Psalm 119:42 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

42 Then I will have an answer for him who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.

This immense Psalm of 176 verses is in honor of God’s Word. It is thought that Prince Hezekiah of Judah may have been the one to compose Psalm 119. Thoughts expressed in this inspired song fit the spirit of Hezekiah, of whom it was said,

2 Kings 18:3-7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

And he did what was right in the eyes of Jehovah, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan).[1] He trusted in Jehovah, the God of Israel, so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to Jehovah. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that Jehovah commanded Moses. And Jehovah was with him; wherever he went, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him.

In the dramatic days of the Protestant Reformation, the battle cry of the Reformers was sola Scriptura, Latin for “Scripture only.” By this bold assertion, the Reformers were staunchly committing themselves to the absolute, exclusive authority of Scripture over every church tradition and ecclesiastical council. Regardless of whatever man may say, it is only what God declares in his Word that is binding. This became known as the regulatory principle. Everything in the church and Christian living must be regulated by Scripture, that is, by Scripture alone.[2]

One of the major points found in Psalm 119 is the importance of God’s Word. Likely, for the purpose of memorization, the Psalmist made it an alphabetic song. The 176 verses are based on each of the letters in Hebrew alphabet. A stanza is a division of a poem, i.e., a number of lines of verse forming a separate unit within a poem. Psalm 119 “is in twenty-two eight-verse stanzas, which are organized in acrostic order. Each verse of each unit begins with the same letter. This made the psalm easier to memorize.”[3] Thus, “each verse begins with a word that has as its initial letter the Hebrew letter designated for that strophe. Thus, one will observe the א (aleph) at the beginning of each word used in the first eight verses, ב (beth) for the next eight verses, etc., until all 22 letters are used, adding up to 176 verses.”[4] This psalm refers to God’s word, law, promise, ways, precepts (orders), regulations, commands, righteous judgments, sayings, and statutes.

Blessed Are Those Who Keep God’s Law

Psalm 119:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Aleph

119 Happy[5] are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of Jehovah.

119:1. Blessed are all believers whose daily path is carefully directed by God’s Word.[6] “Blessed” (asher) pronounces the overflowing delight, deep-seated joy, and supreme satisfaction that is experienced by all who follow the Word. Abundant grace is theirs to enjoy. These highly favored believers walk with a habitual lifestyle of pursuing daily obedience to the authoritative law of God.[7]

Psalm 119:2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart.

119:2. The beginning of the second verse repeats the first verse for dramatic emphasis, underscoring how favored are all who keep the Scripture. Blessed are all who keep the Word, making it their own possession by personal obedience. Statutes (edot),[8] a title for the Word, emphasizes that God’s testimonies are outspoken and speak with frankness and straightforwardness. God’s Word openly addresses life as it is, speaking forthrightly. A deep soul-satisfaction is enjoyed by all who seek God with all their heart, that is, with the entirety of their inner being (i.e., intellect, emotion, and volition).[9]

Psalm 119:3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

They also do no wrong,
they walk in his ways.

119:3. God’s Word perfectly directs the believer’s steps into the very center of God’s will. Those who obey the Scripture (vv. 1–2) do nothing wrong, being directed away from all evil and wrong. By the precise guidance of the Word, they walk in God’s ways. This is yet another synonym for Scripture, ways, indicating the practicality of following Scripture daily. All of life is to be lived on the clearly marked ways of God’s Word. The imagery of a walk implies a habitual lifestyle or the well-marked path of God’s will.[10]

Psalm 119:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.

119:4. Speaking directly to the Lord, the psalmist said, You have laid down precepts, unmistakably affirming the divine authorship of Scripture. God alone has given it, not man. Here is still another synonym for the Word, precepts (piqqudim),[11] a title which indicates the precise accuracy with which the Scripture speaks. Consequently, it must be fully obeyed. Every divine command must be kept, half obedience being no obedience.[12]

Psalm 119:5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes.

119:5. The psalmist yearned, Oh, that my ways (i.e., ordered steps) were steadfast, that is, marked by long-term endurance in obeying your decrees. He desired that he pursue a long obedience in the same direction. Yet another synonym for God’s Word, decrees (huggim), speaks of its immutable character, binding force, and fixed permanence. God’s Word endures forever (Isa. 40:8), never to be rescinded. The eternal Word demands man’s volitional obedience, never just head knowledge or empty emotional feelings.[13]

Psalm 119:6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Then I would not be ashamed,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.

119:6. When the psalmist obeyed the Word, he did so even publicly in the face of his enemies: I would not be put to shame. He will not suffer humiliation before his enemies, not when I consider all your commands.[14] God’s Word will never cause him to be ashamed when he obeys it. He is unashamed of what seem to be narrow requirements to an outside world. This synonym for Scripture, commandments (miswot), means an authoritative order that is issued by a person superior in position or rank. This is the sovereignty of Scripture over the life of the believer. Not containing mere suggestions or options to consider, God’s Word is full of commands to be obeyed.[15]

Psalm 119:7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous judgments.

119:7. God’s Word in an upright heart stimulates praise. The Scripture produces singing and rejoicing to the Lord. The psalmist seeks to learn God’s righteous laws. Still another term for Scripture is righteous laws (mispat), indicating the perfect equity of its dealings with man, rewarding obedience and punishing disobedience.[16]

Psalm 119:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me!

119:8. The psalmist concludes this stanza by resolving, I will obey your decrees.[17] Here is his firm purpose to keep the Word. He would not be haphazard or lackadaisical about keeping it. Even amid his difficult circumstance, while surrounded by enemies who inflicted their persecution, he pleads to God, do not utterly forsake me. In his adversity, he is desperate for God’s help to keep the Word. He cannot obey in the sheer willpower of his flesh, weak as it is, but only by divine grace (Phil. 2:12–13; Heb. 12:2). Yet these many personal difficulties would not hinder his obedience to the Word. In spite of his trials, he finds himself singing praises to God with an overflowing joy that far surpasses the pain of his many troubles (Ps. 119:7).[18]

True happiness can only come from an approved relationship with God, namely, a righteous standing before him, which can only come from our walking in his law. (Psalm 119:1-8) If we walk in God’s law, we will be view as being “blameless.”[19] Does this mean that we must be perfect? “It is not sinless perfection that is indicated here, but wholeness or completeness, being wholly committed to the ways of God. It is this term that is used in describing the character of Job. He was “blameless and upright” (Job 1:8). He was one who continually held God in reverence and shunned evil. Such is the person who experiences true happiness by walking in the law (better, “instruction”) of the Lord. His whole heart is set upon God.”[20] We might recall, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless[21] in his generation.” (Gen. 6:9; 1 Pet 3:20) Just as Noah survived the flood because of his blameless standing before God, so too, we need to be blameless if we are to survive the end of wicked humanity that is on the horizon. We need to keep God’s orders diligently. (Psalm 119:4)

The Father will never abandon us if we ‘praise him with an upright heart’ and ‘keep his statutes.’ (Ps. 119:7-8) God did not forsake the Israelite leader Joshua, who applied the counsel that ‘This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.’ That made him successful and enabled him to act wisely. (Josh. 1:8) At the end of a long life where Joshua fully walked with God, he felt the need to remind the Israelites, “Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which Jehovah your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.” (Josh. 23:14) Just as was true of Joshua and the author of Psalm 119, if we praise our heavenly Father and fully trust his Word, we too can find happiness and joy.

God’s Word Keeps Us Clean

Psalm 119:9-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

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 In my heart I treasure up your word,
so that I may not sin against you.

119:9-11. The purifying power of God’s Word is the theme of this second stanza (vv. 9–16). The psalmist asks a most important question: How can a young man keep his way pure? He answers that personal holiness is realized by living, or obeying, God’s word. This outward obedience must arise from one’s inward heart that seeks the Lord. The Scripture alone has sanctifying power to keep a person from straying into sin. The psalmist confesses that he had hidden God’s word in his heart, that is, buried it within his soul like a valuable treasure. Through the Scripture’s power he is assured that he might not sin against God.[22]

Psalm 119:12-13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

12 Blessed are you, O Jehovah;
teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I declare
all the judgments of your mouth.

