STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
Meditations and Prayers Relating to the Law of God
No MT Intro
|Meditations on the Excellencies of the Word of God||Meditations on the Law of God||The Law of the Lord||In Praise of the Divine Law|
|Obedience to the Law of the Lord|
|Happiness in the Law of the Lord|
|Determination to Obey the Law of the Lord|
|A Prayer for Understanding|
|Trusting the Law of the Lord|
|Confidence in the Law of the Lord|
|Devotion to the Law of the Lord|
|The Value of the Law of the Lord|
|The Justice of the Law of the Lord|
|A Prayer for Deliverance|
|Faith in the Law of the Lord|
|Love for the Law of the Lord|
|Light from the Law of the Lord|
|Safety in the Law of the Lord|
|Obedience to the Law of the Lord|
|Desire to Obey the Law of the Lord|
|The Justice of the Law of the Lord|
|A Prayer for Deliverance|
|A Plea for Help|
|Dedication to the Law of the Lord|
|A Prayer for Help|
READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
I. Opening Statement
As one who loves the Bible and has spent his life stuyding it, this Psalm is a special treasure (as is Psalm 19). The Bible, God's written word, has allowed me to come to know God's Living Word, Jesus (cf. John 1:1-14; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 1:13-16; Heb. 1:2-3). The Spirit's illumination has allowed me to do as Ezra did (Ezra 7:10). Psalm 119 has truly been
A. a blessing, Ps. 119:1
B. a lifestyle faith, Ps. 119:1-2
C. a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, Ps. 119:105
I commend it to you with great joy, peace, and hope that it will effectively produce
A. a desire to study the Bible
B. a desire to live the Bible
C. a deeper personal relationship with the Triune God
One more explanation about how I approached this lengthy Psalm. It is so long and repetitive that I decided to deal with each stanza (i.e., each consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet). I have tried to deal with the uniqueness of each unit and not do an overall summary.
II. Historical Setting
A. The Arabic translation lists David as the author.
B. Dahood, in the Anchor Bible Commentary, asserts that a united monarchal (Saul - Solomon) date is very possible. He comes to this by
1. comparing this Psalm with its translation found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and
2. this Psalm contains many pre-exilic elements.
C. Leupold sees the setting as post-exilic (Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Malachi). He bases this on:
1. the problems related to resettlement and persecution mentioned so often in the Psalms
2. the absence of any mention of the sacrificial system caused him to believe that the absence of the temple and its ritual, along with an increase in the place of Bible study, fits an early post-exilic setting best.
D. The occasion for this Psalm is joy (cf. Ps. 119:14,16,24,35,47,70,77,92,111,143,162,174) and trust in God and His revealed truth amidst persecution. This knowledge brings peace and stability.
III. Literary Elements
A. This, like Psalms 9-10; 25; 34; 37; 111; 112; and 145, is an acrostic based on the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This same form is found in Pro. 31:10-31 and the first four chapters of Lamentations. This is the longest and most highly developed acrostic in the Bible. Each Hebrew letter starts eight verses.
B. There is a recurrent theme in every verse of this Psalm related to God's teachings to mankind. The author uses several synonyms for the Law (see SPECIAL TOPIC: TERMS FOR GOD'S REVELATION, cf. Ps. 19:7-9):
1. the Law - used 25 times
2. the testimonies - used 23 times
3. the precepts - used 21 times
4. the statutes - used 20 times
5. the commandments - used 22 times
6. the judgments - used 23 times
7. the Word - used 24 times
8. the words - used 19 times
9. the way - used 13 times
10. the truth or faithfulness - used 5 times
11. the righteousness - used 14 times
C. Kimchi's (i.e., a Jewish commentator, a.d. 1160-1235) definitions of the synonyms used for God's revelation to man:
1. the Law - "it is the setting down of duties and how they are to be done"
2. the testimonies - "precepts that are for a testimony or federal communication"
3. the precepts - used "precepts which reason teaches that are, as it were, deposited in our nature"
4. the statutes - "precepts whose reason is not known"
5. the judgments - "the judgments that pass between a man and his neighbor"
6. the way - "the way is the rule upon which the Scripture is grounded"
D. God's revelation and God's person are merged in this Psalm. To know God's revelation is to know Him. To cling to God's revelation is to cling to Him (i.e., compare Ps. 119:31a with Deut. 10:20).
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:1-8 (Aleph)
1How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
Who walk in the law of the Lord.
2How blessed are those who observe His testimonies,
Who seek Him with all their heart.
3They also do no unrighteousness;
They walk in His ways.
4You have ordained Your precepts,
That we should keep them diligently.
5Oh that my ways may be established
To keep Your statutes!
6Then I shall not be ashamed
When I look upon all Your commandments.
7I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.
8I shall keep Your statutes;
Do not forsake me utterly!
119:1 This strophe describes the "blessed" (BDB 80, cf. Ps. 1:1, see SPECIAL TOPIC: BLESSING [OT]).
1. those whose way (i.e., lifestyle) is blameless (see SPECIAL TOPIC: BLAMELESS, INNOCENT, GUILTLESS, WITHOUT REPROACH, Innocent, Guiltless, Without Reproach), Ps. 119:1a
2. those who walk in the law of the Lord - another way to speak of an obedient lifestyle, Ps. 119:1b, 3b
3. those who observe His testimony, Ps. 119:2a
4. those who seek Him with all their heart; Ps. 119:2b (see SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART), cf. Ps. 9:10; 14:12 (and they seek His law, Ps. 119:45,94,155)
5. they do no unrighteousness, Ps. 119:3a
6. they keep God's covenant, Ps. 119:4b,5b,8b
7. they keep His statutes, Ps. 119:8a
Notice the emphasis on knowing God's revelation and then keeping it! See Special Topic: Keep.
▣ There are several terms which describe God's revelation (see SPECIAL TOPIC: TERMS FOR GOD'S REVELATION).
1. law (BDB 435), Ps. 119:1b
2. testimonies (BDB 730), Ps. 119:2:a
3. ways (BDB 202), Ps. 119:3b, 5a
4. precepts (BDB 824), Ps. 119:4a
5. statutes (BDB 349), Ps. 119:5b, 8a
6. commandments (BDB 846), Ps. 119:6b
7. judgments (BDB 1048), Ps. 119:7b
Also, every verse in this long acrostic Psalm makes mention of one of these (or several others, such as "word" in Ps. 119:9,11,16, or "ordinances," Ps. 119:13,30,39,43,52,62,75,84,102,106,120,137,147,149,156, 160,164,175).
119:2 "observe" This is a key aspect of godly living. It is used of several things.
1. keep the statutes - Ps. 119:2,22,129
2. keep the decrees - Ps. 119:33,34,145
3. keep the precepts - Ps. 119:56,69,100
4. keep the commands - Ps. 119:115
5. keep the law - Ps. 119:34
▣ "with all their heart" Total dedication is crucial (cf. Deut. 4:29; 6:5; 10:12; 11:13; 13:3; 30:2). This becomes an idiom for total yieldedness to YHWH and His will. David had a heart like this, as did Solomon until his old age! Devotion at one point in one's life is not enough! David sinned but he repented. Maintaining the relationship is the key, not sinlessness (cf. 1 John 1:9).
119:6 "I shall not be ashamed" In the ANE "shame" had both
1. inward aspect - feelings of shame at being publicly humiliated, sense of rejection by family and friends, loss of reputation
2. outward aspect - being poor, powerless
3. religious aspect - rejected by YHWH, cf. Ps. 25:20; 31:1; 71:1; 119:6,31,46,80
Often the Psalms ask God "to shame" the enemies (cf. Ps. 35:4; 70:2; 71:13; 86:17; 119:78; also note Matt. 10:33; Mark 8:38; Luke 12:9).
119:8 "Do not forsake me utterly" This verb (BDB 736, KB 806, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense) is a repeated cry to YHWH (cf. Ps. 38:21; 71:9,18). Do not be distant, or leave me to my own resources!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:9-16 (Beth)
9How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
10With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
11Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
12Blessed are You, O Lord;
Teach me Your statutes.
13With my lips I have told of
All the ordinances of Your mouth.
14I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
15I will meditate on Your precepts
And regard Your ways.
16I shall delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word.
119:9 "a young man" The author of Psalm 119 often expresses the need for "young" followers to maintain their godly living.
The pure way is defined as keeping God's revelation (i.e., word). This demands a constant "guarding" (BDB 1036, KB 1581).
119:10 "With all my heart" See note at Ps. 119:2b.
▣ "I have sought You" This verb (BDB 205, KB 233) is used often in this Psalm (cf. Ps. 119:2,10,45, 94,155). It denotes a diligent life of prayer, study, and worship.
▣ "wander" This verb (BDB 993, KB 1413, Hiphil imperfect used in a jussive sense) is found in a negative statement in Ps. 119:21,118. It is used only three times in Psalms, but six times in Proverbs. It was used of "unintentional sins" in Lev. 4:13; Num. 15:22. Be careful of "that" which causes faithful followers to take their eyes off the clearly marked paths of YHWH.
119:11 "Your word I have treasured in my heart" This phrasing is used of Mary's response to the angel's message (cf. Luke 2:19,51). God's word is extremely valuable (cf. Psalm 19:10; 119:14b). Is your Bible valuable to you? Do you read it, study it, do it, and teach it to others (cf. Ezra 7:10)?
This verb (BDB 860, KB 1049, Qal perfect) is literally "hide" and is an idiom for memorizing God's word (cf. Job 23:12; Pro. 2:1; 7:1).
119:12 "teach me" This is a Piel imperative (BDB 540, KB 531). It is used often in Psalm 119 (cf. 119:7,12,26,64,66,68,71,73,99,108,124,135,171). Truth does not come by human effort but by
1. the Spirit of God
2. God's revelation
3. personal commitment to God
4. diligent study
5. personal application
119:13 This line of poetry implies a worship setting in the temple.
119:14 To the faithful follower God's revelations are the most valuable things on earth (cf. Ps. 19:10; 119:72;127; Pro. 8:10,11,19).
119:15 This verse has two cohortatives.
1. meditate - BDB 967, KB 1319, Qal, cf. Ps. 119:23,27,48 (twice), 78,148. Meditation on God's word starts the Book of Psalms (cf. Ps. 1:2). This meditation is illustrated in Deut. 6:6-9.
2. regard - BDB 613, KB 661, Hiphil, cf. Ps. 119:6,15,18
These two imply diligent study! This takes time, effort, commitment, and scheduling! See Seminar of Bible Interpretation online at www.freebiblecommentary.org.
119:16 "I will delight" BDB 1044, KB 1613, Hithpalpel imperfect, cf. Ps. 119:24,35,47,70,77,92,143, 174.
