In the Septuagint, Psalm 119(118) opens with the expression “Hallelujah” (Praise Yah), but this invitation to praise YHWH is not included in the Masoretic Text.
The composer is not identified, as there is no superscription. In the psalm itself, he does reveal aspects about his personal life. He was a young man who had deep love for God’s law, which led to his coming to be wiser than his teachers. On account of suffering affliction, probably serious illness, he became aware of his need for God and the inestimable value of his law. Among princes and others who had no love for God’s ways, the psalmist became an object of intense hostility. (119:23, 67, 71, 75, 84-87, 99, 100)
The mention of princes suggests that he may have been a member of the royal family and lived at a time when many had no appreciation for God’s law. Among members of the royal line of David, the circumstances could fit those of Hezekiah. His father Ahaz proved to be one of the worst monarchs of the two-tribe kingdom, participating in abominable idolatrous rites. At a young age, Hezekiah rejected the lawless path of his father. This would have made him distinctly different from the princes in the realm and resulted in their displeasure. (2 Kings 16:2-4; 2 Chronicles 28:1-4, 22-25; 29:1-10)
The alphabetic arrangement of this psalm probably served as a memory aid.
Every verse starts with the Hebrew letter aleph.
All who are “blameless in the way” or faultless in the manner in which they conduct themselves are pronounced fortunate, happy, or in an enviable state of well-being. They walk in YHWH’s law, living a life that adheres to his commands. (Regarding the divine name [YHWH], see Psalm 1.)
Persons who keep God’s “testimonies” with all of their heart and seek him enjoy a contented life. They are fortunate or blessed with an inner happiness. The “testimonies” are God’s commands, solemn charges, or decrees. To observe them with all of one’s heart would mean to have one’s whole being involved. It would be an obedient response to divine commands—a response originating in the deep inner self. Seeking God would denote earnestly endeavoring to have and to maintain a good relationship with him, living in a manner that conforms to his will.
Those whom the psalmist pronounced fortunate do not engage in wrong. They walk in God’s ways, conducting themselves according to the guidance of his law. According to the Septuagint, persons who “work lawlessness” did not walk in God’s ways.
The Most High “commanded” his instructions or orders (“commands,” LXX). This indicates that instructions were given in an authoritative manner. They were to be observed with the utmost care.
In his ways or his conduct, the psalmist desired to be firm in keeping God’s statutes. The Septuagint represents him as wanting his ways to be regulated in order to keep them. With his attention focused on all of God’s commands, he would not be put to shame (as would one who had pursued a foolish course). Ultimately, only good results from faithful obedience to God’s law.
With an upright heart or with a purely motivated inmost self, the psalmist, upon learning God’s righteous judgments, wanted to praise him. As one who highly valued these judgments or ordinances, he desired to acknowledge the Most High as their source.
The psalmist resolved to observe God’s statutes, loyally adhering to divine regulations. He knew that the Most High had withdrawn his aid and protection from the Israelites when they disregarded his commands. Therefore, he pleaded that this would not happen to him, praying, “Do not completely forsake me.”
Every verse starts with the Hebrew letter beth.
Inexperienced and faced with many temptations, a young man may find it hard to follow the right course. To keep his way pure, not defiling himself through wrong conduct, he would need to guard it according to the direction God’s word provided.
The psalmist continued to seek God with all his heart. His inner and outer life were in full harmony, with his objective being to remain in God’s favor. So he prayed that God would not let him stray from his commandments, as any waywardness would have damaged his relationship with him. The psalmist’s words suggest that he recognized his weaknesses and wanted help to avoid yielding to them and experiencing the resultant adverse consequences.
In his heart or his inmost self, the psalmist had “hidden” or deposited God’s word (primarily meaning God’s law) like a precious treasure that was dear to him. He highly valued this “word” as a dependable guide so that he might not sin against God.
It appears that the psalmist’s expression of blessing or praise (“Blessed be you, O YHWH”) was prompted by his appreciation for divine guidance. He wanted God to teach him his statutes, doubtless because of his desire to understand and come to value them to an ever greater degree.
Besides treasuring God’s commands in his inmost self and wanting to continue to learn about them, the psalmist used his lips to tell about the divine judgments to others. These judgments were “ordinances of [God’s] mouth,” for they were expressions of his will.
The psalmist experienced delight in the “way of [God’s] testimonies” as much as would one would find pleasure in “all riches.” His greatest joy came from conducting himself in harmony with the God’s solemn charges. Others might rejoice in having wealth, but the psalmist delighted in heeding God’s commands and making them the object of his appreciative reflection.
He would meditate on divine precepts. His attention would be focused on YHWH’s ways, always seeking to follow his direction.
In God’s statutes, he would find delight (“meditate,” LXX), not allowing anything or anyone to rob him of the joy he found in conducting himself according to them. The psalmist resolved not to forget God’s word. This indicates that he would not neglect to heed God’s law but would strive to follow it faithfully.
Every verse starts with the Hebrew letter gimel.
The psalmist prayed that the Most High would deal generously with him, recompensing him as his servant. This would mean life for him. Without God’s favor and blessing, he could not live. While he had life, he would keep God’s word or heed his direction.
The psalmist wanted the Almighty to open his eyes to be able to see the wondrous things that could be learned from his law. It was his desire to perceive the significance of the commands to the fullest extent possible. He wanted to be freed from anything that could interfere with a proper comprehension of the marvelous divine revelation the law contained.
When referring to himself as a sojourner, the psalmist may have meant that his situation resembled that of a resident alien whose knowledge of the law of the land was incomplete. So he pleaded that God would not hide his commands from him. The psalmist wanted to know these commands so that he would not violate them on account of ignorance.
At all times, his “soul” or he himself had an intense longing for God’s judgments or ordinances. This longing gnawed at him or consumed him, as he yearned to do what would prove to be pleasing to the Most High.
God’s rebuke is directed against arrogant persons. They are accursed ones, for they choose to conduct themselves in a manner that merits divine disfavor. They stray from YHWH’s commands, defiantly refusing to obey them.
These insolent ones appear to have reproached the psalmist and regarded him with contempt. This seems to be the reason for his asking God to take away the reproach and contempt, for he (unlike the defiant godless ones) had observed the divine testimonies or solemn charges.
Even men in positions of authority, princes or rulers, opposed the psalmist. When seated as a group for purposes of deliberation, they spoke against him. Nevertheless, he, as God’s servant, determined to mediate on divine statutes. He was not going to allow the view of influential men to sway him from focusing on God’s law and living accordingly.
God’s testimonies or solemn charges proved to be his delight. According to the Septuagint, they were the focus of his meditation. He valued them highly and did not regard obedience to them as a burden but recognized such obedience as contributing to his well-being. They were his counselors, guiding him in all his conduct.
Every verse begins with the Hebrew letter daleth.
