Psalm 119:140

Psalm 119: An Exposition
Charles Bridges

"Your word is very pure;
therefore your servant loves it."

The Psalmist's love for the law of his God may account for the zeal he felt on account of its general neglect. All other systems of religion (or so-called "philosophy") allure their disciples by the indulgence of carnal lust or self-complacent pride. The word of God outweighs them all in that chief excellence peculiar to itself--its purity. Every word is very pure, tried to the uttermost in the furnace and found to be absolutely without dross. Its promises are without a shadow of change or unfaithfulness. Its precepts reflect the holy image of their Divine Author. In a word, it contains truth without any mixture of error, and "therefore your servant loves it."

Because God's law is pure, no one but a true servant of God can love it. He who loves it must desire to be like it, to feel its efficacy, to be reformed by it. Although the uneducated believer may not discern its sublimity very well, still he loves it for its holiness. The mere scholar, on the other hand, admires its sublimity; but he cannot love it because it reveals the secrets of his heart. "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed." The purity of God's law is a matter of love to the first man. But it arouses enmity in the other, and that man turns away in disgust from the mirror which shows him his natural face--his neglected obligations, his fearfully self-deluded state, and his appalling prospects. His indulgence of sin effectually precludes the benefit that comes from the most industrious search into the word of God. Therefore, his heart must undergo an entire renewal. It must be sanctified and cleansed, yea, be "baptized with the Holy Ghost," before it can discern the purity of the word of God. And then once he can discern its purity, he will come to love it.

Witness the breathings of Brainerd's soul in this holy atmosphere: 'Oh, that my soul were holy, as he is holy! Oh, that it were pure, even as Christ is pure; and perfect, as my Father in heaven is perfect! These I feel are the sweetest commands in God's book, comprising all others.' The beloved Martyn exclaims, 'Oh, how refreshing and supporting to my soul was the holiness of the word of God! Sweeter than the sweetest promise at this time, was the constant and manifest tendency of the word, to lead men to holiness and the deepest seriousness.'

What is the precious goal we seek in loving God's word? "That we may grow thereby" (1 Pet. 2:2). That we may grow in purity of heart and conduct, learning to shrink from the touch of sin, cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Let us say together with Job, "I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my necessary food." Our esteem for God's word will not only be in proportion to our growth in grace, but will be an evidence of this growth, and a constant spring of holy enjoyment.

An additional encouragement for loving the purity of God's law is found in Jesus, who perfectly embodied it. He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." The habit of beholding the Savior, with the eye of faith in the mirror of the word, conforms us to his image. But be it ever remembered, that its holiness can have no fellowship and communicate no life except in its own atmosphere. Oh, for a larger influence of the Spirit of God upon our souls that we may enjoy the purifying delights of the word of God, that we may live in it and by it to the glory of our dear Redeemer and to the edification of his Church!

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