Charles Bridges on Psalm 119


Psalm 119:156
“Great is thy tender mercies, O Lord; quicken me according to thy judgments.”

It is most cheering to pass from judgment to mercy-from the awful state of the wicked, to adore the mercies of God to his people. We were naturally no better than they. The most eminent sinner looks on himself with wonder- “Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” (Zech. 3:2.) Never will he lose the remembrance – “Who maketh thee to differ?” (1 Cor. 4:7.) To mercy-rich mercy alone-we trace the distinction between those that are “quickened,” and those that remain “dead in trespasses and sins.” (Eph. 2:1, 4, 5.)

But let us mark the features of this mercy. How great in extent! Estimate its greatness by the infinite debt which blots out (Isaiah 43:22-25; 1:18)-the eternal ruin from which it saves (Ps. 86:13)-the heavenly crown to which it raises (Rev. 1:5, 6.) Trace it to the mind of God-that first eternal purpose of mercy, which set us apart for his glory. (Eph. 1:4-6.) Mark it in that “time of love,” when his mercy rescued us from Satan, sin, death, and hell, and drew us to himself. (Ezek. 16: 6-8.) As soon as might we span the arch of heaven, as fully grasp the greatness of his mercy. (Psal. 103: 11. Isa. 55:8, 9.) And then how tender is it in its exercise! Such was the first beam of mercy that “visited us.” (Luke 1:78.) Such has been the continued display. So natural, as from a Father. (2 Cor. 1:3. Psal. 103:13.) So yearning, “as one whom his mother comforteth!” Such a multitude of those tender mercies! The overflowing stream follows us through every step of our wilderness-journey. The blessing “compasses us about,” abounds towards us, keeps us steadfast, or restores us when wandering, and will preserve us to the end. Happy are we-not in the general perception-not in the hearsay of it, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” (Psal. 103:3.) But what poor returns have we made for this infinite love! Surely the petition for quickening grace suits us well. This was the constant burden of David’s prayer. For he was not like many professors, who can maintain their assurance in a lower and careless walk. No he was a believer of a very high standard; desirous not only of proving his title to the blessing, but of living in its habitual and active enjoyment.

Often as this petition has been brought before us, in the course of this Psalm, it is too important ever to be passed over. Let us at this time us it for the purpose of individual self-inquiry. In what respects do I need quickening grace? Are my views of sin, and especially of the sin of my own heart, slight and superficial? Do they fail in producing humility, abasement, tenderness of conscience, circumspection of conduct? If it be so-Quicken me, O my God! Does my apprehension of a Saviour’s love serve to embitter sin to me? To crucify sin in me, to warm and enliven my heart with love to him, and zeal in his service?  If I am convicted of coldness to such a Saviour, sluggishness in such a service, I need to pray-­O Lord, quicken thou me! And how do I find it with regard to prayer itself? Are not my prayers general-unfrequent-wandering? Is not my service too often constrained, a forced duty, rather than a privilege and delight? O Lord, quicken me!

Yet many Christians, through a mistaken perception, know not when they have received the blessing. They have looked for it in strong and sensible excitement; and in defect of this sink into despondency. Whereas; the solid influence is independent of sensations, and consists in a tender sensibility of sin, a spiritual appetite for the gospel, active energy in Christian duties, and continual progress in heavenly exercises. But under no circumstances must the evil of a dead and drooping state be lightly thought of; obscuring as it does the difference between the believer and the worldling, or rather between the believer and the formalist. O believer, you have great need to carry your complaint again and again unto the Lord! ‘Quicken me-quicken me-according to thy judgments­ according to those gracious promises, which are the method of thy proceedings, and the rule of thy dispensations of grace.’ You cannot be too earnest to welcome the breathings of the Spirit, or too cautious, that your indolence resists not the Divine impression. When he quickens you with his influence, do you quicken with your supplications-“Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south: blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.” (Cant. 4:16.) Persuade-entreat-constrain his stay. Enlivened by his energy, how happy, and in your own sphere how useful, a member of the Church of Christ you may be found!  Your soul will be invigorated-your graces strengthened-and your affections elevated-in trouble, cheerful, steady dependence upon the Saviour, and in daily renewed devotedness to his service. The more the spiritual life is thus “exercised unto godliness, the more delightfully will you realise the active service and everlasting praise, which will constitute the perfection of heavenly enjoyment.” (Rev. 22:3, 4; 4:8.)

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“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Titus 2:11