119:12-13. Having acknowledged Scripture’s purifying power, he asked that God teach him his divine decrees so that he might obey it. As the true author of Scripture, God himself must be the primary instructor of the psalmist’s heart (cp. vv. 18, 26, 33, 64, 66, 68, 108, 124, 135). Divine illumination is absolutely necessary to understand God’s Word, both in its precise meaning and practical application. Both learning and living the Scripture would come as he would recount it over and over in his mind.[23]

Psalm 119:14-16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

14 In the way of your testimonies I rejoice
just as over all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts
and keep my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.

119:14-16. The psalmist will enthusiastically rejoice in obeying God’s Word, as one finding great riches (vv. 72, 111, 162). He will meditate on Scripture (i.e., constantly recalling it in his mind), consider it often, and delight in it with great pleasure. With all his heart, he rejoices in God’s Word (vv. 24, 35, 47, 70, 77, 92, 143, 174) not with drudgery but delight.[24]

We can be spiritually clean as to our morals, mentally clean, and in our speech as well if we keep on guard by way of God’s Word. Even if we come from a past and a family that was not and is not spiritually clean. Even though Hezekiah’s Father, Ahaz, an evil king of Judah, “who participated in the most monstrous of idolatrous practices (2 Kings 16:3),”[25] Hezekiah, “began his reign by bringing religious reform to Judah,”[26] cleaning up the idolatry practices, and removing pagan influences. Suppose we have sinned seriously and maybe it is even a secret sin, what can we do? First, we must repent and go to God in prayer. Part of repenting is grief over the wrong that we have committed, but the other part is taking steps so as not to repeat the sin. It might be that we have had this secret sin so long that it has caused our heart to grow callused, and now God is not hearing our prayers. Therefore, we need to show him the evidence of a repentant heart, by seeking out the living assistance of our Christian pastors within the congregation. It can be the prayers of righteous ones that move us toward being restored to the point that God now listens to our prayers again. (James 5:13-15)

Both Rahab lived some 700 years and Ruth some 340 years before the penning of Psalm 119. Rahab was formerly was a Canaanite prostitute and Ruth was formerly a Moabitess, who worshiped false gods and, whose people manifested great hostility toward Israel. Rahab turned her life around and became a faithful worshiper of only true God of Israel. (Heb. 11:30-31) Ruth left her own people and the false gods, to serve the God of Israel, and meticulously followed the Law of Israel. (Ruth 1:14-17; 4:9-13) By their great faith, two non-Israelite women, who ‘took delight in the Law of God,’ and ‘did not forget his word,’ found themselves with the magnificent privilege of becoming ancestresses of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 1:1, 4-6)

The apostle Paul bewailed about himself, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” (Romans 7:19-20) This is because all of us are mentally bent toward the doing of wrong, instead of the doing of good. (Gen 6:5; 8:21; Rom 5:12; Eph. 4:20-24; Col 3:5-11) Jeremiah the prophet informs us of the condition of our heart (our inner person), “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9) These factors contribute to our being more vulnerable to the worldly desires and the weak human flesh than we may have thought. In other words, our natural desire is toward wrong. Prior to sinning, Adam and Eve were perfect, and they had the natural desire of doing good, and to go against that was to go against the grain of their inner person. Yet, here was young Daniel and three other young Jewish young men, as exiles in Babylon, one of the fiercest empires of all time, but these young ones protected themselves by remaining faith to God’s Word. For example, they refused to ‘defile themselves with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank.’ (Dan. 1:6-10; Lev. 11:1-31; 20:24-26) Because of Daniel’s faithfulness to the Word of God and his drawing close to our heavenly Father, he found favor in God’s eyes and was used to protect his people while they were in exile.

God’s Word Leads to Faithfulness

Psalm 119:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Gimel

17 Deal bountifully with your servant,
that I may live and keep your word.

119:17. In this third stanza (vv. 17–24), the psalmist purposes with unwavering resolution, I will obey your word. This obedience arises from a grateful heart, motivated by the good care and blessing of God. Under great persecution, he is near death. But if God will spare his life, he vows to keep his Word.[27]

Psalm 119:18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

18 Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.

