Psalm 119:1-24 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
This beautiful Psalm, as you know, is an acrostic meaning each section begins with the same letter of the alphabet going from A to Z, so to speak. Ps. 9-10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 145, Prov. 31:10-31. Allen in the Word Commentary lists the number of times words are used as synonyms for God’s law. The number after the term or terms is how many times we find this word in Ps. 119.
Rulings (ordinances) and Covenant (testimonies)23
Statutes and charges (precepts) 21
Then Kidner in his 2 volume paperback gives a brief definition of each word based on the original language (p. 417ff). His order is not the same as Allen. Torah is the Hebrew word for a single law, the first five books of the Old Testament or can refer to the entire Bible. Testimonies: “the outspokenness of Scripture, with its high standards and frank warnings is implied in this expression, but so too is its dependability.” Precepts: “This is a word drawn from the sphere of an officer or overseer, a man who is responsible to look closely into a situation and take action (cf Jer. 23:2, where God will “attend to” [same root] the shepherds who have not “attended to” the flock. So the word points to the particular instructions of the Lord, as of one who cares about detail. Statutes: These speak of the binding force and permanence of Scripture, as of laws engraved or inscribed. Commandments: emphasizes the straight authority of what is said; not merely the power to convince or persuade, but the right to give orders. Ordinances: These are better known in the O.T. as ‘judgments’ the decisions of the all-wise Judge about common human situations, and hence the revealed ‘rights and duties’ appropriate to them. Scripture, then, as the standard given for fair dealings between man and man, is a predominant sense of this term. Word is the most general term of all, embracing God’s truth in any form, stated, promised, or commanded. Promise: This is very similar to Word and is translated word in AV, RV thoughout the Psalm. While JB (Jerusalem Bible) and NEB (New English Bible) keep promise throughout. [ You can tell the author is British referring to the KJV as AV and referencing Bibles we do not use in 2022 in North America].
As you read this Psalm, we encourage you to read and meditate. Read, ponder, think, pray, reflect, and soak in this Psalm. One should not hurry through the Scripture any time but we might be tempted to get through this long Psalm if you are task-oriented. Enjoy the beauty. Revel in the way the Bible reads you. Delight in the light you receive. Humbly accept the wise corrections. Consent to the wise judgements we find. Linger over these verses as they point you to the Lord Jesus.
This is the Bible talking about itself. The Bible is God speaking to you. The Bible is good for us. You are not going to spend 8 hours a day studying the Bible. But the time you do spend, do so in a spiritual way. Read this Word, realizing “blessed are those . . . who walk in the law of the Lord” v. 1. Not just reading but obeying the Scripture is our happy obligation.
You probably love the way the author holds nothing back in his love to God. Watch the following phrases as the author describes the blessed person: “seek Him with their whole heart” v. 2, “precepts . . . kept diligently” or “having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.” One concludes the blessed person is one who seeks hard after God and who is not passive but active in their pursuit of God.
We also discover that bending our wills to God is what pleases God. This Psalm does not urge us to study, think great thoughts, write books, or preach sermons. His emphasis is on the doing of the Word. For instance, “whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep his testimonies” in v. 1-2. Verse 4 is smothered with authority, “You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.” This section concludes with the phrase, “I will keep Your statutes.”
One of the other aspects of this long Psalm is the delight he finds in the Scripture. “In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.” “I will delight in your statues” (vs. 14, 16). Or v. 20, “My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.” At the end of our section, “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.” (v. 24).
Lord, what a gift the Bible is. We marvel that You give this wonderful book to Your people. You have given us this book that tells us more about You than we can grasp in many lifetimes. The Bible points us to trust in, love, and obey our Lord Jesus Christ. We learn that You are a Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You put a hunger for Your word in our souls. We are fascinated and intrigued by the beauty, simplicity, and power of Your word. May we never forget that Your Word points us to love and obey You and become ever more holy. In the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.