Introduction to Psalm 119 - Pastor Cynthia Glenn
Psalm 119 has been called the golden alphabet of the Bible. The reason is that it is divided into twenty-two sections, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Each section has eight verses and every verse in a section begins with the corresponding Hebrew letter. Thus in the Hebrew, every verse in the first section begins with Aleph; in the second section begins with Aleph; in the second section every verse begins with Beth, and so on. In the NKJV, all but four verses in this longest Psalm contain some title or description of the Word of God. The four exceptions are verses 84, 121, 122 and 132.
The names used to describe God’s Word are: law, testimonies, ways, precepts, status, commandments, ordinances, word(s), promise, judgments, faithfulness, appointment, justice and commands.
By using the alphabet in this acrostic form, some feels that the writer may have been suggesting that “all the possibilities of human language are exhausted in setting forth the fullness and perfection of the Word of God. We have a similar suggestion in the NT. Our Lord speaks of Himself as the Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8). These are, of course, the first and last words of the Greek alphabet. The thought is that He is everything of goodness and perfection that can be expressed by every letter of the alphabet, arranged in every possible combination.
No two verses in the Psalm say exactly the same thing. There is some different shade of meaning in every one.
The following subject headings for the various sections of the Psalm are based primarily on F.W. Grant’s notes:
vv. 1-8.....The Blessedness of Obeying the Word
vv.9-16.....Cleansing By the Word
vv. 17-24.....Discernment By the Word
vv. 25-32......Sense of Personal Insufficiency Through the Word
vv. 33-40.....The Power of the Word
vv. 41-48.......Victory Through the Word
vv. 49-56....Rest and Comfort Through the Word
vv. 57-64......Perseverance in the Word
vv. 65-72......The Pricelessness of the Word in Good and Evil Times
vv. 73-80....Insights Through the Word
vv.81-88.....The Afflicted One Sustained By the Word
vv. 89-96.....Eternity of the Word
vv. 97-104.....Wisdom Through the Word
vv. 105-112....The Word a Lamp and Light For All Occasions
vv. 113-120.....The Wicked and the Word
vv.121-128......Separation and Deliverance Through the Word
vv. 129-136......Joy and Communion Through the Word
vv. 137-144.......Zeal for the Word
vv. 145-152......Experience Through the Word
vv. 153-160......Salvation Through the Word
vv. 161-168............Perfection of the Word
vv. 169-176........Prayer and Praise Through the Word
In an eminent sense, the Psalm expresses the love for the Word of God which our Savior experienced as a Man here on earth. Also, one theology suggests that in its full prophetic character this Psalm will be the language of the true Israel on their return to God and His long neglected oracles.