Psalms 119

1 (Alef) How happy are those whose way of life is blameless, who live by the Torah of ADONAI!
2 How happy are those who observe his instruction, who seek him wholeheartedly!
3 They do nothing wrong but live by his ways.
4 You laid down your precepts for us to observe with care.
5 May my ways be steady in observing your laws.
6 Then I will not be put to shame, since I will have fixed my sight on all your mitzvot.
7 I thank you with a sincere heart as I learn your righteous rulings.
8 I will observe your laws; don't completely abandon me!
9 (Bet) How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart; don't let me stray from your mitzvot.
11 I treasure your word in my heart, so that I won't sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, ADONAI! Teach me your laws.
13 I proclaim with my mouth all the rulings you have spoken.
14 I rejoice in the way of your instruction more than in any kind of wealth.
15 I will meditate on your precepts and keep my eyes on your ways.
16 I will find my delight in your regulations. I will not forget your word.
17 (Gimel) Deal generously with your servant; then I will live and observe your word.
18 Open my eyes, so that I will see wonders from your Torah.
19 Though I'm just a wanderer on the earth, don't hide your mitzvot from me.
20 I am continually consumed with longing for your rulings.
21 You rebuke the proud, the cursed, who stray from your mitzvot.
22 Remove scorn and contempt from me, because I observe your instruction.
23 Even when princes sit and plot against me, your servant meditates on your laws.
24 Also your instructions are my delight; they are my counselors.
25 (Dalet) I lie prostrate in the dust; revive me, in keeping with your word.
26 I told you of my ways, and you answered me; teach me your laws.
27 Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wonders.
28 I am melting away from anxiety and grief; renew my strength, in keeping with your word.
29 Keep deceitful ways far from me, and favor me with your Torah.
30 I choose the way of trust; I set your rulings [before me].
31 I cling to your instruction; ADONAI, don't let me be put to shame!
32 I will run the way of your mitzvot, for you have broadened my understanding.
33 (Heh) Teach me, ADONAI, the way of your laws; keeping them will be its own reward for me.
34 Give me understanding; then I will keep your Torah; I will observe it with all my heart.
35 Guide me on the path of your mitzvot, for I take pleasure in it.
36 Bend my heart toward your instructions and not toward selfish gain.
37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things; with your ways, give me life.
38 Fulfill your promise, which you made to your servant, which you made to those who fear you.
39 Avert the disgrace which I dread, for your rulings are good.
40 See how I long for your precepts; in your righteousness, give me life!
41 May your grace come to me, ADONAI, your salvation, as you promised;
42 then I will have an answer for those who taunt me; for I trust in your word.
43 Don't take away completely my power to speak the truth; for I put my hope in your rulings;
44 and I will keep your Torah always, forever and ever.
45 I will go wherever I like, for I have sought your precepts.
46 I will speak of your instructions even to kings without being ashamed.
47 I will delight myself in your mitzvot, which I have loved.
48 I will lift my hands to your mitzvot, which I love; and I will meditate on your laws.
49 (Zayin) Remember your promise to your servant, through which you have given me hope.
50 In my distress my comfort is this: that your promise gives me life.
51 Though the arrogant scorn me completely, I have not turned away from your Torah.
52 ADONAI, I keep in mind your age-old rulings; in them I take comfort.
53 Fury seizes me when I think of the wicked, because they abandon your Torah.
54 Your laws have become my songs wherever I make my home.
55 I remember your name, ADONAI, at night; and I observe your Torah.
56 This [comfort] has come to me, because I observe your precepts.
57 (Het) ADONAI, I say that my task is to observe your words.
58 I beg your favor with my whole heart; show pity to me, in keeping with your promise.
59 I thought about my ways and turned my feet toward your instruction.
60 I hurry, I don't delay, to observe your mitzvot.
61 Even when the cords of the wicked close around me, I don't forget your Torah.
62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks because of your righteous rulings.
