Psalm 119:  Sweeter Than Honey, More Precious Than Gold

The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting; Give me understanding, and I shall live.  Psalm 119:144

Instructions for Living

 

Psalm 119 is a premiere song about the Torah.  This very lengthy poem is an acrostic:  For each of the 22 consonants in the Hebrew alphabet, there are eight verses beginning with that letter.  Within the psalm, eight words for God’s Law occur again and again: law; testimonies; promise; precepts; statutes; commandments; judgments; word.  The righteousness uses the full meaning of all these words as it elaborates on the application of the Law of God to both daily life and Israel’s destiny.  The Law is never considered a curse; it is always seen as a gift from God.  The cumulative effect of this lengthy celebration of the Word of God is impressive:  the psalm cannot stop praising God for His mercy and goodness in providing His people with instructions for living.

Throughout the psalm David expresses the joy he finds in Scripture.  He calls it “the word of truth” (119:43) and in so doing makes a vitally important statement about its nature.  In the Heb. “truth” and “faithfulness” share a common root, emetThe root affirms that the statement, thing, or person which is true or faithful is in harmony with reality.  That is, that the true can be relied upon because when measured by the actual, it corresponds exactly.  To say that Scripture is true means that we can trust it completely, for it pierces all man’s illusions and portrays reality as God knows it and as it really is.

Law (Heb. torah) – torah is derived from the verb, yarah, meaning “to teach,” carrying the idea of “instruction.”  The writer of Ps. 119 expressed great love for God’s law, because it led him to wisdom and righteousness.  Paul also praised God’s law because it pointed out his sin and made him realize his desperate need for a Savior.

119:1 The Law was never designed as a means of salvation; no one could be saved by keeping it.  The Lord gave His law to a people with whom He had already graciously established a covenant relationship.  Instead, the Law was the means for the Israelites to learn how to live as God’s holy people.  The psalmists consistently describe the Law of God as a great blessing, for it was God’s gracious revelation to His people for their own good.  In the Law, God mercifully pointed out the right path to follow.  Only mistaken legalistic interpretations of the Law prompted the negative statements concerning it in the NT.

1  Blessed are the undefiled in the way, Who walk in the law of the Lord!

119:16 The Hebrew word for statutes refers to something marked out as a boundary, something inscribed or engraved.  Hence the word speaks of the permanence of the Law.  Indeed God Himself has engraved it in stone (Ex. 24:12).  The same word is often translated “decree.”

16  I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.

119:22 The Hebrew word translated testimonies is derived from the Hebrew verb meaning “to witness” or “to testify.”  It refers to the Ten Commandments, called the “two tablets of the Testimony.”  The commandments were a testimony because they were a witness to the Israelites of their faithfulness or unfaithfulness to the covenant.

22  Remove from me reproach and contempt, For I have kept Your testimonies.

119:37 The phrase Your way describes the will of God as a path, distinguished from other paths that lead to destruction.

37  Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way.

119:44, 45 at liberty:  The psalmist celebrates the freedom that is found in obeying God’s instruction.  Although many think of laws, instructions, and commandments as limiting and restricting, the Law of God paradoxically frees us.  It frees us from sin and gives us the peace that comes from following the Lord’s instructions.

44  So shall I keep Your law continually, Forever and ever. 45  And I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts.

119:56 precepts:  This Hebrew word means “an appointed thing,” “something for which one is given charge.”  The word has the same idea as a commandment, for both words assume that the One who commands has the authority “to take charge” or “to appoint.”

56  This has become mine, Because I kept Your precepts.

 119:82  The Hebrew term for word is derived from the verb “to say.”  The term is a general word for God’s law, encompassing everything that the Lord has promised and spoken.

82  My eyes fail from searching Your word, Saying, “When will You comfort me?”

119:103 To say that Scripture is sweeter than honey is to say David values it more than any pleasure.

