The Psalms We Sing - Psalm 119
The Psalms We Sing: Psalm 119
It is not possible to do anything like an exposition of 176 verses of Psalm 119.
Outine: Overview, Review, and View
What I would like to do is take your our binoculars and look at this from a distance of a few thousand yards, just an overview. Then to review the Psalm’s major and minor themes. Finally we want to view this, the concluding passage of the Psalm in vv 169-176.
1) In our Overview of the Psalm we will see it’s a) poetic structure, b) many of its key terms and c) rehearse memorable verses.
A) The poetic structure. Psalm 119 is an amazing Psalm. Not only is it the longest in the Psalter, but because it is written in an interesting poetic form. It is an acrostic using the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This was to emphasize instructionally that the life of God’s people to to be based upon His Word from “A to Z” or from “Aleph to Tav” (Hebrew). Each set of 8 verses starts with same Hebrew letter. For example, here’s a paraphrase of the first passage: (Aleph) Psalm 119:1-8
1 All those whose way is blameless are blessed, Who walk in the law of the Lord.
2 All are blessed who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart.
3 All of those do no unrighteousness; They walk in His ways.
Implications: God is a God of literary devices, of poetry, of language, of “Word.” Therefore, we ought to be people of literature, of poetry, of language, of words.
B) Key Terms: Eight different terms are used for God’s law
Psalms 119:9 - How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.
Psalms 119:18 - Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. Psalms 119:50 - This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.
2) In our Review of the Psalm we will see a recurring major and minor theme.
Allen calls it “a randomness or more precisely a kaleidoscopic patterning of a certain number of motifs.” The major theme is the Word or Law of God. One writer referred to the Law-Word of God. But the second theme may not be so obvious to us. It is deliverance. Over and over the Psalm is crying, “let my cry come near,” for deliverance. If we state it together, I believe that it is best to review the major and minor theme of this Psalm is the supremacy of the Law-Word of God for our temporal and eternal deliverance.
Deliverance and Salvation: Psalms 119:41 - May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O LORD, Your salvation according to Your word; Psalms 119:94 - I am Yours, save me; For I have sought Your precepts.
Deliverance from sin: Psalms 119:11 - Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. Psalms 119:29 - Remove the false way from me, And graciously grant me Your law.
Deliverance from the wicked: Psalms 119:22 - Take away reproach and contempt from me, For I observe Your testimonies. Psalms 119:23 - Even though princes sit and talk against me, Your servant meditates on Your statutes. Psalms 119:31 - I cling to Your testimonies; O LORD, do not put me to shame! Psalms 119:42 - So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me, For I trust in Your word.Psalms 119:161 - Princes persecute me without cause, But my heart stands in awe of Your words.
3) In View of the Psalm we will see in more detail this last section of the Psalm. We have seen the major and minor themes of the supremacy and necessity of the Law-Word of God for our temporal and eternal deliverance. Let us see how this is the final notes of this Psalm, the concluding stanza. This is the “Omega” or the Z of the Psalm.
Let my cry come before You, O LORD; Give me understanding according to Your word.
19:170 Let my supplication come before You; Deliver me according to Your word.
119:171 Let my lips utter praise, For You teach me Your statutes.
119:172 Let my tongue sing of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.
119:173 Let Your hand be ready to help me, For I have chosen Your precepts.
119:174 I long for Your salvation, O LORD, And Your law is my delight.
119:175 Let my soul live that it may praise You, And let Your ordinances help me. 119:176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, For I do not forget Your commandments.
In the last section of the Psalm the emphasis is a prayer for salvation and deliverance. The psalmist prays for salvation and for grace. This is shown in that he “cries” and brings “supplication before the Lord v169-170. He pleads for “Your hand to be ready to help” v73. he longs
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more