Psalm 119:25-32

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25  My soul clings to the dust; 

give me life according to your word! 

26  When I told of my ways, you answered me; 

teach me your statutes! 

27  Make me understand the way of your precepts, 

and I will meditate on your wondrous works. 

28  My soul melts away for sorrow; 

strengthen me according to your word! 

29  Put false ways far from me 

and graciously teach me your law! 

30  I have chosen the way of faithfulness; 

I set your rules before me. 

31  I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; 

let me not be put to shame! 

32  I will run in the way of your commandments 

when you enlarge my heart! (ESV)

The psalmist opens this stanza with stating that his nefesh (life source, entire being in English translations soul) clings to the dust (v 25a). The psalmist here is “not just having a down day, but he is experiencing a time of real need because dust is a frequent biblical image for humiliation (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 408 see also Job 16:15; 30:19; Ps 44:25; Isa 47:1). It is in humility that the psalmist cries out to the Lord commanding Him to give life according to His Word (v 25b). Life in this verse can also be translated revive or renewal. “The anticipation of renewal is based on the “word” (dābār) of God (W. VanGemeren Psalms REBC, 2008, p. 865 see also vv. 42, 51, 65, 69, 78, 85, 95, 110, 134, 141, 150, 154, 157, 161; Dt 8:3; 30:6, 15, 19–20; 32:47).

In verse 26 the psalmist has told/declared his ways to the Lord and He answered him (v 26a). The psalmist is remembering the Lord’s past faithfulness to him and as such prays for the Lord to teach him His statutes (v 26b). Because God has been faithful to him before, the psalmist can have confidence the Lord will be faithful now.

In verse 27 the Psalmist implores God to cause him to understand (hiphil, imperative, 2ms with 1cs suffix) the way of His precepts. The hiphil is a verb of causation and the Lord here is the Agent. The semantic definition of Agent is “the person or thing that instigates an action or causes change in another person or thing” (J. Thompson, The Lexham Glossary of Semantic Roles (2014, n.p.).

As the Lord causes the psalmist to understand His precepts, he will meditate on his wondrous works. “With the increase in knowledge and understanding there will be increase in devotion and praise” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms (90-150) KEL, 2016, p. 491). The Lord’s people should consistently cry along with the psalmist, “cause me to understand your precepts,” because “God’s instruction and illumination deepen human dependence on the Lord. The psalmist prays that he may “meditate” on the “wonders” of the Lord. The word opens the way to recognizing the greatness of God’s acts in creation and in redemption” (VanGemeren, p. 865).

The psalmist’s nefesh is depleted from “grief and vexation” (VanGemeren, p. 865), and he calls out to God to strengthen him by His Word (v 28). The Lord promises to give life according to His Word (v 25). The psalmist again uses a hiphil, imperative to strongly ask God to cause him to put false ways far from himself. The psalmist is pleading with God to be the Agent of change in putting away false ways and the Agent who graciously teaches him His law (v 29).

“Proverbs 14:12 states that “there is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death,” so as in Ps 139:24 the psalmist asks the Lord to remove the “offensive way” from him. Whatever deviates from the Lord’s way is deceitful and false, but the instruction of the Lord will keep him on the right path. Though he may stumble into sin, he values the truth of God’s word over falsehood” (Estes, pp. 408-409).

Verses 30-32 “Devotion to God focuses on doing his will. The psalmist affirms his deep commitment in the language of action: “I have chosen … I have set … I hold fast … I run”” (VanGemeren, p. 865). The way of faithfulness stands in contrast to false ways (v 29). Faithfulness’s way “summarizes a life that is characterized by obedience to the will of God” (Ross, p. 493).

The psalmist in verse 25 stated that his nefesh clings to the dust and in verse 31 he clings to the Lord’s testimonies. “As he has cleaved to the dust, so he cleaves to God’s word. Doubtless his oppressors derided him for his commitment to what the Lord has said, so he pleads with the Lord not to put him to shame. He fully expects the Lord to be faithful to him in his need, and he has no backup plan. If the Lord does not strengthen him (v. 28), the psalmist would suffer humiliation and shame” (Estes, p. 409).

This stanza concludes with the psalmist running. “Usually we simply walk in the way of Yhwh’s commands (vv. 1, 4); running in the way of them is another way of suggesting not mere compliance with Yhwh’s expectations but living by them enthusiastically and energetically” (J. Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Psalms 90-150, 2006, p. 396).

