57 The Lord is my portion;
I promise to keep your words.
58 I entreat your favor with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 When I think on my ways,
I turn my feet to your testimonies;
60 I hasten and do not delay
to keep your commandments.
61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to praise you,
because of your righteous rules.
63 I am a companion of all who fear you,
of those who keep your precepts.
64 The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love;
teach me your statutes!ESV
When the Lord is a person’s portion, there is no other response but to promise to keep His Words (v 57). The psalmist begins this stanza with the Lord as his portion (הֶלְקִי) and ends with the Lord filling the earth with His covenant faithfulness (חֶסֶד steadfast love). The psalmist exudes his love for the Lord and His Word in this stanza.
The Lord is my portion is a statement of trust. “The metaphor signifies that everything he possesses is bound up in his relationship with the LORD. It may be that this expression reflects the circumstances of the Levites; they were not allocated any land for their possession but had to depend on the LORD (see Num. 18:20). The expression would have been true of every Israelite; even if they had a plot of land, everything they possessed was to be found in God” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms (90-150) KEL, 2016, pp. 516-517). I have promised to keep the Lord’s Words is the “appropriate response to the provision of God” (p. 517).
In verse 58 I entreat (sought NASB, CSB) your favor is literally I entreat your face (חִלִּיתִי פָנֶיךָ). “[This] is a poetic description of prayer; it basically means to stroke or caress the face [like a child would stroke a parent’s face], appealing to God’s good pleasure with a flattering entreaty. There is no false flattery here, however. The devout have a close, personal relationship with the LORD, so that they may make their appeal on the basis of God’s love and compassion for them” (Ross, p. 517).
The psalmist makes his appeal with all his heart (mind, will and emotions) asking God to be gracious to him (חָנֵּנִי) according to His promise. The reason for the psalmist petitioning/commanding God to be gracious (qal, imperative, 2ms with 1cs suffix) is because the cords of the wicked ensnare him (v 61). “Rather than relying on his own resources or turning to others for their assistance, he wholeheartedly seeks the Lord’s grace. He places all of his hope in the Lord, trusting the Lord to be true to his word of promise” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 415).
In verse 59 the psalmist examines himself by thinking on his ways. While the psalmist does not mention that he has sinned, he emphatically turns (וָאָשִׁיבָה) his feet back to the Lord’s testimonies, which are “the compass for his conduct” (p. 415). It is worth noting “the mention of feet draws in the idiom of the believer’s walk, i.e., the way of life—here is a commitment to live in obedience to God’s word” (Ross, p. 518).
The psalmist hastens and does not delay to keep the Lord’s commandments (v 60). “His eagerness to keep God’s commands corresponds to his urgent prayer for God to fulfill his promises. There is something hollow about people pleading for God to fulfill the promises in his word when they pay little attention to keeping his word” (Ross, p. 518). Eager obedience to the Lord and His commands is “what it looked like in practice to seek the favor [face] of the Lord with all his heart (v. 58)” (Estes, p. 415).
In verse 61 the wicked are no doubt the same ones from verse 53. Using imagery found in hunting, the cords of the wicked “refe[r] to snares, traps, or fetters intended to bring destruction to him” (Estes, p. 415). However intense the wicked’s schemes and oppression are against him, the psalmist is committed to not forgetting the Lord’s torah (law/instruction). So much so that at midnight he rises to praise the Lord because of His righteous rules (v 62). “It is evident that the psalmist’s worship of the Lord is not confined to times that are convenient and comfortable. For him it is more important to thank the Lord than to get sleep…which may well have been prompted by his meditation on the Lord and his word (see v. 48)” (Estes, p. 416).
The psalmist is a companion (חָבֵר) to those who fear the Lord, and keep His precepts (v 63). Keep here is a qal, participle, mp, construct meaning that it is an ongoing action. The psalmist is a companion to those who continue in keeping the Lord’s precepts. This is not a one time action. This is a life devoted to living for the Lord and His Word. “The tie that binds the devout together is the commitment to keep God’s commands” (Ross, p. 519).
In the BHS the first part of the last stanza reads חַסְדְּךָ֣ יְ֭הוָה מָלְאָ֥ה הָאָ֗רֶץ the ESV and the NASB begin this verse with the earth (הָאָ֗רֶץ), the CSB begins with Lord (יְ֭הוָה), however, the Hebrew begins this verse with your covenant faithfulness (חַסְדְּךָ֣ ESV your steadfast love/NASB your lovingkindness/CSB your faithful love). A more literal translation of this part would be Your covenant faithfulness, O Lord, filled the earth. The earth (הָאָ֗רֶץ) is the patient, “the person or thing that is acted upon or caused to change” (J. Thompson, The Lexham Glossary of Semantic Roles, 2014, n.p.). The Lord’s ḥesed (covenant faithfulness) is an “essential part of his character” (Estes, p. 416). The Lord will never do anything that violates His Name, Character, Covenant and Word. It is on that basis that the psalmist ends this stanza commanding the Lord to teach him His statutes! (v 64b).
Lord God, for those of us who have tasted Your provision, knowing You as our portion, may we promise to keep Your Words. Lord God, may we seek Your face with all of our hearts as we ask You to be gracious to us in light of Your promise. Lord God, when we meditate, reflect and think upon our actions, may our feet be quick to turn to You when we have gone astray. May we hasten and not delay in keeping Your commandments. May we hurry and not delay, being eager to obey You. Lord God, when the wicked seek to ensnare us may we preach Your Word to ourselves. Lord God may we praise You all day long because of Your righteous rules. May we be a companion to all those who fear and keep Your Word. Lord God, in Your common grace Your covenant faithfulness fills this earth but how much sweeter it is for those who are believers. Lord God, teach us Your Word so that we may love You more and share You with others who are far from You. Lord thank You for this reader! May we be gracious to others as You have been gracious to us. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.