In his afflicted state, the psalmist portrayed his “soul” or himself as cleaving to the dust. This suggests that he found himself in a very low condition, comparable to that of a person lying prostrate on the ground. He petitioned the Most High to deliver him from his distressing circumstances, infusing him with life “according to [his] word” or reviving him in keeping with his promise to aid his servants.
The psalmist’s telling of his “ways” likely refers to his laying bare all his thoughts and concerns before God, not keeping anything hidden. YHWH answered him, responding favorably to his petition. The psalmist desired to know God’s statutes, wanting to do what is right. Therefore, he prayed that the Almighty would teach him these statutes.
He wanted God to make him understand the “way of [his] precepts” or the course these commands directed him to follow. When granted this understanding, the psalmist would be able to meditate on God’s “wondrous works.” He would give careful consideration to what the precepts revealed about the marvelous manner in which the Most High deals with humans.
When describing what was happening to his “soul” or to him personally on account of his grief, the psalmist used the Hebrew word daláph, which basically denotes “leak,” “pour out,” or “trickle.” This could mean that, in his sorrow, he “poured out” or shed tears. A number of translation make this sense explicit. “I weep in bitter pain.” (NAB) “My soul cries because of sorrow.” (NLB) Other renderings found in modern translations include: “My soul melts away from sorrow.” (NRSV) “I am overcome by sorrow.” (GNT, Second Edition) “I am weary from grief.” (HCSB)
On the basis of Akkadian, daláph has been understood to signify “sleeplessness,” indicating that the psalmist’s grief interfered with his being able to rest properly. “Because of my misery I cannot rest.” (REB)
Rahlfs’ text of the Septuagint has a form of the word stázo (“drop,” “trickle,” or “drip”) as the rendering for daláph. Other printed texts, however, read nystázo (“slumber” or “doze”). According to this rendering, the psalmist found himself dozing from exhaustion.
It appears that the psalmist’s sorrow had greatly weakened him. This prompted him to pray, “Strengthen me according to your word.” He wanted God to fulfill his promise to come to his aid, bringing an end to his weak or helpless state.
The psalmist appealed to YHWH to distance him from the “way of falsehood” or the “way of wrongdoing” (LXX). His desire was to be as far away as possible from a course that would alienate him from his God. He wanted to be restrained from yielding to any kind of falsehood, deception, or corrupt action.
The psalmist then continued, “And your law—be gracious to me.” This could signify that he wanted to be favored with the help needed to observe the law or that, in expression of God’s kindness to him, he desired to be instructed in the law. Both meanings have been made explicit in modern translations. “Have mercy on me by helping me obey your teachings.” (NCV) “Grant me the grace of living by your law.” (REB) “Be kind enough to teach me your Law.” (CEV) “Graciously give me Your instruction.” (HCSB) “Graciously teach me your law.” (ESV) “In your goodness teach me your law.” (GNT, Second Edition) “Favor me with your teaching.” (NAB) The Septuagint reading (“by your law show me mercy”) could mean that the psalmist desired to be the recipient of the mercy promised in the law.
Having rejected the “way of falsehood,” the psalmist chose the “way of faithfulness” or “truth” (LXX), conforming his life to the divine standard of uprightness. He recognized God’s “judgments” as set forth in the law as appropriate, providing him with essential guidance. According to the Septuagint, he had not forgotten or failed to consider God’s judgments.
He clung to God’s testimonies or faithfully adhered to God’s solemn charges. On this basis, he prayed that YHWH would not let him be put to shame, allowing the distressing circumstances to continue. If the psalmist’s appeal had gone unanswered, it would have made it appear to others that his faithful adherence to God’s way did not benefit him.
His “running” in the way of God’s commandments probably relates to his following a course of obedience, heeding the commandments with the eager determination characteristic of a runner in pursuit of his goal. The psalmist attributed his being able to “run” in this manner to YHWH’s having enlarged his “heart.” This could mean that the Most High had made it possible for his mind to understand the commandments or that he had granted him an inner desire to obey them. These possible meanings are reflected in the renderings of a number of translations. “I will eagerly obey your commands, because you will give me more understanding.” (GNT, Second Edition) “I pursue the way of Your commands, for You broaden my understanding.” (HCSB) “I will run the way of Your Law, for You will give me a willing heart.” (NLB)
Each verse starts with the Hebrew letter he.
The psalmist asked YHWH to teach him the “way of [his] statutes,” indicating that he wanted to understand the commands aright. This would enable him to follow the way these statutes directed him to conduct himself. His doing so “to the end” may mean doing so completely. Translations have variously rendered the Hebrew expression to mean “to the utmost” (Tanakh), “with care” (NAB), “at every step” (Margolis), and “at all times” (GNT, Second Edition). In the Revised English Bible, the Hebrew expression is interpretively translated to refer to the objective. “In keeping them [the statutes] I shall find my reward.” According to the Septuagint, he would “always” (diá pantós) seek after the way of God’s statutes.
To be able to keep the law, the psalmist wanted YHWH to grant him understanding, which would prevent him from making missteps out of ignorance. With his “heart” or deep inner self being fully involved in observing the law, he would be doing his very best in living up to it.
The psalmist asked YHWH to lead him in the “path of [his] commandments,” indicating that he desired help to conduct himself in the way these commandments outlined. This kind of aid would keep him on the right course and prevent him from straying. He found delight in pursuing this path. According to the Septuagint, the psalmist “wanted” it.
For God to incline the psalmist’s heart to his “testimonies” and not to “gain” (“greediness” or “covetousness,” LXX) would signify that the Most High would help him to have the inner motivation to heed his solemn charges and to avoid giving in to any desire for unjust profit.
The psalmist asked YHWH to turn his eyes away from looking at valueless things (“vanity” or “emptiness,” Masoretic Text), preventing him from developing a desire for anything that would prove to be worthless or divinely disapproved. He asked to be given life in God’s ways. This could mean that, for him, living signified faithful adherence to divinely approved paths. “Let me find life by walking with you.” (CEV) Another possibility is that he desired to live so as to be able to continue conducting himself uprightly.
In the second half of verse 37, one of the Dead Sea scrolls has a different reading. It represents the psalmist as petitioning God to grant him favor according to his word or promise. “Be gracious to me according to your word.” (The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible) There is also other Hebrew manuscript evidence for the reading “in your word,” and a number of modern translation have rendered the text accordingly. “By your word give me life.” (NJB) “Grant me life by your word.” (REB) “Preserve my life according to your word.” (NIV) Another Dead Sea scroll, however, says “in your way” (as do certain other Hebrew manuscripts and the extant Septuagint text), with the plural “ways” appearing in still other Hebrew manuscripts.
