The following commentary is from Warren W. Wiersbe’s book, ‘BE Exultant’.
The emphasis in this, the longest psalm, is on the vital ministry of the Word of God in the inner spiritual life of God’s children. It describes how the Word enables us to grow in holiness and handle the persecutions and pressures that always accompany an obedient walk of faith. The psalm is an acrostic with eight lines in each section, and the successive sections follow the letters of the Hebrew alphabet……The unknown author used eight different words for the Scriptures: law (torah), testimony, precept, statute, commandment, judgment (in the sense of “a rule for living”), word (of God), and promise…Since We do not know who wrote the psalm, we cannot know for certain when it was written, but our ignorance need not hinder us from learning from this magnificent psalm……Whoever the author was, he is a good example for us to follow, for he had an intense hunger for holiness and passionate desire to understand God’s Word in a deeper way……The basic theme of Psalm 119 is the practical use of the Word of God in the life of the believer…..Many believers today stand guilty of ignoring the Old Testament, except for reading “favorite psalms,” and therefore many are ignorant of what God’s law teaches……The way we treat the Word of God is the way we treat the God of the Word……As you read and study Psalm 119, you will see the writer in a variety of experiences, but his devotion to the Lord and His Word will not change. Circumstances may change, but God and His Word remain the same.
Aleph (vv. 1=8)–Blessed and Blameless. How can we receive God’s blessing? By being blameless before the Lord, obedient to His law, and wholehearted in our relationship to Him…..The law is not a weapon in the hands of an angry judge but a tool in the hands of a loving Father, used by the Spirit to make us more like Jesus Christ. The Word enables us to know God better and draw closer to Him. “Blameless” does not mean sinless but wholehearted devotion to the Lord, sincerity, and integrity. Only Jesus Christ was totally blameless in His relationship to God and His law, but because believers are “in Christ,” we are “holy and without blame before Him” (Eph 1:4). Seeking God means much more than reading the Bible or even studying the Bible. It means hearing God’s voice in His Word, loving Him more, and wanting to delight His heart and please Him. It means wholehearted surrender to Him…..
Beth (vv. 9–16). Take Time to Be Holy.….We need a heart that seeks God, for if our hearts are seeking God, our feet will not stray from God (v. 10; Prov. 4:23)…..To treasure any possession above the Word of God is idolatry and leads to trouble…..
Gimel (vv. 17-24)–We Need God’s Word. If ever we feel we can ignore our daily time with God in His Word, then this is the Scripture to read. We need the Word because we are servants…and in His Word, our Master gives us directions for the work He wants us to do…..Not only are we servants, but we are also students (v. 18), and our basic manual is the Word of God. However, unless God opens our eyes, we will never see the wonderful things hidden in its pages (Eph. 1:17-18)….The writer needed wisdom to know how to handle these difficult situations, and he found counsel in God’s Word v.24).
Daleth (vv. 25-32)–Down but Not Out. The previous section ends with the psalmist delighting in God’s Word, and this one opens with him down in the dust! The enemy attacks us the hardest when we are enjoying the blessings of God, and we must expect it……When he found himself down, the psalmist knew what to do—he prayed. ‘Revive me'(v.25)…..But when we seem to be at our worst, the Lord comes along with the very best and gives us the grace we need(2 Cor. 1:3-11…)…..’Teach me'(vv.26-27) Too often we ask, “How can I get out of this trouble?” when we should be asking, “What can I get out of this experience?” ‘Strengthen me'(vv. 28-30)…..When we find ourselves pressured by the enemy, our first response is usually to pray that God will change them, when perhaps our best response would be that God would change us and enable us to overcome. ‘Defend me'(vv. 31-32)….If we think up clever schemes to defend ourselves and slander others, then the Lord will not be able to defend us…..As we hold to His Word and trust His promises, the Lord is able to work in His way and in His time.
He (vv. 33-40)–Ending Well. ‘Learning’ (vv. 33-34). It is not enough to read the Bible, outline the books, get answers to questions, and be able to discuss theology. We must come to understand the character of God and the workings of His providence…Our prayer “Teach me” must be balanced with “Give me understanding.” and both must lead to obedience. ‘Obeying; (v. 35). What we learn with our minds and apprehend with our hearts must motivate the will to do what God commands…..’Delighting’ (vv. 36-37). These verses warn us that our hearts and minds (“eyes”) must be focused on the truth of God and not material wealth and the vanities of the world…Outlook determines outcome. ‘Fearing’ (vv. 38-39). The fear of the Lord is the fear that conquers every fear….It is not our promises to Him but His promises to us that really count. ‘Longing’ (v. 40). To have a deep longing for God’s truth is the mark of a maturing believer.