▣ "I will not forget" BDB 1013, KB 1489, Qal imperfect, negated, cf. Pa. 119:61,83,93,109,141,153,176 (the final line of Psalm 119).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:17-24 (Gimel)
17Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.
18Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law.
19I am a stranger in the earth;
Do not hide Your commandments from me.
20My soul is crushed with longing
After Your ordinances at all times.
21You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed,
Who wander from Your commandments.
22Take away reproach and contempt from me,
For I observe Your testimonies.
23Even though princes sit and talk against me,
Your servant meditates on Your statutes.
24Your testimonies also are my delight;
They are my counselors.
119:17 Notice that the psalmist asks for God's blessing (i.e., "deal bountifully," BDB 168, KB 197, Qal imperative) to help him be a better "servant" (BDB 713).
1. that I may live - BDB 310, KB 309, Qal imperfect used in a cohortative sense
2. that I may keep Your word - BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal cohortative
The blessings are not for personal use or comfort but to strengthen, deepen, and enlarge God's work on earth.
▣ "Your word" See note at Ps. 119:1 and SPECIAL TOPIC: TERMS FOR GOD'S REVELATION.
119:18 The same worldview that God must empower His servants is expressed in this verse. One cannot see (lit. "uncover," BDB 162, KB 161, Piel imperative) or understand God's will and ways without His help. See SPECIAL TOPIC: ILLUMINATION.
▣ "Wonderful things" See Special Topic: Wonderful Things.
▣ "Your law" See note at Ps. 119:1.
119:19 "I am a stranger in the earth" This is the worldview of a faithful follower. The Fall of Genesis 3 transformed this planet into a place of sojourn and pilgrimage (cf. 1 Chr. 29:15; Ps. 119:54; Hebrews 11:13-16). We long for a deep fellowship with our Creator, a fellowship we were created for (cf. Gen. 1:26,27; 3:8). This world is no longer our home!
The metaphor of a "stranger/sojourner" (BDB 158) comes from YHWH's word to Abraham about his descendants being strangers in Egypt (cf. Gen. 15:13). Abraham calls himself by this term in Gen. 23:4. It becomes the name of one of Moses' sons in Exod. 2:22. The Israelites are told to give justice and mercy to "strangers/aliens" because they were once the same (cf. Exod. 23:9). Abraham is said to have been looking for a city of God (cf. Heb. 11:10). This points beyond this life. YHWH wants to share eternity with His faithful followers!
▣ "Do not hide Your commandments from me" Sin has caused a spiritual blindness (cf. 1 Cor. 13:12). The Bible recognizes two kinds of spiritual blindness.
1. God-imposed (see SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD HARDENED)
2. self-imposed (i.e., John 9:13-41)
119:20 The true faithful follower seeks God and His word with a single-minded diligence!
The verb "crushed" (BDB 176, KB 203, Qal perfect) occurs only here and Lam. 3:16. The word "longing" (BDB 1060) occurs only here.
▣ "soul" The "soul" longs for YHWH (cf. Ps. 42:2; 63:2; 119:81; 143:6). For a discussion of nephesh (BDB 659) see note at Gen. 35:18 online at www.freebiblecommentary.org.
119:21 Faithless ones are characterized as
1. arrogant (i.e., those who knew but chose to rebel) - BDB 267, cf. Ps. 86:14; 119:51,69,78,85,122
2. the cursed - BDB 76, KB 91
3. who wander from God's commandment - BDB 993, KB 1413
119:22 "Take away reproach and contempt" The verb (lit. "roll away," BDB 164, KB 193, Qal imperative) is a prayer for forgiveness.
1. reproach - BDB 357, cf. Ps. 69:19,20
2. contempt - BDB 100 II, cf. Ps. 123:3-4
The reason why God should forgive is because the psalmist observes His commands (i.e., the two ways, cf. Deut. 30:15,19).
There is some discussion among scholars as to which Hebrew root the verb of Ps. 119:22a comes from.
1. uncover - (lit. "make bald," גלה, BDB 164 [MT])
2. roll away - גלל, BDB 164 II from Jos. 5:9; Ps. 22:9
119:23-24 "Even though princes sit and talk against me" The use of "princes" (BDB 978, cf. Ps. 118:9) implies
1. the psalmist is a wealthy, powerful leader, possibly the king
2. there is tension within the national leadership
However, with tumult raging the psalmist focuses on the truth and promises of God's revelation. True peace and stability can be found only in Him, not circumstances or fleeting fame, power, wealth, or position.
The Peshitta translates "princes" (BDB 978, cf. Ps. 119:161) as "ungodly" or "evil men," which removes any hint of the psalmist's position as a leader.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:25-32 (Daleth)
25My soul cleaves to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.
26I have told of my ways, and You have answered me;
Teach me Your statutes.
27Make me understand the way of Your precepts,
So I will meditate on Your wonders.
28My soul weeps because of grief;
Strengthen me according to Your word.
29Remove the false way from me,
And graciously grant me Your law.
30I have chosen the faithful way;
I have placed Your ordinances before me.
31I cling to Your testimonies;
O Lord, do not put me to shame!
32I shall run the way of Your commandments,
For You will enlarge my heart.
119:25 The first line gives the existential setting of the psalmist (cf. Ps. 44:25). He feels he is close to death, whether by sickness or rebellion is unstated, but Ps. 119:23 implies court intrigue (although because of the acrostic structure of the Psalm, it is uncertain if literary context or rhyming is the guiding factor).
The psalmist has a series of prayer requests.
1. revive me according to Your work, Ps. 119:25b - BDB 310, KB 309, Piel imperative, cf. Ps. 119:37,40,88,93,107,149,154,156,159. It can mean
2. teach me Your statutes, Ps. 119:26b - BDB 540, KB 531, Piel imperative, cf. 119:12,26,64,68, 108,124,135,171
3. make me understand the way of Your precepts, Ps. 119:27a - BDB 106, KB 122, Hiphil imperative, cf. 119:34,73,125,144,169
4. strengthen me according to Your word, Ps. 119:28b - BDB 827, KB 1086, Piel imperative. BDB suggests the verb in Piel means
a. fulfill, in Ps. 119:106
b. confirm, here
5. remove the false way from me, Ps. 119:29a - BDB 693, KB 747, Hiphil imperative. "The false way" is a direct contrast to "the everlasting way" of Ps. 139:24.
6. graciously grant me Your law, Ps. 119:29b - BDB 335, KB 334, Qal imperative, God's revelation is the "faithful way" (cf. Ps. 119:30).
119:30-32 Notice the number of things the psalmist will do, or has done, because of God's providing understanding through His revelation.
1. he prayed (Piel perfect), Ps. 119:26a
2. he chose (Qal perfect) the faithful way, Ps. 119:30a
3. he placed (Piel perfect) God's revelation before himself (lit. "accounted God's ordinances worthy"), Ps. 119:30b
4. he cleaved (Qal perfect, cf. 119:25) to God's revelation, Ps. 119:31a (in Deut. 10:20 it is used of clinging to God; in this Psalm God's person and revelation are merged)
5. he will run (Qal imperfect) the way of God's revelation, Ps. 119:32a
119:32b "For You will enlarge my heart" God will increase (lit. "enlarge," BDB 931, KB 1210, Hiphil imperfect) the psalmist's capacity to understand and act on that knowledge of God.
For "heart" see SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:33-40 (He)
33Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall observe it to the end.
34Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law
And keep it with all my heart.
35Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
36Incline my heart to Your testimonies
And not to dishonest gain.
37Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
And revive me in Your ways.
38Establish Your word to Your servant,
As that which produces reverence for You.
39Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your ordinances are good.
40Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me through Your righteousness.
119:33-40 This strophe is characterized by requests (9 imperatives) for God to instruct and enable the psalmist to live out those instructions. This is similar to the verb shema (BDB 1033, KB 1570), which means "to hear so as to do." God's revelation is more than rules or a creed, it is godly living!
The term "way," used so often in Psalms, denotes this lifestyle, daily, volitional obedience. See Special Topic: Keep. Notice how:
1. teach me - I shall observe it, Ps. 119:33
2. give me understanding - I may observe it, Ps. 119:34
119:35 For the faithful follower obedience is not tedious or legalistic, but joyful.
119:36-39 The psalmist mentions two things he fears would take his heart away from God.
1. dishonest gain, Ps. 119:36b
2. eyes looking at vanity, Ps. 119:37a
He senses that he cannot accomplish spiritual things without God's help.
1. teach me, Ps. 119:33 - BDB 434, KB 436, Hiphil imperative, cf. Ps. 25:4; 27:11; 86:11
2. give me understanding, Ps. 119:34 - BDB 106, KB 122, Hiphil imperative
3. make me walk in the path, Ps. 119:35 - BDB 201, KB 231, Hiphil imperative
4. incline my heart, Ps. 119:36 - BDB 639, KB 692, Hiphil imperative
5. turn away my eyes, Ps. 119:37a - BDB 716, KB 778, Hiphil imperative
6. revive me, Ps. 119:37b - BDB 310, KB 309, Piel imperative
7. establish Your word, Ps. 119:38 - BDB 877, KB 1086, Hiphil imperative
But also notice that divine actions (Hiphil imperatives) must be accompanied by godly choices and decisions (series of cohortatives and perfects used of human actions).
1. I shall observe it, Ps. 119:33b - BDB 665, KB 718, Qal imperfect used in a cohortative sense
2. I may observe it, Ps. 119:34a - same as #1 but Qal cohortative
3. keep it, Ps. 119:34b - BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal imperfect used in a cohortative sense
4. I delight in it, Ps. 119:35b - BDB 342, KB 339, Qal perfect
5. I long for Your precepts, Ps. 119:40a - BDB 1060, KB 1672, Qal perfect
119:34 "with all my heart" See note at Ps. 119:2.
119:37 "vanity" This could refer to idolatry (cf. Ps. 24:4; 101:3). Psalm 119:48 mentions "lift palms" (i.e., "lift up my hands"), which in Ps. 44:20-21 is used of idolatry.
▣ "revive" This is a repeated theme (cf. Ps. 119:25,37,40,88,93,107,149,154,156,159). The verb (lit. "live," BDB 310, KB 309, Piel imperative, has a wide semantic field) is "live." The only "true" life is life in fellowship with YHWH, the giver of life. True life has two components.
1. physical life
2. spiritual life
119:38 "that which produces reverence for You" See Special Topic: Fear (OT).
119:39 "Your ordinances are good" Notice again attributes ascribed to God's revelation are also ascribed to God Himself (cf. 1 Chr. 16:34; Ps. 25:8; 34:8; 73:1; 86:5; 100:5; 106:1; 107:1; 118:1,29; 119:68; 135:3; 136:1; 145:9; Jer. 33:11). Here it is the adjective "good" (BDB 373 II).
This Psalm is not just about God's revelation, but God Himself!