119:18. He asks that God open his eyes so he can see by divine illumination (1 Cor. 2:12–13) the deep, profound truths of Scripture. God himself must grant divine understanding of the Word, or it will evade him.[28]

Psalm 119:19-21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

19 I am a stranger in the land;
do not hide your commands from me.
20 My soul is crushed with longing
for your judgments at all times.
21 You rebuke the arrogant, accursed ones,
who wander from your commandments.

119:19-21. Once the Scripture is grasped, it must be kept through personal obedience. Such a life reality comes at a high price. Persecution for righteousness’s sake awaits the person who commits to keeping it (2 Tim. 3:12). Because of this opposition, the psalmist is a stranger in this world, never fully accepted here. To the contrary, his familiar abode is in Scripture. God will rebuke the arrogant who violate the Word and who seek his harm.[29]

Psalm 119:22-23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

22 Take away from me scorn and contempt,
for I have kept your testimonies.
23 Even though princes sit and speak against me,
your servant meditates on your statutes.

119:22-23. The persecution he suffers for God’s Word is personal scorn and contempt from unbelievers. This spiritual opposition includes slander from rulers, who follow worldly wisdom. In spite of this conflict, he will continually meditate on God’s decrees.[30]

Psalm 119:24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

24 Your testimonies are my delight;
they are my counselors.

119:24. Regardless of this personal attack he suffers, the psalmist finds soul-comforting delight in God’s statutes. Rather than listening to his foes, God’s testimonies are his counselors. The more he is attacked, the sweeter the Word is to his soul.[31]

A love and passion for God’s Word will aid us in times of difficulty because it will keep us faithful. (Ps 119:17-24) If we are like the author of Psalm 119, we will want to dig deeper into the ‘wondrous things out of God’s law.’ We will constantly be ‘longing for God’s judgments at all times’ and his ‘testimonies will be our delight.’ (Ps 119:18, 20, 24) Regardless of the time, we have been in the faith, do we “like newborn infants, long for the unadulterated[32] milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” (1 Pet. 2:1-2) Before we can delve into the deeper things of God’s Word, we must first understand the basic Bible doctrines of the Christian faith. Many of us like feel that we do fully understand these Bible basics but if asked to explain them to another could we cite Scripture and explain what the Bible author meant by the words that he used? Once we do have an accurate understanding of God’s Word, which we are able to explain, we can be in a better position to apply God’s law.

Now, it may very well be that we do understand God’s Word, but over the last few years, we have found many powerful leaders, even huge corporations like Target and PayPal, international and local media who have spoken out against us for a number of reasons. (Ps 119:23-24) These ones have tried to force us to put human laws above the law of God. When the law of man oversteps the law of God, what are we to do? Peter gave us the answer when he the Sanhedrin and the Jewish high priest said, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name [Jesus’], yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” Yes, the governing Jewish authorities had told the Christians not to share the Gospel. What were Peter and John’s reply and the Christian position we also must take, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Ac 5:29-30) This is exactly why we need to have a correct understanding of God’s Word. For example, it would not be wrong for a bakery to back a cake for a customer who is a homosexual. However, when it comes to baking a cake for a homosexual wedding, the Christian is now a participator in the sins of others, and that would be wrong. (Ps 26:4; 97:10; Pro. 1:10, 15; Phil. 4:8) If we love God’s Law, we will remain faithful.

Psalm 119:25 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Daleth

25 My soul cleaves to the dust;
revive me according to your word.

119:25. In this fourth stanza (vv. 25–32), the psalmist pledges that no matter what his circumstances, he will “hold fast” to the Word. He is laid low in the dust for holding to God’s word. He prays that God will preserve him by the divine power in the Word.[33]

Psalm 119:26-27 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

26 I told of my ways, and you answered me;
teach me your statutes!
27 Make me understand the way of your precepts,
so I will meditate on your wondrous works.

119:26-27. Teach me your word, he prays yet again (cp. vv. 12, 18). Humbly, he acknowledges his limitation in probing the fathomless depths of Scripture. He confesses his need to be taught more of God’s decrees. In order to be preserved by God’s Word (v. 25), he asks that God let him better understand the profundity [intense insight] of its eternal message. Only then can he better meditate on its astonishing wonders that produce within him reverential awe for God.[34]

Psalm 119:28-29 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

28 My soul weeps[35] because of grief;
strengthen me according to your word.
29 Remove from me the false way
and graciously give me your law.