103  How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!

119:105 Word means the utterance of the Lord God.  That God speaks at all to His people indicates His wonderful grace.  God’s speech to His people is something the psalmists marvel at, for God has not spoken this way to any other nation.  Here the psalmist describes God’s Word as light, that is, a guide for living.  A lamp to my feet The flickering light cast by the olive oil lamp of Bible times was only bright enough to show a traveler his next step.  Scripture is such a lamp.  It gives us just enough light to see where to place our feet so that we can walk safely into our future.  The believer does not need a searchlight that casts light on coming weeks and years.  All that is in God’s hand.  We need only enough light to make sure that the next step we take is just and right.

105  Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

119:132  As Your custom:  Here the psalmist identifies himself as a servant of the Lord and asks to be treated as one of His own.  The psalmist’s reference to God’s mercy in this verse alludes to God’s promise to show mercy to those who love Him.

132  Look upon me and be merciful to me, As Your custom is toward those who love Your name.

119:149 To revive (quicken in KJV) means “to cause to live.”  With this word the psalmist begs God to transform his life, to breathe new life back into his soul.  The psalmist does not want his obedience to be mechanical; he asks for a renewed spirit.

149  Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness; O Lord, revive me according to Your justice.

119:160 judgement.  God has given decisions that are like the calls of a refree or the legal rulings of a judge; He has rendered judgments on what is acceptable behavior and what actions will receive His blessing.  God is the Judge over all, and His decisions establish true justice.

160  The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.

119:169-176 come before:  This term usually refers to the presentation of an offering before God.  The only offering the psalmist can present here is his cry for help.  Although he has chosen the Law of God to live by, he has not always kept it.  Therefore, the psalmist ends his lengthy poem with a confession and a plea for salvation.

169 Let my cry come before You, O Lord; Give me understanding according to Your word. 170 Let my supplication come before You; Deliver me according to Your word. 171 My lips shall utter praise, For You teach me Your statutes. 172 My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness. 173 Let Your hand become my help, For I have chosen Your precepts. 174 I long for Your salvation, O Lord, And Your law is my delight. 175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise You; And let Your judgments help me. 176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; Seek Your servant, For I do not forget Your commandments.

 

** When God speaks, we should listen.  When an important person speaks to us directly, we feel honored and give the person our full attention.  So how about God?  He had spoken through prophets and then came to us in person to speak directly to us.  He has made His words written down into a single book so that we can have the book in our possession and read it at any time.  It’s a manual from the creator of us to explain how to operate ourselves.

 


The Excellencies of God’s Law

119 1  Blessed are the undefiled in the way, Who walk in the law of the Lord! 2  Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart! 3  They also do no iniquity; They walk in His ways.

4  You have commanded us To keep Your precepts diligently. 5  Oh, that my ways were directed To keep Your statutes! 6  Then I would not be ashamed, When I look into all Your commandments.

7  I will praise You with uprightness of heart, When I learn Your righteous judgments. 8  I will keep Your statutes; Oh, do not forsake me utterly!

9  How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.

10  With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!

11  Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You!

12  Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes!

13  With my lips I have declared All the judgments of Your mouth. 14  I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. 15  I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways. 16  I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.

17  Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word.

18  Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law.

19  I am a stranger in the earth; Do not hide Your commandments from me.

20  My soul breaks with longing For Your judgments at all times.

21  You rebuke the proud–the cursed, Who stray from Your commandments.

22  Remove from me reproach and contempt, For I have kept Your testimonies.

23  Princes also sit and speak against me, But Your servant meditates on Your statutes.

24  Your testimonies also are my delight And my counselors.

25  My soul clings to the dust; Revive me according to Your word.

26  I have declared my ways, and You answered me; Teach me Your statutes. 27  Make me understand the way of Your precepts; So shall I meditate on Your wondrous works.

28  My soul melts from heaviness; Strengthen me according to Your word. 29  Remove from me the way of lying, And grant me Your law graciously.