Waw (vv. 41-48)–Walking and Talking. We hear several voices in this section and it begins with God speaking to us (v. 41). He does this, of course, as we read His Word and meditate on it…..Scripture is “the word of His promise”, and all His promises have their realization in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 1:20)…..What a wonder that God has spoken to us! Are we listening? ‘But while God is speaking, the enemy is also speaking’ (v. 42)’…Our main weapon against these attacks is the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”(Eph. 6:17), for only God’s truth can silence the Devil’s lies…We need God’s truth in our hearts, not only to keep us from sin, but to equip us to answer those who oppose us or ask us why we believe as we do(1 Peter 3:15). ‘God’s people speak to the Lord(v. 43)’ Like Nehemiah, we can send up ‘telegraph prayers” to the Lord right in the midst of our work and our battles (Neh. 2:5; 4:4; 5:19….). ‘Our lives speak for the Lord’ (vv. 44-45)’ if our “walk” agrees with our “talk.” The best defense of the faith is a transformed life that is compassionate toward others. ‘Finally, God’s people speak to others’ (vv. 46-48)’…..When we delight in the Word, love it, and obey it sharing the message with others comes naturally……A satisfied Christian is an awesome witness whose testimony God can use to convict and convert others.…..
Zayin (vv. 49-56)–The Ministry of Memory. If the psalmist was a priest or a Levite, and he probably was, then he was required to be an expert on the book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy means “second law”. In Deuteronomy, you find the word remember fifteen times and the word forget fourteen times. Some things in the past we must forget (Phil. 3:12-14), but some things we must never forget. ‘God remembers His people’ (vv. 49-51). When applied to the Lord, the word remember means “to pay attention to, to work on behalf of.” Being omniscient, God cannot forget anything, but He can decide not to “remember it against us”…That is the negative side; the positive side is that He “remembers” to do us good and give us His blessing…..’His people remember God’s Word’ (vv. 52-54). How could this spiritual leader know the “ancient laws” that God gave Moses centuries before? The nation had preserved the Word (Deut. 31:24-29) and taught it to each new generation…and this is the obligation of the church today (2 Tim. 2:2). ‘His people remember His name’ (vv. 55-56)
…..We are to love His name, sing praises to his name…, and glorify His name…..To remember His name is to encourage our hearts to trust Him, obey Him, and not be afraid. “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, LORD [Yahweh], have not forsaken those who seek You” (9:10).
Heth (vv. 57-64)–God Is All We Need…….The psalmist in this section makes it clear that the Lord God Almighty is all we need…. ‘God is our portion’ (vv. 57-58)…… Our riches in Christ are revealed in the Word, which is our “spiritual bankbook”, and His wealth can never diminish…. ‘God is our Master'(vv. 59-61)….Loving obedience was the condition for God’s blessing, even as it is today……’God is our greatest joy’ (vv. 61-64)…..It should be the Christian’s greatest joy to know God, love Him, hear His voice, and obey His will. Praying to Him and praising Him should be more refreshing to us than sleep…..
Teth (vv. 65-72)–God is Good All the Time. The emphasis in this psalm is on what is good in the life of the believer…‘God does what is good’ (vv. 65-66)…..God acts according to the precepts, promises, and principles revealed in His Word, and we should pray and act accordingly……‘God overrules evil and from it brings good’ (vv. 67-71)…However, there are times when we are obedient and we still experience suffering, but God uses that suffering to mature us and teach us His Word. Spurgeon said that the promises of God shine the brightest in the furnace of affliction…..The most evil act ever performed on this earth was the crucifixion of the Lord of glory on a cross, yet God used that to bring His salvation to the world. ‘God uses the Word to show us good ‘(v. 72)…..When we find the good treasures of truth in the precious Word of God, we rejoice in the goodness of the Lord and have no desire to wallow in the things of this world. No matter what our situation may be, we can affirm from our hearts, “God is good—all the time!”
