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Wisdom Psalms: Psalm 119: 73+

This is a continuation of my daily reading journaling on Psalm 119.

Yodh

Thy hands made me and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn Thy commandments.

Psalm 119:73

In verse 75 we read that the author seems to be facing some substantial affliction; but trusts that the Lord is faithful and the affliction is righteous judgment. Not a lot of people worship God and who He is in their affliction. What a testimony.

The author does ask for compassion and to live in verse 77; and expresses his love for God's law.

He's asking for God to turn fellow believers toward the author, so it sounds like in his affliction he's been abandoned even by believers.

Kaph

I don't have a sense of how interconnected these stanzas are supposed to be; to me they each seem like their own psalm. But if they are interconnected, they author or the last one, Yodh, only mentioned his affliction once directly. In this one, the author is in full on affliction mode.

Yet, his heart is for the Lord's word; His stautes; His judgement on those who persecute the author. The psalmist claims that he was alomst destroyed by his enemy and yet he loved God's precepts. He asks for God to revive him for his testimony.

In verse 81 his "soul languishes". In 82 his eyes fail. Shriveled and useless in 83.

Lamedh

So, at least these three most recent stanzas, Yodh, Kaph, and Lamedh, do seem to be interconnected. The author seems to be looking backward on his affliction.

He describes the immensity of God. That God's word is settled forever in heaven. That God's faithfulness continues throughout all generations. That God established the earth and it still stands. That all things are God's servants.

Having established God's amazing character, the author moves on to credit God's Word for sustaining him in his affliction. Explaining that God's precepts revived him.

He does note that his enemies still seek to destroy him. And then ends in verse 96 on a mysterious phrase I do not understand: "I have seen a limit o all perfection; thy commandment is exceedingly broad." The Ryrie Study Bible footnote explains that this means that all earthly things are limited; but His Word is infinite.

Mem

This stanza is an exuberant ode to God's word. The author states his love for it and his commitment to meditate on it day and night.

Then he extolls the benefits. Meditating on God's word makes the author:

  • Wiser than his enemies
  • more insights than his teachers
  • more understanding than the aged
  • restrains his feet from evil
  • doesn't turn aside from God's ordinances
  • Gives the word a sweetness in his mouth
  • makes him hate false ways

Nun

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

The author swears and confirms that he will always keep God's ordinances.

The psalmist is afflicted again in this one and asking to be revived. He gives a free will offering of all he has, words from his mouth.

He commits to learning from the Lord and asks for help for the enemy laying snares for him.

The psalmist seem to take such great comfort from God's law. It's comforting even to read it thousands of years later.

Samekh

The author seems to be being persecuted and leans on the word for comfort and guidance.

He expresses his hate for the doubleminded and evil-doers that seem to be preventing him from observing God's commandments. (probably sacrifices and celebrations at the temple?)

But acknowledges the Lord as his hiding place and shield and his love for the law.

The in verses 116 he makes a direct plea to God to be sustained, upheld, and not made ashamed. He wants to uphold all of God's laws because he has a healthy fear of the Lord and has seen the consequences of those who do not walk in the ways of the Lord.

Ayin

This stanza could definitely be a continuation of the the previous one, Samekh. The psalmist is being oppressed and growing desperate.

In the first half the psalmists seems almost accusatory of the Lord- demanding salvation and redemption from the oppressors.

Then he seems to have a change of mind or spirit or approach to the situation. In verse 124, he is still asking for favor; but acknowledging God's lovingkindness. Then in the second half of verse 124 he asks the Lord to teach him His statutes. After that the psalmist focuses on the Lord and the Word and we no longer hear about the oppressors.

This is a really good lesson to try and focus on in times of pain and suffering. Get your eyes on the Lord and His Word.

Pe

This could be a continuation of the stanza previous, Ayin, as the previous stanza ended with a serene psalmist at peace even while being oppressed.

That goes up a notch in this stanza as the psalmist seems to go from serene to sublime. Now he finds Gods testimonies wonderful, not just out of fear as in two stanzas ago, Samekh.

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

Psalm 119: 130

He now "longs" for God's commandments. He pants for them.

He then asks God for grace and for God to establish his footsteps in the Word. And again, as he did earlier, he asks to be redeemed.

Then he ends with a surprise twist, he's crying because "They do not keep the law". It's unclear to me if "they" are his eyes or the oppressors.

Tsadhe

In this stanza the psalmist continues as a tortured soul who starts off by praising the Lord. Verses 137-138 are all about God's positive attributes.

Then he gets into his own motivations, his adversaries failing, God's Word and its goodness, back to self-pity, back to pride in his knowledge of the word, back to honoring God's character, back to his troubles, back to the goodness of God's word, ending ion verse 144 with a plea for understanding of God's testimonies :that he may live."

Boy, have I been there. Almost like a fevered dream of down times when I'm crying out for God, trying to honor Him but unable to keep bringing up whatever is troubling me.

I have to admit it's getting harder to read these stanzas. There's a schizophrenic pace about it that makes it hard to digest. This one is a microcosm of the whole Psalm 119. Frantic, disjointed, repetitive.

I know it's here for a reason and in this form for a reason. I know people have told me this is their favorite psalm. I trust God's goodness and faithfulness to bring this to life when and how He chooses.

Qoph

This is a mini psalm. It starts out with the psalmist crying for help. Seemingly bargaining with God to help and in return, the psalmist will go by God's law.

He must not get the answer he wants, so he waits, he listens, and he meditates on God's word.

And starting in verse 150, when the enemy comes near, the psalmist declares,

Thou art near, O Lord, and all Thy commandments are true.

Psalm 119: 151

It seems like his circumstances hadn't changed; but his faith had. And that made all of the difference. Don't ask for help from God, promising you'll read your Bible if He does. Go hide His word in your heart and He'll always be with you.

Resh

This is the same as above. Rotating between anxiety from the oppressors who do not keep the law; singing God's praises; and asking for help.

Shin

Same.

Tav

This one is similar. This one does seem a little less jumbled. The whole stanza seems somber and coherent. Asking for help in every part of him, knowing the Word is the key to his salvation.

There is a footnote in my Ryrie Study Bible for this stanza that brought it to life a little more:

The Word affects the mind (v. 169), the mouth (vv. 171-172), the will (v. 173), the emotions (v. 174), and the conscience (v. 176).

Ryrie Study Bible footnote commentary on Psalm 119: 169-176

Final Thoughts

That was quite a stretch. I am so grateful for God's Word. All of it. Everything He included He did for a purpose.

I did struggle with this one by the end. I wonder if something is lost in translation, culturally. I know it a work of art as much as song- trying to start each line with the same letter and such in the original. It's just so repetitive and swings wildly within a few lines.

Each topic is so important. It's important to cry out to God. And to praise Him. And to point out the folly of those who ignore or rebel against God's word. And to bring to Him our troubles. I just struggle when it feel like it's a random grab-bag of some combination of those over and over and over. I guess it feels unrealistic or insincere.

There have been times when I was spiraling like that; so I guess unrealistic isn't quite right...but maybe something about it just wore on me. I think the theme was supposed to be about God's Word; and I did see that; it was just diluted a little bit for me in the chaos.

Again, though, I love God's word and I do not want to criticize it; but I am just expressing my response to this psalm. I know people who this is their favorite psalm, and I can see how it sort of matches their personalities. So I'm grateful the Lord helps us find in HIs Word those parts that match how He made us.

Amen

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