The Master's Bounty, and the Servant's Obedience
Preached at Zoar Chapel, London, on August 9, 1846
"Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word."
What a fund of true and vital experience is contained in Psalm 119! What simplicity and godly sincerity shine through
it! What breathings after God's presence and manifested favor! What desires to live to the glory of God! What fervent
pourings out of the Psalmist's heart, that he might be enabled to keep God's precepts!
THREE FEATURES especially seem to my mind stamped upon this blessed portion of God's word. The first is—a deep
sense of the Psalmist's sinfulness and helplessness. "My soul," he cries, "cleaves to the dust; quicken me according to
your word." (verse 25.) "I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant; for I do not forget your
commandments." (verse 176.) And indeed, what I may call the substratum of the whole Psalm is, "creature weakness
and helplessness". This feeling lies under well-near every petition; and springing out of it, and built upon it, is David's
earnest cry that the Lord would supply his needs.
The second feature that strikes my mind as stamped upon this Psalm is—the desire of David's soul to experience the
quickening and reviving teachings and testimonies of God the Spirit in his heart. Being completely weaned from creature
strength, and having felt from time to time the blessed teachings, guidings, and leadings of the Lord the Comforter,
he here pours out his soul after those reviving influences and quickening manifestations. The Psalm is full of
them—"Quicken me after your loving-kindness." (verse 88.) "I opened my mouth, and panted." (verse 131.) "I have
longed for your salvation." (verse 174.) "Make your face to shine upon your servant." (verse 135.) "My eyes fail for
your salvation." (verse 123.)
And the third striking feature, which in fact shines through nearly every verse of the Psalm, is—the desire of David's
heart to understand and keep God's word. The tender affection that he displays to the word of God; his fervent desires
to have that word brought into his soul; and the breathings he pours forth, that he may speak, and act, and live in
perfect conformity to its precepts—is a feature peculiarly stamped upon the whole Psalm.
In the text, we find, first, a petition—"Deal bountifully with your servant;" secondly, what David knew and felt would
be the fruit and effect, if that petition were granted, "That I may live and keep your word."
I. The PETITION—"Deal bountifully with your servant."
A. What is man in a state of nature? We are never to forget our base original; we are continually to look to the rock
whence we were hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence we were dug. Israel was ever to say, "my father was a
wandering Syrian, ready to perish." (Deut. 26:5.) We are, therefore, continually to look to the fall of man; for only so
far as we are acquainted with the fall, can we experimentally know the remedy that God has provided for this desperate
malady. What, then, is man in a state of nature?
1. He is, as the Apostle so emphatically describes in Romans 6:17, "the slave of SIN." Before, therefore, he can
become the servant of God, as David in the text declares himself to be, a mighty revolution must take place in his soul.
By nature we are slaves to sin; as the Apostle says, "We ourselves also were once foolish, disobedient, deceived,
serving diverse lusts and pleasures." (Titus 3:3.) We served them eagerly, we served them greedily—they were our
willing masters, and we were their willing slaves. During the time that we are thus wearing the chains of servitude to
the basest lusts, to the vilest sins, we are ignorant of our state as sinners before God. We did not know that "the
wages of sin is death." We were hurrying on to the chambers of destruction; yet we know not, we care not, where
we are rushing to.