30  I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me. 31  I cling to Your testimonies; O Lord, do not put me to shame! 32  I will run the course of Your commandments, For You shall enlarge my heart.

33  Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end. 34  Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

35  Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it. 36  Incline my heart to Your testimonies, And not to covetousness.

37  Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way.

38  Establish Your word to Your servant, Who is devoted to fearing You.

39  Turn away my reproach which I dread, For Your judgments are good.

40  Behold, I long for Your precepts; Revive me in Your righteousness.

41  Let Your mercies come also to me, O Lord– Your salvation according to Your word. 42  So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, For I trust in Your word.

43  And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, For I have hoped in Your ordinances. 44  So shall I keep Your law continually, Forever and ever.

45  And I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts. 46  I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings, And will not be ashamed. 47  And I will delight myself in Your commandments, Which I love. 48  My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, Which I love, And I will meditate on Your statutes.

49  Remember the word to Your servant, Upon which You have caused me to hope.

50  This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.

51  The proud have me in great derision, Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.

52  I remembered Your judgments of old, O Lord, And have comforted myself.

53  Indignation has taken hold of me Because of the wicked, who forsake Your law.

54  Your statutes have been my songs In the house of my pilgrimage.

55  I remember Your name in the night, O Lord, And I keep Your law. 56  This has become mine, Because I kept Your precepts.

57  You are my portion, O Lord; I have said that I would keep Your words.

58  I entreated Your favor with my whole heart; Be merciful to me according to Your word.

59  I thought about my ways, And turned my feet to Your testimonies. 60  I made haste, and did not delay To keep Your commandments.

61  The cords of the wicked have bound me, But I have not forgotten Your law.

62  At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You, Because of Your righteous judgments.

63  I am a companion of all who fear You, And of those who keep Your precepts.

64  The earth, O Lord, is full of Your mercy; Teach me Your statutes.

65  You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your word. 66  Teach me good judgment and knowledge, For I believe Your commandments.

67  Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.

68  You are good, and do good; Teach me Your statutes.

69  The proud have forged a lie against me, But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart. 70  Their heart is as fat as grease, But I delight in Your law.

71  It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.

72  The law of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of coins of gold and silver.

73  Your hands have made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.

74  Those who fear You will be glad when they see me, Because I have hoped in Your word.

75  I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.

76  Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, According to Your word to Your servant. 77  Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; For Your law is my delight.

78  Let the proud be ashamed, For they treated me wrongfully with falsehood; But I will meditate on Your precepts. 79  Let those who fear You turn to me, Those who know Your testimonies.

80  Let my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes, That I may not be ashamed.

81  My soul faints for Your salvation, But I hope in Your word. 82  My eyes fail from searching Your word, Saying, “When will You comfort me?”

83  For I have become like a wineskin in smoke, Yet I do not forget Your statutes.

84  How many are the days of Your servant? When will You execute judgment on those who persecute me?

85  The proud have dug pits for me, Which is not according to Your law. 86  All Your commandments are faithful; They persecute me wrongfully; Help me! 87  They almost made an end of me on earth, But I did not forsake Your precepts.

88  Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.

89  Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. 90  Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides. 91  They continue this day according to Your ordinances, For all are Your servants.

92  Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction.

93  I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have given me life.

94  I am Yours, save me; For I have sought Your precepts.

95  The wicked wait for me to destroy me, But I will consider Your testimonies.

96  I have seen the consummation of all perfection, But Your commandment is exceedingly broad.

97  Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.

98  You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. 99  I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. 100  I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts.

101  I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your word.

102  I have not departed from Your judgments, For You Yourself have taught me.

103  How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104  Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.

105  Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

106  I have sworn and confirmed That I will keep Your righteous judgments.

107  I am afflicted very much; Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word.

108  Accept, I pray, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord, And teach me Your judgments.

109  My life is continually in my hand, Yet I do not forget Your law. 110  The wicked have laid a snare for me, Yet I have not strayed from Your precepts.

