Psalm 119:32


1. It is not a common thing. In ordinary men you do not see it at all; they very often run, and at headlong speed, but it is the reverse of the way told of here. And even when we have become Christians, there is too often only a creeping along, a very slow walking, and that interrupted by many a halt, and sometimes by positive turning back; but how little of this running!

2. For running means increased energy in God's service. The very word implies that. It is the very opposite of listlessness, taking our ease, and of all indifference. Go along by the side of a country mill-stream in the hot summer months. As you come to the mill you hear no sound. The pleasant beat of the wheel, the murmur of the grinding, and the cool plash of the water on the far side of the stream, are all missing. You draw near, and you see the cause. The stream has well-nigh disappeared; the muddy banks are steaming in the heat; there is but a small dribble of water at the bottom; the mill-wheel is motionless and blistering in the sun. But come that way again after the spring or autumn rains, or during the wet winter months. How the water rushes along! How it whirls the mill-wheel round! how it compels the miller to find an overflow, lest its force do serious damage! Now, the contrast between the miserable, scant supply of water in the hot summer months, and that other full, rushing flow, is no greater than that between the common life of too many Christians and that running in the way of God's commandments of which the psalm here tells.

3. And careful laying aside of hindrances. Many of our hindrances allow of quiet walking, but not of running (cf. Hebrews 12:1).

4. More steadfast looking to the end of the way. "Looking unto Jesus." If we look aside, we linger, swerve, and slacken our pace. 5. Greater joy in God's service. Running is a symbol of joy (Acts 3:8).


1. For its effects on our own spiritual life.

2. For its influence on the world.

3. And on the Church.

4. And, above all, for the honor of Christ. Note -

III. ITS CONDITION. "When thou shalt enlarge my heart." That is:

1. The understanding; that we may see and know the truth.

2. The affections; that we may feel it.

3. The conscience; that we may be aroused.

4. The will; that we may resolve. - S.C.

I will run the way of Thy commandments, when Thou shalt enlarge my heart.
I. CONSCIOUSNESS OF ACTUAL CAPTIVITY. The feeling may be illustrated by the case of a messenger in time of war charged by a great king with an important commission, who on his way is seized by the king's enemies, disarmed, stripped, bound, and led away in an opposite direction; longing to be free that he may do his master's will, and appealing to his lord very much as the psalmist cries to God in this place, "Help me, and set me free, that I may do Thy will and accomplish Thine orders." There is hope in such a state, A man who wishes that he could do God's will has taken the first step towards life. The conscience has got free and stretches out its suppliant hands for help; the affections are, however, still in bondage, and the tyrant power of long-formed habits of sin holds the soul oven while it turns its longing eyes to the sweet paths of righteousness, from which, a slave to his own iniquity, it is being borne away. The prisoner in yonder dungeon may madly tear at his chains, or furiously beat his poor flesh against the solid walls that hold him in, but he is not more powerless to snap the strong iron, or wrench open the ponderous stones, than is a poor sinner to break his own bondage. But there is One who can help, One only, One able to help so effectually, that the chained limbs in their delighted freedom shall actually run. That One is God.

II. A. CONSCIOUSNESS OF NARROWNESS OF AFFECTION AND DESIRE AFTER GOD. The psalmist craved for more freedom of faith; for warmer and stronger love towards God. There are few Christians who will not have the same feeling, and will not be conscious how small and low is their state of grace; how poor their service to their God, compared to what it should be, and what it might be with God to help them. Nor will it be difficult to trace, in some degree, the causes of this narrowness. With a man it may be a too engrossing occupation in earthly business, too predominant and absorbing a care for earthly success, limiting the times of prayer and interrupting that free and full communion with God without which no growth in holiness is possible. With a woman it may be the troubling about "many things," such as kept Martha of old from the feet of Jesus: the absorption of thoughts in her children, her household, and her daily cares. Here, again, our hope is in God. He can enlarge our hearts by more perfectly revealing His own blessed self within them. He enters into the soul, and the soul grows with His presence. His glory and greatness and beauty snap the restraining bonds, and stretch the heart in which He dwells till it becomes capable of peace and joy unknown before.