The Lord is the Agent causing the psalmist’s heart to enlarge. Heart as noted before encompasses the mind, emotions and will. “God’s commands liberate his heart to run in the way of the Lord” (Estes, p. 409). God will cause our hearts to enlarge when we run in the way of His commandments (v 32). We will become more confident like the psalmist when we meditate on God and His wondrous works. By meditating on His wondrous works we will also be less fearful and anxious by the trials, calamities and hardships that we will face.

Lord God, there is so much truth and richness in this stanza. Lord God, may we be a people who seek to hear and obey Your Word. May we run in the way of Your commands, seeking to delight in You rather than to run and delight in the wicked ways of this world. Lord God, cause us to understand Your ways, putting false ways far from us. Lord God, in Your grace and mercy teach us to delight and love Your Word. Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lord God, may we choose, set and cling to You and Your Word each and everyday. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.


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Blue Collar Theologian

My name is Mandy Sweigart-Quinn, I live in Lancaster, PA and I am a “Blue Collar Theologian.” I love Jesus! I am passionate about His Word (The Holy Bible)! I come alive when I can encourage others in their walk with Jesus (whether by writing or speaking). As a “Blue Collar Theologian” it is my aim to live/practice/work out my Christian hope with sincerity, authenticity and genuineness. As a “Blue Collar Theologian,” I strive to meet people right where they are (“Incarnational Theology”). I graduated in May 2019 from Capital Seminary and Graduate School with a Master's in Biblical Studies. I am a passionate, excited and enthusiastic person! I love flowers, sports and sunsets. Since January 2, 2018 I have had the privilege of being married to Nathan.

49 thoughts on “Psalm 119:25-32”

      1. Awwwww…. Mandy, you are such great a blessing to me. I love you so much and I thank God for you. Thank you for your prayers. Yesterday, God moved in an amazing way regarding our prayers for the Lord to protect our granddaughter Sarah and her small children! I am kind of in shock over that one. Wow. Some people might question if that was God, but I firmly believe that it was!

        Today I am sick. Fever, terrible cough, headache. Although I have been fully vaccinated, I will be tested for covid tomorrow morning. I know God’s got me, regardless. Our God is so GOOD.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Just before reading this I was reading a devotional about a man who had been imprisoned for his faith, and how he had helped pass out portions of Scripture to the other prisoners. (He wrote them onto sheets of toilet paper, which was all he had.) When he was caught, he was tortured for months. I can’t even imagine such an experience. But he held on and refused to deny his faith. He told his persecutors that God’s Word was life to him. When I read this passage, it was like this man’s prayer that sustained him during that time. Thanks so much for posting it. God bless you!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Annie, what an incredible devotional and one we would all be wise to take the time to reflect upon! As things grow more chaotic here, I find I am more interested in hearing, reading and watching stories from those who have suffered persecution. As you and many others who read this blog are well aware, we need to be harboring God’s Word in our hearts now more than ever! Prayer is the greatest gift God has given to us. God bless you for sharing this story!

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Hi Mandy, I’ve been looking forward to this post. These verses had once poured into my heart were a prayer cry from my heart which God answered day by day with “renewal”, “strength” and “setting my heart free”.
    I read this passage again to the Lord – they are always new in every season. My legs might be slower but my heart still wants to run, “…enthusiastically and energetically” in the path of His commands.
    Thank you dear sister, for another uplifting post!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m replying to my own comment! Just a P.S., I reread the verses again and just saw how this Psalmist is crying out to God, “laid low in the dust”, “weary with sorrow” BUT he will “meditate on Your wonders”.
      That leads us to worship – even in the midst of despair!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Amen and Amen!!! So well said! Worship results when we praise God even in the midst of our despair. I am reminded all the time (because I am quite forgetful!) that the prayer that changes everything is praise. Thank you so much for sharing this!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes, it’s the “the sacrifice of praise” that honors God and exalts Him, defying the enemy’s lies and attacks. Perhaps we should build up our hearts in this for the darker days that come!

