Psalm 119:81-88

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Kaph

81  My soul longs for your salvation; 

I hope in your word. 

82  My eyes long for your promise; 

I ask, “When will you comfort me?” 

83  For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, 

yet I have not forgotten your statutes. 

84  How long must your servant endure?7 

When will you judge those who persecute me? 

85  The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; 

they do not live according to your law. 

86  All your commandments are sure; 

they persecute me with falsehood; help me! 

87  They have almost made an end of me on earth, 

but I have not forsaken your precepts. 

88  In your steadfast love give me life, 

that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth. 

ESV

The psalmist begins this stanza stating that his nefesh (soul) is more than just longing for the Lord’s salvation, he is literally wasting away. “Although the psalmist cannot resolve this situation, he is confident that the Lord can rescue him from his plight” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 420). Even though the psalmist’s strength is failing and he is wasting away he hopes in the Lord’s Word knowing who He is and what He has done before.

While the ESV supplies the word long in verse 82, this would be better translated, my eyes fail. “The eyes reflect his weariness in watching for a sign of God’s answer; so under a prolonged strain of waiting, the psalmist acknowledges that he is worn out” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, p. 535). In his worn and weary state the psalmist asks the question, “when will you comfort me?”

The psalmist clarifies this question stating that he has become like a wineskin in the smoke (v 83a). Meaning that he is “useless, shriveled, and unattractive because of being blackened with soot” (W. VanGemeren, Psalms REBC, 2008, p. 875). The psalmist here demonstrates that he lives by faith and not by feeling nor sight as he states he hasn’t forgotten His statutes (v 83b). Forgetting the Lord’s statues would only make the psalmist’s situation worse.

In verse 84, “The suffering psalmist asks another question; but his questions are essentially laments (so rhetorical questions). ‘How long must your servant endure?’ means ‘Your servant (I) has been enduring long enough.’ The first half of the verse laments his prolonged endurance. The second is concerned with the cause of his condition ‘When will you execute justice on those who persecute me?'” (Ross, p. 536).

Boice makes a profound observation, “It may be significant in this respect that verse 84 is the first in the psalm to fail to mention the Word of God by one of the [many] synonyms for it. When the psalmist was most down, did he lose sight of God’s Word temporarily?” (J. Boice, Psalms 107-150: An Expositional Commentary, 2005, pp. 1008-1009).

It is the opinion of this author that the psalmist did not lose sight of God’s Word temporarily. In this stanza, as well as in other areas of this psalm he states how when he forgot about the Lord and His Word, life did not go well for him. Rather, this lament (rhetorical questions) is from the depths of his affliction. How can we know this? Because in his next verse the he states how the insolent have dug pitfalls to trip him up and that they do not live according to the Lord’s torah (law, v 85). It is comforting to know “in the Lord’s moral order, [the insolent] will fall into the pits they have dug in their attempt to inflict harm on others” (Estes, p. 421).

Verse 86 makes it clear that “in contrast to the arrogant who are unfaithful to God’s instruction (v. 85), the Lord’s commands are true, or reliable. The arrogant speak lies, but the Lord speaks truth. By their lies the wicked do not fight fairly, but the psalmist is confident that the Lord can counter them, so he calls on the Lord to help him” (Estes, p. 421).

The plain meaning of almost made an end of me (v 87) “is that he is almost dead—finished, on this earth. However, to the very end if need be, he affirms his faith: ‘I have not forsaken your precepts'” (Ross, p. 537).

In the first part of verse 88 the psalmist makes an appeal to the Lord to renew his life by His covenant faithfulness (hesed, steadfast love ESV). Why does the psalmist make this appeal? So that he may keep His testimonies. “The purpose of the petition is likewise connected to the covenant: “that I may keep the testimony of your mouth.” The testimony refers to all of God’s instructions, the whole covenant law, which came by direct revelation from God. The psalmist wants to be revived, so that he would be able to keep the covenant fully, without weakness, suffering and distractions due to constant persecution” (Ross, p. 537).

Lord God, as our bodies waste away may we never stop hoping in Your Word. Lord, sometimes our eyes fail us as we wait for Your promise; comfort us by Your Spirit. Lord God, thank You that You have indwelled Your people who are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ with Your Holy Spirit. Thank You Lord that You live inside each believer, that You comfort us and that we can come before Your throne boldly receiving Your grace and mercy when we need it most. Lord God, help us to cling to the truth that for the person in Christ, they are not useless. No matter how bleak or grim the situation looks or as helpless as they feel, remind this believer Lord that they have worth and value to You. Use us Lord for Your glory!

Lord, You inspired the psalmist to ask how long he must endure as well as when will You judge those who persecute him. Lord God, give us Your strength to persevere and endure the challenges and trials that we will face. Lord God, prepare us to glorify You when we suffer from the pitfalls of the insolent. Lord, may we never forget Your commandments. May we never forget You desire our obedience. Lord, there are no shortages of lies and attacks from the insolent, help us to not forsake Your precepts. Lord God, may we NEVER forget Your covenant faithfulness. May we never forget that You will never violate Your Name and Covenant. You will never act contrary to who You are.

