Psalm 119:1
ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
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(1) Undefiled.—Better, blameless or perfect.

Way.—See the same use without a qualifying epithet in Psalm 2:12. There was only-one way of safety and peace for an Israelite, here by the parallelism defined as “the law of Jehovah.” But even heathen ethics bore witness to the same truth: “Declinandum de viâ sit modo ne summa turpitudo sequatur” (Cic, De Amicitia, 17).


Psalm 119:1-3. Blessed are the undefiled — Hebrew, תמימי, temimee, the perfect, or sincere, as the word properly and most frequently signifies; namely, those whose hearts and lives agree with their profession; in the way — The way of the Lord, as it is explained by the next clause; who walk in the law of the Lord — Who order their lives according to the rule of God’s word. That keep his testimonies — Who, in mind and heart, carefully and diligently observe his precepts. And that seek him — Namely, the Lord: that seek his presence and favour, with the whole heart — Sincerely, diligently, and earnestly, above all other things. They also do no iniquity — That is, knowingly: they make it their constant care to shun every known sin. They walk in his ways — In the paths which God hath prescribed to them.

119:1-8 This psalm may be considered as the statement of a believer's experience. As far as our views, desires, and affections agree with what is here expressed, they come from the influences of the Holy Spirit, and no further. The pardoning mercy of God in Christ, is the only source of a sinner's happiness. And those are most happy, who are preserved most free from the defilement of sin, who simply believe God's testimonies, and depend on his promises. If the heart be divided between him and the world, it is evil. But the saints carefully avoid all sin; they are conscious of much evil that clogs them in the ways of God, but not of that wickedness which draws them out of those ways. The tempter would make men think they are at them out of those ways. The tempter would make men think they are at liberty to follow the word of God or not, as they please. But the desire and prayer of a good man agree with the will and command of God. If a man expects by obedience in one thing to purchase indulgence for disobedience in others, his hypocrisy will be detected; if he is not ashamed in this world, everlasting shame will be his portion. The psalmist coveted to learn the laws of God, to give God the glory. And believers see that if God forsakes them, the temper will be too hard for them.Blessed are the undefiled in the way - In the way or journey of life; in the path of religion; in the road which leads to heaven. As life - the religious life - is represented under the image of a journey, the expression here is equivalent to saying, "Blessed are those who in the journey of life - in their religious course - are pure, Sincere, uncontaminated." On the word way, see the notes at Psalm 1:6. The margin here on the word undefiled, is perfect, or sincere. So the Hebrew. The word is the same as in Job 1:1, where it is rendered "perfect." See the notes at that passage. The Greek translation is undefiled - ἄμωμοι amōmoi. So the Latin, "immaculati." Luther renders it, "Who live without blemish" or stain. The idea is, "Blessed are they who are upright, sincere, perfect, in their course." The whole psalm is designed to illustrate this thought, by showing what the influence of a sincere and conscientious attachment to the principles of the law or word of God in the various circumstances of life must be.

Who walk in the law of the Lord - Who habitually obey his law. This constitutes sincerity, uprightness, perfection in a man's life, for the law of the Lord is the only just rule of human conduct.


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).

in—or, "of"

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.

1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.

2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

3 They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.

4 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.

5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!

6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.

7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.

8 I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.

These first eight verses are taken up with a contemplation of the blessedness which comes through keeping the statutes of the Lord. The subject is treated in a devout manner rather than in a didactic style. Heart-fellowship with God is enjoyed through a love of that word which is God's way of communing with the soul by his Holy Spirit. Prayer and praise and all sorts of devotional acts and feelings gleam through the verses like beams of sunlight through an olive grove. You are not only instructed, but influenced to holy emotion, and helped to express the same.

Lovers of God's holy words are blessed, because they are preserved from defilement (Psalm 119:1), because they are made practically holy (Psalm 119:2 and Psalm 119:3), and are led to follow after God sincerely and intensely (Psalm 119:2). It is seen that this holy walking must be desirable because God commands it (Psalm 119:4); therefore the pious soul prays for it (Psalm 119:5), and feels that its comfort and courage must depend upon obtaining it (Psalm 119:6). In the prospect of answered prayer, yea, while the prayer is being answered the heart is full of thankfulness (Psalm 119:7), and is fixed in solemn resolve not to miss the blessing if the Lord will give enabling grace (Psalm 119:8).

