Psalm 119:73-80

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Yodh

73  Your hands have made and fashioned me; 

give me understanding that I may learn your commandments. 

74  Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, 

because I have hoped in your word. 

75  I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, 

and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. 

76  Let your steadfast love comfort me 

according to your promise to your servant. 

77  Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; 

for your law is my delight. 

78  Let the insolent be put to shame, 

because they have wronged me with falsehood; 

as for me, I will meditate on your precepts. 

79  Let those who fear you turn to me, 

that they may know your testimonies. 

80  May my heart be blameless in your statutes, 

that I may not be put to shame! 

ESV

The psalmist begins this stanza with a statement of confidence and trust. “As the Lord originally formed the first human (Gen 2:7), so the psalmist asserts that the Lord’s hands made and formed him…He wants to learn from the one who fashioned him and who knows him completely, so he calls on the Lord to give him understanding that will enable him to learn what he has commanded. He needs understanding from God if he is to learn God’s word” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 418).

The foundational truth of life, whether one likes it or not, is that God made us, God formed us, God established us. The psalmist is absolutely certain of this truth; thus, he prays asking the Lord to give him understanding (hiphil, imperative, 2ms with 1cs suffix). This is a verb of causation. The psalmist is asking the Lord to cause him to have understanding. God is the Agent causing this not the psalmist. Ross states, “[this] is a prayer for God to finish his work of creation: God made us for a purpose, and to fulfill that purpose we need spiritual understanding to learn God’s commandments…In the psalmist’s mind, since God made him, God must instruct him. And because of the crises that he faced in life, he realized his need for understanding was urgent if he was to live blamelessly (v. 80)” (A Commentary on the Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, p. 528).

Those who see the psalmist’s faith and hope in the Lord’s Word will rejoice (v 74). The psalmist is “confident that how he responds to the Lord will prompt others to praise the Lord as well” (Estes, p. 418). Often times the afflictions and sufferings that believers undergo are not for the person experiencing it but for those around the person to see the Lord. Like Job, may we seek to suffer well when the Lord has us in times of affliction, suffering and hardship so that others may see and praise Him.

In verse 75 the psalmist knows that Lord’s rules/judgments are right and that He is faithful in affliction (see verse 67). “The affliction he has been experiencing came from God, even though it was through arrogant oppressors…Nothing is said in this stanza about the affliction being a punishment for sin. While that may be a possibility, it is more likely the affliction was God’s way of testing him for obedience. Those who understand the ways of God know that ultimately it is his plan to exalt the righteous and destroy the wicked, but that in his wisdom he often humbles the righteous before exalting them” (Ross, p. 529).

The psalmist earnestly asks the Lord that His covenant faithfulness comfort him (v 76). The psalmist (as he has done throughout this psalm) refers to himself as servant and makes his appeal on the basis of the Lord’s promise (covenant). Next the psalmist petitions the Lord for His mercy to come to him, that he can live (v 77). The psalmist wants the Lord to end his affliction; however, “even in affliction the psalmist delights in God’s law—the divine test has proven his faith, and so now it is time for relief” (Ross, p. 531).

The psalmist asks for the arrogant/insolent people to be put to shame for the wrong they are causing him by speaking lies/falsehoods (v 78). “As the arrogant focus on speaking falsehoods against him, the psalmist focuses his attention on meditating on God’s truth. For the arrogant truth is dispensable, but for the psalmist it is indispensable because his life is shaped by God’s word as he assimilates it through the process of meditation…The psalmist longs for the Lord to give to the arrogant the shame they have attempted to inflict on him…” (Estes, p. 419).

The psalmist as he did in verse 74 asks the Lord for those who fear Him to see his faith and know the Lord’s testimonies (v 79). “Because the psalmist feels alone in adversity, he longs for others who like him revere the Lord to come alongside him in his time of affliction ([in v 63] the psalmist states that he is a friend of all who fear the Lord). This is fellowship built on shared commitment to the Lord and his word” (Estes, p. 419).

