Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

119. Psalm 119

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

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

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

4Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.

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

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

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

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

BETH.

9Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

10With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.

11Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

12Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes.

13With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.

14I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.

15I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.

16I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

GIMEL.

17Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.

18Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

19I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.

20My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.

21Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.

22Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.

23Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.

24Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.

DALETH.

25My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.

26I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes.

27Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.

28My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.

29Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously.

30I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.

31I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O Lord, put me not to shame.

32I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.

HE.

33Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.

34Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

35Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.

36Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.

37Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.

38Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.

39Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.

40Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.

VAU.

41Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, even thy salvation, according to thy word.

42So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.

43And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.

44So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.

45And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.

46I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.

47And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.

48My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.

ZAIN

49Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.

50This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.

51The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.

52I remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord; and have comforted myself.

53Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.

54Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.

55I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night, and have kept thy law.

56This I had, because I kept thy precepts.

CHETH.

57 Thou art my portion, O Lord: I have said that I would keep thy words.

58I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.

59I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.

60I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.

61The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.

62At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.

63I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.

64The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes.

TETH.

65Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O Lord, according unto thy word.

66Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.

67Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.

68Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.

69The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.

70Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.

71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

72The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.

JOD.

73Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.

74They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.

75I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.

76Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.

77Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.

78Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.

79Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies.

80Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.

CAPH.

81My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.

82Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?

83For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes.

84How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?

85The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law.

86All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me.

87They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not thy precepts.

88Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.

LAMED.

89For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.

90Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.

91They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants.

92Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.

93I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.

94I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts.

95The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies.

96I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad.

MEM.

97O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.

98Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.

99I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.

100I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.

101I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.

102I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.

103How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

104Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.

NUN.

105Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

106I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.

107I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word.

108Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord, and teach me thy judgments.

109My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law.

110The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.

111Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.

112I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.

SAMECH.

113I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.

114Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.

115Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.

116Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.

117Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.

118Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood.

119Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies.

120My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.

AIN.

121I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressors.

122Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me.

123Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness.

124Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes.

125I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.

126 It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law.

127Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.

128Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.

PE.

129Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.

130The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

131I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.

132Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.

133Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.

134Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts.

135Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes.

136Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.

TZADDE.

137Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments.

138Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful.

139My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.

140Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.

141I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts.

142Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.

143Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.

144The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live.

KOPH.

145I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O Lord: I will keep thy statutes.

146I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies.

147I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.

148Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

149Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: O Lord, quicken me according to thy judgment.

150They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law.

151Thou art near, O Lord; and all thy commandments are truth.

152Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.

RESH.

153Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law.

154Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word.

155Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes.

156Great are thy tender mercies, O Lord: quicken me according to thy judgments.

157Many are my persecutors and mine enemies; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies.

158I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word.

159Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O Lord, according to thy lovingkindness.

160Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

SCHIN.

161Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.

162I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.

163I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.

164Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.

165Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

166 Lord, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.

167My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.

168I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee.

TAU.

169Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord: give me understanding according to thy word.

170Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word.

171My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes.

172My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.

173Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.

174I have longed for thy salvation, O Lord; and thy law is my delight.

175Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.

176I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.

73. Thy hands have made and fashioned me. The avowal of the prophet, that he had been created by the hand of God, greatly contributed to inspire him with the hope of obtaining the favor which he supplicates. As we are the creatures and the workmanship of God, and as he has not only bestowed upon us vital motion, in common with the lower animals, but has, in addition thereto, given us the light of understanding and reasons — this encourages us to pray that he would direct us to the obedience of his law. And yet the prophet does not call upon God, as if He were under any obligations to him; but, knowing that God never forsakes the work which he has begun, he simply asks for new grace, by which God may carry on to perfection what he has commenced. We have need of the assistance of the law, since all that is sound in our understandings is corrupted; so that we cannot perceive what is right, unless we are taught from some other source. But our blindness and stupidity are still more strikingly manifest, from the fact that teaching will avail us nothing, until our souls are renewed by Divine grace. What I have previously said must be borne in mind.. That whenever the prophet prays for understanding being imparted to him, in order to his learning the Divine commandments, he condemns both himself and all mankind as in a state of blindness; for which the only remedy is the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

74. They who fear thee shall see me and be glad. This verse is either connected with the preceding, or it includes other benefits of God, besides the blessing mentioned in that verse. Whether the Psalmist adverts only to one particular species of blessing, or speaks generally, he by these words highly extols the benefits with which God had honored him, that all genuine saints in common might experience joy on that account. He does not mean to say that this joy proceeds solely from the trust which he reposed in God, but that it also proceeds from this, — that, having been preserved by him in a remarkable way, and loaded with many benefits, his hope had received an ample reward. As God invites all his servants in common to trust in him, it follows, that, whenever he exhibits a token of his grace towards any one of them, he testifies to all that he is faithful to his promises, and that they have no reason to be afraid of his disappointing those who trust in him.