As his servant, the psalmist petitioned YHWH to establish or confirm his word or promise, delivering him from his distress. There is a measure of obscurity about how the words relating to fear apply. Translations vary in their renderings. “Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared.” (NIV) “Do for me what you promised to those who worship you.” (CEV) “Fulfill your promise for your servant, the promise made to those who fear you.” (REB) “Keep your promise to your servant so that all may hold you in awe.” (NJB) Erfülle deinem Knecht dein Wort, dass ich dich fürchte. (Fulfill your word to your servant that I may fear you.) (1984 revision of Luther’s translation)
His enemies reproached him, and the psalmist dreaded or anticipated with great anxiety his continuing to be the object of their taunting. The ridicule and the prospect of its continuance would have greatly pained him. A contributory factor would have been the realization that the reproach also misrepresented his God. The psalmist would have been known as being devoted to YHWH and yet he found himself suffering distress, with no apparent evidence of divine help. Whereas those who reproached him had no regard for divine judgments or ordinances, he acknowledged them as good and determined to follow them. This marked difference in attitude would have prompted reproach. He would have been ridiculed for not getting any benefit from following God’s law.
The psalmist had a longing for God’s precepts or commands. This yearning stemmed from his wanting to conduct himself uprightly. He asked that YHWH, in his righteousness or in expression of his just dealings, would quicken him. For the psalmist to be freed from his afflicted state and to be preserved alive or to be revived (infused with new life) would have revealed God’s righteousness or justice. It would have demonstrated that the Most High does repay his servants for remaining loyal to him.
Each verse starts with the Hebrew letter waw.
In view of his dire straits, the psalmist prayed that he might be the recipient of YHWH’s abiding love, compassionate care, or “mercy” (LXX). On the basis of God’s word or promise, he asked to be granted deliverance from his distress.
Upon experiencing deliverance, the psalmist would have had a reply for those who taunted him. Their ridicule would have been to the effect that his serving God had no value, and the deliverance would have exposed their taunts as baseless. The psalmist had trusted in God’s word or promise, and the hope based thereon would have been vindicated.
During his distressing circumstances, the psalmist trusted in God’s word or promise, and this sustained him. Consequently, he pleaded that YHWH would not take the “word of truth” completely from his mouth. The psalmist wanted this dependable word to remain with him, enabling him to continue to express hope in the certainty of its fulfillment. He hoped in God’s judgments or continually waited for the Most High to execute justice.
The psalmist determined to observe God’s law always, forever and ever. When “walking” or conducting himself according to God’s commands, he felt free and safe. His situation was comparable to walking in a spacious area and not on a hazardous, narrow trail in mountainous terrain. He considered God’s precepts or commands to be highly beneficial, as evident from his having made them the object of his seeking. He very much wanted these commands for his guidance.
The psalmist did not hold back from speaking about YHWH’s “testimonies” or solemn charges before kings. If they were unfavorably inclined and did not value divine direction, he would not be ashamed to express himself. Their high station did not intimidate him, restraining him from speaking openly about God’s solemn charges.
He found delight in God’s commandments. It brought him pleasure to obey them. According to the Septuagint, he “meditated” on the commandments, suggesting that he thought about what they required of him. The psalmist loved the commandments. He appreciated their inestimable value in providing him with trustworthy guidance.
His lifting his hands to God’s commandments could refer to his reaching out for them to make them his possession. Another possibility is that, in prayer, the psalmist would raise his arms with outstretched palms and thank YHWH for having provided the commandments, which he loved. The psalmist determined to make God’s statutes the object of his meditation or careful reflection.
Every verse starts with the Hebrew letter zayin.
For God to “remember [the] word to [his] servant” would mean for him to carry out the promise applying to the psalmist, the promise to furnish aid in time of need. This was the “word” in which the Most High had made him hope. It constituted the divinely provided basis for the psalmist to wait confidently to be freed from distress.
During the time of his affliction, he found comfort in YHWH’s promise. He continued to look forward to a divinely effected change in his circumstances. God’s “word” or promise gave him life, refreshing him and infusing him with strength.
Insolent ones who had no regard for YHWH’s law mocked him to the limit. This, however, did not turn him aside from conducting himself uprightly. He did not deviate from following God’s law. The Septuagint rendering portrays the arrogant ones as disregarding the law to an excess.
The psalmist remembered God’s judgments. They were “from of old,” for they had been made known to his ancestors. The psalmist always kept these judgments in mind, and they comforted him. This could have been because they revealed that God’s dealings are just, assuring him of future deliverance from his affliction.
Upon observing the wicked who forsook YHWH’s law, the psalmist was seized with indignation. It greatly angered him to witness defiant disregard of God’s law. According to the Septuagint, he experienced discouragement on account of sinners. It was disheartening to him to observe those who lived lawlessly.
To the psalmist, God’s statutes proved to be like songs. This may mean that they were a source of joy, for he delighted in conducting himself in harmony with them. The reference to the “house [place, LXX] of [his] sojourn” could be understood to mean wherever he found himself during his life, a life he regarded as a temporary residence on earth. Modern translations contain various renderings that are more explicit than the Hebrew text and convey different meanings. “Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.” (NIV) “Your statutes are the theme of my song throughout my earthly life.” (REB) “Your laws are a source of strength to me wherever I may dwell.” (Tanakh) “Your judgments are my song where I live in exile.” (NJB) “No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs.” (CEV)
In the night or during periods of wakefulness, the psalmist would remember God’s name or his thoughts would focus on YHWH, the bearer of the name. His desire was to please his God, faithfully keeping his law.
Concluding the section of verses beginning with the Hebrew letter zayin, the psalmist declared, “This has fallen to me, for I have kept your precepts.” The antecedent for the word “this” (zoth) is not readily apparent, and translations vary in their renderings. “This has been my practice: I obey your precepts.” (NIV) “This is what it means to me, observing your precepts.” (NJB) “This has been my lot, for I have kept your precepts.” “This is my good fortune, for I have observed your precepts.” (NAB) “This blessing has fallen to me, for I have kept your precepts.” (NRSV)
Possibly the psalmist’s words refer to what his lot had come to be on account of his loyal adherence to divine guidance. This would include everything mentioned in verses 49 through 55. God’s word or promise had filled him with hope, brought him comfort, and enlivened him. He had been able to continue heeding God’s law despite ridicule. Although it angered him to see lawlessness, he found God’s statutes to be songs to him, bringing him joy. Even during the wakeful hours of the night, his thoughts were on YHWH and obeying his law.
Each verse starts with the Hebrew letter heth.
On account of having a relationship with him and finding delight in serving him, the psalmist referred to YHWH as his share. Concerned about maintaining an approved relationship with the Most High, he promised to keep God’s words or to observe the commands set forth in the law.
With all his heart or his inner self involved, the psalmist entreated the “face” of YHWH, wanting his “face” to be favorably inclined toward him. The psalmist pleaded that God would be gracious to him or, according to the Septuagint, would show him mercy. He based his appeal on YHWH’s word or the promise the Most High had made to help his servants.
