Psalm 119:105-112

Submitted by admin on Sun, 2008-03-02 10:05.

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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)