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Deeper Commentary

Psa 119:1

ALEPH

Ps. 119 was apparently initially written at the time of Saul's persecution of David, although there are some verses which reflect David reusing it in later parts of his life. It mentions David as a young man devoting himself to the word rather than riches (:72)- the riches which might have seemed could have been his if he mentally surrendered to Saul, or if he killed Saul and took the kingdom. He often laments how he is in exile from Yahweh's word (:43,46,54), which would have been on account of his being away from the sanctuary at Gibeah.  He pleads the promise of the word that he would be preserved from Saul's persecution (:41,58), and several times mentions Saul's attempts on his life (:87,95,109,110). The following verses are evidently relevant to this period: 61,63,67,79,84 (= 1 Sam. 27:1),95,98 (= 1 Sam. 18:14,15),110 (cp. the 'snaring' with Michal), 119 (the emphasis is on 'You will destroy the wicked like Saul- one day), 125 (David is often called Saul's servant), 150,154 (= 1 Sam. 24:15), 157,161,165,176. Therefore in the face of such hatred and pain, feeling he must be careful of every step he took, emotionally and physically, David could rejoice: "I will walk at liberty (AVmg. 'at large'): for I seek Your precepts" .

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to Yahweh’s law- We wonder at David's possible arrogance in assuming that he or any man can walk blamelessly. Only the Lord Jesus fits this. And yet this is the phrase used in God's command to Abraham and his seed (Gen. 17:1). It was only possible for Abraham to do so by his faith in imputed righteousness, by grace through faith. But it's questionable as to whether David at this point realized that; he had to learn it through reflection upon the wonder of how God had counted him righteous after the sin with Bathsheba.

Psa 119:2

Blessed are those who keep His statutes, who seek Him with their whole heart-
This is not to be read as David pronouncing himself amongst those who totally kept God's statutes, for he often laments that he doesn't (:5). But he appears to have in view some he knew whom he felt were like this; perhaps Samuel was among them. So many times does David parallel those who seek God with those who keep His word. We will never achieve perfect obedience; but seeking it is paralleled with it. We are progressively coming to know the love of Christ which passes our natural knowledge (Eph. 3:19), to experience the peace of God that passes our natural understanding (Phil. 4:7).  


Psa 119:3

Yes, they do nothing wrong; they walk in His ways-
In spiritual youth and immaturity, it is easy to consider older, faithful believers as perfect. This Psalm was likely edited over a period of time, and we in see :99 some progression from this youthful imagination that David's teachers were perfect.

Psa 119:4

You have commanded Your precepts, that we should fully obey them-
This clearly indicates that at this point, David didn't believe that sin is inevitable. And neither should we, we are not forced to sin by our natures. For the Lord Jesus had our nature but never sinned. We must hang our heads over every sin. And yet we wonder whether the Bathsheba incident made David reassess his position on this; for after that he reflected: "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity. In sin my mother conceived me" (Ps. 51:5).


Psa 119:5

Oh that my ways were steadfast to obey Your statutes!-
If a man prepares his way after God’s principles (2 Chron. 27:6; Prov. 4:26), then God will ‘prepare’ that man’s way too (Ps. 37:23; 119:5), confirming him in the way of escape. When Solomon teaches that God must be allowed to establish or direct our way (Prov. 4:26; 16:29), he is using the same Hebrew words as in Ps. 37:23 and Ps. 119:5, when David says the same. It’s as if he was given God’s truth and yet he never quite made it his very own- he still articulated it in terms of the faith of his fathers. And thus he lost it in the end. 

Psa 119:6

Then I wouldn’t be ashamed when I obey all of Your commandments-
The sense may be that when David felt he had been fully obedient, he thereby saw the rest of his life in stark contrast, and was ashamed that he hadn't obeyed all the commandments at other times. But he still seems to fail to realize that even keeping all the commandments for a period of time was still not the path to salvation. He needed to learn the telling detail in Lk. 17:10 which reflects the grace of Jesus: "When you shall have done (not 'when you do') all these things which are commanded you, (you will) say, We are unprofitable servants". It may be that this is taking us forward to the Kingdom; it is at the judgment that we 'do all' (Eph. 6:13), it is in the Kingdom that we will obey all the commandments (Ps. 119:6). This parable is a glimpse into the appreciation of grace we will have as we enter the Kingdom; once we are fully righteous, we will realize how unprofitable we are of ourselves (notice we may still feel in a sense " unprofitable" then).


Psa 119:7

I will give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments-
David throughout this Psalm sees a difference between knowing / being aware of God's judgments; and learning them / being taught them. He believes that if God teaches him the real meaning of the laws and requirements which David already knew, then this would lead him to "uprightness of heart" and integrity in worship. This desire for integrity in worship ought to be known to every spiritually sensitive soul; for the words of our songs and hymns are often of an altogether higher level than our average spiritual level.


Psa 119:8

I will observe Your statutes; don’t utterly forsake me-
God counted David as having observed His statutes (s.w. 1 Kings 3:14), even though he laments that he doesn't observe them as he wished (:5). His desire to observe them was counted finally as if he had done so. But we wonder whether David is correct in thinking that observing the statutes as it were bought God's 'not forsaking' him.

BET

Psa 119:9

How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your word-
"Keep... pure" is the word for "cleanse" in Ps. 73:13, where David later momentarily considers he may have wasted his effort in doing this in his youth. David was to later realize (after the sin with Bathsheba) that cleansing was a matter of God washing the heart by His Spirit, rather than steel willed obedience to "live according to Your word".


Psa 119:10

With my whole heart I have sought You; don’t let me wander from Your commandments-
David doesn't claim total obedience to God's laws, as he so often laments in this Psalm. But he can say that he has sought God wholeheartedly, his desire was for total obedience; and this should be our pattern. He frequently recognizes that there is a power from God available to keep us obedient to His ways; there would be no point in asking "Don't let me wander..." if steel willed obedience was all God is looking for, and waits to see who has that iron in their soul. He is more proactive than that. And this power to keep us from wandering is what the New Testament calls the Holy Spirit, given freely to all who ask and desire to walk in God's ways. David here uses the same word for how Saul 'wandered' out of the way (s.w. 1 Sam. 26:21), and David seems to have initially written Ps. 119 in his wilderness years; he is asking to be stopped from going the path of Saul (Ps. 119:10,21,118). We see this same request for God to make him obedient to God's word, to act directly upon his heart and psychology, in :10,18.


Psa 119:11

I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You-
The Lord Jesus was the parade example of this, responding to His wilderness temptations as David did to his, by quoting God's word to himself, "in my heart". David often feels that God has hidden him (Ps. 27:5; 31:19,20); and this was God's mutual response to David having His word in his hidden part. Solomon seems to allude to David hiding God's word in his heart (Ps. 119:11) by asking his son to hide his word in his heart (s.w. Prov. 2:1; 7:1). Again Solomon is putting his own words in the place of God's words. Whilst his wisdom was inspired by God, I detect something wrong here. He is effectively playing God, and not directing people to God's word but rather to his own words, true and inspired as they might be. This came to full term in Solomon's attitude that personal loyalty to himself was loyalty to God- even when Solomon was far from God in his ways. And the same trap is fallen into by those who hold parts of 'God's truth'; they can come to thereby play God and demand personal loyalty to themselves rather than to God.      


Psa 119:12

Blessed are You, Yahweh; teach me Your statutes-
From his youth, David had asked to be taught God's way (Ps. 119:7,12,26,64,66,68,73,108,124,135), and at the end of his life David recognized that indeed God had "taught me from my youth" (s.w. Ps. 71:17). In secular life, teaching is something experienced in youth, and then life is spent practicing what was learned. But in spiritual life, David perceived that the God who had taught him from his youth was continuing to teach him (Ps. 71:17). This is part of the "newness of life" experienced in Christ, the ever fresh spring water that we drink.


Psa 119:13

With my lips I have declared all the ordinances of Your mouth-
One danger of Bible study, especially in the age of screens being looked at in private, is that we are left with a mass of wonderful truths and ideas; but they remain within us. As God's mouth had declared His word, so David's lips and mouth would publically declare them.

Psa 119:14

I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches-
David doesn't claim total obedience to God's laws, as he so often laments in this Psalm. But he can say that he loves God's word and His ways. His desire was for total obedience; and this should be our pattern. Often in Ps. 119 he contrasts his love of God's word with the love of wealth. The desire for wealth is a typical issue faced by young men. And David sets a commendable example in this.  


Psa 119:15

I will meditate on Your precepts, and consider Your ways-
Mere possession of Divine truth will not of itself save anyone; there must be meditation upon those truths, which in turn leads to meditation upon His overall ways, which leads to reflection upon our ways. "Meditate" and "consider" are here in parallel. God's precepts are a "way" of being and not to be considered as isolated, ritualistic demands upon man. For the individual commandments are not mere tests of obedience, but aids towards a way of life.


Psa 119:16

I will delight myself in Your statutes, I will not forget Your word-
The command to "not forget [the] word" was given in Dt. 4:9 (s.w.). Israel were to never forget that they were in covenant relationship with Yahweh, and the gift of His word to them was so wonderful they were never to forget it. Our awareness of the wonder of having God's word will elicit our delight in it. A John Carter rightly pointed out, our attitude to God's word determines our obedience to it. This is where attitudes to inspiration are so important in practical living.

GIMEL
Psa 119:17

Do good to Your servant; I will live to obey Your word-
The 'doing good' is parallel with 'living'. We can interpret this as meaning that David asks God to preserve his life, because he promises to use that preserved life to obey God's word. Perhaps the word in view was specifically the word of promise that David was to become king and govern according to God's will.


Psa 119:18

Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of Your law-
The allusion may be to the Angel opening Hagar's eyes to see a well of water (cp. the word) in the desert (Gen. 21:19). See on 119:135. We see this same request for God to make him understand and be obedient to God's word, to act directly upon his heart and psychology, in :10,18,27,29,34-37. LXX "Unveil thou mine eyes" suggests David felt as Moses, who spoke to Israel from behind a veil, but unveiled himself in the presence of God in the tabernacle "outside the camp". David felt his seeing wonderful things in the law were those moments of personal, unveiled encounter with God which Moses experienced. We see this same request for God to make him understand His word, to act directly upon his heart and psychology, in :10. Recall how the Lord Jesus opens hearts to His word (Lk. 24:31,32,45; Acts 16:14). Therefore pray briefly before you read the Bible, as you would for daily food, thanking God for the power and grace of His word, and asking for your eyes to be opened to the real meaning, and that you will have God's gracious help to apply it in everyday life.