63 I am a friend of all who fear you, of those who observe your precepts.
64 The earth, ADONAI, is full of your grace; teach me your laws.
65 (Tet) You have treated your servant well, ADONAI, in keeping with your word.
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge, because I trust in your mitzvot.
67 Before I was humbled, I used to go astray; but now I observe your word.
68 You are good, and you do good; teach me your laws.
69 The arrogant are slandering me, but I will wholeheartedly keep your precepts.
70 Their hearts are as thick as fat, but I take delight in your Torah.
71 It is for my good that I have been humbled; it was so that I would learn your laws.
72 The Torah you have spoken means more to me than a fortune in gold and silver.
73 (Yud) Your hands made and formed me; give me understanding, so I can learn your mitzvot.
74 Those who fear you rejoice at the sight of me, because I put my hope in your word.
75 I know, ADONAI, that your rulings are righteous, that even when you humble me you are faithful.
76 Let your grace comfort me, in keeping with your promise to your servant.
77 Show me pity, and I will live, for your Torah is my delight.
78 Let the proud be ashamed, because they wrong me with lies; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
79 Let those who fear you turn to me, along with those who know your instruction.
80 Let my heart be pure in your laws, so that I won't be put to shame.
81 (Kaf) I am dying to know your salvation; my hope is in your word.
82 My eyes fail from watching for your promise; I ask, "When will you comfort me?"
83 For I have shriveled like a wineskin in a smoky room; still, I don't forget your laws.
84 How long can your servant stay alive? When will you bring judgment on my persecutors?
85 The arrogant have dug pits for me to fall in; this is not in keeping with your Torah!
86 All your mitzvot [show your] faithfulness; they are hounding me with lies; help me!
87 They have nearly ended my life on earth, but I have not abandoned your precepts.
88 In keeping with your grace, revive me; and I will observe your spoken instructions.
89 (Lamed) Your word continues forever, ADONAI, firmly fixed in heaven;
90 your faithfulness through all generations; you established the earth, and it stands.
91 Yes, it stands today, in keeping with your rulings; for all things are your servants.
92 If your Torah had not been my delight, I would have perished in my distress.
93 I will never forget your precepts, for with them you have made me alive.
94 I am yours; save me because I seek your precepts.
95 The wicked hope to destroy me, but I focus on your instruction.
96 (Mem) I see the limits of all perfection, but your mitzvah has no bounds.
97 How I love your Torah! I meditate on it all day.
98 I am wiser than my foes, because your mitzvot are mine forever.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, because I meditate on your instruction.
100 I understand more than my elders, because I keep your precepts.
101 I keep my feet from every evil way, in order to observe your word.
102 I don't turn away from your rulings, because you have instructed me.
103 How sweet to my tongue is your promise, truly sweeter than honey in my mouth!
104 From your precepts I gain understanding; this is why I hate every false way.
105 (Nun) Your word is a lamp for my foot and light on my path.
106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, that I will observe your righteous rulings.
107 I am very much distressed; ADONAI, give me life, in keeping with your word.
108 Please accept my mouth's voluntary offerings, ADONAI; and teach me your rulings.
109 I am continually taking my life in my hands, yet I haven't forgotten your Torah.
110 The wicked have set a trap for me, yet I haven't strayed from your precepts.
111 I take your instruction as a permanent heritage, because it is the joy of my heart.
112 I have resolved to obey your laws forever, at every step.
113 (Samekh) I hate doubleminded people, but I love your Torah.
114 You are my hiding-place and shield; I put my hope in your word.
115 Leave me alone, you evildoers, so that I can keep my God's mitzvot.
116 Uphold me, as you promised; and I will live; don't disappoint me in my hope.
117 Support me; and I will be saved, always putting my attention on your laws.
118 You reject all who stray from your laws, for what they deceive themselves with is false.