119:40 "righteousness" See Special Topic: Righteousness.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:41-48 (Vav)
41May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O Lord,
Your salvation according to Your word;
42So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word.
43And do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
For I wait for Your ordinances.
44So I will keep Your law continually,
Forever and ever.
45And I will walk at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.
46I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings
And shall not be ashamed.
47I shall delight in Your commandments,
Which I love.
48And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments,
Which I love;
And I will meditate on Your statutes.
119:41-48 This strophe is characterized by cohortatives and singular verbs.
1. I will have an answer, Ps. 119:42a - BDB 772, KB 851, Qal imperfect used in a cohortative sense
2. I trust, Ps. 119:42b - BDB 105, KB 120, Qal perfect, singular
3. I wait, Ps. 119:43b - BDB 403, KB 407, Piel perfect, singular
4. I will keep, Ps. 119:44a - BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal cohortative, singular
5. I will walk, Ps. 119:45a - BDB 229, KB 246, Hithpael cohortative, singular
6. I seek, Ps. 119:45b - BDB 205, KB 233, Qal perfect, singular
7. I will also speak, Ps. 119:46a - BDB 180, KB 210, Piel cohortative, singular
8. I will delight, Ps. 119:47a - BDB 1044, KB 1613, Hithpalpel imperfect used in a cohortative sense
9. I love, Ps. 119:47b - BDB 12, KB 17, Qal perfect, singular
10. I will lift up, Ps. 119:48a - BDB 669, KB 724, Qal imperfect, singular, used in a cohortative sense
11. I love, Ps. 119:48b - same as #9
12. I will meditate, Ps. 119:48c - BDB 967, KB 1319, Qal cohortative, singular
Knowing God and His revelation demands a personal response!
119:41 Notice that "lovingkindness" (see Special Topic: Lovingkindness [hesed]) and "salvation" (see Special Topic: Salvation [OT]) are personified as things that come to faithful followers. Because of this they act in godly ways.
119:43a This verb (BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil jussive) means "to snatch away." It is used in the sense of deliver from
1. death - Deut. 32:39; Ps. 22:20; 33:19; 56:14; 86:13; Pro. 24:11
2. sin - Ps. 39:9; 79:9
Here it seems to be related to Ps. 119:42, which denotes an answer from God's revelation to those who reproach the psalmist (a good NT application is Matt. 10:19-22; Mark 13:9-12, esp. Mark 13:11; Luke 21:12-19).
119:44 This line of poetry emphasizes the current and future relevance of God's revelation (cf. Matt. 5:17-19).
119:46 This denotes the faithful followers'
1. witness to defeated kings
2. an aspect of covenant making with foreign nations
3. a metaphor for powerful or educated people
119:48a "Lifting the hands" was the normal position for prayer in Israelite culture (cf. Ps. 28:2; 63:4; 134:2; 141:2; 143:6; Lam. 2:19; 1 Tim. 2:8). Again, usually one "lifts the hands" to God Himself but here to His revelation.
▣ "I will meditate" See note at Ps. 119:15.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:49-56 (Zayin)
49Remember the word to Your servant,
In which You have made me hope.
50This is my comfort in my affliction,
That Your word has revived me.
51The arrogant utterly deride me,
Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.
52I have remembered Your ordinances from of old, O Lord,
And comfort myself.
53Burning indignation has seized me because of the wicked,
Who forsake Your law.
54Your statutes are my songs
In the house of my pilgrimage.
55O Lord, I remember Your name in the night,
And keep Your law.
56This has become mine,
That I observe Your precepts.
119:49 "Remember" This verb (BDB 269, KB 269) occurs three times in this strophe.
1. Ps. 119:49 - Qal imperative
2. Ps. 119:52 - Qal perfect
3. Ps. 119:55 - Qal perfect
The psalmist asks for YHWH to remember him (119:49) because he remembers and obeys Him (cf. Ps. 119:55b,56b).
Notice all the verbs (except the first imperative) are perfects or imperfects with waw (see SPECIAL TOPIC: HEBREW GRAMMAR). The psalmist's knowledge and actions are settled worldview, lifestyle realities! God's word is not just information but
1. hope, Ps. 119:49b
2. comfort, Ps. 119:50a, 52b
3. preservation, Ps. 119:50b
4. guide for life, Ps. 119:51b
5. song, Ps. 119:54a
6. thought in the night, Ps. 119:55a
7. Ps. 119:56a
a. happiness - TEV
b. blessing - NRSV
c. comfort - Peshitta
▣ "Your servant" Here it refers to a faithful follower who seeks, knows, and hopes in God's word. See note at Deut. 34:5 online at www.freebiblecommentary.org. See Special Topic: My Servant.
▣ "hope" This is literally "wait" (BDB 430, KB 407, Piel perfect). The idea of waiting for God's promises to come to pass is an act of both faith and hope. Not maybe, could be, hope, but-sure-of-the-event-yet-uncertain-of-the-time hope (similar to NT usage related to the Second Coming). It is a recurrent theme of the Psalter (cf. Ps. 31:24; 33:18,22; 71:4; 119:49,74,81,114,147; in a corporate sense in Ps. 130:7; 131:3). This thought is expressed well in Romans 15:4.
119:50 "comfort" This noun (BDB 637) occurs only here and Job 6:10, but the verb (BDB 636, KB 688) is common.
This comfort amidst affliction is the trustworthiness of God's word! He is with faithful followers, even in times of distress, failure, attack, depression, and doubt (cf. Deut. 31:6; Jos. 1:5; 1 Sam. 12:22; 1 Kgs. 6:13; 8:57; 2 Cor. 4:9; Heb. 13:5). How do I know when the circumstances scream different? His word! Psalm 119:52 reminds us to look at God's past acts!
119:51 The psalmist has experienced the attacks of those who know God's law but reject it (cf. Ps. 119:51b, 53). True faith has observable characteristics. Obedience is the visible evidence of true faith (see Special Topic: Keep).
▣ "turn aside" This verb (BDB 639, KB 692, Qal perfect) has a wide semantic field and usually denotes "stretching out," spreading out," or "bending," but here it has the specialized metaphorical sense of deviation from the path, the path being "the way of God" (i.e., Ps. 139:24). God's word is a clearly marked road, path, way. The path leads to life, peace, joy, and fellowship with God (cf. Ps. 119:105; Pro. 6:23). The first title of the NT church in Acts was "The Way." Any deviation from the clear guidelines of God's word brings problems!
The OT idiom of "turning to the right or left" can be seen in Deut. 5:32; 17:11,20; 28:14; Pro. 4:27). Stay on the path!
119:53 Often in the OT it seems that godly people are calling down wrath on their enemies, but in reality they are calling on God to be faithful to His previous word (i.e., Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27-30). A good example of this is Ps. 119:158. The wrath is deserved because of intentional, purposeful disobedience. Sin and rebellion have consequences both in time and eternity. Stay on the God-given path!
119:54 This verse seems (cf. Ps. 119:19) to be talking about life. God's word, for those who know it and keep it, brings a daily, lifelong song (cf. Ps. 42:8)! Are you singing?
119:55 "Your name" See Special Topic: "The Name" of YHWH.
▣ "in the night" "The night" can have several connotations.
1. a time of reflection
a. Ps. 16:7
b. Ps. 63:6
c. Ps. 77:6
2. a time of distress - Ps. 77:2
3. a time of prayer/praise
a. Ps. 42:8
b. Ps. 92:1-2
c. Ps. 119:62
d. Ps. 149:5
e. Isa. 26:9
f. Matt. 14:23; Luke 6:12
g. Acts 16:25
▣ "And keep Your law" Night time reflection, prayer, and praise should result in daytime daily godly living! Obedience is the evidence of faith (cf. Luke 6:46).
119:56 The first line is ambiguous because there is no obvious antecedent.
However, notice it reemphasizes obedience in the second line! Remember the large number of terms for God's revelation (i.e., word, law, ordinances, precepts, etc.). See SPECIAL TOPIC: TERMS FOR GOD'S REVELATION.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:57-64 (Heth)
57The Lord is my portion;
I have promised to keep Your words.
58I sought Your favor with all my heart;
Be gracious to me according to Your word.
59I considered my ways
And turned my feet to Your testimonies.
60I hastened and did not delay
To keep Your commandments.
61The cords of the wicked have encircled me,
But I have not forgotten Your law.
62At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You
Because of Your righteous ordinances.
63I am a companion of all those who fear You,
And of those who keep Your precepts.
64The earth is full of Your lovingkindness, O Lord;
Teach me Your statutes.
119:57 "The Lord is my portion" This term "portion" (BDB 324) has several usages.
1. no land allotment for Levi
a. Num. 18:20
b. Deut. 18:2
c. Jos. 13:33
d. Ezek. 44:28
2. division of the Promised Land to the tribes
a. Jos. 17:5,14; 19:9
b. Ezek. 47:13
3. Israel as a special people among humanity
a. Jer. 10:16
b. Jer. 51:19
4. something given by God to both the righteous and the wicked
a. Job 20:29; 27:13; 31:2
b. Eccl. 21:20,21; 3:22; 5:17-18; 9:9
5. used metaphorically of a special faith relationship with YHWH
a. Ps. 16:5; 73:26; 119:57; 142:5
b. Lam. 3:24
▣ "I have promised to keep Your words" This verb (BDB 1036, KB 1581) characterizes this strophe as "remember" (Ps. 119:49-56).
1. Ps. 119:57 - Qal infinitive construct
2. Ps. 119:60 - Qal infinitive construct
3. Ps. 119:63 - Qal active participle
4. also note Ps. 119:55
Obedience is crucial! Obedience reveals the heart! See Special Topic: Keep.
119:58 "with all my heart" This is an idiom from Deuteronomy (cf. Deut. 6:5; 10:12; 11:13; 13:3; 30:2) which denotes a complete devotion. Later in Israel's history this phrase was used to
1. show David's complete devotion to God
2. show Solomon's partial devotion to God
For "heart" see SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART.
▣ Notice the prayer request (i.e., Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 41:4; 56:1; 57:1) is based on YHWH's faithfulness to His word/promise (cf. Psalm 119:41, 58, 76, 116, 170). The trustworthiness of YHWH and His revelation is a crucial pillar of biblical faith (see four sermons on the trustworthiness of the Bible online at www.freebiblecommentary.org, home page, first paragraph, link).
119:59-60 As YHWH is called on to be faithful to His promises, now the psalmist affirms his faithfulness (cf. Ps. 119:57b, 61b). Immediate obedience to God's law reveals a complete devotion!!
Notice the emphasis of the two verbals.
1. make haste - BDB 301, KB 300, Qal perfect
2. tarry (negated) - BDB 554, KB 552, Hithpalpel imperfect
God is called on to answer quickly (cf. Ps. 69:17; 79:8; 102:2; 143:7), so too, must the faithful follower quickly respond to the Spirit's prompting.
