119:1 law of the LORD. The “law” (Hebrew torah) is the primary name for the Old Testament Scriptures as a whole, especially the Pentateuch. Of the eight different words used for the Scriptures in this remarkable psalm—the longest chapter in the Bible—“law” occurs most frequently. The psalm is an acrostic poem, with twenty-two stanzas, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The verses all begin with a particular letter in each verse of the stanza (aleph in the first stanza, beth in the second stanza). This structure is clearly intended to stress the literal (letter-by-letter, word-by-word) divine origin of the Scriptures (compare Christ’s testimony in Matthew 5:18). Practically every one of the 176 verses of the psalm uses one of these eight words in reference to the Scriptures. Six verses, however, do not (verses 3,37,90,91,122,132). This may suggest the tendency of man (often identified with the number six, as falling short of seven, the number of completeness—Revelation 13:18) to corrupt or dilute the Scriptures. On the other hand, six verses (16,43,48,160,168,172) contain two such references, so that the total number remains 176, equal to the number of verses. The whole psalm begins with a promise of blessing to those who study, believe and obey the Word of God!
119:2 testimonies. “Testimonies” is in Hebrew edah or eduth, the second of the eight words used in Psalm 119 for the Scriptures.
119:3 his ways. This is the first of the six verses in Psalm 119 with no specific mention of the Scriptures. Perhaps this suggests that the “young man” (Psalm 119:9), immediately after learning of promised blessing through the Bible, still thinks he can obey God without daily attention to the Word, but this is a mistake.
119:4 precepts. “Precepts” is Hebrew piqqudim, the third word for the Scriptures.
119:5 statutes. “Statutes” is Hebrew chuqqah or choe, the fourth word.
119:6 commandments. “Commandments” is Hebrew mitzvah, the fifth word.
119:7 judgments. “Judgments” is Hebrew mishpat, the sixth word.
119:8 O forsake me not. After his confident assertion that he could keep all God’s statutes, testimonies, and precepts, walking in His law, respecting His commandments, and learning His judgments, it is as though he suddenly realizes he simply cannot do all this, and therefore, right at the end of his first stanza, he cries out for God’s mercy!
119:9 thy word. The second stanza begins with an earnest desire for cleansing, a cleansing that can only be applied through God’s Word (Ephesians 5:26). Appropriately the answer comes through the Hebrew word dabar, translated simply as “word;” dabar is by far the most frequently used word for “Word” in the Scriptures, especially for “the Word of the LORD.” Note its first use in Genesis 15:1.
119:10 not wander. With far less self-confidence than before his cleansing through the Word, the young man realizes his deep dependence on the Lord, on prayer, and on the Word, calling out for strength not to “wander” away from God’s written will.
119:11 hid in mine heart. How vitally important it is to memorize Scripture, hiding God’s Word in both heart and mind, if we are to have daily victory over sin in our lives. Here the “young man” uses the eighth and final word for the Scriptures in this psalm, Hebrew imrah, again translated simply by “word,” thus emphasizing not just a concept or thought but the very words of God.
119:16 thy word. This is the eighth (and last) verse of the psalmist’s second stanza, again emphasizing the “Word” (dabar). The same word is again used in the first verse of the succeeding stanza. The reason why each stanza has eight lines is here becoming evident, for the Word of God is not only the Scriptures but also is Christ Himself (John 1:1-3,14). “Eight” is the number after “seven,” the number of completeness, so it always suggests a new beginning, and is especially associated with Jesus Christ in His resurrection on the “eighth” day. It is noteworthy that there are eight combinations of His name found in the New Testament (“Lord,” “Jesus,” “Christ,” “Lord Jesus,” “Lord Jesus Christ,” “Jesus Christ,” “Christ Jesus,” and “Lord Christ”). The gematria (numerical value of the Greek letters) in “Jesus” is 888, whereas that of the antichrist will be 666. The gematria of “Lord” is 800 and of “Christ” is “8 x 185.” All combinations are multiples of “8.”
119:17 that I may live. Again dabar (“word”) is used, and associated, quite significantly, with “living.” As the number of “new life,” through the “living Word,” the number “eight” is impressed in the whole structure of Psalm 119, each stanza consisting of eight verses. It is noteworthy that there were eight individuals (not including Christ and those raised with Him at His resurrection) who were raised from the dead, as recorded in Scripture: three in the Old Testament (I Kings 17:22; II Kings 4:34,35; II Kings 13:21), three by Christ (Matthew 9:24,25; Luke 7:15; John 11:44), one through Peter (Acts 9:40-41), and one through Paul (Acts 20:9-12). Dabar (“word”) in this psalm seems associated mainly with cleansing and new life (Psalm 119:9,17), imrah (“word”) with victory over sin (Psalm 119:11).
119:18 wondrous things. Here “law” is used for the second time (first in Psalm 119:1), and again refers to the whole Old Testament and from our perspective to the whole Bible. The adjective “wondrous” is often applied to God’s mighty miracles, in Egypt and other places. This would indicate that there are many evidences of supernatural inspiration and divine origin that can be gleaned from the Scriptures, if only one’s spiritual eyes are open to see them as we search the Scriptures.