The psalmist thought about his own ways or the manner in which he conducted himself. According to the Septuagint, he considered God’s ways. In his walk or conduct, the psalmist directed his feet to God’s testimonies, letting the divine solemn charges guide his actions. Possibly his reflecting on his own ways may have made him aware of areas where he needed to make adjustments, and this may have prompted him to “turn back” his feet to God’s testimonies, altering his course to be in harmony with them.
Indicative of his eagerness to conduct himself aright, the psalmist spoke of himself as hastening and not delaying to keep God’s commandments. This may indicate that whenever he recognized any straying on his part, he did not hesitate to correct his course.
It appears that wicked persons (“sinners,” LXX) were bent on entangling the psalmist to bring about his ruin, surrounding him as with cords. Nevertheless, he did not forget God’s law but always endeavored to live up to it.
At midnight, while others would be sleeping, the psalmist would get up and praise or appreciatively acknowledge YHWH for his righteous judgments. He highly valued all divine direction.
The psalmist chose as his companions those who had a wholesome fear of or reverential regard for YHWH and who observed his precepts. Association with them would have resulted in mutual encouragement to persist in maintaining upright conduct.
As he looked around, the psalmist could see that the earth or the land was filled with the evidence of God’s abiding love, compassionate care, or “mercy” (LXX). This would have included YHWH’s generous provisions for life and his compassionately responding to the appeals of his servants for help in their time of need. A recognition of the greatness of God’s compassionate concern appears to have engendered within the psalmist a desire to know his statutes fully in order to act in harmony with them. His prayer was, “Teach me your statutes.”
Every verse starts with the Hebrew letter teth.
The psalmist appreciatively acknowledged, “You have dealt well with your servant, O YHWH, according to your word.” His acknowledgment indicated that YHWH had revealed himself to be the fulfiller of his word or promise and had been good or kind in all his dealings with him.
He wanted to be taught “good” or “goodness,” “discernment,” and “knowledge.” His desire was to know what YHWH approved as “good” and to be in possession of discernment and knowledge to understand and follow God’s law, for he “believed” in or trusted God’s commandments. This was evidently because he recognized the commandments as providing essential guidance that would benefit him.
Numerous translations have rendered the Hebrew word for “good” or “goodness” (tov) as modifying tá‘am (“discernment,” “discretion,” or “knowledge”) and variously read, “good judgment” (NIV, NRSV), “good discernment” (Margolis), and “good sense” (Tanakh). The Septuagint, however, does not support viewing tov as an adjective. It reads chrestóteta kaí paideían (“kindness and discipline”).
At one time in his life, the psalmist did not act in harmony with God’s commands. Prior to his coming to be in an afflicted state, he had strayed. Humbled by the affliction, he changed his course and submitted to divine direction. “Now,” the psalmist continued, “I keep your word.”
He acknowledged YHWH as being good and the doer of good. The Most High is the ultimate standard of goodness or kindness and generously provides everything that is good and beneficial. Therefore, his statutes are good, providing the best guidance possible. With apparent appreciation for their good or beneficial aspect, the psalmist prayed, “Teach me your statutes.”
Insolent ones, persons who defiantly ignored God’s commands, “besmeared” the psalmist with “falsehood” or slandered him. According to the Septuagint, they increased injustice against him. Their malicious course did not sway him from faithfully adhering to God’s law. “With all [his] heart” or with every part of his being, including his inmost self, he observed the divine precepts.
The “heart” or inner self of the slanderers had become insensitive, “like fat.” Their inmost motivations for doing what is right had been dulled as though a thick, fatty layer covered them. Whereas they had no desire to conduct themselves uprightly, the psalmist found delight in YHWH’s law. It brought him joy to heed it. According to the Septuagint, he meditated on God’s law.
When he thought about his previous wayward course, the psalmist was moved to express appreciation for having been afflicted. The affliction or humbling experience was good for him, producing a change for the better in his attitude. This made it possible for him to learn God’s statutes as one who desired to follow them.
For the psalmist, the “law of [God’s] mouth” or the expression of God’s commands and will was better or of greater value than thousands of pieces of gold and silver. This “law” was a priceless treasure to all who, like the psalmist, found delight in following it.
Each verse starts with the Hebrew letter yod.
The psalmist acknowledged that YHWH had created him, saying that God’s hands had “made” and “established” him. Possibly the “establishing” refers to his having been prepared to function in life. According to the Septuagint, God’s hands made and “formed” him, and numerous modern translations convey the same thought. The psalmist wanted to be granted the understanding needed to fully learn God’s commandments, for his desire was to follow them. He recognized his Creator as the source of dependable guidance.
Persons who feared YHWH or who had reverential regard for him would rejoice when seeing the psalmist. Their joy would stem from observing his godly life, which revealed that he “hoped” in God’s “word” or promise. While maintaining upright conduct, he continually looked for the fulfillment of God’s promise to his devoted servants.
The psalmist knew or recognized that YHWH’s judgments were righteous, just, or right. Never would there be a time when the Almighty could be charged with having dealt unfairly. Therefore, when the psalmist thought about the distress he had experienced, he was moved to say that YHWH had afflicted him in faithfulness. The Most High had not acted in malice or been untrue to himself. His trustworthiness or dependability in seeking the good of his servants remained unchanged, for the psalmist had benefited from the experience.
In view of the distressing circumstances he had faced, he recognized his need for God’s loving care. He prayed to be comforted by God’s abiding love, compassionate concern, or “mercy” (LXX), basing his plea on God’s word to his servants. In his case, as YHWH’s servant, this word or promise assured him that the Most High would help him in his time of need.
The psalmist prayed that YHWH’s mercy might come to him in order for him to continue living. This suggests that he recognized his life as a divine gift and its continuance as an expression of God’s love and compassion. When making his petition, he implied that he did so on the basis of the relationship he had with the Most High, for he referred to the delight he had in his law. He found pleasure in living in harmony with YHWH’s commands. The Septuagint refers to God’s law as the object of the psalmist’s meditation.
Insolent ones, persons who defiantly violated God’s law, had determined to harm the psalmist. Resorting to deceit or lying, they tried to “subvert” him. The Hebrew term ‘awáth (“subvert”), in verse 78, has the basic sense of being or making bent or crooked. It has been variously translated to mean “oppress,” “wrong,” “distort,” and “hurt.” The word ‘awáth is linked with the Hebrew term shéqer, meaning “deceit,” “falsehood,” or “lie.” The Septuagint reading may be understood to mean that the arrogant ones unjustly acted lawlessly against him. Modern translations vary in their renderings. “Shame the proud for oppressing me unjustly.” (NAB) “Let the arrogant who tell lies against me be shamed.” (NJB) “Put down those proud people who hurt me with their lies.” (CEV) “They wrong me with lies.” (REB) “They have wronged me without cause.” (Tanakh) “They have subverted me with guile.” (NRSV) “They have distorted my cause with falsehood.” (Margolis)
The psalmist prayed that the godless ones would be put to shame. This shame would come about from failing in their efforts to wrong him or to deprive him of justice. Whereas his insolent enemies disrespected God’s law, he continued to make the divine precepts the object of his meditation. His thoughts were on understanding and living up to God’s commands.
