Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. The author is unknown. It has 176 verses, broken into twenty-two stanzas (sections) of eight verses. It is an acrostic poem; there is one stanza for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and each verse in the stanza begins with that letter in the original Hebrew text. Psalm 119’s main message is the supremacy and sufficiency of God’s word. The writer endures many trials and afflictions, however his love for God’s word helps him overcome.
Psalm 119 uses several synonyms to describe the Scriptures. Nearly every verses in this Psalm contains at least one of these. (These are in bold throughout this study). These include:
Studying Psalm 119 will encourage us to read the Bible more. For the Bible is the complete Word of God:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 2 Timothy 3:16
Reading through Psalm 119, we can see that it is in the form of a prayer. It is a prayer to God praising and thanking Him for His word, the Bible. In it, the writer declares his love and longing for the Word. In it, the writer shows how he’s applied God’s Word to issues and difficulties he faces. In this Psalm, the writer shows us, by His own example, the proper way to view the Word of God.
1. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
2. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
3. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
4. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
5. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
6. Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
7. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
8. I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.
Blessings for Keeping God’s Word
Blessed are those who are not defiled in their way, who do not live in sin. They do not follow after wickedness, but walk in the direction of the law of the Lord. Blessed are these who keep God’s law, and seek to follow Him with their whole heart. They are fully committed to following and obeying Him in all things. They do no iniquity, for they walk in God’s ways and not after their own lusts and desires. We are commanded to keep God’s precepts and laws diligently, not carelessly or with slack, states the Psalmist. Next, he states his desire to be even more in line with God’s word, to make his life more in agreement with it. No doubt this Psalmist was a righteous man, but far from perfect. He wasn’t perfectly following all of God’s word. But neither are we, nor can we. Yet he strives to “have respect unto all” of the Lord’s commandments. He wants his life to be fully in line with God. “Then shall I not be ashamed,” he writes. He knew one day he would stand before God in judgment, and doesn’t want to be ashamed before Him. He desires to be able to praise the Lord with uprightness and purity of heart, when he has learned (and taken heed to) God’s righteous judgments. He seems to plead, “I will keep thy statutes, I will change my life to conform to them, please have patience with me, O forsake me not utterly.” God blesses us when we obey His Word. He blesses us as we bring our lives more into line with His Word.
9. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
10. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
11. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
12. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
13. With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
14. I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
15. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
16. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
Cleansing Our Life with the Word
How do we cleanse our way, but by taking heed to, and obeying God’s word. Then, we will be walking in His path, and not our own. Which path are you walking on? Seek the Lord with your whole heart, and seek to never wander from his commandments. Seek to always be living by what He has told us in His word. The Psalmist pleads with God, that he never be allowed to wander from His commandments. But he has also hidden God’s word in his heart (by memorizing it and meditating on it), that he might not forget it, and sin against the Lord inadvertently or out of carelessness. He asks God to teach him even more. Have we stored up in our hearts and minds the word of the Lord? Does it live in us? Do we welcome it in, as the Psalmist does? Do we allow the Lord to teach us His statutes? Do we have a teachable spirit? Or do we refuse to be taught? The Psalmist is not ashamed of the word of the Lord, declaring all of it out loud. He rejoices and delights in God’s statues, and views them as wealth and riches. He meditates on God’s precepts, to drive them home even further, and make them even more a part of himself. He seeks to permanently engrave them on his heart and mind, that he will not forget them. How much is God’s word a part of our lives? Are we thinking on it constantly throughout our day? Or just during devotions? Or only during church service?
17. Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.
18. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
19. I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.
20. My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.
21. Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.
22. Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.
23. Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
24. Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.