119:25 quicken thou me. Revival (that is, “life again”) is associated with the Word. Rather than considering Psalm 119 as a random collection of pithy sayings about the Scriptures, one might think of it as a life-long diary of the young man who wrote it, beginning with his cleansing through the Word (Psalm 119:9), continuing on through all phases of his life in the Lord, and ending in old age when he again thrusts himself on God’s grace, anxiously longing for his full salvation when he meets the Lord (Psalm 119:174). Each stanza might represent a specific phase in his life-long pilgrimage, and his relation to the Scriptures. Each phase of one’s life in the Lord may have one major theme but with overtones from other phases. Perhaps the following could be seen as the major themes of the respective stanzas, all from the perspective of continued application of the Scriptures.
1. Conviction 7. Comfort 12. Sovereignty 17. Victory
2. Regeneration 8. Fellowship 13. Understanding 18. Truth
3. Nurture 9. Chastisement 14. Guidance 19. Trust
4. Confession 10. Submission 15. Protection 20. Deliverance
5. Restoration 11. Persecution 16. Obedience 21. Peace
6. Testimony 22. Salvation
119:28 according unto thy word. Note the tremendous resources available to the believer in God’s Word. It is strengthening (Psalm 119:28), quickening (Psalm 119:50), everlasting (Psalm 119:89), sweetening (Psalm 119:103), guiding (Psalm 119:105), protecting (Psalm 119:114), enlightening (Psalm 119:130), purifying (Psalm 119:140), and truth-telling (Psalm 119:160), among many others!
119:35 do I delight. The Word and its commands are not a burden, but a delight, to the redeemed saint. Note also Psalm 119:47, 77, 92, 143, and 174.
119:42 wherewith to answer. Note I Peter 3:15; Colossians 4:6. We who would be witnesses for Christ must be ready to “give an answer”—sometimes even before those who are powerful in learning or influence (Psalm 119:46)—and God’s Word has the answer.
119:55 in the night. The Word of God is the greatest comfort of all in times of great difficulty or sorrow (See also Psalm 119:62).
119:63 companion of all them. True fellowship is found with those who believe and seek to obey the Word of God, regardless of sectarian differences.
119:75 I know. When affliction comes in a believer’s life, he can know that God has a good reason, whether or not he can understand it at the time. Romans 8:28 is always true.
119:77 law is my delight. Many feel that God’s law is harsh and burdensome, but it should instead be a delight. The 119th psalm contains at least twenty-five specific testimonies to the benefits of the law (e.g., Psalm 119:18,165). The law cannot save, for none (but Christ) can keep it perfectly, but He has redeemed us from its curse (Galatians 3:13), and we can now rejoice in its blessings.
119:83 bottle in the smoke. The “bottle” is a wineskin, rendered stiff and cracked in the smoke, and thus of little use.
119:89 settled in heaven. This powerful verse, stressing the eternal origin and eternal duration of God’s Word, begins the second half of Psalm 119.
119:90 the earth, and it abideth. God created the earth after He had settled His Word, and then undertook the work of sustaining it, as well as His Word, forever.
119:91 thine ordinances. This is one of the six verses in the psalm with no explicit reference to the Scriptures. However, it does refer to the “ordinances” of the creation (compare Job 38:33) which, like all God’s judgments (same word, mishpat) abide forever, as His servants.
119:97 how love I thy law. This testimony of the psalmist should convict us today. He had only small portions of the Scriptures to study, much of which were portions that many modern Christians don’t bother to read at all, whereas we have God’s complete revelation. Yet he loved the Scriptures so much that he continually meditated on them!
119:99 more understanding. An ordinary layman who is diligent in the Scriptures has more real understanding of truth than the enemies of God (Psalm 119:98), those who teach the unlearned (Psalm 119:99), and the ancient sages (Psalm 119:100) who do not know God’s Word.
119:99 meditation. Such meditation on the true history and meaning of life, as found in the Bible, will indeed yield more true wisdom than can be obtained in modern education, as it is very much influenced by the false philosophy of evolutionary humanism.
119:105 light unto my path. The illuminating truth of the Scriptures is often compared to light for the pathway (Psalm 119:130; Proverbs 6:23; II Peter 1:19; etc.)
119:111 heritage for ever. Note how often the psalmist stresses the eternal verity of God’s words (Psalm 119:89, 111, 144, 152, 160, etc.).
119:128 all thy precepts. Every Scripture is true and right without exception, and we should hate every teaching which suggests otherwise!
119:130 entrance of thy words. See note on Psalm 119:105.
119:147 prevented. See note on Job 3:12.
119:152 founded them for ever. See note on Psalm 119:111.
119:160 true from the beginning. The psalmist thus affirms that even the Creation account of the Bible, specifically the first chapter of Genesis, describing events before there were any witnesses to record them (except God Himself!), is absolutely true.
119:174 for thy salvation. At the end of his long testimony, the psalmist expresses his deep longing for the completion of his “salvation.” The Hebrew word yeshua could be rendered “Jesus.” By inspiration, he was thus praying for the coming of the Savior, who would fulfill all the Scriptures that had been his lifelong delight.