Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
Ps 119:1-176. This celebrated Psalm has several peculiarities. It is divided into twenty-two parts or stanzas, denoted by the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each stanza contains eight verses, and the first letter of each verse is that which gives name to the stanza. Its contents are mainly praises of God's Word, exhortations to its perusal, and reverence for it, prayers for its proper influence, and complaints of the wicked for despising it. There are but two verses (Ps 119:122, 132) which do not contain some term or description of God's Word. These terms are of various derivations, but here used, for the most part, synonymously, though the use of a variety of terms seems designed, in order to express better the several aspects in which our relations to the revealed word of God are presented. The Psalm does not appear to have any relation to any special occasion or interest of the Jewish Church or nation, but was evidently "intended as a manual of pious thoughts, especially for instructing the young, and its peculiar artificial structure was probably adopted to aid the memory in retaining the language."
ALEPH. (Ps 119:1-8).
1. undefiled—literally, "complete," perfect, or sincere (compare Ps 37:37).
the way—course of life.
in the law—according to it (compare Lu 1:6).
law—from a word meaning "to teach," is a term of rather general purport, denoting the instruction of God's Word.
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
2. testimonies—The word of God is so called, because in it He testifies for truth and against sin.
seek him—that is, a knowledge of Him, with desire for conformity to His will.
They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
3. his ways—the course He reveals as right.
Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
4-6. precepts—are those directions which relate to special conduct, from a word meaning "to inspect."
statutes—or ordinances, positive laws of permanent nature. Both words originally denote rather positive than moral laws, such as derive force from the divine appointment, whether their nature or the reasons for them are apprehended by us or not.
commandments—or institutions. The term is comprehensive, but rather denotes fundamental directions for conduct, both enjoining and forbidding.
have respect unto—or regard carefully as to their whole purport.
O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
7. judgments—rules of conduct formed by God's judicial decisions; hence the wide sense of the word in the Psalms, so that it includes decisions of approval as well as condemnation.
I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.
8. Recognizes the need of divine grace.
BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
BETH. (Ps 119:9-16).
9. The whole verse may be read as a question; for,
by taking heed—is better, "for" taking heed, that is, so as to do it. The answer is implied, and inferable from Ps 119:5, 10, 18, &c., that is, by God's grace.
With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
10-16. We must carefully treasure up the word of God, declare it to others, meditate on it, and heartily delight in it; and then by His grace we shall act according to it.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
GIMEL. Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.
GIMEL. (Ps 119:17-24).
17-20. Life is desirable in order to serve God; that we may do so aright, we should seek to have our eyes opened to behold His truth, and earnestly desire fully to understand it.
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.
My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.
Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.
21-24. God will rebuke those who despise His word and deliver His servants from their reproach, giving them boldness in and by His truth, even before the greatest men.
Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.
Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellers.
DALETH. My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.
DALETH. (Ps 119:25-32).
25-27. Submitting ourselves in depression to God, He will revive us by His promises, and lead us to declare His mercy to others.
I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes.
Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.
My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.
28-32. In order to adhere to His word, we must seek deliverance from temptations to sin as well as from despondency.
my heart—with gracious affections.
Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously.
I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.
I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame.
I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.
HE. Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.
HE. (Ps 119:33-40).
33-38. To encourage us in prayer for divine aid in adhering to His truth, we are permitted to believe that by His help we shall succeed.
the way of thy statutes—that is, the way or manner of life prescribed by them. The help we hope to obtain by prayer is to be the basis on which our resolutions should rest.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.
Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
37. Turn away mine eyes—literally, "Make my eyes to pass, not noticing evil."
vanity—literally, "falsehood;" all other objects of trust than God; idols, human power, &c. (Ps 31:6; 40:4; 60:11; 62:9).
quicken … in thy way—make me with living energy to pursue the way marked out by Thee. Revive me from the death of spiritual helplessness (Ps 119:17, 25, 40, 50; 116:3).
Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.
38. who is devoted to thy fear—or better, "which (that is, Thy word) is for Thy fear," for producing it. "Which is to those who fear Thee." God's word of promise belongs peculiarly to such (compare Ge 18:19; 1Ki 2:4; 8:25) [Hengstenberg].
Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.
