Psalm 94:11; Proverbs 24:9; Jeremiah 4:14; Psalm 119:113
The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.
The thought of foolishness is sin.
How long shall vain thoughts lodge within thee?
I hate vain thoughts; but thy law do I love.
MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Here we have, David’s dread of the risings of sin, and the first beginnings of it: I hate vain thoughts. He does not mean that he hated them in others, for there he could not discern them, but he hated them in his own heart. Every good man makes conscience of his thoughts, for they are words to God. Vain thoughts, how light soever most make of them, are sinful and hurtful, and therefore we should account them hateful and dreadful, for they not only divert the mind from that which is good but open the door to all evil, Jeremiah 4:14.
WILLIAM SECKER (died 1681): Vain thoughts defile the heart as well as vile thoughts.
THOMAS GOODWIN (1600-1679): Let us see what vanity is.
It is taken for unprofitableness. So, Ecclesiastes 1:2,3, “All is vanity,” because there is “no profit in them under the sun.” Vanity is taken for lightness. “Lighter than vanity,” is a phrase used, Psalm 62:9; and whom is it spoken of?―Of men; and if anything in them be lighter than other, it is their thoughts, which swim in the uppermost parts, float at the top, are as the scum of the heart. When all the best, and wisest, and deepest, and solidest thoughts in Belshazzar, a prince, were weighed, they were found too light, Daniel 5:27. Vanity is put for folly. So, Proverbs 12:11, “vain men” is made all one with men “void of understanding.” Vanity is put for inconstancy and frailty; therefore vanity and a shadow are made synonymous, Psalm 144:4. Such are our thoughts, flitting and perishing, as bubbles: “All their thoughts perish.” Lastly, they are wicked and sinful. Vanity is yoked with wickedness, and vain men and sons of Belial are all one, 2 Chronicles 13:7.
THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): The thought of foolishness is sin; not only the thought of wickedness, but foolishness. Thoughts are the firstborn of the soul, the immediate issues of the mind; yet we lavish them away upon every trifle. Follow men all the day long, and take account of their thoughts. Oh! what madness and folly are in all the musings they are conscious of―If we did judge as God judges, all the thoughts, reasonings, discourses of the mind, if they were set down in a table, we might write at the bottom, Here is the sum and total account of all: nothing but vanity.
STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): What a mass of vanity should we find in our minds, if we could bring our thoughts in the space of one day, even only one hour, to account? How many foolish thoughts with our wisdom, ignorant thoughts with our knowledge, worldly thoughts with our heavenliness, hypocritical thoughts with our religion, and proud thoughts with our humiliations? Our hearts would be like a grotto, furnished with monstrous and ridiculous pictures; or as the wall in Ezekiel’s vision portrayed with every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, Ezekiel 8:10-12.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Some of our thoughts are specially vain in the sense of vain glory, pride, conceit, and self trust; others in the sense of bringing disappointment, such as fond ambition, sinful dreaming, and confidence in man; others in the sense of emptiness and frivolity, such as the idle thoughts and vacant romancing in which so many indulge; and, yet once more, too many of our thoughts are vain in the sense of being sinful, evil, and foolish.
WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Mark, David doth not say he is free from vain thoughts, but he “hates” them, he likes their company no better than one would a pack of thieves that break into his house.
MATTHEW HENRY: He hated them; he did not countenance them, nor give them any entertainment, but did what he could to keep them out, or at least to keep them under.
THOMAS SCOTT (1747-1821): The spiritual mind recoils at them; such thoughts will intrude from time to time, but they are unwelcome and distressing, and are immediately thrust out; while other subjects, from the word of God, are stored up in readiness to occupy the mind more profitably and pleasantly during the hours of leisure and retirement. There is no better test of our true character, than the habitual effect of “vain thoughts” upon our minds―whether we love and indulge them, or abhor, and watch and pray against them.
THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): A godly man may have roving thoughts in duty. Sad experience proves this; the thoughts will be dancing up and down in prayer…The heart is like quicksilver which will not fix. It is hard to tie two good thoughts together; we cannot lock our hearts so close, but that distracting thoughts, like wind, will get in.
THOMAS MANTON: Vain thoughts will be more ready with us, unless the word dwell richly in our hearts; “A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth good things: and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth evil things,” Matthew 12:35. The workings of our spirits are as our treasure and stock. The mind works upon what it finds in itself, as a mill grinds whatsoever is put into it, be it chaff or corn. Therefore, if we would prevent wicked thoughts, and musings of vanity all the day long, we must hide the Word in our heart.
CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Let the Word be kept “in the midst of the heart,” Proverbs 4:20-22.
ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): The heart cannot be reduced to a vacuum; if spiritual things do not occupy it, carnal things will…Hence we see the force of the wise man’s precept, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life,” Proverbs 4:23. Look well to the fountain, or the streams will in vain be expected to be pure. To watch our words and actions to the neglect of our hearts will be unavailing.
WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): First the fountain, then the streams: first the heart, then the life-course…The same prescription for the same disease occurs in that great hymn of Hebrews, Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
MATTHEW HENRY: “Thy law do I love,” which forbids those vain thoughts, and threatens them. The more we love the law of God the more we shall get the mastery of our vain thoughts, the more hateful they will be to us, as being contrary to the whole law, and the more watchful we shall be against them, lest they draw us from that which we love.
J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): Now if you carried about with you a deep and daily sense that God saw every thought, marked every movement, heard every word, and observed every action, this sense of His presence would put a restraint upon your light, trifling, and foolish spirit. You would watch your thoughts, your words, your actions, as living under a sense of God’s heart-searching eye.