Psalms 119:33-40

33 Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end.[a]
34 Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
35 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.
36 Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.
37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.[b]
38 Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared.
39 Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good.
40 How I long for your precepts! In your righteousness preserve my life.

Psalms 119:33-40 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 15

  • 1. ver 12
  • 2. ver 27,73,144,169; S Job 32:8; Proverbs 2:6; Daniel 2:21; James 1:5
  • 3. S Deuteronomy 6:25
  • 4. ver 69
  • 5. Psalms 25:4-5
  • 6. ver 32
  • 7. S Psalms 1:2
  • 8. S Joshua 24:23; 1 Kings 8:58
  • 9. Ezekiel 33:31; Mark 7:21-22; Luke 12:15; Hebrews 13:5
  • 10. ver 25; Psalms 71:20; Isaiah 33:15
  • 11. ver 9
  • 12. S Numbers 23:19; 2 Samuel 7:25
  • 13. ver 22; Psalms 69:9; Psalms 89:51; Isaiah 25:8; Isaiah 51:7; Isaiah 54:4
  • 14. ver 20
  • 15. ver 25,149,154

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or "follow it for its reward"
  • [b]. Two manuscripts of the Masoretic Text and Dead Sea Scrolls; most manuscripts of the Masoretic Text "life in your way"
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