A Longing for the Word
In verse 17, the Psalmist desires God to bless him, that he may be able to keep God’s word. He’s not asking for bounty in exchange for obedience. He’s asking for an extended life, so that he may extend his obedience and faithfulness to the Lord, that he may have a greater impact for souls. In vs 18 – 20, he goes in detail the longing he has for God’s word. “Open thou mine eyes” he pleads, that he may have greater understanding, and may see things he never saw before in God’s law, that deeper truth may be revealed to him. (Are we longing for deeper truth and understanding in God’s Word?) He longs for God’s righteous judgment and decrees at all times throughout his day. His soul breaks because of this great desire. He want to get back in reading God’s word. Can we say that this describes us? Do we long to be in God’s Word? Or do we put other things before Bible reading and prayer? He confesses that he is a stranger and a pilgrim in this earth. This world is not his home. He then asks God to not hide His commandments from him, but reveal them. (Sometimes, we cause it to be hidden ourselves, when we read it with a distracted mind, or with unresolved sin on our hearts). God has rebuked the proud in their iniquity, because they violate His commandments. Unless they return to God, they are cursed. The Psalmist contrasts himself with these wicked before God. He asks God to remove from him reproach and contempt and rebuke, because he has striven to keep His commandments. “Don’t treat me like the proud who deserve rebuke.” His adversaries plotted against him, but it did not sway him from meditating in God’s statutes, nor did it keep him from living out what he read. God’s word remained his delight and his counselor. He continued to seek truth from it regardless to his enemies. Do we have a great longing for the Word, like the Psalmist here?
25. My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.
26. I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes.
27. Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.
28. My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.
29. Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously.
30. I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.
31. I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame.
32. I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.
Taught by the Lord
“I have declared my ways” The Psalmist has confessed his sins and wrong ways to the Lord, and has declared his will to make God’s way his way. He asks God to teach him, and to give him greater understanding of His statues. He is hungry for knowledge and understanding. And he wants it so that he can share it with others. He wants to talk of God’s wondrous works. Are we doing the same? Are we seeking to learn more of God’s word? Are we seeking to share it with others? When his soul is heavy, and he is downcast and depressed, he asks God to quicken him, to give him live and strengthen him according to His word. In time of sadness, he looks to the word for life and strength. Do we? The Psalmist declares that he has chosen the way of truth over the way of lying. He has chosen the truth of God’s word, and wants lying removed from him, never to do it again. He has stuck unto the Lord’s testimonies and laws. Because of this, he expects no shame to come upon himself. God won’t shame them that serve Him with the whole heart. The Psalmist wants his heart enlarged yet further, that he may even better serve the Lord, and run the way of His commandments. He does not want to just walk in God’s way, but run in it. Will we allow God to enlarge our hearts? Will we allow Him to give us greater compassion for others?
33. Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.
34. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
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.
37. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
38. Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.
39. Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.
40. Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.
Choose the Word Over the World
The Psalmist asks and begs God to teach him His law, and promises that he will keep it with his whole heart until the end of his life. He again asks for knowledge and understanding of God’s word. He states again (the third time) that he delights in God’s commandments. He then desires his heart to be fully tuned to God’s word, and turned away from covetousness and materialism. These can creep up even when we are striving to seek the Lord with our whole heart. We need to be on guard of materialism. He also asks and desires to be turned away from vanity and worldliness, that he may live and be quickened in God’s word. He doesn’t want any vain, fruitless distractions from his walk with God, and his service to God. Even though some of these may not be sinful, they are still a hindrance in walking with God. He desires that God establish his word to himself, that it should be established as the foundation of his life. That it should be in his heart, in his mind, in his thoughts, in his actions, and in his life. He is devoted to reverencing God in a holy fear. He has a holy respect for the Lord. The Psalmist does fear reproach and shame. He asks forgiveness, declaring that God’s judgments and decrees are good, and that he was in the wrong. He restates his longing for God’s word, and asks him to quicken him (make him alive) in His righteousness. Are we turning away from covetousness, vanity and sin? More importantly, are we turning to the Word of the Lord?
41. Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word.
42. So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.
43. And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.
44. So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.
45. And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.
46. I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.
47. And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.
48. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.
Your Word in My Mouth
The Psalmist asks for God’s mercy and salvation, for salvation is the greatest mercy. When he is saved, he will have the ability to answer them that reproach him. He is reproached because of his former sins and because of his faith in the Lord. He can use mention of his former sins to point others to God’s forgiveness. His trust is in God’s word, and not in his own intellect. Don’t remove Your truth from me, from my mouth. Don’t prevent me from speaking forth Your truth. I have hope in Your judgments, that they are true and correct and right. He states that he will keep God’s law continually. He walks in liberty when he walks in the Lord’s precepts, for in obeying the Word there is freedom of spirit. He will even have boldness to speak forth God’s word, even before kings and rulers, and not be ashamed. Again, he states that his delight is in the Lord’s commandments, but also states that he loves the commandments. (Although this is what he has been saying all along.) He will lift up his hands to the Lord’s commandments in reverence and even worship. Is God’s Word in our mouths? Do we speak it? Or are we ashamed of it? Do we delight in it? Do we reverence it?
49. Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.
50. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.
51. The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.
52. I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself.
53. Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.
54. Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.
55. I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law.
56. This I had, because I kept thy precepts.
Remembering God’s Word
The Psalmist reminds God of His word, claiming it’s promises for Himself. (He asks God to remember His word, yet He cannot forget His own word.) The word is his comfort and hope in times of affliction and persecution. Again he states that the word has quickened him or given him life. When his adversaries attacked him, he did not turn away from the law but instead turned to it for comfort, bringing it to his remembrance. Yet he was horrified because of the wicked, perhaps realizing with the wrath they faced for forsaking God’s law. He also made God’s statues into songs, that he may better remember them, during his pilgrimage (time on earth). It is what he sings to himself throughout the day. He remembers God’s name and God’s law in the middle of the night, and has kept it. (Night is the time of day more evil occurs.) He was able to resist temptation in the night, and during difficult times, because he has been striving to keep God’s precepts all this time. Do we take comfort in God’s Word? Do we use it to overcome temptation? Do we have it implanted in our minds, that we are ready against any temptation that may appear?
57. Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words.
58. I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.
59. I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
60. I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.
61. The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.
62. At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.
63. I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.
64. The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes.
Make Haste to Keep God’s Word
The Psalmist declares that the Lord is His substance, his portion, his inheritance, and because of this, he has declared that he will keep God’s words. He sought God’s favor and mercy with his whole heart, according to the favor and mercy found in God’s word. He though on his ways, realized that they did not live up with God’s way, and corrected them. He made haste, and delayed not, but quickly corrected his way to keep God’s commandments. He got right with God quickly. He had been robbed by the wicked, yet this didn’t cause him to forget God’s law, or cause him to stop obeying it. Regardless, he continues to praise and thank God for His righteous decrees and judgments He has joined all them that fear the Lord and keep his commandment, even if only spiritually, and not face-to-face. Likewise, this implies that he separated him self from those don’t fear or obey the Lord. The earth is full of His mercy. The Psalmist asks God for one of these mercies: Knowledge of His statutes. Not everyone will come to a saving knowledge of God’s word. Do we make haste to obey God’s words? Or do we delay obedience. (Delayed obedience is disobedience.)
65. Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word.
66. Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.
67. Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
68. Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.
69. The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.
70. Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.
71. It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
72. The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.
Affliction, Correction and the Word
God treats those who serve Him well, according to the promises in His Word. He will bless those who serve Him and keep His law. The Psalmist pleads for God to teach him to have good, sound judgment (perhaps this was written by David or one of the other kings) and knowledge (which is the most basic step in learning something), because he has believed God’s commandments. He states that he had gone astray from God’s word, While he was away, he found himself in trouble and affliction, but now he has returned to the Lord. He again asks to be taught of the Lord. As he seeks to serve the Lord, the proud are inventing lies against him. Yet he continues to keep God’s precepts with his whole heart, ignoring their slander. He states that the heart of the proud is as fat as grease, clogged with grease, then restates that his delight is in God’s law. As for his affliction when he was astray, he says that it was good, because it caused him to return and learn God’s law. It was good for him to have been afflicted, for it brought him back to God. God’s law is now better to him than abundance of gold and silver. God’s word is his wealth. Do we view God’s word as more than worldly wealth? Is it more valuable to us that piles of gold and silver? Do we keep it with the whole heart? Or do we allow our adversaries to intimidate us?
73. Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.
74. They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.
75. I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
76. Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.
77. Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.
78. Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.
79. Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies.
80. Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.
Sound in Your Statutes
Here, the Psalmist writes, “You have created me with your own hands. Since You are the creator, teach me your commandments (that I may know how them fully). Others that fear You will be glad when they see me, because I am like them, hoping in Your word. I know and acknowledge Your commandments are right and true. You in faithfulness have afflicted me, that I might return to Your word.” He then asks for God’s merciful kindness to comfort him in his affliction. Again, he asks the Lord for His tender mercies, that he might live. (He may be pleading for his life). Again he states that God’s law is his delight. He then asks that those who are against him without a cause, whom God is allowing to afflict him, to be put to shame. Yet the Psalmist continues to meditate in God’s word, even more in his affliction. Restating vs 74, he desires to be joined up with others who fear the Lord and know his commandment. He desires to have fellowship with them. He desires his heart to be sound and established in God’s statutes, that the shame of the wicked not come upon himself. Are we sound in God’s word? Can we answer questions about our faith? Do we desire to fellowship with other believers? Or do we want to run with the world?
