Psalm 119 Importance of the Bible
Tod Kennedy, March 2016
Acrostic or alphabetic psalm
Psalm 119 is an acrostic psalm which means that each line in each section begins with a letter of the alphabet in order from aleph (the first Hebrew letter) to tav (the last Hebrew letter). Psalm 119 divides each section according to letter. For example, 119:1-8 is the aleph section and each line begins with aleph. There are 22 sections corresponding to the 22 letters (sin and shin count as the same letter, so 22 sections, not 23) of the Hebrew alphabet. This alphabetizing aids in memory. The acrostic psalms are (9-10 taken together), 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119, and 145.
Yahweh is God’s personal name. It is translated LORD in contrast to adonay which is translated Lord. It is used 5321 times in the Hebrew Bible. Yahweh is the word most often used in this Psalm to refer to God. Yahweh’s word is the same as God’s word or the word of God.
Summary of Psalm 119
The unknown psalmist finds himself alone, persecuted, and discouraged. He prays to Yahweh and meditates on Yahweh’s word which is unerring, dependable, wise, preventative, reviving, and corrective. It is the source of delight, and the light that guides us on the path of life. Our response to this Psalm should also be prayer, meditation on Yahweh’s word, and love for Yahweh. These will foster love for His word, meditation on His word, memorizing His word, delighting in His word, obeying His word, and allowing His word to shape, order, and determine our thinking, speaking, and acting. The psalmist refers to Scripture in every verse except 84, 121, and 122. He calls Yahweh’s word law, testimony, precepts, statutes, commandments, judgments, word, sayings, and ordinances. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible—176 verses.
Words the psalmist uses for Scripture in Psalm 119
- Law, Strong 8451—torah; direction, instruction, law, body of teaching, 25 x
- Testimonies, Strong 5713— ‘edah; an affirmation about something, 14x
- Precepts, Strong 6490—piqqud; something appointed, a charge, 21x
- Statutes, Strong 2706—choq; something prescribed, enactment, decree, 21x
- Commandments, Strong 4687—miszwah; a definite authoritative command, 22x
- Judgments, Strong 4941—mishpot; a sentence, judicial decision, judgment, 23x
- Word, Strong 1697—dabar; word or speech, 23x
- Word (saying), Strong 565—imrah; utterance speech, word, 19x.
- Ordinances, Strong 4941—mishpat; a judgment, 23x
Theme of each section of Psalm 119
- Aleph, 119:1-8. The blessed (אָשָׁר ashar) or spiritually happy person is one who walks (lives) according to, observes, keeps, looks at, and learns Yahweh’s law, testimonies, ways, precepts, statutes, commandments, and judgments.
- Beth, 119:9-16. Yahweh’s word—learned, meditated upon, talked about, and rejoiced in keeps one from sin, and the psalmist wants more of His word.
- Gimel, 119:17-24. The psalmist pleads that Yahweh will explain his word to him and comfort and counsel him with his word.
- Daleth, 119:25-32. Yahweh’s word revives, strengthens, encourages, and corrects one who pays close attention to it.
- He, 119:33-40. The psalmist asks Yahweh to teach him His word, to revive him by it, and to motivate him by it so he will reverence Yahweh and live righteously.
- Vav. 119:41-48. The psalmist asks that he may experience Yahweh’s lovingkindness and deliverance and knows that Yahweh’s word provides security, answers, a way of life, delight, and the message to tell to others.
- Zayin, 119:49-56. Yahweh’s word gives hope, comfort, renewed life, and reminds the psalmist about Yahweh.
- Heth, 119:57-64. The psalmist wanted Yahweh’s favor and knew that His word spoke of favor, and he determined to follow Yahweh’s word and to give Him thanks.
- Teth, 119:65-72. Yahweh disciplined the psalmist to bring him back to Yahweh’s word, and he responded with thanks and renewed desire to follow Yahweh’s word.
- Yodh, 119:73-80. Even though Creator Yahweh disciplined the psalmist, the psalmist knew the discipline was righteous and according to Yahweh’s word and he determined to meditate on and live according to Yahweh’s word.
- Kaph, 119:81-88. Though ungodly people are persecuting the psalmist, he trusts Yahweh’s word and lovingkindness, and he does not stop following Yahweh’s word.
- Lamed, 119:89-96. Yahweh’s word is settled (permanent) in heaven and it gives order to all things; and because of this the psalmist makes Yahweh’s words his delight and authority.
- Mem, 119:97-104. The psalmist loves and meditates on Yahweh’s word and this word makes him wise, gives him understanding and pleasure, and keeps him from evil.
- Nun, 119:105-112. Yahweh’s word guides one’s life, revives one when afflicted, and gives inner joy and the psalmist determines to obey and apply it always.
- Samekh, 119:113-120. Yahweh is the psalmist’s hiding place and shield from evildoers and he asks Yahweh to sustain and uphold him so he can continue to follow Yahweh’s word, commands, statutes, and judgments.
- Ayin, 119:121-128. The psalmist, who is oppressed by arrogant law breakers, wants Yahweh’s deliverance and asks Him to show lovingkindness and teach him Yahweh’s word, statutes, testimonies, law, commandments, and precepts.
- Pe, 119:129-136. Yahweh’s testimonies are wonderful and his word gives light and understanding and the psalmist longs to be established in all of Yahweh’s words.
- Tsadhe, 119:137-144. Yahweh is righteous and all his judgments are right, and the psalmist loves all of Yahweh’s words and his enemies have forgotten them.
- Qoph, 119:145-152. Enemies follow the psalmist and while he cries to Yahweh for help and waits for Yahweh’s words he resolves to meditate on and obey Yahweh’s words.
- Resh, 119:153-160. The psalmist, persecuted by those who do not keep Yahweh’s word, pleads for Yahweh to revive him in keeping with Yahweh’s word, ordinances, and lovingkindness because His words are truth and righteous and he loves them.
- Shin, 119:161-168. Though princes persecute the psalmist, he is in awe of Yahweh’s words; he loves them, rejoices because of them, praises Yahweh for them, resolves to keep them, and knows they give peace and stability.
- Tav, 119:169-176. The straying psalmist cries out to Yahweh to give him understanding and deliverance that fits Yahweh’s word, and he wants to praise Yahweh and sing about His word because Yahweh and His word are his delight and only deliverance.
Summary of Psalm 119 for the importance of Scripture in the Christian life
- The LORD God’s word centers our lives on Yahweh God. His word rightly established in our lives honors Him and directs our lives.
- The LORD God’s word, Scripture, is central to knowing God; to learning his will and his provisions for believers; to loving God; to keeping our thoughts, words, and actions right; to keep us from sin; to revive or encourage us, and to provide spiritual happiness.
- We secure the LORD God’s word in our lives by listening, reading, studying, meditating, memorizing it, and applying it. We accept its authority over us.
- Therefore, we clearly see that the LORD God’s word is vital for living the Christian life, for pleasing God, for our own stability, and for inner blessing.