We should also consider that 'opening eyes' is used as an idiom for being granted a revelation of God's word in a prophetic sense (Num. 24:4,16). David was indeed a prophet (Acts 2:30). The "wondrous things" (s.w. "hidden things", Dt. 30:11) of the torah were ultimately the things of the Lord Jesus, which David indeed perceived (Acts 2:30). But they may also refer to God's miraculous acts which David vowed to share with others now his eyes were opened to them (Ps. 9:1; 26:7; 78:4; 119:27). This verse is parallel with Ps. 119:27, where the same term for "wondrous things" is used. David there asks to be made to understand them; this is the opening of his eyes here spoken of.


Psa 119:19

I am a stranger on the earth, don’t hide Your commandments from me-
On the run from Saul, David felt like a Gentile in the land. But thereby he became a true seed of Abraham, who was likewise a stranger in the earth / land of promise. David had the commandments; he wanted them to be opened to him, and not hidden. We see here the way that God can both open and close minds to His word.


Psa 119:20

My soul is consumed with longing for Your ordinances at all times-
Devotion to God's word can so easily be something we only temporarily manifest. But David longed for God's words "at all times". This 'longing for the ordinances' requires us to read in an ellipsis- David longed [to be obedient to and understand] the ordinances. Perhaps he refers to his desire whilst in the wilderness to be able to come before the sanctuary (from which he was exiled by Saul's persecution); this is a common theme of his wilderness Psalms (e.g. Ps. 42:2 cp. Dt. 31:11; Is. 1:12).


Psa 119:21

You have rebuked the proud who are cursed, who wander from Your commandments-
David here uses the same word for how Saul 'wandered' out of the way (s.w. 1 Sam. 26:21), and David seems to have initially written Ps. 119 in his wilderness years. The proud therefore refers to Saul; Saul's curse was that he would not be king any more, but would be replaced by David. The "rebuke" was that Saul would be replaced as king by David.


Psa 119:22

Take reproach and contempt away from me-
David was always deeply hurt by words; the reproach and contempt from Saul hurt him so deeply, especially as it implied that he was disobedient to God's statutes.

For I have kept Your statutes-
Ps. 119 reflects David's awareness that he didn't keep God's law as he should. The first four verses speak of the blessedness of the man who is obedient. But he laments: "O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then will I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments" (Ps. 119:5,6). He seems to be saying that when he feels he is obedient, it makes him feel ashamed because he realizes how far short he has come of obedience at other times and in other ways. He concludes this matchless psalm of praise for God's word with a seeming paradox: "I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget they commandments" :176). Yet often throughout the Psalm he remarks how he has kept God's law, and will thereby be justified (e.g. :22). He expresses no doubt about salvation. The resolution of all this seems to be that we can know that we are obedient to the basic way of life inculcated by covenant relationship with God, and be comforted by this fact; whilst at the same time realizing how very far we come short of total obedience, and therefore how far we fall short of the spiritual blessedness which is attainable for us even now. Yet despite an agony as to his failures, David still had a remarkably open and enthusiastic relationship with God.

Psa 119:23

Though princes sit and slander me, Your servant will meditate on Your statutes-
LXX "For princes sat and spoke against me: but thy servant was meditating on thine ordinances". This implies that Saul and his sons, the princes (apart from Jonathan), sat and slandered David in his presence. But in the face of slander he meditated upon God's words. This is a great example to all who are slandered.


Psa 119:24

Indeed Your statutes are my delight and my counsellors-
David was in a very difficult situation whilst living at Saul's court. Everybody likely advised him differently, all doubtless dogmatic that their advice must be followed. And he as a young man, a shepherd boy, could easily have been caught in an endless complex of indecision. Instead he delighted in God's words and found that word to come alive; those verses of print on paper became as it were his counsellors. 

DALED
Psa 119:25

My soul is laid low in the dust; revive me according to Your word!-
David felt at times that he would surely perish ["in the dust"] at Saul's hand (1 Sam. 27:1). But he was revived from that depression by his faith in God's prophetic word that he would indeed one day be king and Saul's persecution would pass.


Psa 119:26

I declared my ways, and You answered me. Teach me Your statutes-
This declaration of his ways was perhaps an opening up of his life to God. Although God knows all things, we are to tell Him of our life experiences and feelings. And God responded; He opened up His statutes to David, full of personal meaning and relevance to David.


Psa 119:27

Let me understand the teaching of Your precepts! Then I will talk of Your wondrous works-
This verse is parallel with Ps. 119:18, where the same term for "wondrous things" is used. David there asks to have his eyes opened to these things; here, to be made to understand them. Again we see his belief that God can act directly upon human hearts to make us understand.

David in the Psalms often makes the link between appreciation of God’s ways and the inevitable witness this will result in. This contrasts with our tendency to amassing of pure, intellectual truth- but without very much telling of it forth to others. “He that is wise [i.e., has true wisdom] winneth souls” (Prov. 11:30 RV).


Psa 119:28

My soul is weary with sorrow: strengthen me according to Your word-
The particular "word" in view was not simply 'the Bible' as David then had it, but the specific word of promise that Saul's persecution would one day end, and he would become king. His weariness is perhaps at the time of 1 Sam. 27:1, where he felt he would perish at Saul's hand.


Psa 119:29

Keep me from the way of deceit. Grant me Your law graciously!-
AV "Remove from me", again suggesting as noted on :18 that God can keep us from temptation, acting directly on the human mind. This is the whole purpose of praying "Lead us not into temptation". The answer to this request to be kept from a deceitful way of life was to be through being given God's law. Yet David had God's law in the sense that he knew the various commandments. We may have to therefore read in an ellipsis: "Grant me [to keep / have in my heart] Your law". See on :30.

Psa 119:30

I have chosen the way of truth, I have set Your ordinances before me-
In :29 David has asked to have the way of deceit removed from him; but he himself had chosen the way of truth. His request in :29 is therefore that he should be spiritually and psychologically confirmed by God in his choice; and he had set God's laws before him so that God could work through that; see on Ps. 25:12.


Psa 119:31

I cling to Your statutes, Yahweh-
Referring to the plea to cling or cleave to God so that Israel might enter and inherit the Kingdom (Dt. 30:20). To cling to God is to cling to His words; for God is His word, "the word was God", and our attitudes to His word are our attitudes to Him.

Don’t let me be disappointed-
Typical of men of his time, David seems to fear shame [s.w. "disappointed"] more than death itself. Defeat meant shame, and he desperately begged not to be shamed. Perhaps it was the function of his failure with Bathsheba to help him redefine the motives for his trust in God.


Psa 119:32

I run in the path of Your commandments, for You have set my heart free-
This is a great theme of this Psalm; that obedience to God is not a life of being shut up in a boring and constricted path of being, but rather is the way of ultimate psychological freedom. And it is this which many seek for, and yet look for it in all the wrong places.

HEY
Psa 119:33

Teach me, Yahweh, the way of Your statutes; I will keep them to the end-
David often suggests that understanding God's laws is what empowers keeping them. He didn't see them as a set of ritual commands to be obeyed for the sake of it, to as it were prove ourselves to God. Rather does he perceive them as a way of life, and he asks God to teach them to him. He knew the various regulations of the Mosaic law; but to keep them as a way of life he needed to have them explained to him. And he asks God to directly visit his heart and open his eyes to their true meaning. Mere possession of those laws was not enough without further guidance.


Psa 119:34

Give me understanding, and I will keep Your law; yes, I will obey it with my whole heart-
As noted on :18, David repeatedly asks for psychological strength in order to be obedient to God's law. This is the Old Testament equivalent of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. See on :33.

Moses persevered because he understood. “Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law” (Ps. 119:34) is one of many links in David’s thought between understanding and obedience. " For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter" (Mk. 7:29) shows the value which the Lord placed on correct understanding. The Gentile woman had seen the feeding of the 5,000 and understood the implications of the lesson which the Lord was teaching. We get the feeling that the Lord was overjoyed at her perception and therefore made an exception to His rule of not being sent at that time to the Gentiles, but to the house of Israel. 

It is  significant  that  Solomon's  spiritual  life  has  more appearance  of  spirituality  the  closer we get back to David's death.  David had asked for wisdom (Ps. 119:34), and even Solomon’s request for wisdom can be seen as rooted in a desire to live out parental expectation more than purely from his own volition. For David had told him: “Thou art a wise man” (1 Kings 2:9), and Solomon wanted to live up to that expectation. In  other words, David's influence was extremely strong, but  it  decreased over the years. 


Psa 119:35

Direct me in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in them-
David inclined his own heart to be obedient to the word (:112), but God inclined his heart that way in response (:36). David’s meditation on the law gave him understanding (:99), but he was given understanding by God (:34). He kept his feet in the way of God’s word (:101), but God made him walk in that path (:35). As noted on Ps. 25:4,5 the desire for guidance or being 'directed' suggests that there is a higher power available, beyond a man engaging alone with God's word and seeking to obey it in his own strength. The idea is beyond that of guidance; the same word is translated "make me to go in the path of Your commandments" (Ps. 119:35 AV). It is the word used for a bow being bent; the idea is of God's hand directly and forcefully acting upon a willing human mind. See on :18.

Psa 119:36

Turn my heart toward Your statutes, not toward selfish gain-
"Turn my heart" continues the strong theme in this Psalm of God acting directly upon the human heart to make us inclined towards obedience to Him; see on :18. This feature of the Divine-human interaction would partly explain how the Lord Jesus had complete human nature, and yet achieved moral perfection. God's hand was in that, but that same powerfully helping hand can be in the lives and hearts of all believers. "Turn my heart" is the word for "incline", used by David of how he himself inclined his heart to God's word (Ps. 119:51,112,157). But David prayed that God would incline his heart towards His word (Ps. 119:36) and away from sin (Ps. 141:4). This is how the Holy Spirit works to this day- we are confirmed in the psychological attitudes we ourselves choose to have. The word is used of God's mighty "stretched out" arm and "strong hand" in human affairs (Ps. 136:12 and often in Isaiah). This powerful hand of God is at work in human hearts, confirming us in the psychological way in which we ourselves wish to go. In this sense God turns or inclines the heart where He wishes (Prov. 21:1). Solomon in the Proverbs places all the emphasis upon a person themselves in their own strength inclining their heart toward his teaching (Prov. 2:2; 4:5,20; 5:1). He fails to appreciate what David his father did; that God's word is His word and not that of the human channel through which it comes. And he totally puts the emphasis upon human strength of will, self inclination towards God's word, rather than perceiving as David did that without God's psychological help in this, we shall ultimately fail. As Solomon himself did.


Psa 119:37

Turn my eyes away from looking at worthless things-
"Worthless things" is the term for idols, and it seems idolatry was a major problem to Saul and the Israel of David's time. In the wilderness context, it was because David's heart was 'turned away' from sin, that God 'turned away' the kingdom from Saul to David (s.w. 2 Sam. 3:10).