119 You discard the wicked of the earth like slag; this is why I love your instruction.
120 My body trembles for fear of you; your rulings make me afraid.
121 ('Ayin) I have done what is just and right; don't abandon me to my oppressors.
122 Guarantee your servant's well-being; don't let the arrogant oppress me.
123 My eyes fail from watching for your salvation and for [the fulfillment of] your righteous promise.
124 Deal with your servant in accordance with your grace, and teach me your laws.
125 I am your servant; give me understanding, so that I can know your instruction.
126 The time has come for ADONAI to act, because they are breaking your Torah.
127 Therefore I love your mitzvot more than gold, more than fine gold.
128 Thus I direct my steps by [your] precepts; every false way I hate.
129 (Peh) Your instruction is a wonder; this is why I follow it.
130 Your words are a doorway that lets in light, giving understanding to the thoughtless.
131 My mouth is wide open, as I pant with longing for your mitzvot.
132 Turn to me, and show me your favor; in keeping with [your] judgment for those who love your name.
133 Guide my footsteps by your word; don't let any kind of sin rule me.
134 Redeem me from human oppression, and I will observe your precepts.
135 Make your face shine on your servant, and teach me your laws.
136 Rivers of tears flow down from my eyes, because they don't observe your Torah.
137 (Tzadeh) You are righteous, ADONAI; and your rulings are upright.
138 You have commanded your instructions in righteousness and great faithfulness.
139 My zeal is destroying me, because my foes have forgotten your words.
140 Your word is refined to complete purity, and your servant loves it.
141 I may be small and despised, but I do not forget your precepts.
142 Your righteousness is eternal righteousness, and your Torah is truth.
143 Trouble and distress have overtaken me, but your mitzvot are my delight.
144 Your instruction is righteous forever; give me understanding, and I will live.
145 (Kuf) Wholeheartedly I am calling on you; answer me, ADONAI; I will keep your laws.
146 I am calling on you; save me; and I will observe your instruction.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I put my hope in your word.
148 My eyes are open before the night watches, so that I can meditate on your promise.
149 In your grace, hear my voice; ADONAI, in keeping with your justice, revive me.
150 The pursuers of carnality are getting close; they are distancing themselves from your Torah.
151 You are close by, ADONAI; and all your mitzvot are truth.
152 Long ago I learned from your instruction that you established it forever.
153 (Resh) Look at my distress, and rescue me, for I do not forget your Torah.
154 Plead my cause, and redeem me; in keeping with your promise, revive me.
155 Salvation is far away from the wicked, because they don't seek your laws.
156 Great is your compassion, ADONAI; in keeping with your rulings, revive me.
157 Although my persecutors and foes are many, I have not turned away from your instruction.
158 I look at traitors with disgust, because they don't keep your word.
159 See how I love your precepts, ADONAI; in keeping with your grace, revive me.
160 The main thing about your word is that it's true; and all your just rulings last forever.
161 (Shin) Princes persecute me for no reason, but my heart stands in awe of your words.
162 I take joy in your promise, like someone who finds much booty.
163 I hate falsehood, I detest it; but I love your Torah.
164 I praise you seven times a day because of your righteous rulings.
165 Those who love your Torah have great peace; nothing makes them stumble.
166 I hope for your deliverance, ADONAI; I obey your mitzvot.
167 My soul observes your instruction, and I love it so much!
168 I observe your precepts and instruction, for all my ways lie open before you.
169 (Tav) Let my cry come before you, ADONAI; in keeping with your word, give me understanding.
170 Let my prayer come before you; in keeping with your promise, rescue me.
171 Let my lips speak praise, because you teach me your laws.
172 Let my tongue sing of your promise, because all your mitzvot are righteous.
173 Let your hand be ready to help me, because I choose your precepts.
174 I long for your deliverance, ADONAI; and your Torah is my delight.
175 Let me live, and I will praise you; let your rulings help me.
176 I strayed like a lost sheep; seek out your servant; for I do not forget your mitzvot.