Yodh (vv. 73–80)–Read the Instructions.…..We need God’s Word for all of life. He mentioned several ministries of the Word that are necessary in the life of the faithful child of God. ‘We learn about ourselves’ (v. 73)…..The Bible is a mirror in which we see ourselves–and do something about what we see. (James 1:22-27). ‘We become a blessing to others’ (vv. 74, 79)……We are commanded to bear our own burdens courageously and to help others bear their burdens (Gal. 6:2, 5). ‘We receive God’s best in our afflictions’ (vv. 75-78, 80)…..We have the love of God to comfort us and the promises of God to encourage us….The enemy attacks us, but we turn to the Word and find the help that we need…..When all else fails, read the instructions.
Kaph (vv. 81-88)–Faith and Patience.…..The Christian life is a battleground, not a playground, and we must expect tribulation (John 16:33). ‘Fainting but hoping’ (vv. 81-83)…… no matter how dark the hour, the future is our friend because Jesus is our Lord. “It is always too soon to quit” (V. Raymond Edman). ‘Questioning but waiting’ (vv. 84-85)…..It is through faith and patience that we inherit what God has appointed for us (Heb. 6:12). Our trials will produce patience if we trust in the Lord (James 1:3-4)…..‘Trusting and reviving’ (vv. 86-88). When the Father allows His children to go into the furnace of affliction, He keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. He knows how long and how much. To walk by faith will bring unrest and weakness, but to meditate on the Word will bring peace and power…..
Lamedh (vv. 89-96)–Change and the Changeless.…..The psalmist made some wonderful affirmations, which, if heeded, will anchor us to the eternal and enable us to be used of God during these turbulent times. ‘God’s Word is settled’ (v. 89)…..The Word is “founded forever”..and will endure forever…..Build your life on the Word of God, and you will weather all the changes of life! ‘God is faithful’ (v. 90a). Pause and read Psalm 90 and see what Moses had to say about the eternal God and the changes of life. From generation to generation He is God, and we can commit ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren to His care….. ‘God’s creation is established’ (vv. 90b-91). Until that last day when God’s fire purifies all things and He ushers in a new heaven and earth (2 Peter 3; Rev. 21–22), this present creation will stand…..‘God’s peace is available’ (vv. 92-95). We do not go to the Bible to escape the realities of life but to be strengthened to face life and serve God effectively We may not be able to delight in what is going on in the world, but we can delight in what God says in His Word. The Word equips us to deal with the changes of life and the crises that come. ‘God wants us to get out of our ruts’ (v. 96)…..Why should God’s people stay in a rut when the Word of God is so boundless and there are no limits to what He can do! We may not like all the changes going on in the world, but we need not be frustrated and afraid…..He holds the world in His hands; His promises can never fail; so, let’s get moving!
Mem (vv. 97-104)–Beyond Bible Study.…..Our relationship to the Lord is determined by our relationship to His will, and that is determined by how we relate to His Word. Too many believers have only academic head knowledge of the Word, but they do not know how to put this knowledge into practice in the decisions of daily life. What we all need is a heart knowledge of the Word, and this means being taught by God. Here are the conditions we must meet. ‘We must love His Word and meditate on it’ (vv. 97-100)…..God shares His truth with babes (Luke 10:21) and those who are humble enough to receive it (1 Cor. 1:18–2:8). ‘We must obey His Word’ (vv. 101-102)….While God’s truth is food for our souls, it is not a buffet from which we select only the things we like…..;We must enjoy His Word’ (vv. 103-104)…..God’s Word is pure, not defiled, and gives us the sweetness and energy we need to obey His commands. The unsaved person finds the Bible boring, but the devoted child of God feeds on the Scriptures and enjoys the sweet taste of truth. This is what it means to go beyond Bible study.
Nun (vv. 105-112)–We Will Be Faithful…..We want God to be faithful to us, so is it wrong for God to expect us to be faithful to Him? The psalmist described several areas of faithfulness in the life of the believer. ‘Faithful feet’ (v. 105)……We do not see the whole route at one time, for we walk by faith when we follow the Word. Each act of obedience shows us the next step, and eventually we arrive at the appointed destination……’Faithful words’ (vv. 106-108)……Do we mean the words that we pray, sing, and read aloud from the litany? If worship is the highest use of words, then to be careless in worship is to commit a great sin. ‘A faithful memory'(vv. 109-110)…..One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to bring God’s Word to our remembrance when we need it (John 14:25-26), but we cannot remember what we have never heard and learned……‘A faithful heart’ (vv. 111-112)……A mere surface reading of Scripture will not put spiritual treasure into our hearts. Mining treasure is hard work, but it is joyful work when we mine the Bible, as the Spirit guides us into truth…….Once your heart is set on obeying the Word, the life is on the right course. (Matt. 6:33).
