World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
Moreover by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
11. Moreover, by them is thy servant made circumspect. These words may be extended generally to all the people of God; but they are properly to be understood of David himself, and by them he testifies that he knew well, from his own experience, all that he had stated in the preceding verses respecting the law. No man will ever speak truly and in good earnest of heavenly truth, but he who has it deeply fixed in his own heart. David therefore acknowledges, that whatever prudence he had for regulating and framing his life aright, he was indebted for it to the law of God. Although, however, it is properly of himself that he speaks, yet by his own example he sets forth a general rule, namely, that if persons wish to have a proper method for governing the life well, the law of God alone is perfectly sufficient for this purpose; but that, on the contrary, as soon as persons depart from it, they are liable to fall into numerous errors and sins. It is to be observed that David, by all at once turning his discourse to God, appeals to him as a witness of what he had said, the more effectually to convince men that he speaks sincerely and from the bottom of his heart. As the Hebrew word זהר, zahar, which I have translated made circumspect, signifies to teach, as well as to be on one’s guard, some translate it in this place, Thy servant is taught, or warned, by the commandments of the law. But the sentence implies much more, when it is viewed as meaning that he who yields himself to God to be governed by him is made circumspect and cautious, and, therefore, this translation seems to me to be preferable. In the second clause the Psalmist declares, that whoever yield themselves to God to observe the rule of righteousness which he prescribes, do not lose their labor, seeing he has in reserve for them a great and rich reward: In keeping of them there is great reward. It is no mean commendation of the law when it is said, that in it God enters into covenant with us, and, so to speak, brings himself under obligation to recompense our obedience. In requiring from us whatever is contained in the law, he demands nothing but what he has a right to; yet such is his free and undeserved liberality, that he promises to his servants a reward, which, in point of justice, he does not owe them. The promises of the law, it is true, are made of no effect; but it is through our fault: for even he who is most perfect amongst us comes far short of full and complete righteousness; and men cannot expect any reward for their works until they have perfectly and to the full satisfied the requirements of the law. Thus these two doctrines completely harmonize: first, that eternal life shall be given as the reward of works to him who fulfils the law in all points; and, secondly, that the law notwithstanding denounces a curse against all men, because the whole human family are destitute of the righteousness of works. This will presently appear from the following verse. David, after having celebrated this benefit of the law - that it offers an abundant reward to those who serve God — immediately changes his discourse, and cries out, Who can understand his errors? by which he pronounces all men liable to eternal death, and thus utterly overthrows all the confidence which men may be disposed to place in the merit of their works. It may be objected, that this commendation, In the keeping of thy commandments there is great reward, is in vain ascribed to the law, seeing it is without effect. The answer is easy, namely, that as in the covenant of adoption there is included the free pardon of sins, upon which depends the imputation of righteousness, God bestows a recompense upon the works of his people, although, in point of justice, it is not due to them. What God promises in the law to those who perfectly obey it, true believers obtain by his gracious liberality and fatherly goodness, inasmuch as he accepts for perfect righteousness their holy desires and earnest endeavors to obey.