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159

Consider how I love your precepts;

preserve my life according to your steadfast love.


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159. Behold, O Jehovah how I have loved thy commandments. What I have state before must be remembered — that when the saints speak of their own piety before God they are not chargeable with obtruding their own merits as the ground of their confidence; but they regard this as, a settled principle, that God, who distinguishes his servants from the profane and wicked, will be merciful to them because they seek him with their whole heart. Besides, an unfeigned love of God’s law is an undoubted evidence of adoption, since this love is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Prophet, therefore, although he arrogates nothing to himself, very properly adduces his own piety for the purpose, of encouraging himself to entertain the more assured hope of obtaining his request, through the grace of God which he had experienced. At the same time we are taught that there can be no true keeping of the law but what springs from free and spontaneous love. God demands voluntary sacrifices, and the commencement of a good life is to love him, as Moses declares, (Deuteronomy 10:12,)

“And now, O Israel! what doth the Lord require of thee,
but to love him.”

The same thing is also repeated in the summary of the law: (Deuteronomy 6:5,) “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.” For this reason David has previously stated, that the law of God was not only precious but also delightful to him. Now as in keeping the law it behoves us to begin with voluntary obedience, so that nothing may delight us more than the righteousness of God, so on the other hand, it must not be forgotten that a sense of the free goodness of God and of his fatherly love is indispensably necessary in order to our hearts being beheld to this affection. So far are the bare commandment’s from winning men to obey them, that they rather frighten them away. Hence it is evident, that it is only when a man shall have tasted the goodness of God from the teaching of the law, that he will apply his heart to love it in return. The frequency with which the Prophet repeats the prayer, that God would quicken him, teaches us that he knew well the frailty of his own life, so that in his estimation men live only in so far as God every moment breathes life into them. Besides, it is probable that he had been continually besieged by many deaths, to the end he might the more earnestly betake himself to the fountain of life. He again rests his faith upon the goodness of God as its foundation — quicken me according to thy loving-kindness — from which we perceive how far he was from boasting of his own merits when he protested in the preceding sentence that he loved God’s law.




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