Summary: This, the longest psalm in the Bible, contains a series of eight-line meditations based on each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The psalm celebrates a revelation which brings delight, because each fresh word from God reveals not just information
DELIGHTS OF GOD’S LAW
“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Law” (Ps. 119:18).
This, the longest psalm in the Bible, contains a series of eight-line meditations based on each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The psalm celebrates a revelation which brings delight, because each fresh word from God reveals not just information but its Author.
Definition of Key Terms
Some eight different Hebrew synonyms are used in referring to Scripture. These are:
Dabar (“word”), a general term for any form of divine revelation.
Torah (“law”), a teaching, indicating a single command, the Books of Moses, or all of Scripture.
Piqqudim (“precepts”), detailed instructions given by God as guardian of His people.
Huqqim (“statutes”), binding laws engraved on a permanent record.
Mispatim (“ordinances”), judgments made by God, containing God’s judgments concerning man’s rights and duties.
Miswot (“commandments”), orders given by competent authority.
‘Edot (“testimonies”), vivid and unmistakable witnesses to man of God’s will.
‘Imra (“promise”), a term often translated “word,” suggesting the trustworthiness of divine truth in any form.
Together these words form a clear picture of the Scriptures. They are God’s authoritative Word, in which we can have complete confidence, and through which we learn to trust God and to live a life characterized by godliness.
Twenty-two brief meditations, each launched with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet, delight the reader. They speak of the love revealed in words which unveil the Author and serve as light to guide the believer all his or her life.
Understanding the Text
Each of the 22 meditations found here has great value. What follows is only a sample of the richness available to us in the 119th Psalm.
“How can a young man keep his way pure?” Ps. 119:9–16 We tell Sarah, at nine, how important it is to keep her dental appliance in her mouth. Somehow she can’t grasp the fact that it is either this, or wear metal during her teen years. Sarah is like the “young man” of this verse. She is too inexperienced to have gained wisdom, or be able to judge the future consequences of present actions. How the young need a guide to life’s good!
In a sense each of us is “young.” None of us has the wisdom to make right moral choices on his own. And so in grace God gave us His Word to live by. He did not intend to restrict or limit us, but to guide us along paths that assure blessing.
We then are faced with a single basic choice. Will we or will we not “stray from Your commands”?
If we are to remain safely on that path, we need to hide God’s Word in our hearts (v. 11), recount His laws (v. 13), rejoice in following His statutes (v. 14), meditate on his precepts (v. 15), and never neglect His Word (v. 16).
We tell Sarah, “Trust us. Keep your appliance in your mouth, and you’ll have no regrets in the future.” For Sarah too there is only one issue. Do what we say, no matter how little she wants to at various times.
Perhaps Psalm 119 can be viewed as the psalmist speaking to you and me as Sarah’s mom and I speak to her. “Trust God,” he said. “Concentrate on knowing and doing God’s Word. If you do, you can be sure. Your future will be bright.”
“Turn my eyes away from worthless things” Ps. 119:33–40. What a desperate need we have for perspective. For Sarah, our nine-year-old, everything she passes in the store or sees on TV awakens desire. She sees a colorful tote bag, and wants it. Never mind the fact that she has various bags at home, and has no need. She sees a delightful stuffed bear, and wants it. No matter that the attic has a box of stuffed animals given to her by adoring relatives.
When warned against asking for another thing, she says to me, “Buy this bathing suit, Daddy. You deserve it.”
I tell her, “I don’t need swim trunks. I already have some.” She pouts, and can’t understand when I tell her that even if I had a million dollars I wouldn’t buy what I don’t need. How hard it is, in a materialistic culture, not only to bring up a child, but even to tell the difference between our own “wants” and “needs.”
And so the psalmist asked God to direct him “in the path of Your commands,” and said, “for there I find delight.” As I read on I realize how much I need the Word of God to give me perspective. I know that delight is found in the path of God’s commands, not in possessions or pleasures. Yet I need His Word to: