PSALM 119:1-8  


 

PSALM 119

(See:  pronunciation guide for the Hebrew vowels)

A. BACKGROUND:

            1. The writer is a young man of the nation of Israel, who is under extreme political
                and social persecution because of his obedience to and proclamation of truth. He is apparently in transient TO or FROM someplace, or simply “on the lam” from the governmental persecutors who seek his life and seek to silence his testimony. There are some scholars who think that this young man is in prison, however the two verses (vs. 61, 83) used to “prove” this do not suggest to me any kind of imprisonment. Quite to the contrary, verse 54 indicates that this man is finding shelter in at least ONE house during the course of his SOJOURNINGS.

“Your statutes are my songs in the house of my sojournings.”

It is during the course of his wanderings that he has penned this Psalm, and not while in prison.

The personal claim to inspiration is found at verse 102.

“For you yourself have taught me.” The use of the 2nd person personal pronoun along with the 2nd person of the verb places great emphasis on the statement and indicates direct and intimate interaction. The principle of inspiration is expressed at this point.
This is the only claim to such direct revelation from God that we find here. However, the statement at verse 171 echoes this claim, but without using the emphatic personal pronoun.

“Because You teach me Your statues.”

Also, in nine verses, the believer expresses his desire for continued personal instruction from God (verse 12, 26, 33, 64, 66, 68, 108, 124, 135).

And there are five verses where he pleads for continued understanding from God (verse 34, 73, 125, 144, 169).

The FACT that traditionally, this psalm has been accepted as part of the inspired Old Testament Scriptures, lends support to this very personal experience stated by the believer.
This might in fact be the very explanation how this believer could continue to STUDY and LEARN God’s word as he wanders throughout the land. It seems unlikely that he would be able to carry with him the written scrolls of the Torah or other Scripture.

According to verse 100 and the over all context of the Psalm, I believe that this believer is the most spiritually oriented believer of his generation. The context also indicates that he has come under the most severe persecution that has ALMOST shut him down from functioning as an efficient evangelistic servant of God.  However, even in such severe circumstances, God was able to use him. And although we have no record of his direct influence on others, God has given us through him, this fantastic psalm that magnifies the most important thing in the believer’s life – the word of God, and how it functions in the life to maintain sinless consistency.

            2. He is a young man: verses 9, 99, 100

            3. He recognizes his alien status. Verse 19

                This is the Principle of Hebrews 11:13-16.

            4. Throughout the psalm we see his consistent testimony:

                a. Compassion: Verse 136

                b. Godly hatred: An attitude that rejects false doctrine and false teachers.
                    Verses 104 and 113

                c. Godly anger: The expression of righteous indignation. Verses 53, 158

 

            5. The experience of general persecution:
                 Verses 39, 42, 51, 61, 69, 78, 84-87, 95, 110, 153-157

            6. Political persecution: Verse 23, 46, 161

            7. Endurance while under extreme pressure:  Verses 25, 28, 81-82, 143

            8. Great humility: He recognizes that the experience of all of God’s blessings is based on
                His wisdom and timing as revealed in His word.

9. The ultimate testimony is his experience of sinless consistency.

10. The theory that this young man is someone who was on the “death march” to Babylon in 586 BCE, is un-provable and has no Scripture to support it.

Likewise the theory that the Psalm was written by an oppressed Jew during the Maccabean period of Jewish history is un-provable. The last books of the Old Testament were completed with the ministry of Malachi and Nehemiah during the years 3623 to 3635 A.H. (502-490 BCE). The Maccabean period occurred a few hundred years later.

11. Again, this believer is the most spiritually oriented believer of his generation and has come under such severe persecution that it has ALMOST shut him down from functioning as an efficient evangelistic servant of God. However, even in such severe circumstances, God was able to use him. And although we have no record of his direct influence on others, God has given us through him, this fantastic psalm that magnifies the most important thing in the believer’s life – the word of God.

The purpose of the Psalm is to teach the value of God’s word for the believer in every area of his life and to promote sinless consistency in the writer’s life and the lives of the readers. Every verse in this Psalm mentions some aspect of God’s word except verse 122.
The Psalm highlights the principle of repetition as the key to learning and meditating on spiritual
 promises and principles.

B. THE STRUCTURE: The psalm contains 22 sections identified by the 22 1etters of the Hebrew alphabet. It is an acrostic Psalm like the ones at Psalms 9-10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, and 145. See also Proverbs 31 and Lamentations 1-4.

A side note:  The personal name of God, Yahweh, occurs 24 times in this Psalm. (Vs. 1, 12, 31, 33, 41, 52, 55, 57, 64, 65, 75, 89, 107, 108, 126, 137, 145, 149, 151, 156, 159, 166, 169, 174.)

Twenty-one of these are a direct address to Him, and perhaps verse 57 as well, which would make the total TWENTY-TWO.

            1. Each section serves as an alphabetical FILE of truths to live by for certain categories of human life.

                Examples: the letter, aleph, stands for an ox and represents human prosperity.

                                The letter, beth, stands for a house and represents domestic life.

 

            2. Each file contains 8 entries beginning with the respective letter of that file.

            3. Each entry is a couplet (2 line poem), that contains spiritual truths to relate to the particular factor
                that the letter represents.

4.      Most of the entry topics are repeated in each file to show how each area of our human existence relates to the same spiritual truths.

            5. This structure serves as a tool for easy memorization. The mandate to the people of Israel that was given to them in Deuteronomy 6:7-9, requires repetition and memorization. The acrostic format facilitates the fulfillment of this command.

Deut.6:6-9 (NET)

“These words I am commanding you today must be kept in mind, and you must teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road, as you lie down, and as you get up.  You should tie them as a reminder on your forearm and fasten them as symbols on your forehead.  Inscribe them on the doorframes of your houses and gates.

Verses 1-8      
THE PROSPERITY FILE: The letter aleph, stands for an ox and represents human prosperity in general. But the primary focus here is spiritual prosperity, which is described as inner happiness.

Verse 1, the integrity entry: It teaches truth that establishes the basis for true happiness in life.

1. Blessed: asheray occurs only here and verse 2 in this psalm. The word is in the plural and means “happiness to.” The plural is a plural of INTENSITY and thus, speaks of TRUE inner happiness in human existence. CT (corrected translation) = Maximum happiness to.

The plural of intensity indicates maximum spiritual promotion via inner happiness and contentment.

Inner happiness actually entails true optimism concerning everything in life. True optimism is the grace attitude of total confidence in the character and plan of God regarding anything that the believer might encounter in this life.

The fact that only the first two verses contain the word, HAPPINESS, sets the pattern so that it need not be repeated. Everything that follows is the basis for experiencing true inner happiness, peace, and inner stability; true grace optimism. The pathway to inner happiness is sinless consistency. To the degree that the believer follows the word of God, to that degree true happiness and spiritual prosperity will be an experiential reality throughout his life, and he will be optimistic toward the future no matter WHAT he might encounter.


See Topic: HAPPINESS

2. Those whose way: The word here is derek, and it refers to one’s way of life with emphasis on viewpoint.  The word, orech, which is also translated as “way” focuses on an overt pathway.

3. is blameless: tAmiym, is used to indicate consistency of spiritual integrity. The word means perfect, complete, consistent. It does not mean ABSOLUTELY sinless, but rather, refers to the practice of SINLESS CONSISTENCY as the ultimate in spiritual growth and maintaining a testimonial impact within one’s society, which characterize the mature believer.
TAmiym indicates that the believer is prepared to function effectively in the spiritual conflict, and is equipped and capable to handle ANYTHING that is encountered (disaster, tragedy, heartache, success, changing circumstances).
There has never been in the history of the human race ANYTHING that is greater than the plan of God or more difficult for His resources to handle.

4. Who walk: hAlak, fulfills derek by putting into practice Divine truth. This is the one who lives his life (walks) according to God’s word.

5. in the law of Yahweh: torAh is the word for law.

a. It comes from the verb, yArAh, which means to throw or shoot .
b. In the hiphil stem it means to point out, to shoot, to direct, to teach.
c. Thus, torah is a noun which refers to the content of the instruction – that which is taught.
(That which is pointed out or “thrown” at God’s people to be their guidelines for life).

d. It refers to the Divine policy for living in general. That is, God’s standards for the entire human race; how the creature is to live in the world designed and sustained by The Creator.

e. This is what measures spiritual integrity; God’s viewpoint, God’s standards.

f. Yahweh: This is the literal translation of the words, “the LORD,” and I will consistently translate it as Yahweh. It is the personal name of God and should be so rendered. It does not mean “the LORD,” but is translated that way as an extension of Jewish superstition based on a misunderstanding and misapplication of Exodus 20:7.

For details see: Lord: technical background

SEE TOPIC:  Sinless Consistency

6. In this Psalm, there are 5 other words to amplify torah and 6 others to describe Divine provision in general.

dAh, piqqudh, choq, mitzwAh, and mishpAt.

 

Verse 2, the study entry: Always focuses on the issue of perception and retention of truth.

1. asheray: Again the idea is that there is maximum happiness and spiritual optimism to or upon those who follow divine viewpoint and policy.

2. those who observe:   The verb is nAtsar as a qal active participle.

a. The verb means to look at, consider or examine

b. It means to keep, to guard, to observe, and thus the idea is to ACCEPT.

c. Here, the idea is successful perception; that is hearing and accepting, as at verses 100, 115 and 129.  It is amplified by the verb in the next line, “those who SEEK Him.”

d. This is the basis for verse 1 – walking in the law. One cannot walk in the law without first having a successful perception and a volitional acceptance of the standards of the law.

d. In the Parable of the Sower at Matthew 13:19-23, this is the one of verse 23, “the one who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundred percent, some sixty and some thirty.”