The psalmist desired to have godly persons as his companions. He prayed, “Let those fearing you turn to me.” As persons who feared God, they were his loyal servants who had reverential regard for him. Their knowing his testimonies or solemn charges would have been evident from their living in harmony with his law.
For the psalmist’s heart to be “blameless in [God’s] statutes” would signify his inmost self would be blameless, rightly motivating him to conduct himself according to God’s commands. His motivation for serving the Most High would be pure. Therefore, no reason would exist for his being put to shame, as would persons whose words and actions came to be exposed as having been deceptive.
Each verse starts with the Hebrew letter kaph.
To the point of exhaustion, the psalmist’s “soul” or he himself longingly waited for YHWH to effect his deliverance from distress. He hoped in God’s “word,” waiting for the fulfillment of his promise to come to the aid of his servants.
With his eyes, he looked yearningly for God’s word or the fulfillment of his promise. His eyes failed him or were strained from looking for relief to come. Having endured affliction for a long time, he asked when the Almighty would comfort him, bringing him the needed relief.
Beset by trials, the psalmist spoke of himself as having become like a “wineskin in smoke.” Such a wineskin would be dark from the smoke, shriveled up, and without the former elasticity. This suggests that the psalmist found himself in a pitiable state, helpless and deprived of his strength. His distress, however, did not cause him to forget God’s statutes. He continued to conduct his life in harmony with them.
In view of the grave danger he faced, the psalmist raised the question, “How [long] the days of your servant?” Either he wondered how much longer he would have to endure before experiencing deliverance or just how little time of his life might have been left. Both meanings are found in modern translations. “How long must your servant wait?” (NIV) “How long must your servant endure?” (NRSV) “How long must I suffer?” (CEV) “How long has your servant to live?” (NJB, Tanakh) “How long can your servant survive?” (NAB) He also wanted to know just when the Most High would execute the deserved judgment on his persecutors.
The insolent ones, persons who violated God’s law, had dug pitfalls for him. They were intent on bringing about his ruin and gave no thought to YHWH’s law when pursuing their malicious aim. The Septuagint refers to these godless ones as transgressors of the law. Seemingly, the Septuagint reading represents them as spinning tales contrary to God’s law, with the intent of deceiving the psalmist.
Despite his situation, the psalmist held to his conviction about God’s commandments, acknowledging that they were trustworthy, completely reliable for guiding one’s life. His persecutors, however, acted with falsehood. They had no reason for hatefully pursuing him. “Help me!” was the appeal he directed to YHWH.
The persecutors had almost succeeded in bring the psalmist’s life on earth to an end. Nevertheless, he did not forsake God’s precepts but continued to conduct himself uprightly.
He pleaded that the Almighty, in expression of his abiding love, compassionate care, or “mercy” (LXX) would spare his life. This would make it possible for him to continue keeping the “testimony” of God’s mouth or the solemn charge that is the expression of his will.
Every verse starts with the Hebrew letter lamed.
YHWH’s word endures for all time to come. Being established in the heavens, it is in a secure place. This assures that it is certain of fulfillment. Nothing can hinder the accomplishment of whatever is an expression of God’s will.
In verse 89, no verb follows the first Hebrew word (commonly rendered “eternal”). Therefore, a number of translations, when supplying a verb, make the application to God and limit the reference to the word to the second half of the verse. “Our LORD, you are eternal! Your word will last as long as the heavens.” (CEV) “The LORD exists forever; your word is firmly fixed in heaven.” (NRSV) “The LORD exists forever; Your word stands firm in heaven.” (Tanakh)
His “faithfulness,” dependability, “truth” (LXX), or trustworthiness continues from generation to generation. It will never fail. The psalmist appears to have regarded God’s having established the earth and its continuing to “stand” or exist as proof of his dependability.
By God’s decrees, “they stand this day.” Based on the previous verse, this could refer to the earth and everything else that continued to endure. The Hebrew word for “stand” (‘amár) is a third person plural verb (“they stand”). There is, however, no clear plural antecedent. This has led to a variety of interpretive readings. “Even to this day your decrees stand fast, for all things serve you.” (REB) “Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you.” (NIV) “Through your judgements all stands firm to this day, for all creation is your servant.” (NJB) “All things remain to this day because of your command, because they are all your servants.” (GNT, Second Edition) “All things continue to this day because of your laws, because all things serve you.” (NCV) Himmel und Erde bestehen bis heute, weil du es so willst, denn dir muß alles dienen. (Heaven and earth endure until today because you so wish it, for everything must serve you.) (German, Hoffnung für Alle)
The “day” would be the time of the psalmist. “All things” are “servants” of the Most High, suggesting that everything is at his disposal for the carrying out of his will. The implication appears to be that this assures the trustworthiness of God’s word or promise.
If God’s law had not been a source of delight (the object of meditation, LXX) for the psalmist as he endeavored to live by it, he would not have been sustained in his time of distress. Overwhelmed by his affliction, he would have perished.
He resolved never to forget YHWH’s precepts, at no time ignoring the guidance they provided. This is because he recognized them as the means by which the Most High had given him life. Without the divine precepts, he would not have been able to live in the real sense of the word, for he would merely have been existing without any awareness of God’s love and compassionate care for him.
As one who belonged to the Most High, the psalmist pleaded, “Deliver me, for I have sought your precepts.” He had earnestly desired to live up to God’s commands and therefore trusted that the Almighty would deliver him from his affliction.
The psalmist found himself in a perilous situation. The wicked (“sinners,” LXX) were lying in wait for him, seeking to destroy him. Despite the threatening circumstances, he determined to consider God’s testimonies. This indicated that he would always keep these testimonies or solemn charges before him and conduct himself accordingly.
Whatever is complete or perfect from a human standpoint has an “end” or a limit. It is finite. The finite nature of everything in the human sphere appears to have been what the psalmist saw or came to recognize. God’s commandment, on the other hand, is exceedingly broad, without the kind of limits associated with the human sphere. At all times and under all circumstances, God’s commandment provides sound guidance. There never would be a situation necessitating its being set aside as inapplicable.
Every verse starts with the Hebrew letter mem.
The psalmist loved YHWH’s law, indicating that he appreciated its inestimable value as his trustworthy guide. “All day” this law was the object of his meditation. There never was a time when he failed to take it into consideration.
Because of faithfully adhering to God’s commandment, the psalmist made good decisions respecting his conduct. The law made him wiser than his enemies, for they refused to follow it and pursued paths that would eventually lead to their ruin. He valued YHWH’s commandment as his treasured possession for all time to come. According to the Septuagint rendering, God, by his commandment, made the psalmist wiser than his enemies.
The psalmist’s understanding, discernment, or insight exceeded that of all his teachers combined. He attributed this to his meditation on God’s testimonies or solemn charges, his never neglecting to think about them.
