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Wisdom Psalms: Psalm 119: 1-72

Next up in the wisdom psalms is Psalm 119, the longest Pslam, by far. This post will cover the first 72 verses, the first 9 stanzas.

Background

The Ryrie Study Bible footnotes mentions that this is an alphabetic acrostic. Meaning, in order, it goes through the Hebrew alphabet and includes an eight verse stanza for each letter. Additonally, within each stanza, each line starts with the same hebrew letter.

The psalm topic is the law and uses ten different terms for the law:

  • law (instruction or revalation)
  • testimonies (precepts)
  • ways (precepts or orders)
  • statutes (decrees)
  • commandments
  • judgements (ordinances)
  • word
  • path
  • word (promise or utterance)

Aleph

Blessed are the blameless.

This stanza seems to touch on several of the 10 words for laws, offering positive outcomes for those walking in the law.

Beth

Starts with a great question: how can a young man keep his way pure? Thy Word! Knowing the word is the best way to walk in His ways. Seek after it with your heart.

The author also pleas for help to keepo from wandering. It's not enough to know His Word, you have to stay close to Him.

He also asks the Lord to teach Him. The author rejoices in the word of the Lord. He also uses words such ad meditate, regard delight. This is more than just reading the word or even studying the word. There is an investment in the word beyond the mind and into the emotions, and soul. Treat is as a relationship, not just a chore.

Gimel

The author truly loves the law and understands that he is stranger in this world. God's Word is our only hope among the maddness and wickedness.

Thy testimonies also are my delight;

They are my counselors.

Psalm 119:24

Daleth

In this one the author is low. And the trouble seems to be of his own making. His souls is in the dust and he is feeling grief.

However, he does seem to clearly understand the solution to all of his problems- to learn, meditate on, and keep God's word in front of him.

He knows where is very real, life-changing help comes from.

He

Interesting. In verse 33 the author asks, "Teach me, Oh lord, the ways of thy statutes, and I shall observe it to the end."

Not Teach me the law; but teach me the eay of the law. To me, there's a significant distinction. You can kniow the law, and the author surely did; but knowing alone isn't enough. Plenty of people know the law and break it daily.

But to have God within us, teavhing us the way of the law, is Holy. We know why, we know how. We'll still fall down sometimes this side of heaven; but it draws us to the light and away from the dark.

The rest of the stanza repeats this same kind of concept in several different ways, emphasizing that knowing the law ins't enough. Walking with God and His law is our only hope:

  • v. 34: give me understanding
  • v. 35: make me walk
  • v.36: incline my heart
  • v. 37: turn away my eyes

Ending in verse 40 with, "Revive me through Thy righteousness."

What a beautiful prayer. I hope I can remeber that.

Vav

In verse 41 the author asks for God's lovingkindness and "Thy slavation according to Thy Word. Once again reminding us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

The author also proclaims that he trusts Gods word and it gives him an answer when he's being reproached.

The rest of the stanza the author is expressing his love for the law and how he wants it in his mouth, to keep iy, to speak it, and all of the benefits that come with it.

Zayin

Verse 49 starts out with the author asking the Lord to remember the word to Thy servant. This is his last mention of his need for God's promises. However, the rest of the stanza is explaining why that word from God is so importnant.

God wants us to tell His promises back to Him. It tells Him that we remember. It tells us that we remember.

And it helps us through all of the type of circumstances outlined by the author in the rest of the stanza:

  • v. 50 comfort in affliction
  • v. 51 strength under persecution
  • v. 52-53 comfort from the wicked
  • v. 54 my song!

He end the stanza by reiterating that he remembers and keeps God's law, as it has become his. He owns it now; not just following the rules of a master- but living the way a Father has called him to live.

Heth

The Lord is my portion; I have promised to keep Thy words.

Psalm 119:57

The author then asks for favor and grace from the Lord, in verse 58.

Verses 59-63 exaplin how the author has relied on the word in times of trouble; and have walked in the word of the Lord.

In verse 64, he concludes by extoling God's lovingkindness and asking the Lord to "Teach me Thy stautes.".

For this stanza, verse 57-64, there is an interesting footnote in the Ryrie Study Bible: "The thought is that we cannot have God without knowing His Word."

I think the statement is, generally, true. However, I wonder why this is one of the few footnotes describing a stanza. This message doesn't seem more true than when applied to many of the other stanzas. I've reread it a couple of times and don't see this theme more pronounced than elsewhere. Although, again, I do think the statement is true to a large extent.

I think we can know the Lord thorugh nature, through prayer, through our relationships and other experiences, and through communion with the Holy Spirit. I think His word is an essential part of knowing Him; but not the only way.

Teth

The theme of this stanza is why the discipline of the Lord is a good thing. It teaches discernment and knowledge; it teaches belief in the commandments, which causes us to keep them; it helps when our enemy plots against us; and shows us the value of the Word.

It is amazing to me how refreshing and cleansing it can be when the Lord brings me back into the fold after I wandered off even by a little bit.

I spent all of Saturday and Saturday night in a bad place mentally. I have a couple of theories as to why, or it may have been a combination of things. I had my feelings hurt by my husband and my family; I had a very vivid dream that expressed my insecurities at work and in my various ministies; and I was just generally frustrated and annoyed.

I did pray throughout the day; but found no relief.

Then, as a part of the sermon Sunday morning, God reminded me of this passage that I learned in Self-Confrontation:

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our suffciency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new convenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

II Corinthians 3:5-6

It struck me as discipline from the Lord because I spent Saturday and Saturday night wallowing in a lie...that I could ever be and have what I want and need on my own.

I know this truth; but forgot it in my dissatisfaction.

But He is faithful and lovoingly reminded me that He is sufficient. For me. And in me, And with me for others.

And the exhale and clarity of mind that followed was such a profound relief. It's hard to express what an amazing lightness and joy that comes when the Shepherd finds you wandering and brings you back to what you need and where you should be.

The law of Thy mouth IS better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces!

Psalm 119:72 (emphasis mine! 🙂

Amen!

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