119:59 "turned" This verb (BDB 996, KB 1427, Hiphil imperfect with waw) has a wide semantic field but is the key term used for "repentance." Therefore, some commentators (UBS Handbook, p. 1014) see this verse referring to one who has violated God's law but has turned again to keeping it and revering God.
119:61 It has not been easy for the psalmist to live a faithful life because there are always enemies.
The verb (BDB 728, KB 795, Piel perfect) is found only here and is translated (see NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 339):
1. NASB - "encircled"
2. NKJV - "bound"
3. LXX, NRSV, NJB - "ensnare"
4. TEV - "lay a trap"
5. JPSOA - "coiled around"
6. Peshitta - "beset"
The AB (p. 181) relates it to Ps. 116:3 and, as usual, sees the line as referring to personified death/grave.
▣ "I have not forgotten Your law" This is a recurrent theme in this Psalm (cf. Ps. 119:61,83,109,141, 153,176). The wicked forget God's law (cf. Ps. 50:22; 119:139).
119:62 This nighttime meditation links to Ps. 119:55.
119:63 Notice how the faithful followers are characterized.
1. those who fear/revere You
2. those who keep Your revelation
There can be no claim of fellowship with God while living a life of known disobedience.
119:64 Notice the universal aspect of this verse. For "earth" see Special Topic: Land, Country, Earth.
The term translated "lovingkindness" by NASB is hesed. See SPECIAL TOPIC: LOVINGKINDNESS (HESED) and the note at Ps. 33:5!
▣ "Teach me Your statutes" This is only the second imperative in this strophe (cf. Ps. 119:58b). Although the psalmist meditates on God's word/promise he still needs to understand it more! Regular, Spirit-led Bible study is crucial for a mature, growing believer (see Ps. 119:12,26,64,108,124,135,171)!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:65-72 (Teth)
65You have dealt well with Your servant,
O Lord, according to Your word.
66Teach me good discernment and knowledge,
For I believe in Your commandments.
67Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.
68You are good and do good;
Teach me Your statutes.
69The arrogant have forged a lie against me;
With all my heart I will observe Your precepts.
70Their heart is covered with fat,
But I delight in Your law.
71It is good for me that I was afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes.
72The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
119:65 This verse sums up the faithful follower's worldview. Knowledge (Ps. 119:66) and obedience (Ps. 119:67,69) of God's revelation bring a happy, healthy, peaceful life. True life is found only in Him. Remember in this Psalm knowledge of God's word is equated with knowing God Himself!
Almost every verse of this Psalm has a Hebrew word that denotes God's revelation (see SPECIAL TOPIC: TERMS FOR GOD'S REVELATION).
The Hebrew word טוב (BDB 373) begins verses, Ps. 119:65, 66, 68,71, and 72. It is the key word for this stanza.
119:66 Although the psalmist knows God's revelation, he is conscious that he needs to understand it more and more (cf. Ps. 119:68, both verbs "teach," BDB 540, KB 531, are Piel imperatives, i.e., prayer request, cf. Ps. 119:12,26,64,66,68,108,124,135,171).
▣ "I believe" There are several perfect verbs that describe the psalmist's attitude.
1. I believe - BDB 52, KB 63, Hiphil perfect (see Special Topic: Believe, Trust, Faith and Faithfulness in the OT)
2. I keep - BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal perfect (see Special Topic: Keep)
3. I delight - BDB 1044, KB 1613, Pilpel perfect, cf. Ps. 1:2; 112:1; 119:16,24,35,47,70,77,92, 143,174
Notice how mental ascent must be matched by an obedient life (cf. James 1:22-25).
119:67 The psalmist is confessing his disobedience in the past that resulted in God's discipline. God's discipline is the act of a loving parent (cf. Heb. 12:5-13). The cursings of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 27-30 are God's reaction to covenant disobedience and His desire for His followers to change their ways! He desires to bless us! Discipline always has a redemptive purpose!
119:68 This first line of poetry describes God's character. He is "good" (BDB 373 II, cf. Ps. 25:8; 86:5; 100:5; 106:1; Jer. 33:11; Nah. 1:7). See Special Topic: Characteristics of Israel's God.
▣ "Teach me Your statutes" This is the second use of the Piel imperative of this verb (cf. Ps. 119:66). God wants to reveal Himself and His will through Scripture.
119:69-70 As is so often the case in Psalms, the psalmist feels attacked. The arrogant have lied about him. It is contextually difficult to identify who these attackers are. They are often the rich and powerful of society, as here (i.e., "fat," BDB 316, Ps. 119:70a, cf. Ps. 17:10; 73:7; this is spiritually parallel to Isa. 6:10, BDB 1031 I). But true wealth for the psalmist is a knowledge of God and His revelation (Ps. 119:72, cf. 19:10).
119:69 The verb (BDB 381, KB 378, Qal perfect) in line 1 means to plaster or smear (cf. Job 13:4). This stanza has two imperfects which describe the psalmist's ongoing action.
1. I will observe, Ps. 119:69 - BDB 665, KB 718, Qal imperfect
2. I may learn, Ps. 119:71 - BDB 540, KB 531, Qal imperfect
119:70 "heart" See Special Topic: Heart.
119:70b There is no "but" in the Hebrew text. However, a sharp contrast is implied. "The two ways" of Deut. 30:15-20 and Ps. 1:1 are implied.
119:71 The psalmist acknowledges that God's discipline was a benefit because it caused him to turn back to Him and His word. The unfairness of life, the terrible consequences to personal choices are often a chance to trust God more. A book that has helped me in this area is Hannah Whithall Smith's The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:73-80 (Yodh)
73Your hands made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.
74May those who fear You see me and be glad,
Because I wait for Your word.
75I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
76O may Your lovingkindness comfort me,
According to Your word to Your servant.
77May Your compassion come to me that I may live,
For Your law is my delight.
78May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie;
But I shall meditate on Your precepts.
79May those who fear You turn to me,
Even those who know Your testimonies.
80May my heart be blameless in Your statutes,
So that I will not be ashamed.
119:73 This verse asserts God's creation of the psalmist. This is expressed in several ways.
1. an allusion to Gen. 2:7 ("formed" [body] - BDB 427; "formed days" - Ps. 135:16)
2. Your hands made me - BDB 793 I, cf. Job 10:8; 31:15; Ps. 139:15
3. work of Your hands - Job 10:3; 14:15; Ps. 138:8
4. both verbs appear in Deut. 32:6 and refer to corporate Israel
Humans are special creatures created in God's image and likeness (cf. Gen. 1:26-27) for fellowship (cf. Gen. 3:8). Each is a unique creation (cf. Ps. 139:14-16). To recognize this is a biblical worldview! We are not the result of random events or processes. There is purpose in each person's creation.
▣ "Give me understanding" This is the only imperatival (Ps. 119:73-80) prayer request in this stanza (BDB 106, KB 122, Hiphil imperative), but there are several jussives.
Only God can open the mind of fallen human creatures to learn (BDB 540, KB 531, Qal cohortative) about Himself by understanding His revelation. This learning (like the verb shema of Deut. 6:4-9) implies daily lifestyle application of God's revelation.
119:74 "may" This is the sign of a jussive construction (cf. Ps. 119:74,76,77,78,70,80). These also reflect prayer requests.
In this verse there are two.
1. see - BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense
2. be glad - BDB 970, KB 1333, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense
Notice these realities are based on the psalmist's
1. patience (lit. "await," "hope," Ps. 119:74b)
2. knowledge of God's revelation (Ps. 119:75)
3. divine affliction (119:75; 67,71)
The verb "wait" (BDB 403, KB 407, Piel prefect) denotes patience. Usually this verb denotes hope/patience in God Himself (cf. Job 13:15; Ps. 31:24; 33:22; 38:15; 39:7; 42:5,11; 43:5; 69:3; 130:7; 131:3), but in Psalm 119 the theological concept of God's revelation (see Special Topic: Terms for God's Revelation) is substituted for God Himself. They are the same. To know God's word is to know God. One is informative and the other relational but they must go together!
119:75 "in faithfulness You afflicted me" YHWH is true to His word and faithful to His purposes for His faithful followers. There is a larger purpose in creation. See Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan. Even "affliction" has an ultimate purpose (cf. Lam. 3:19-38; Heb. 5:8; 12:1-13). The goal of salvation is not just fellowship in some future state/place but intimate fellowship now, which reflects the family characteristics of the followers of YHWH to those who He created, but due to the Fall, do not yet know Him!
It must be remembered that problems in this life have several possible origins/purposes.
1. judgment on sin to restore or initiate a relationship of faith in YHWH (cf. Ps. 69:26)
2. the result of the Fall. Evil has entered our world. Bad things happen that are not God's will (see Special Topic: Tribulation).
3. they cause us to trust God and develop our faith (cf. Rom. 5:3-5; Heb. 5:8; 12:10-11)
Since I never know which one it is, I choose to focus on #3! My worldview is that nothing just happens to God's people!
▣ "judgments" See Special Topic: Judge, Judgment, Justice.
▣ "righteous" See Special Topic: Righteousness.
119:76 "Your lovingkindness" See SPECIAL TOPIC: LOVINGKINDNESS (HESED).
▣ "According to Your word" This is a recurrent theme (cf. Ps. 119:65). God is true to His revelation.
119:77 "Your law is my delight" See note at Ps. 119:70.
119:78a This reflects Ps. 119:69-70. The arrogant will be ashamed (see note at Ps. 119:6), but not the faithful psalmist (cf. 119:80).
119:78b "I shall meditate on Your precepts" Faithful followers spend time in God's word. They study, contemplate, and attempt to apply what it says. Our thoughts become our actions. Meditation on revelation is essential (cf. Ps. 1:2; 119:15,23,48,78,97,148). How often do you spend time in God's word?
119:79 This verse asserts the truth that seekers after God need to see Him in those who claim to follow Him. Faithful followers should be lights that lead to God.
▣ "those who know" See Special Topic: Know.
119:80 "blameless" See Special Topic: Blameless, Innocent, Guiltless, and Without Reproach.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:81-88 (Kaph)
81My soul languishes for Your salvation;
I wait for Your word.
82My eyes fail with longing for Your word,
While I say, "When will You comfort me?"
83Though I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,
I do not forget Your statutes.
84How many are the days of Your servant?
When will You execute judgment on those who persecute me?
85The arrogant have dug pits for me,
Men who are not in accord with Your law.
86All Your commandments are faithful;
They have persecuted me with a lie; help me!
87They almost destroyed me on earth,
But as for me, I did not forsake Your precepts.
88Revive me according to Your lovingkindness,
So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.