3. His testimonies: Here we have the FIRST WORD that amplifies LAW.

The word is dAh, and it occurs 14 times in Ps. 119.
(also occurs in the form duth, 9 times)

a. It comes from the verb, `udh, which means to return or repeat.

b. The noun then, refers to principles of truth which continually focus on that which EXALTS God in the eyes of His creatures. These are truths and principles that WITNESS to the greatness and magnificence of YAweh; truths that magnify His Divine character and actions. That’s why it is translated as TESTIMONIES; that which TESTIFIES to the essence of the Godhead.

c. Proclamations such as are found at Psalm 76:5-8.

4. Those who seek him: dArash is the verb and it refers to positive volition in wanting knowledge and fellowship with God.

5. With all their heart: This is an idiom that indicates total dedication.

a. It indicates a humility attitude that recognizes one’s NEED for God’s word.
This is called GROWTH HUMILITY.

b. These are the ones who hunger and thirst after righteousness, as at Mat. 5:6.
c. This rules out lip service and half-hearted interest in learning the bible.
d. Growth humility produces true spiritual prosperity. James 1:21-25
e. Genuine humility is the impetus for progress and success in the Christian way of life.

     1. impetus = the volitional decision to pursue truth.

     2. velocity = maximum exposure to truth; get as much as you can; “go as fast as you can.”

     3. mass =  the content of bible truth gathered into the soul.

     4. momentum = perpetuation of spiritual values in your life on earth.

     5. advance = progress to spiritual maturity and the experience of sinless consistency.

        Sinless consistency is the radiance of Christ’s character which produces in the believer a

        personal historical impact. 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:5-8

Verse 3 - the fellowship entry: the issue of sinless consistency with emphasis on CHOOSING not to sin.     Principle: spiritual integrity produces moral/sinless consistency.

1. They also do no wrong: `AwlAh, refers to violations of God’s standards of morality.

2. they walk in his ways: Derek, again refers to the way of life God designed for moral stability within the human race. Only God’s standard measures true moral integrity - not man’s.

3. Psalm 15:1-5

4. Ephesians 5:9, the fruit of the light.

 

Verse 4 -The plan of God entry: God has established the only plan for success in life.

1.  You have ordained (commanded): tsAwAh, as a piel perfect means to set forth something as required policy. The word, commandment (mitzwAh), comes from this verb. “You have commanded.”

2. your precepts: piqqudh is the 2nd word used to amplify torah - instruction.

    a. It comes from the verb, pAqad and means, attend to, visit, muster, appoint.

    b. Thus, that which has been gathered or appointed. It occurs 24 times in the Psalms and 21 times in Psalm 119.

    c. Ps. 19:8, His precepts are yAshAr. This adjective means morally upright.

        Here, we learn that the precepts of Yahweh present His standards for moral integrity and bring great
        inner joy to the believer.

    d. Ps. 111:7,  His precepts are dependable. The verb is amān, as a niphal participle.
        This word speaks of faithfulness and reliability – thus, dependable.

            Verse 8a - upheld forever - indicates eternal spiritual value.

            Verse 8b - performed in truth and uprightness - emeth and yAshAr.

3. that we should keep them: shAmar – guard, preserve, follow

4. diligently: the adverb, meodh, has the idea of  much or abundance. It thus indicates devotion and CONSISTENCY.

5. Ps. 103:15-18 - the secret of the abundant life.

6. Eph. 2:10 - the purpose for the believer’s life on earth is to do good works.

Verse 5, the dedication entry: This entry expresses growth humility and fellowship humility. This is a strong desire to conform one’s life to Divine design; the divine priority.

1.  Oh that: achalay, is an exclamation that expresses a strong desire.

2. my ways: derek here, refers to every aspect of human existence as centered in the soul.

3. may be established:  the verb is kun as a niphal imperfect to indicate STABILITY in one’s life. “Oh that my ways may be stabilized . . .”

4. to keep: shAmar is an infinitive of purpose which means to preserve, guard, follow.

5. your statutes: choq is the 3rd word to amplify torAh.

    a. It comes from the verb, chAqaq which means to decree, prescribe, set limits, establish obligations.

    b. Thus, that which is decreed as established policy for God’s people with regard to cultural and national issues.

    c. They are cal1ed good (tobh) at Nehemiah 9:13, that is, benef1cial for social stability and testimony. 

6. This is fulfilled by humility toward God, which rejects one’s “own understanding” and depends on the viewpoint of God in every area of life.  Proverbs 3:5-7
The “fear of the Lord” is the humility attitude that accepts HIS standards and follows them.

