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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - PSALMS 119
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    PSALM 119

    Ps 119:1-176. This celebrated Psalm has several peculiarities. It is divided into twenty-two parts or stanzas, denoted by the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each stanza contains eight verses, and the first letter of each verse is that which gives name to the stanza. Its contents are mainly praises of God's Word, exhortations to its perusal, and reverence for it, prayers for its proper influence, and complaints of the wicked for despising it. There are but two verses (Ps 119:122, 132) which do not contain some term or description of God's Word. These terms are of various derivations, but here used, for the most part, synonymously, though the use of a variety of terms seems designed, in order to express better the several aspects in which our relations to the revealed word of God are presented. The Psalm does not appear to have any relation to any special occasion or interest of the Jewish Church or nation, but was evidently "intended as a manual of pious thoughts, especially for instructing the young, and its peculiar artificial structure was probably adopted to aid the memory in retaining the language."

    ALEPH. (Ps 119:1-8).

    1. undefiled--literally, "complete," perfect, or sincere (compare Ps 37:37).
    - in--or, "of"
    - the way--course of life.
    - walk--act
    - in the law--according to it (compare Lu 1:6).
    - law--from a word meaning "to teach," is a term of rather general purport, denoting the instruction of God's Word.

    2. testimonies--The word of God is so called, because in it He testifies for truth and against sin.
    - seek him--that is, a knowledge of Him, with desire for conformity to His will.

    3. his ways--the course He reveals as right.

    4-6. precepts--are those directions which relate to special conduct, from a word meaning "to inspect."
    - statutes--or ordinances, positive laws of permanent nature. Both words originally denote rather positive than moral laws, such as derive force from the divine appointment, whether their nature or the reasons for them are apprehended by us or not.
    - commandments--or institutions. The term is comprehensive, but rather denotes fundamental directions for conduct, both enjoining and forbidding.
    - have respect unto--or regard carefully as to their whole purport.

    7. judgments--rules of conduct formed by God's judicial decisions; hence the wide sense of the word in the Psalms, so that it includes decisions of approval as well as condemnation.

    8. Recognizes the need of divine grace.

    BETH. (Ps 119:9-16).

    9. The whole verse may be read as a question; for,
    - by taking heed--is better, "for" taking heed, that is, so as to do it. The answer is implied, and inferable from Ps 119:5, 10, 18, &c., that is, by God's grace.

    10-16. We must carefully treasure up the word of God, declare it to others, meditate on it, and heartily delight in it; and then by His grace we shall act according to it.

    GIMEL. (Ps 119:17-24).

    17-20. Life is desirable in order to serve God; that we may do so aright, we should seek to have our eyes opened to behold His truth, and earnestly desire fully to understand it.

    21-24. God will rebuke those who despise His word and deliver His servants from their reproach, giving them boldness in and by His truth, even before the greatest men.

    DALETH. (Ps 119:25-32).

    25-27. Submitting ourselves in depression to God, He will revive us by His promises, and lead us to declare His mercy to others.

    28-32. In order to adhere to His word, we must seek deliverance from temptations to sin as well as from despondency.
    - enlarge--or, "expand"
    - my heart--with gracious affections.

    HE. (Ps 119:33-40).

    33-38. To encourage us in prayer for divine aid in adhering to His truth, we are permitted to believe that by His help we shall succeed.
    - the way of thy statutes--that is, the way or manner of life prescribed by them. The help we hope to obtain by prayer is to be the basis on which our resolutions should rest.

    37. Turn away mine eyes--literally, "Make my eyes to pass, not noticing evil."
    - vanity--literally, "falsehood;" all other objects of trust than God; idols, human power, &c. (Ps 31:6; 40:4; 60:11; 62:9).
    - quicken . . . in thy way--make me with living energy to pursue the way marked out by Thee. Revive me from the death of spiritual helplessness (Ps 119:17, 25, 40, 50; 116:3).

    38. who is devoted to thy fear--or better, "which (that is, Thy word) is for Thy fear," for producing it. "Which is to those who fear Thee." God's word of promise belongs peculiarly to such (compare Ge 18:19; 1Ki 2:4; 8:25) [HENGSTENBERG].

    39, 40. Our hope of freedom from the reproach of inconsistency is in God's power, quickening us to live according to His Word, which He leads us to love.
    - for thy judgments are good--The time must therefore be at hand when Thy justice will turn the "reproach" from Thy Church upon the world (Isa 25:8; 66:5; Zep 2:8-10).

    VAU. (Ps 119:41-48).

    41-44. The sentiment more fully carried out. God's mercies and salvation, as revealed in His Word, provide hope of forgiveness for the past and security in a righteous course for the future.

