Psalm 119:97-104

Mem
97 Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
102 I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way
(ESV).

The opening line of this stanza exclaims, “oh how I love Your Law!” (v 97a). What is really amazing me about this psalm is how personal, heartfelt and worshipful it is. Because the psalmist loves the Law, he mediates on it all the day (v 97b).

This psalm and especially the above verse humbles me with how much he loves the Lord’s Law. “In Psalm 119 the psalmist does not just learn God’s word, but he loves it. His love for God’s instruction causes him to meditate on it continually (cf. Ps 1:2); and as he contemplates God’s truth, it is assimilated into his life so that he learns it, loves it, and lives it” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 423).

Dr. Michael Heiser makes an excellent point when he says, “We tend to think of the law as though every one of its 613 commandments [this includes the 10 commandments given in Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21] were an oppressive lynchpin in a relationship to Yahweh. We tend to view the law negatively, as though it were given to produce feelings of guilt or to frustrate Israelites with the impossibility of pleasing God. This is misguided…An Israelite would have known that believing was at the heart of right relationship with Yahweh, not mere mechanical observance of a list of do’s and don’ts. For sure some Israelites would have lapsed into this mistaken thinking, particularly after the shock of the exile, but that wasn’t what the law was about” (The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, 2015, p. 163).

The commitment that the psalmist has to the Lord’s commandments makes him wiser than his enemies (v 98a). “Obviously, people attacking the psalmist without reason and/or with deceit ignore both the content of Yhwh’s commands and the promises attached to them. They are stupid. They are ultimately bound to fail” (J. Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Psalms 90-150, 2006, p. 418).

Because the Lord’s Word is always with him (v 98b) he has more wisdom (understanding) than all his teachers (v 99a). The psalmist here has caused himself more wisdom because the Lord’s testimonies are his meditation (v 99b). The Word of God NEVER fails to make wise a person who is open, receptive and willing to obey what He says!

In verse 100a the psalmist compares himself to the aged. While it is widely assumed that older individuals have more discernment (understanding) than the young, the psalmist here flips this, stating that he has more discernment than the aged because he keeps the Lord’s precepts (v 100b).

The psalmist holds back his feet from every evil way so that he may keep the Lord’s Word (v 101). He also does not turn to the right or to the left from the rules that the Lord has taught him (v 102). “[The psalmist] always keeps in mind that he is a student in the Lord’s school, and his chief purpose is to stay true to what the Lord has taught him” (Estes, p. 424).

The Lord’s Words are a sweet taste to his mouth, sweeter than honey (v 103). “In biblical times honey was a highly valued delicacy and a rare sweetener, so it is a fitting image for how delectable God’s word is to him. As frequently throughout Psalm 119, God’s word is viewed in terms of delight and enjoyment because to the psalmist it is a sweet delight, not a bitter duty” (Estes, p. 424). Believers today also know how sweet His Words taste in their mouths, which is why they can say along with David, “o taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Ps 34:8).

The psalmist concludes this stanza restating that it is through the Lord’s precepts that he gets discernment; as such, he hates every false way (v 104). The psalmist is able to discern false ways because he knows what the Lord his God requires both from the Law and because of having a personal relationship with Him. “In the light of God’s word, he can see through sin for what it is and where it leads, and this understanding enables him to reject every false way (cf. v. 163). God’s word guards him against making wrong turns that lead to bad consequences” (Estes, p. 424).

Lord God, thank You and praise You for Your Law! Lord God, may we love Your Law like the psalmist. Lord God, may we seek to read and practice Your Word so that we will be wise people! Lord God, wise people seek wise people. May we seek to do life with the wise and not the popular. Lord God, Your Word will cause us to grow if we are actively reading and putting it into practice. Help us to desire Your Word so that we will know how to discern truth from error. Lord God, there is so much error in our world today, help us to be grounded and guarded in Your Truth!

Lord God, help us to keep our feet from moving toward evil. May we stay focused on You and what You have taught us rather than looking to our right and to our left. Lord God, Your Words have the sweetness of life. May we never forget to taste and see that You are good, even in the midst of pain, hardship and suffering. Thank You Lord that You cause Your people who are earnestly seeking You to have wisdom and discernment. Lord God, may we practice common sense; helping us to hate every false way! Lord God, thank You for this reader! May this reader grow in their desire for You. 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.

