I shall observe it with my whole heart, with pleasure and delight, and with vigour and resolution. That way which the whole heart goes, the whole man goes; and that should be the way of God's commandments, for the keeping of them is the whole of man.
35. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. 36. Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
He had before prayed to God to enlighten his understanding, that he might know his duty, and not mistake concerning it; here he prays to God to bow his will, and quicken the active powers of his soul, that he might do his duty; for it is God that works in us both to will and to do, as well as to understand, what is good, Phil. ii. 13. Both the good head and the good heart are from the good grace of God, and both are necessary to every good work. Observe here,
1. The grace he prays for; (1.) That God would make him able to do his duty; "Make me to go, strengthen me for every good work." Since we are not sufficient of ourselves, our dependence must be upon the grace of God, for from him all our sufficiency is. God puts his Spirit within us, and so causes us to walk in his statutes; (Ezek. xxxvi. 27.) and this is that which David here begs. (2.) That God would make him willing to do it, and would, by his grace, subdue the aversion he naturally had to it; "Incline my heart to thy testimonies, to those things which thy testimonies prescribe; not only make me willing to do my duty, as that which I must do, and therefore am concerned to make the best of, but make me desirous to do my duty, as that which is agreeable to the new nature, and really advantageous to me." Duty is then done with delight, when the heart is inclined to it: it is God's grace that inclines us, and the more backward we find ourselves to it, the more earnest we must be for that grace.
2. The sin he prays against, and that is, covetousness; "Incline my heart to keep thy testimonies, and restrain and mortify the inclination there is in me to covetousness." That is a sin which stands opposed to all God's testimonies; for the love of money is such a sin as is the root of much sin, of all sin: those therefore that would have the love of God rooted in them, must get the love of the world rooted out of them; for the friendship of the world is enmity with God. See in what way God deals with men; not by compulsion, but he draws with the cords of a man, working in them an inclination to that which is good, and an aversion to that which is evil.
3. His plea to enforce this prayer; "Lord, bring me to, and keep me in, the way of thy commandments, for therein do I delight; and therefore I pray thus earnestly for grace to walk in that way. Thou hast wrought in me this delight in the way of thy commandments; wilt thou not work in me an ability to walk in them, and so crown thine own work?"
37. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
Here, 1. David prays for restraining grace, that he might be prevented and kept back from that which would hinder him in the way of his duty; Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity. The honours, pleasures, and profits, of the world, are the vanities, the aspect and prospect of which draw multitudes away from the paths of religion and godliness; the eye, when fastened on these, infects the heart with the love of them, and so it is alienated from God and divine things; and therefore, as we ought to make a covenant with our eyes, and lay a charge upon them, that they shall not wander after, much less fix upon, that which is dangerous, (Job xxxi. 1.) so we ought to pray that God by his providence would keep vanity out of our sight, and that by his grace he would keep us from being enamoured with the sight of it.
2. He prays for constraining grace, that he might not only be kept from every thing that would obstruct his progress heaven-ward, but might have that grace which was necessary to forward him in that progress; "Quicken thou me in thy way; quicken me to redeem time, to improve opportunity, to press forward, and to do every duty with liveliness and fervency of spirit." Beholding vanity deadens us, and slackens our pace; a traveller that stands gazing upon every object that presents itself to his view, will not rid ground; but if our eyes be kept from that which would divert us, our hearts will be kept to that which will excite us.
38. Establish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.
Here is, 1. The character of a good man, which is the work of God's grace in him; he is God's servant, subject to his law, and employed in his work, that is, devoted to his fear, given up to his direction and disposal, and taken up with high thoughts of him, and all those acts of devotion which have a tendency to his glory. Those are truly God's servants, who, though they have their infirmities and defects, are sincerely devoted to the fear of God, and have all their affections and motions governed by that fear; they are engaged and addicted to religion.
2. The confidence that a good man has toward God, in dependence upon the word of his grace to him. They that are God's servants may, in faith and with humble boldness, pray that God would establish his word to them, that he would fulfil his promises to them in due time, and in the mean time give them an assurance that they shall be fulfilled. What God has promised we must pray for; we need not be so aspiring as to ask more; we need not be so modest as to ask less.
39. Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.
Here, 1. David prays against reproach, as before, v. 22. David was conscious to himself that he had done that which might give occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, which would blemish his own reputation, and turn to the dishonour of his family; now he prays that God, who has all men's hearts and tongues in his hands, would be pleased to prevent this, to deliver him from all his transgressions, that he might not be the reproach of the foolish, which he feared; (xxxix. 8.) or he means that reproach which his enemies unjustly loaded him with. Let their lying lips be put to silence.
2. He pleads the goodness of God's judgments; "Lord, thou sittest in the throne, and thy judgments are right and good, just and kind, to those that are wronged, and therefore to thee I appeal from the unjust and unkind censures of men." It is a small thing to be judged of man's judgment, while he that judges us is the Lord. Or thus, "Thy word, and ways, and thy holy religion, are very good, but the reproaches cast on me will fall on them; therefore, Lord, turn them away; let not religion be wounded through my side."
40. Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.
Here, 1. David professes the ardent affection he had to the word of God; "I have longed after thy precepts; not only loved them, and delighted in what I have already attained, but I have earnestly