(G. Garbett, M. A.)

"The way of Thy commandments." To many people not an attractive road! It is suggestive of fences, and trespassing boards, of curbs and restraints. "The way of Thy commandments." Through the Christian Scriptures the way becomes steeper and more uninviting to the natural man as the centuries move along. The gradient of the moral ideal becomes increasingly precipitous. You may get up the lower and earlier slopes, but when you get to Amos and Hoses and Isaiah the track becomes exceeding steep, until when you get to the Lord Himself the radiant ideal lifts itself sheer and clear as the Matterhorn. "I looked then after Christian to see him go up the hill, where I perceived he fell from running to going, and from going to clambering upon his hands and his knees because of the steepness of the place." Yes, the way becomes very steep as we draw near the Lord! Take the teachings of our Lord, map out the way of His commandments, make a contour map of the road, and you will find that you are face to face with a shuddering ascent, an ascent so stiff and steep that some declare it to be the dream of a visionary, the moral prospectus of a fanatic, proclaiming imperatives which are unpractical and impracticable. The moral ideal of Jesus is just overwhelming; so much so, that many do with it as the Swiss did in the olden times with the Alps, build their houses with their backs to the towering heights, and they face the lowlands of human expediency and moral commonplace. Now, let me remind you that the word "heart" has a much wealthier significance than we commonly attach to it to-day. The symbolic significance of the word in our own day is confined almost exclusively to the emotions. If we say that a man has a big heart we do not refer to the range of his thought, but to the quality of his sympathies. If we say that a man has no "heart" we mean that the channels of feeling are as dry as a river-bed in time of drought. Nay, we even bring the brain and the heart into distinct and isolated positions. We say that a man has not very much brain, but that he has a very big heart. Now all these modern distinctions must be laid aside when we seek the interpretation of the Word of God. I am not aware that the word "brain" or "brains" ever occurs in the Bible. According to the primitive physiology of those times the heart was the mysterious seat of thought as well as of feeling. The heart was "the seat of man's collective energies, the very focus of his personal life." Moral speed will come with spiritual enlargement. "I will run . . . when Thou shalt enlarge my heart." When Thou shalt enlarge my thought. Many of us go slowly because we do not see far. There is no long range of purpose in our eyes, and therefore our feet are sluggish. Our imaginations are not peopled with the glories of attainment, and therefore there is no eager haste in our steps. Napoleon got his men over the Alps by richly sharing with them the promises and purposes of the campaign. Their eyes were filled with the resplendent riches of Italian cities even while they were contending with the stupendous obstacles of the trackless wastes of snow. Their thoughts included the sunny Italian plains as well as the grimness of the immediate toil, and that forward-cast of the eyes gave strength and inspiration to their labours. "I will run the way of Thy commandments when Thou shalt enlarge my" thought, when my mind is filled with Thy blessed purposes, when even now the eyes of my imagination rove over the celestial fields, and when even now I feel something of the warmth and liberty of the coming noon. The ultimate purpose is not obscure. "All things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you." "We have the mind of Christ." Our minds may be expanded to take in the glorious purpose, and eyes that are held in that vision will most assuredly communicate buoyancy and speed to the feet. Look at the Apostle Paul. The far-off goal was always flinging its kindly ray upon the immediate task. Aye, that is the enlarged mind, which in its inclusive range gives hospitality to the ultimate, and brings the glory of the far-away to relieve the burdensomeness of the present task. That's the way to get over the hill, and to get over it at a run! What is the philosophy of it? It is this. Small and exclusive thinking is like a closed and tiny room, in which the inmates become asphyxiated, and reduced to lassitude and languor. Large thinking oxygenates the powers, it lets in the vitalizing wind from the far-stretching moors of truth, all the faculties are toned and braced into strenuousness, and they can move in difficult ways with ease. It may be, too, that further enlargements are required before the desired speed is obtained. "I will run the way of Thy commandments when Thou shalt enlarge my motions." The mill will not work if the mill-race is empty! The weakness of many a life is explained by the poverty of its emotions; the emotional energy is only that of a reduced and languid stream, and there is no power to run the mill. There are lives that are seemingly destitute of any great capacity to be deeply stirred. Their storms are only "storms in a tea-cup"; they have nothing of the terrific movement of the disturbed sea. They cannot be moved into mighty indignation like the Apostle Paul; "who is made to stumble and I burn not?" They cannot be constrained into passionate love;" I could wish that myself were separated from Christ for my brethren." They cannot be upheaved by sullen sorrow, nor made to dance in ecstatic joy. Now see the consequence. We must not expect much speed where there is little feeling. The insensitive are not the strenuous, rather are they the victims of sluggishness and sleep. The man who has no emotional wealth will never be found among the pioneer runners in the moral way. He requires enlargement before he can run! And this very enlargement is provided for us in the grace of God. "I will take away the stony heart and I will give thee a heart of flesh." That miracle has been performed in innumerable lives. Love has been born where indifference reigned. And so it is also with the third primary element in the contents of the heart, the factor of the will. Many of us crawl and faint in the paths of the moral ideal because our wills are weak and irresolute. We can run for a while, but we fail in the "long run." We are good for a hundred yards, but we are spent at the mile. We begin well, but the end is very near. Our wills are something like the batteries of those portable electric night-lights, good for so many flashes, and good for nothing more. We have volitional spasms, succeeded by a forceless lethargy. We shall "run the way" of His commandments when God shall enlarge our wills. And that is just one of the wonderful resources of grace. "It is God that worketh in you to will," to enlarge your will, to fill it with all needful power, to make it adequate to the attainment of the far-off goal. We shall be "strengthened with all might by His Spirit in the inner man," and "our sufficiency" shall be "of God."