119:81-88 This stanza is dominated by perfect tense verbs. The psalmist felt attacked!
1. those who persecute me, Ps. 119:84
2. the arrogant have dug pits for me, Ps. 119:85
3. men who are not in accord with Your law, Ps. 119:85
4. they have persecuted me with a lie, Ps. 119:86
5. they almost destroyed me on earth, Ps. 119:87
He claims to be faithful to God's word and pleads with God to act on his behalf.
1. help me - BDB 740, KB 810, Qal imperative, Ps. 119:86
2. revive/preserve me - BDB 1036, KB 1581, Piel imperative, Ps. 119:88
119:81 "soul" This is the term nephesh (BDB 659). For a full discussion see note at Gen. 35:18 online at www.freebiblecommentary.org.
▣ "languishes" The psalmist uses several verbs to describe his physical and mental state.
1. languishes - BDB 477, KB 476, Qal perfect, Ps. 119:81
2. waits - BDB 403, KB 407, Piel perfect, Ps. 119:81
3. eyes fail - BDB 477, KB 476, Qal perfect, Ps. 119:82
4. become like a wineskin in the smoke - BDB 224, KB 243, Qal perfect. This is an unusual and rare idiom. It seems to mean "burnt" and "brittle. But because of the next line it could denote smoke blindness (cf. 1 Cor. 13:12).
119:82 In the midst of the problems of life and personal attacks, even faithful followers call out to God with "why?" or "when will it be over?"
119:83 The idiom of Ps. 119:83a is unusual and ambiguous (see note at Ps. 119:81, #4).
The second line is an attempt by the psalmist to assert his own faithfulness (cf. Ps. 119:81b, 87b; also note Ps. 119:61,141,153,176). His persecutors deserve God's judgment but he does not. He throws himself on the faithfulness of God (cf. Ps. 119:88a).
119:84 "How many are the days of Your servant" This asserts
1. the foreknowledge of God (cf. Matt. 10:29-31)
2. the limited time of human life (cf. Ps. 39:4)
3. a call to act appropriately in the time each of us has (cf. Ps. 90:12; Matt. 6:25-34; Eph. 5:15-16)
119:85 "dug pits" This is an idiom from hunting. A pit was dug to capture prey. It became a metaphor for human treachery (cf. Ps. 7:15; 57:6; Jer. 18:22).
The NEB and REB see the Hebrew root "tales" (BDB 967) instead of "pit" (BDB 1001). This is only a change from שׁ to שׂ.
119:86 The "commandments" here may refer to the "curses" on those who violate God's revealed will (cf. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27-30). These are the persecutors referred to in Ps. 119:85b who do not live in accordance with God's law.
They are the exact opposite of the faithful followers (cf. Ps. 119:81,82,83,87).
▣ "help me" This imperative (see note at Ps. 119:81-88) is similar to Ps. 109:26. God's covenant loyalty (i.e., hesed, cf. Ps. 119:88a; see Special Topic: Lovingkindness) is the basis of mankind's hope. It is His unchanging character of mercy and grace that brings hope and peace in this fallen world. See SPECIAL TOPIC: CHARACTERISTICS OF ISRAEL'S GOD.
119:88a The UBS Handbook (p. 1022) mentions that the MT and LXX have the verb "spare my life" (BDB 310, KB 309, Piel imperative), while the DSS text has "be kind to me" (cf. TEV).
119:88b This is the desire of God's faithful followers (cf. Ps. 19:14)!
The verb "keep" (BDB 1036, KB 1581) is a Qal cohortative. See Special Topic: Keep. Obedience to revelation is crucial and is evidence of one's faith relationship with YHWH and His Messiah (cf. Luke 6:46).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:89-96 (Lamedh)
89Forever, O Lord,
Your word is settled in heaven.
90Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations;
You established the earth, and it stands.
91They stand this day according to Your ordinances,
For all things are Your servants.
92If Your law had not been my delight,
Then I would have perished in my affliction.
93I will never forget Your precepts,
For by them You have revived me.
94I am Yours, save me;
For I have sought Your precepts.
95The wicked wait for me to destroy me;
I shall diligently consider Your testimonies.
96I have seen a limit to all perfection;
Your commandment is exceedingly broad.
119:89 "Forever" See Special Topic: Forever ('olam).
▣ "O Lord" See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY.
▣ "Your word is settled in heaven" The verb's (BDB 662, KB 714, Niphal participle) basic meaning is "to stand." This is the only usage of this verb in this idiom.
The idea of God's settled/established creation (cf. Isa. 54:18) is the thrust of Ps. 119:90-91 (different verb, BDB 763, KB 840). Notice the things that "stand."
1. YHWH's word (Ps. 119:89b, 91a)
2. YHWH's faithfulness
3. YHWH's creation
They are all His servants (Ps. 119:91b). But note Ps. 119:96 seems to imply a contrast. However, the thrust of the contrast is uncertain.
119:90a This truth is paralleled in Ps. 36:5 and 89:1-2. They speak of the eternality of God, His word, and creation. Faithfulness characterizes
1. God Himself
2. His revelation in word
3. His revelation in creation (cf. Ps. 119:91; 148:1-6; Jer. 31:35-37)
119:91 "all things are Your servants" This idiom refers to all created things (i.e., Genesis 1, cf. Ps. 103:19; Eccl. 11:5; Jer. 10:16; 51:19). God's word brought the physical into existence and sustains it. The physical has its limits (cf. Ps. 119:96), but God's word has no limits.
119:92 "If" Notice the conditional nature of the following statements about the psalmist who needs saving/reviving and God's revelation, which is eternal. Notice the number of "I's" in Ps. 119:92-96 in the NASB (6) which describe the psalmist's thoughts and actions.
119:93 "I will never forget Your precepts" See note at Ps. 119:83b.
▣ "For by them You have revived me" This verb is a Piel perfect which denotes God's completed action of salvation. This is contrasted with the imperative of Ps. 119:88.
119:94 "I am Yours" The psalmist is asserting that, like creation, he belongs to YHWH, the creator of all things which serve His purposes.
▣ "save me" This is a Hiphil imperative, the only imperative in this stanza. See SPECIAL TOPIC: SALVATION (OLD TESTAMENT TERM) (OT). The psalmist feels attacked (Ps. 119:95a). In Ps. 119:92 the term "affliction" could refer to the agency of "the wicked" or God (Ps. 119:67,71).
YHWH saves those who seek/trust Him (cf. Ps. 13:5; 25:2; 31:14; 52:8; 56:4; 86:2). There are two aspects to the covenant (the Divine and the human individual)!
▣ "I have sought Your precepts" This idea of faithful followers actively seeking (BDB 205, KB 233, Qal perfect) God's revelation also occurs in Ps. 119:2,45,155. There is a Divine aspect to revelation and an individual aspect to revelation!
119:96 This verse is difficult to understand. However, whatever is "limited" (seems to refer to the created order) is in contrast to God's eternal (lit. "broad") revelation (i.e., has no limit).
The term "perfection" (BDB 479) is found only here.
The psalmist calls on the eternal One to save him. The wicked perish, creation will perish (i.e., 2 Pet. 3:10,12), but the eternal One remembers His faithful followers!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:97-104 (Mem)
97O how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,
For they are ever mine.
99I have more insight than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
100I understand more than the aged,
Because I have observed Your precepts.
101I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.
102I have not turned aside from Your ordinances,
For You Yourself have taught me.
103How sweet are Your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104From Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
119:97 "O how I love Your law" In many ways Psalms 19 and 119 are the theological opposite of the historical books' and prophetic books' presentation of how Israel acted towards God's revelation.
Love (BDB 12, KB 17, Qal perfect, cf. Psalm 119:47, 48, 113, 127, 163, 165) is characterized as "meditation all the day" (cf. Ps. 119:15,48,99).
To love is (cf. Deut. 6:5)
1. to spend time with
2. to rejoice in
3. to obey
4. to pass on to others
The phrase translated by NASB "all day long" is the Hebrew word 'olam. See Special Topic: Forever ('olam).
119:98 A knowledge of God's revelation makes the faithful follower wiser than
1. his enemies, Ps. 119:98
2. his teachers, Ps. 119:99
3. the aged (i.e., experienced), Ps. 119:100
119:100 Notice that wisdom is not just knowledge but lifestyle obedience (cf. Ps. 119:100b). This obedience is described as
1. restrained my feet from every evil way (cf. Ps. 1:1; 5:8; 16:11; 139:24; Pro. 1:15; 4:14)
2. not turned aside from Your ordinances (an idiom for deviation from God's revealed path, cf. Deut. 17:20; Jos. 23:6)
The first name for the church was "The Way" (cf. Acts 9:2; 18:25,26; 19:9,23; 22:4; 24:14,22).
119:101b "That I may keep Your word" This is the key theological truth. See Special Topic: Keep.
119:102b In Psalm 119 God and His revelation are merged. To know Him is to know His word. God is the teacher and content of revelation. The request for God to teach the psalmist is found in Ps. 119:12,26,33, 64,108,124,135,171.
119:103 This verse reflects Ps. 19:10b but with a different word for "sweet" (BDB 576, KB 594, Niphal perfect, lit. "smooth," found only here in the OT). The idiom "sweetness" is a way to describe how the teachings of God make life enjoyable and peaceful!
119:104 There is only one proper source of truth, life, peace, and joy—YHWH. To know Him is to aggressively reject (lit. "hate") all other ways (i.e., Ps. 119:53,128,163; Pro. 13:5; Amos 5:15).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:105-112 (Nun)
105Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
106I have sworn and I will confirm it,
That I will keep Your righteous ordinances.
107I am exceedingly afflicted;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word.
108O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord,
And teach me Your ordinances.
109My life is continually in my hand,
Yet I do not forget Your law.
110The wicked have laid a snare for me,
Yet I have not gone astray from Your precepts.
111I have inherited Your testimonies forever,
For they are the joy of my heart.
112I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, even to the end.
119:105 There is no verb in this verse. God's word illumines life (cf. Ps. 43:3; Pro. 6:23; 2 Pet. 1:19). Life is described as a path, a clearly marked path, marked by Divine revelation (cf. Ps. 89:15; Isa. 2:5; 1 John 1:7). To deviate to the right or left brings disaster.
We know from the NT that God's ultimate revelation is Jesus (cf. John 1:1-14; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 1:13-16; Heb. 1:2-3). He is the light of the world (cf. John 1:4; 8:12; 9:5).
119:106 The psalmist asserts that he has walked on God's path of revelation. The verb forms imply an initial decision and a continuing commitment to God's revelation. Biblical faith is a "gate" (initial, personal encounter with God) and "a path/way" (continuing lifestyle, daily obedience). Jesus teaches this in Matt. 7:13-14. It is a decision and a discipleship.