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Psalms 119 Commentary

Chapter 119

The general scope and design of this psalm is to magnify the Divine law, and make it honourable. There are ten words by which Divine revelation is called in this psalm, and each expresses what God expects from us, and what we may expect from him. 1. God's law; this is enacted by him as our Sovereign. 2. His way; this is the rule of his providence. 3. His testimonies; they are solemnly declared to the world. 4. His commandments; given with authority. 5. His precepts; not left as indifferent matters to us. 6. His word, or saying; it is the declaration of his mind. 7. His judgments; framed in infinite wisdom. 8. His righteousness; it is the rule and standard of what is right. 9. His statutes; they are always binding. 10. His truth or faithfulness; it is eternal truth, it shall endure for ever.

Verses 1-8 This psalm may be considered as the statement of a believer's experience. As far as our views, desires, and affections agree with what is here expressed, they come from the influences of the Holy Spirit, and no further. The pardoning mercy of God in Christ, is the only source of a sinner's happiness. And those are most happy, who are preserved most free from the defilement of sin, who simply believe God's testimonies, and depend on his promises. If the heart be divided between him and the world, it is evil. But the saints carefully avoid all sin; they are conscious of much evil that clogs them in the ways of God, but not of that wickedness which draws them out of those ways. The tempter would make men think they are at them out of those ways. The tempter would make men think they are at liberty to follow the word of God or not, as they please. But the desire and prayer of a good man agree with the will and command of God. If a man expects by obedience in one thing to purchase indulgence for disobedience in others, his hypocrisy will be detected; if he is not ashamed in this world, everlasting shame will be his portion. The psalmist coveted to learn the laws of God, to give God the glory. And believers see that if God forsakes them, the temper will be too hard for them.

Verses 9-16 To original corruption all have added actual sin. The ruin of the young is either living by no rule at all, or choosing false rules: let them walk by Scripture rules. To doubt of our own wisdom and strength, and to depend upon God, proves the purpose of holiness is sincere. God's word is treasure worth laying up, and there is no laying it up safe but in our hearts, that we may oppose God's precepts to the dominion of sin, his promises to its allurements, and his threatenings to its violence. Let this be our plea with Him to teach us his statutes, that, being partakers of his holiness, we may also partake of his blessedness. And those whose hearts are fed with the bread of life, should with their lips feed many. In the way of God's commandments there is the unsearchable riches of Christ. But we do not meditate on God's precepts to good purpose, unless our good thoughts produce good works. I will not only think of thy statutes, but do them with delight. And it will be well to try the sincerity of our obedience by tracing the spring of it; the reality of our love by cheerfulness in appointed duties.

Verses 17-24 If God deals in strict justice with us, we all perish. We ought to spend our lives in his service; we shall find true life in keeping his word. Those that would see the wondrous things of God's law and gospel, must beg him to give them understanding, by the light of his Spirit. Believers feel themselves strangers on earth; they fear missing their way, and losing comfort by erring from God's commandments. Every sanctified soul hungers after the word of God, as food which there is no living without. There is something of pride at the bottom of every wilful sin. God can silence lying lips; reproach and contempt may humble and do us good, and then they shall be removed. Do we find the weight of the cross is above that we are able to bear? He that bore it for us will enable us to bear it; upheld by him we cannot sink. It is sad when those who should protect the innocent, are their betrayers. The psalmist went on in duty, and he found comfort in the word of God. The comforts of the word of God are most pleasant to a gracious soul, when other comforts are made bitter; and those that would have God's testimonies to be their delight, must be advised by them. May the Lord direct us in exercising repentance of sin, and faith in Christ.

Verses 25-32 While the souls of the children of this world cleave to the earth as their portion, the children of light are greatly burdened, because of the remains of carnal affections in their hearts. It is unspeakable comfort to a gracious soul, to think with what tenderness all its complaints are received by a gracious God. We can talk of the wonders of redeeming love, when we understand the way of God's precepts, and walk in that way. The penitent melts in sorrow for sin: even the patient spirit may melt in the sense of affliction, it is then its interest to pour out its soul before God. The way of lying means all false ways by which men deceive themselves and others, or are deceived by Satan and his instruments. Those who know and love the law of the Lord, desire to know it more, and love it better. The way of serious godliness is the way of truth; the only true way to happiness: we must always have actual regard to it. Those who stick to the word of God, may in faith expect and pray for acceptance with God. Lord, never leave me to do that by which I shall shame myself, and do not thou reject my services. Those that are going to heaven, should still press forward. God, by his Spirit, enlarges the hearts of his people when he gives them wisdom. The believer prays to be set free from sin.

Verses 33-40 Teach me thy statutes, not the mere words, but the way of applying them to myself. God, by his Spirit, gives a right understanding. But the Spirit of revelation in the word will not suffice, unless we have the Spirit of wisdom in the heart. God puts his Spirit within us, causing us to walk in his statutes. The sin here prayed against is covetousness. Those that would have the love of God rooted in them, must get the love of the world rooted out; for the friendship of the world is enmity with God. Quicken me in thy way; to redeem time, and to do every duty with liveliness of spirit. Beholding vanity deadens us, and slackens our pace; a traveller must not stand gazing upon every object that presents itself to his view. The promises of God's word greatly relate to the preservation of the true believer. When Satan has drawn a child of God into worldly compliances, he will reproach him with the falls into which he led him. Victory must come from the cross of Christ. When we enjoy the sweetness of God's precepts, it will make us long for more acquaintance with them. And where God has wrought to will, he will work to do.