Revive me in Your ways-
This idea of living in God's ways was a promised blessing for remaining in the covenant (Dt. 5:33; 30:16). Solomon uses the phrase for living in the way of understanding (Prov. 9:6), but the difference with his father David was that David asks to be "revived" or made to live in those ways; whereas Solomon exhorts people to attempt to do this in their own strength and steel willpower. And this ultimately fails, as it did with Solomon.

Psa 119:38

Fulfill Your promise to Your servant, that You may be feared-
The specific promise in view was that he would become king and Saul's persecution would come to an end.


Psa 119:39

Take away my disgrace that I dread, for Your ordinances are good-
GNB is better: "Save me from the insults I fear; how wonderful are your judgments!". The fear of shame was strong in David, coming from a shame based society, but it is in all of us. The concern for what others think of us is balanced here against a simple awe and wonder at God's expressed word. This is the antidote.


Psa 119:40

Behold, I long for Your precepts!-
We may need to read in an ellipsis- David longed [to be able to keep] God's precepts. This may have been a reference to his pining to be at the sanctuary, from which he was exiled whilst on the run from Saul, and keep the feasts.

Revive me in Your righteousness-
Living new life in righteousness is the language used of the revival of repentance (Ez. 18:21,22,27; 33:16). Perhaps David is aware at this point of his sins, and asks for spiritual revival. This gift of spiritual life is the gift of the Holy Spirit offered in the New Testament, the difference being that the life breathed in is the life of the Lord Jesus, now glorified and able to do this to all in Him.


WAW
Psa 119:41

Let Your grace also come to me, Yahweh-
He wanted to have the spiritual experience of God's grace which he had seen experienced by others, e.g. Samuel.

Your salvation, according to Your word-
The prophetic word that he would be king and therefore be saved from death at Saul's hand.

Psa 119:42

so I will have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Your word-
The specific individual was surely Saul. David trusted in the prophetic word that he would be king. The Psalms repeatedly use the word "reproach" about Saul's campaign against David (Ps. 44:16; 57:3; 74:10; 102:8)- it must've included much slander which is unrecorded in the historical record, but which clearly was extremely hurtful to David. The reproach was as "a sword in the bones" to David (Ps. 42:10). The word of promise to us likewise includes the word of the Kingdom- and this is the answer to slander and "reproach" which alone can comfort us.


Psa 119:43

Don’t take the word of truth out of my mouth, for I put my hope in Your ordinances-
To have a word or covenant in the mouth can mean being within the covenant pronounced in that word. David here is fearful that the "word of truth", the promises to him of kingship and salvation, could be removed. The phrase is specifically used of the promises made to David in 2 Sam. 7:28. By :160, David is confident that the word of truth is indeed "of truth".  


Psa 119:44

so I will obey Your law continually, forever and ever-
This could be David's vision of the Kingdom- eternally being obedient to God's law. It's possible to interpret the strange Mosaic phrase "he who keeps the law shall even live in it" in the same way- that the life eternal will be all about obedience to God's law.


Psa 119:45

I will walk in liberty, for I have sought Your precepts-
This is a great theme of this Psalm (:32,96); that obedience to God is not a life of being shut up in a boring and constricted path of being, but rather is the way of ultimate psychological freedom. And it is this which many seek for, and yet look for it in all the wrong places.

Psa 119:46

I will also speak of Your statutes before kings, and will not be disappointed-
Saul and Achish "king of Gath", both of whom David was "before" (1 Sam. 21:13). He was unashamed [not "disappointed"] of God's ways, even when it would have been politically expedient to keep his mouth shut.


Psa 119:47

I will delight myself in Your commandments, because I love them-
David's love of and "delight" in God's word is a theme of his (Ps. 119:48,16,70). Our attitude to God's word determines our obedience to it; if we love God's ways, then obedience comes naturally and from the heart. If we view His ways as a set of onerous, legalistic commandments- then obedience will be so much harder. And this is seen in the poor moral life of legalists.


Psa 119:48

I reach out my hands for Your commandments which I love; I will meditate on Your statutes-
As noted on :47, David didn't see God's commandments as onerous sets of legal points to be obeyed. Rather was he eager to know what God wanted, stretching out his hands for them, because he quite simply loved God and His words.

ZAYIN
Psa 119:49

Remember Your word to Your servant, because You give me hope-
The idea is 'Fulfill the prophetic word that David would become King'. This was all David had to hope for and cling on to during the years of persecution by Saul.


Psa 119:50

This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has revived me-
As noted on :49, the word in view is the Divine word through Samuel that David was to be king and Saul's persecution would one day end. It seems David fainted at times, but then revived as he remembered that word.


Psa 119:51

The arrogant mock me excessively, but I don’t swerve from Your law-
"The arrogant" referred to Saul, primarily (see :69,78). And yet Saul began humble. Power so often changes men into proud people. The link between power and pride, and God's desire that we should be humble, explains why we are often not given the power which we wish for in various ways. Saul was once "little in [his] own eyes".


Psa 119:52

I remember Your ordinances of old, Yahweh, and have comforted myself-
David took comfort from the actions and justice of God as displayed in Bible history, even though it seemed God had not yet acted in that way to him. "Of old" may mean that the ordinances had been given long ago; or that David from his youth, "of old" in his personal life, had always been devoted to the same words which now gave him comforted him.

In :82, the future fulfilment of the word of promise was his "comfort"; and yet here he comforts himself at the same time, at the thought of God's previous fulfillments of His promised word, even though the word had not come true for him personally yet. It's like Joseph's confidence expressed to the other prisoners that Divine dreams come true; when his own dream of glory over his brothers seemed so far from fulfilment.  


Psa 119:53

Indignation has taken hold on me because of the wicked who forsake Your law-
The reference is again to Saul, who had once kept God's law but then forsook it. Solomon condemns those who "forsake the law" (Prov. 4:2; 28:4), and he likely has Saul also in view. But he speaks in Prov. 4:2 of those who forsook his law; as if he was playing God, considering any inattention to himself as inattention to God. David by contrast continually emphasizes the need not to forsake God's law. 


Psa 119:54

Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage-
Presumably a reference to David's habit of setting God's statutes to music in the time of his exile. There is an intended juxtaposition of ideas between the words "house" and "pilgrimage". Although he was constantly on the move, his loyalty to God's ways gave him a sense of permanence and stability even in that period.


Psa 119:55

I have remembered Your name, Yahweh, in the night, and I obey Your law-
We get the impression that David obeyed God's law "in the night" because he was aware of God's Name. I can only think of one specific commandment which required immediate obedience "in the night". It's in Dt. 23:10 "If there is among you any man who is not clean by reason of that which happens to him by night, he must go outside the camp". The idea could appear to be that if a man needed to defecate, then he was to do so outside of the camp of soldiers. Having latrines outside the camp would have ensured hygiene within the "camp". But it seems that defecating is what is in view in Dt. 23:12. Therefore this specifically night time reason for uncleanness must refer to an involuntary emission of semen. Hence the reference to what "happens to him at night". Nobody apart from the soldier knew what had happened. Many of the Mosaic commands invited obedience from men on a very personal and intimate level; for nobody else apart from the soldier would have known whether or not this had happened. This was all designed to inculcate very personal obedience to and relationship with God. See on Ps. 119:56. To have soldiers needing to remain ritually unclean outside the main camp of soldiers was not perhaps seen as the most effective use of soldiers in a conflict situation, where every man was required. But they were taught thereby that victory was not going to come in their own strength, but through obedience to God's ways. We likewise are tempted to think that careful obedience to God's commands will hinder our material progress in life. But the opposite is in fact true, and this commandment taught that.  


Psa 119:56

This is my life’s way, keeping Your precepts-
As explained in :55, many of the Mosaic commands invited obedience from men on a very personal and intimate level; for nobody else apart from the soldier would have known whether or not this had happened. This was all designed to inculcate very personal obedience to and relationship with God. 

CHET
Psa 119:57

Yahweh is my portion; I promised to obey Your words-
The "portion" which David looked forward to in his time in the wilderness was the inheritance of the kingship from Saul; and he promised to have God's words obeyed under his rulership.


Psa 119:58

I sought Your favour with my whole heart; be merciful to me according to Your word-
David spoke of seeking and praising God's grace with his "whole heart" (Ps. 9:1; 119:58; 138:1). Solomon uses the phrase, but speaks of being obedient with the "whole heart" (1 Kings 8:23; 2 Chron. 6:14) and applying the "whole heart" to the intellectual search for God (Ecc. 1:13; 8:9). There is a difference. The idea of whole hearted devotion to God was picked up by Solomon, but instead of giving the whole heart to the praise of God's grace, he instead advocated giving the whole heart to ritualistic obedience and intellectual search for God. This has been the trap fallen into by many Protestant groups whose obsession with "truth" has obscured the wonder of God's grace.


Psa 119:59

I considered my ways and turned my steps to Your statutes-
Implying David fell into some sin during the wilderness years? There are many hints throughout Ps. 119 that he had ample experience of sin and repentance at this time- e.g. :67, and the conclusion to the whole Psalm. David considered his ways and turned his steps / ways towards obedience (Ps. 119:59); Solomon takes this further, using the same phrase, but saying that God directs the ways / steps of the man who considers his ways (s.w. Prov. 16:9). We have here an example of how the Spirit confirms a Godly person in the way they consciously wish to go.

Psa 119:60

I will hurry, and not delay, to obey Your commandments-
It shouldn’t just be the nearness of the Lord’s return that makes us urgent. Our decisions to give over each part of our lives, radically, to Jesus should be made not just because life is short and the Lord is at the door; but also because it might otherwise be too late to undo the damage a self-engrossed life has already caused, to the self and to others. Rebekah responded immediately to the call to go marry Isaac, in a story which is clearly to be read as an acted parable of the search for a bride for Jesus. Her ‘quick’ response is one of her characteristics (Gen. 24:18,20,26,46,64). Abraham likewise “rose up early” after his night time vision, requiring him to offer his son to God (Gen. 22:1,3). Joshua “therefore” started to attack the confederacy of local kings, in the middle of the night, immediately after God had assured him of victory (Josh. 10:9). David could write: “I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments” (Ps. 119:60 AV). We cannot be passive on receiving the opportunity to serve God. We will urgently seek to do something with what we have been enabled to do for the Lord: “The servant who got five bags went quickly to invest the money and earned five more bags” (Mt. 25:16 NCV).

David repeatedly asks God to "hurry to help me" (Ps. 22:19; 38:22; 40:13; 70:1,5; 141:1). But David had hurried (s.w.) to be obedient to God, always wanting to 'say yes straight away' (Ps. 119:60). Our response to God's voice is therefore related to His response to our voice; if His words abide in us, then we experience positive experience in answered prayer (Jn. 15:7).