Lord God, renew our lives so that we may testify about Jesus in this dark, hostile and hurting world. Lord God, renew our minds that we may focus on the things above. Lord God, conform us to You and Your Word. Lord God, may we desire what You desire and not what this world desires. Lord God, thank You for this reader. May this reader be renewed and revived by Your Spirit today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Published by

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.

54 thoughts on “Psalm 119:81-88”

  1. Mandy, Thank you for sharing your continuing study of Psalm 119. I like the way you highlight the psalmist’s honest lamentation: a lamentation that, as you say, never lost sight of God’s word and covenant faithfulness. How encouraging that is to the suffering and persecuted! We wait on God to act on our behalf, but we need not despair however long that wait may be, because we trust that God’s purposes will be fulfilled by “renewing our life” to be able to keep His testimonies, His law, His commandments. Amen to your prayer too, sister, as we boldly come before the Lord whose compassion and mercy never fails! Blessings and megahugs to you, Mandy, who are beloved of the Lord.
    pax,
    dora

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Dora, your content in this response is full of richness for its own prose or praise blog! Too often waiting on God is considered passive when it is anything but. Waiting on God requires faith and trust. Praise God our covenant faithful God enables us to trust Him. The more we spend time in His Word the more well will know Him and love Him. I am so thankful that the Lord renews us with His new mercies each morning. Thank you for praying with me, Dora! I love and appreciate you so, so much!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Back to the Psalm I love….thank you Mandy for continuing this marvelous study of 119. Verse 83 always stood out to me here. “…a wineskin in the smoke” evokes such an eerie image. In the fermentation process, hanging wineskins over smoky embers gradually warmed the wine and helped mature it.
    I imagine the psalmist here, in a desolate place, feeling the heat of a fiery trial and the angst of smoke obscuring his view. Even though he’s in the fire and can’t see his way out he asserts, “I do not forget your decrees.” He must know that the smoke and fire has value for maturity.
    This verse says so much to me. Thank you Mandy for taking us to this precious word.
    I hope all is well with you sister! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You have given me much to chew on with this verse, thank you for this! I hope other readers will be edified by your comment as well! There were some scholars/commentators who said the meaning of this verse in Hebrew is obscured. What the psalmist was going through was maturing him. The Lord will use our trials to mature us if we will let Him. I am so thankful for you!! Lots of love, hugs and blessings!

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  3. Amen! Such a great word here, my friend. Psalms is one my favorite books of the Bible and this particular one is so rich. Endurance and perseverance are very challenging things in our walk, especially in times of deep discouragement, to be sure, but it is by these things He shapes us. When we hold fast to His instructions, we experience not only His sustaining hand but growth. Thanks for the way you break down and draw truths from this great Psalm! Blessings and love!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for you thoughts, Marisa! You’re right that perseverance and endurance can be challenging, but they alternate, a falling away is even worse. “When we hold fast to His instructions, we experience not only His sustaining hand but growth” yes, amen and praise God! I am so thankful that His Word penetrates and sustains our hearts as each one of us needs! Love, hugs and blessings!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Fascinating he said this: “Boice makes a profound observation, “It may be significant in this respect that verse 84 is the first in the psalm to fail to mention the Word of God by one of the [many] synonyms for it.” I think your rebuttal is a good one and based upon the surrounding context! Good prayer for trials and also prayer we don’t forget God. You are always so thorough in your prayers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jimmy! I understood were Boice was coming from with that so I thought it was important to leave the question and not just mention this was first to the psalmist didn’t mention one of the many words to refer to God’s Word. Prayer is vital and I know that you know this! I am thankful for you, brother! Are you traveling for ministry visitations today?

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Thanks for the good meditation, Mandy. The Psalms are so good at reminding us that when we go through those feelings, we’re not alone. There are certain universal emotions we all go through, and with the right perspective, they will bring us closer to Him. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. An excellent and thoughtful study Mandy, thank you for your thoroughness and faithfulness in presenting this for the brethren. I was struck by v.83 regarding “being like a wineskin in the smoke” which is a strong statement… a wineskin tainted by smoke is completely useless!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We are having the best day that we’ve had for a while, we both had a bad cold which flattened us for a while…which praise the Lord is nearly gone. Thank you for asking sister. God bless you and Nathan.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Lord, may we never forget Your commandments. May we never forget You desire our obedience – Amen 🙏🏽
    May we never forget His faithfulness.
    Enjoyed this so much Mandy.
    Bless you for taking time in the word and we benefit from it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am thankful too. It is a blessing to journey together and share our experiences, our lessons we learn and so much more.
        Blessings to you dear friend 🤗💙

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I was wondering and you can TOTALLY say no! And forgive me if this is rude! I was wondering if either on Dec 4 or Dec 18 if you would allow me to share with the youth about shepherds. As you know shepherd is a huge motif in the ANE and Biblical world, we all love “the Lord is my Shepherd” yet when it comes to the birth of Christ Christian’s relegate shepherds to lowly outcasts. Anyway, thought I would ask!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Good study, Mandy!! Love your wisdom and your love of studying and teaching His word!!

    Verse 88: “In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.”
    ❤️❤️❤️Such a beautiful request!

    Liked by 1 person

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