Verses 41-48 Lord, I have by faith thy mercies in view; let me by prayer prevail to obtain them. And when the salvation of the saints is completed, it will plainly appear that it was not in vain to trust in God's word. We need to pray that we may never be afraid or ashamed to own God's truths and ways before men. And the psalmist resolves to keep God's law, in a constant course of obedience, without backsliding. The service of sin is slavery; the service of God is liberty. There is no full happiness, or perfect liberty, but in keeping God's law. We must never be ashamed or afraid to own our religion. The more delight we take in the service of God, the nearer we come to perfection. Not only consent to his law as good, but take pleasure in it as good for us. Let me put forth all the strength I have, to do it. Something of this mind of Christ is in every true disciple.

Verses 49-56 Those that make God's promises their portion, may with humble boldness make them their plea. He that by his Spirit works faith in us, will work for us. The word of God speaks comfort in affliction. If, through grace, it makes us holy, there is enough in it to make us easy, in all conditions. Let us be certain we have the Divine law for what we believe, and then let not scoffers prevail upon us to decline from it. God's judgments of old comfort and encourage us, for he is still the same. Sin is horrible in the eyes of all that are sanctified. Ere long the believer will be absent from the body, and present with the Lord. In the mean time, the statutes of the Lord supply subjects for grateful praise. In the season of affliction, and in the silent hours of the night, he remembers the name of the Lord, and is stirred up to keep the law. All who have made religion the first thing, will own that they have been unspeakable gainers by it.

Verses 57-64 True believers take the Lord for the portion of their inheritance, and nothing less will satisfy them. The psalmist prayed with his whole heart, knowing how to value the blessing he prayed for: he desired the mercy promised, and depended on the promise for it. He turned from by-paths, and returned to God's testimonies. He delayed not. It behoves sinners to hasten to escape; and the believer will be equally in haste to glorify God. No care or grief should take away God's word out of our minds, or hinder the comfort it bestows. There is no situation on earth in which a believer has not cause to be thankful. Let us feel ashamed that others are more willing to keep from sleep to spend the time in sinful pleasures, than we are to praise God. And we should be more earnest in prayer, that our hearts may be filled with his mercy, grace, and peace.

Verses 65-72 However God has dealt with us, he has dealt with us better than we deserve; and all in love, and for our good. Many have knowledge, but little judgment; those who have both, are fortified against the snares of Satan, and furnished for the service of God. We are most apt to wander from God, when we are easy in the world. We should leave our concerns to the disposal of God, seeing we know not what is good for us. Lord, thou art our bountiful Benefactor; incline our hearts to faith and obedience. The psalmist will go on in his duty with constancy and resolution. The proud are full of the world, and its wealth and pleasures; these make them senseless, secure, and stupid. God visits his people with affliction, that they may learn his statutes. Not only God's promises, but even his law, his percepts, though hard to ungodly men, are desirable, and profitable, because they lead us with safety and delight unto eternal life.

Verses 73-80 God made us to serve him, and enjoy him; but by sin we have made ourselves unfit to serve him, and to enjoy him. We ought, therefore, continually to beseech him, by his Holy Spirit, to give us understanding. The comforts some have in God, should be matter of joy to others. But it is easy to own, that God's judgments are right, until it comes to be our own case. All supports under affliction must come from mercy and compassion. The mercies of God are tender mercies; the mercies of a father, the compassion of a mother to her son. They come to us when we are not able to go to them. Causeless reproach does not hurt, and should not move us. The psalmist could go on in the way of his duty, and find comfort in it. He valued the good will of saints, and was desirous to keep up his communion with them. Soundness of heart signifies sincerity in dependence on God, and devotedness to him.