In modern Jewish life, young people study the Hebrew Bible, and at age 13 for boys and 12 for girls, they commit themselves to keep it (Bar-Mitzvah, Bat-Mitzvah).
119:107 The nature of the affliction is uncertain. It could be
1. the wicked, Ps. 119:110 (cf. Job 24:13)
2. God Himself for the psalmist's previous disobedience (cf. Ps. 119:67,71)
▣ "Revive me" This is literally "give me life" (BDB 310, KB 309) and is a recurrent request (cf. Ps. 119:25,37,40,50,88,93,107,149,154,156,159,175). Here it probably means physical life, but one who knows God's revelation also knows it denotes a healthy spiritual life also. Life comes "according to Your word."
119:108a This verse and others like it are the origin of the Jewish people worshiping YHWH in words and not sacrifices because their temple has been destroyed (cf. Isa. 57:19; Hosea 14:2; Heb. 13:15).
119:108b Understanding is impossible without Divine help. God seeks to open our minds to Himself and His guidelines for life (cf. Ps. 119:12,26,64,66,68,124,135,171).
119:109 "soul" This is the Hebrew term nephesh (BDB 659). See full note at Gen. 35:18 online.
▣ "in Your hand" This Hebrew idiom can be understood in two ways.
1. in a negative sense, where "hand" refers to power over another (cf. Jdgs. 12:3; 1 Sam. 19:5; 28:21; Job 13:14, see Special Topic: Hand)
2. in a positive sense, where "hand" refers to God's keeping power and protection (i.e., Ps. 31:5)
The MT has "in my hand," while the LXX has "in Your hand." The first would denote that following God's revelation means opposition in a fallen world. The second would denote God's keeping power and care (cf. NJB).
119:110 The psalmist is being accused of some covenant violation but he asserts his fidelity to God's revelation.
The "snare," like the "pit" of Ps. 119:85, is an animal trap, here used as a metaphor for human aggressive attacks.
119:111-112 God's revelation to Israel was evidence of their special relationship to Him. The psalmist affirms his loyalty and obedience to that revelation. See Special Topic: Keep.
119:111 "they are the joy of my heart" Israel gloried in God's revelation (cf. Ps. 1:2; 19:7-11). To those who know God it is not a burden but a delight (cf. Ps. 119:14,16,24,35,47,70,77,92,143,162,174).
119:112 "forever" See Special Topic: Forever ('olam).
▣ "to the end" See the same expressing of continual commitment (Ps. 119:106) to God's revelation in Ps. 119:33.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:113-120 (Samekh)
113I hate those who are double-minded,
But I love Your law.
114You are my hiding place and my shield;
I wait for Your word.
115Depart from me, evildoers,
That I may observe the commandments of my God.
116Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live;
And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.
117Uphold me that I may be safe,
That I may have regard for Your statutes continually.
118You have rejected all those who wander from Your statutes,
For their deceitfulness is useless.
119You have removed all the wicked of the earth like dross;
Therefore I love Your testimonies.
120My flesh trembles for fear of You,
And I am afraid of Your judgments.
119:113 "I hate those who are double-minded" The adjective "double-minded" (BDB 704 II) occurs only here. The JPSOA translates it "divided heart." It is related to the noun (BDB 704) found in 1 Kgs. 18:21. See James 1:8; 4:8.
This stanza contrasts two types of individuals.
1. the psalmist's persecutors
a. double-minded, Ps. 119:113a
b. evildoers, Ps. 119:115
c. those who wander from God's statutes, Ps. 119:118a
d. deceitful, Ps. 119:118b
e. wicked, Ps. 119:119
2. the psalmist
a. loves God's law, Ps. 119:113b
b. waits for God's word, Ps. 119:114b
c. observes God's commandments, Ps. 119:115b
d. has regard for God's statutes, Ps. 119:117b
e. loves God's testimonies, Ps. 119:119b
f. fears God's judgments, Ps. 119:120b
▣ "I love" The stark contrast denotes the wide gap that develops between those who love God and His revelation and those who do not! There is no neutral ground.
119:114 "God is my hiding place" This noun (BDB 712) denotes a shelter.
1. the tabernacle/temple - Ps. 27:5
2. God Himself - Ps. 31:20; 32:7,10
3. shelter of His wings - Ps. 61:5
4. shadow of the Almighty - Ps. 91:1 (see Special Topic: Shadow As A Metaphor For Protection and Care)
▣ "my shield" The noun (BDB 171) is personified as YHWH's protection of His followers.
1. Abraham - Gen. 15:1
2. Israel - Deut. 33:29; Ps. 33:20;59:11; 115:9,10
3. the psalmist - Ps. 3:3; 18:2; 28:7; 84:9
4. righteous man - Ps. 5:12
5. the upright in heart - Ps. 7:10
6. those who take refuge in Him - Ps. 18:30,35; Pro. 30:5
7. those who walk uprightly - Ps. 84:11; Pro. 2:7
8. those who fear Him - Ps. 115:11
9. His king - Ps. 144:2
▣ "I wait for Your word" The verb (BDB 403, KB 407, Piel perfect) denotes hope and patient trust that God will fulfill His promises (cf. Ps. 31:24; 33:18,22; 69:3; 119:43,49,74,81,114,147).
119:115-117 These lines of poetry all begin with an imperative (i.e., prayer request). All roots start with a samekh.
1. depart from me evildoer - BDB 693, KB 747, Qal imperative
2. sustain me according to Your word - BDB 701, KB 759, Qal imperative
3. uphold me - BDB 703, KB 761, Qal imperative
Notice how the second line gives the desired result.
1. that I may observe the commandments - Qal cohortative
2. that I may live - Qal imperfect used in a cohortative sense
3. that I may be safe - Niphal cohortative (Ps. 119:117a)
4. that I may have regard for Your statutes (Ps. 119:117b)
119:118 This verse hints of idolatry (cf. Isa. 28:15; Jer. 10:14; 51:17), not just disobedience to the covenant.
The term "reject" (BDB 699, KB 756) is found only here and in Lam. 1:15. This is another example of a rare term chosen to fit the acrostic form.
119:119-120 Notice that "love" (cf. Deut. 6:4-6) and "fear" (Ps. 119:120) go together. There is a respect due the God of the universe (i.e., NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 529), who is also the Savior of the universe, who is also the Judge of the universe!
The term "tremble" (BDB 702, KB 760, Qal perfect) is found only here and the Piel only in Job 4:15. A related form (i.e., different vowels) is found only in Jer. 51:27. This is another rare word used to fit the acrostic form.
NASB"You have removed the wicked"
NKJV"You put away all the wicked"
NRSV"All the wicked. . .you count as dross"
NJB"In Your sight all the wicked. . .are like rust"
JPSOA"You do away with the wicked"
LXX"All sinners. . .I counted as transgressors"
The BDB 991 and KB 1409 have several suggestions for the Hiphil of this root.
1. cause to cease, put to an end, cf. Ps. 46:9
2. exterminate, destroy, cf. Ps.8:2; 19:119
3. cause to desist from
4. remove, cf. Ps. 89:44
5. cause to fail
The UBS Text Project (p. 411) has two options.
1. you made stop
2. you consider/considered
It gives a "C" rating (considerable doubt) to #2.
The first word of Ps. 119:119 is "dross" (BDB 691), which is used out of its normal order to fit the acrostic pattern. It refers to the waste product of purifying metals. It is useless and is thrown away.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:121-128 (Ayin)
121I have done justice and righteousness;
Do not leave me to my oppressors.
122Be surety for Your servant for good;
Do not let the arrogant oppress me.
123My eyes fail with longing for Your salvation
And for Your righteous word.
124Deal with Your servant according to Your lovingkindness
And teach me Your statutes.
125I am Your servant; give me understanding,
That I may know Your testimonies.
126It is time for the Lord to act,
For they have broken Your law.
127Therefore I love Your commandments
Above gold, yes, above fine gold.
128Therefore I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything,
I hate every false way.
119:121-128 This stanza follows the common pattern. The psalmist describes himself in contrast to those who oppose him.
1. the psalmist
a. he has done justice (BDB 1048), Ps. 119:121
b. he has done righteousness (BDB 841), Ps. 119:121
c. his eyes fail for longing for God's salvation, Ps. 119:123a
d. his eyes fail for longing for God's righteous word, Ps. 119:123b
e. he is God's servant, Ps. 119:122,124,125
f. he loves God's commandments, Ps. 119:127
g. he esteems the right of all God's revelations, Ps. 119:128a
h. he hates every false way, Ps. 119:128b (cf. Ps. 31:6; 119:104,163; Pro. 13:5)
2. his opponents are characterized as
a. my oppressors (BDB 798, KB 897, Qal participle), Ps. 119:121b
b. the arrogant, Ps. 119:122b (cf. Ps. 119:21,51,69,78,85)
c. they break God's law, Ps. 119:126b
d. they love the false way (implied), Ps. 119:128b
119:121 "justice" See Special Topic: Judge, Judgment, and Justice.
▣ "righteousness" See Special Topic: Righteousness.
119:122 This is the first of five prayer requests.
1. be surety for Your servant for good, Ps. 119:122a - BDB 786, KB 876, Qal imperative (lit. "give in pledge"), cf. Job 17:3; Isa. 38:14
2. do not let the arrogant (BDB 267) oppress me, Ps. 119:122b - BDB 798, KB 897, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense. The Qal active participle is used in Ps. 119:121 to characterize his foes.
3. deal with Your servant according to Your lovingkindness, Ps. 119:124a - BDB 793, KB 889, Qal imperative. YHWH's hesed (BDB 338) is a recurrent theme, cf. Ps. 51:1; 106:45; 109:26; 119:88,149,159.
4. teach me Your statutes, Ps. 119:124b - BDB 540, KB 531, Piel imperative, this is another recurrent theme, cf. Ps. 119:12,26,64,108,135,171
5. give me understanding, Ps. 119:125a - BDB 106, KB 122, Hiphil imperative, this is another recurrent theme, cf. Job 32:8; Ps. 119:27,34,73,125,130,144,169
▣ "for good" Dahood might be correct (see AB, vol. 17A, p. 187) that the lamedh before "good" (BDB 373 II) may denote the vocative (i.e., O Good One), as it does in Ps. 119:126 before YHWH, translated "O Lord."
▣ The NASB Study Bible (p. 869) makes the interesting observation, following the Jewish Masora notes, that Ps. 119:122 is the only verse in Psalm 119 in which a direct or indirect (i.e., Ps. 119:90,121,132) reference to God's revelation (see Special Topic: Terms for God's Revelation) does not appear. However, Dahood in AB (p. 193) asserts that 119:37,90,121,122,132, and 149 do not have a specific word for God's revelation.