60 thoughts on “Psalm 119:97-104”

  1. Somehow I didn’t see this post yesterday! But then I’m about two days behind blog reading; I’ll read this later but answering your question my day today will be homeschool lesson then another pastor’s family is coming over for lunch! Hence later I’ll read this study on Psalm 119, what a blessing to have you blog through this!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “What is really amazing me about this psalm is how personal, heartfelt and worshipful it is.” Dear Mandy, I agree! To love the law (commands and strictures) in a deep way seems counterintuitive but your study of this passage opens up the psalmist’s thoughts about the law and how the law to him is really a reflection of how much he loves the Lord who gave him the law, “How sweet are YOUR words to my taste”! There is a real communion with the Lord God going on here through his study of the law, which by the way, I see in you as well. No wonder you chose this psalm to go through. And what a blessing to us, as are your prayers, sister. Thank you and God bless you.
    pax,
    dora

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for this comment, Dora! You are so life giving to me. I never thought about how there is NO mention of praising God for His general revelation. His only focus is to praise and call upon the Lord who revealed Himself through His Word. How much greater for Christians to love and call upon the Word made flesh?!?! I don’t know if you were reading my blog for my Authority of Scripture post; but after that this psalm chose me. There is such an attack on the Word and sound doctrine and I was compelled to read, study and meditate stanza by stanza. It is fascinating to see how commentators treat this psalm. Some are brief, others have written tomes; but there is no denying that the Lord is faithful to His Word and worthy to be praised. We are students and pilgrims. So glad this world is not our home nor will it have the final word. Until the day we are home with Jesus, I remain ever truly yours. Shalom, Mandy

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      1. And on that Day, what gladness, what joy! All our hopes in His word are concentrated on that promise, that we will see Him face to face, our Jesus, our Savior, our Lord! Praise God! Thank you for reminding me of that Day today, Mandy. God bless and keep you, my sister.

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  3. Good post!
    I love your point that we often think of the law negatively; but we shouldn’t but have a biblical view and biblical view of the relations of law to other doctrines (salvation, etc).
    I see you reference Heiser’s work. Still need to read hiM!
    Good observation too of the Psalmist commitment to the Word of God!
    May we desire His Word as you said.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I’m usually ok with soft spoken teachers; in the past I feel when he answers a question it sounds so smug that he say many don’t get it, even when I agree with him. I think of his answer about those who mocked the prophet and were killed by bears, I hold the same interpretation that the word for youth is better seen as young adult men but I remember thinking there was a lot of unneeded comments about people not knowing things. I do think it is possible that it’s just my personal quirks with him that might not accurately represent himself and his intention. It seems people I love and respect think either of him very highly or just kind of keep him from a distance. But I know I need to read his book

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      2. I can see where you are coming from with that and after I said soften spoken I should have been honest and said smug. We have WAY too many smug theologians and pastors these days. It’s like the evangelical world has smug and condescending leaders or we have (wannabe) celebrities. Lord help us to present His Word and Truth in a manner that is clear and concise without belittling people!

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  4. I like the comment about halfway through this post about seeing the Law negatively as 613 demands from God. We love the Law because it describes what our Creator intended when he made us; it tells us what we are meant to be. But, even better, the Psalm is talking about God’s Torah, which includes not only the commandments but also the promises of grace, of forgiveness, of the gift of a place in his eternal kingdom. When we see that our righteousness comes from Christ’s work and not from our own efforts, how can we not love this Word of God? (And this might be the sense of knowing more than our teachers and our elders, if they are the ones who teach only the commandments and miss seeing and sharing the grace). J.

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  5. I absolutely love this section of the Psalm. The joy that the psalmist excudes in loving Gods word is just wonderful.
    I love the part of He learnt it, loves it and lives it- when talking about Gods word. Amen to that sis 🙏🏽.
    May we do the same too. Following Gods word is not an obligation but a joy. And it makes life that much sweeter.
    Blessings🤗🌺💙

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    1. Thank you for reading this, Manu!!!! I am reminding myself of the 3 L’s of God’s Word: learn it, love it, live it! Good theology always moves from the head to the heart to the hand. The 3 L’s are another way of stating this!!! I praise God for you Manu! I praise God for your love for His Word! I am praising God for your gift of writing/encouraging! You are loved Manu and don’t you forget it!!! 🤗🤗😘😘🧡🧡🙏🙏

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    1. I am with you on that sister! After the last email you sent me, how important it is to love the whole counsel of God and not cherry pick what we want or make the text say what we want it to say! Love you!! I am super behind on posts and emails so forgive me for not getting to your John 3:16 yet!

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      1. Definitely! We cannot cherry pick! It’s hard not to at times, I’ll admit. But if we truly want to live a life that pleases God, we must adhere to His Word and take it for what it means. And no worries, friend! You are definitely not obligated to read it. Hope you are well! Blessings to you, Mandy!

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  6. Thanks for the great thoughts on Psalm 119:97-104! Yes, let us love God’s laws and precepts! They are not burdens, but “guidelines” by which we can please God and avoid harmful temptations. Who would hate and mumble against a cautionary “bridge out ahead” road sign? That said, many pseudo-Christians attempt to merit their salvation via obeying the Law, an impossible task. I love God’s precepts, but I often “drop the ball.” Praise God for our Savior, Jesus Christ, Who obeyed the Law perfectly!