Verses 81-88 The psalmist sought deliverance from his sins, his foes, and his fears. Hope deferred made him faint; his eyes failed by looking out for this expected salvation. But when the eyes fail, yet faith must not. His affliction was great. He was become like a leathern bottle, which, if hung up in the smoke, is dried and shrivelled up. We must ever be mindful of God's statutes. The days of the believer's mourning shall be ended; they are but for a moment, compared with eternal happiness. His enemies used craft as well as power for his ruin, in contempt of the law of God. The commandments of God are true and faithful guides in the path of peace and safety. We may best expect help from God when, like our Master, we do well and suffer for it. Wicked men may almost consume the believer upon earth, but he would sooner forsake all than forsake the word of the Lord. We should depend upon the grace of God for strength to do every good work. The surest token of God's good-will toward us, is his good work in us.

Verses 89-96 The settling of God's word in heaven, is opposed to the changes and revolutions of the earth. And the engagements of God's covenant are established more firmly than the earth itself. All the creatures answer the ends of their creation: shall man, who alone is endued with reason, be the only unprofitable burden of the earth? We may make the Bible a pleasant companion at any time. But the word, without the grace of God, would not quicken us. See the best help for bad memories, namely, good affections; and though the exact words be lost, if the meaning remain, that is well. I am thine, not my own, not the world's; save me from sin, save me from ruin. The Lord will keep the man in peace, whose mind is stayed on him. It is poor perfection which one sees and end of. Such are all things in this world, which pass for perfections. The glory of man is but as the flower of the grass. The psalmist had seen the fulness of the word of God, and its sufficiency. The word of the Lord reaches to all cases, to all times. It will take us from all confidence in man, or in our own wisdom, strength, and righteousness. Thus shall we seek comfort and happiness from Christ alone.

Verses 97-104 What we love, we love to think of. All true wisdom is from God. A good man carries his Bible with him, if not in his hands, yet in his head and in his heart. By meditation on God's testimonies we understand more than our teachers, when we understand our own hearts. The written word is a more sure guide to heaven, than all the fathers, the teachers, and ancients of the church. We cannot, with any comfort or boldness, attend God in holy duties, while under guilt, or in any by-way. It was Divine grace in his heart, that enabled the psalmist to receive these instructions. The soul has its tastes as well as the body. Our relish for the word of God will be greatest, when that for the world and the flesh is least. The way of sin is a wrong way; and the more understanding we get by the precepts of God, the more rooted will be our hatred of sin; and the more ready we are in the Scriptures, the better furnished we are with answers to temptation.

Verses 105-112 The word of God directs us in our work and way, and a dark place indeed the world would be without it. The commandment is a lamp kept burning with the oil of the Spirit, as a light to direct us in the choice of our way, and the steps we take in that way. The keeping of God's commands here meant, was that of a sinner under a dispensation of mercy, of a believer having part in the covenant of grace. The psalmist is often afflicted; but with longing desires to become more holy, offers up daily prayers for quickening grace. We cannot offer any thing to God, that he will accept but what he is pleased to teach us to do. To have our soul or life continually in our hands, implies constant danger of life; yet he did not forget God's promises nor his precepts. Numberless are the snares laid by the wicked; and happy is that servant of God, whom they have not caused to err from his Master's precepts. Heavenly treasures are a heritage for ever; all the saints accept them as such, therefore they can be content with little of this world. We must look for comfort only in the way of duty, and that duty must be done. A good man, by the grace of God, brings his heart to his work, then it is done well.

Verses 113-120 Here is a dread of the risings of sin, and the first beginnings of it. The more we love the law of God, the more watchful we shall be, lest vain thoughts draw us from what we love. Would we make progress in keeping God's commands, we must be separate from evil-doers. The believer could not live without the grace of God; but, supported by his hand, his spiritual life shall be maintained. Our holy security is grounded on Divine supports. All departure from God's statutes is error, and will prove fatal. Their cunning is falsehood. There is a day coming which will put the wicked into everlasting fire, the fit place for the dross. See what comes of sin Surely we who fall so low in devout affections, should fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into heavenly rest, any of us should be found to come short of it, ( Hebrews 4:1 ) .