Psa 119:61

The ropes of the wicked bind me, but I won’t forget Your law-
A reference to unrecorded robbery whilst in the wilderness? Or an allusion to his treatment at the hands of Nabal? We wonder if he has Samson in mind, who was bound by ropes, and arose at midnight to carry away the gates of his enemies (:62). Even in the heat of crisis, David was not unaware of God's word. It was no academic study for him, in evenings when all has gone well in the day.


Psa 119:62

At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You because of Your righteous ordinances-
See on :61. David at this time in the wilderness had not seen God's justice ['righteousness'] done in his case, but he thanked God that God had done justice in history. This is a parade example for those who lament the apparent injustice or inconsistency of God in observed life at their time.


Psa 119:63

I am a friend of all those who fear You, of those who observe Your precepts-
This and other references in Ps. 119 (e.g. :74,79) to David's keen sense of fellowship with other sincere believers reflects his feelings towards Samuel, and perhaps some of the others who came and lived with him in the wilderness.


Psa 119:64

The earth is full of Your grace, Yahweh; teach me Your commands-
David was likely illiterate at this time and his knowledge of God's law would've been taught by Samuel and faithful priests. Without them, he was driven to ask God to directly teach him. Whilst on the run from Saul, it would have seemed all was against him. But he looked around at the natural creation, and saw God's grace encoded into all creation, seeing the cup half full rather than half empty.


TET
Psa 119:65

Do good to Your servant according to Your word, Yahweh-
This can be read as a request for God to fulfil His word of promise to David, that he would become king and Saul's persecution would end. But AV has David praising God for having "dealt well" with him. But this was only in a spiritual sense, for David in the wilderness was apparently not given immediate justice by God and had a very difficult life.


Psa 119:66

Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in Your commandments-
Believing God's word and being taught by God are two different, if related things. We can "believe the Bible is true", but to be open to being taught from it can be quite another thing.


Psa 119:67

Before I was afflicted, I went astray; but now I observe Your word-
See on :59. David implies he had sinned before the wilderness years. He refers to his "sins of youth" elsewhere. He was not, therefore, just an innocent teenager looking after the sheep and composing Psalms in some ethereal teenage spiritual bliss. Yet being "afflicted" was what went on through David's life (s.w. 1 Kings 2:26; Ps. 132:1).


Psa 119:68

You are good, and do good; teach me Your statutes-
It was Moses who 'taught [God's] statutes' to Israel (s.w. Dt. 4:1,5,14; 5:31). David in the wilderness felt such a personal relationship with God that he felt God personally teaching him, without the intermediary of any teacher like Moses. And this kind of intimacy is still possible with God.

Psa 119:69

The proud have smeared a lie upon me, but with my whole heart I will keep Your precepts-
"
The proud" refer to Saul and his men; see on :51. David presents the antidote to experiencing slander as focusing our whole heart upon God's ways. So often slander elicits a desire to respond or endlessly mull over the experience in our hearts. But instead, whole hearted devotion to God's precepts is needed.

Psa 119:70

Their heart is callous and fat, but I delight in Your law-
Slandering others means having a callous heart, "as fat as grease" (AV), very soon to destroy itself.

Psa 119:71

It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes-
David was driven to love God's word by the wilderness persecution- and Ps. 119 is his celebration of that.


Psa 119:72

The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of pieces of gold and silver-
David felt that the wonder of having God's word meant that the presence or absence of physical blessings  in his life was irrelevant (Ps. 119: 72,111). So often in Ps. 119, love of God's word is balanced against the love of wealth. Perhaps David thought that a more politically astute life in Saul's court might have made him wealthy, or perhaps he was offered wealth n return for unethical support of Saul. But he was faithful to the word of promise, that he and not Saul was to be king. And this apparently meant the sacrifice of apparent wealth.


YUD
Psa 119:73

Your hands have made me and formed me; give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments-
That God has created us means we want to know Him more and form a relationship with Him. Our search for the invisible Father is what drives us to His word. Our attitudes to God's word are related to our attitudes to His creative power. For the Biblical record is of creation by God's word. If we accept that, then we will find an intuitive interest in living by that word as it forms us into a new creation.


Psa 119:74

Those who fear You will see me and be glad, because I have put my hope in Your word-
See on :63. The "word" is the word of promise that David would be king. All those who feared Yahweh rejoiced in that hope. It seems Samuel's word about David's future kingship was well known in Israel.


Psa 119:75

Yahweh, I know that Your judgments are righteous, that in faithfulness You have afflicted me-
David seems to have felt there were aspects of disobedience in his life before God, and he had been rightly afflicted because of them. His great expressions of love for God's word therefore don't imply that he was perfectly obedient to it. But this is how spiritual life is- loving God's ways, despite still failing.


Psa 119:76

Please let Your grace be for my comfort, according to Your word to Your servant-
The "word" in view is the promise of becoming king after Saul. But David sees this as being by grace alone. God chose him because he was "after God's own heart"; but that didn't mean David was perfect. The choice was still by grace and not according to personal righteousness. 


Psa 119:77

Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; for Your law is my delight-
David's survival of Saul's persecution, not dying but living, was a result of God's prophetic word through Samuel. But that word was grace (:76), "tender mercies".


Psa 119:78

Let the proud be disappointed, for they have overthrown me wrongfully; but I will meditate on Your precepts-
The proud could refer to Saul; see on :51. But being "overthrown" suggests this has been reapplied to the time of Absalom's rebellion. Despite the huge emotional pain of all the betrayal, David's heart was still on God's word and ways.


Psa 119:79

Let those who fear You turn to me; they will know Your statutes-
See on :63. If the time of Absalom's rebellion is in view (see on :78), then this would refer to men turning away from the new government and back to David. But it would also apply to those who turned to support David at Saul's time. And David vows that when he comes to power [again, in the Absalom context], he will insist on teaching God's ways.

Psa 119:80

Let my heart be blameless toward Your decrees, that I may not be ashamed-
Typical of men of his time, David seems to fear shame [s.w. "disappointed"] more than death itself. Defeat meant shame, and he desperately begged not to be shamed. Perhaps it was the function of his failure with Bathsheba to help him redefine the motives for his trust in God.


KAF
Psa 119:81

My soul faints for Your salvation; I hope in Your word-
The "word" in view is the promise of becoming king after Saul. And this implied salvation from Saul's persecution, and David longed for that time to come.

Psa 119:82

My eyes fail for Your word; I say, When will You comfort me?-
The fulfilment of the word of promise that he would become king seemed so far off. David as it were loses sight of it. He feels at times that his "comfort" would only be when that word was fulfilled; and yet he comforts himself at the same time, at the thought of God's previous fulfillments of His promised word (:52).  


Psa 119:83

For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, but I don’t forget Your statutes-
This may refer to a custom of mellowing wine by putting it in the smoke, implying the affliction was necessary to mature David spiritually. But more likely the idea is that David feels like a shrivelled old wineskin; but regardless of that and his feelings, David continued to be focused upon God's ways.


Psa 119:84

How many are the days of Your servant? When will You execute Your word on those who persecute me?-
Whilst on the run from Saul, David felt that he was surely going to die at his hands (1 Sam. 27:1). His faith in the prophetic word that he would be preserved and become king after Saul's demise was pushed to its uttermost. He felt death was but days away, and God must as it were hurry up and fulfil His word of promise or else David would die.


Psa 119:85

The proud have dug pits for me, contrary to Your law-
We note how David correctly and continually analyzes the lead characteristic of his enemies, be they Saul or Absalom, as "pride". David felt pits were dug for him by Saul particularly (s.w. Ps. 57:1,6). We might have said "jealousy", but David saw to the essence- the problem was pride, as it is always to this day. Quite how did they seek to entrap him with pits? The word is used of the trap of women (s.w. Prov. 22:14; 23:27). Perhaps this was how Saul used his own daughters to entrap David. LXX "Transgressors told me idle tales". 

Psa 119:86

All of Your commandments are faithful. They persecute me wrongfully. Help me!-
"Help me" is s.w. in Ps. 30:10, a Bathsheba Psalm: "Hear, Yahweh, and have mercy on me. Yahweh, be my helper". Earlier David had sought Yahweh's help on the basis that he had been obedient to God's word (Ps. 119:173 s.w.), and was innocent (Ps. 119:86 s.w.). But the sin with Bathsheba led David to beg for God to be his helper purely on the basis of grace (Ps. 30:10 s.w.). He had asked for God's words to be his "helper" (Ps. 119:175), but now he quits his academic study and begs directly for God Himself to be his "helper". And yet we note his complaint that he was suffering "wrongfully". Despite Nathan's clear explanation to him about the consequences of his sin, David seems to have constantly complained about the consequences; even though he had been spared death. And I have often noted this about David throughout the Psalms dating from Absalom's rebellion, where David feels he is suffering wrongfully.


Psa 119:87

They had almost wiped me from the earth, but I didn’t forsake Your precepts-
This sounds like David being convinced he was at the very point of being slain by Saul (1 Sam. 27;1), despite God's word to him about being saved from Saul and made king. He may also refer to the geographical extent of the earth / land, from which he felt he had been made to flee in fear of Saul. But even at the point of extinction of hope, David says he remained obedient to God's laws.


Psa 119:88

Preserve my life according to Your grace, so I will obey the statutes of Your mouth-
The preservation of David's life from Saul had been promised in the prophetic word to him about him becoming king. But David recognized that his having been chosen as king was by grace, not because he was more righteous than others. And he vows that if his life is preserved from Saul and he became king, then he would rule in obedience to God's laws. Note how David perceived those laws as having come direct from God's very mouth. The law of Moses was to him a living dialogue with God.

LAMED
Psa 119:89

Yahweh, Your word is settled in heaven forever-
David struggles throughout the Psalm to believe that the prophetic word about him becoming king and Saul's demise would ever come true. But he reassures himself that God's word of purpose is "settled", from the Divine side; even if it appeared so unstable in fulfilment on earth. But David believed that what was settled in heaven would ultimately come true on earth.

Psa 119:90

Your faithfulness is to all generations. You have by a word established the earth, and it remains-
This leads David to reflect that the word to him promising to establish his kingdom would just as easily come true. Creation was by a word, God spoke and it was done. And David perceives God's word to him, whether in the form of Mosaic commandments or the word of promise that he was ultimately to survive Saul's persecution and become king of Israel.


Psa 119:91

Your laws remain to this day, for all things serve You-
As noted on :90, the word through which God created the earth was the same word as the laws and principles applicable to David. And David took comfort that "all things" in creation were subservient to God's word, and likewise His prophetic word about David would likewise without doubt come true and go likewise into operation.