119:28-29. But he pays a high price for such loyalty to the Word. He is weary with sorrow from the direct attacks of those who oppose him for keeping God’s law. He is not immune from such pain. So he asks God, strengthen me according to your word. Only as he would keep the Word can he be preserved from deceitful ways, paths that initially may seem right, but ultimately lead to destruction (Prov. 14:12).[36]

Psalm 119:30-32 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

30 The way of faithfulness I have chosen;
I have set your ordinances before me.
31 I cling to your testimonies, O Jehovah;
do not let me be put to shame.
32 I will run in the way of your commandments
for you will enlarge my heart.[37]

119:30-32. In spite of the persecution he faces, he does not weaken in his commitment. He pledges, I have chosen and set my heart on God’s laws. Further, he adds, I hold fast to the Word, implying firm resolution and wholehearted commitment. With great eagerness, I run after God’s commands, pursuing them with eager, personal obedience. No matter what it costs him, he will remain true to Scripture, even in the face of mounting persecution.[38]

Millions of Christians over the past 2,000 years have remained faith to God even under the most extreme circumstances, even intense persecution that led to horrific deaths. (Ps 119:25-32) While most of us in our lifetime will only face online persecution or being made fun of in public, at worst, some make face severe persecution. Who knows what the future will hold. America is the land of the free, as are many countries today but this is slowly changing. Then, there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world. (Matt. 24:21) If we thought World War I and II were bad, these will pale in comparison. I am not trying to frighten the read, just wake him or her up to what lies ahead. If we are going to survive these things with our righteous standing before God, maintaining our integrity, we must be teachable, pray earnestly for instruction, and act on our prayers by reading and studying God’s Word. In addition, ‘the way of faithfulness, we too must choose.’ (Psalm 119:26, 30)

As was said at the outset, it is likely that King Hezekiah is the author of Psalm 119. He chose “the way of faithfulness.” He did so even though his father, Ahaz, had rank idolatry marking his reign, even making offerings in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom and burned his sons as an offering,[a] according to the abominations of the nations. (2 Ki 16:3-4; 2 Ch. 28:3-4) “At least as early as the Monarchy the valley (cf. Jer. 2:23) was associated with pagan cults which practiced human sacrifice to Molech and Baal (2 Kgs. 23:10; Jer. 19:5; 32:35); even the kings of Judah participated in such abominations (2 Chr. 28:3; 33:6). Accordingly, Jeremiah prophesied that in the Day of Vengeance Hinnom would be known as the valley of Slaughter (Jer. 7:32; 19:6). The infamy of these rites gave rise to the concept of Gehenna (a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name) as a fiery place of punishment (cf. 2 Esdr. 7:36, RSV, KJV mg.; Matt. 5:22, RSV mg.).”[39] Hezekiah established his zeal for the worship of God just after taking the throne at 25 years of age. As verse 28 of Psalm 119 says, Hezekiah’s ‘soul wept because of grief,’ as he was mocked by members of the royal court. “Hezekiah began his reign by bringing religious reform to Judah. Hezekiah was not willing to court the favor of the Assyrian kings. The temple in Jerusalem was reopened. The idols were removed from the temple. Temple vessels that had been desecrated during Ahaz’s reign were sanctified for use in the temple. The sacrifices were initiated with singing and the sounds of musical instruments. The tribes in the Northern Kingdom (Israel) had been subjected to Assyrian dominance. Hezekiah invited the Israelites to join in the celebration of the Passover in Jerusalem. Places of idol worship were destroyed. Hezekiah even destroyed the bronze serpent Moses had erected in the wilderness (Num. 21:4-9) so the people would not view the bronze serpent as an object of worship. Hezekiah organized the priests and Levites for the conducting of religious services. The tithe was reinstituted. Plans were made to observe the religious feasts called for in the Law.”[40] If we rely on God, we too can maintain our integrity in the face of the most serious difficulties, remaining integrity keepers. (James 1:5-8)