“Fear Yahweh and turn away from evil.”

7. This attitude reflects the FOREVER ATTITUDE even though “forever” is not used in the passage. This attitude of the believer desires to NEVER SIN; to keep the law of God “FOREVER.”  As prone as we are to failure in this righteous endeavor, it still should be the desire of every believer who is dedicated to promoting God’s truth in this world.

SEE TOPIC: The Forever Attitude

Verse 6, The confidence entry

1.  Then: Az indicates a result; the result of success in perception and application.

2. I shall not be ashamed: The verb, bosh, indicates no shame, which indicates maximum confidence in life; no intimidation or mental vulnerability. The writer anticipates the pressure of the antagonistic environment; the attack of evil; the persecution from those who are haters of God.

3. When I look upon: nAbat, as a hiphil infinitive + the preposition, el, means to pay attention to, regard, consider. It indicates learning and application, and NOT just perception as is implied in the NASB. Perception does not produce growth-results. Acceptance, which constitutes true LEARNING produces growth.

4. All your commandments:

    a. All – indicates the principle of whole counsel teaching and the applicability of all of

               God’s word to the life of the believer.

    b. commandments: This is mitswAh and is the 4th word to amplify torAh.

        1. from tsAwAh, which means to charge, command, order.

        2. That which is commanded as policy for any and every area of life.

Verse 7, The worship entry

1. I shall give thanks: The verb is yAdAh, which means to throw toward. It is an attitude of humility which “throws itself” toward the source of blessing. The attitude recognizes WHO God is and praises/thanks Him.

2. With uprightness of heart: this is yosher + lābhabh. Yosher is from the word group, yAshAr, and indicates moral integrity with emphasis on consistent fellowship reality which is the basis for true worship activity.

3. when I learn: lAmadh means to learn and it recognizes a consistent growth process.

4. Your righteous judgments: Literally, the judgments of your righteousness.

    a. judgments: This is mishpAt, and is the 5th word to amplify torAh.

            1. It comes from the verb, shAphat, which means to render justice, to judge.

            2. It indicates a principle or expression of Divine justice.

    b. Justice principles come from Divine righteousness, which is tsedAqAh.

            Righteousness refers to the absolute standard of good in the universe.

5. God’s justice principles are the standard for true worship. Any worship which

            is attempted apart from God’s word is false and unacceptable to Him.

6. K and D. (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary of the Old Testament) renders this as,
”the decisions concerning right and wrong which give expression to and put in execution the righteousness of God.”

Verse 8 - The deliverance entry

1. I shall keep: shAmar means to guard, preserve, observe and indicates obedience.
2. your statutes: choq, as we saw earlier, refers to decrees; the principles of God’s plan for the believer’s life.  
3. Do not forsake me: `Azabh

            a. This is not doubt, but confidence in God's character and plan.

            b. This is the confidence and optimism that comes from truth in the soul giving God a command which
                 conforms with His viewpoint and plan.
                 Examples: hear me, forgive me, deliver me.

4. Utterly: adh meodh - indicates total abandonment by God, which He cannot do when the believer is following prescribed po1icy.

5. He uses the command mode (imperative) to express this confidence toward God, but he uses the future mode with regard to his responsibility that places him under the periphery of God’s protective grace; ie, keeping the decrees.

6. Thus, maximum confidence and optimism in the fulfillment of God's plan for him in time.

7. This recognizes the very real presence of physical pressure and Divine provision.

Psalm 33:18-22; Isaiah 54:17

8. But it recognizes also the faithfulness of God that does not desert the trusting believer when he faces various enemies and the many pressures of life.

8. SUMMARY OF THE PROSPERITY FILE

A. THE INTEGRITY ENTRY: Spiritual prosperity is based on spiritual integrity, which in turn is evidenced by walking according to God's policy.

B. THE STUDY ENTRY: But the integrity and the application are dependent on a consistent dedication attitude which desires to study and learn God's word.

C. THE FELLOWSHIP ENTRY: Spiritual integrity and consistency is measured by fellowship (or sinless) consistency which is evidenced by following Divine morality.

D. THE PLAN OF GOD ENTRY: Spiritual integrity recognizes God's plan for the Christian way of life as centered in God's word.

E. THE DESIRE ENTRY: Spiritual integrity is measured by a desire to consistently apply to life all the standards of God’s plan.

F. THE CONFIDENCE ENTRY: Spiritual prosperity produces maximum optimism and confidence through following God's truth.

G. THE WORSHIP ENTRY: Spiritual integrity produces capacity to worship on God's terms.

H. THE DELIVERANCE ENTRY: Spiritual prosperity involves maximum confidence toward God and trust in his promise of deliverance in the face of all adversity.

 Go to Psalm 119:8-16

 
 

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