Elders were looked to for their wisdom gained through years of experience. The psalmist, however, surpassed them in understanding. What set him apart from them was his faithful observance of God’s precepts.
He held back his “feet” from every bad way, refusing to follow any course he recognized to be divinely disapproved. His aim was to observe God’s “word” or to harmonize his conduct with God’s commands and will.
As one whom the Most High had taught, the psalmist did not turn aside from his judgments. He did not stray from the paths YHWH had revealed to be right or just.
The psalmist considered God’s words or his directives to be delightful, as something sweet to the taste. They were like honey in his mouth or highly palatable.
Through God’s precepts, the psalmist had acquired understanding. They gave him the needed insight to conduct himself wisely and to have a proper hatred of every false, deceitful or “unjust” (LXX) way.
Each verse starts with the Hebrew letter nun.
For the psalmist, God’s “word” (the divine direction and guidance revealed in the law) proved to be like a lamp for his feet, illuminating the course that he should follow. It was a light for his path, helping him to discern how to conduct himself and to avoid pitfalls that could have had a ruinous effect on his life.
The psalmist had resolved to observe God’s righteous judgments. He swore an oath to this effect and confirmed it. This reveals how serious he was about heeding God’s ordinances, which he recognized to be “righteous,” just or right.
Finding himself in great affliction, he prayed, “O YHWH, quicken me according to your word.” On the basis of YHWH’s word or promise to aid his servants, the psalmist either asked to be preserved alive or to be enlivened (granted refreshment and strength). Both meanings are found in modern translations. “Preserve me in accordance with Your word.” (Tanakh) “Preserve my life.” (NIV) “True to your promise, give me life.” (NJB) “Revive me as you have promised.” (REB)
The “offerings” of the psalmist’s mouth would have been his expressions of praise and thanksgiving. These he desired to be acceptable or pleasing to YHWH. For that to be the case, he wanted to be sure that he conducted himself aright. Therefore, he prayed to be taught God’s judgments. By knowing and understanding them, he would have been able to harmonize his life with the divine standard of justice or right.
His “soul” of life was always in his “hand,” indicating that he faced constant danger like one who had exposed himself to serious risks. Although in constant peril on account of his enemies, he did not “forget” God’s law but faithfully adhered to it.
Wicked ones (“sinners,” LXX) laid a trap for him, seeking to ensnare him and bring about his downfall. The unfavorable circumstances, however, did not cause him to stray from God’s precepts. He did not seek corrupt means to free himself from the intense pressures to which he was submitted.
The psalmist regarded God’s “testimonies” or solemn charges as his inheritance or precious possession for all time to come. They were the joy of his heart. In his inmost self, he highly valued them and found pleasure in letting divine regulations guide his life.
He determined to incline his “heart” or his deep inner self to do forevermore what YHWH’s statutes required. The last Hebrew word of verse 112 is ‘éqev, which term functions as an adverb and has been understood to convey the thought of “end,” “to the end,” “result,” “consequence,” or “wages.” The common rendering in modern translations is “to the end” and, as in verse 33, could mean “completely.”
In the Septuagint, the last Hebrew word of verse 112 is rendered antámeipsis, meaning “requital,” “recompense,” or “exchange.” It could be understood to apply to the repayment the psalmist had received from the Almighty. This recompense would then have prompted him to incline his heart to carry out God’s commands. A similar thought is conveyed in a number of modern translations. “I devote myself to obeying your statutes, their recompense is eternal.” (NJB) “I am resolved to fulfil your statutes; they are a reward that never fails.” (REB)
Each verse starts with the Hebrew letter samekh.
The first Hebrew word is the masculine adjective se‘éph, meaning “divided” or “split.” It may be descriptive of persons who were not truly devoted to the Most High, having no desire consistently to adhere to his ways. The Hebrew term has been variously rendered “double-minded men” (NIV), “those who are not single-minded” (REB), “anyone whose loyalty is divided” (CEV), “a divided heart” (NJB), “men of divided heart” (Tanakh), and “every hypocrite” (NAB). According to the Septuagint, the individuals were lawbreakers. Lacking in love for God, they were not persons with whom the psalmist wanted any association. As suggested by his referring to his own love for the law, he hated them on account of their lawless ways.
He regarded the Almighty as his “hiding place” (“helper,” LXX) and “shield” (“protector,” LXX). Like a hiding place, YHWH would shelter the psalmist from his enemies, providing him with needed security. The Most High would protect him as would a shield. In God’s “word,” the psalmist continued to hope, confident that YHWH would fulfill his promise to aid all those who are devoted to him.
The psalmist wanted evildoers to go away from him. He wished to be completely free from their corrupt influence, as his desire was to observe the commands of his God.
In harmony with God’s word, the promise to help his servants, the psalmist prayed to be supported or not allowed to experience a downfall. He would then be able to live, his life having been preserved or his having been refreshed and strengthened. His plea not to be put to shame respecting his hope constituted a petition for deliverance from his distressing situation. If his hope in being rescued from his perilous circumstances were not to be fulfilled, he would experience shame or bitter disappointment.
For the psalmist to be delivered from danger, he needed the Most High to uphold him or, according to the Septuagint, to “help” him. His plea was not a mere expression for his life to be preserved, for it was his desire to focus on (“meditate on,” LXX) God’s statutes continually. This attention to God’s statutes would have been with the intent of conforming his life to them.
The psalmist recognized that YHWH disdained those who strayed from his statutes, casting off or rejecting such faithless ones. Their “deceitfulness” (a possible meaning of the plural Hebrew word tarmíth) would prove to be a falsehood, completely failing in attaining the desired objective.
There is uncertainty about the meaning of the plural Hebrew word tarmíth. Translators have variously rendered the phrase where this word appears (“for their cunning is in vain” [NRSV]; “for vain is their deceit” [NAB]; “for they are false and deceitful” [Tanakh]; “for their whole talk is malice and lies” [REB]; “deceit fills their horizon” [NJB]). In the Septuagint, the entire verse reads, “You despised all those defecting from your statutes, because their thought [was] unjust.”
Like dross, the waste product of the refining process, YHWH destroys “all the wicked of the earth” or land. This expression of divine justice prompted the psalmist to say, “Therefore, I love your testimonies” or the solemn charges that he faithfully heeded but which the wicked defiantly disregarded. The Septuagint, however, conveys a different meaning for the first half of the verse. “[As] transgressors I have accounted all the sinners of the earth [land]. Therefore, I always loved your testimonies.”
The psalmist’s flesh “trembled” or came to have goose bumps on account of his having a wholesome fear of YHWH. In the Septuagint, the psalmist is portrayed as requesting that the fear of God would “nail down” (kathelóo) his flesh, perhaps signifying that any wrong fleshly desires would be restrained. His being afraid of God’s judgments may mean that he had a proper regard for them, not wanting to violate what the Most High had decreed to be just or right. Another possibility is that the nature of God’s judgments filled him with awe.
