Psalm 119 'nun'

We’re looking at the fourteenth of twenty-two stanzas of Psalm 119 - verses 105 to 112 prefixed with the letter nun.

These verses, from the ESVĀ®1, interspersed with my comments are:

105. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

  • Perhaps the best known verse from this Psalm? Inspiration and lyric-source for the song Thy Word by Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith.
  • An interesting metaphor that indicates the Lord illuminates both the path we should take and the position of our feet.
  • Imagine being in the pitch dark then seeing an illuminated pathway some distance away. Knowing where the path is is one thing, but seeing the ground around us as we make our way to that path is another thing entirely. We need both.

106. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules.

  • The Psalmist here does something that no New Testament believer should consider doing - making or swearing an oath.
  • In Old Testament times it was a common event to swear an oath or make a vow to keep or fulfill some promise. Abraham did it (Genesis 21:31, 24:1-9), Hannah did it (1 Samuel 1:11), Ezra did it (Ezra 10:5), likewise Nehemiah (Nehemiah 5:12), David makes reference to it here, etc.
  • Jesus takes a different view as expressed in Matthew 5:33-37. Jesus’ words are based on a fuller or more rounded understanding of the nature of God. He takes an Old Testament view and expands it by indicating that all we say should be with honesty, integrity and intent.

107. I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word!

  • Here the Psalmist seeks relief from ‘severe affliction’. As has been mentioned before, the nature of the affliction isn’t described here but could relate to people seeking David’s life or damaging his reputation.
  • The relief he seeks is ’life’, but that could be physical rescue or escape, or restoration to a previous condition.
  • And this relief, this rescue (or redemption or restoration or revival) is in accordance with God’s word. Whether this was a specific word or promise to David, or more general revelation, we don’t know. I would think the former more likely.

108. Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O LORD, and teach me your rules.

  • The Psalmist offers praise to the Lord, or at least has praised the Lord and then offers that to the Lord. Any praise that isn’t of the free will doesn’t seem like it would be of any value anyway.
  • The Psalmist also seeks to have the Lord teach him His rules. It’s not in the form of a contract or exchange, but instead indicates a willingness both to praise the Lord and be taught God’s ordinances by the Lord.
  • It describes a position of submission to and reverence for the Lord.

109. I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law.

  • I presume this is a reference to David being on the run from Saul and his men, or under constant threat from potential usurpers or slanderers.
  • Despite those constant threats, David maintains his love for and obedience to the word of God. In the words of Matthew Henry, ‘In the multitude of his cares for his own safety he finds room in his head and heart for the word of God’.

110. The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts.

  • A continuation of the ideas from the previous verse. David is aware of people pursuing him and laying traps for him but he maintains his confidence in the word of the Lord.
  • I don’t think David is considering taking action outside of God’s word, but that he remains obedient to it despite the many pressures he faces.
  • It can be easy to let our guards down when under pressure, but David is declaring that he maintains his God-ward focus.

111. Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.

  • An interesting use or view on the word heritage where the Psalmist declares the Lord’s testimonies are his ‘heritage forever’. The Hebrew is the word nachal (H5157) and means to inherit or to occupy - something that has descended or been distributed.
  • It raises the question in my mind as to what part God’s word will play in our lives in eternity. More than I had previously considered, I suspect. There will still be learning and education and growth in heaven. I don’t think we will automatically have perfect or complete knowledge.
  • May I be able to echo David’s words that the Lord’s testimonies are ’the joy of my heart’.

112. I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.

  • David here touches on something important - the role of the will. He inclines his heart to keep the Lord’s commandments. He indicates an intention to do something consistently.
  • None of that precludes failures and lapses, but it is an orientation to reading, learning, studying, meditating and obeying the word of the Lord.
  • And it is something David sees as being necessary forever. His obedience is based on love, not fear and it is eternal.

  1. Scripture quotations taken from the ESV. Copyright by Crossway. ↩︎