Psalm 119:33-40

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He

33  Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; 

and I will keep it to the end.

34  Give me understanding, that I may keep your law 

and observe it with my whole heart. 

35  Lead me in the path of your commandments, 

for I delight in it. 

36  Incline my heart to your testimonies, 

and not to selfish gain! 

37  Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; 

and give me life in your ways. 

38  Confirm to your servant your promise, 

that you may be feared. 

39  Turn away the reproach that I dread, 

for your rules are good. 

40  Behold, I long for your precepts; 

in your righteousness give me life! 

(ESV, emphasis mine)

Verses 33-39 each begin with a hiphil, imperative, 2ms with a 1cs suffix. Each of these seven petitions “reveal the psalmist’s humility and dependence on the LORD” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms (90-150) KEL, 2016, p. 496). In verse 34 give is supplied in English and the literal translation would be cause me understanding or cause me to understand. God is also the Agent in these verses meaning He 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.). 

With the above in mind, in verse 33 “Once again, as in vv. 12, 26, the psalmist invites the Lord to be his teacher (cf. Pss 27:11; 86:11). He is not just curious to learn God’s way, but he is committed to live the path of life defined by God’s word” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150, NAC, 2019, p. 410). The psalmist will keep the Lord’s statutes to the end (ʿēqeb). Alter translates ʿēqeb as “without fail” (The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary, 2007, p. 423). The psalmist is petitioning/inviting the Lord to teach him the way (derek) of His statutes, keeping them continually without fail. “For the psalmist the road of obedience has no off-ramp” (Estes, p. 410).

Cause me understanding in verse 34 is a request for discernment. In petitioning the Lord to teach him (v 33) “the psalmist knew he needed discernment to know how to understand and apply [the teaching]” (Ross, p. 497). By understanding and discerning the Word, the psalmist will be able to keep His Law, observing it with his whole heart (mind, will and emotions).

The psalmist petitions the Lord to lead him in the path (nātîb) of His commandments (v 35a). Path (nātîb) and way (derek) are “metaphor[s] for the course of life” (Estes, p. 410). The psalmist delights in God’s commandments (v 35b) as such he will follow the Lord’s path rather than follow his own path.

In verses 36 and 37 “the petitions are different; here the psalmist wants the LORD to turn his attention away from the things of the world and toward the things of God” (Ross, p. 498). The petition in verse 36 calls on the Lord to incline (turn CSB) his heart to the Lord’s testimonies and not to selfish gain (beṣaʿ). “The human heart defaults toward evil (cf. Jer 17:9), so it must be directed toward what is right; and in fact to turn the heart often refers to turning one’s heart to idolatry” (Estes, p. 410). Selfish gain (beṣaʿ) “refers to the plunder or gain one gets by means of violence and damage done to someone else. The psalmist knows it will take a supernatural influence on his affections and will to make him prefer the good and reject the bad. He cannot have both, mammon and the stipulations of the covenant (see also Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13); and if he wants to follow the LORD’s way, there is no place for unjust gain. In this prayer the psalmist reveals that he is completely dependent on God to change his heart; and this will be accomplished through God’s word” (Ross, p. 498).

Verse 37 the psalmist petitions the Lord to turn (haaber) or “avert” (Alter, p. 423) his eyes from looking at worthless things (šawʾ). šawʾ refers to that which is vain, false, empty, inconsequential. The psalmist commands God to both turn his eyes from šawʾ and to give him life! There is no life outside of the Lord’s ways. According to Ross, “This prayer for renewed life in God’s ways suggests at least that he had been inclined more to unjust gain and worthless things (two categories that cover almost everything in the pagan world) than to the way of God. These two verses may record the resultant prayers when God gives people understanding of the word” (p. 499).

The psalmist calls the Lord to act on his behalf in verses 38-40. Confirm (qwm) in verse 38 has a sense of rise, stand up. The psalmist is petitioning the Lord “to act on his behalf” (Ross, p. 499) by commanding Him to stand up, confirm to His servant His promise (covenant) which will cause the psalmist to fear and revere Him. In verse 39 the psalmist calls on the Lord to act on his behalf by haaber (turning, averting) the reproach (shame, disgrace) that he dreads/fears from sinful people (see vv 21-23). The psalmist knows the Lord’s rules (mispat) are good. The psalmist is “confident that the Lord will do what is just and good for him, he places his fearful experience and his reputation into the Lord’s hands” (Estes, p. 411).

The psalmist ends this stanza (v 40) exclaiming how (hinnē̂) he longs for the Lord’s precepts. “In this context the “precepts” must refer to those aspects of the law that result in divine acts…of judgment that bring help for the afflicted” (Ross, p. 500). The psalmist then implores the Lord in His righteousness to give him life (piel, imperative, 2ms with 1cs suffix). “In calling for the Lord to give him life or to revive him (cf. vv. 25, 37), he suggests that he is struggling and that he needs divine empowerment to sustain him in the face of the challenges he is enduring [such as his reproach in v 39]” (Estes, p. 411).