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      1. Glad you have some sunshine! The weatherman says it will be most cloudy in ROC with breaks of sunshine. It definitely looks like I’ll be able to gather up two or maybe three tarpfulls later today.

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      2. Hmm. Good question. Raking leaves onto the empty tarp, dragging the tarp to the curb and emptying it, and finally dragging the tarp back to the leaf pile probably starts off as a 15 minute process, but gets longer the more tarps I do.

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  7. Student of the Law; I like how you did research on this Mandy; it rocks! My thoughts were the following. One, we are living by GOD’s awesomely amazing grace so I’ll add just JESUS CHRIST’s commands (maybe, I should make a series on it) here but taking the point of view of the Psalmist. And two, we spent time and money on self-help books (e.g. how to be happy, Laws of Power), and yet, true to what the Psalmist has written, GOD’s Laws and commands help build us to be a far better person (e.g. wiser, more understanding, discernment, enthusiastically receiving GOD’s word, even meditate) as the Psalmist states in all of this particular set of verses except 102. Blessings to you and Nathan!

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    1. Kent, you make a GREAT point! There is so much self-help books out there today that are leading people straight into hell. God is still in the transformation business! Only God can replace our dead, stony hearts and give us life by grace, through faith in Christ alone. Be transformed/sanctified to be more like Christ is an awesome part of our Christian journey! I appreciate you so much! I will pray for you to do a series on Jesus’s commands! Talk about a timely series!!! Love and blessings!!!

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    1. Me too! Thank you for reading this! In the event you haven’t seen, it is warmer in your part of the world than mine 😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😜😜😜😜😜😜😜😜🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🥶🥶🥶🥶🥶🥶🥶😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

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      1. I’m doing really good besides probably the start of a cold🤪… Waiting for my radiation to start soon and then also to hear if I need to do chemo… God‘s leading this show, so all is well. 🙏❤️🙌

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  8. These studies on Psalm 119 are a real joy to read; they are so rich and inspire joy. This particular study filled me with excitement and joy for His Word, how I want to consume it and fill my mindxand heart with its sweetness! Thank you Mandy for these excellent studies, may our Father God guide and bless you today.

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    1. Thank you Alan for sharing how these studies are encouraging you! In a world that is hostile to the Bible in every way from the Good News of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone to how to live morally and ethically I was convicted to go through this psalm, stanza by stanza, studying, meditating, reflecting and praying God’s Word. I am thankful for you! How are you and Susan?

      Like

  9. Sorry somehow I forgot to reply to your question: I don’t know where to even begin with publishing…been thinking about publishing the alleged Bible contradictions one day myself…but don’t know where to even start lol

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  10. Back to the Psalm I love. In fact, you’re getting VERY CLOSE to the first verse I ever learned, which always opens up beautiful memories…
    Thank you for opening up this passage Mandy. I am also moved by this Psalmistsl’s love for God’s word. It so reminds me of my beloved Pastor Dave (Wilkerson) who so often came to the pulpit and, upon opening his Bible would ask us, “Do you love His word?”
    I want to love it more, know it more, and let it take root within me.
    ‘Loving His law’ and ‘hating every wrong path’ reminds me of I.C. Ryle quote: “He that is not zealous against error is not likely zealous for the truth”.
    Thank you Mandy for taking us into these life giving verses…❤⚘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man, that’s an awesome way to start teaching/preaching! Amen to “wanting to love it more, know it more and let take root within me.” Ryle’s comment is seriously an indictment on our society today! Thank you for sharing your thoughts! You always cause me to think and also edify me! Love and blessings!!! 🙏🙏🤗🤗🧡🧡🍁🍁

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  11. Mandy, I was a little behind, but I’m glad I finally saw this post. Yes, we should not only be committed to knowing God’s Law and following, but we should LOVE it. I like the way C.S. Lewis described the joy of the Psalmist, a man of the Law, not as the mindset of being confined in a prison, but more like that of one who has been lost in the woods and has finally found the path!

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  12. I just prayed for you to have opportunity to minister with the discussion with the pastor on Monday.
    The last few weeks it seems many are not willing to meet up with church, got stood up a few times. I’m not complaining, I just read. I think people are fatigued with the pandemic or post-pandemic…
    My dad goes to church now but I’m not too sure where he is at spiritually. He professes to be a Christian.
    My mom is totally not at all, she’s against it all…

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  13. I love what Dr. Heiser had to say . It’s so true, at least for me, that we can tend to see the law as just a list of do’s and don’ts. But that’s not how Israel saw them. And that’s not how God intended them to be. Love your prayer at the end too.. as always. Love and hugs! 🤗💜🌻

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      1. Agreed. But it seems, most pastors are church-centric and believe—to one extent or another—that the church has replaced Israel; ergo there is no need to preach out of the OT. But it’s rich and is the foundation of our faith and Christians would benefit greatly by reading through it occasionally. And to your point, if pastors would teach it now and then. 📖 Have a great day!

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