Psalm 119:31

Psalm 119: An Exposition
Charles Bridges

"I cling to your testimonies;
O Yahweh, do not put me to shame!"

Here we see the perseverance of the man of God -- first choosing the way, then clinging to it. While he complained of his soul cleaving to the dust, he would yet say, "I cling to your testimonies." In this he illustrates the Apostle Paul's portrait of the Christian's two hearts: "I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. . . . So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin."

In the midst, however, of the most painful battles, the child of God holds fast his confidence. He feels that he hates the sin he commits and loves the Savior whom, in spite of himself, he dishonors. And thus, despite all his sins and unworthiness, he is not afraid to put in his claim among the family of God.

Now ask yourself, Christian reader, how did you become a Christian? Was it by birth and education or by choice? If indeed by grace you have been enabled to choose the way of truth, then be sure you firmly cling to it; otherwise, it would be better -- far better -- if you had not chosen it at all. "No one, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." "If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed." "For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them."

Yet, let God be praised for the security of perseverance! He who enabled you to put your hand to the plow will keep it there in the habit of faith, firm and steadfast. The Lord will perfect that which concerns you (Ps. 138:8).

However, it is only by continual battle that this clinging to the Lord can be maintained. The length and weariness of the way and the slowness of our progress are sources of constant and harassing trial. Return then to the ground of your original choice. Was it made under the Lord's light and direction? Then this may well be the reason for clinging to it now. Are not the ways of God as pleasant, is not Christ as lovely, is not heaven as desirable as at the beginning? In fact, have you not even more reason to adhere to your choice now than when you first made it? It was made before you could fully know it for yourself. But now you have tasted; you have the seal of experience.

Backslider! Has God been such a wilderness and land of darkness to you that you would now testify, "Satan is the better master, and I will return to him. The world is the happiest path, and I will walk in it"? This is, indeed, choosing a murderer in place of a Father, forsaking the fountain for the broken cistern. For those who take this path there must be repentance, and may that repentance come before it is too late! Consider who it was that befriended you in the moment of awful extremity and snatched you as a brand from the burning. Ponder the endearing proofs of his love -- condescending to become a man, even "a man of sorrows," and to die in the agony of the cross, bearing for you the eternal curse of God. And should not gratitude for such love from a creature so infinitely indebted be an incitement to faithful service? Surely the steadfast perseverance with which Christ embraced his costly work will put to shame our own unfaithfulness.

Believer, you are determined to abide by your choice. But you cannot do it in your own strength. Remember Peter, who one hour declared he would sooner die with Christ than deny him, and then the next hour denied him with oaths and curses. Learn, then, to follow up your resolution with instant prayer -- "O Lord, put me not to shame. Leave me not to myself lest I become a shame to myself and an offense to your Church. I will keep your statutes. O forsake me not utterly." Dependence upon the Lord, in a deep sense of our weakness, is the principle of perseverance. Never will he shut out the prayer of his faithful servant. He has promised, "My people shall never be ashamed" (Joel 2:27). Therefore, taking firm hold of his promise, go on your way rejoicing.

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