(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)


1. It consists in —

(1)The true growth of our social sympathies.

(2)The true growth of our religious sympathies.

2. It is attainable. Thousands have experienced it. Hearts once encased in sensuality and selfishness, have by the love of Christ widened so as to grasp the world in its sympathies. The narrow-souled atheist has expanded into the greatness of a saint; the mean temporizer has become a moral hero, battling the world for the right. The churlish miser has bounded with an unconquerable love of his race.


1. Man is under law, binding him to purity of thought and rectitude of feeling.

2. A willing obedience to this law is the chief end of man.

3. Where this soul-enlargement is, this obedience will be realized.

III. ITS AUTHOR. "Thou." All the influences of nature, the events of Providence, the means of grace are for the enlargement of the soul. .A growing soul is the most interesting object in the universe.


The true Broad Church is that in which an enlarged obedience to God's commandments is brought about by an enlarged experience of His love; and His commandments and His love are both of them exceeding broad. True spiritual life will widen the soul in its possessions, its perceptions, its will, and its love; it will extend our powers of having, of knowing, of willing, and of loving; and, in one or other of these four, most of our life is included.

1. How very little we possess, both in outward and inward things. Our hands are small and the world is large. "Tell me how I can make my broad acres more broad," is the request of the rich man. "Tell me how I can make my narrow holding less narrow," is the cry of the poor. But a life in God makes us rich, for "all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos," etc. "Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth."

2. How trifling is our knowledge. We know but little of things in this world, with all our sciences and study, and we know much less about God, and glory, and immortality, and the spirits which live outside the tent of this mortal flesh, or of any of those things which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard." But we believe that for those whom God enlarges, there is an unspeakable increase in the perceptive powers of the soul; they are taught things that are hidden from the wise and prudent. There is knowledge for the simple and lowly ones; for those who, in the spiritual strength they have derived from God, run in the way of His commandments. Looking into the Father's face, and into the Saviour's heart, the soul can say (John 17:3). And with the knowledge there comes the aspiration (Ephesians 3:17).

3. How little is our will-power. We often want to do right, and the force of habits or of grooves is too strong for us. We have not enough momentum to carry us out or enough moral force to deny the past and to assert the future. The only remedy is the Divine enlargement of heart which comes from the visitation of the Spirit. We carry our brokenness to God; we put our helpless will at His feet, and He energizes it, and sends us back from the altar-steps able to say, "I delight to do Thy will, O my God."

4. How small is our capacity for forgiving. Only those who have the Spirit within them, energizing them, can truly love at all. Again, we fall at the Lord's feet, and tell Him we have no power even to be civil to some people, much less to love them; scarcely power to put up the weapons of revenge against some; and even to those whom, like the publicans and Pharisees and sinners, we love because they love us, we have not been able to make an adequate return for the low they have lavished upon us. Then God teaches us that there lies in Him the power of enlarging the human affections, and He enlarges our hearts that we, "being rooted and grounded in love," — not only in the experimental realization of His love to us, but also in the experimental living out of our love to Him, and to all that He has made and given us, — are able to "run the way of His commandments." For that is His new commandment, "that we love one another."

(J. Rendel Harris.)

You may see a little child trying to lift a heavy weight, and you tell it that it must wait till its muscles are stronger: it must wait till it has "become." This was the way at the beginning in conversion: "dead works" means that in us there does not dwell force or power to lift the great weight of the commandment or righteousness of God; hence they are useless or stupid works. When you find in your heart your inability to fulfil the Divine commandment, and have not the strength and power you want, though all day trying to lift the heavy weight, you come to God and .say, "It is plain that, as I am, I cannot live out this righteousness, and I come for a new life to live it out. I must have Thine own strength." Then we understand our Lord's saying, "Except a man be born again," etc.

(J. Rendel Harris.)

I. AN ATTAINABLE OBJECT. The city of God, the holy Jerusalem, whose walls are salvation, and whose gates are praise (Revelation 21:10; Isaiah 60:18).


1. The commandments of God are universal in their application; none are exempt from their obligations.

2. They may be designated a "way," because they describe a course of conduct, a line of duty, and mark the bounds of good and evil, right and wrong.


1. Here is the expression of decision and resolution. How necessary is this for the Christian l How small must his progress be, if any, without it!

2. Here, you see, diligence and earnestness are required: running implies exertion, labour, toil.

3. Here is rectitude of principle, as well as stability of character.

4. Courage and fortitude are both required to ensure your progress towards the holy city.

5. Perseverance is absolutely necessary (Matthew 10:22; Hebrews 10:88). It is not the race of a day, or a year; but through the entire course of your life.

(R. Treffry.)

In these words we see the connection between theology and morality.

I. THERE IS A HEART-RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MAN AND GOD. God is perpetually awakening some dormant energies of our spirits, by which all past achievements live in present efforts and productivities. Glorious is that heart-relationship which there is between man and God.

II. MAN'S HEART-ENLARGEMENT IS ENTIRELY OF GOD. Men, and books, and events are means in God's hands of waking all the germinal glories of the human heart, which is in eternal connection with the Divine. Our successive heart-enlargements have been the results of Divine visitations. Our Father works hitherto, and therefore we work.


(W. R. Percival.)


1. Emancipation from the thraldom of sin.

2. Deliverance from temptations and afflictions.

3. The expansion of the understanding, and the attainment of just and comprehensive views on all matters relating to our salvation and duty.

4. The love of God shed abroad in the heart.


1. Deliverance from guilt and condemnation brings with it power to serve God.

2. Some of the most valuable lessons imparted by the great Teacher are learned in the school of affliction; and often, after having ourselves suffered temptation, we are the better able to strengthen our brethren.

3. Expansion of understanding in the things of God brings with it increased obligation to "run the way of His commandments."

4. The manifestation of pardoning love to the believer in Jesus enables him to love God in return. Without this, our obedience may be that of a servant, but cannot he that of a child. Love is the fulfilling of the law.

(L. H. Wiseman.)

