33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.36 Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.38 Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared.39 Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good.40 Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!
Sermon 44 (Psalm 119:39)
- IN these words you have— 1. A request, take away my reproach. 2. A reason to enforce it, for thy judgments are good.
- First, That they are usual. David often complains of it in this psalm, and mentions it as one great evil to God, ver. 22, Remove from me reproach and contempt, for I have kept thy testimonies;’ and again, ver. 42, So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me, for I trust in thy word;’ and ver. 69, The proud have forged a lie against me.’
- Secondly, It is a grievous affliction; for the man of God, that was after God’s own heart, he saith, The reproach which I so feared.’ It is called persecution, Gal. 4:29; compare with Gen. 21:9, and you shall see it was mocking and reproach. The scourge of the tongue is one of the basest persecutions that the children of God are tried withal; and they are called cruel mockings,’ Heb. 11:36. There is as much cruelty and as deep a wound many times made by the tongue of reproach as by the fist of wickedness.
- Reproach must needs be grievous, because it is against nature, and against grace. 1. It is against nature. Contempt is a heavy thing to bear, and as honour is more grateful to some persons, so reproach is more grievous than many ordinary crosses.
- The godly are not so mortified to their credit in the world many times, when they are mortified to other interests. And therefore God would try them in this way, and exercise them, that he may humble them, and fit them more for his own use. All that I have spoken is but to show it is a thing grievous to nature.
- Grace teacheth us to value a good name, partly because it is God’s gift, a blessing adopted and taken into the covenant, as other such like blessings are. Promises are frequent, especially in the Old Testament, where heaven is sparingly mentioned.
- First, Here is advice to the person reproached. O Christians! acknowledge God in the affliction, if this be your lot and portion.
- First, To humble thee.
- 1. Pride. There is a twofold pride—pride in mind, which is called self-conceit, and pride in affections, which is called vainglory. We are very apt to be puffed up for our doing and suffering for God poor empty bladders are soon puffed up—and think ourselves somebody, if there be but a little self-denial;
- Pride is a sin that grows out of mortification of other sins; it lives in us while we live in the body;
- It is the most inward and nearest to the soul, and out of the conquest of other sins there ariseth pride. Now, if we have been too self-conceited, the Lord will humble us, either by permitting us to fall into such scandals as may remember us of our frailty, and what unworthy weak creatures we are in ourselves; sometimes by taking off the restraints of his grace and of his Spirit, and permitting us to fall.
- We must see the hand of God; for if we do not look to that we will be drawn to sin, into reviling for reviling, and exasperation for exasperation. Many times our graces do us as much hurt as our sins. Self-conceit the Lord will mortify one way or other.
- For vainglory, the other sort of pride, valuing esteem too much, our credit in the world, and pleasing ourselves in the opinion others have of us. We would usurp God’s throne and reign in the hearts of men, therefore we are so touchy. Having set a high value upon ourselves, we are troubled when others will not come up to our price. Pride is one of the oldest enemies that ever God had; it was born in heaven in the breasts of the fallen angels, but God tumbled them presently out of heaven, as soon as pride got into the heart.
- Another sin for which God humbles us is careless walking. When we are negligent, and do not take notice of the carnality that grows upon us, and the fleshly frame and temper of heart which breaks out into our lives, the Lord suffers others to reproach; then they gather up our filth, that we may see what cause we have to take our ways to heart. Every man that would live strictly had need either of faithful friends or watchful enemies; either faithful friends to admonish him, or watchful enemies to censure him; they show us the spots in our garments that are to be washed off.
- Secondly, The Lord doth it, as to humble us, so to try us. 1. The first thing he will try in you by such a grievous affliction and such volleys of reproaches is your faith, when all the world is set to condemn you. What faith? Our faith in the great day of accounts, that is one great object of faith; and when the world is set to condemn us, our faith is tried, to see if we can rest with the vindication we shall have in the day of our Lord.
- To try our faith in more particular promises.
- And a Christian, when he gives up himself to God, gives up everything he hath to God in a way of consecration to God’s use. God is the guardian of my body and soul; I give up my estate and life that he may watch over me night and day, and I give up my name and credit: Ps. 31:20, Thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues;’ that the Lord may take a charge of our names as well as our persons and estates. Now, the Lord requires a trust in us according to the extent of the covenant, that is to say, a waiting, a confidence, that our lives are not in man’s power, that he can turn the hearts of men, and give you favour in their eyes, when it is for his glory and your good: Ps. 37:5-7, Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him; commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.’ There is the trust that is required.
- God will try our faith in the eternal recompenses, whether we do so believe the glory of heaven, the glory which shall be revealed in us in the other world, that we can be contented to be humbled and prepared for it by the reproaches of the present world: Mat. 5:11, 12, Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.’ Why? Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.’ Oh! it is enough we shall have glory hereafter. Your time is now to be tried with dishonour, reproach, contempt, but hereafter to be honoured. And the heirs of promise are described to be those who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life.’
- 2. God will try our mortification and deadness to worldly credit. The heart is never sincere with God until it be so. Hypocrites are proud, self-conceited, they must be honoured among men. Now this is such an evil spirit, that Christ makes it incapable of faith; for, John 5:44, How can ye believe, that seek for glory one of another?’ when we must have glory one from another, else our hearts are exceedingly troubled.
- 3. Another thing God will try is our patience. We should prevent reproaches as much as we can, but by a holy conversation may bear them when we cannot avoid them:
- 4. Another thing God would have to be tried is our uprightness, whether we can hold on our way, through good report and bad report, in honour and dishonour,’ as the apostle speaks, 2 Cor. 6:8; still approve ourselves faithful servants of Christ. If you search into the records of time, you shall find many have been discouraged in Christianity because of reproaches that have been cast upon them, for the devil works much upon stomach and spleen.
- Thirdly, The Lord doth it to do you good, to make you better. Reproaches are like soap, that seems to defile the linen, it cleanseth. There is nothing so bad but we may make a good use of it, and a Christian may gain some advantage by it.
- Conscience is register, witness, and judge; and that which troubles our quiet are these heart-smitings and heart-reproaches. Let any other man in the world be your enemy rather than your own conscience be an enemy.
- You have the greatest, best, and wisest on your side, if you have God on your side.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible