Psalm 119
(A to Z)
June 25th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

I wander about like a lost sheep;

so come and look for me, your servant,

because I have not neglected your laws.

- Psalm 119:176 (GNB)

Summary of Chapters

Psalm 119 is the longest of all the Psalms. It is a highly organized Psalm consisting of 176 verses grouped into 22 sections or stanzas of eight lines each. In the original Hebrew, the Psalm appears as an acrostic. In other words, the first letter of each stanza begins with the sequential letter in the alphabet: Aleph, Beth, Gimel, etc.

Each section within the Psalm provides a different type of acknowledgement of God’s laws. In the original Hebrew, and in the English translations, there are many synonyms that the author uses for God’s law, such as commands, decrees, word, statutes, and precepts.

The first section observes that God blesses those who “walk according to the law of the LORD (119:1 - NIV).” The author commits to praise God and learn his righteous laws. In the second stanza the psalmist expresses an even deeper appreciation by exclaiming that “I rejoice in your statutes (119:14 - NIV)” and “I delight in your decrees (119:16-NIV).”

The next three sections ask God to help the author understand and follow the law. For example, he asks God to “open my eyes (119:18-NIV).” And “turn my heart toward your statutes (199:36-NIV).” In the following stanzas the author continues to find ways to describe his appreciation for the law, pledging to speak of God’s statutes “before kings (119:46-NIV),” declaring that “your decrees are the theme for my song (119:56-NIV)” and stating that he “will hasten and not delay to obey your commands (119:60-NIV).” Some of these themes are reinforced in subsequent sections. The psalmist then explains the benefits of the law:

One of the most well-known and illuminating verses from this Psalm appears shortly after this section in verse 119:105: "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.(KJV).”

In the last eight sections the author addresses several themes related to the law. One theme is the way he loves the law but hates “double-minded men (119:113-NIV).” Falsehoods are even more detestable. These he hates AND abhors (119:163-NIV). In these sections the psalmist also emphasizes that the LORD’s laws are right, true, and eternal.

In the final stanzas he also revisits the topic of requesting education in the law and confesses to past and potential future straying:

Reflection and Application

Wow! If we are seeking ways to describe the attributes of God’s laws to someone then we need to look no further than Psalm 119. If we want some instruction on how to love the LORD with all of our heart, mind, and soul, as commanded by Jesus, then we can study Psalm 119. If we immerse ourselves in these verses and look to understand, appreciate, and delight in God’s law then we must be on the right path.

Have we ever delighted in a law? Oftentimes in our society we are looking for the leviathan loopholes in the laws so we can avoid them. But when it comes to God’s laws we may find that, like the experience of the psalmist, the law takes away our affliction and makes us wiser than our opponents. Also, we may be delighted when we realize that the law validates our inner feeling of what is right and what is wrong.

Consider the perspective of two well-respected 20th century men who commented on the importance of enjoying God’s laws. The first is Tom Landry (September 11, 1924 – February 12, 2000), one of the most successful coaches the in the NFL (American professional football league). He was an innovative coach who led his team two two Super Bowls, and was the last man to consistently wear a suit and fedora on the field – a far cry from the casual wear of today’s coaches.

Landry once compared the laws of the LORD to the laws of football. He said the players need to know what is expected of them so they can aim for that and know when they succeed. As for the myriad of rules during the game, Landry said that you couldn’t enjoy the game if everyone played by their own rules. In the same way, God’s laws allow us to aim ourselves in the right direction and provide a code of conduct in which we can all operate (1).

The other opinion comes from CS Lewis, who digs a bit deeper into the feelings of the Psalmist. He probably would not have disagreed with Landry, but says that the Psalmists feelings regarding the law were even stronger than that. Lewis confesses that “(the love of the law) is a feeling which I at first found utterly bewildering.” Lewis then said he eventually gained a better understanding of what the Psalmist meant when he said the law was sweeter then honey (2).

The Psalmist delights in the law because of its perfection. It’s in a divine order created by the Divine being. He delights in a similar way that the architect delights in a building created with perfect form and function or the arborist studying the perfect workings of a deciduous tree that goes through it’s seasonal cycles in a predictable, orderly, and yet beautiful way. Read through this Psalm again and try to relate to these intense connections of the Psalmist to God’s law.

For a deeper contemporary analysis of this topic we recommend one of C.S. Lewis’s excellent books, Reflections on the Psalms. He provides the usual C.S. Lewis exploration and illumination regarding this Psalm and the love of the law in Chapter VI, “Sweeter than Honey.”

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What civil laws are the ones that you most appreciate?
    2. Consider the verses 92-100 and ask yourself how has God’s laws benefited you?
    3. How can we develop a love of his law with the same passion as the psalmist?
    Recommended Prayer
    God, we know that your law is perfect and it's perfect for us. Help us delight in the law like the Psalmist did.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns


    (1) Men's Devotional Bible, New International Version, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI; 1993, p569
    (2) Lewis, C.S., Reflections on the Book of Psalms, p54

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Psalms 120-134 (Songs of Ascent)

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