Psa 119:92

Unless Your law had been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction-
AV "I should then have perished". The "then" is in the Hebrew, and perhaps refers to the point of crisis in :87. Perhaps it was some act of ritual obedience to the law ["torah" is the word here used] which inadvertently saved David from death. Or perhaps he means that God rewarded his obedience by delivering him; but this is at variance with his expressions of faith in God's grace, and his belief that his deliverance from his afflictions was because of God's word of promise to him about becoming king, rather than because of his own righteousness. Or perhaps he here is simply slipping back away from grace, and self-righteously assuming that in fact his preservation had been because of his own obedience to the law.

Psa 119:93

I will never forget Your precepts, for with them You have revived me-
Just as God's word had given life and birth to creation and continues to keep it in life (:90-92), so David felt God's word and ways gave him life. Three times David makes the connection between God's precepts and his inner "revival" (Ps. 119:40,93,159). God's word is a living word in that it is creative and gives life. 


Psa 119:94

I am Yours. Save me, for I have sought Your precepts-
David asks for salvation not because he has been totally obedient to God's precepts; but because he "sought" such obedience, he loved God's ways and so wished to be obedient, and identified himself as God's.


Psa 119:95

The wicked have waited for me to destroy me; I will consider Your statutes-
Living in a situation where enemies set ambushes and traps of various kinds, it would seem to the secular person that absolutely all our attention must be given to avoiding them. But David's mental focus instead was upon God's words and ways. David himself promises to "consider Your statutes" (:95), but he then asks that God will give him "understanding" (s.w. "consider") of those statutes (:125). Our freely chosen attitude to God's word is confirmed and extended by the operation of the Spirit on the human heart.

Psa 119:96

I have seen a limit to all perfection, but Your commands are boundless-
This is a great theme of this Psalm (:32,45); that obedience to God is not a life of being shut up in a boring and constricted path of being, but rather is the way of ultimate psychological freedom. And it is this which many seek for, and yet look for it in all the wrong places.


MEM
Psa 119:97

How I love Your law! It is my meditation all day-
We meditate upon what we love. The fact David found he was meditating upon God's law meant therefore, axiomatically, that he loved it. This means that the statement that "I love Your law!" is not at all self-righteous or self congratulatory. Although torah is used here for "law", there are multiple examples of torah referring not to the Mosaic law but any statement of God; the word is used many times well before the Mosaic law was given.

Psa 119:98

Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for Your commandments are always with me-
David's survival at the court of Saul seems miraculous. He was in such a difficult, compromised situation. We get the sense that David pitted his wisdom against Saul's anger and bitter persecution; David's wisdom is mentioned in tandem with Saul's anger against him (1 Sam. 18:5,11,15,30). "David behaved himself wisely (AVmg “prospered”) in all his ways; and the Lord was with him" runs like a refrain through 1 Sam. 18:5,14,15,30. These words are referring back to Dt. 29:9: "Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do". David's charmed life and prospering despite all manner of plotting against him was due to his single-minded devotion to the Law; to those very chapters which tired Bible readers are wont to skip over as boring and not motivating. Yet David found something immensely inspiring and practical about the Law. The word made him wiser than his foes (Ps. 119:98). 

Psa 119:99

I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation-
This Psalm was likely edited over a period of time, and we see here some progression from the youthful imagination that David's teachers were perfect (:3). Whilst there may well have been a touch of youthful arrogance here in David, the words came to absolute fulfilment in the Lord Jesus amongst the teachers of the law in Jerusalem at 12 years old. We note that understanding is here predicated upon meditation. David's requests to be given such understanding therefore imply God's Spirit working upon the internal meditations of those who love God's law.


Psa 119:100

I understand more than the aged, because I have kept Your precepts-
This may be an allusion to Job's comment and experience that age is not at all to be linked with understanding. The Pentateuch and book of Job were likely the only texts David had or was aware of. Understanding is here predicated upon keeping God's precepts. The advantage of obedience is that the life it elicits of itself gives us insight and understanding; all part of an intended upward spiral.


Psa 119:101

I have kept my feet from every evil way, that I might observe Your word-
This could be read on a surface level as David saying he has kept himself from any sin. But the idea is maybe that David knew that if he was walking in a good way, he would find it easier to observe God's word. He knew that there is an upward spiral in spirituality. Or "your word" may refer to the word of promise that David would be king.


Psa 119:102

I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, for You have taught me-
David gives God the credit for his obedience, for he recognizes that God has worked upon him to make him obedient. He sees God's "teaching" of His laws, not just the laws themselves, as what led him to obedience.


Psa 119:103

How sweet are Your promises to my taste, more than honey to my mouth!-
The promises immediately in view were the promises of receiving the Kingdom and the destruction of Saul. Elsewhere David contrasts living by God's word with present wealth; and here we may have a similar contrast. The "honey" offered in prospect by the house of Saul was nothing compared to the promise of the Kingdom.


Psa 119:104

Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way-
The experience of obedience to God's precepts of itself gives us added spiritual insight and understanding, a deeper dislike of "every false way", perhaps an allusion to idolatry.


NUN
Psa 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path-
The "word" in view may be the prophetic word that David would be king and Saul would be destroyed. Whilst under persecution from Saul, it seemed hard to believe that word would come true. But David lived as if God's word of promise was what guided his feet (his short term immediate decisions) and his overall path, and believed God would confirm him in his choices (see on :133). Solomon reapplied Ps. 119:105 in Prov. 6:23; but his legalism comes out, in that he changed "Your word" (of promise) to "the law" and the "commandments".  

Psa 119:106

I have sworn, and have confirmed it, that I will obey Your righteous ordinances-
This appears to be another promise from David that when God's word about his kingship came true (see on :105), he would ensure that he would govern according to God's ordinances.


Psa 119:107

I am afflicted very much. Revive me, Yahweh, according to Your word-
David was aware that the word of promise was true- that Saul's days would end, and he would become king. But there were times when this seemed impossible of fulfilment, and David asks God to revive him, to help him see that the prophetic word which he theoretically knew was true- was in fact going to come true for him personally. And we need to pray likewise.


Psa 119:108

Accept, I beg You, the willing offerings of my mouth. Yahweh, teach me Your ordinances-
In exile from the sanctuary, David was unable to offer sacrifice there. And so he matured to understand that the offerings God accepts are those of our mouths, our words. And perhaps David vowed with his mouth to perform sacrifice when he was able to get to the sanctuary. His understanding matured beyond this after his sin with Bathsheba, when he perceived that God wants a contrite heart rather than sacrifices. But already the Father was working to develop his young mind to perceive that literal sacrifices weren't absolutely required. And so He works so gently with us too.


Psa 119:109

My soul is continually in my hand, yet I won’t forget Your law-
David felt he could be slain any moment by Saul and his supporters (1 Sam. 27:1). But he says that he will not forget obedience to God's law even in crisis situations. However torah, "law", had a wide range of application and need not refer strictly to the Mosaic ordinances. He may simply mean that he would not forget God's word of promise. 


Psa 119:110

The wicked have laid a snare for me, yet I haven’t gone astray from Your precepts-
The implication is that the snares laid would have meant going astray from God's precepts. The initial reference may have been to Saul laying snares for David through getting him to marry his daughters and thereby seeking to kill him. But the Psalm finishes with David saying bluntly that he has "gone astray" (:176), as if to say that earlier [as at this point in the Psalm] he far overrated his own obedience to God's law.


Psa 119:111

I have taken Your testimonies as a heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart-
David on the run appeared to have no inheritance. But his inheritance was God's "testimonies"- a possible reference not so much to the Mosaic law as to the prophetic testimonies from Samuel that he would inherit the Kingdom and Saul would be deposed.


Psa 119:112

I have set my heart to perform Your statutes forever, even to the end-
"Set my heart" is the word for "incline", used by David of how he himself inclined his heart to God's word (Ps. 119:51,112,157). But David prayed that God would incline his heart towards His word (Ps. 119:36) and away from sin (Ps. 141:4). This is how the Holy Spirit works to this day- we are confirmed in the psychological attitudes we ourselves choose to have. The word is used of God's mighty "stretched out" arm and "strong hand" in human affairs (Ps. 136:12 and often in Isaiah). This powerful hand of God is at work in human hearts, confirming us in the psychological way in which we ourselves wish to go. In this sense God turns or inclines the heart where He wishes (Prov. 21:1). Solomon in the Proverbs places all the emphasis upon a person themselves in their own strength inclining their heart toward his teaching (Prov. 2:2; 4:5,20; 5:1). He fails to appreciate what David his father did; that God's word is His word and not that of the human channel through which it comes. And he totally puts the emphasis upon human strength of will, self inclination towards God's word, rather than perceiving as David did that without God's psychological help in this, we shall ultimately fail. As Solomon himself did.


SAMEKH
Psa 119:113

I hate double-minded men, but I love Your law-
AV "vain thoughts" or "vanities", perhaps a reference to idolatry as well as to the hypocrisy of Saul. David so often talks about God's "law", using the word torah. But Solomon so often speaks of his own torah, and that of his wife, the mother of "my son" (s.w. Prov. 1:8; 3:1; 4:2; 6:20; 7:2; 13:14; 31:26). Yet elsewhere in the Bible, the well over 200 occurrences of torah are always about God's law. Solomon applies the word to his own teachings and that of his wife, and thereby plays God. whilst it could be argued that Solomon's teachings were Divinely inspired, all the same he ought surely to have spoken of them as God's torah rather than his own torah. This kind of playing God is seen so often in the teachers of God's people.


Psa 119:114

You are my hiding place and my shield. I hope in Your word-
When hiding from Saul in the wilderness [s.w. of David's "hiding places" at this time in 1 Sam. 19:2; 25:20], David hoped in the prophetic word that one day Saul would be no more and David would be king.

Psa 119:115

Depart from me, You evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God-
This is the word for how God had departed from Saul, and maybe this was initially behind David's desire that Saul leave him alone. But it is also the word used for how violence would never depart from David because of his sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12:10). David prayed for this to "depart" but it never did. David was open to the possibility that through prayer, God can remove the consequences of sin in this life; but such prayer is not always answered.


Psa 119:116

Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live. Let me not be ashamed of my hope-
LXX "expectation". The parallel between "Your word" and David's hope or expectation confirms the suggestion that the "word" in view in this Psalm is the specific promise to David of becoming king after Saul's judgment and destruction. But David felt that the fulfilment of that prophetic word required him to be unashamed of it.


Psa 119:117

Hold me up and I will be safe, and will have respect for Your statutes continually-
As David respected God's words, so he asks God to spare or respect him (s.w. Ps. 39:13). This is not to be read as meaning that Bible study assures a man of salvation; but rather that there is a mutuality in relationship between God and man. Our respect of His words is reflected in His saving respect of us. But in the immediate context, David is asking for God to preserve him from Saul, and vowing to always enforce God's statutes when he becomes king.


Psa 119:118

You reject all those who stray from Your statutes-
David here uses the same word for how Saul 'wandered' or strayed out of the way (s.w. 1 Sam. 26:21), and David seems to have initially written Ps. 119 in his wilderness years. Saul was rejected from being king because of this.

For their deceit is in vain- "Vain" is better "wrongfully" reflects again David's deep sense of injustice (see on Ps. 35:7). He uses the word for "false witness", as if they were breaking one of the ten commandments; and he uses it often, heaping condemnation upon any who dare lie / bear false witness about him (Ps. 38:19; 52:3; 63:11; 101:7; 119:29,69,86,118; 120:2; 144:8,11). And yet David lied and deceived in order to get Uriah killed so that he could take his wife for himself. Surely reflection upon that sin made him realize that his zeal to condemn dishonesty was at best misplaced; to lament it is one thing, but David was to be taught that he had himself done the very thing he so condemned.


Psa 119:119

You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross. Therefore I love Your testimonies-
The "word" so often in view in this Psalm is the prophetic "testimony" that Saul would be deposed and David would become king. This is the same situation in view here, when the wicked of the earth would be put away. David speaks in the present tense of that which he believed was yet to happen- such was his faith in the prophetic word.


Psa 119:120

My flesh trembles for fear of You; I am afraid of Your judgments-
LXX "Penetrate my flesh with thy fear; for I am afraid of thy judgments". The preceding verses have all alluded to how God's word of promise was that He would judge Saul and replace him with David. But David concludes this verse of the Psalm with a request to have God's direct action upon his mind so that he would personally tremble before God's moral requirements.


AYIN
Psa 119:121

I have done what is just and righteous. Don’t leave me to my oppressors-
Oppression seems to have been a characteristic of the reigns of Saul and Absalom. This was the equivalent of how Saul oppressed David (Ps. 119:121,122,134). Samuel's insistence that he has not oppressed the people is in the context of his warning that Saul would do this (1 Sam. 12:3,4). When Solomon later condemns the 'oppressors' (s.w. Prov. 14:31; 22:16; 28:3,24), he has in view a wishing of judgment upon the house of Saul. "The poor" whom they had oppressed would easily refer to David (1 Sam. 18:23; Ps. 34:6).


Psa 119:122

Ensure Your servant’s well-being. Don’t let the proud oppress me-
See on :121. This appears to be the one verse in Ps. 119 that doesn't mention God's word. But it does so effectively, once we understand that the Psalm is largely about David's request for the prophetic word to come true- of him becoming King and Saul's demise. Again we note that "the proud" is Saul; this was the lead characteristic which characterized his entire failure. His jealousy over David being more praised by the women than he was reveals the basic pride which grew into the obsessive feature of his personality.


Psa 119:123

My eyes fail looking for Your salvation, for Your righteous word-
"Salvation" is Yeshua, 'Jesus', "the word made flesh" (Jn. 1:14). But in the immediate context, the fulfilment of God's prophetic word about Saul's demise meant David's salvation. The admission that his eyes were failing in looking for this... is as if to say 'My faith is failing in Your promised salvation, but I accept Your word is right and just; please give me faith in Your word again'. Constantly we see the implication that God gives faith, and it is not true that God simply faces off against man over an open Bible, and it is for us to summon the faith to believe it, in our own strength.


Psa 119:124

Deal with Your servant according to Your grace, teach me Your statutes-
From his youth, David had asked to be taught God's way (Ps. 119:7,12,26,64,66,68,73,108,124,135), and at the end of his life David recognized that indeed God had "taught me from my youth" (s.w. Ps. 71:17). In secular life, teaching is something experienced in youth, and then life is spent practicing what was learned. But in spiritual life, David perceived that the God who had taught him from his youth was continuing to teach him (Ps. 71:17). This is part of the "newness of life" experienced in Christ, the ever fresh spring water that we drink.


Psa 119:125

I am Your servant. Give me understanding, that I may know Your testimonies-
David himself promises to "consider Your statutes" (:95), but he then asks that God will give him "understanding" (s.w. "consider") of those statutes (:125). Our freely chosen attitude to God's word is confirmed and extended by the operation of the Spirit on the human heart.

Psa 119:126

It is time to act, Yahweh, for they break Your law-
David wants God to fulfil immediately His word of promise that Saul would be overthrown and David established king. It was the same frustration at the apparent slowness of fulfilment of a prophetic word which the exiles experienced, along with all the faithful.

 
Psa 119:127

Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, more than pure gold-
Again David points the contrast between God's commands, and the love of wealth. So often love of wealth is presented as the most common form of spiritual downfall, and the antithesis of loving God and His word. 

Psa 119:128

Therefore I consider all of Your precepts to be right; I hate every false way-
"Every false way" may refer to idols, which were prevalent in Israel at David's time. The "therefore" connects with the previous verse, which condemns the love of wealth. There is an upward spiral in spirituality. Once wealth has been rejected (:127), "therefore" we appreciate the rightness of God's precepts, and all the more hate false ways. This love of what is just and hatred of what is false means that we will not vicariously enjoy the "false" through viewing movies about it; we will simply love what is right and thereby hate all that is false. 

PEY
Psa 119:129

Your testimonies are wonderful, therefore my soul keeps them-
The motivation for obedience is related to our attitude to God's word. This is why our understanding of the nature of Biblical inspiration has an effect upon our actual walk before God in practice.


Psa 119:130

The entrance of Your words gives light, it gives understanding to the simple-
David likens himself to the simple who was made wise by God's word (Ps. 19:7; 119:130), and was therefore preserved (Ps. 116:6). To be taught by God's word we have to become "simple", unlearning and placing to one side all our perceived knowledge and understandings. Solomon repeats David's theme by saying that wisdom makes wise the simple (Prov. 1:4; 8:5; 9:4). But he is equating "wisdom" with the words of God, although for Solomon, "wisdom" seems to be what he is saying and teaching. Solomon doesn't direct his listeners back to God's word, as David did, but rather towards loyalty to his teaching. Inspired as it was, his lack of extended reference to God's law places his own teaching of "wisdom" above that law. This is in sharp contrast to David's attitude in Ps. 119. David sees God's words as entering him and giving him understanding; as if God takes the initiative in entering the mind of man.

But the Hebrew for "entrance" is literally 'opening', and may be an idiom for explaining or teaching (as in Ps. 49:4; 78:2). Hence GNB "The explanation of your teachings gives light".  "Gives light" is the word for daybreak; the idea may be that a new day dawns in the lives of the person who has God's word explained to them and they accept it. We note that the light is not simply the word of God, but its explanation.


Psa 119:131

I opened my mouth wide and panted, for I longed for Your commandments-
The opening of the mouth suggests a desire to have something put into the mouth. David knew the commandments, so we surely have to understand an ellipsis here, "longing for [obedience to] Your commandments". Constantly we are given the impression that mere possession of God's word is not enough; there must be some further action of God, in teaching and strengthening- what the New Testament calls the work of the Holy Spirit.


Psa 119:132

Turn to me and have mercy on me, as You always do to those who love Your name-
As often, David appeals to God's actions in history for other believers in the past ["always"]- at a time when he felt God hadn't turned to him, hadn't paid attention to him in his immediate crises.


Psa 119:133

Establish my footsteps in Your word; don’t let any iniquity have dominion over me-
David recognized that God's word of promise that he would be king and Saul would be deposed, was what should guide the choice of steps he himself took (see on :105). But he asks that his choices, the steps he chose in response to that hope and understanding, should be "established" or confirmed by God. And his request to not be dominated by sin suggests he realized that God's prophetic intentions for him were all the same conditional upon his continued correct walk. And he believed God has the power to keep us from falling into sin (Jude 24). Constantly we see the work of the Spirit over and above a man looking at God's word and trying to find the steel will to make himself obedient to it.

Psa 119:134

Redeem me from the oppression of man, so that I will observe Your precepts-
See on :121. The "oppression" in view was the persecution by Saul, and David vowed that if and when God's word came true and he became king, he would govern according to God's precepts.


Psa 119:135

Make Your face shine on Your servant. Teach me Your statutes-
The passages which talk about God's face shining upon men refer primarily to the Angel in the Most Holy shining forth in blessing upon men. Far from the sanctuary in the desert, David felt this closeness to God. It was Moses who 'taught [God's] statutes' to Israel (s.w. Dt. 4:1,5,14; 5:31). David in the wilderness felt such a personal relationship with God that he felt God personally teaching him, without the intermediary of any teacher like Moses. And this kind of intimacy is still possible with God.


Psa 119:136

Streams of tears run down my eyes, because they don’t observe Your law-

 The "they" could refer to David's eyes, or this could be another lament for the disobedience of his persecutors. Likewise the faithful in Ezekiel’s time sighed and groaned over all the abominations committed in Jerusalem (Ez. 9:4); Paul spoke “even with tears” about those in the ecclesia who lived as enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18), exhorting the Corinthians to mourn for those they had to disfellowship (1 Cor. 5:2; 2 Cor. 12:21); Ezra wept for the sins of his people (Ezra 10:1). The bleeding hearts of Jeremiah and Moses were actually for the ecclesia. Is this attitude seen amongst us? We lament in a gossipy way the weaknesses of the brotherhood; but is there this bleeding heart for the cases we mention? We should never think of disfellowshipping anybody unless the decision has been come to through a process of such prayerful mourning for them first.


TZADI
Psa 119:137

You are righteous, Yahweh; Your judgments are upright-
GNB "just". Here and in :138 David seems to be reasoning against some implication or position that God's laws are somehow unjust or unreasonable. This was perhaps the position of Saul, who impatiently disobeyed God's law (1 Sam. 15:22).

Psa 119:138

You have commanded Your statutes in righteousness; they are fully trustworthy-
"
Righteousness" and "truth" [s.w. "trustworthy"] are words found together in 1 Sam. 26:23, where Saul recognizes David had acted in "righteousness and truth" in not killing him when he could have done. Perhaps David is reflecting upon how God's "statutes" had led him not to kill Saul.


Psa 119:139

My zeal wears me out, because my enemies ignore Your words-
The command to "not forget [the] word" was given in Dt. 4:9 (s.w.). Israel were to never forget that they were in covenant relationship with Yahweh, and the gift of His word to them was so wonderful they were never to forget it. Our awareness of the wonder of having God's word will elicit our delight in it. A John Carter rightly pointed out, our attitude to God's word determines our obedience to it. This is where attitudes to inspiration are so important in practical living. Saul's enemies were Saul and his supporters, who impatiently disobeyed God's law (1 Sam. 15:22).