Every verse starts with the Hebrew letter ayin.
The psalmist carried out judgment and righteousness, doing what was just and right according to God’s law. On this basis, he pleaded that the Most High would not abandon him to his oppressors, not allowing them to defraud or wrong him.
Speaking of himself as God’s servant, the psalmist petitioned the Most High to be surety for his good. He wanted YHWH to serve as a pledge, guaranteeing his well-being and safety. The Greek text of fourth-century Codex Sinaiticus and fifth-century Codex Alexandrinus, however, opens with a form of the word ekdéchomai, which may mean “expect,” “wait for,” “receive,” or “accept.” In this context, “accept” appears to fit best (“Accept your servant for good”). Additionally, the psalmist prayed that the insolent or arrogant defiers of God’s law would not be permitted to oppress or wrong him (“extort” from him, LXX).
The psalmist’s eyes failed him or were strained from looking for deliverance from his distress and from longing to see the fulfillment of God’s righteousness. By acting against the psalmist’s enemies, the Most High, in expression of his righteousness or justice, would liberate him from his perilous circumstances.
The psalmist prayed that YHWH would deal with him according to his abiding love, compassionate concern, or “mercy” (LXX). This suggests that he recognized that, on the basis of strict justice, he would not be flawless. He did, however, earnestly desire to live uprightly and, therefore, prayed to be taught God’s statutes, wanting to understand them fully and to comply with them.
Identifying himself as God’s servant, the psalmist prayed for understanding. He wanted to “know” God’s testimonies or to have the kind of comprehension that would make it possible for him to conduct himself according to these solemn charges.
It was time for YHWH to act against ungodly ones, for they had broken his law. These lawbreakers probably were those who sought to harm the psalmist.
Whereas others defiantly disregarded God’s commandments, the psalmist loved them. He treasured them more than gold, even gold of the finest quality (free from all impurities) or, according to the Septuagint, topaz.
It was because of his love for God’s law that the psalmist directed his “steps” or conducted himself in line with all divine precepts. His love of right did not allow him to condone any wrongdoing. He hated every false, deceitful or “unjust” (LXX) way.
Every verse starts with the Hebrew letter pe.
The psalmist greatly appreciated YHWH’s “testimonies” or solemn charges that provided dependable guidance, considering them to be “wonderful.” This suggests that he recognized their inestimable value in contributing to the well-being of all who observed them. Therefore, his “soul” or he himself resolved to heed the solemn charges. According to the Septuagint, he (his “soul”) “searched them out,” fully acquainting himself with them.
The “opening up” of God’s words, which would result in understanding them aright, gives “light,” making it possible for the individual to discern the proper course of action. Even the “simple,” those who are like inexperienced children (“babes,” LXX), can come into possession of the understanding needed for right conduct when God’s words are made known to them.
The psalmist had such eager longing for God’s commandments that he spoke of himself as opening his mouth and panting, as would a runner pressing toward his goal.
He pleaded that YHWH would “turn” to him (“look” upon him, LXX) or grant him favorable attention and be “gracious” or “merciful” (LXX) to him. The basis for his plea to be shown favor or helped in his time of need was God’s “judgment” or his just dealings toward those who love his name or him, the bearer of the name.
The psalmist wanted God to secure his steps or direct his course of life, doing so according to his “word.” For servants of the Most High, this word constitutes an assurance for needed aid. The psalmist desired divine direction, not wanting “wickedness” or “lawlessness” (LXX) to gain dominion over him or become the controlling force in his life.
He prayed to be redeemed from the “oppression” or “extortion of man.” This was a plea to be rescued from being victimized by anyone who sought to deprive him of what rightly belonged to him. As one who looked to YHWH for aid, the psalmist promised to observe his precepts or commands.
For YHWH’s face to “shine” upon his servant would mean that the Most High would grant him favorable attention. Besides asking for YHWH’s face to be approvingly directed toward him, the psalmist also prayed to be taught his statutes. He wanted to know and understand God’s law and then to obey it.
Upon witnessing disregard for God’s law, the psalmist was greatly distressed. Tears, like streams of water, flowed from his eyes.
Every verse starts with the Hebrew letter sadhe.
The psalmist acknowledged YHWH as being righteous or just and that all of his judgments were upright. Intrinsically just, the Most High never deviates from the ultimate standard of justice.
God commanded his “testimonies” or solemn charges in righteousness and abundant “faithfulness” or “truth” (LXX). The expression of God’s will has the force of a command. As issuing from him (the ultimate standard of righteousness and abundant faithfulness or dependability of the highest degree), the solemn charges serving as a guide for upright conduct are right or just and completely trustworthy.
In verse 139, the Masoretic Text does not identify the object of the psalmist’s zeal. Rahlfs’ text of the Septuagint reads, “zeal for your house.” Another reading of the Greek text is “zeal for you [God].” So intense was the psalmist’s zeal that he spoke of it as putting an end to him or, according to the Septuagint, wasting him away. His consuming zeal was aroused because of seeing his enemies forgetting or ignoring YHWH’s words.
God’s word or promise, everything that is an expression of his wishes and will, is pure as if having been subjected to a refiner’s fire. As God’s servant, the psalmist loved that word, trusting it fully in distressing times.
Others regarded the psalmist as insignificant (like a mere youth) and despised him, contemptuously looking down upon him. This did not, however, cause him to change his course. He did not “forget” God’s precepts but always kept them in mind, conducting himself according to the guidance they provided.
YHWH’s righteousness or justice never changes. It remains unalterable righteousness for all time to come. God’s law is “truth,” completely trustworthy or dependable as a guide.
Even though the psalmist experienced distress and anguish, he still found delight in God’s commandments. It brought him joy to live in harmony with them. According to the Septuagint, the commandments were the object of his meditation.
God’s testimonies or solemn charges are “righteous,” just, or right, continuing to be such for all time to come. For the psalmist, life meant more than merely existing. He wanted his life to be properly guided. Therefore, he prayed for understanding or discernment, earnestly desiring to know God’s ways and then living in the real sense of the word as one who conducted himself uprightly.
Every verse starts with the Hebrew letter qoph.
With all his “heart” (in complete sincerity and with undivided devotion), the psalmist cried out for YHWH to answer him in his time of need. He coupled his fervent plea with the promise to keep God’s statutes.
Crying out to be delivered from his perilous circumstances, the psalmist added that he would observe God’s testimonies or live up to his solemn charges.
Very early in the morning, the psalmist rose to cry out for aid. He had placed his hope or full trust in God’s words. Therefore, he confidently waited or looked for the fulfillment of God’s promise to come to the aid of his servants.
The ancient Hebrews had three night watches between sunset and sunrise, with each watch being about four hours long. Before the start of these watches, the psalmist would be awake. He would then meditate on God’s word, focusing his thoughts on God’s promise to his servants.
