[ 3 minutes to read ]
Psalm 119 is not only a remarkable Psalm, it is one of the most remarkable chapters in the entire Bible. Though none of Scripture ought to be neglected, this chapter deserves special attention. In this series, we want to study this chapter; pray and meditate over this chapter. I pray that God will use this to work in us a deeper love and appreciation for His Word and a stronger commitment to live it.
The authorship of this Psalm is not certain. Many authors have been suggested through the years, but it seems most likely to belong to David. In this Psalm are commandments, enemies, and dire circumstances—all answerable to David’s life. Regardless of the human author, it is the inspired Word of God and profitable for us.
The time of the writing of this Psalm is also uncertain. Taken as a whole it seems that it was written in parts over a long period of time. A progression can be observed linearly from beginning to end. The early parts hint of youth and the latter parts evidence a maturing wisdom.
The theme of this Psalm is the Divine Revelation—the Word of God. It is remarkable that almost every verse has a reference to the Word of God. Ten different words are used to refer to Scripture: way, testimonies, precepts, commandments, word, law, judgment, righteousnesses, statute, and words. Each word brings its own nuance and serves a purpose.
Psalm 119 is by far the longest Psalm, and it is also the longest chapter in all Scripture. Its 176 verses are divided into 22 stanzas with 8 verses in each stanza. In the Hebrew text, each stanza begins with a different Hebrew letter. It starts at the first one and progresses sequentially through all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This form is very remarkable and poetic. Various attempts have been made to find some numerical or encoded significance to this form, but none of these to date are truly worthy of serious consideration.
In this entire Psalm there is not a single mention of Israel. There is no reference to the Jews, the tabernacle, the temple, sacrifices, rites, ceremonies, or anything of the Mosaic economy. What are we to make of this? They may well be some significance that escapes me, but it seems this Psalm is intended to applicable to the whole Word of God. Though the entire revelation was not yet given at the time this Psalm was written, it is not unbelievable to think of the Holy Spirit moving the penman with the perfect Word in mind. The theme remains fixed on the transcendent Word that was forever settled in heaven.
Simply put, the writer loves the Word of God. Verse 97 could well serve as a summary verse of the whole: “O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” A number of things could have been said to describe the Psalmist’s attitude toward God’s law, but “love” is how it was described. Only love could elevate its worth above silver and gold. He declared, “The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver” (Psalm 119:72).
This Psalm as a whole exalts the Word of God. It is a high prize and treasure of incomparable worth. However, it is not some pretty thing to be set up on a high shelf and gazed at. Neither is it to be buried away out of sight as a miser might do. The Word is to be treasured and hidden away in the heart. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). But, it is there for a purpose and buried in the heart is not the same as buried in the ground. “Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: they are the rejoicing of my heart” (Psalm 119:111). What is concealed in the heart will also come out at the mouth. “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:172).