Psa 119:140

Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and Your servant loves them-
God's promises to David that he would become king and Saul would be destroyed seemed so far away from fulfilment at the time. But David reflects that historically, God's promises to others had been fulfilled. We encounter this reasoning often in David's Psalms. It is in sharp contrast to the excuse for unbelief we often encounter- that God has not come through for me in my experience right now at this moment.

Psa 119:141

I am small and despised but I don’t forget Your precepts-
A sensitive person like David was going to be deeply hurt by being despised as he was by his brothers and his wife (2 Sam. 6:16 s.w.), and as he was by Goliath (s.w. 1 Sam. 17:42) and later by all his people after the sin with Bathsheba (Ps. 22:6 s.w.). This would explain why David so often takes comfort in the way that God doesn't despise him (Ps. 22:24; 51:17; 69:33; 102:17). It is God's perspective which is so critical in overcoming the negative self-image which others seek to project onto us.


Psa 119:142

Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness; Your law is truth-
GNB "always true". Thus the eternity of God's truth is paralleled with the eternity of His righteousness (as in :160). David walked / lived "in truth and righteousness" (s.w. 1 Kings 3:6; Ps. 15:2), because this was how God is. The Messianic seed of David was to have this characteristic, ruling on David's throne in truth and righteousness (s.w. Is. 16:5).  


Psa 119:143

Trouble and anguish have taken hold of me, but Your commandments are my delight-
I suggest the parallel is with :139. David is troubled for those who do not delight in God's commandments. But he himself does delight in them. "Trouble and anguish" is the term used for condemnation (Job 15:24; Prov. 1:27; Rom. 2:9). David is so identified with the wicked that like the Lord Jesus, he as it were feels their condemnation, whilst being personally innocent.

Psa 119:144

Your testimonies are righteous forever. Give me understanding, that I may live-
The internal connection of the verse is that the eternity of God's testimonies is connected with the eternal living of David. David sees eternity, or at least living instead of dying at the hand of Saul, as connected with his identity with God's testimonies which are eternal.


KUF
Psa 119:145

I have called with my whole heart. Answer me, Yahweh! I will keep Your statutes-
This and the following verses appear to be David's intense cry for deliverance from a particular period of his persecution by Saul. It appeared he faced death, but he remembers God's word promising that he would become king and Saul would be disposed of. He promises obedience to God's laws if he is delivered; and I suggest this primarily means he was vowing to govern Israel according to the Mosaic law. Or it could be that he felt he was suffering because of personal disobedience, and asks for deliverance with the promise that in future he will keep God's laws. In this application, these verses may also have relevance to David's sufferings as a result of his sin with Bathsheba. But see on :146. 


Psa 119:146

I have called to You. Save me! I will obey Your statutes-
See on :145. David says that he has 'obeyed Your statutes' (s.w. :167,68). Perhaps he means that when God fulfills His promise to make him king, which required immediately saving him from some situation with Saul, he would continue to "obey Your statutes" in the way he governed Israel. But perhaps he feels he is suffering because of disobeying God's statutes. And yet later in :167,168 he says he has obeyed them. This difficulty in self examination [which we also can identify with] is reflected in how David also says in different Psalms that Israel both obeyed God's statutes, and also disobeyed them (Ps. 78:56 cp. 99:7).


Psa 119:147

I rise before dawn and cry for help, I put my hope in Your words-
See on :145. David's first waking moments were naturally of prayer to God. And this is our pattern. He often mentions his habit of regular prayer morning and evening (Ps. 5:3; 55:17; 59:16; 88:3; 119:147). This  should not have to be enforced upon us, but rather the natural outcome of a life lived in constant connection with God. David perceived that the Mosaic ritual of morning and evening sacrifice taught the sacrifice of prayer should be made in daily life, even though at the time of many of the Psalms, David was exiled from the sanctuary. This exile from organized religion led him to make this connection, as it can for us too.

The Psalms give further insight into the disciplined nature of David's prayer-life: "Evening and morning and at noon will I pray" (Ps. 55:17); "I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning" (Ps. 59:16); "in the morning shall my prayer come before you" (Ps. 88:13); "to praise your mercy in the morning, and your faithfulness every night" (Ps. 92:2); "before the dawning of the morning, I hope in your word" (Ps. 119:147). This kind of self-discipline is the utter essence of practical Christianity. It is through this that we will realize every morning that God is our "arm", our strength, for the coming day (Is. 33:2); and God's mercies are only renewed every morning in that the righteous man thinks afresh about them every morning (Lam. 3:23)- for God's mercy itself is around the clock! Likewise the comment in Zeph. 3:5 that God's judgments are revealed every morning only becomes true in that the believer meditates upon God's word each morning.

Psa 119:148

My eyes stay open through the night watches, that I might meditate on Your word-
The "word" in view may refer specifically to the promise that he would be preserved from Saul's persecution to become king. And when that promise seemed so unlikely of fulfilment, he stayed awake at night imagining how it might come to fulfilment.

Or we can take "Your word" to refer to God's word generally, such as was revealed to David at that time. The whole of Ps. 119 describes how he rejoiced at God's law, staying up late at night, straining his eyes into the candlelight to read it, getting up first thing in the morning to read some more (Ps. 119:147,148). He obviously saw something in it that perhaps we don't. Perhaps he appreciated more keenly the prophecies of Messiah than we do. Peter makes the point that David knew so much about Jesus, although he wasn't even born then, that David could say: "I foresaw the Lord (Jesus) always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved" (Acts 2:25). David "foresaw" the coming of Jesus at all times; the only source of knowledge he had was the Law of Moses (remember David lived before the time of the Old Testament prophets like Isaiah). Jesus was ever present in David's thinking; thanks to his meditation upon the Law of Moses and the book of Job, which was likely all the scripture then available to him.


Psa 119:149

Hear my voice according to Your grace. Revive me, Yahweh, according to Your ordinances-
If the ordinances in view are the prophetic words that he would become king, even when it seemed impossible whilst under persecution from Saul, then we note that David realized that this was all to be according to God's grace, rather than his worthiness. Even though God saw him as a man after His own heart. And David asks God to revive his faith in those promises. Otherwise it is hard to see how revival of faith was specifically promised in the "ordinances" of the Mosaic law.


Psa 119:150

They draw near who follow after wickedness, they are far from Your law-
"Draw near" is a common idiom for offering sacrifice and worshipping God. But that sacrifice must be from men who are near to God's law, and not offering just as mere tokenistic ritualism. He may be alluding to Saul's insincere sacrifices and religious rituals which led to his rejection and David's choice as the next king (1 Sam. 14:36,38; 15:22).


Psa 119:151

You are near, Yahweh-
This continues the idea of :150. Insincere men claim to draw near to God in worship and sacrifice, but God is near to those like David who are far from any sanctuary of religious rituals. "Near" is literally, 'next to', 'neighbour / relative to'. This is how close God feels to the broken hearted and crushed; and conversely, how far He is from the self satisfied and self congratulatory, 'the strong' in secular terms. It is this feature of Yahweh which makes Him unique; no other God has this characteristic of 'nearness' (s.w. Dt. 4:7). 

All Your commandments are truth-
"Truth" is a word often associated with the covenant. The "truth" of covenant relationship binds Him to those truly within the covenant. "Truth" is often used in a covenantal context.

Psa 119:152

Of old I have known from Your testimonies, that You have founded them forever-
David may refer to how he had learnt from "of old", in his youth, that God keeps his word. The adventures and answered prayers of boyhood and youth remained real to him, and he didn't just pass them off as the stuff of youth. But we note that he learnt that God keeps His word "from Your testimonies". He saw internal evidence from his own experience of God's word. And this is the basis of faith; not so much empirical, apologetic evidence, as something within God's own revelation which elicits further faith. What he had in view was that God's prophetic testimony through Samuel that he would one day would become king- was founded forever, and would not change.


RESH
Psa 119:153

Consider my affliction and deliver me, for I don’t forget Your law-
This could be read as one of several points in this Psalm, written in relative youth, where David overestimates his obedience. He legalistically assumes that he ought to be delivered from whatever affliction he faced because of his stellar loyalty to God's word. This would explain the otherwise strange ending of Ps. 119, where David confesses he is a lost sheep and has not at all been obedient to God's way as he ought to have been.


Psa 119:154

Plead my cause, and redeem me! Revive me according to Your promise-
The "promise" was the promise that he would become king and Saul would be disposed of- which often must have seemed so unlikely of fulfilment. Just as unlikely as the promise that "little me" shall one day be a king-priest of God's kingdom, in the power of an endless life; when we are so weak and faultering in our understanding and devotion. David sees his situation with Saul as being played out before the court of heaven; and he asks God to act not only as judge [who could "redeem"] but also as his advocate for the defence, who could "plead my cause". Paul uses this same idea in Rom. 1-8, triumphing that if God "be for us", as both judge and advocate, then nothing can go against us (Rom. 8:31). Sinners that we are.


Psa 119:155

Salvation is far from the wicked, for they don’t seek Your statutes-
We note that David often [although not always, see on :153] speaks in terms of 'seeking' God's laws, rather than being totally obedient to them. Ezra 7:10 uses the same term, and differentiates between "seeking" and "doing" the statutes. We see in Ps. 119 a man "after God's own heart"; not in that he was morally perfect nor totally obedient, but in that he wished and sought after such obedience, and loved God's laws rather than despised them.


Psa 119:156

Great are Your tender mercies, Yahweh. Revive me according to Your ordinances-
The parallel is with :154 "Revive me according to Your promise". The "promise" was the promise that he would become king and Saul would be disposed of- which often must have seemed so unlikely of fulfilment. And this is the set of "ordinances" in view here. But becoming king was to be by God's tender mercy, "the sure mercies of [i.e. given to] David" (Is. 55:3). Repeatedly David says this; that the fulfilment of God's word to him about becoming king would be the outworking of His grace (:41,76,88,124,149,159).


Psa 119:157

Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, but I haven’t swerved from Your testimonies-
"Swerved" is the word for "incline", used by David of how he himself inclined his heart to God's word (Ps. 119:51,112,157). But David prayed that God would incline his heart towards His word (Ps. 119:36) and away from sin (Ps. 141:4). This is how the Holy Spirit works to this day- we are confirmed in the psychological attitudes we ourselves choose to have. The word is used of God's mighty "stretched out" arm and "strong hand" in human affairs (Ps. 136:12 and often in Isaiah). This powerful hand of God is at work in human hearts, confirming us in the psychological way in which we ourselves wish to go. In this sense God turns or inclines the heart where He wishes (Prov. 21:1). Solomon in the Proverbs places all the emphasis upon a person themselves in their own strength inclining their heart toward his teaching (Prov. 2:2; 4:5,20; 5:1). He fails to appreciate what David his father did; that God's word is His word and not that of the human channel through which it comes. And he totally puts the emphasis upon human strength of will, self inclination towards God's word, rather than perceiving as David did that without God's psychological help in this, we shall ultimately fail. As Solomon himself did.