Lord God, cause us to have teachable spirits, so that we may know Your ways and keep them, especially during times of trials and testings. Lord God cause us to understand and discern Your Word so that we may keep and apply it. Lord God, lead us in the path of Your commandments, may we not deviate from them. Lord God, may we observe and delight in Your Word with all our heart, soul (nefesh entire being) and strength. Lord God, incline our hearts to Your Word so that we will not seek selfish gain, committing violence or slandering someone else. Lord God, turn our eyes from vain, worthless and empty things. Lord God, give us life that comes from following You and Your ways. Lord God, may we fear, revere and glorify You in all that we do. Lord God, help us to suffer well in a world that is becoming less and less tolerant of Yourself and Your people. Lord, may we never forget that Your rules are good. Lord God, may we long to know Your precepts more, so that we will know how to obey You in times of trials and difficulties. Thank You Lord that for those of us who are saved by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ we have been made righteous by the blood of Christ. May we NEVER forget that we have done NOTHING to earn our salvation! Salvation always has and always will be Your work from start to finish. Lord work on the hearts of our readers and loved ones who are far from You. Lord God, thank You for this reader and for this section of Your Word. 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.

67 thoughts on “Psalm 119:33-40”

    1. Thank you, Meghan! I am fascinated by the hiphil aspect in Hebrew so this part of the psalm really resonated with me. I am so thankful that the Lord’s Word is active and alive, sharper than any two edged sword, revealing hearts and minds so that nothing is hidden from Him (Heb 4:12-13). I love your heart for God and His people. You are a blessings as well. Praying for you, Tom and kiddos! Lots of love, hugs and blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Amen.Dear sister you deserve it as you are trying to reveal the message of true love and anyone who wishes to spread the message of heavenly love will receive overwhelming support from every corner of this earth and also from above.Thank you very much .Take care.Blessings.🌹🙏😊

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you Mandy for taking us further into beloved Psalm 119. At this time on my life, I am literally praying these very verses, seeking God’s teaching, discernment, and direction.
    I ask for more discipline, v 36 & 37, and truly seek renewal in my life through God’s righteousness.
    Thank you for expounding upon the precious cries in 119!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Lisa Beth for continuing to walk down the path of Psalm 119 with me! This set of verses really resonated with me. Like you I do not want to set my heart on the things of this world and I most certainly do not want to cause violence to someone out of selfish gain! I also do not want politics and current events to reign supreme in my life. I want Christ to reign supreme and I love that you want the same! The past year has opened my eyes to what the Bible means when it says there will be a falling away/apostasy and the rise of false teachers, etc. Oh Lord help us to discern everything we hear against Scripture. Teach us to be discerning as we continue to follow You. Thank You Lord for Lisa Beth and the encouragement she is to me. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen. I am so thankful for you and your wisdom that God has given you. Love, hugs and blessings!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for such a beautiful response Mandy. You can’t know how the Lord speaks through your responses – and not just the words alone. I am very grateful.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. We need to hear constantly our dependence on Almighty God in every department of our life; especially in facing temptations. We cannot resist in our own strength for long, we must like the psalmist here seek God’s guidance and power to be able to conquer.
    Thank you for this valuable study Mandy, God bless you sister.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Alan! Well said, brother! Christ is the Suffering Servant and Conquering King and the more we read His Word the more we will love Him. Praise Jesus that for those of who are in Christ we are able to seek His Guidance and Power, because when we resist the devil he flees from us. This makes me pray even more for our readers and loved ones who don’t know Christ. Love and blessings to you and Susan! (I will have psalm 27 to you sometime on Friday.)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for this continuing series. Love it.

    This is a wonderful prayer “Lord God, cause us to have teachable spirits, so that we may know Your ways and keep them, especially during times of trials and testings.”

    Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your support, Michael! I am going to email you some youth PowerPoints that I hope will be helpful in some capacity with your ministry! We need teachable spirits now more than ever to discern the errors of this world! Love and blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mandy,
    I loved this walk with you through these verses, which you made come alive! Indeed the word of God gives life. There is no hope for us in temptation or times of testing without His provision. Praise God for He supplies all that we need to do His will. Acts 20:32 — “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Thanks too for the wonderful closing prayer which always lifts my heart.
    Grace and peace to you,
    dora

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s a privilege to see your joyful faith and utter devotion to our Lord manifest so clearly in your life! A privilege as well to be at the throne of grace with you …. Blessings to you and joy unspeakable! 💞🙏🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mandy, I am thoroughly enjoying these explanations. I have been making notes.
    These verses are so rich and thank you for so diligently studying and sharing them.
    The humility and dependence on God that is reflected by the psalmist is something wonderful and may we indeed have teachable and humble spirits.
    Blessings to you Mandy 🤗🌺💙

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Manu! I do the same with your posts as well! I am thankful that God is using us to encourage each other!!! You are a blessing to me!!! I don’t know if you write your posts ahead of time or if you write them on the day you post them; however, I am very much praying for God to revive you in your studies and that He will use your post tomorrow to make His Name Known!!! Love and blessings!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It stood out to me that the Psalmist is praying against selfish gain. Good observation that v.36-37 is a prayer about directing the heart towards the things of God.
    It is so important before praying on behalf oneself in v.38-40 one must first die to self. And fascininating how one can only pray for seeking spiritual things if one first pray for God to cause us to have understanding.
    Good prayer. Especially with remembering God’s rules are good. Love the ending with the Gospel!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jimmy, you are so right that we must first die to self! Man, that is something that is really lacking in Christian’s in the Western world. Dying to self, obedience and submission is something that God’s people need to practice.