The psalmist ends this stanza asking for his heart to be blameless and that he not be put to shame (v 80). The psalmist wants his heart to be pure and blameless so that he may obey God. “Godly living throughout the Bible begins in the heart and works out into transformed behavior; it is not a cosmetic makeover that tries to produce the appearance of godliness through actions that are not prompted by a heart devoted to the Lord” (Estes, p. 419).

May we honor and obey the Lord by our walk matching our talk. May we be wholeheartedly devoted to obeying Christ rather than giving into fear of being put to shame for our hope and faith in Christ.

Lord God, Your Word never ceases to amaze me. Lord God, help us to know Your Word, to study Your Word and to apply Your Word. Lord God, may we never forget that good theology moves from the head, to the heart to the hand. Lord God, there is SO much deception in our world today, may we hold EVERYTHING we read, hear and see up to the light of Scripture!!!! Lord God, thank You that as You have made, formed and established this world, so have You made, formed and fashioned us! Lord God, cause us to understand Your Word. Holy Spirit, convict us and help us to understand and apply Your Word! Stir in us a desire to learn Your commandments!

Lord God, may those who come in contact with us rejoice in You. May we manifest the fruit of Your Spirit regardless of our circumstances. Lord God, as harassment and hatred for Christians increases, may we be like the early church counting it all joy to be worthy to suffer for Christ. I know this is easier said than done. Lord work on my heart to suffer well for You hoping in Your Word! Lord God, we know that affliction produces endurance, help us to depend on Your strength. Lord may we cling to Your hesed. May we hold fast to Your Covenant Faithfulness knowing that You will never do anything that violates who You are and how You work.

Lord God, may we be servants who comfort others as You have comforted us. Lord, thank You and praise You that Your Goodness and Mercy are never far from us. Lord, may we delight in Your Word until You call us home. May we never forget that vengeance is Yours. Thank You Lord that someday when You see fit You will hold all those who have persecuted Your people throughout time accountable. In the meantime, may we again be a people who show and tell about You to this dark and dying world. Lord God, may we choose to obey You. May we choose to be holy as You are holy. May we choose to keep our hearts pure for You, obeying You regardless of what it costs. May we fear being separated from You, disappointing You, not in a works based righteousness way, but because we love You and want to please You. Thank You Lord for this reader. Fill them with Your grace and truth today so that they may glorify You wherever You have them today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Sunset August 20, 2021

Sunset. August 20, 2021. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

The Mighty One, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth
(Psalm 50:1-2 ESV).

Nathan, PQ and Gary are cat fishing, which means I get a Friday night to myself. What a gift to marvel at the majesty of God. In the midst of all the chaos, do not lose hope dear reader, the Triune God is in control.

Lord God, thank You that You control when the sun rises and when it sets. Thank You Lord that while nightfalls here, day is breaking and in full swing elsewhere. Lord God, no two sunrises and sunsets are the same, each day is unique whether we realize it or not. Thank You Holy Trinity that Your mercies are new each morning. Lord God, for the one who reads this at night, may they rest well in Christ. Lord God, for the one who reads this in the daytime, may they walk in the light of Jesus, being a light to all they meet. Lord God, thank You that nothing that happens under the sun catches You unaware. Lord God, may we never lose sight that one day soon we will see Jesus, our King, in His Beauty ruling and reigning in Zion. Thank You Lord for today! In Jesus’s Holy and Majestic name I pray. Amen.

Sunset. August 20, 2021. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.
Sunset. August 20, 2021. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.

Psalm 119:65-72

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Teth

65  You have dealt well with your servant, 

O Lord, according to your word. 

66  Teach me good judgment and knowledge, 

for I believe in your commandments. 

67  Before I was afflicted I went astray, 

but now I keep your word. 

68  You are good and do good; 

teach me your statutes. 

69  The insolent smear me with lies, 

but with my whole heart I keep your precepts; 

70  their heart is unfeeling like fat, 

but I delight in your law. 

71  It is good for me that I was afflicted, 

that I might learn your statutes. 