119:123 Salvation usually refers to physical deliverance (see SPECIAL TOPIC: SALVATION (OLD TESTAMENT TERM) but here the next line implies a longing for all of God's promises to come to fruition (implying national and even eschatological promises).
119:124 "lovingkindness" See Special Topic: Lovingkindness (hesed).
119:125 "That I may know" In this context "know" (BDB 393, KB 390, Qal cohortative) surely refers to comprehension. However, the Hebrew verb often denotes an element of personal relationship. See Special Topic: Know.
119:126 "It is time for the Lord to act" Faithful followers take God's word and promises seriously. They see the evil and chaos in creation and longingly desire for God to intervene in human history and fulfill all His word (cf. Rom. 8:18-25)!
119:127b This reminds me of Ps. 19:10 (cf. Ps. 119:103)! Oh, how precious is God's self-disclosure in revelation. He has not left believers in the hopeless relativity of this fallen world/age. He has communicated His will and way for us to find and maintain intimate fellowship with Him, even now!
119:128 This is the faithful followers' worldview. Believers surely do not understand all of God's revelation, but they trust God. This is exactly opposite of those who
1. choose some of His revelations but not all (cf. Ps. 119:113)
2. choose other gods (i.e., idolatry, cf. Ps. 31:6; 119:104; Jer. 10:3)
There are several questions about Ps. 119:128.
1. Why does it start with "therefore," when this does not logically connect to Ps. 119:127? Possibly to get the acrostic to fit (119:127 also starts with "therefore" for acrostic purposes).
2. Why the repeated use of "all"?
3. Why the verb, ישׁר (BDB 448, KB 449, Piel perfect), which is usually translated "be smooth," "be straight," or "be right." Possibly it denotes the true way/path (i.e., "righteous" as a measuring stick/reed, cf. Pro. 3:6) versus "the false path/way."
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:129-136 (Pe)
129Your testimonies are wonderful;
Therefore my soul observes them.
130The unfolding of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
131I opened my mouth wide and panted,
For I longed for Your commandments.
132Turn to me and be gracious to me,
After Your manner with those who love Your name.
133Establish my footsteps in Your word,
And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me.
134Redeem me from the oppression of man,
That I may keep Your precepts.
135Make Your face shine upon Your servant,
And teach me Your statutes.
136My eyes shed streams of water,
Because they do not keep Your law.
119:129 "wonderful" See Special Topic: Wonderful Things.
▣ "soul" This is nephesh (BDB 659), which denotes a person's life. See full note at Gen. 35:18 online.
▣ "observes them" This is a recurrent emphasis (cf. Ps. 119:2,22,33,34,56,69,100,115,129,145,168, see Special Topic: Keep). Biblical faith is not just light but walking in the light (cf. Ps. 89:15; 119:105; Pro. 6:23; Isa. 2:5; 1 John 1:5-7).
Notice the same emphasis on obedience in Ps. 119:134b, "know," Qal cohortative (BDB 1036, KB 1581).
110:130 "The unfolding" This is the only use of the word (BDB 836) in the OT. Again a rare word is used to fit the acrostic form.
▣ "the simple" This word (BDB 834) can have a negative (i.e., Pro. 1:22) or positive connotation. Here it is positive. God desires all humans to know Him and His will. Here it denotes a teachable person (cf. Ps. 19:7) but one who, for whatever reason, does not know God's revelation.
119:131 These are three idioms for a strong desire.
1. open mouth - Job 29:23
2. panting - Ps. 42:1
3. longing - Ps. 119:20
The last word (BDB 383) is found only here in the OT.
119:132-135 There is a series of imperatival prayer requests.
1. turn to me - BDB 815, KB 937, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 25:16; 69:16
2. be gracious to me - BDB 335, KB 334, Qal imperative
3. establish my footsteps - BDB 465, KB 464, Hiphil imperative
4. redeem me - BDB 804, KB 911, Qal imperative(see SPECIAL TOPIC: RANSOM/REDEEM)
5. shine upon Your servant - BDB 21, KB 24, Hiphil imperative
6. teach me - BDB 540, KB 531, Piel imperative
There is also one more request stated in a negative (i.e., "do not let any have dominion over me," cf. Ps. 19:13, but a different verb). It is a Hiphil imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ps. 119:133b.
119:132b What a beautiful characterization of God's faithful followers (cf. Ps. 5:11; 69:36; Isa. 56:6)!
The name represents God Himself. See Special Topic: "The Name" of YHWH.
119:133 "Establish my footsteps" This is the imagery of a clear, smooth, unobstructed path (cf. Ps. 17:5), which is made possible by God's revelation, actions, and promises (i.e., Isa. 40:3-4).
119:135 "Make Your face shine upon Your servant" This is an allusion to the Aaronic blessing of Num. 6:24-26. It is alluded to several times in the Psalter (cf. Ps. 4:6; 31:16; 67:1; 80:3,7,19, and here).
The opposite idiom would be for YHWH to hide His face (cf. Ps. 10:11; 13:1; 22:24; 27:9; 44:24; 69:17; 88:15; 102:2; 104:29; 143:7; Isa. 57:17).
119:136 This is an important verse because the majority of the references to those who do not keep God's law call out for judgment (i.e., Ps. 119:53,158). This one shows the psalmist's grief and intercession for the wayward.
One wonders if the psalmist is thinking of his personal enemies or the sins of corporate Israel (cf. Jer. 9:1,18; 14:17; Lam. 3:48).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:137-144 (Tsadhe)
137Righteous are You, O Lord,
And upright are Your judgments.
138You have commanded Your testimonies in righteousness
And exceeding faithfulness.
139My zeal has consumed me,
Because my adversaries have forgotten Your words.
140Your word is very pure,
Therefore Your servant loves it.
141I am small and despised,
Yet I do not forget Your precepts.
142Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
And Your law is truth.
143Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
Yet Your commandments are my delight.
144Your testimonies are righteous forever;
Give me understanding that I may live.
119:137-144 This stanza contrasts the qualities of YHWH and/or His revelations with the psalmist's current conditions.
1. YHWH/His revelations are characterized as
(1) adjective (BDB 843), Ps. 119:137
(2) noun (masculine, BDB 841), Ps. 119:138,144 (feminine, BDB 842, Ps. 119:142)
b. upright (BDB 449), Ps. 119:137
c. faithful (adverb, BDB 547), Ps. 119:138, cf. Ps. 119:86
d. pure (BDB 864, KB 1057, Qal passive participle), Ps. 119:140
e. eternal (BDB 761), Ps. 119:142,144
f. truth (BDB 54), Ps. 119:142
2. the psalmist
a. he has a zeal for God's revelation (or against his enemies) but his adversaries have forgotten them, Ps. 119:139
b. he loves God's revelation, Ps. 119:140
c. he is small and despised but does not forget God's revelation, Ps. 119:141
d. trouble and anguish have come upon him yet he delights in God's revelation, Ps. 119:143
119:137 "Lord" See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY.
119:139 In context it seems that the psalmist's "zeal" (BDB 888) is directed, not positively, toward God's word but against those who have forgotten His word (cf. Ps. 69:9; 119:53). This is opposite of Ps. 119:136.
NASB, NKJV"very pure"
NRSV, LXX"well tried"
NJB, REB"well tested"
The verb (BDB 864, KB 1057, Qal passive participle) denotes that which has been refined by fire and the dross drained off leaving a pure metal.
REB"of little account"
The question is, does the word (BDB 859 I) denote
1. age (cf. Gen. 43:33; 48:14; Jdgs. 6:15; Ps. 68:27)
2. physical size (cf. 1 Sam. 9:21; Isa. 60:22; Jer. 48:4; 49:20; 50:45)
3. social reputation (cf. Micah 5:2; and here)
▣ This is a classic example of OT role reversal. The faithful psalmist is called "despised" (BDB 102, KB 117, Niphal participle) when it should be those who purposefully forget/ignore God's revelation. Outward conditions (cf. Ps. 119:143) in this fallen world do not reflect the evaluation of the God who will one day set the record straight!
119:142 "true" See Special Topic: Believe, Trust, Faith and Faithfulness in the OT.
119:143 This is the mystery of why the righteous suffer (cf. Job; Psalm 73). The psalmist keeps, loves, and acts on God's revelation but still he suffers at the hands of godless men and fallen-age circumstances (i.e., illness, social unfairness, etc.).
The problem is not God or His word, but the fallen condition of creation (cf. Gen. 3:6,11-12,13; Ps. 14:3; Rom. 1:18-3:31).
119:144 The only imperatival prayer request in the stanza is Ps. 119:144b (cf. 119:27,125). Note that understanding must result in godly living (BDB 310, KB 309, Qal imperfect used in cohortative sense).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:145-152 (Ooph)
145I cried with all my heart; answer me, O Lord!
I will observe Your statutes.
146I cried to You; save me
And I shall keep Your testimonies.
147I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I wait for Your words.
148My eyes anticipate the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.
149Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your ordinances.
150Those who follow after wickedness draw near;
They are far from Your law.
151You are near, O Lord,
And all Your commandments are truth.
152Of old I have known from Your testimonies
That You have founded them forever.
119:145-152 As is so common in these acrostic strophes, the psalmist compares his actions and thoughts with those persecuting him.
1. the psalmist
a. I cried with all my heart, Ps. 119:145a
b. I will observe Your statutes, Ps. 119:145b
c. I cried to You, Ps. 119:146a
d. I shall keep Your testimonies, Ps. 119:146b
e. I rise before dawn and cry for help, Ps. 119:147a
f. I wait for Your words, Ps. 119:147b
g. That I may meditate on Your word, Ps. 119:148b
h. Of old I have known from Your testimonies, Ps. 119:152a
2. his oppressors
a. Those who follow after wickedness draw near, Ps. 119:150a
b. They are far from Your law, Ps. 119:150b
▣ In light of this comparison the psalmist makes four prayer requests.
1. answer me, Ps. 119:145a - BDB 772, KB 851, Qal imperative
2. save me, Ps. 119:146a - BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative
3. hear my voice, Ps. 119:149a - BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative
4. revive me, Ps. 119:149b - BDB 310, KB 309, Piel imperative
This is an additional implied request in Ps. 119:151a. As the wicked draw near to him, he asserts YHWH is near, Ps. 119:151. It is a statement (no verb) but also a prayer!
119:145 "with all my heart" This could be understood in two senses.
1. with all my being (like a similar idiom in Ps. 103:1, "all that is within me")
2. asserting he is not a "double-minded" (cf. Ps. 119:113) or half-hearted follower (contrast David, a full heart with Solomon in his old age, a half heart)
▣ "O Lord" There are three vocatives addressing YHWH in this stanza (Ps. 119:145,149,151). For "YHWH" see Special Topic: Names For Deity.