Samekh (vv. 113-120)–Dealing with the Enemy. If the life of faith consisted only of meditating on the Word and loving God, life would be easy, but people of faith have enemies and life in this world is not easy……Four assurances in these verses help us face the enemy with courage and win the battle. (1) God protects His people (vv. 113-115)……The Lord protects us that He might equip us to face the enemy and fight the battle.…..(2) God upholds the obedient (vv. 116-117). When we feel like falling down and just giving up, the Lord comes to our aid in ways we could never fully understand. (3) God rejects the wicked (vv. 118-119. God’s people in the Old Testament fought their enemies with swords and slings, but God’s people today use the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17) It is a conflict between truth and lies, and God’s truth must prevail. (4) God alone should be feared (v. 120)….. God honors those who fear Him and blesses them(115:13).
Ayin (vv. 121-128)–Blessed Assurance……Often, God’s people suffer oppression, while the guilty go free. When that happens, we need to remember the Lord and what He does for us. ‘The Lord is the Rewarder’ (v. 121)…..When God rewards His people, it is a witness to sinners that their day of judgment is certain……‘The Lord is our Surety (v. 122).….To become surety for a friend’s debts is forbidden in Scripture, lest you end up with a burden greater than you can handle…But the Son of God became surety for those who have trusted Him (Heb. 7:22)!….Jesus has taken the responsibility for our salvation, and He will never fail. ‘The Lord is our Master’ (123-125). Whenever people attack us they also attack the Lord, for we belong to Him…..God’s servants do not live by explanations; they live by promises. ‘The Lord is the Final Judge’ (vv. 126-128). In our impatience, we sometimes want God to work immediately and set everything right, but His ways and times are not always the same as ours.
Pe (vv. 129-136)–A Chain Reaction….This section describes a “spiritual chain reaction” in the life of the psalmist, one that can occur in our lives if we ponder the wonder of God’s Word. ‘Wonder leads to obedience’ (v. 129)……The longer I read and study the Bible, the more wonderful it becomes, and a God who wrote a book that wonderful deserves my obedience. To obey the Word is to become part of that wonder, to experience power and spiritual transformation in our lives. ‘Obedience leads to understanding’ (v. 130). The light of the Word comes into our hearts and minds and brings spiritual insight and understanding (2 Cor. 4:1-6)…..‘Understanding leads to deeper desire’ (v. 131)…..When we lose our desire for God’s Word, then we are vulnerable to the substitutes the world has to offer (Isa. 55:1-2). ‘Desire leads to love for God’ (v. 132)…..To love God’s name is to love God, for His name reveals all that He is…..‘God’s love leads to guidance and freedom’ (vv. 133-134). When we experience the love of God in our hearts, we keep His commandments (John 14:15), and obedience to His commandments sets us free from the slavery of sin…..‘Freedom in Christ brings us God’s blessing’ (135-136)…..If our enjoyment of God’s Word and God’s gracious blessings has truly reached our hearts, then we ought to have a burden for the lost and want to try to reach them for Christ.
Tsadhe (vv. 137-144)–In God We Trust……The message in this section of the psalm is that you can depend on the word of God, so —-have faith! ‘God’s Word is trustworthy no matter what people do’ (vv. 137-139)…..People may sin and die, but God’s righteousness and righteous Word remain. ‘God’s Word is trustworthy no matter what people say’ (vv. 140-141)…..The world may look upon God’s people as “small and despised, ” but when you stand on God’s promises, you are a giant. ‘God’s Word is trustworthy regardless of how you feel’ (vv. 142-143)…..When your feelings deceive you into concluding that it is not worth it to serve the Lord, immediately turn to the Scriptures and delight in your Lord. ‘God’s Word is trustworthy no matter how long you live’ (v. 144)…..It is not the length of life but the depth of life that counts, and depth comes from laying hold of God’s Word and obeying it.
