Psalm 119:137,138

Psalm 119: An Exposition
Charles Bridges

"Righteous are you, O Yahweh,
and upright are your judgments.
Your testimonies, which you have commanded,
are righteous and very faithful."

The advancing Christian learns to adore the awe-inspiring perfections of his God and to acknowledge his righteous character and government, even when "his ways are in the sea, and his paths in the great waters." As the Psalmist states, "Clouds and darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne." We have already brought out the consistent testimony of his people as to the righteous character of God's afflictive dispensations. Even from haughty Pharaoh was a similar acknowledgment extorted: "I have sinned this time. Yahweh is righteous." Adonibezek also, under the blow of God's hand, cried out, "As I have done, so God has repaid me."

Yet in this path we walk by faith, not by sight. Often God's providential footsteps are not known; we cannot trace the reasoning of the Divine mind. We must wait and see to understand his purpose, when the disjointed pieces shall be compacted into one complete texture and framework. "At evening time there shall be light." During this dispensation of grace, how much more must we listen to the voice, "Be still, and know that I am God."

Doubtless he could give his grace to all as well as to some. Yet none have a claim upon him. "Is it not his to do what he will with his own?" "But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God?" "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" This much is plain, and enough to silence trivial objections and justify God--grace is freely offered to all. Man's own will rejects it and leaves him without excuse. Effectual grace is withheld from none but those who deserve that it should be so. None are forced to sin. None are condemned without guilt. Therefore when we stand upon the ocean's brink and cry, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God," are we not constrained to the adoring acknowledgment, "Righteous are you, O Yahweh, and upright are your judgments"? And if this be our praise, even while we now see but dimly as through a mirror and only in part, how much more shall we sing with reverential joy in that world of cloudless day, when we shall see face to face and know even as we are known. Then shall we sing the song of the Lamb: "Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the saints!"

The young Christian, on the other hand, less able to grasp these deeper subjects, exercises himself chiefly in God's more engaging perfections--those of long-suffering, goodness, and love. It is, therefore, a satisfactory evidence of our growth in grace when our habitual contemplation of God fixes upon our minds the more full and awful displays of his character, from which we gather an increase of light, peace, humility, and consolation. The cross of Calvary harmonizes to our view at once the most dismaying and the most encouraging attributes. God's own declaration, that "he will by no means clear the guilty," seems to present an insurmountable barrier to the purpose of mercy. Yet, rather than allow the glory of a God of love to be obscured or his righteous law to be mitigated, "he did not spare his own Son," but "made him who knew no sin to be sin for us."

And do we not naturally argue from his nature to his word? If he is righteous, then nothing unrighteous can come from him. His testimonies, therefore, are his lively image. Like himself, they are righteous and very faithful, requiring nothing impossible, requiring nothing unsuitable. They embrace perfect love to God and man. They are "our reasonable service," and no less our privilege than our duty to render. None who are blessed with a spiritual apprehension of their nature, and are conformed and framed to them, will hesitate in setting their seal to the inscription, "The judgments of Yahweh are true and righteous altogether." "The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good."

Let us take care to show forth in our daily life the character and government of God. The unconverted, far from understanding or subscribing to our acknowledgment, complain, "The ways of the Lord are not fair," "My punishment is greater than I can bear." The righteous judgments of God are so contrary to the perverseness of corrupt nature that even with the child of God there is much murmuring within that needs to be stilled, much repining to be hushed, much impatience to be repressed, and many hard thoughts to be lamented, resisted, and banished. Did we believe more simply, how much more joy would there be in our faith and readiness in our submission. How clearly would our experience show, "that the Lord is upright; he is our rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him!" As Isaiah writes, "In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength." In the submissive acknowledgment of the Lord's ordering of affairs, our peace will flow as a river, more deep and extensive as it approaches the ocean, and fertilizing our souls with abundant spiritual peace and enjoyment.

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