God’s Word Gives Us Courage

If we follow God’s Word not, in a time of relative peace, it will give us the courage needed when greater trials come into our lives. (Psalm 119:33-40) If we please with the Father to teach us (Ps 119:33), and yet we do not establish some type of personal Bible study program for every day of the week, at least one family Bible study each week, and prepare for our Christian meetings, how is the Father to teach us? If we are doing those things, we will keep it to the end. If we are praying to God to have a better understanding of His Word, and yet we do not move beyond Bible study into the realms of research, how are we to develop our Christian maturity to the point of ‘keep his law and observing it with our whole heart’? (Ps 119:34) If we have not prayed, acted on our prayers about Bible reading, study and research, how will the Word of God be embedded into our hearts, so that we ‘incline our heart to His Word, and not to dishonest gain’? (Ps 119:36) Like the apostle Paul, ‘we want to be sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.’ (Heb. 13:18) What if an employer wants us to do something that is biblically wrong, yet maybe it is not illegal in the eyes of human law? We are to turn our eyes from looking at worthless things and give our lives in His ways.’ (Ps 119:37) We view life through biblical lenses, rather than the imperfect human moral values of Satan’s world. (Ps 97:10) We do ‘not want to love the world or the things in the world. If we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us. For all that is in the world, the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life, is not from the Father but is from the world. In addition, the world is passing away along with its desires, but if we do, the will of God, we will remain forever. (1 John 2:1517)

We need an accurate knowledge of God’s Words and some skills in effective evangelism, if we are going to witness fearlessly. (Psalm 119:41-48) In addition, we do need resolution and courage ‘so we will have an answer for him who reproaches us’ (Ps 119:42) On occasion, we may be like Jesus’ persecuted disciples, who prayed, Father, … grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.” (Ac 4:28) What was the result? “… they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:24-31)

God’s Word Gives Us Comfort

God’s Word gives us comfort that never gives out, even under the most stressful circumstances. (Psalm 119:49-56) We are in dire need of comfort at every turn, living in Stan’s wicked world, surrounded by sin. Today, in this liberal progressive world, filled with violence and immorality, ‘the arrogant utterly deride us, yet we do not turn aside from God’s law.’ (Ps 119:51) When we pray, we may think along the lines of the Psalmist, “I have remembered your judgments of old, I take comfort.” (Ps 119:52) During our prayer, we might remember biblical accounts like Daniel in the lion’s den, the horrific things Job suffered, the way the stubborn Israelites treated Moses in the wilderness, or the persecution that Paul suffered, or the martyrdom of Peter. How our heavenly Father delivers those righteous, blameless, faultless ones will give us comfort and the courage to remain faithful as well. ‘God’s statutes are our songs, in the house of our journeys throughout life.’ (Psalm 119:54; 1 John 5:3)

Appreciation for God’s Word

All of the above benefits that we receive from the Word of God begin with our appreciative obedience to it. (Psalm 119:57-64) We need to ‘promise to keep God’s words.’ (Ps 119:57) We need to ‘entreat God’s favor with all of our heart; asking Him in prayer that he be gracious to us according to His promise.’ (Ps 119:58) We need to ‘examine our ways, in order to turn our feet back to God’s reminders.’ (Ps 119:59) We need to ‘hurry and not delay in keeping His commandments.’ (Ps 119:60) So much so was the Psalmist interested in keeping God’s Word, he said, “at midnight I rise to give thanks, because of your righteous judgments.” (Ps 119:62) We are ‘friends of all who have reverential fear God and of those who keep His orders.’ (Ps 119:63) We know from our studies that ‘the earth is full of His loving kindness, and we pray that He ‘teach me His statutes.’ (Ps 119:64)

Fully Trusting God’s Word

If we have faith in God and his Word, it will help us to endure the difficulties as we enter the final stretch of these last days. (Psalm 119:65-72) “The psalmist wants God to do good to him, for he has been afflicted (v. 65). But because he had at one time in his life (at an early rebellious age?) gone astray from God’s word and way, he deserved his affliction (v. 67). Apparently it woke him up to see the error of his way: It was good for me to be afflicted (v. 71a). While the affliction is not known, it must have included a “smear campaign” of lies against him by his enemies whom he calls arrogant (v. 69). It may be that his affliction was a sickness that his enemies interpreted as a deserving punishment for some great sin (like Job’s situation!). It was in this situation while he was being attacked by callous and unfeeling people that he rediscovered God’s word as a precious thing: The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold (v. 72). The prodigal is glad to be home.”[41]