72  The law of your mouth is better to me 

than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

ESV

Five lines in this stanza begin with the word good (ṭôb). In verse 65 the psalmist remembers how the Lord has dealt well (ṭôb) with him in the past. “As he reviews how the Lord has dealt with him in the past, he recognizes that the Lord has treated him well. What the Lord has done has lined up with what he has said, as he has been true to his promises” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 416). The Lord will never deal with us in a manner that violates His Character, Word and Covenant.

After remembering what the Lord has done in the past, the psalmist in verse 66 commands/petitions the Lord to teach (piel, imperative 2ms with 1 cs suffix) him good judgment and discernment. The Lord’s judgment is always best; hence why the psalmist is an eager student of the Lord, believing in His commandments. What the psalmist is asking here “is a practical prayer for spiritual growth and not just the best information” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms (90-150) KEL, 2016, p. 523).

The psalmist reflects on his past commitment to the Lord and reveals that before he was afflicted he went astray (v 67). Estes notes the Hebrew word for astray “šgg likely speak[s] of inadvertent sin. He then was afflicted by God, a process that had led to his repentance and restoration…The Lord used the pain of adversity to purge the psalmist of his waywardness, and he has now returned to keep the Lord’s word” (Estes, p. 417).

The Lord is good and He does good (v 68a). The Lord doing good is a hiphil, participle whereby the Lord is always doing good. The psalmist again petitions to be taught (piel, imperative, 2ms with 1cs suffix) His statutes (68b). “This teaching could come through the ministry of priests who were to teach the laws of God (Deut. 33:10); but it could also include the LORD’s impressing the reality and significance of his word on the heart of the psalmist in times of meditation (see Ps. 16:6–7)” (Ross, p. 524).

In verses 69-70 the psalmist contrasts the insolent smearing him with lies to his keeping the Lord’s precepts with his whole heart. “The hostility of the arrogant people who have afflicted the psalmist creates a contrast to the Lord’s goodness” (Estes, p. 417). The psalmist also compares the heart of the insolent as unfeeling or gross with fat but that he delights in the Lord’s torah (law/instruction). The psalmist’s “value system is totally antithetical to theirs…They are diseased, but he is robust and well. They are insensitive, not feeling or caring about what matters to God; but the psalmist delights in God’s instruction” (p. 417).

And here in verse 71 the psalmist has his Job moment (see 42:1-6), proclaiming how it was good for him to be afflicted so that he could learn the Lord’s statutes. Affliction often keeps pride away, it humbles and teaches us how to depend on the Lord. We learn how sufficient His Word is in times of trials and hardships. Robert Alter states, “Suffering impels reflection, which in turn leads the sufferer to embrace God’s teaching as the guide to turning his life around” (The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary, 2007, p. 425). Estes continues this stating, “[The psalmist’s] painful route through the school of hard knocks likely took a significant amount of time, but the psalmist has come to rejoice in the precious results in his life produced through adversity (cf. Jas 1:2–4)” (p. 417).

The psalmist ends this stanza with language similar to Proverbs where wisdom/torah has infinitely more value than riches (v 72 see Proverbs 3:14; 8:10; 16:16). The psalmist knows firsthand how nothing is better than the Lord and His Word. Gold and silver do not do good, only Yahweh Himself is good and does good. “[T]he Lord is implicitly viewed here as the teacher of wisdom and the psalmist as the student who has chosen to value the words of the Lord his teacher above all the material riches craved by the world” (Estes, pp. 417-418).

Lord God, may we say along with Job and the psalmist that it was/is good for us to be afflicted so that we might know Your Word. Lord God, may we crave Your Word more than riches. Lord, while affliction is never pleasant nor easy may we never forget how Jesus suffered. Lord God, may we not make light of others suffering, may we be quick to listen and hear about the sufferings of others. Lord God, may we not dwell on our sufferings but glorify You through them. As You know Lord this world is becoming more and more hostile and insolent to Your people. Lord God, may we NEVER forget that You are Good, You do Good and that You will never cease being who You are. Lord God, may the person reading this who does not know Christ seek Him today while there is still time. For the reader who is in Christ, Lord God may they remember how You dealt well with them in the past and may they seek to be Your student and servant in the present. Lord God, thank You and praise You for this reader. Lord may we love and honor You well. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 119:57-64

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Heth

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.

