Verse 24. "If there be any wicked way " - bx[ ūrd derech otseb: a way of idolatry or of error. Any thing false in religious principle; any thing contrary to piety to thyself, and love and benevolence to man. And he needed to offer such prayer as this, while filled with indignation against the ways of the workers of iniquities; for he who hates, utterly hates, the practices of any man, is not far from hating the man himself. It is very difficult "To hate the sin with all the heart, And yet the sinner love." Lead me in the way everlasting. - µlw[ ūrdb bederech olam, in the old way-the way in which our fathers walked, who worshipped thee, the infinitely pure Spirit, in spirit and in truth. Lead me, guide me, as thou didst them. We have µlw[ jra orach olam, the old path, Job xxii. 15.
"The two words ūrd derech and jra orach, differ," says Bishop Horsley, "in their figurative senses: derech is the right way, in which a man ought to go; orach is the way, right or wrong, in which a man actually goes by habit." The way that is right in a man's own eyes is seldom the way to God.
ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-NINTH PSALM
David, having had aspersions laid upon him, calls upon God in this Psalm to witness his innocency. Now, that this his appeal be not thought unreasonable, he presents God in his two especial attributes, omniscience and omnipresence; then he shows he loved goodness, and hated wickedness.
This Psalms is divided into four parts: - I. A description of God's omniscience, ver. 1-7.
II. A description of his omnipresence, ver. 7-18.
III. David's hatred to evil and evil men, ver. 19-23.
IV. A protestation of his own innocence, which he offers to the trial of God, ver. 23, 24.
I. He begins with God's omniscience: "O Lord, thou hast searched me," &c. Examined me with scrutiny.
He searches and knows our actions.
1. "Thou knowest," &c. When and for what reasons I ever act.
2. "Thou understandest my thoughts," &c. Thou knowest my counsels and thoughts.
3. "Thou compassest my path," &c. The end I aim at.
4. "There is not a word," &c. Every word and thought thou knowest.
And for this he gives this reason: God is our Maker: "Thou hast beset me," &c. These two arguments prove that God knows all things.
1. God knows all the past and future: "Beset behind and before." 2. He governs man: "Thou God madest man," &c. The prophet concludes this Divine attribute, omniscience, with an acclamation: "Such knowledge," &c. It is beyond my reach and capacity.
II. From God's omnipresence the prophet argues that man cannot hide any thing from God, for he is every where present.
1. "Where shall I go," &c. That I may be hid from thy knowledge.
2. "Or whither shall I flee," &c. From thy face and eye.
There is no place that is not before thee.
1. "If I ascend up to heaven," &c.
2. "If I make my bed in hell," &c.
3. "If I take the wings of the morning," &c.
And among many instances that might be brought forward to prove God's omniscience and omnipresence, we may simply instance the formation of a child in the womb.
1. "Thou hast possessed my reins," &c. Thou hast undertaken wholly to frame, and cherish me when formed.
2. "Thou hast covered me," &c. Clothed me with flesh, skin, bones, &c.
Then the prophet breaks out in admiration of God's works.
1. "I will praise thee," &c.
2. "I am fearfully," &c. His works are enough to strike all men with reverential fear.
3. "Marvellous are thy works." Then he proceeds with the formation of the infant embryo.
1. "My substance," &c. My strength, my essence. "Is not hid," &c.
2. "When I was made in secret," &c. In the secret cell of my mother's womb.
3. "And curiously wrought," &c. The word in the Hebrew signifies to interweave coloured threads. Man is a curious piece, and the variety of his faculties shows him such. [See the notes.] 4. "In the lowest parts of the earth," &c. In the womb, where it is as secret if God wrought it in the lowest part of the earth.
5. "Thine eyes did see my substance," &c. When in embryo, and without any distinct parts.
6. "And in thy book," &c. The idea of them was with thee, as the picture in the eye of the painter.
7. Which in continuance, &c.
The prophet closes this part with an exclamation.
1. "How precious also are thy thoughts," &c. In this and other respects.
2. "O how great is the sum of them." They are infinite.
3. And for this cause: "When I awake," &c., thy wisdom and providence are ever before my mind, and my admiration is full of them.
The prophet, having ended his discourse on the omniscience and omnipresence of God, justifies himself at God's tribunal.
1. "Surely thou wilt slay the wicked," &c. I dare not then associate with them.
2. "Depart, therefore, from me," &c. Keep at a distance.
3. "For they speak against thee wickedly," &c. Blaspheme my God.
So far from giving them the right hand of fellowship, he asks: - 1. "Do not I hate them, O Lord," &c. I hate them as sinners, but feel for and pity them as men.
2. Then he returns this answer to himself, "Yea, I hate them," &c. I count them my enemies, for they are thine.
IV. Lastly, it would appear that his heart was sincere and pure, or he would not abide such a trial.
1. "Search me, O God:" In the beginning of the Psalm he showed what God did; now he entreats him to do it.
2. "Try me," &c. Examine my heart and my ways.
3. "And see if there be any wicked way," &c. Presumptuous sins.
4. "And lead me in the way everlasting." This was the end proposed by his trial; that, if God saw any wickedness in him that might seduce him, he would withdraw him from it; and lead him to think, and devise, and do those things which would bring him to life eternal.