Never Doubting God

The Word of God itself will give us a sound basis for trusting in our heavenly Father. (Psalm 119:73-80) If we truly trust in our Creator, we should not be embarrassed to make ourselves known as Christians. “119:73. In the tenth stanza (vv. 73–80), the psalmist yet again asks for greater understanding from God to learn the divine commands. The Lord who made and formed him can alone open his spiritual eyes to behold divine truth in Scripture. 119:74. He asks that other believers who fear God will see this sanctifying work within him and rejoice, as they observe his hope in God’s word. 119:75–77. The psalmist affirms his confidence that God’s laws are righteous, thus bringing the right result in his life, even in disciplining him. According to divine faithfulness, his many trials have afflicted him, but they have worked positively to mature him. In his ordeal, God’s unfailing love and the promise of the Word have been his comfort. Only by divine compassion will he endure this trial. This sustaining grace will be experientially real as he finds delight in God’s law. 119:78–80. The psalmist requests that God deal with the arrogant, who have wronged him without cause. In the meantime, he will meditate upon the divine precepts even more. He asks that others who fear God and know the Word turn to him in supporting fellowship. In this crisis, he prays that he be found blameless in his obedience of the divine decrees.”[42]

The Word of God also strengthens our trust in our heaven Father when we face persecution. (Psalm 119:81-88) “119:81–82. The main theme of the eleventh stanza (vv. 81–88) is that God sustain him through this difficult hour. Sensing his own weakened state, the psalmist faints with longing for salvation from this present affliction. He endures though because he puts his hope in God’s word. He is anxiously looking for God’s promise to comfort him. But when will it come? 119:83–87. Though he bears the smoke of fiery trials, he will not forget the divine decrees. How much longer must he wait for divine justice to punish his persecutors who oppose God’s Word? Contrary to the law, these enemies dig pitfalls for the psalmist. He cries for God’s help to preserve and keep him from falling. They almost wiped him out, but he did not forsake God’s precepts. The Word kept him strong and sure. 119:88. In spite of God’s preservation by his Word to this point, the psalmist needs to be further kept strong. So he prays, Preserve my life from my enemy’s attempts to lead me astray. No matter what they do, I will obey the statutes, he declares. Obedience to the Word preserves him.”[43]

In the above, we have seen that God shows loving kindness toward his faithful servants because they trust in his word and are love his statutes, reminders, commandments, and laws. (Ps 119:16, 47, 64, 70, 77, 88) God is well pleased with us because of our devotion to him as we guard against our imperfection and Satan’s world by staying in his Word. (Ps 119:9, 17, 41, 42) Now, we might want to buy out the time to study the rest of this Psalm, using the Holman Old Testament Commentary and a literal Bible translation. Like we saw in the above, we want to slow down and pause when we read the words in bold font, saying them more slowly, seeing what is being emphasized.

Questions for Meditation

  • Even though we are imperfect at present and live in a world under satanic influence, what can bring us true happiness?
  • How does the Word of God keep us spiritually clean?
  • How does God’s Word give us courage and comfort?
  • Why should we have faith in God and his Word?

FOOTNOTES

[1] I.e. the bronze serpent-idol

[2] Anders, Max; Lawson, Steven. Holman Old Testament Commentary – Psalms 76-150 (Kindle Locations 5950-5954). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[3] Duane A. Garrett, “The Poetic and Wisdom Books,” in Holman Concise Bible Commentary, ed. David S. Dockery (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 231.

[4] S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn, Psalms, The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1999), 372.

[5] Happy, blessed is: (Heb. asre; Gr. makarios) Asre occurs 11 times in the Hebrew Old Testament and makarios 50 times in the Greek New Testament. Happiness and being highly favored by God characterize this joy. It is speaking of a person who is content, full of joy. This is not to be confused with the Hebrew word barak which means, “to bless,” as in a divine blessing. The Hebrew barak and the Greek eulogeo is the act of being blessed, while the Hebrew asre and Greek makarios is the state or condition of the person who is being blessed, who is a highly favored one. – 1 Ki 10:8; Ps 1:1; 119:1-2; Pro. 14;21; 16:20; Matt. 5:3-11; 11:6; 13:16; Lu 1:45; John 13:17; 20:29; Ac 20:35; Rom. 4:7-8 to mention just a few.

