Psalms 119:169-176

169 May my cry come before you, LORD; give me understanding according to your word.
170 May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise.
171 May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees.
172 May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous.
173 May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
174 I long for your salvation, LORD, and your law gives me delight.
175 Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.
176 I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.

Psalms 119:169-176 Meaning and Commentary


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\\.

Cross References 17

  • 1. S Job 16:18; Psalms 18:6
  • 2. S ver 34
  • 3. S ver 9
  • 4. 1 Kings 8:30; 2 Chronicles 6:24; Psalms 28:2; Psalms 140:6; Psalms 143:1
  • 5. Psalms 3:7; Psalms 22:20; Psalms 59:1; Psalms 31:2
  • 6. S ver 41
  • 7. Psalms 51:15; Psalms 63:3
  • 8. Psalms 94:12; Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2
  • 9. Psalms 51:14
  • 10. ver 7,S 75
  • 11. Psalms 37:24; Psalms 73:23; Isaiah 41:10
  • 12. S Joshua 24:22
  • 13. ver 166
  • 14. ver 16,24
  • 15. ver 116,159; Isaiah 55:3
  • 16. ver 10; S Psalms 95:10; Jeremiah 50:17; Ezekiel 34:11; S Luke 15:4; Isaiah 53:6
  • 17. S Psalms 44:17
Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.