Verses 121-128 Happy is the man, who, acting upon gospel principles, does justice to all around. Christ our Surety, having paid our debt and ransom, secures all the blessings of salvation to every true believer. The psalmist expects the word of God's righteousness, and no other salvation than what is secured by that word, which cannot fall to the ground. We deserve no favour form God; we are most easy when we cast ourselves upon God's mercy, and refer ourselves to it. If any man resolve to do God's will as his servant, he shall be made to know his testimonies. We must do what we can for the support of religion, and, after all, must beg of God to take the work into his own hands. It is hypocrisy to say we love God's commandments more than our worldly interests. The way of sin is a false way, being directly contrary to God's precepts, which are right: those that love and esteem God's law, hate sin, and will not be reconciled to it.

Verses 129-136 The wonders of redeeming love will fix the heart in adoration of them. The Scriptures show us what we were, what we are, and what we shall be. They show us the mercy and the justice of the Lord, the joys of heaven, and the pains of hell. Thus they give to the simple, in a few days, understanding of those matters, which philosophers for ages sought in vain. The believer, wearied with the cares of life and his conflicts with sin, pants for the consolations conveyed to him by means of the sacred word. And every one may pray, Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name. We must beg that the Holy Spirit would order our steps. The dominion of sin is to be dreaded and prayed against by every one. The oppression of men is often more than flesh and blood can bear; and He who knoweth our frame, will not refuse to remove it in answer to the prayers of his people. Whatever obscurity may appear as to the faith of the Old Testament believers, their confidence at the throne of grace can only be explained by their having obtained more distinct views of gospel privileges, through the sacrifices and services of their law, than is generally imagined. Go to the same place, plead the name and merits of Jesus, and you will not, you cannot plead in vain. Commonly, where there is a gracious heart, there is a weeping eye. Accept, O Lord, the tears our blessed Redeemer shed in the days of his flesh, for us who should weep for our brethren or ourselves.

Verses 137-144 God never did, and never can do wrong to any. The promises are faithfully performed by Him that made them. Zeal against sin should constrain us to do what we can against it, at least to do more in religion ourselves. Our love to the word of God is evidence of our love to God, because it is designed to make us partake his holiness. Men's real excellency always makes them low in their own eyes. When we are small and despised, we have the more need to remember God's precepts, that we may have them to support us. The law of God is the truth, the standard of holiness, the rule of happiness; but the obedience of Christ alone justifies the believer. Sorrows are often the lot of saints in this vale of tears; they are in heaviness through manifold temptations. There are delights in the word of God, which the saints often most sweetly enjoy when in trouble and anguish. This is life eternal, to know God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, ( John 17:3 ) . May we live the life of faith and grace here, and be removed to the life of glory hereafter.

Verses 145-152 Supplications with the whole heart are presented only by those who desire God's salvation, and who love his commandments. Whither should the child go but to his father? Save me from my sins, my corruptions, my temptations, all the hinderances in my way, that I may keep thy testimonies. Christians who enjoy health, should not suffer the early hours of the morning to glide away unimproved. Hope in God's word encourages us to continue in prayer. It is better to take time from sleep, than not to find time for prayer. We have access to God at all hours; and if our first thoughts in the morning are of God, they will help to keep us in his fear all the day long. Make me lively and cheerful. God knows what we need and what is good for us, and will quicken us. If we are employed in God's service, we need not fear those who try to set themselves as far as they can out of the reach of the convictions and commands of his law. When trouble is near, God is near. He is never far to seek. All his commandments are truth. And God's promises will be performed. All that ever trusted in God have found him faithful.

Verses 153-160 The closer we cleave to the word of God, both as our rule and as our stay, the more assurance we have of deliverance. Christ is the Advocate of his people, their Redeemer. Those who were quickened by his Spirit and grace, when they were dead in trespasses and sins, often need to have the work of grace revived in them, according to the word of promise. The wicked not only do not God's statutes, but they do not even seek them. They flatter themselves that they are going to heaven; but the longer they persist in sin, the further it is from them. God's mercies are tender; they are a fountain that can never be exhausted. The psalmist begs for God's reviving, quickening grace. A man, steady in the way of his duty, though he may have many enemies, needs to fear none. Those that hate sin truly, hate it as sin, as a transgression of the law of God, and a breaking of his word. Our obedience is only pleasing to God, and pleasant to ourselves, when it comes from a principle of love. All, in every age, who receive God's word in faith and love, find every saying in it faithful.