Psalm 119:49-56

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Zayin

49  Remember your word to your servant, 

in which you have made me hope. 

50  This is my comfort in my affliction, 

that your promise gives me life. 

51  The insolent utterly deride me, 

but I do not turn away from your law. 

52  When I think of your rules from of old, 

I take comfort, O Lord. 

53  Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, 

who forsake your law. 

54  Your statutes have been my songs 

in the house of my sojourning. 

55  I remember your name in the night, O Lord, 

and keep your law. 

56  This blessing has fallen to me, 

that I have kept your precepts. 

ESV

The psalmist opens this section commanding the Lord to remember His Word to His servant (v 49). “The call to remember is a common plea in the lament psalms (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 413). The Lord’s Word gives the psalmist hope as well as it is his comfort in affliction (v 50). “Through his adversity the psalmist has come to learn that the Lord’s word can be trusted. He has felt pain from his oppressors, but from the Lord he has received protection and preservation that have given him comfort” (p. 413).

The psalmist does not turn away from the Lord’s Word even though the insolent deride and mock him (v 51). When the psalmist remembers (זָכַרְתִּי translated think ESV) the Lord’s Word he takes comfort. “The use of the verb here is instructive: if people want God to “remember” (i.e., fulfill) his word, they must “remember” (i.e., obey) his word. What he remembers are the laws and decisions of God in all matters, which are here described as “ancient” (מֵעוֹלָם, “from antiquity”). They have stood the test of time with all its conflicts and pains; God’s word is eternal—ever reliable and ever binding” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms (90-150) KEL, 2016, pp. 511-512).

Only the Lord and His Word can truly comfort in times of oppression, affliction etc. However, “with the comfort there is also a burning indignation (זַלְעָפָה). This is a rare word; it can mean a burning, or the effects of the burning (faintness)” (Ross, p. 512). The psalmist’s burning indication is more directed toward the wicked who “have no regard for the word of God than for his own plight. The truly devout naturally have a moral outrage over the ungodly who forsake God’s laws” (p. 512).

In verse 54 the Lord’s Word has been his song. “Wherever he goes and whatever he faces, God’s word tunes his heart for worship” (Estes, p. 414). The psalmist remembers the Lord’s name in the night, keeping His Law (v 55). Night could be a reference to time or it could be a reference to adversity, either way the psalmist will keep His Law.

The psalmist ends this section literally saying, “this was to/for me” (זֹאת הָיְתָה־לִּי). The question then becomes what is “this?” The ESV supplies the word blessing which has fallen on him. The CSB translates this as “This is my practice.” Commentators agree “this” refers to the psalmist having kept the Lord’s precepts. The psalmist in this verse “sums up his whole life as doing what the Lord directs. He does not just know God’s words, but he practices them because his life is formed and shaped by what the Lord commands. Obedience to the Lord is not just part of his life, but it is central to his life as it controls all that he does” (Estes, p. 414).

Lord God, help us to be a people who delight in remembering and obeying You! May we remember and obey You and Your Word no matter what situation we are going through. Lord God, may we take comfort in Your Word, may we also comfort others because You have comforted us. Lord God, there are many wicked people today who want to harm Your Name and Your people, may we have righteous indignation for the wicked who mock and defame You more than being angry about what the wicked are doing to us. Lord God, thank You that when we choose to praise You that You will fill our hearts and mouths with songs of worship that please You. Lord God, thank You for all the songs You have given us for this journey! Lord God, may Your servants make a joyful noise to You today! Lord God, You call Your people to remember. When Israel did not remember You, disobedience abounded; when we do not remember You we are no better. Lord God, may it be our practice, may it be to us that we have kept Your precepts. May we be like the Apostle Paul who fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith (2 Tim 4:7). Lord God, may we remember You and Your Word today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 119:41-48

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Waw

41  Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord, 

your salvation according to your promise; 

42  then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, 

for I trust in your word. 