      I know some people are only reading the prayers, so I am trying to summarize the verses in the prayer. Since the psalmist used righteousness I felt led to write about the Gospel and after I read your post yesterday I was like, “ah, I hope I stated righteousness and the Gospel in a way that makes sense!” Love, hugs and blessings to you, Nancy and kiddos!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Good morning Mandy! There are so many (Hebrew?) new words that I have discovered in your post but one thing that I like most is “derek” or way [a similar Filipino word means director, usually in the movies e.g. Derek, the set is ready now]. This post is similar to our exchanges in my recent post i.e. renewed life by GOD. I appreciate in your post that the Triune GOD is more than a Change Agent, even more than a Catalyst if there is an existing word for it, as He worked (not just in our salvation) in the renewal of our heart/mind, “teaching us the way, causes us to understand His Word,” changes our desire/perspective “from the worldly to a commitment to live the course of life that is Godly/things of GOD.” This world has mucho “besa” particularly in certain administrations in the world. Blessings to you and Nathan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kent, you are so right this world has “mucho besa” and God is NOT amused and He will hold believers and unbelievers accountable for what they do to others.

      When I was studying and writing this post I thought about the worthless things being vain and empty and how Solomon addresses the vanity and vapor of it all in Ecclesiastes. Praise God that life is found in His Word. I am so thankful that our Triune God is always working. I am fascinated to learn about your word Derek in Filipino. God is our divine director, editor and producer. I appreciate your heart for God’s Word brother, it is a blessing to me and to others!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great verses of reflection…so relatable and desirable to me. These words are the echo of my heart as I pray every time, however I just don’t have the words nailed down like that!!😅
    Thank you for sharing and teaching Mandy. I’m encouraged to reread those verses as a guide to my own prayers. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for joining in tomorrow! That would be neat! I hope things aren’t too crazy with the thunderstorms. The fires so far is far away. I hope it won’t be like last year, that was really bad last year

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      1. Yes its mask again; I think this time our church is more divided with opinions about masks, we’ve managed to go through a year without much conflict within our church so far…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Brother, I am SO sorry about youth time! We lost power and I wasn’t sure if I should bother y’all and logon, hope that was ok! LOVED the discussion today! If there is ANYTHING I can do to help with the one youth and dad, PLEASE let me know! So, I always wanted night vision googles because I thought that meant I could speed in my car at night without headlights. When I first met Nathan and told him that you have NEVER seen someone laugh SO hard in someone’s face, it was even worse when he figured out I was serious. Did you learn in your studies if tea was the big cause of the sugar trade? China, Turkey, Ireland and UK largest tea drinking countries now. I am really fascinated by your research on sugar. I didn’t realize how many people of Asian descent were affected by sugar. Sugar does terrible things to the human body and it has done terrible things to humanity’s past. Thank you for mentioning this! I want to learn more!!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I haven’t read anything yet that tied sugar’s relationship to tea but I imagine there was a big connection. I hope to write a post as I do more research; and also draw some applications for those who are more left leaning, that in case they think they look down on people from the past and assume they are better than them, well, we gotta look at what’s big business and big tech’s version of sugar…people today like to say “data is oil” but I think its more fitting to say data is the sugar of the 1600s-1800s

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thank you for sharing this. I understand denouncing Christian Nationalism; however, this situation SPITS in the face of God in every way imaginable. When I saw the video footage of antifa not wanting to be on camera and identify themselves for attacking people who are asking the spa questions, I thought to myself this will soon be what life looks like the world over. I pray I am wrong, but preparing for it. What children are being exposed to is detestable and loathsome to the Lord and this is one of those hating enemies who hate God moments. I think God would be more displeased if I did not speak out against these agendas and than if I say nothing because I don’t want to be considered a CN. Wrong is wrong. Woe to those who call good evil and evil good (Isa 5:20).

        My thoughts on Ps 139 were from v 8 and that hell is a real place and “God is Jehovah there…What an awful thought, that some men seem resolved to take up their night’s abode in hell, a night which shall know no morning” C. Spurgeon.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Exactly. 100% agree with your comment. There are those who equivocate speaking up about the problem with anti*a as CN; but that doesn’t necessarily follow. Good point and thanks for the book…I need to get around to reading it and not just thumbing through it

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I appreciate all the work you are doing to bring us this learning . I love this Psalm and v33 to v40 should be the yearning of our hearts as we come to God in prayer .
    Thank you Mandy.
    Love and blessings my dear.

    Like

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