Verses 161-168 Those whose hearts stand in awe of God's word, will rather endure the wrath of man, than break the law of God. By the word of God we are unspeakable gainers. Every man hates to have a lie told him, but we should more hate telling a lie; by the latter we give an affront to God. The more we see the beauty of truth, the more we shall see the hateful deformity of a lie. We are to praise God even for afflictions; through grace we get good from them. Those that love the world have great vexation, for it does not answer what they expect; those that love God's word have great peace, for it outdoes what they expect. Those in whom this holy love reigns, will not perplex themselves with needless scruples, or take offence at their brethren. A good hope of salvation will engage the heart in doing the commandments. And our love to the word of God must subdue our lusts, and root out carnal affections: we must make heart work of it, or we make nothing of it. We must keep the commandments of God by obedience to them, and his promises by reliance on them. God's eye is on us at all times; this should make us very careful to keep his commandments.

Verses 169-176 The psalmist desired grace and strength to lift up his prayers, and that the Lord would receive and notice them. He desired to know more of God in Christ; to know more of the doctrines of the word, and the duties of religion. He had a deep sense of unworthiness, and holy fear that his prayer should not come before God; Lord, what I pray for is, what thou hast promised. We have learned nothing to purpose, if we have not learned to praise God. We should always make the word of God the rule of our discourse, so as never to transgress it by sinful speaking, or sinful silence. His own hands are not sufficient, nor can any creature lend him help; therefore he looks up to God, that the hand that had made him may help him. He had made religion his deliberate choice. There is an eternal salvation all the saints long for, and therefore they pray that God would help their way to it. Let thy judgments help me; let all ordinances and all providences, (both are God's judgments,) further me in glorifying God; let them help me for that work. He often looks back with shame and gratitude to his lost estate. He still prays for the tender care of Him who purchased his flock with his own blood, that he may receive from him the gift of eternal life. Seek me, that is, Find me; for God never seeks in vain. Turn me, and I shall be turned. Let this psalm be a touchstone by which to try our hearts, and our lives. Do our hearts, cleansed in Christ's blood, make these prayers, resolutions and confessions our own? Is God's word the standard of our faith, and the law of our practice? Do we use it as pleas with Christ for what we need? Happy those who live in such delightful exercises.

Chapter Summary


This psalm is generally thought to be written by David, but when is uncertain; very probably towards the decline of life; and, as some think, for the sake or his son Solomon. It seems to be a collection of observations on the word of God and its precepts, the usefulness and excellency of it, he had made in the course of his life; interspersed with various petitions for the grace of God, to enable him to observe it. The psalm is a very extraordinary one; partly on account of the unusual length of it, it being more than double the length of the longest psalm in the whole book; and partly on account of its curious composition. It consists of twenty two parts, according to the number of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet; the names of which letters stand between each part; and every part consists of eight verses, all of which begin with the same letter: thus, for instance, the first eight verses begin with the letter a, "aleph", and the second eight verses begin with the letter b, "beth", and so on throughout; hence the Masorah calls this psalm the Great Alphabet. This the psalmist did, perhaps to excite attention to what he said, and also to help the memory. And it is observable that there are very few verses in the whole, not more than one or two, but what has something in it concerning the word of God, and its precepts and ordinances; there are nine or ten different words used relative to it, which signify much one and the same thing; as laws, statutes, judgments, testimonies Luther {m} observes, that neither Cicero, nor Virgil, nor Demosthenes, are to be compared with David for eloquence, as we see in the hundred nineteenth Psalm, where he divideth one sense and meaning into twenty two sorts. And it may also be remarked, that there is nothing in it concerning the tabernacle worship, or the rites and ceremonies of the legal dispensation; so that it seems to be calculated for, and is suited to, the word of God, and the ordinances of it, as we now have them in their full perfection: and the design of the whole is to show the fervent affection the psalmist had for the word of God, and to stir up the same in others.

{m} Mensal. Colloqu. c. 32. p. 365.

a, \\ALEPH.--The First Part\\.

Psalms 119 Commentaries

Complete Jewish Bible Copyright 1998 by David H. Stern. Published by Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.