Psalm 119:141

from
Psalm 119: An Exposition
by
Charles Bridges
(Rephrased)

"I am small and despised;
yet I do not forget your precepts."

Evidently David did not love the word for selfish gain. Small and despised was his condition when the Lord first looked on him: "And Samuel said to Jesse, Are all the young men here? Then he said, There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep." Even in the height of his glory David endured this reproach for the name of his God (2 Sam. 6:20). Yet stripped and destitute as he might be, he did not forget God's precepts. The remembrance of his God was a cheering encouragement to his faith in his lowly condition, and no less his support in the far greater trials of his prosperity. It was his habit to firmly grasp the unspeakable privilege of having an ever-present God!

The Lord has stamped the objects of his sovereign choice as a "peculiar treasure unto him above all people." At the day of his appearing he will bring them forth as the "jewels" of his crown. Yet in their worldly condition, in the eyes of the world, and in their own estimation they are small and despised. However, pride and hypocrisy in the natural heart will sometimes assume this character for selfish ends. This language of humility is often found in the mouth of the mere professor, who desires to maintain "a name" in the church of God. But are those who call themselves small and despised willing to be taken at their word? Are they content to be despised by those very ones whose esteem their voluntary and spurious humility was meant to secure? Do they really believe themselves to be what they profess--false, vile, low, deceitful creatures? Have they any experimental knowledge of the depth of their inner wickedness--that God could open door after door in the chamber of their heart and confound them with the sight of great abominations? (Ezek. 8:5-15). When, therefore, they take the lowest place, do they feel it to be their own place? Or does the language of self-abasement mean to them, 'Come, see how humble I am?'

Christian, do not think these self-inquiries unnecessary for the cautious scrutiny of your own heart! A self-annihilating spirit before men as well as before God (that is, to feel small and despised when we have a reputable name in the Church) is a rare attainment. It is a glorious triumph of victorious grace--and usually the fruit of sharp affliction. This was the spirit of Brainerd, that meek and lowly disciple of his Master. He would express his astonishment that any one above the rank of "the beasts that perish" could condescend to notice him. But if we are small and despised in the estimation of men, let us think of Him whom man despised and whom the nation abhorred. Never was such an instance of magnanimity displayed by anyone as by Jesus when Pilate brought him out, arrayed in the mockery of royalty and with the blood streaming from his temples, and said, "Behold the man!" Then was there a human being sustaining himself in the simple exclusive consciousness of the favor of God, against the universal scorn of every face. This was independence--this was greatness indeed.

With such a pattern before our eyes and such a motive touching our hearts, we may well account it "a very small thing" that we should be judged by man's judgment. What upheld the man Christ Jesus will uphold his servants also. Jesus committed himself to him who judges righteously. Must not we desire to "know the fellowship of his sufferings"--yea, to rejoice in the participation of them?

Christian, do you love to be low in the eyes of men? Do you desire to be lower still? Though you are small and despised in your own eyes and in the eyes of the world, you are precious in the eyes of Him who gave a price for your ransom. He will not allow anyone to pluck you out of his hands. Many may rebuke you, many may scorn you, and even your brethren may treat you with contempt. Yet your God, your Redeemer, will not depart from you nor allow you to depart from him. He will put his Spirit within you and bring forth his precepts to your remembrance that you might keep them--and many a sweet supporting promise for your consolation! Therefore "fear not, thou worm Jacob; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel" (Isa. 41:14).

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