The occupation of the heart is the great thing in religion, not because, the heart being mastered, other parts may be overlooked, for religion is the nourisher and not the despiser of intellect, but simply because, in the first place, until the heart is carried there can be no real conversion, for the converted man loves God, and love is from the heart, and because, in the second place, the conquest of the heart involves as a natural and necessary consequence the conquest of the remainder of the man.

I. Supposing that by the heart, the whole soul, with all its powers and affections, is intended, HOW COMES IT TO BE TRUE THAT GOD BY HIS GRACE ENLARGES THE SOUL? We take a man's understanding. We are accustomed to think and to say, that through busying himself with scientific inquiries, through all these processes of discipline which are furnished by the study of abstruse and sublime things, through converse with history and with the writings of illustrious men, through the exercising itself on those difficult and unsolved problems which are presented by the mysteries of nature and the fortunes of nations, we are accustomed to believe that by these and similar means the human understanding may be made stronger and more comprehensive. And we are far enough from underrating these prescribed modes of enlarging the mind. But, nevertheless, we are clear upon the point, that nothing more enlarges the understanding than the grace which God pours in upon it when He is engaged in carrying on to perfection the work of sanctification. For, if it be the contemplation of noble and majestic things which causes the understanding to shoot up its stature, and to amplify itself on the right hand and on the left, so that the mind remains dwarfish through not being brought into contact with gigantic truth, where will you find us such a nourisher, such a magnifier of the understanding, as religion, seeing that through the operations of God's grace there is a comparative abandonment of a survey of the created, and a fastening of the gaze on the Creator Himself, and the spirit is carried into a region inaccessible to an unconverted man, and is engaged in climbing truths which are never surmounted by the loftiest intelligence, and thus brought precisely into that intercourse with the mighty and the colossal, which tells most on its powers, quickening them into rapid growth, and bringing to light unsuspected resources? God is so magnificent, so wonderful, that it must be an effort to the soul to take in any discoveries which He makes of Himself; but the very effort will be an improving and invigorating thing. The soul will grow, through her strivings to embrace the infinite; the understanding will dilate as more and more of Deity presents itself to the grasp; and thus, from the beginning to the end, God is enlarging the heart. It is one great characteristic of a righteous man that he is gradually conforming his own will to the will of his Maker. It would be Christian perfection to have no will but God's will; and though we do not say that this perfection is actually obtained by any of the righteous on the earth, yet there will be a continual advance towards the attainment, so that the identification of wills, if not in every respect complete, will daily become more and more accurate. And a man's will being thus gradually exchanged for God's, there must be going forward an enlargement of the will.

II. You will not require much proof that THE RUNNING THE WAY OF GOD'S COMMANDMENTS FOLLOWS THE ENLARGEMENT OF THE HEART. The enlarged heart includes, as we have shown you, an enlarged understanding and an enlarged will. The enlargement of the understanding supposes you more disposed to follow only what is good. The former, therefore, is the same thing as our discerning more and more of the demands of God's law; the latter is the same thing as our determining to act on the discernment. But what is this, save in so many words an enlarged heart producing an ampler obedience? The understanding is enlarged, so that we see more of what is demanded; the will is enlarged, so that we resolve on conforming ourselves to those discoveries of the understanding; and if we both find out more and more of what is to be done, and move more in the course which we ascertain to be right, then we are clearly advancing in the work of obedience. And if, yet further, both these results are to be traced to the heart's enlargement as a cause, who can avoid discovering the force of the connection — "I will run the way of Thy commandments, when Thou shalt enlarge my heart"?

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

This was the language of one who did not run; and many still lag behind. We are far more in danger of standing still than of running ourselves out of breath. Most of us have reason to be ashamed of the defects of our obedience, the meanness of our sacrifices, the meagreness of our work, the formalism of our worship.

1. The enlargement of the heart is the secret of speed. It implies an increase of light, insight, love, trust, hope, gladness, God touching our spirit anew, and awakening it to a higher and fuller life in Himself.