Qoph (vv. 145-152)–A Primer on Prayer…..‘Pray wholeheartedly’ (vv. 145-146)……The devotion of the heart is what ignites our prayers and enables us to present our requests to the Lord……‘Pray without ceasing according to the Word’ (vv. 147-148)…..To “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) does not mean to walk around muttering prayers. It means to “keep the receiver off the hook” so that nothing comes between the Father and us…..We must balance the Word and prayer in our devotional lives and ministry, for all Bible and no prayer means light without heat, but all prayer and no Bible could result in zeal without knowledge…..When we meditate on the Word, the Father speaks to us; and when we pray, we speak to the Father. We need both instruction and intercession if we are to be balanced children of God. ‘Pray as an act of love’ (v. 149)…..Prayer is more than asking; prayer is loving. If we love the Word of God, we must also love the God of the Word and express that love to Him…..When we share our love with the Lord, we receive new life from Him. ‘Pray with your eyes open’ (vv. 150-152)…..Jesus,(Matt. 26:41) Paul,(Col. 4:2) and Peter(1Peter 4:7) commanded God’s people to “watch and pray,” to be on guard and pray with intelligence and alertness. We are soldiers in a battle and we dare not go to sleep while on duty.
Resh (vv. 153-160)–Strength for the Journey…..The psalmist not only prayed but also gave reasons why the Lord should answer. ‘Revive me, for You are my Redeemer’ (vv. 153-155)…..In our affliction, it is comforting to know that the Son of God intercedes for us, hears our prayers, and meets our needs. ‘Revive me, for You are merciful’ (vv. 156-158)…..God in His grace gives us what we do not deserve, and in His mercy He does not give us what we do deserve…..‘Revive me, for Your Word can be trusted’ (vv. 159-160). The sum of Your word is truth, and this means all of it can be trusted…To love the Word is to obey it, and to obey it is to receive life from it…..
Shin (vv. 161-168)–Blessed Are the Balanced…..‘Respect and rejoicing’ (vv. 161-162)…Once again we learn that when we fear God, we need not fear anyone else…The promises of God in the Bible are better than money in the bank, because they will never lose their value, and nobody can take them from us. ‘Love and hate ‘(v. 163)…“You who love the LORD, hate evil” (97:10)… Whoever loves and practices a lie will not enter the heavenly city and will be banished from God’s presence forever (Rev. 21:27). ‘Praise and poise (vv. 164-165)…..Focusing on the Lord, asking for nothing, and being totally lost in our praise of Him has a way of making the problems look much smaller and the future much brighter. But praise also helps us to have poise in our Christian walk and to not stumble (Jude 24) or cause others to stumble (1 Cor. 8:13)….;Walking and waiting’ (vv. 166-168)…But as we wait and hope, we must walk and work, for we want to be found faithful when Jesus comes (Matt. 24:45-51). When we love His Word, we will also love His appearing (2 Tim. 4:6-8) and live like those who are ready to meet their Lord (1 John 2:28).
Tau (vv. 169-176)–Hear My Prayer…..‘I need Your Word’ (vv. 169-172)…We never outgrow our need for God’s Word, no matter how long we have been walking with Him. There is always something new to learn, and we often see new applications of old truths…..‘I need Your hand’ (v. 173)…The idols of the heathen have hands that do not move or feel, but God’s hand is active on the behalf of His people…‘I need Your salvation’ (v. 174). In his case, “salvation” meant deliverance from his enemies who were threatening him, but “salvation” can mean freedom from worry, the healing of a sickness, the provision of funds to pay a bill, or deliverance from satanic oppression. As we saw in verse 166, our ultimate salvation is the return of Jesus Christ to deliver all creation from the bondage of sin. ‘I need Your help’ (v. 175)…God helps us as He arranges the affairs of this world and of our lives, for there are no accidents in the life of the believer—only appointments. Our Father watches over us and accomplishes His will (23:3; John 10:4; Rom. 8:28). ‘I am Your servant’ (v. 176)…In verse 110 he affirmed that he had not strayed away, but now he realized the danger of feeling overconfident. (1 Cor. 10:12)…He opened the psalm with a benediction (v. 1), but he closed it with a warning, and both are important to the balanced Christian life. God gives us promises and assurances so we will not despair, but He gives us warnings that we might not presume. He was still the servant of God and not the servant of sin, and he still remembered God’s Word, so he would not stray for long.
I wish everyone a very blessed day.