119:148 The psalmist cannot sleep because of
1. the attack of faithless Israelites (possibly idolaters)
2. his whole-hearted devotion to God's revelation
119:149 The psalmist asks YHWH to act because of
1. His character of lovingkindness
2. His revelation (i.e., Scripture)
3. the folly of the wicked (i.e., this unfair and fallen age)
119:152 "Of old" This could refer to
1. God's ancient acts (cf. Ps. 24:2; 78:69; 89:11; 102:25; 104:5) and revelations to the Patriarchs
2. the psalmist's lengthy history of knowing and trusting God and His revelation
▣ "forever" See Special Topic: Forever ('olam).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:153-160 (Resh)
153Look upon my affliction and rescue me,
For I do not forget Your law.
154Plead my cause and redeem me;
Revive me according to Your word.
155Salvation is far from the wicked,
For they do not seek Your statutes.
156Great are Your mercies, O Lord;
Revive me according to Your ordinances.
157Many are my persecutors and my adversaries,
Yet I do not turn aside from Your testimonies.
158I behold the treacherous and loathe them,
Because they do not keep Your word.
159Consider how I love Your precepts;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness.
160The sum of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.
119:153-160 There is a series (8) of imperatival prayer requests based on God's character (cf. Psalm 119:156a) and the psalmist's obedience to His revelation. This is the essence of covenant (see SPECIAL TOPIC: COVENANT).
1-2. look upon, Ps. 119:153,159 - BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal imperative
3. rescue me, Ps. 119:153 - BDB 322, KB 321, Piel imperative
4. plead my cause, Ps. 119:154 - BDB 936, KB 1224, Qal imperative, cf. Ps. 35:23-24; 43:1
5. redeem me, Ps. 119:154 - BDB 322, KB 321, Piel imperative
6-8. revive me, Ps. 119:154,156,159 - BDB 310, KB 309, Piel imperatives
119:153 "my affliction" The exact nature of the affliction is never stated but there are two main possibilities.
1. God-sent problems and adversaries (cf. Ps. 119:67,71)
2. personal enemies (this fits this context best)
a. the wicked, Ps. 119:155
b. they do not seek Your statutes, Ps. 119:155
c. my persecutors, Ps. 119:157
d. my adversaries, Ps. 119:157
e. the treacherous, Ps. 119:158
f. those who do not keep God's revelation, Ps. 119:158
▣ "For I do not forget Your law" Remember the Psalms are written within the theological scope of the performance-based Mosaic covenant (cf. Ps. 119:154b,156b,159b) The psalmist highlights his fidelity.
1. I do not forget Your law, Ps. 119:143, cf. Ps. 119:83,109,141
2. they do not seek Your statutes but I do (implied), Ps. 119:155
3. I do not turn aside from Your testimonies, Ps. 119:157
4. they do not keep Your word, but I do (implied), Ps. 119:158
5. I love Your precepts, Ps. 119:159
119:154 "Plead my cause" This is a court word. One day all conscious life (angelic and human) will stand before God to give an account of the gift of life (cf. Matt. 25:31-46; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:11-15). Romans 8:31-39 records the imagery.
1. God as Judge
2. Satan as the prosecuting attorney
3. Jesus as the advocate for faithful followers
4. angels as the spectators (cf. 1 Cor. 4:9; Eph. 2:7; 3:10)
This phrase may also denote YHWH as a "kinsman redeemer" who advocates on behalf of a relative (cf. Lev. 25:23-28; Ruth 3; Job 19:23-27; Pro. 23:11; Jer. 50:34; 51:36; Lam. 3:58).
119:155 "salvation" See Special Topic: Salvation (OT).
119:156-157 Notice the two words from the same root (BDB 912 I), "great," Ps. 119:156 and "many," Ps. 119:157.
There are many enemies (cf. Ps. 119:157) but there is also a great God (Ps. 119:156). This same truth is expressed in 1 Peter where one word (variegated) describes
1. manifold temptation, 1 Pet. 1:6
2. the manifold grace of God, 1 Pet. 4:10
119:159 "I. . .loathe them" This seems harsh to NT believers. But remember this is the Mosaic covenant. Human emotions are often stated in hyperbolic imagery. The psalmist's love for God and His word causes him to react aggressively (cf. Ps. 139:21) toward those who
1. reject it
2. accept only selected parts of it
3. play the hypocrite
God Himself has revealed His own attitude (cf. Ps. 95:10) toward those who reject His revelation in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 27-30. To whom much is given, much is required (cf. Luke 12:48). The adversaries of the psalmist seem to be fellow Israelites.
119:160 There is no verb in this verse. The NASB provides two "to be" verbs.
▣ "The sum" This means "the whole," which forms a better parallel with the next line of poetry than "essence."
▣ "truth" This is not truth versus falsehood but faithfulness versus unfaithfulness. God's word is the exact opposite of fallen humanity's word. See Special Topic: Believe, Trust, Faith and Faithfulness in the OT.
▣ "everlasting" See Special Topic: Forever ('olam).
▣ "righteous" See Special Topic: Righteousness.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:161-168 (Shin)
161Princes persecute me without cause,
But my heart stands in awe of Your words.
162I rejoice at Your word,
As one who finds great spoil.
163I hate and despise falsehood,
But I love Your law.
164Seven times a day I praise You,
Because of Your righteous ordinances.
165Those who love Your law have great peace,
And nothing causes them to stumble.
166I hope for Your salvation, O Lord,
And do Your commandments.
167My soul keeps Your testimonies,
And I love them exceedingly.
168I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies,
For all my ways are before You.
119:161-168 This stanza is characterized by perfect verbs which denote complete, finished, accomplished action. The psalmist is asserting what he has become because of God and His revelation.
1. my heart stands in awe of Your words, Ps. 119:161b, cf. Ps. 119:120
2. I rejoice at Your word, Ps. 119:162a
3. I hate and despise falsehood, Ps. 119:163a, cf. Ps. 119:104,118; Pro. 13:5
4. I love Your law, Ps. 119:163b
5. I praise You, seven times a day, Ps. 119:164a
6. those who love (i.e., of which the psalmist is one) Your law, Ps. 119:165a
7. I hope for Your salvation, Ps. 119:166a
8. I do Your commandments, Ps. 119:166b
9. my soul keeps Your testimonies, Ps. 119:167a
10. I love Your testimonies, Ps. 119:167b
11. I keep Your precepts and testimonies, Ps. 119:168a
12. all my ways are before You, Ps. 119:168b
119:161a The term "princes" (BDB 978) has a wide semantic usage which encompasses civil, tribal, and religious leaders (cf. Ps. 119:23). The author of Psalm 119 was not in this social category and is often persecuted by those in power.
119:161b It is surprising that this line of poetry expresses a fearful awe of God's revelation, and the next line speaks of rejoicing in it. Yet both of these emotions are true of Scripture. It brings to fallen mankind fear, hope, peace, and joy!
The JPSOA translates "stands in awe" (BDB 808, KB 922, Qal perfect) as "my heart thrills at Your word" to form a parallel with Ps. 119:162a.
119:162b Wealth is not associated with physical things but with a knowledge of God's revelation and a willingness to act on it!
119:163 "seven times" See Special Topic: Symbolic Numbers in Scripture.
119:165 This verse gives two specific benefits of loving God's revelation.
1. great peace (see Special Topic: Peace [shalom])
2. no cause for stumbling (BDB 506)
Another way to express this same truth is found in Pro. 3:1-12,13-26, using the imagery of a father's teaching and wisdom! Knowing and following God brings benefits in this life and the next!
Remember, the word "stumble" (BDB 506) is an idiom related to the concept of God's revelation as a clearly marked, smooth, straight, and obstruction-free, path (Ps. 119:105; Pro. 6:23).
119:166 The hope of this verse is paralleled by "long for" of Ps. 119:174. God's deliverance is future but certain! He will do what He promised (individually and corporately).
119:167 "keeps" Obedience is crucial both in the OT and the NT. The New Covenant (NT gospel) of Jer. 31:31-34 changed the mechanism but not the purpose. God wants a people to reflect His character to the nations that they may come to Him and be saved! See Special Topic: Keep.
The verb (BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal perfect) is repeated in Ps. 119:168 for emphasis!
119:168b The same truth is the essence of Psalm 139. God fully knows the heart and mind of each of His special creations (i.e., humans, cf. 1 Sam. 16:7; 1 Kgs. 8:39; 1 Chr. 28:9; Ps. 7:9; 17:3; 66:10; Jer. 11:20; 17:10; 20:12; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 119:169-176 (Tav)
169Let my cry come before You, O Lord;
Give me understanding according to Your word.
170Let my supplication come before You;
Deliver me according to Your word.
171Let my lips utter praise,
For You teach me Your statutes.
172Let my tongue sing of Your word,
For all Your commandments are righteousness.
173Let Your hand be ready to help me,
For I have chosen Your precepts.
174I long for Your salvation, O Lord,
And Your law is my delight.
175Let my soul live that it may praise You,
And let Your ordinances help me.
176I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant,
For I do not forget Your commandments.
119:169-176 This last strophe is characterized by jussives, three of them are followed by imperatives (Ps. 119:169,170,176).
1. let my cry come before You, Ps. 119:169a - BDB 897, KB 1132, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense
2. give me understanding, Ps. 119:169b - BDB 106, KB 122, Hiphil imperative
3. let my supplication come before You, Ps. 119:170a - BDB 97, KB 112, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense; note the parallel between Ps. 119:169 and 170a
4. deliver me, Ps. 119:170b - BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil imperative
5. let my lips utter praise, Ps. 119:171a - BDB 615, KB 665, Hiphil imperfect used in a jussive sense
6. let my tongue sing, Ps. 119:172a - BDB 777, KB 854, Qal jussive
7. let my hand be ready to help, Ps. 119:173a - BDB 224, KB 243, Qal jussive
8. let my soul live, Ps. 119:175a - BDB 310, KB 309, Qal jussive
9. that it may praise You, Ps. 119:175a - BDB 237, KB 248, Piel imperfect used in a jussive sense
10. let Your ordinances help me, Ps. 119:175b - BDB 740, KB 810, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense
11. seek Your servant, Ps. 119:176a - BDB 134, KB 152, Piel imperative
The Psalm concludes with a plethora of prayer requests!
119:171-173 Notice how the second line of each verse explains the reason for the request.
119:176a This imagery of God's people as wayward sheep is also found in Isa. 53:6; Jer. 50:6; Ezek. 34:2-19; Zech. 10:2-3. This is where the imagery of
1. God as Shepherd - Psalm 23; Ezekiel 34
2. Messiah as Shepherd - Zechariah 10-11; John 10:1-18
is grounded. Sheep need constant, personal, protective care!
The imperative of Ps. 119:176b reminds one of Matt. 18:12-14 and Luke 15:4-7. God does "seek" lost sheep! Hallelujah!