The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 119:29, 72, 89, 101, 104, 163

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 17, 2016

Note: This post includes a brief comments on verses 71, 90, 91, 102 as well.

Psa 119:29 Remove from me the way of iniquity: and out of thy law have mercy on me.

A copious explanation of the expression, “strengthen me,” in the previous verse “Remove from me the way of iniquity;” grant, through your grace, that I may keep far away from the way of iniquity, from the path of sin I had just entered on, “by slumbering, through heaviness;” “and out of thy law have mercy on me;” in your mercy, cause that I may tread in the path of your law, as the Hebrew clearly indicates.

Psa 119:71 It is good for me that thou hast humbled me, that I may learn thy justifications
Psa 119:72 The law of thy mouth is good to me, above thousands of gold and silver.

From the abundance of the first gift that had been conferred on him, he now declares, “It is good for me that thou hast humbled me,” no one but one truly meek and humble of heart, and thus truly good, and who from experience could form an opinion of what is good, could give expression to such a sentiment. For he that is truly good looks upon any humiliation, arising from tribulation, as a great good, inasmuch as it leads to a better observance of God’s law, the value of which he expresses, when he says, “The law of thy mouth is good to me above thousands of gold and silver,” and so it is, because through the observance of the law we acquire life everlasting, to which no treasures can be compared.

Psa 119:89 For ever, O Lord, thy word standeth firm in heaven.
Psa 119:90 Thy truth unto all generations: thou hast founded the earth, and it continueth.
Psa 119:91 By thy ordinance the day goeth on: for all things serve thee.

In the next eight verses the prophet argues, from the certainty of God’s promises, in exhorting to the observance of his law, which promises so much, both in this and the next life. “Forever, O Lord, thy word,” that is, thy promise, “standeth firm in heaven;” for, though it may not seem to stand firm on earth, when we see the just depressed, and the wicked exalted, still it stands quite firm in heaven; for God will certainly carry out anything he promised. He will cause the brief tribulation of the just to be turned into everlasting joy; and the short glory of the wicked to be turned into eternal disgrace and punishment. He repeats, or rather explains, the same idea when he adds, “Thy truth unto all generations;” it too, stands firm. So does the earth; so do the days; all observe your laws and regulations; and the reason is, “for all things serve thee;” and, therefore, in due time it will be seen how you will stand by your promise to the just.

Psa 119:101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way: that I may keep thy words.
Psa 119:102 I have not declined from thy judgments, because thou hast set me a law.

The third advantage of God’s law is, that it causes us to avoid many sins. “I have restrained my feet from every evil way.” I took care not to walk in the paths of the wicked, who have no law but their own desires, the law of sin and of the flesh, and that, in order that “I may keep thy words,” or your law, that pointed out a path in the very opposite direction; because “I have not declined from thy judgments,” from your commandments, full of justice, “because thou hast set me a law;” because you, my God, have given me said holy law.

Psa 119:104 By thy commandments I have had understanding: therefore have I hated every way of iniquity.

He proves that he derived great pleasure from God’s law, because it always creates an easy conscience, for “by thy commandments I have had understanding;” I have become prudent and wise through the lessons I got from your commandments. “Therefore have I hated every way of iniquity;” from the wisdom and prudence I acquired by constant meditation on the law, I not only abstained from sin, but I even got a thorough hatred of all sinful actions. Such hatred is a wonderful preservative of the purity and sanctity of the soul, and generates great confidence in God, which leads to joy unspeakable, to a peace and tranquillity far and away beyond all the treasures and pleasures of this world.

Psa 119:163 I have hated and abhorred iniquity; but I have loved thy law.

This, too, follows from the proposition he laid down originally, “The Lord is my portion;” for all who fear God and keep his commandments are united as living members in one body, by a bond of love that cries out, “the Lord is my portion;” and thus, each member “is partaker with all,” for love makes all things common; and, thus, “If one member suffer anything, all the members suffer with it; or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it.” 1 Cor. 12.


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