43  And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, 

for my hope is in your rules. 

44  I will keep your law continually, 

forever and ever, 

45  and I shall walk in a wide place, 

for I have sought your precepts. 

46  I will also speak of your testimonies before kings 

and shall not be put to shame, 

47  for I find my delight in your commandments, 

which I love. 

48  I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, 

and I will meditate on your statutes. 

ESV

The psalmist opens this stanza asking for the Lord’s covenant faithfulness (asādîm pl of hesed also translated steadfast love/unfailing love/loyal love) to come to him. The Lord’s faithfulness and love is the promise of salvation. “What the psalmist does in this stanza is what all believers should do, pray for the promises of God to be fulfilled. The focus of the request here is on the promised deliverance from the opposition and reproach of the world” (A. Ross, Psalms (90-150) KEL, 2016, p. 503). 

The Lord will never do anything that violates Himself or His Covenant. He is faithful and the psalmist (and the psalmists at large) know this. In verses 41-42 confidence in the Lord’s salvation is what “will cause him to triumph over the one who taunts him” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 412). The psalmist clearly states that it is the Lord’s Word that he trusts, not the words of his oppressors.

In verse 43, the psalmist does rely on his own ability and strength to answer his oppressors. “Because he realizes he could be tempted to speak falsely, the psalmist urges the Lord to help him continue to speak what is truthful” (Estes, p. 412). The psalmist’s hope and confidence is in the Lord and what He says. “As in vv. 142, 151, 160, “truth” (ʾĕmet) here has the sense of being trustworthy and reliable” (p. 412).

The Lord’s Word always has and will always be True, Reliable and Trustworthy! As such the psalmist will keep, guard, watch, observe (וְאֶשְׁמְרָ֖ה) the Lord’s law continually (torah tāmîd) forever and ever (v 44). “Although he does not specifically refer to himself as a student, his resolution to keep the Lord’s instruction continually (tāmîd) implies that he will never graduate from God’s school but will be a perpetual student of his way (cf. v. 117). Obedience to God’s tôrâ (“instruction”) is the fixed commitment of the psalmist’s life” (Estes, p. 412).

The psalmist knows that the Lord is the only One who delivers and saves (v 41); as such, he will trust His Word (v 42), hope in His rules (v 43), keep His law continually (v 44) and walk in a wide place (v 45) meaning he will “liv[e] life fully” (Ross, p. 505) because he had sought (drš) His precepts. “By setting his focus to study or seek (drš, as in v. 2 speaks of a wholehearted, intentional search) God’s precepts, he finds that obedience to God’s word leads to freedom, not to confinement. As with a train, true liberty comes from staying on the tracks of obedience to God’s instruction, not by going off the rails in an attempt to do as one pleases” (Estes, p. 412).

The psalmist is taking His love for the Lord and His Word public (v 46a). True love and devotion to the Lord cannot help but to overflow in public, no matter the cost. Hence why the psalmist will not be put to shame (v 46b). The psalmist finds delight in the commandments which he loves (v 47). It is obvious throughout this psalm that he (the psalmist) loves and delights in the Lord and in His Word.

Because the psalmist is so full of love and delight in God’s Word (v 47), he raises his hands toward His commandments and will meditate on them (v 48). “This is an active, intentional response, as the psalmist does not resist God’s word, but he receives it joyfully and without reluctance. Because he loves what the Lord has said, he accepts and assimilates it into his life. As in Ps 1:2, the process of meditation causes him to internalize God’s word so that he lives what he learns from him” (Estes, pp. 412-413).