The palmist prayed that YHWH, in expression of his abiding love, compassionate care, or “mercy” (LXX) would hear his voice, responding favorably to his plea. He also asked to be “quickened,” either preserved alive or revived (refreshed or infused with new life), basing his request on God’s “judgment” or justice. Upon YHWH’s expressing his judgment against those who were seeking to do harm, the psalmist would have been enlivened, having had his life preserved and having been refreshed and strengthened.
With evil intent or, according to the Septuagint, acting with “lawlessness,” those persecuting the psalmist had drawn near. These persecutors were far off from God’s law, having no regard for it.
As far as the psalmist was concerned, YHWH was near. He never lost sight of his relationship with and accountability to his God. The psalmist recognized all of God’s commandments as “truth,” indicating that he appreciated them as providing trustworthy guidance.
Long ago he had come to know that YHWH’s testimonies or solemn charges were firmly established for all time to come. He had made these testimonies the subject of careful reflection. Recognizing that YHWH had firmly established them, the psalmist knew that these solemn charges were always applicable and that his faithful adherence to them would carry him through the then-existing danger.
Every verse starts with the Hebrew letter resh.
The psalmist asked YHWH to look upon his afflicted state and to deliver him. He had not forgotten God’s law, suggesting that his faithful adherence to it was the basis for making his plea with the expectation of receiving a favorable response.
In view of the unjust treatment he experienced, the psalmist petitioned YHWH to take up his cause and administer justice, redeeming him or rescuing him from his perilous situation. On the basis of God’s “word” or the promise to his servants, the psalmist requested to be “quickened.” This could be an appeal to be preserved alive or to be revived and strengthened upon experiencing relief from his distressing situation.
The psalmist recognized that the wicked (“sinners,” LXX) could not expect YHWH to deliver them in time of peril. Deliverance was far from them, for they did not seek God’s statutes. They had no desire to follow them but defiantly disregarded them.
After acknowledging YHWH’s great mercies, the psalmist pleaded to be “quickened.” He made his appeal on the basis of God’s “judgment” or just dealings. YHWH’s justice is absolutely trustworthy. Therefore, the psalmist linked his petition to be preserved alive or revived and strengthened with divine “judgment,” which is always an expression of ultimate justice.
Although having to contend with many persecutors and foes, the psalmist did not deviate from God’s “testimonies.” He continued conducting himself in harmony with God’s solemn charges.
When the psalmist observed the treacherous or faithless ones, he felt a loathing (“wasted away,” LXX). They were abhorrent to him or, according to the Septuagint, made him feel as though he was wasting away from some dreadful disease, for they did not keep God’s “word.” They chose to disregard YHWH’s law.
Unlike the ungodly, the psalmist, with an introductory “see,” called attention to his great love for YHWH’s precepts. He then pleaded to be “quickened” (preserved alive or revived and refreshed) according to God’s abiding love, compassionate care, or “mercy” (LXX).
The Hebrew word rosh, basically meaning “head” or “beginning,” has commonly been translated to signify “sum” or “essence.” In all respects, God’s word, from its very start, is “truth,” dependable, or trustworthy. For all time to come, all of God’s “judgments” or decrees, which are an expression of his righteousness or justice, will endure.
Every verse starts with the Hebrew letter sin or shin.
Although having no cause for doing so, princes, rulers, or prominent ones persecuted the psalmist. Nevertheless, his heart or he, in his inmost self, remained in awe of God’s words. He maintained a wholesome respect for God’s expressed will, staying ever mindful of not wanting to disregard divine guidelines.
God’s word, the expression of his promises and will, provided the psalmist with reason for rejoicing. His great joy compared to that of a warrior who shared in a victory and found much spoil or booty.
The psalmist hated and abhorred deception, falsehood, or “injustice” (LXX). His hatred and loathing of all badness were coupled with a deep love for God’s law. It brought him joy to live in harmony with divine direction.
He greatly appreciated God’s judgments or decrees, which expressed the highest standard of righteousness or justice, moving him to praise YHWH for them “seven” times in the day. The number “seven” is probably to be understood as meaning a full number of times. Expressions of praise and thanksgiving flowed spontaneously from the psalmist throughout the day.
Those who love God’s law enjoy great “peace” or an inner sense of contentment and well-being. Aware of God’s abiding love and care for them, they experience an inner calm and are infused with hope in their time of need. Their love for God’s law protects them from yielding to wrong desires. Therefore, in their case, no “stumbling” exists. They do not lead a life of sin and avoid the kind of conduct that would induce others to sin or give them occasion for offense.
The psalmist confidently waited or hoped for YHWH to deliver him from distress. He had acted according to God’s commandments, and this gave him the confidence that he would be granted help in his time of need.
His “soul” (or the psalmist himself) kept God’s testimonies, and he very much loved these solemn charges. The psalmist valued the guidance they provided and found joy in living in harmony with them.
He repeated the thought about his upright life, his keeping God’s precepts and testimonies or solemn charges. The psalmist recognized that all his ways, everything he thought, said, and did, were before YHWH. Aware of the Most High’s watchful care and knowledge of everything about him, the psalmist earnestly desired to be found conducting himself aright.
Every verse starts with the Hebrew letter taw.
The psalmist wanted his cry to come near before YHWH, for he longed for a favorable response. In keeping with God’s word or promise, he asked to be given understanding. This understanding may relate to his being able to discern the right course for him to take while experiencing distress. There is also a possibility that, as expressed in other parts of this psalm, he wanted to understand God’s law in order to maintain upright conduct.
He repeated the thought about being heard, asking that his supplication come before YHWH. The psalmist then appealed to be delivered from his perilous circumstances, basing his plea on God’s word or the promise to his servants to provide aid in their time of need.
As one whom YHWH taught his statutes, the psalmist grew in appreciation for them. This motivated him to praise YHWH. He referred to his praise as being poured forth from his lips, suggestive of many expressions of laudation.
Recognizing that all of YHWH’s commandments are right or just, the psalmist would use his tongue to sing about God’s word or the expressions of his promises and will. That word provided the psalmist with dependable guidance.
He asked for YHWH’s hand or power to help him in his time of need, basing his appeal on his having chosen the divine precepts. This indicates that the psalmist had made the personal choice to live up to God’s commands.
In view of the difficult circumstances he faced, he yearned for deliverance from affliction. Still, he found delight in YHWH’s law, for he experienced joy from conducting himself in harmony therewith. According to the Septuagint, God’s law was the object of his meditation.
The psalmist wanted life for his “soul” or himself, making it possible for him to praise YHWH. For God’s “judgments” to help him would mean that he would be benefited by the guidance these divine decrees provided.
Knowing that he did not live up to God’s commands flawlessly, the psalmist referred to himself as one having gone astray like a lost sheep and asked YHWH to “seek” him as his servant, guiding him in the path he should follow. He wanted to do what is right, for he did not forget God’s commandments. The psalmist did not deliberately stray. His earnest desire was to do God’s will.