2. Note how such an enlargement of the heart conduces to a prompter and more acceptable obedience.(1) We may find ourselves impeded by the nature of the path on which we walk. The path of a perfect obedience is high and difficult. What, then, is to be done? Let us seek the solution of the difficulty in the strengthening of the soul; let us crave more of the cherub's illumination, more of the seraph's fire, and we shall find the path of perfection to be what the angels find it — a summer path of flowers.(2) A traveller may be hindered by obstructions on the road. So the Christian pilgrim finds a variety of trials to be stumbling-blocks in the heavenly pathway. And we are tempted to think that the removal of these barriers is all that is required. But our text is framed on another philosophy. The psalmist had trials and difficulties, personal, domestic, and political; but he does not plead for the removal of these: he simply pleads for a larger heart. Let it please God to enlarge our soul with fresh affection and heroism, and we shall run through a troop and leap over a wall.(3) The pilgrim is impeded by burdens he may have to carry. Riches, honours, pleasures, friend-ships — these get too much hold upon us, and spoil our speed. Are these embarrassing things of earth to be renounced, to be laid aside? It may be well from time to time to chasten earthly desire; but the loftiest teaching of Christianity does not promise spiritual progress through the reduction of material interests and relations. And this was the view of the psalmist. For the acceleration of our speed we do not need less of this world's goods and honours, but more inward grace and force.(4) The racer is impeded by superfluous garments. "The sin which doth so easily beset" is the chief entanglement and arrestment. The unmastered corruption of our hearts fetters us most; like a garment it encircles us, wraps us round. There is but one remedy for this — fresh and fuller spiritual power. A new heart, and ever new, disencumbers of the besetting sin, and gives us the secret of speed. We need not ask for a lower path, a smoother path, or a shorter path to heaven, but for a soul fuller of spiritual enthusiasm; then shall the rough places be smooth, the crooked paths straight.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

We are to run. It is not wise, right, or safe to live coldly and loosely. Old Donne says, "Let me go upon crutches, so I go to heaven." But there are two objections to going to heaven that way. First, no man chooses a pair of crutches when he is offered a pair of wings. No one, surely, ought to go to heaven slowly, painfully, when he can go triumphantly. And the second objection is, that those who go upon crutches hardly get to heaven. "Lest that which is tame be turned out of the way." A halting Christian is more likely to be turned out of the way than to continue unto the end; for any trivial thing in the path sends him sprawling on all fours. Away with such tardiness and precariousness! We are to march as conquerors; we are to return with joy upon our heads; we are to mount with eagles — our spirit regal, our mood heroic, our step unfaltering.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

Our progress is not regulated by the state of things about us, but by the fact and intensity of our spiritual life. Great faith, high resolve, and glowing love go over Jordan dry-shod. All difficulties dwindle as the soul expands. Bitter mysteries are solved by a simpler trust. Barren branches blossom and bend as the roots of our life are enriched. Grace abounding, a double portion of the Spirit, the love of God shed abroad in the heart, reawakening hunger and thirst after righteousness, the second blessing leading to the third and so on to infinity — here is the consolation and hope of the saints. Strengthened with strength in our soul, we shall trip no more, crawl no more, stand still no more, but run in the path of life, andEven in running think ourselves too stow.If our heart has become faint and cold, we know what to do. When the fire went out on the altar of the Greeks, it was relighted by the beams of the sun. Let us bring our heart into fresh contact with the purging Fire, the quickening Flame, and difficulty and failure shall be things of the past.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

Promptness is one of the brightest excellencies in faith's acting. Delay spoils all. Some one asked Alexander to what he owed his conquests, and he said, "I have conquered because I never delayed." While the enemy were preparing he had begun the battle, and they were routed before they knew where they were. After that fashion faith overcomes temptation. She runs in the way of obedience, or rather she mounts on the wings of eagles, and so speeds on her way. With regard to the things of God, our first thoughts are best; considerations of difficulty entangle us.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

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