Praise You Lord for Your covenant faithfulness! Praise You Lord that You do not violate Your Covenant and that You have made Your way and standard clear to us! Lord God, may Your Word overflow authentically from our lives because of our personal time in worship, devotion and study with You. Lord God, help us to love and trust Your Word. Help us to be confident in our salvation that is by grace through faith in Christ so that we will not doubt nor be shaken when trials, oppressors or negative emotions come against us. Lord God, may we be reminded that when we go off the rails and follow the things of this world that we will suffer consequences for our disobedience. Lord God, thank You for this reader. May this reader be reminded that Your Word is True, Reliable and Trustworthy. Lord God, for the reader who is not in Christ, may today be the day of their salvation. Thank You Lord for preserving Your Word in each generation. Lord, for those of us who are in Christ may we never stop delighting, loving and meditating on Your Word. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

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.

 

Psalm 119:25-32

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Daleth

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.

 

Psalm 119:17-24

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Gimel

17  Deal bountifully with your servant, 

that I may live and keep your word. 

18  Open my eyes, that I may behold 

wondrous things out of your law. 

19  I am a sojourner on the earth; 

hide not your commandments from me! 

20  My soul is consumed with longing 

for your rules at all times. 

21  You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, 

who wander from your commandments. 

22  Take away from me scorn and contempt, 

for I have kept your testimonies. 

23  Even though princes sit plotting against me, 

your servant will meditate on your statutes. 

24  Your testimonies are my delight; 

they are my counselors (ESV). 

 In the last stanza the psalmist referred to himself as the Lord’s student and in the opening of this stanza he refers to himself as the Lord’s servant. The psalmist “does not accept God’s blessing and then proceed to do as he pleases, but he humbly takes his place before the Lord, his Master, whom he asks to deal [bountifully] with him. His reasonable response to the Lord’s goodness is obedience that keeps his word” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 406).

Verses 17-18 each begin with prayers in the form of imperatives followed by purpose clauses. The first imperative is deal bountifully. In the Psalter, bounty has the “connotation of deliverance” (A. Ross, Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, p. 483). When the psalmist here prays that the Lord will deal bountifully with him it is so that he can live and keep the Lord’s Word (purpose clause).

The second prayer is for God to open his eyes. “In both the OT and the NT, sight is a frequent metaphor for understanding (see Gen 3:5; Eph 1:17–18). Apart from divine revelation and illumination, humans are blind, but the psalmist calls on the Lord to open his eyes so that he would be able to see the extraordinary things in his instruction” (Estes, p. 406).  No one will ever out know God’s law/instruction and it is important to remember “…not everyone who reads God’s word has the spiritual understanding to appropriate it correctly (see Matt. 6:22–23; 7:3–5; John 9:39–41)” (Ross, pp. 483-484).

The psalmist moves from calling himself servant to sojourner (v. 19). In the Ancient Near East (ANE) the poor, widow, orphan, sojourner/foreigner were “especially vulnerable and in need of protection” (Estes, p. 406). The psalmist knows that the Lord cares for the poor, widows, orphans and sojourners (Deut 10:18). “In this context, in which the psalmist lives among those who do not share his godly values and commitments, he needs direction from the Lord, so he asks the Lord to make his commands clear to him” (Estes, p. 407). 

In verse 20 the psalmist refers to his soul (nefesh). In Hebrew nefesh derives from the word for neck and it means life source, whole inner being. The psalmist here is saying that his life source, his entire inner being is consumed with loving God’s rules/just decrees. “It is evident that he passionately desires God’s direction for his life” (Estes, p. 407).

The psalmist compares his obedience (v. 22) to the disobedience of the insolent (v. 21). “Even though he has obeyed the Lord, he has received contempt from his wicked oppressors because living by God’s word is not a guarantee of a pain-free life in a sinful world. He is confident, however, that the Lord can thwart those who threaten him, and he entrusts his plight into God’s hands” (Estes, p. 407).

Even though princes (magistrates) plot against the psalmist, he as the Lord’s servant will meditate and delight in His Word because they are his counselors (vv. 23-24).

God’s Word gives comfort and guidance in times of difficulty and distress. Believers today need God’s wisdom and discernment now more than ever; testing and holding everything we read and hear up to the light of God’s Word. May our nefesh be completely consumed in desiring God and His Word.

Lord God, thank You that You reveal Yourself to us through Your Word. Thank You that Your Word brings life and not death for those who believe the Good News of Jesus Christ. Lord, for the reader who does not know You Lord, may they seek You today while there is still time. Lord God, may we follow the example of this psalmist desiring and meditating on Your Word to help us in these darkening and difficult times. Lord God, help us to be a people whose entire being is consumed with You and Your Word rather than being consumed with the things of this world. Lord God, thank You for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

Psalm 119:9-16

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Beth

How can a young man keep his way pure? 

By guarding it according to your word. 

10  With my whole heart I seek you; 

let me not wander from your commandments! 

11  I have stored up your word in my heart, 

that I might not sin against you. 

12  Blessed are you, O Lord; 

teach me your statutes! 

13  With my lips I declare 

all the rules of your mouth. 

14  In the way of your testimonies I delight 

as much as in all riches. 

15  I will meditate on your precepts 

and fix my eyes on your ways. 

16  I will delight in your statutes; 

I will not forget your word (ESV).

In language similar to Wisdom Literature, “the ‘young man’ is the disciple, also known as ‘my son’ in Proverbs” (W. VanGemeren, Psalms REBC, 2008, p. 862). This matter of purity “does not only concern a young man, but any concerned disciple” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms (90-159) KEL, 2016, p. 476).

Purity was vital to Israel’s existence. The question of “how can a man keep his way pure?” encompasses all areas and activities of a person’s life. The answer is that he will keep his way pure by “guarding” the Lord’s Word (v 9). Guard here is the same as in Genesis 3:24 where the cherubim and flaming sword “guard the way to the tree of life” (emphasis mine). The psalmist is to guard his way with the same ferocity as the cherubim and flaming sword guard the way to the tree of life.

By asking how to “keep his way pure?” the psalmist acknowledges (as in previous verses) that he is prone to temptation and folly’s invitation (see Proverbs 9:13-18). It is worth mentioning the psalmist does not ask, “why does a young man need to keep his way pure?” The psalmist already knows why, “blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord” (Ps 119:1). The psalmist does not lament the effort that he has to give in actively keeping and guarding his way. Today, Christians often lament, whine and complain about the hardship and drudgery of obeying God and keeping pure (see Old Testament Israel for further thoughts).

It is only fitting that with this perspective the psalmist would seek the Lord with his whole being and store His word in his heart so as to not sin against Him (vv 10-11). “Because the word of God has penetrated to his [“heart”], the core of his life that includes his thinking, his feelings, and his choices (cf. v. 2), it keeps him from missing the mark of God’s holy standard expressed in his word” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 405).

The psalmist calls the Lord blessed and then cries out for the Lord to teach him His statutes (v 12). “The point of the verse is the desire to learn more of God’s law, but a teachable spirit begins with a proper regard for God—hence, the praise for the teacher” (Ross, p. 478). In verse 13 the psalmist declares his learning “publicly because he views himself as the channel of God’s instruction to others” (Estes, p. 405). The psalmist delights in the Lord’s Word “as much as in all riches” (v 14). In verses 15-16 the psalmist actively chooses to meditate on His precepts because he loves Him and wants to obey Him. Because the Lord’s ways lead to life, he will fix his eyes on them. By delighting in the Lord’s statutes, he will not forget His Word.

Lord God, help us to be a people who choose to keep their way pure. Help us to be agents and ambassadors of light and not debauchery and darkness. Lord God, help us to guard Your Word as You have guarded us from finding Eden and the Tree of Life. Lord help us to keep our way pure as we share Jesus with the lost. Lord God, help us to be a people who seek You with their whole being. Lord God, may our times of wandering from Your Way become less and may we become quicker at recognizing when we have strayed. Lord God, as society becomes more and more hostile to Your Word, may we learn Your Word, storing it in our hearts. Lord God, thank You that You will teach us Your Word when we are sincere in obeying it. Remind Your people Lord that You never teach us anything to keep it to ourselves. You teach us so that we may strengthen and encourage Your Body! Thank You Lord for this reader and help them to not forget Your Word. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.