111  Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, For they are the rejoicing of my heart. 112  I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes Forever, to the very end.

113  I hate the double-minded, But I love Your law.

114  You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.

115  Depart from me, you evildoers, For I will keep the commandments of my God!

116  Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live; And do not let me be ashamed of my hope. 117  Hold me up, and I shall be safe, And I shall observe Your statutes continually.

118  You reject all those who stray from Your statutes, For their deceit is falsehood. 119  You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross; Therefore I love Your testimonies. 120  My flesh trembles for fear of You, And I am afraid of Your judgments.

121  I have done justice and righteousness; Do not leave me to my oppressors. 122  Be surety for Your servant for good; Do not let the proud oppress me.

123  My eyes fail from seeking Your salvation And Your righteous word.

124  Deal with Your servant according to Your mercy, And teach me Your statutes. 125  I am Your servant; Give me understanding, That I may know Your testimonies.

126  It is time for You to act, O Lord, For they have regarded Your law as void.

127  Therefore I love Your commandments More than gold, yes, than fine gold! 128  Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way.

129  Your testimonies are wonderful; Therefore my soul keeps them.

130  The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.

131  I opened my mouth and panted, For I longed for Your commandments.

132  Look upon me and be merciful to me, As Your custom is toward those who love Your name.

133  Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me.

134  Redeem me from the oppression of man, That I may keep Your precepts.

135  Make Your face shine upon Your servant, And teach me Your statutes.

136  Rivers of water run down from my eyes, Because men do not keep Your law.

137  Righteous are You, O Lord, And upright are Your judgments. 138  Your testimonies, which You have commanded, Are righteous and very faithful.

139  My zeal has consumed me, Because my enemies have forgotten Your words.

140  Your word is very pure; Therefore Your servant loves it.

141  I am small and despised, Yet I do not forget Your precepts.

142  Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth.

143  Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, Yet Your commandments are my delights. 144  The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting; Give me understanding, and I shall live.

145  I cry out with my whole heart; Hear me, O Lord! I will keep Your statutes. 146  I cry out to You; Save me, and I will keep Your testimonies.

147  I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word. 148  My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.

149  Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness; O Lord, revive me according to Your justice.

150  They draw near who follow after wickedness; They are far from Your law. 151  You are near, O Lord, And all Your commandments are truth.

152  Concerning Your testimonies, I have known of old that You have founded them forever.

153  Consider my affliction and deliver me, For I do not forget Your law. 154  Plead my cause and redeem me; Revive me according to Your word.

155  Salvation is far from the wicked, For they do not seek Your statutes.

156  Great are Your tender mercies, O Lord; Revive me according to Your judgments.

157  Many are my persecutors and my enemies, Yet I do not turn from Your testimonies.

158  I see the treacherous, and am disgusted, Because they do not keep Your word.

159  Consider how I love Your precepts; Revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness.

160  The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.

161  Princes persecute me without a cause, But my heart stands in awe of Your word.

162  I rejoice at Your word As one who finds great treasure.

163  I hate and abhor lying, But I love Your law.

164  Seven times a day I praise You, Because of Your righteous judgments.

165  Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble.

166  Lord, I hope for Your salvation, And I do Your commandments.

167  My soul keeps Your testimonies, And I love them exceedingly. 168  I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies, For all my ways are before You.

169  Let my cry come before You, O Lord; Give me understanding according to Your word. 170  Let my supplication come before You; Deliver me according to Your word.

171  My lips shall utter praise, For You teach me Your statutes.

172  My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.

173  Let Your hand become my help, For I have chosen Your precepts. 174  I long for Your salvation, O Lord, And Your law is my delight.

175  Let my soul live, and it shall praise You; And let Your judgments help me.

176  I have gone astray like a lost sheep; Seek Your servant, For I do not forget Your commandments.