Psa 119:158

I look at the faithless with loathing, because they don’t observe Your word-
David’s eyes wept "because they keep not Your law", and yet he grieved for those who do not keep Gods word (Ps. 119:136,158). In other words, he grieved for where their way of life would lead them, even though he saw that at times he behaved like them. "The faithless" primarily refer to Saul and his followers. David loathed Saul at this time, and yet when Saul dies, he weeps for him deeply (see on 2 Sam. 1). We can conclude that part of that weeping was because David had felt so harshly about him, he wept for him as a man for his mother, lamenting he had not appreciated her as he ought to have done (Ps. 35:14). We note too the parallel between being faithless and not observing the word. Faith comes by hearing [obeying] the word of God in that the experience of the obedient life elicits more faith (Rom. 10:17).  


Psa 119:159

Consider how I love Your precepts. Revive me, Yahweh, according to Your grace-
Just as God's word had given life and birth to creation and continues to keep it in life (:90-92), so David felt God's word and ways gave him life. Three times David makes the connection between God's precepts and his inner "revival" (Ps. 119:40,93,159). God's word is a living word in that it is creative and gives life. Repeatedly David says that the fulfilment of God's word to him about becoming king would be the outworking of His grace (:41,76,88,124,149,159). Here he says that God's grace would revive him, but elsewhere that the word [of promised kingship] would revive him (:25,50,93,107,149). 

Psa 119:160

All of Your words are truth, every one of Your righteous ordinances endures forever-
The phrase "word of truth" is specifically used of the promises made to David in 2 Sam. 7:28, which began with the promise that David would become king and Saul would be deposed. David had feared in :43 that they could somehow be abrogated, but now he expresses his confidence that the promise of the Kingdom was eternal. Thus the eternity of God's truth is paralleled with the eternity of His righteousness (as in :142). David walked / lived "in truth and righteousness" (s.w. 1 Kings 3:6; Ps. 15:2), because this was how God is. The Messianic seed of David was to have this characteristic, ruling on David's throne in truth and righteousness (s.w. Is. 16:5).   


SIN AND SHIN
Psa 119:161

Princes have persecuted me without a cause, but my heart stands in awe of Your words-
Saul's sons, David's brothers-in-law, the brothers of his deep best friend, joined their father in persecuting him in the wilderness years . These are the "princes" in view, although later the words applied to princes like Absalom. The continued emphasis in David's psalms upon "without cause" surely reflects a self righteousness (Ps. 35:19; 69:4; 109:3; 119:161). For David's righteousness was only impressive relative to the wickedness of his enemies; before God, it was filthy rags. It was true that Saul persecuted David "without cause" (s.w. 1 Sam. 19:5), but the experience of "without cause" persecution can lead us to an inappropriate self-righteousness. This is what happened to Job, who also suffered "without cause" (s.w. Job 2:3), and had to be convicted of self-righteousness at the end of the story. And it seems this happened to David. David himself intended to shed blood "without cause" and was only saved from it by grace (s.w. 1 Sam. 25:31).


Psa 119:162

I rejoice at Your word, as one who finds great spoil-
The Lord based His parables of the lost sheep and the man finding the treasure of the Gospel in a field on the statements of David (Ps. 119:162,176), as if He saw David as representative of all those who would truly come to Him. The word in view was initially the promise that David would become king. This was David's joy during his afflictions at the hands of Saul. This is also another example of where David compares wealth against the things of God's word of promise. The desire to accumulate wealth is particularly strong for young men in David's position.


Psa 119:163

I hate and abhor falsehood but I love Your law-
The "falsehood" in view was likely the idolatry practiced by Saul.


Psa 119:164

Seven times a day I praise You because of Your righteous ordinances-
This could refer to how David regularly reminded himself throughout every day of his persecution by Saul that the word / ordinances of promise were that he would become king and Saul would be disposed of.


Psa 119:165

Those who love Your law have great peace; nothing causes them to stumble-
Whilst this is true in a general sense, the word in view was the promise that he would become king and Saul would be disposed of. But the "those" in view would have been those like Samuel whose lives of loving God's law were known to David.


Psa 119:166

I have hoped for Your salvation, Yahweh-
These almost seem the words of Simeon in the temple. "Salvation" is Yeshua, 'Jesus', "the word made flesh" (Jn. 1:14). But in the shorter term, the salvation David hoped for was that from Saul, promised in God's prophetic word to him.

I have done Your commandments-
This could be read as one of several points in this Psalm, written in relative youth, where David overestimates his obedience. He legalistically assumes that he ought to be delivered from whatever affliction he faced because of his stellar loyalty to God's word. This would explain the otherwise strange ending of Ps. 119, where David confesses he is a lost sheep and has not at all been obedient to God's way as he ought to have been.

Psa 119:167

My soul has observed Your testimonies because I love them exceedingly-
See on :166. Obedience is related to how much we love the commandment being obeyed; and that requires a basic love of God, and everything about Him, perceiving His character which we love revealed in all His commandments. David in the wilderness was unable to be legally obedient to all the commandments; hence he says that his "soul" observed them. Actual total obedience is effectively impossible for us all, but we can still love God's ways and testimonies.


Psa 119:168

I have obeyed Your precepts and Your testimonies, for all my ways are before You-
In :146 David promises that "I will obey Your statutes / precepts" (s.w.). But here David says that he has 'obeyed Your statutes' (s.w. :167,68). Perhaps he meant in :146 that when God fulfills His promise to make him king, which required immediately saving him from some situation with Saul, he would continue to "obey Your statutes" in the way he governed Israel. But perhaps he feels he is suffering because of disobeying God's statutes. And yet here in :167,168 he says he has obeyed them. This difficulty in self examination [which we also can identify with] is reflected in how David also says in different Psalms that Israel both obeyed God's statutes, and also disobeyed them (Ps. 78:56 cp. 99:7).

 
TAV
Psa 119:169

Let my cry come near before You, Yahweh-
Truly can we pray David’s prayers. So often, prayer is described as coming near to God (Ps. 119:169 etc.)- and yet God “is” near already. Prayer, therefore, is a way of making us realize the presence of the God who is always present. You are not alone, I am not alone; “For I am with you”. God is with us for us in His Son. Of course, we must draw near to Him (Ps. 73:28); and yet He is already near, not far from every one of us (Acts 17:27). David often speaks of drawing near to God, and yet he invites God to draw near to him (Ps. 69:18). Yet David also recognizes that God “is” near already (Ps. 75:1). I take all this to mean that like us, David recognized that God “is” near, and yet wished God to make His presence real to him.

Give me understanding according to Your word-
Again, David is asking for something beyond God's word itself. God can give us "understanding" of it. Or if the "word" in view is specifically the promise that David would be king, he could be asking for wisdom ["understanding"] in how to rule Israel. And this was likewise the prayer of Solomon when he became king (1 Kings 3:9); but his motives were less than pure because he was consciously seeking to imitate his father in this request.


Psa 119:170

Let my supplication come before You and deliver me according to Your word-
The reference is to the word of promise that David would become king, and Saul's abuse of him end. He imagines his prayer for that "word" to come true as coming "before" God. He visualized a court of heaven, before which his prayers came for consideration.


Psa 119:171

Let my lips utter praise, for You teach me Your statutes-
It was Moses who 'taught [God's] statutes' to Israel (s.w. Dt. 4:1,5,14; 5:31). David in the wilderness felt such a personal relationship with God that he felt God personally teaching him, without the intermediary of any teacher like Moses. And this kind of intimacy is still possible with God. David knew the "statutes", but he wanted God to teach them to him in practice. There is a huge difference between mere Bible reading, and God teaching us to the meaning of His word.


Psa 119:172

Let my tongue sing of Your word, for all Your commandments are righteousness-
We may enquire why David speaks of his singing about God's word as yet future; why doesn't he do so at the time? It makes sense if we understand "Your word" as referring to the word of promise that David would become king, and Saul's abuse of him end.


Psa 119:173

Let Your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen Your precepts-
"Help me" is s.w. in Ps. 30:10, a Bathsheba Psalm: "Hear, Yahweh, and have mercy on me. Yahweh, be my helper". Earlier David had sought Yahweh's help on the basis that he had been obedient to God's word (Ps. 119:173 s.w.), and was innocent (Ps. 119:86 s.w.). But the sin with Bathsheba led David to beg for God to be his helper purely on the basis of grace (Ps. 30:10 s.w.). See on :175. But the immediate "help" in view was help against Saul. Again we note that David doesn't claim total obedience; but that he had "chosen Your precepts".


Psa 119:174

I have longed for Your salvation, Yahweh. Your law is my delight-
These almost seem the words of Simeon in the temple. "Salvation" is Yeshua, 'Jesus', "the word made flesh" (Jn. 1:14). But in the shorter term, the salvation David hoped for was that from Saul, promised in God's prophetic word to him. And his response was going to be to govern Israel according to God's law which he delighted in.


Psa 119:175

Let my soul live, that I may praise You. Let Your ordinances help me-
In :173 David asks for God to "help him" to escape Saul's persecution when it seemed his soul would not live (1 Sam. 27:1) and to become king, according to God's word of promise. And so here he asks that those promises or ordinances would help him. "Help me" is s.w. in Ps. 30:10, a Bathsheba Psalm: "Hear, Yahweh, and have mercy on me. Yahweh, be my helper". He had earlier asked for God's words to be his "helper" (Ps. 119:175), but later after sinning with Bathsheba he quits his academic study and begs directly for God Himself to be his "helper". See on :173.


Psa 119:176

I have gone astray like a lost sheep. Seek Your servant, for I don’t forget Your commandments-
This may appear a strange ending, and structurally it appears to have been added on. I suggest it was likely written by David with his mind on his follies relating to Bathsheba, so far from the spirit of his youthful devotion to God's law and ways. And yet it is the taken by the Lord and used as the basis for the parable of the lost sheep, whereby all who have sinned go through the David experience.

The lost sheep who leaves the fold and goes off (Mt. 18:12) is based on this verse. The lost sheep that is found therefore has the attitude of recognizing it is lost, that it is still the servant of the shepherd although isolated from him, and still has not forgotten the things of God's word. The picture in Ps. 119:176 is strange indeed: a lost sheep asking the shepherd to come and find him. It's as if the sheep talks to himself, feeling the shepherd can't and won't hear, feeling that he's just too far away. And this is exactly the position of all those who leave the faith and return: they don't forget the doctrines of the Faith, in their hearts they feel too far away, but they wish somehow something could happen to get them back. This explains the type of sheep one is dealing with in the parable, and why the parable isn't true of all who go astray.