Psalm 119:81-88

Submitted by admin on Sat, 2008-03-01 11:56.

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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.