Here are some thoughts regarding Psalm 119:
The central theme is the word of God. Some of the sub-themes are how obedience to and knowledge of the word of God leads to deliverance and salvation. The Psalmist recognises that much of the word contains God’s promises which flow from God’s goodness and faithfulness. There is a deep understanding and reliance by the Psalmist on the Lord’s goodness and sovereignty.
Some of the verses are in the form of prayers, others are statement or declarations of intent. The modern-day believer can benefit from meditating on and echoing these prayers and declarations. They refer to many contemporary situations–difficulties, persecution, praise, temple (church) attendance and participation.
Many verses make specific reference to deliverance. I have assumed this relates to deliverance from pursuers who are seeking to take the Psalmist’s life or destroy his legacy or damage his reputation (or all three). The life of King David, author of many of the Psalms, includes periods of desperation on the run from pursuers and usurpers.
Whilst English doesn’t benefit from the poetic form of having the verses in each stanza begin with the same letter, we don’t lose any truth in the translation. The loss is predominantly poetic.
The vast majority of the verses are stand alone verses that can be read as a single verse and still make sense.
Only a few verses are couplets where a second verse mirrors or extends the concepts in the preceding verse.
Over 170 of the 176 verses contain a specific reference to God’s word using a variety of terms or descriptions. Further to that, there is no apparent or discernible difference or pattern suggested by the various terms used for God’s word.
Many verses reflect confidence in the Lord, His word and His promises. Often the first clause is some prayer request or declaration of faith or confidence in the Lord and the second clause is a statement about the Lord’s word. Often the second clause contains some of the reason for the faith and confidence spoken of in the first.
Many of the verses explicitly or implicitly extol the benefits of reading, studying, meditating on, and obeying God’s word.
Some of my favourite verses, or those that seem to have spoken to me more so than others include:1
9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.
48 I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.
59 When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies;
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.
97 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
125 I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies!
130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
133 Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.
138 You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness and in all faithfulness.
148 My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.
160 The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
164 Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.
165 Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
Scripture quotations taken from the ESV. Copyright by Crossway. ↩︎