Psalm 119 'chet'

We’re up to the eighth stanza from Psalm 119 - verses 57 to 64 prefixed with the letter chet.

These verses, from the NASBĀ®1, interspersed with my comments read as follows:

57. The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words.

  • The word translated as ‘portion’ is the Hebrew cheleq (H2506) which refers to an allotment, inheritance or portion.
  • The verse is a declaration of intent. The word translated as ‘promise’ is the Hebrew amar (H559) and can be read as to say or to speak, to call out or declare, to promise.
  • So in the light of the Lord’s declarations/relationship with David, David is declaring a desire to be obedient.

58. I sought Your favor with all my heart; Be gracious to me according to Your word.

  • An interesting translation here. The word translated as ‘favor/favour’ is the Hebrew paniym (H6440) which can be better read as ‘face’. Literally it means ’the part that turns’. So David is saying he has sought the Lord’s face (or favourable side).
  • The second part of that clause reveals the manner of David’s searching - ‘with all my heart’. I could say the same, but I would need to add the qualifier ‘sporadically’.
  • And what is David seeking? The Lord’s grace as revealed in the Lord’s word. He is seeking the grace of God which has been promised to all who believe.

59. I considered my ways And turned my feet to Your testimonies.

  • David here is indicating one of the steps he has taken on his walk of faith.
  • David evaluated his decisions, choices and direction in the light of Scripture and made the conscious, intentional decision to reorient his life.
  • Likewise, it is a decision we all need to make (or not make) - whether to choose to follow the ways of God through belief in Jesus, or not.
  • For some believers this reorientation to the Lord’s testimonies needs to be done daily; for others it may involve less frequent corrections.

60. I hastened and did not delay To keep Your commandments.

  • Something of a continuation from yesterday’s verse. David indicates that he hastened and did not delay to obey the Lord.
  • It speaks of two aspects in his obedience - his initial response time, and the speed with which he followed through. He didn’t have to think about obeying for it was immediate; and he followed the Lord’s commands promptly.
  • Often we will respond to something slowly if we don’t really want to do it; and we dilly-dally whilst doing it if our heart isn’t in it.

61. The cords of the wicked have encircled me, But I have not forgotten Your law.

  • Here’s an ugly image - being encircled by the cords of the wicked. It is suggestive of being ensnared or surrounded, trapped and with the antagonists closing in.
  • Whilst we don’t know what the specific circumstances were that David had in mind when he wrote this, there were plenty of times when he was on the run and being pursued by people who had brought false accusations against him.
  • The word translated as ’encircled’ is the Hebrew ud (H5749) and means to repeat or duplicate. By implication it means to encompass, to testify and reiterate. So David is being surrounded by false testimony and accusation.
  • But David remembers God’s law. That law vindicates the truth and upholds the righteous. David is not responding with lies or threats, but maintaining the Lord’s commands with integrity and trust.

62. At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You Because of Your righteous ordinances.

  • David speaks of getting up at midnight to give thanks to the Lord. There is no commentary as to whether this was a regular practice or a one-off.
  • It may form part of what we now call the ‘divine office’ or ‘daily office’ or keeping the ‘hours’ or the ‘office’.
  • Daniel 6:10 records Daniel keeping three periods of time each day for prayer. It reads, ‘Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously.’

63. I am a companion of all those who fear You, And of those who keep Your precepts.

  • David is expressing companionship with other believers. ‘Kinship’ may be a better word to convey what David is expressing.
  • The basis for this companionship or kinship is twofold: Fear of the Lord, and obedience to the Lord’s precepts.
  • Generally this holy/godly fear and obedience are found and bound together.

64. The earth is full of Your lovingkindness, O LORD; Teach me Your statutes.

  • The Psalmist takes a broad view of God’s general revelation, and seeks the Lord’s teaching as a result.
  • The first clause reminds me of Romans 1:20, ‘For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.’
  • David’s response to this general, divine revelation is to ask the Lord to teach him His precepts. He wants to know more of how to live consistent with the God revealing this lovingkindness.

  1. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation. ↩︎