39, 40. Our hope of freedom from the reproach of inconsistency is in God's power, quickening us to live according to His Word, which He leads us to love.
for thy judgments are good—The time must therefore be at hand when Thy justice will turn the "reproach" from Thy Church upon the world (Isa 25:8; 66:5; Zep 2:8-10).
Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.
VAU. Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word.
VAU. (Ps 119:41-48).
41-44. The sentiment more fully carried out. God's mercies and salvation, as revealed in His Word, provide hope of forgiveness for the past and security in a righteous course for the future.
So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.
42. The possession of God's gift of "salvation" (Ps 119:41) will be the Psalmist's answer to the foe's "reproach," that his hope was a fallacious one.
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.
So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.
And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.
45-48. To freedom from reproach, when imbued with God's truth, there is added "great boldness in the faith" [1Ti 3:13], accompanied with increasing delight in the holy law itself, which becomes an element of happiness.
I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.
And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.
My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.
48. My hands … lift up unto … commandments—that is, I will prayerfully (Ps 28:2) direct my heart to keep Thy commandments.
ZAIN. Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.
ZAIN. (Ps 119:49-56).
49-51. Resting on the promises consoles under affliction and the tauntings of the insolent.
upon which—rather, "Remember Thy word unto Thy servant, because," &c. So the Hebrew requires [Hengstenberg].
This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.
50. for—rather, "This is my comfort … that," &c. [Maurer].
hath quickened—What the Word has already done is to faith a pledge of what it shall yet do.
The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.
I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself.
52-56. The pious take comfort, when harassed and distressed by wickedness of men who forsake God's law, in remembering that the great principles of God's truth will still abide; and also God's
judgments of old—that is, His past interpositions in behalf of His people are a pledge that He will again interpose to deliver them; and they become the theme of constant and delightful meditation. The more we keep the more we love the law of God.
Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.
53. Horror—rather, "vehement wrath" [Hengstenberg].
Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.
54. songs—As the exile sings songs of his home (Ps 137:3), so the child of God, "a stranger on earth," sings the songs of heaven, his true home (Ps 39:12). In ancient times, laws were put in verse, to imprint them the more on the memory of the people. So God's laws are the believer's songs.
house of my pilgrimage—present life (Ge 17:8; 47:9; Heb 11:13).
I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law.
This I had, because I kept thy precepts.
56. Rather, "This is peculiarly mine (literally, to me), that I keep Thy precepts" [Hengstenberg and Maurer].
CHETH. Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words.
CHETH. (Ps 119:57-64).
57-60. Sincere desires for God's favor, penitence, and activity in a new obedience, truly evince the sincerity of those who profess to find God a portion (Nu 18:20; Ps 16:5; La 3:24).
I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.
58. favour—Hebrew, "face" (Ps 45:12).
I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
59. So the prodigal son, when reduced to straits of misery (Lu 15:17, 18).
I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.
The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.
61, 62. This the more, if opposition of enemies, or love of ease is overcome in thus honoring God's law.
have robbed me—better, surrounded me, either as forcible constraints like fetters, or as the cords of their nets. Hengstenberg translates, "snares."
At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.
62. At midnight—Hengstenberg supposes a reference to the time when the Lord went forth to slay the Egyptian first-born (Ex 11:4; 12:29; compare Job 34:20). But it rather refers to the Psalmist's own praises and prayers in the night time. Compare Paul and Silas (Ac 16:25; compare Ps 63:6).
I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.
63. The communion of the saints. Delight in their company is an evidence of belonging to them (Ps 16:3; Am 3:3; Mal 3:16).
The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes.
64. While opposed by the wicked, and opposing them, the pious delight in those who fear God, but, after all, rely for favor and guidance not on merit, but mercy.
TETH. Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word.
TETH. (Ps 119:65-72).
65-67. The reliance on promises (Ps 119:49) is strengthened by experience of past dealings according with promises, and a prayer for guidance, encouraged by sanctified affliction.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.
66. Teach me good judgment and knowledge—namely, in Thy word (so as to fathom its deep spirituality); for the corresponding expression (Ps 119:12, 64, 68), is, "Teach me Thy statutes."
Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
67. Referred by Hengstenberg to the chastening effect produced on the Jews' minds by the captivity (Jer 31:18, 19). The truth is a general one (Job 5:6; Joh 15:2; Heb 12:11).
Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.
68. Compare as to the Lord Jesus (Ac 10:38).
The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.
69, 70. The crafty malice of the wicked, in slandering him, so far from turning him away, but binds him closer to God's Word, which they are too stupid in sin to appreciate. Hengstenberg refers the "lie" to such slanders against the Jews during the captivity, as that in Ezr 4:1-6, of sedition.
Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.
70. fat as grease—spiritually insensible (Ps 17:10; 73:7; Isa 6:10).
It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
71, 72. So also affliction of any kind acts as a wholesome discipline in leading the pious more highly to value the truth and promises of God.
The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.
JOD. Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.
JOD. (Ps 119:73-80).
73. As God made, so He can best control, us. So as to Israel, he owed to God his whole internal and external existence (De 32:6).
They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.
74. So when He has led us to rely on His truth, He will "make us to the praise of His grace" by others. "Those who fear Thee will be glad at my prosperity, as they consider my cause their cause" (Ps 34:2; 142:7).
I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
75-78. in faithfulness—that is, without in the least violating Thy faithfulness; because my sins deserved and needed fatherly chastisement. Enduring chastisement with a filial temper (Heb 12:6-11), God's promises of mercy (Ro 8:28) will be fulfilled, and He will give comfort in sorrow (La 3:22; 2Co 1:3, 4).
Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.
Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.
77. Let thy tender mercies come unto me—As I am not able to come unto them. But the wicked will be confounded.
Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.
78. but I … meditate in thy precepts—and so shall not be "ashamed," that is, put to shame (Ps 119:80).
Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies.
79, 80. Those who may have thought his afflictions an evidence of God's rejection will then be led to return to Him; as the friends of Job did on his restoration, having been previously led through his afflictions to doubt the reality of his religion.
Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.
80. Let my … be sound—that is, perfect, sincere.
ashamed—disappointed in my hope of salvation.
CAPH. My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.
CAPH. (Ps 119:81-88).
81-83. In sorrow the pious heart yearns for the comforts of God's promises (Ps 73:26; 84:2).
Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?
82. Mine eyes fail for thy word—that is, with yearning desire for Thy word. When the eyes fail, yet faith must not.
For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes.
83. bottle in the smoke—as a skin bottle dried and shriveled up in smoke, so is he withered by sorrow. Wine bottles of skin used to be hung up in smoke to dry them, before the wine was put in them [Maurer].
How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?
84-87. The shortness of my life requires that the relief afforded to me from mine enemies should be speedy.
The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law.
85. pits—plots for my destruction.
which—rather, "who," that is, "the proud"; "pits" is not the antecedent.
All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me.
They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not thy precepts.
87. consumed me upon earth—Hengstenberg translates, "in the land"; understanding "me" of the nation Israel, of which but a small remnant was left. But English Version is simpler; either, "They have consumed me so as to leave almost nothing of me on earth"; or, "They have almost destroyed and prostrated me on the earth" [Maurer].
I forsook not—Whatever else I am forsaken of, I forsake not Thy precepts, and so am not mistaken of Thee (Ps 39:5, 13; 2Co 4:8, 9), and the injuries and insults of the wicked increase the need for it. But, however they act regardless of God's law, the pious, adhering to its teaching, receive quickening grace, and are sustained steadfast.
Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.
LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
LAMED. (Ps 119:89-96).
89-91. In all changes God's Word remains firm (1Pe 1:25). Like the heavens, it continually attests God's unfailing power and unchanging care (Ps 89:2).
is settled in—that is, stands as firmly as the heaven in which it dwells, and whence it emanated.
Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.
90. thou hast established the earth, and it abideth—(Ps 33:9).
They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants.
91. They—the heaven (Ps 119:89) and the earth (Ps 119:90). Hengstenberg translates, "They stand for thy judgment," that is, ready, as obedient servants, to execute them. The usage of this Psalm favors this view. But see Jer 33:25.
Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.
92-94. Hence the pious are encouraged and inclined to seek a knowledge of it, and persevere amidst the efforts of those planning and waiting to destroy them.
my delights—plural, not merely delight, but equal to all other delights.
I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.