75 I have known, O Jehovah / that thy judgments are justice. By judgments, in this psalm, we are to understand the precepts of the law; but as the prophet immediately adds, that he was justly chastised, he seems to use the word in this verse, for the punishments by which God stirs up men to repentance. These two words, צדק, tsedek, justice, in the first clause, and אמונה emunah truth, in the last, have here nearly the same signification. In the first clause, the prophet confesses in general that God so regulates his judgments, as to shut the mouths of the ungodly, should any of them complain of his cruelty or rigor; and that such equity shines forth in them, as to extort from us the confession that nothing is better for men than in this way to be called back to the consideration of themselves. He next exhibits an example of this in his own person. Even hypocrites sometimes yield God the praise of justice when he chastises others, and they never condemn his severity, so long as they themselves are spared. But it is the property of true piety to be less austere and rigid censors of the faults of others than of our own. The knowledge of which the prophet speaks, is a sure evidence of his having made a strict and earnest examination of himself; for, had he not well weighed his own guilt, he could not by assured experience have learned the righteousness of God in his afflictions. If it is considered preferable to take the word judgments in its usual acceptation, the meaning of the text will be: Lord, I know that thy law is holy and just, and severely as thou hast afflicted me, I still retain the persuasion of this truth; for even in my afflictions I discern the righteousness, which corresponds with the character of thy word.

76 I beseech thee let thy goodness be for my consolation. Although he has acknowledged that he had been justly humbled, yet he desires that his sorrow may be alleviated by some consolation. He implores God’s mercy, as what was essentially necessary to relieve and cure his miseries. He thus shows that nothing can remove sorrow from the faithful, until they feel that God is reconciled to them. In the Word in which God offers his mercy, there is to be found no small comfort for healing all the grief to which men are liable. But the Psalmist is now speaking of actual mercy, if I may use that term, when God by the very deed declares the favor which he has promised. Confiding in the Divine promise, he already cherished in his heart a joy, proceeding from the hope of receiving the communications of Divine grace. But as all our hope would end in mere disappointment, did not God at length appear as our deliverer, he requests the performance of that which God had promised him. Lord, as if he had said, since thou hast graciously promised to be ready to succor me, be pleased to make good thy word in effect. The observation which I have previously made ought to be remembered, That it is not in vain to remind God of his promise. It would be presumption for men to come into His presence, did he not, of his own mere good pleasure, open up the way for them. When the Psalmist says, to thy servant, he does not claim God’s mercy exclusively to himself, as if it had. been promised to him alone by some special oracle; but he applies to himself what God has promised to the whole Church, which it is the peculiar province of faith to do; for unless I believe that I am one of those to whom God addresses himself in his word, so that his promises belong to me in common with others, I will never have the confidence to call upon him.

77. Let thy companions come unto me. In this verse, the Psalmist repeats and confirms almost the same request as in the preceding verse, although in phraseology somewhat different. As he had just now said, that his sorrow could not be removed, nor his joy restored, in any other way than by God’s mercy being exercised towards him; so now he affirms that he cannot have without being reconciled to God. He thus distinguishes himself from worldly men, who are very little affected with a concern about having God reconciled to them; or, rather, who do not cease securely to enjoy themselves, although God is angry with them. He distinctly affirms, that, until he know that God is reconciled to him, he is a dead man even while living; but that, on the other hand, whenever God shall cause his mercy to shine upon him, he will be restored from death to life. By the way, he intimates that he was deprived for a time of the tokens of God’s fatherly favor; for it would have been needless for him to have wished that it might come to him, had it not been removed from him. As an argument for obtaining what he supplicates, he asserts that the law of God was his delight; nor could he otherwise hope that God would be merciful to him. Besides, no man truly feels what virtue is in the Divine favor, but he who, placing his chief happiness in that alone, is convinced that all who dissever themselves from God are miserable and accursed; a truth which the prophet had learned from the law.