        Liked by 3 people

    2. A friend of mine sent out a morning prayer thanking God for the mentors and teachers God has and is using in our lives; Lisa Beth you are one that I am genuinely thankful for!!! While your legs may be slower to physically run, I bet your heart runs faster than ever to prayer. There is a longing for God and His Truth that cannot be quenched in you regardless of how this physical tent/body responds! I am so thankful for your encouragement! I am thankful for your wisdom and devotion to God! Verse 27 is my go to verse right now for God to cause me to understand His ways so that I may meditate (murmur/mutter) His wonderful works. So thankful for the testimony that God answered you in that season with renewal, strength and setting your heart free! Love and blessings!!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Mandy, thank you for your overflowing kind words even though I’m sure you overestimate me!
        Love and hugs to you sister, thank you for stirring hearts to exalt the Lord.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this feast of biblical riches Mandy, what a blessing it has been to me. How I yearn each day to be renewed and strengthened in His Word, it is a source of Divine inspiration that can be relied on totally. In it is understanding that my heart seeks to run to, more so when my body fails me. In it we find Him – the true source of strength that sustains and lifts us each day. What an amazing God we serve sister!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Amen to your amazing comment! You are so right that we serve an amazing, God! It shows that you “yearn each day to be renewed and strengthened in His Word.” I admire how you never complain about your trials and sufferings; we are called to bear each other’s burdens so I am thankful for the times when I can partner with you in prayer on behalf of yourself and family. I am thankful for your encouragement!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love your observation about dust and that this person crying out to God is having more than a “bad day.” May we put our trust in Yahweh; may we cling to His testimonies. Love how you ponited out how cling is a hiphil imperative with the causative idea showing God’s sovereign grace to work in us!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey, brother! Thanks for reading, I will be honest, not sure how you came to your last sentence. Both clings are qal perfects. “Make me understand” and “put false ways” are hiphil imperatives. You are right that we should put our trust in Yahweh and clinging to His testimonies.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I looked over my Hebrew work and I was like oh no and then I was like should I say anything or not? And then I decided that for anyone who reads the discussion threads I will say something. I can delete your comment if you want. Please don’t be embarrassed!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Good work Mandy and agreeing with you in prayer (a good summery and application of the text it is!) Life/strength …according to your word …teach me your statutes. ‘Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!” O Lord; let me not be put to shame! “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen. “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” -John 17:17 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ” -John 1:1 Jesus, ‘“I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Blessings and looking forward to the next study.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love what you said that this portion of the verses began with him cleaved to dust but he ends it being cleaved to Gods word.
    I enjoyed how you broke this down. And verses 30-32 which characterises obedience to the will of God, stood out to me.
    Thank you Mandy for sharing this so diligently.
    Blessings my friend 🤗🌺

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for sharing what stood out to you in these verses, Manu! I appreciate this! From our discussions here and on your blog it is obvious that you want to be a life that is characterized by obeying God. I am praying for God to enlarge your heart so that you can run in His ways more! I am so thankful for you!! Love and blessings 🧡🧡💚💚💜💜

      Liked by 1 person

  7. No plan B apart from trusting GOD’s faithfulness. That resonates well as to surrender fully to the Lordship of JESUS CHRIST in our lives is hard to do as we are used to rely on other things and relationships for security and daily needs. May our Lord GOD help us focus on Him who sustains us daily and may we pray earnestly to Him who will give us faith and strengthen it as we too strive to do His will and commendments. Blessings to you, Nathan and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right that “we are used to relying on other things and relationships for security and daily needs.” I think this has become more apparent since 2020. I agree with your prayer for the Lord to help us focus on Him striving to do His will and commandments! I am thankful that we are on this journey together, Kent! Love and blessings to you and your family from Nathan, PQ and I.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Amen ! Thank you dear Mandy for adding depth to this Psalm. V25 stands out for me at this time, and V26 brings hope that God will answer us.
    Love and blessings wonderful sister.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad that God gives us life in His Word even when everything else around us, our physical bodies including are decaying. I am so thankful that God does hear and answer us, we are a people WITH hope! Hallelujah! How are you holding up with the lockdown? Love and blessings to you!!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The lockdown has been extended. The number of infections is growing and it has hit my area. Praise God He is our only hope.
        Thank you for asking. Love and blessings 💕✨🙏

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Good stuff, great breakdown of teaching Mandy!
    That verse about enlarging the heart is near and dear to me. Part of my father in law’s current health concerns are actually an enlarged heart so in a physical sense those words are so familiar to me but to reflect on them with the importance of what they mean spiritually is truly heartwarming and encouraging.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. He’s alright just has to be monitored closely, has had many tests and will go in for a big appointment the middle of this month. Thanks so much for asking Mandy, you’re so sweet!

        Liked by 1 person

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