93. The bounds of created perfection may be defined, but those of God's law in its nature, application, and influence, are infinite. There is no human thing so perfect but that something is wanting to it; its limits are narrow, whereas God's law is of infinite breadth, reaching to all cases, perfectly meeting what each requires, and to all times (Ps 19:3, 6, 7-11; Ec 3:11). It cannot be cramped within any definitions of man's dogmatical systems. Man never outgrows the Word. It does not shock the ignorant man with declared anticipations of discoveries which he had not yet made; while in it the man of science finds his newest discoveries by tacit anticipations provided for.
I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts.
The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies.
I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad.
MEM. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
MEM. (Ps 119:97-104).
97. This characteristic love for God's law (compare Ps 1:2) ensures increase.
Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
98-100. of knowledge, both of the matter of all useful, moral truth, and an experience of its application.
wiser than mine enemies—with all their carnal cunning (De 4:6, 8).
they are ever with me—The Hebrew is, rather singular, "it is ever with me"; the commandments forming ONE complete whole, Thy law.
I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
99. understanding—is practical skill (Ps 2:10; 32:8).
I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.
100. more than the ancients—Antiquity is no help against stupidity, where it does not accord with God's word [Luther] (Job 32:7-9). The Bible is the key of all knowledge, the history of the world, past, present, and to come (Ps 111:10). He who does the will of God shall know of the doctrine (Joh 7:17).
I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.
101-104. Avoidance of sinful courses is both the effect and means of increasing in divine knowledge (compare Ps 19:10).
I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.
How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.
NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
NUN. (Ps 119:105-112).
105. Not only does the Word of God inform us of His will, but, as a light on a path in darkness, it shows us how to follow the right and avoid the wrong way. The lamp of the Word is not the sun. He would blind our eyes in our present fallen state; but we may bless God for the light shining as in a dark place, to guide us until the Sun of Righteousness shall come, and we shall be made capable of seeing Him (2Pe 1:19; Re 22:4). The lamp is fed with the oil of the Spirit. The allusion is to the lamps and torches carried at night before an Eastern caravan.
I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.
106-108. Such was the national covenant at Sinai and in the fields of Moab.
I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word.
Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me thy judgments.
108. freewill offerings—the spontaneous expressions of his gratitude, as contrasted with the appointed "offerings" of the temple (Ho 14:2; Heb 13:15). He determines to pursue this way, relying on God's quickening power (Ps 119:50) in affliction, and a gracious acceptance of his "spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise" (Ps 50:5, 14, 23).
My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law.
109, 110. In the midst of deadly perils (the phrase is drawn from the fact that what we carry in our hands may easily slip from them, Jud 12:3; 1Sa 28:21; Job 13:14; compare 1Sa 19:5), and exposed to crafty enemies, his safety and guidance is in the truth and promises of God.
The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.
Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.
111, 112. These he joyfully takes as his perpetual heritage, to perform the duties and receive the comforts they teach, evermore.
I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.
SAMECH. I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.
SAMECH. (Ps 119:113-120).
113. vain thoughts—better, "unstable persons," literally, "divided men," those of a divided, doubting mind (Jas 1:8); "a double-minded man" [Hengstenberg], skeptics, or, skeptical notions as opposed to the certainty of God's word.
Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.
114. hiding-place—(Compare Ps 27:5).
shield—(Ps 3:3; 7:10).
hope in thy word—confidently rest on its teachings and promises.
Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.
115-117. Hence he fears not wicked men, nor dreads disappointment, sustained by God in making His law the rule of life.
Depart from me—Ye can do nothing with me; for, &c. (Ps 6:8).
Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.
Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.
Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood.
118-120. But the disobedient and rebellious will be visited by God's wrath, which impresses the pious with wholesome fear and awe.
their deceit is falsehood—that is, all their cunning deceit, wherewith they seek to entrap the godly, is in vain.
Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies.
My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.
120. The "judgments" are those on the wicked (Ps 119:119). Joyful hope goes hand in hand with fear (Hab 3:16-18).
AIN. I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressors.
AIN. (Ps 119:121-128).
121-126. On the grounds of his integrity, desire for God's word, and covenant relation to Him, the servant of God may plead for His protecting care against the wicked, gracious guidance to the knowledge of truth, and His effective vindication of the righteous and their cause, which is also His own.
Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me.
122. Be surety—Stand for me against my oppressors (Ge 43:9; Isa 38:14).
Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness.
Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes.
I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.
It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law.
Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.
127, 128. Therefore—that is, In view of these benefits, or, Because of the glory of Thy law, so much praised in the previous parts of the Psalm.
I love … [and] Therefore (repeated)—All its precepts, on all subjects, are estimable for their purity, and lead one imbued with their spirit to hate all evil (Ps 19:10). The Word of God admits of no eclecticism; its least title is perfect (Ps 12:6; Mt 5:17-19).
Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.
PE. Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.
PE. (Ps 119:129-136).
129. wonderful—literally, "wonders," that is, of moral excellence.
The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
130. The entrance—literally, "opening"; God's words, as an open door, let in light, or knowledge. Rather, as Hengstenberg explains it, "The opening up," or, "explanation of thy word." To the natural man the doors of God's Word are shut. Lu 24:27, 31; Ac 17:3; Eph 1:18, confirm this view, "opening (that is, explaining) and alleging," &c.
unto the simple—those needing or desiring it (compare Ps 19:7).
I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.
131-135. An ardent desire (compare Ps 56:1, 2) for spiritual enlightening, establishment in a right course, deliverance from the wicked, and evidence of God's favor is expressed
I opened my mouth, and panted—as a traveller in a hot desert pants for the cooling breeze (Ps 63:1; 84:2).
Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.
132. Look … upon me—opposed to hiding or averting the face (compare Ps 25:15; 86:6; 102:17).
as thou usest to do—or, "as it is right in regard to those who love Thy name." Such have a right to the manifestations of God's grace, resting on the nature of God as faithful to His promise to such, not on their own merits.
Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
133. Order my steps—Make firm, so that there be no halting (Ps 40:2).
any iniquity—Ps 119:34 favors Hengstenberg, "any iniquitous man," any "oppressor." But the parallel first clause in this (Ps 119:33) favors English Version (Ps 19:13). His hope of deliverance from external oppression of man (Ps 119:34) is founded on his deliverance from the internal "dominion of iniquity," in answer to his prayer (Ps 119:33).
Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts.
Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes.
Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.
136. Zealous himself to keep God's law, he is deeply afflicted when others violate it (compare Ps 119:53). Literally, "Mine eyes come down (dissolved) like water brooks" (La 3:48; Jer 9:1).
because, &c.—(Compare Eze 9:4; Jer 13:17).
TZADDI. Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are thy judgments.
TZADDI. (Ps 119:137-144).
137-139. God's justice and faithfulness in His government aggravate the neglect of the wicked, and more excite the lively zeal of His people.
Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful.
My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.
139. (Ps 69:9).
Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.
140. very pure—literally, "refined," shown pure by trial.
I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts.
141. The pious, however despised of men, are distinguished in God's sight by a regard for His law.
Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.
142-144. The principles of God's government are permanent and reliable, and in the deepest distress His people find them a theme of delightful meditation and a source of reviving power (Ps 119:17, 116).
law is the truth—It therefore cannot deceive as to its promises.
everlasting—(Ps 111:3), though to outward appearance seeming dead.
Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.
The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live.
KOPH. I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes.
KOPH. (Ps 119:145-152).
145-149. An intelligent devotion is led by divine promises and is directed to an increase of gracious affections, arising from a contemplation of revealed truth.
I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies.
I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.
147. prevented—literally, "came before," anticipated not only the dawn, but even the usual periods of the night; when the night watches, which might be expected to find me asleep, come, they find me awake (Ps 63:6; 77:4; La 2:19). Such is the earnestness of the desire and love for God's truth.
Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.
Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: O LORD, quicken me according to thy judgment.
149. quicken me—revive my heart according to those principles of justice, founded on Thine own nature, and revealed in Thy law, which specially set forth Thy mercy to the humble as well as justice to the wicked (compare Ps 119:30).
They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law.
150-152. Though the wicked are near to injure, because far from God's law, He is near to help, and faithful to His word, which abides for ever.
Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth.
Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.
RESH. Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law.
RESH. (Ps 119:153-160).
153-155. Though the remembering of God's law is not meritorious, yet it evinces a filial temper and provides the pious with promises to plead, while the wicked in neglecting His law, reject God and despise His promises (compare Ps 9:13; 43:1; 69:18).
Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word.
154. Plead, &c.—Hengstenberg translates, "Fight my fight." (See Ps 35:1; 43:1; Mic 7:9).
Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes.
Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD: quicken me according to thy judgments.
156. (See on Ps 119:149).
Many are my persecutors and mine enemies; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies.
157. (Compare Ps 119:86, 87, 95).
I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word.
158. (Compare Ps 119:136).
transgressors—or, literally, "traitors," who are faithless to a righteous sovereign and side with His enemies (compare Ps 25:3, 8).
Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness.
159. (Compare Ps 119:121-126, 153-155).
quicken me, O Lord, according to thy lovingkindness—(Ps 119:88). This prayer occurs here for the ninth time, showing a deep sense of frailty.
Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
160. God has been ever faithful, and the principles of His government will ever continue worthy of confidence.
from the beginning—that is, "every word from Genesis (called so by the Jews from its first words, 'In the beginning') to the end of the Scriptures is true." Hengstenberg translates more literally, "The sum of thy words is truth." The sense is substantially the same. The whole body of revelation is truth. "Thy Word is nothing but truth" [Luther].
SCHIN. Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.
SCHIN. (Ps 119:161-168).
161-165. (Compare Ps 119:46, 86).
awe—reverential, not slavish fear, which could not coexist with love (Ps 119:163; 1Jo 4:8). Instead of fearing his persecutors, he fears God's Word alone (Lu 12:4, 5). The Jews inscribe in the first page of the great Bible (Ge 28:17), "How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!"
I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.
162. (Compare Mt 13:44, 45). Though persecuted by the mighty, the pious are not turned from revering God's authority to seek their favor, but rejoice in the possession of this "pearl of great price," as great victors in spoils. Hating falsehood and loving truth, often, every day, praising God for it, they find peace and freedom from temptation.
I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.
163. lying—that is, as in Ps 119:29, unfaithfulness to the covenant of God with His people; apostasy.
Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
165. nothing shall offend them—or, "cause them to offend" (compare Margin).
LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.
166-168. As they keep God's law from motives of love for it, and are free from slavish fear, the are ready to subject their lives to His inspection.
My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.
I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee.
168. all my ways are before thee—I wish to order my ways as before Thee, rather than in reference to man (Ge 19:1; Ps 73:23). All men's ways are under God's eye (Pr 5:21); the godly alone realize the fact, and live accordingly.
TAU. Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word.
TAU. (Ps 119:169-176).
169, 170. The prayer for understanding of the truth precedes that for deliverance. The fulfilment of the first is the basis of the fulfilment of the second (Ps 90:11-17). On the terms "cry" and "supplication" (compare Ps 6:9; 17:1).
Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word.
My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes.
171, 172. shall utter—or, "pour out praise" (compare Ps 19:2); shall cause Thy praises to stream forth as from a bubbling, overflowing fountain.
My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.
172. My tongue shall speak of thy word—literally, "answer Thy Word," that is, with praise, respond to Thy word. Every expression in which we praise God and His Word is a response, or acknowledgment, corresponding to the perfections of Him whom we praise.
Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.
173, 174. (Compare Ps 119:77, 81, 92).
I have chosen—in preference to all other objects of delight.
I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight.
Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.
175. Save me that I may praise Thee.
thy judgments—as in Ps 119:149, 156.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.
176. Though a wanderer from God, the truly pious ever desires to be drawn back to Him; and, though for a time negligent of duty, he never forgets the commandments by which it is taught.
lost—therefore utterly helpless as to recovering itself (Jer 50:6; Lu 15:4). Not only the sinner before conversion, but the believer after conversion, is unable to recover himself; but the latter, after temporary wandering, knows to whom to look for restoration. Ps 119:175, 176 seem to sum up the petitions, confessions, and professions of the Psalm. The writer desires God's favor, that he may praise Him for His truth, confesses that he has erred, but, in the midst of all his wanderings and adversities, professes an abiding attachment to the revealed Word of God, the theme of such repeated eulogies, and the recognized source of such great and unnumbered blessings. Thus the Psalm, though more than usually didactic, is made the medium of both parts of devotion—prayer and praise.