81. My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.
82. Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?
83. For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes.
84. How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?
85. The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law.
86. All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me.
87. They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not thy precepts.
88. Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.
Help In Persecution
The Psalmist’s soul longs and faints anticipating God’s salvation, the redemption of his soul from this world, because of the affliction and persecution he faces. Yet his hope is still in God’s word, remaining steadfast, unmovable. He has trouble seeing (possibly literally, in verse 148 we will see that he stays up late reading God’s word, or he just can’t comprehend the big picture of his life, to see where he’s going), because of persecution and affliction around him. In all this, he strives to not forget God’s world, and cries out for God’s comfort. He asks God when He will judge his persecutors (He enquires about the length of his own life as well.) The proud, which refuse to follow God’s law, have diged pits for him. They have set out traps that he might be snared therein. He again asks God’s help against his persecutors. God’s commandments are true and faithful; however, the proud are not. He remains faithful to God’s word, not forsaking His precepts during this persecution. He asks for God to revive and quicken him, so he can continue to keep His word. Do we desire to continue in God’s word? Do we make it a confort during times of trials? Do we put our trust in God, or in our own abilities?
89. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
90. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.
91. They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants.
92. Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.
93. I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.
94. I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts.
95. The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies.
96. I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad.
Perfection of God’s Word
God’s word is settled in heaven. It is perfect, not disputed there. God’s faithfulness, including His Word, extends to all generations of people. He has established the earth, set it in it’s place, and it dwells there. The people (generations) continue living because of His ordinances. God’s law gives life to mankind and all are His servants (even if they aren’t saved). The Psalmist states that because he made the law his delight, he didn’t perish in his affliction and persecution. The law kept him alive. It gave him life, because he delights in it. He again states that he will never forget it. He again asks God to save and rescue him, because he is a keeper of His word. The wicked were lying in wait to destroy him, but it didn’t shake him. He continued in God’s testimonies. He then re-emphasizes the perfection of God’s word, stating that there is no end to the perfection of God’s commandment. He had seen limits of perfection in other things, but not in God’s word. True perfection has no end, no limit. Are we allowing God’s word to quicken us? Are we allowing it to change us? Do we value the perfection in God’s word? Do we recognize it’s Divine inspiration and authority?
97. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
98. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
99. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
100. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.
101. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.
102. I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.
103. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104. Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.
Wisdom and Understanding through God’s Word
The Psalmist restates his love for God’s word, and that it is his meditation all day long. Are we thinking about God’s word through thorough the day? Because God’s word is “ever with him” (as he meditates on it through the day), he has become wiser than his enemies. The word has given him great understanding, far above his teachers and ancestors, because he meditates on and keeps God’s precepts. To keep God’s word, he has refrained from every sin and evil. He so much loves God, His word, and the instruction it brings, that he refuses to depart from it. He will not stop studying God’s word. He compares God’s words to pleasant food. God’s words to him are sweeter than honey. They are more to be desired than the best food and desserts. He gets his understanding through God’s precepts. It is his primary source for understanding and wisdom. He hates every false way, that contradicts God’s law. Is God’s word our primary source of understanding? Do we recognize it as true, and everything that contradicts it as false? Are we walking in the right way? Do we find ourselves easily departing from God’s word? Or do we refuse to depart from it?
105. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
106. I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.
107. I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word.
108. Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me thy judgments.
109. My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law.
110. The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.
111. Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.
112. I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.
Avoiding the Snare of the Wicked.
