and then, a supposed revelation that just suits them. A man believes that it is impressed upon himto do exactly what he wants to do! For instance, he is sure that he ought to get married. Many young people are quite sureabout that matter when it would be far better for them not to do anything of the sort. A man is often impressed that he oughtto do a thing simply because he wants to do it-the wish is father to the thought. Now, if you believe God's Commandments,you will not always believe in what looks like a Providence. Do you not know that there are devil's providences, sometimes?At least that is what I call them.
When Jonah went down to flee unto Tarshish, he found a ship going there-was not that a remarkable providence? Perhaps he saidto himself, "I felt some doubt about whether I was right in going there, but when I got down to the seashore, there was aship-and there was just room for me to go as a passenger, and the fare was just the amount that I had-and so I felt that itmust be of the Lord." Nonsense, Jonah! It is of the Lord for you to do what is right! And if you have judgment enough to dothat, let others be foolish enough to follow this impression or that, this whim or that, this notion or that which may cometo them from Satan-or their own evil hearts!
Be you, dear Friends, wise enough to stand to the plain Commandments of the Word. God help you to do so, for uprightness andintegrity shall preserve you and nothing else will. "Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shall you dwell in the land, and verilyyou shall be fed." Those who do not believe God's Commandments and run off to all sorts of shifts and schemes, and tricksof their own, will have to suffer for it! Pray to God to teach you good judgment. And if He has given you a measure of it,may He continually give you more and more, for His name's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: PSALM119:64-72.
Verses 64-67. The earth, O LORD, is full of Your mercy: teach me Your statutes. You have dealt well with Your servant, O LORD,according unto Your Word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed Your Commandments. Before I was afflictedI went astray.-Prosperity had been to the Psalmist like the gap in the hedge through which the sheep wander from the shepherd,but affliction had been to him like the prickly bushes that often stop the sheep from wandering still further, so he says,"Before I was afflicted I went astray."
67. But now have I kept Your Word. What a benefit, then, affliction had been to him! And what a blessing it often is to us!So, instead of dreading it, as we usually do, we ought to welcome it and be on the look-out for the blessing which is to cometo us through it. Many a child of God has joined with Dr. Watts in singing-
"Father, I bless Your gentle hand- How kind was Your chastising rod That forced my conscience to a stand, And brought my wanderingsoul to God! Foolish and vain, I went astray Ere I had felt Your scourges, Lord- I left my Guide, and lost my way; But nowI love and keep Your Word."
68. You are good, and do good. What a delightful description this is of God and His works! Who is good? Our Lord Jesus suppliesthe answer, "There is none good but One, that is, God." And His works are like Himself-"You are good, and do good."
68. Teach me Your statutes. In the 25th Psalm, David wrote, "Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will He teach sinnersin the way." And here, because the Lord is good, and does good, the Psalmist prays, "Teach me Your statutes." He will teachus that which is good because He is, Himself, good. What a blessing it is for us to have such a Teacher! How wonderful itis that God should be so condescending as to take us into His school!
69. The proud have forged a lie against me. They have kept on hammering away until they have finished the falsehood. Theyhave "forged" it, as one forges a deadly weapon in the fire.
69. But I will keep Your Precepts with my whole heart ' 'It is no use for me to trouble about them. When they have forgedone lie, they will probably forge another and there is practically no end to that black business. It is no use for me
to try to answer them. I will turn to a far more profitable occupation-'I will keep Your Precepts with my whole heart.'"
70. Their heart is as fat as grease. Insensible, lifeless-they have no conscience, no feeling-they are so proud of their prosperitythat they are afflicted with fatty degeneration of the heart.
70. But I delight in Your Law. What a blessing it is for us to find our fatness there-to delight in the marrow and fatnessof God's Law!
71. It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Your Statutes. The Psalmist was so impressed with thebenefits which he had derived from his afflictions, that he returned to the subject-"It is good for me that I have been afflicted;that I might learn Your Statutes." There is much teaching power about God's rod. He always keeps one in His school and itis greatly needed for such dull scholars as we are. Many a child of God can repeat the Psalmist's testimony-"It is good forme that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Your statutes." "You have whipped a little knowledge into me and not muchhas come in any other way."
72. The Law of Your mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver David had a great deal of gold and silver, farmore than any of us have, but yet he thought very little of it in comparison with God's Law. Many people despise gold andsilver because they have not any. The fox said the grapes were sour because they were beyond his reach. But here is a casein which a man had as much gold and silver as he could ever want-yet he says that the Law of God's mouth was better than allof it, and he was wise in saying so! For gold and silver can be stolen. Riches often take to themselves wings and fly away.Even great wealth may soon be spent and gone, but God's Law never leaves those who love it, nor lets them lose it. When allour spending money is gone, then is the Commandment of God still our treasure. Happy is everyone who can say, with David,"The Law of Your mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver."