119 Wisdom / Torah
God’s Word Is a Multifaceted Jewel of Surpassing Value and Perfection
Aleph – blessed
2 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies
Who seek Him with all their heart.
· Although the world does groan in misery, and God’s people have their share, yet there is real blessedness secured to all the righteous.
· Although good men are far from being what they ought to be and what they hope to be, yet they long for perfect conformity to God’s entire will.
· It is wise for us to cry, Lord, remember that I am dust and ashes; let not my spirit fail before thee.
Beth – thirsty
11 Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
· Neither hearing, nor reading, nor reciting the holy Scriptures will save us from false ways, unless with the heart we cordially embrace whatever they teach us.
· We should profit more by Scripture if we would meditate more upon it. Meditation is an exercise of the mind purely spiritual, and goes entirely cross to our native indolence. But let us persevere, and cry for help, and put a bridle on our vagaries, and God will give us the victory.
Gimel – needy
18 Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law.
· Increase of holiness is the great object for which we should desire to live.
· “We cannot be conformed to the word of God without understanding its blessed truths; and we cannot understand them aright without divine teaching.” (Morison)
· “The pilgrim spirit is the pulse of the soul.”
· But let us not forget . . . that [God] can bring to us great good out of so severe trial.
Daleth – grieving
28 My soul weeps because of grief;
Strengthen me according to Your word.
· Whatever we do, or whatever our state may be, let us deal candidly with God and declare to him our whole case.
· Troubles, which threaten to dissolve our nature, are no novelties.
· [T]he sorrows of the saints . . . [i]f they do but quicken us in our heavenly course, make the word of God to us increasingly precious, give us a distaste for the things that perish, and make us to grow in heavenly mindedness, we may justly welcome them as blessings.
· We are easily deceived. There is a mystery in iniquity. There is a deceivableness in unrighteousness. These will surely work our ruin unless we are mercifully preserved by divine grace.
· If we cannot choose the good, and refuse the evil. We must perish. He, who willingly follows in the course of transgression, must lie down in sorrow.
· We never truly set the Lord before us, until we honestly set his word before us. And we never truly set his word before us, until we regard it as clothed with sovereign authority, binding the understanding to submission, the will to obedience, and the heart to holiness. We must renounce all laws, rules and influences that are counter thereto.
He – steadfast
37 Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
And revive me in Your ways.
· The teaching and aid of divine grace are necessary not only at the beginning, but through the entire progress of the spiritual life.
· The spirit of true piety is one of steadfast obedience, and of perseverance in the ways of God.
· Unless God works in us to will, it is certain that we will never do.
· “It is a most dangerous expedient for a child of God to place himself within the sphere of seductive temptations.” (Morison)
Vav – vocal
46 I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings
And shall not be ashamed.
· We know that it is agreeable to the divine will that we earnestly cry for God’s help against our sins and for release from his wrath, (1 Tim 2:4).
· The word of God is powerless unless it is believed. Its vast treasures are unlocked by the hand of faith only.
· Could our faith and hope be raised to assurance, our troubles would be wondrously diminished.
· We never enter God’s service aright till the lowest depths of our souls are moved. When our hearts go out after God’s word, then our feet run in the ways of his commandments, then our hands love to do what he requires, and the whole work of obedience is delightful.
Zayin – comforted
54 Your statutes are my songs
In the house of my pilgrimage.
· “How many drooping hearts which have refused to be comforted by mere human consolation, have found an all-sufficient solace in those views of the divine character and government which are furnished by the Spirit of God.” (Morison)
· Trials do in a remarkable manner sweeten promises. Many a verse has seemed like a dead letter, till by our afflictions we were brought to need its consolations. Then it was life and joy to us.
· God’s word “made me alive when I was dead in sin; it has many a time made me lively when I was dead in duty.” (Henry)
· There must be a strong consoling power in the truth of God to sustain the most solemn and afflicted people on earth, and to make them joyful and of a merry heart in the house of their pilgrimage.
Heth – purposeful
58 I sought Your favor with all my heart;
Be gracious to me according to Your word.
· God sends the full soul empty away, while he gives grace to the humble.
· We read of some who “took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing that they had in heaven a better and an enduring substance” (Heb 10:34).
· True piety loves to contemplate the riches of God’s goodness and mercy in creation and providence, as well as the riches of his grace in redemption.
Teth – discerning
66 Teach me good discernment and knowledge,
For I believe in Your commandments.
· Were we more prompt and hearty in acknowledging the Lord’s kindness, we should see more kindness to acknowledge.
· Perhaps Christians evince high attainments as much by their conduct under afflictions, and their views of them, as in any other way.
· Blessed is he who when the affliction is over can clearly see and calmly say: It is good for me that I have been afflicted.
· Afflictions teach us lessons we never could otherwise learn (Jer 22:21).
· “I have learned more divinity in these ten days that thou art come to visit me than I did in fifty years.” (Rivet)
· Very precious is God’s word. So the righteous universally judge. It is life from the dead to their souls. It reclaims them when wandering. Thy buy the truth, cost what it may. But they will not sell it at any price.
Yodh – waiting
76 O may Your lovingkindness comfort me,
According to Your word to Your servant.
· We ought to know and to proclaim the faithfulness of God in afflicting us. It is not enough for us that we fly not in his face and charge him foolishly. O no! we must justify him; we must confess that our sins and wanderings called for his correction.
· True, there is nothing in us to merit esteem, but he has bidden us call upon him in the day of trouble.
· Come what will, labor to keep your thoughts right. Out of the heart are the issues of life. Persecution is itself converted into a blessing when by it we are led more intently to muse on God’s word.
Kaph – hoping
83 Though I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,
I do not forget Your statutes.
· “It is not strange to see God breaking the heart of his own child with affliction, even when he is suffering persecution, so that his faith may be tried and trained to more strength.” (Dickson)
· It is a great blessing to be greatly afflicted, if the strokes are sent in covenant love, and if they lead us to seek promised help from God alone. “We ought not to mistrust God’s word, because the execution of his promises is delayed. If our eyes fail, our hearts should not faint; God’s time is always the best. Our dangers may increase, but God’s promises do not decrease.” (Cobbin)
· It is a blessed thought when our trials cure our earnest love for things that perish, and whet our appetites for divine comforts.
· “It is a genuine evidence of true godliness, when although plunged into the deepest afflictions, we yet cease not to submit ourselves to God.” (Calvin)
· The unspeakable comfort of committing their cause to God is always left to the saints.
· It is a good evidence of a saving change of heart when we desire more holiness, more liveliness in God’s service. “The surest token of God’s good will toward us is his good work in us.”
Lamedh – secure
94 I am Yours, save me;
For I have sought Your precepts.
· However fleeting, changeable and unsatisfactory are all things merely temporal; yet the word of God is stable, unchangeable and everlasting. It depends upon his truth and faithfulness, and these are so a part of his nature that if he were without them, he would cease to be God. The divine faithfulness has never failed.
· “Each promise is a staff—if we have but faith to lean upon it—able to bear our whole weight of sin, care and trial.” (Bridges)
· “I have covenanted with my Lord, that he should not send me visions, or dreams, or even angels. I am content with this one gift of the Scriptures, which abundantly teaches and supplies all that is necessary both for this life and that which is to come.” (Luther)
Mem – wise
104 From Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
· “Pause at every verse of Scripture, and shake, as it were, every bough of it; that, if possible, some fruit at least may drop down.” (Luther)
· The greatest wisdom on this earth is holiness. The wisdom taught by Scripture is far reaching and is capable of application to every diversity of case.
· “Spiritual knowledge increases while we tread in the path of obedience. Obedience is the grand means of growth and instruction. Obedience trades with the talent of grace, and thus grace becomes multiplied.” (Clarke)
· Let us never hug delusions, but hate error and sin in every shape. Let us assiduously abhor even darling sins. All sin is a lie. By it we attempt to cheat God. By it we actually cheat our souls (Prov 14:12). There is no delusion like the folly of believing that a course of sin will conduce to our happiness.
Nun – obedient
112 I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, even to the end.
· [L]et us beware of holding the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18).
· “There is need be for the afflictions of the Lord’s people. The stones of the spiritual temple cannot be polished or fitted to their place without the strokes of the hammer. The gold cannot be purified without the furnace. The vine must be pruned for greater fruitfulness.”
· “The way of duty affords the best ground for our confidence. To rest on other ground is presumption. We must keep God’s commandments; we must look to him to hold us up; we must continually respect the statutes of God.” (Cobbin)
· “We are not to judge of ourselves by what we sometimes say and do, but by the general disposition and tendency of the heart and its affections.” (Horne)
Samekh – fixed
116 Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live;
And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.
· How can one be regarded as prepared or preparing for heaven, whose mind is a receptacle for worldly, carnal, proud, spiteful, impure, roving thoughts?
· We cannot get on without faith and hope. With these we can walk in darkness, and yet be sure of delivery.
· The companion of a settled hope is a constant attention to the word of God in its various parts.
· Come what will, cost what it may, hold on to God and his word, for that is our last hope.
Ayin – committed
125 I am Your servant; give me understanding,
That I may know Your testimonies.
· Though our eyes fail, yet God’s word does not; and therefore those that build upon it, though now discouraged, shall in due time see his salvation.
· In the meantime the delay of help should increase the constancy and steadfastness of our faith.
· Is my hatred of sin in . . . myself as sincere and as strong as when I see it in mine enemies?
Pe – Longing
131 I opened my mouth wide and panted,
For I longed for Your commandments.
· He who loves not, and longs not, and thirsts not, and hungers not, and pants not, and cries not, and digs not for the truth will not find the knowledge of God.
· Without the influence of the Holy Spirit, we make no progress. As the Scripture is the sole rule of holiness, so the Author of Scripture, applying it to our hearts is the sole Author of sanctification.
· Our great error is that we are too easily satisfied.
Tsadhe – zealous
139 My zeal has consumed me,
Because my adversaries have forgotten Your words.
· True zeal is for God’s glory, not our own. It grieves far more for his dishonor than for our sufferings. It readily forgives wrongs done to ourselves; but it is jealous for the Lord of hosts.
· “The surest evidence of Christian zeal is—when it begins at home—in a narrow scrutiny and vehement revenge against the sins of our own hearts.” (Bridges)
Qoph – desperate
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I wait for Your words.
· We do not pray enough. “Your soul would not be so empty of comfort, if your mouth were not so empty of prayer.”
· If we would succeed at a throne of grace, our pleas must be, not for justice, but for mercy; not for our deservings, but for God’s lovingkindness. We need everything, and have nothing to pay. We are weak, and need strength; blind, and need illumination; vile, and need purification; poor, and need riches; guilty, and need pardon; outcasts, and need acceptance; and all through grace.
Resh – afflicted
153 Look upon my affliction and rescue me,
For I do not forget Your law.
· Is any afflicted? Let him pray, according to the example here set.
· When conscience accuses, and Satan assails, and the world reproaches, and providence frowns, what can we do but betake ourselves to him who never forsakes the clients who commit their cause to him?
Shin – balanced
165 Those who love Your law have great peace,
And nothing causes them to stumble.
· There is a beautiful harmony and symmetry in Christian character. Fear makes the godly man sober; joy makes him lively; abhorrence of sin makes him cautious and watchful; love makes him serve willingly and give liberally; peace makes him tranquil; hope gives an anchor to his soul; faith in an omniscient God makes him serve not man, but his Maker; praise gives him songs in the night; and obedience makes him work righteousness with all diligence.
Tav – supplicating
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant,
For I do not forget Your commandments.
· As long as we are in our present low estate, we shall never be done asking for instruction.
· There is nothing we need more than such wisdom as God only can give. Otherwise we will never know, nor love, nor do our duty. Our necessities in this matter compel us to repeat over and over again the same petitions and to cry for help from the Spirit of God. None but he can give saving illumination.
· We have need of help from God all the time. Without his aid we are indeed powerless for good . . . .
· As long as we live, we shall need help both from Scripture and from Providence. The more we give ourselves to the work of the Lord, the more deeply shall we feel our need.