[6] The “law” (tora) of the Lord comes from a root meaning “to project” or “to teach” and refers to any direction or instruction flowing from the Word of God that points out or indicates God’s will to man. It refers not only to the moral, civil, or ceremonial law but to the entire teaching, instruction, or doctrine of Scripture.–Anders, Max; Lawson, Steven. Holman Old Testament Commentary – Psalms 76-150 (Kindle Locations 6068-6070). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[7] Anders, Max; Lawson, Steven. Holman Old Testament Commentary – Psalms 76-150 (Kindle Locations 5983-5986). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[8] The “statutes” (edut) of the Lord is derived from the root “to bear witness” and thus testifies to its divine author. It is a solemn attestation, a declaration of the will of God, the ordinances that became God’s standard of conduct. Thus it was used of the two tablets summarizing the law, the Ten Commandments, that were placed in the ark as a witness to the holy character of God.–IBID.

.

[9] IBID.

[10] IBID.

[11] The “precepts” (piqqudim) of the Lord is a poetical word for injunctions found only in the Psalter, used only in the plural. It literally refers to an authoritative charge or order that is binding upon the recipient. In this instance, it is as from the sovereign Lord of the universe, directing and governing all people.–IBID.

[12] IBID.

[13] IBID.

[14] The “commands” (miswa) of the Lord signifies a definite, authoritative command or anything ordained by the Lord. It designates the general body of imperative commands contained in God’s law.–IBID.

[15] IBID.

[16] IBID.

[17] The “ordinances” (mishpat) of the Lord represents a judicial decision that constitutes a precedence, a binding law. It denotes divinely ordered decisions on all kinds of issues in what might be called case-law applications to specific situations of the statutes, precepts, and commands of the law. In the Pentateuch, it referred to the laws after the Ten Commandments. The word can also mean God’s judgmental acts on the wicked.–IBID.

[18] IBID.

[19] Blameless: (Heb. tam, tamim; Gr. amomos, amometos) means, “perfect, blameless, sincerity, entire, whole, complete, and full.” Of course, Noah, Jacob, and Job were not literally perfect. When used of imperfect humans, the terms are relative, not absolute. However, if we are fully committed to following, a life course based on God’s will and purposes, fully living by his laws, repent when we fall short, he will credit us righteousness.–Gen. 6:6; 25:27; Job 9:20-22l Ps. 119:1; Pro. 11:20; Phil 2:15; 1 Thess. 5:23.

[20] S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn, Psalms, The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1999), 377–378.

[21] Lit complete, perfect (Of course, Noah was not literally perfect.) However, if we follow the life course based on God’s will and purposes, repent when we fall short, he will credit us righteousness.

[22] Anders, Max; Lawson, Steven. Holman Old Testament Commentary – Psalms 76-150 (Kindle Locations 5983-5986). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[23] IBID.

[24] IBID.

[25] Chad Brand et al., eds., “Ahaz,” Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 37.

[26] IBID., 758.

[27] IBID.

[28] IBID.

[29] IBID.

[30] IBID.

[31] IBID.

[32] Or pure

[33] Anders, Max; Lawson, Steven. Holman Old Testament Commentary – Psalms 76-150 (Kindle Locations 6148-6150). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[34] IBID.

[35] Lit drops

[36] Anders, Max; Lawson, Steven. Holman Old Testament Commentary – Psalms 76-150 (Kindle Location 6155). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[37] I.e. give greater understanding

[38] Anders, Max; Lawson, Steven. Holman Old Testament Commentary – Psalms 76-150 (Kindle Locations 6159-6162). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[39] Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 489.

[40] Gary Hardin, “Hezekiah,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 758.

[41] S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn, Psalms, The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1999), 383.

[42] Anders, Max; Lawson, Steven. Holman Old Testament Commentary – Psalms 76-150 (Kindle Locations 6279-6291). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[43] IBID.