God’s word is a light until the path of the righteous, in the darkness of this world. It allows us to see where we are going. It instructs us to make corrections when necessary, for our own safety. The Psalmist had committed himself to keep God’s laws and commandments. He had sworn that he’d do it. He again asks to be quickened in accordance with God’s word, because of affliction and persecution. He asks God to accept the freewill offerings of his mouth, that is, his praise and worship. And again, he asks God to teach him his judgment and commands. He is in constant sorrow and affliction, but in this he doesn’t forget God’s law. The wicked have tried to trick him into sin, but he did not error from God’s precepts. He didn’t fall into their trap, being wise enough from the Scriptures to detect it. God’s people avoid the trap by making His word their joy and delight. They view it as their heritage, to be passed down to their children. They have sworn (v106) that they will keep God’s statutes, always and to the end of life. Are we committed to keeping God’s word? Are we able to detect the snares of the wicked? Or do we get caught in them? Do we rejoice in God’s word? Or do we view it as a burden?
113. I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.
114. Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.
115. Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.
116. Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.
117. Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.
118. Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood.
119. Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies.
120. My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.
“Hold Me up in Your Word”
The Psalmist hates vanity, pointless thoughts, but loves God’s law. These thoughts are not necessarily sinful, but a waste of time. His hope is in God’s word, because the Lord is to him a refuge and hiding place and defense. He orders evildoers to depart from him, (as they are attempting to get him to join them in wickedness), that he will not violate God’s commandments. He separates himself from those that would do wickedly. He asks God to uphold him according to His word, that he may live and be safe. (By asking God to do according to His word, he is claiming the promises of God recorded in His word.) He asks God to not let him be ashamed of his hope (salvation) but that he may be a light. When he is safe, and no longer concerned with his enemies, he can have continual respect to God’s statutes (He can put his focus on studying them). God will uphold the righteous, be He has (and will) trample down the wicked, they will be put away like dross. The righteous tremble in holy fear and respect of the Lord, when he sees God’s judgment on the wicked. Are we ashamed of our faith? Are we praying for boldness? (Remember that Psalm 119 is a long prayer). Do we have a righteous fear and reverence for the Lord and His word?
121. I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressors.
122. Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me.
123. Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness.
124. Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes.
125. I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.
126. It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law.
127. Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.
128. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.
Our View of God’s Word
The Psalmist pleads with God to not leave him to the will of his oppressors. Citing his good works of judgment and justice, he calls out for deliverance. His eyesight is failing for sake of God’s Word (Perhaps he staying is up too late reading it?) However, deliverance doesn’t come through good works, but through the mercy of God. Abandoning his good works, he now pleads for the Lord’s mercy, asking for knowledge and understanding of His statutes. He asks God to step in and work, because the wicked, his enemies and oppressors, have made void God’s law. They treat it as if it were empty, hollow, and nothing. The godly response to this is to view God’s word as everything, priceless, worth more than the best gold. The wicked view the word of God as junk, the righteous view it as treasure. How are we personally viewing it? Do we treat it as precious treasure? Or are we careless with it? Do we long to read it, or do we loath to read it? The righteous view God’s word as true and right, and everything that contradicts it as false, wrong, and ungodly. Do we allow the Bible to be the final authority on all matters in our lives?
129. Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.
130. The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
131. I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.
132. Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.
133. Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
134. Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts.
135. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes.
136. Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.
“I Long for Your Word, Look Thou Upon Me”
God’s testimonies and commandments are wonderful, which is another reason of many to keep them. Once entering someone’s heart and mind, God’s word gives them light (intellect) and understanding. It makes the simple-minded wise. The Psalmist pants after God’s word like a dog panting for water. He thirsts for God’s commandments. He looks for God’s attention: “Look upon me with Your mercy as you do to all those who love your name.” (“Usest” is present tense, not past tense. God didn’t change, to no longer be merciful to such as love His name.) For God to look upon us is for Him to acknowledge our existence, and our needs. For His face to shine upon is, He is looking at us with a friendly expression and smile. The Psalmist asks for his steps, his ways, his actions to be ordered in God’s Word, that he may not stray from it into iniquity. He prays that he would be freed from the dominion (and bondage) of sin. Freed from it’s power, he is better able to walk in God’s word. He asks also deliverance from the oppression of wicked men, that he may be able to keep God’s precepts without hindrance. But his soul aches for the wicked, lost in their sins, and cries tears because they refuse to keep God’s statutes. How much are we longing for wisdom? How much are we longing for understanding? How much are we longing for God’s word? Do we weep over the wicked who are lost in their sins? Do we desire to bring them to Christ?
137. Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are thy judgments.
138. Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful.
139. My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.
140. Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.
141. I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts.
142. Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.
143. Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.
144. The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live.
The righteousness of God and His Word
The Lord is righteous and so are His judgments. They are upright, they are in order. His testimonies and commandments are righteous, and faithful. They are faithful because He will fulfill them. The Psalmist’s zeal for God’s word was very great, because of those who have abandoned it. His enemies have forgotten God’s law, and His righteous judgment, in their persecution of him. However, he continues to love God’s word, and make it his delight, because the word is pure and righteous and holy. He strives to keep God’s word in his memory, and not to forget it. He ignores all those who despise him. God’s righteousness lasts for ever, and His law is the absolute truth. He restates that, despite his trouble and anguish, God’s commandments are still his delights. Just as God’s righteousness is everlasting, so also is the righteousness of His word. Understanding of God’s word gives life. Are we zealous for God’s word? Do we promote and defend it in public, including it’s teachings that go against mainstream thought and morality? Are we delighting in His word? Are we asking Him for further understanding?
145. I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes.
146. I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies.
147. I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.
148. Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.
149. Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: O LORD, quicken me according to thy judgment.
150. They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law.
151. Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth.
152. Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.
Crying out for the Word
The Psalmist cries out to the Lord, with his whole heart, asking for God’s help, and asking for God’s salvation. He promises that he will keep God’s laws and statutes. He prevented (preceded) the dawn and the night watches to hope in God’s Word. He stayed up late, and got up early, to study and meditation in God’s word. He again asks God to hear him. He again asks God to quicken him, according to his righteous judgments. He is asking God to judge between him and his enemies. They are getting closer to him physically (seeking to do harm and mischief against him), but they are far from God and His law. The Lord, however, is near to him. His commandments are all truth, with no error. His testimonies are established in stone, and are preserved for ever. Do we view God’s word as truth to be obeyed, or myths to be discarded? Do we sacrifice time, sleep and other things to continue walking with the Lord, and in His word? Or do we only do it when it’s convenient?
153. Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law.
154. Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word.
155. Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes.
156. Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD: quicken me according to thy judgments.
157. Many are my persecutors and mine enemies; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies.
158. I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word.
159. Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness.
160. Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
“Make me Alive, According to Your Word”
This section is focused on three of the repeated themes of this Psalm: being made alive or quickened through God’s word, standing fast in persecution, and a concern for the souls of the wicked. The Psalmist asks the Lord to plead his cause before his persecutors, telling Him that he hasn’t forgotten His law in the midst of persecution. He asks God to consider two things, his affliction and his love for His precepts. He pleads with the Lord to plead for him. Three times in this section, he asks the Lord to quicken him. What’s a quickening? It could be salvation; when we are born again, we gain new life. This is one kind of quickening. (And this NT concept has been hinted at throughout this Psalm.) Quickening could also be a reference to the “abundant life” which is developed in the believer after salvation (John 10:10). A quickening could also refer to the final, literal resurrection (1 Pet 3:18). Our bodies will be quickened, changed and transformed at this future resurrection (Rom 8:10-11). He also states that he saw his persecutors and was grieved, but not because of their persecution. He was grieved because they were far from God, not keeping His Word. He saw that they were far from salvation. Finally, he state’s that God’s Word is true from the beginning (inspiration), and that every one of His righteous judgments endure forever (preservation). God’s Word is true and right. How are we viewing God’s word? Do we view them all as true and accurate? Have we been quickened? Do we possess abundant life? Are we asking God to quicken us?
161. Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.
162. I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.
163. I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.
164. Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.
165. Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
166. LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.
167. My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.
168. I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee.
Loving and Keeping the Commandments
The Psalmist has been persecuted without reason, without cause, but his focus remains on God and His word. He is in awe and amazement of God’s word. It is a wondrous and delightful thing to him. He rejoices in it, as one would rejoice in discovering hidden treasure. He finds new treasure in it constantly. He hates and abhors lying; it is an abomination to him. However, he loves God’s law, as it is the truth. He praises God seven times a day (seven being the number of perfection) because of the righteousness of His decrees and judgments. He praises them, as they are perfect, with the number of perfection. Nothing shall offend them that love God’s law. Persecution won’t cause them to be offended, as in the parable of seeds: But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended (Matthew 13:20 – 21). Unlike this individual, they are well rooted and grounded in the faith (Col 2:7). The Psalmist now goes on to say he as kept God’s law. For how can one love God’s word without keeping it and obeying it? His hope is in God’s salvation. He has kept the commandments and testimonies because he loves them. He loves them exceedingly. He has kept the Lord’s precepts, because his ways are before Him. God sees everything he does, and knows everything he thinks. Loving God’s law brings great peace. Do we have peace? Are we loving God’s word? Or is reading it just another chore? Are we rooted in Jesus Christ? Are we established in the faith? Or are we offended at God’s word? Do we allow things to offend us?
169. Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word.
170. Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word.
171. My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes.
172. My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.
173. Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.
174. I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight.
175. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.
176. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.
Supplication and Praise Because of the Word
The Psalmist cries out to the Lord for understanding and deliverance. He makes supplication for it; he prays humbly and earnestly. He praises God for giving him knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures. Do we praise God when He reveals things to us in His Word? He will speak of God’s word, telling others about it, because all the commandments are righteous and holy. He reaches out to the Lord for help, because he had chosen His precepts. He had sought to make the Lord’s ways his ways. He longs for God’s salvation. (As this “salvation” appears to not have been obtained, “salvation” here may be referring to deliverance and not the salvation of his soul (vs 175 “let my soul live”). Or it could be the restoration of the joy of his salvation.) He continues to delight in God’s law. When his soul is quickened, he will praise the Lord. He asks for help from God’s word, and judgment. Verse 176 seems to contradict itself. “I have gone astray” and “I do not forget they commandments.” How does someone who does not forget God’s commandments go astray? Because sin is very deceitful, and can trip up even the best of us if we are not watchful and diligent. Are we asking the Lord to deliver us? Do we praise God for His word? Do we speak of His word before unbelievers? Have we chosen His word?
As we have seen, Psalm 119 is a poetic prayer about the word of God. The Psalmist writes about how the Scriptures sustained him through time of persecutions, plots and afflictions. Despite all his trials, his focus remains on the Lord and His word. His love for God’s commandments grows as he endures.
From this Psalm, we can see that the Scriptures reflect God’s character. Psalm 119 applies attributes of God to His word.
Eternal (verse 152)
Faithful (verse 86)
Light (verses 105, 130)
Perfect (verse 96)
Pure (verse 140)
Righteous (verses 62, 75, 106, 123, 138, 144, 160, 164, 172)
Trustworthy (verse 42)
Truthful (verses 43, 142, 151, 160)
Unchangeable (verse 89)
These attributes are also summarized in Psalm 19:
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
Psalms 19:7 – 9
Psalm 119 is a very convicting Psalm. In Psalm 119, we’re challenged to bring our lives more in line with His word. How much is God’s Word really a part of our lives? Does it flow through our minds constantly through the day? (Or do we find the need to remind ourselves that we’re Christians?) Do we have a great longing for God’s word? Do we long for it at all times? Do we allow God to enlarge our hearts, to give us compassion for others? Do we desire to see the lost come to Christ? Are we willing to turn from vanity, and to the word of the Lord? Do we delight in God’s word? Do we view God’s word as priceless treasure? Do we speak it before the unbelievers, or are we ashamed? Are we zealous for God’s word? Do we defend it in public? Do we take comfort in God’s word? Is it a comfort in times of trials? Do we have peace with God? Do we love His word? Or are we offended by it? Is it hid in our hearts, that we are ready to battle temptation? Or are we unprepared and vulnerable? Do we make haste to obey God’s commandments? Or do we delay? Do we desire to fellowship with other Christians? Do we desire to learn more of God’s word? Are we allowing it to change us? Do we recognize it’s authority? Do we allow the Bible to be the final authority on all matters in our lives? Do we easily stray away from it? Or are we committed to keep it? Do we rejoice in it, or do we view it as a burden? Do we ask Him to give us a greater understanding? Do we sacrifice time and sleep to read the Bible? Or do we only read it when it’s convenient? Have we been quickened? Have we been made alive by the word? Do we possess abundant life? Do we praise God for His word?
Psalm 119 shows us how to have the proper attitude toward God’s Word. It challenges us to have a deep love for the Scriptures. It challenges us to make God’s word our delight and treasure. It convicts us to have a greater concern for the lost. If we put what it says to action, we will have revival within our own hearts. How are you viewing God’s word?