The changes are rung upon the words "way" - "undefiled in the way," "walk in his ways," "O that my ways were directed"; "keep" - "keep his testimonies," "keep thy precepts diligently," "directed to keep," "I will keep"; and "walk" - "walk in the law," "walk in his ways." Yet there is no tautology, nor is the same thought repeated, though to the careless reader it may seem so.

The change from statements about others and about the Lord to more personal dealing with God begins in Psalm 119:3, and becomes more clear as we advance, till in the later verses the communion becomes most intense and soul moving. O that every reader may feel the glow.

Psalm 119:1

"Blessed." The Psalmist is so enraptured with the word of God that he regards it as his highest ideal of blessedness to be conformed to it. He has gazed on the beauties of the perfect law, and, as if this verse were the sum and outcome of all his emotions, he exclaims, "Blessed is the man whose life is the practical transcript of the will of God." True religion is not cold and dry; it has its exclamations and raptures. We not only judge the keeping of God's law to be a wise and proper thing, but we are warmly enamoured of its holiness, and cry out in adoring wonder, "Blessed are the undefiled!" meaning thereby, that we eagerly desire to become such ourselves, and wish for no greater happiness than to be perfectly holy. It may be that the writer laboured under a sense of his own faultiness, and therefore envied the blessedness of those whose walk had been more pure and clean; indeed, the very contemplation of the perfect law of the Lord upon which he now entered was quite enough to make him bemoan his own imperfections, and sigh for the blessedness of an undefiled walk.

continued...THE ARGUMENT

The author of this Psalm was David; which I know none that deny, and of which there is no just reason to doubt. The scope and design of it is manifest, to commend the serious and diligent study, and the stedfast belief and the constant practice of God’s word, as incomparably the best counsellor and comforter in the world, and as the only way to true blessedness. And this he confirmeth by his own example, which he proposeth to them for their imitation; and he declareth the great and frequent experience which he had of its admirable sweetness and manifold benefits in all conditions, and especially in the times of his distresses. And because it was a hard thing rightly to understand this word in all its parts, and harder to put it in practice, he therefore intermixeth many prayers to God for his help therein, thereby directing and encouraging others to take the same course. And because this Psalm was very large, and the matter of it of greatest importance, the psalmist thought fit to divide it into two and twenty several parts, according to the number of the Hebrew letters, that so he might both prevent tediousness, and fix it in the memory. It is further observable that the word of God is here diversely called by the names of law, statutes, precepts or commandments, judgments, ordinances, righteousness, testimonies, way, and word; by which variety he designed to express the nature and the great perfection and manifold parts and uses of God’s word: which is called his word, as proceeding from his mouth, and revealed by him to us; his way, as prescribed by him for us to walk in; his law, as binding us to obedience, his statutes, as declaring his authority and power of giving us laws, his precepts, as declaring and directing our duty; his ordinances, as ordained and appointed by him; his righteousness, as exactly agreeable to God’s righteous nature and will; his judgments, as proceeding from the great Judge of the world, and being his judicial sentence to which all men must submit; and his testimonies, as it contains the witnesses of God’s mind and will, and of man’s duty. And there are very few of these 176 verses contained in this Psalm, in which one or other of these titles is not found.

This Psalm contains the commendation of God’s word; David’s love to it; a prayer for grace to carry himself according to it; with an account of God’s law, institutions, commandments, testimonies, precepts, word, promises, ways, judgments, name, righteousness, truth, &c.; with a prayer for help and assistance.


The undefiled; or, the perfect or sincere, as this word properly and most frequently signifies; such whose hearts and course of life agree with their profession.

In the way; either,

1. In their way or course of life, which in Scripture is oft called a man’s way; or,

2. In the way of the Lord, as it seems to be explained by the next clause.

Who walk in the law of the Lord; who order their lives according to the rule of God’s law or word.

ALEPH.--The First Part.

ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way,.... Who are in the right way to heaven and happiness, which is Jesus Christ; the strait gate, and narrow way to eternal life; the only true way of life and salvation, in which way believers walk by faith. All out of this way are altogether become filthy; but all in this way are clean, even every bit: they are without spot and blemish, blameless and unreproveable, and without fault, before the throne of God and in his sight; being washed from their sins in the blood of the Lamb, and clothed with his righteousness; and even "perfect" and complete in him, as the Targum renders the word. These are also found in the way of their duty, and walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless before men, and are sincere and upright in the sight of God; and are upon all accounts happy persons:

who walk in the law of the Lord: within the boundaries and limits of it, according to its direction, as it is a rule of walk and conversation in the hands of Christ the Lawgiver; and who continue to walk in it, as in a pleasant path, with great delight; and cheerfully obey its precepts, as influenced by the love of God, and assisted by the Spirit and grace of Christ. The word "law", or "doctrine", as it signifies, may design every revelation of the divine will; and even the doctrine of Christ, which believers should abide in, and not transgress; and should walk uprightly according to the truth of it, and as becomes it, and as they are enabled to do.

ALEPH. Blessed are {a} the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.

(a) Here they are not called blessed who think themselves wise in their own judgment, nor who imagine to themselves a certain holiness, but they whose conversation is without hypocrisy.

1. Tôrâh, ‘law,’ LXX νόμος, occurs 25 times. Cp. Deuteronomy 4:8 &c. It has however a much wider range of meaning than ‘law.’ It denotes (a) direction or instruction, whether human (Proverbs 1:8) or Divine: (b) a body of teaching: (c) more definitely, a law, or (d) a code of laws, whether the Deuteronomic code or the Levitical legislation, ‘the law of Moses’: and so finally (e) the Pentateuch. Here, as in Psalms 1, 19, it must be taken in its widest sense, as synonymous with the ‘word’ of Jehovah (Isaiah 1:10; Isaiah 2:3), to include all Divine revelation as the guide of life, prophetic exhortation as well as priestly direction, the sum of an Israelite’s duty. (Cp. the use of ‘the law’ to denote the whole O.T. in John 10:34.)

1. Blessed &c.] Happy the perfect (or upright) in way, integri vitae, those whose course of life is directed and governed by single-hearted devotion to Jehovah, and integrity in dealing with their fellow men. Cp. Psalm 1:1; Psalm 15:2 note; Psalm 101:2; Psalm 101:6.

who walk &c.] Integrity of life is defined as a walking in Jehovah’s law. This is the path (Psalm 119:33) which man must follow if he would avoid sin. Cp. Exodus 16:4; Luke 1:6. For the meaning of ‘law’ see above, p. 703.

1–8. Aleph. Loyal obedience to Jehovah’s law is the source of man’s truest happiness, and therefore the Psalmist prays that it may be the fixed rule of his life, and that he may learn to understand it better.

Verse 1. - Blessed are the undefiled in the way; rather, the perfect, or those that are per feet (Revised Version). The "way" intended is, no doubt, "the way of righteousness" (Psalm 1:7; 23:3, etc.). Who walk in the Law of the Lord. Compare the introductory paragraph for the meaning of "Law" in this psalm. This clause is exegetical of the preceding. Psalm 119:1The eightfold Aleph. Blessed are those who act according to the word of God; the poet wishes to be one of these. The alphabetical Psalm on the largest scale begins appropriately, not merely with a simple (Psalm 112:1), but with a twofold ashr. It refers principally to those integri viae (vitae). In Psalm 119:3 the description of those who are accounted blessed is carried further. Perfects,a s denoting that which is habitual, alternate with futures used as presents. In Psalm 119:4 לשׁמר expresses the purpose of the enjoining, as in Psalm 119:5 the goal of the directing. אחלי (whence אחלי, 2 Kings 5:3) is compounded of אח (vid., supra, p. 273) and לי (לוי), and consequently signifies o si. On יכּנוּ cf. Proverbs 4:26 (lxx κατευθυνθείησαν). The retrospective אז is expanded anew in Psalm 119:6: then, when I namely. "Judgment of Thy righteousness" are the decisions concerning right and wrong which give expression to and put in execution the righteousness of God.

(Note: The word "judgments" of our English authorized version is retained in the text as being the most convenient word; it must, however, be borne in mind that in this Psalm it belongs to the "chain of synonyms," and does not mean God's acts of judgment, its more usual meaning in the Old Testament Scriptures, but is used as defined above, and is the equivalent here of the German Rechte, not Gerichte. - Tr.)

בּלמדי refers to Scripture in comparison with history.

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