78. Let the proud be put to shame. We have already often had occasion to remark, that, in the Hebrew language, the future tense is frequently used in the sense of the optative mood, as here, — They shall be put to shame, for, Let them be put to shame. Still it would not be unsuitable to explain the meaning thus’ As the proud have dealt mischievously with me, and molested me without a cause, the Lord will give them their reward. But as almost all interpreters are agreed that this is a prayer, in the translation of the verse I am unwilling to depart from the generally received explanation, especially as the language is expressly addressed to God himself. It is important to attend to the reason why the Psalmist hopes that God will be an enemy to his enemies; namely, because they wickedly and maliciously assaulted him. The word שקר, sheker, which I have rendered falsely, is by some translated, without a cause; but they seem only to hit upon the one half of the prophet’s meaning; for this word, in my opinion, is to be referred to the stratagems and artifices by which the wicked endeavored to destroy David. Whence we gather, that whenever we are wrongfully persecuted by wicked men, we are invited to have recourse directly to God for protection. At the same time, we are taught that we have no reason to be abashed at their insolence; for, whatever power they may arrogate to themselves, He will beat down their loftiness, and lay it low, to their shame; so that, being confounded, they will serve as an example, to teach others that nothing is more ridiculous than to sing the song of triumph before the victory is gained. The verb אשיח, asiach, in the second clause of the verse, may be rendered, I will speak of, as well as I will meditate upon; implying, that, when he had obtained the victory, he would proclaim the goodness of God, which he had experienced. To speak of God’s statutes, is equivalent to declaring out of the law, how faithfully he guards his saints, how securely he delivers them, and how righteously he avenges their wrongs.

79. Let such as fear thee turn unto me. In this verse, which is connected with the preceding, the Psalmist affirms, that the deliverance which he obtained would afford common instruction to all the godly. My condition, as if he had said, may, for a time, have disheartened the righteous, as well as increased the insolence of my enemies; but now, taking courage, they will turn their eyes to this joyful spectacle. Moreover, let us learn from the two marks, by which he distinguishes true believers, what is the nature of genuine godliness. He puts the fear, or the reverence of God, in the first, place; but he immediately joins to it the knowledge of Divine truth, to teach us that these two things are inseparably connected. The superstitious, indeed, exhibit a fear of God of a certain kind, but it is a mere show, which quickly vanishes. Besides, they weary themselves in their own inventions to no purpose; for God will take no account of any other services, but those which are performed in obedience to his commandments. True religion, then, and the worship of God, have their origin in faith — in the faith of what he has enjoined; so that no person can serve God aright, but he who has been taught in His school.

80. Let my heart be sound in thy statutes Having, a little before, desired to be endued with a sound understanding, he now prays, in a similar manner, for sincere affection of heart. The understanding and affections, as is well known, are the two principal faculties of the human soul, both of which he clearly shows to be depraved and perverse, when he requests that his understanding may be illuminated, and, at the same time, that his heart may be framed to the obedience of the law. This plainly refutes all that the Papists babble about free will. The prophet not only here prays that God would help him, because his will was weak; but he testifies, without qualification, that uprightness of heart is. the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are, moreover, taught by these words, in what the true keeping of the law consists. A great part of mankind, after having carelessly framed their life according to the Divine law, by outward obedience, think that they want nothing. But the Holy Spirit here declares that no service is acceptable to God, except that which proceeds from integrity of heart. As to the word, תמים, thamim, rendered sound, we have elsewhere said, that a sound heart is set in opposition to a double or deceitful heart. It is as if the prophet had said, that those who are without dissimulation, and who offer to God a pure heart, yield themselves truly to Him. When it is added, that I may not be put to shame, it is intimated, that such shall be the undoubted issue as to all the proud, who, disdaining the grace of God, lean upon their own strength; and as to all hypocrites, who, for a time, parade themselves in gay colors. The amount, then, is, that unless God govern us by his Spirit, and keep us in the performance of our duty, so that our hearts may be sound in his statutes, although our shame may be hidden for a time, yea, although all men should praise us, and hold us in admiration, yet we cannot avoid falling, at length, into dishonor and ignominy.


VIEWNAME is study