    42. The possession of God's gift of "salvation" (Ps 119:41) will be the Psalmist's answer to the foe's "reproach," that his hope was a fallacious one.

    45-48. To freedom from reproach, when imbued with God's truth, there is added "great boldness in the faith" [1Ti 3:13], accompanied with increasing delight in the holy law itself, which becomes an element of happiness.

    48. My hands . . . lift up unto . . . commandments--that is, I will prayerfully (Ps 28:2) direct my heart to keep Thy commandments.

    ZAIN. (Ps 119:49-56).

    49-51. Resting on the promises consoles under affliction and the tauntings of the insolent.
    - upon which--rather, "Remember Thy word unto Thy servant, because," &c. So the Hebrew requires [HENGSTENBERG].

    50. for--rather, "This is my comfort . . . that," &c. [MAURER].
    - hath quickened--What the Word has already done is to faith a pledge of what it shall yet do.

    52-56. The pious take comfort, when harassed and distressed by wickedness of men who forsake God's law, in remembering that the great principles of God's truth will still abide; and also God's
    - judgments of old--that is, His past interpositions in behalf of His people are a pledge that He will again interpose to deliver them; and they become the theme of constant and delightful meditation. The more we keep the more we love the law of God.

    53. Horror--rather, "vehement wrath" [HENGSTENBERG].

    54. songs--As the exile sings songs of his home (Ps 137:3), so the child of God, "a stranger on earth," sings the songs of heaven, his true home (Ps 39:12). In ancient times, laws were put in verse, to imprint them the more on the memory of the people. So God's laws are the believer's songs.
    - house of my pilgrimage--present life (Ge 17:8; 47:9; Heb 11:13).

    56. Rather, "This is peculiarly mine (literally, to me), that I keep Thy precepts" [HENGSTENBERG and MAURER].

    CHETH. (Ps 119:57-64).

    57-60. Sincere desires for God's favor, penitence, and activity in a new obedience, truly evince the sincerity of those who profess to find God a portion (Nu 18:20; Ps 16:5; La 3:24).

    58. favour--Hebrew, "face" (Ps 45:12).

    59. So the prodigal son, when reduced to straits of misery (Lu 15:17, 18).

    61, 62. This the more, if opposition of enemies, or love of ease is overcome in thus honoring God's law.
    - have robbed me--better, surrounded me, either as forcible constraints like fetters, or as the cords of their nets. HENGSTENBERG translates, "snares."

    62. At midnight--HENGSTENBERG supposes a reference to the time when the Lord went forth to slay the Egyptian first-born (Ex 11:4; 12:29; compare Job 34:20). But it rather refers to the Psalmist's own praises and prayers in the night time. Compare Paul and Silas (Ac 16:25; compare Ps 63:6).

    63. The communion of the saints. Delight in their company is an evidence of belonging to them (Ps 16:3; Am 3:3; Mal 3:16).

    64. While opposed by the wicked, and opposing them, the pious delight in those who fear God, but, after all, rely for favor and guidance not on merit, but mercy.

    TETH. (Ps 119:65-72).

    65-67. The reliance on promises (Ps 119:49) is strengthened by experience of past dealings according with promises, and a prayer for guidance, encouraged by sanctified affliction.

    66. Teach me good judgment and knowledge--namely, in Thy word (so as to fathom its deep spirituality); for the corresponding expression (Ps 119:12, 64, 68), is, "Teach me Thy statutes."

    67. Referred by HENGSTENBERG to the chastening effect produced on the Jews' minds by the captivity (Jer 31:18, 19). The truth is a general one (Job 5:6; Joh 15:2; Heb 12:11).

    68. Compare as to the Lord Jesus (Ac 10:38).

    69, 70. The crafty malice of the wicked, in slandering him, so far from turning him away, but binds him closer to God's Word, which they are too stupid in sin to appreciate. HENGSTENBERG refers the "lie" to such slanders against the Jews during the captivity, as that in Ezr 4:1-6, of sedition.

    70. fat as grease--spiritually insensible (Ps 17:10; 73:7; Isa 6:10).

    71, 72. So also affliction of any kind acts as a wholesome discipline in leading the pious more highly to value the truth and promises of God.

    JOD. (Ps 119:73-80).

    73. As God made, so He can best control, us. So as to Israel, he owed to God his whole internal and external existence (De 32:6).

    74. So when He has led us to rely on His truth, He will "make us to the praise of His grace" by others. "Those who fear Thee will be glad at my prosperity, as they consider my cause their cause" (Ps 34:2; 142:7).

    75-78. in faithfulness--that is, without in the least violating Thy faithfulness; because my GOTO NEXT CHAPTER - D. J-F-B INDEX & SEARCH

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