Psalm 119 'vav'

We’re now looking at the sixth of the 22 stanzas of Psalm 119. This covers verses 41 to 48 under the letter vav (also spelt waw).

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

41. May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O LORD, Your salvation according to Your word;

  • This is the first (and indeed only) verse from the Psalm whose structure per the NASB continues over two verses.
  • The Psalmist is seeking a couple of things from the Lord - revival or rescue or salvation through the Lord’s righteousness, and also an experience of the Lord’s lovingkindness.
  • Interestingly only some translations include the word ‘also’ in the text. The ESV[2011], for example, says, “Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord”.
  • Lovingkindness is variously rendered as mercy and loving-kindness (Amp), steadfast love (ESV), mercies (NKJV) and unfailing love (NLT).
  • Matthew Henry in commenting on this verse sees the plea being for “the many manifestations of grace which every believer experiences” and “the full deliverance which the Lord has promised to His believers”.

42. So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me, For I trust in Your word.

  • Continues from the above verse. David is seeking a demonstration of the Lord’s lovingkindness and deliverance/salvation with which to answer or refute those who reproach him.
  • It may be that his accusers had told David his Lord had abandoned him, or given him up2, and David was seeking some evidence to refute this.
  • David concludes the matter by indicating absolute trust and reliance on the word of the Lord.

43. And do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, For I wait for Your ordinances.

  • A strangely-worded verse here. It reads like David is seeking to keep the ability to make declarations of God’s word.
  • I don’t disagree with the sentiment but would have worded it somewhat differently - something like ‘May I always have Your word in season.’
  • Matthew Henry puts it much more elegantly, “He means, ‘Lord, let the word of truth be always in my mouth; let me have the wisdom and courage which are necessary to enable me both to use my knowledge for the instruction of others, and, like the good householder, to bring out of my treasury things new and old, and to make profession of my faith whenever I am called to it.’”
  • It reminds me of Peter’s words in 1 Peter 3:15, ‘but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;’.

44. So I will keep Your law continually, Forever and ever.

  • This verse reads a little differently compared to those that have come before it.
  • Again it is a declaration of intent or purpose. It expresses David’s will - that he, at this moment, wants to keep God’s law.
  • And David would express a desire to be keeping God’s law in each moment from this point of time on for perpetuity.

45. And I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts.

  • Raises the issue and reality of liberty or freedom. Everyone wants it, some people talk about it, many look for it in wrong places. What does David have to say?
  • The word translated as ’liberty’ is the Hebrew rachab (H7342) and means roomy, broad, wide, in any or every direction.
  • It strikes me that this is to operate “in accordance with the the maker’s instructions”. It is freedom to live as we were designed and created to. Not a licence for disobedience, but liberty and freedom in God’s kingdom.
  • Ties in with Jesus’ words in Luke 4:18 (quoting Isaiah 61:1), ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me … to proclaim release to the captives … [and] set free those who are oppressed’.

46. I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings And shall not be ashamed.

  • Another verse indicating David’s desire to be declaring the word of the Lord. And this time he indicates where he will do it - before kings.
  • I guess it is a little easier to have access to kings if one is a king. I may have some trouble being granted an audience, but the point is that we can declare God’s word anywhere, to anyone (but appropriately and sensitively).
  • The idea of David not being ashamed is interesting. It would make a good hashtag for many things proposed or supported by the Bible #NotAshamed.
  • This verse reminds me of Paul’s words in Romans 1:16, ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.’

47. I shall delight in Your commandments, Which I love.

  • Another declaration, but this time a declaration to the Lord - that David shall delight in the Lord’s commandments.
  • This is a statement of intent - of how David will behave in and under the Lord’s commandments going forward.
  • And this future delight is based upon a present realisation or reality - that David loves these commandments.
  • It makes sense that if David loves the Lord’s commands today, then he will delight in them tomorrow.

48. And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Your statutes.

  • This idea of lifting up my hands to Your commandments strikes me as being a combination of submission and embrace and praise. It also conveys the idea of taking action in response or obedience to the commands of the Lord.
  • The idea of physical expression of submission and praise is common in charismatic/pentecostal churches, but much less so in evangelical churches. Whilst it can be for outward show and overdone, I think such physical expression during times of singing, prayer and praise can be helpful and is indeed recommended elsewhere in Scripture (see 1 Timothy 2:83).
  • David reiterates that he loves the Lord’s commandments as was the case for the previous verse.
  • David concludes this stanza by again declaring his intention to meditate on the word of the Lord.

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

  2. Pure speculation on my part. ↩︎

  3. The NASB reads, ‘Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.’ ↩︎