Psalm 119 'yod'

We’re looking at the tenth stanza of Psalm 119 - verses 73 to 80 prefixed with the letter yod.

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

73. Your hands made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.

  • Begins (as all sensible thinking should) with an acknowledgement of God’s creatorship2 and, therefore, a prayer for understanding.
  • Here the understanding is sought to enable the Psalmist to learn the commandments. Usually one would learn the Lord’s commandments to gain understanding (what we may call wisdom for right living), but David asks for understanding to provide the imperative for him to learn.
  • In a sense David’s thinking is ‘give me understanding so I may gain even more understanding by learning Your commandments’.
  • It is akin to an earlier verse in the Psalm - verse 18 - ‘Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law.’ My comments on this earlier verse are here.

74. May those who fear You see me and be glad, Because I wait for Your word.

  • An interesting flow of thoughts here. Because David waits for the Lord’s word (we’ll get to this in a moment), he prays that those who cross David’s path with be glad and respond favourably.
  • This may be conveying a general gladness when one believer sees/meets another, but it may be more specific because David has been vilified by ungodly people for his faith and the favour God has shown him.
  • The idea of ‘waiting’ is from the Hebrew yachal (H3176) which means to wait (no surprise there!) but, by implication picks up the idea of hoping and trusting. It is not a forlorn wait, but an expectant one which will be satisfied.

75. I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous, And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.

  • David returns to the theme of affliction which has been referred to in verses 50, 67 and 71. I would be careful in attributing the affliction in verse 50 to the Lord, but I think it becomes clearer from 67 to 71 to 75 that David identifies the source of the affliction/correction/discipline as the Lord.
  • Here David is more explicit about both the Lord’s righteous judgements, and the source/purpose of David’s afflictions.
  • The purpose of the affliction is to build faithfulness in the recipient. The source of the affliction is “You” - the Lord. And the basis is God’s righteous judgement/assessment of David’s condition and need.
  • This verse sounds like it was written in a clear moment, not a clouded one.

76. O may Your lovingkindness comfort me, According to Your word to Your servant.

  • Almost a follow up to the previous verse - that, once afflicted and corrected, David will be comforted by the Lord’s lovingkindness.
  • The source or basis for seeking this comfort is the Lord’s word.
  • Is the word of the Lord the source of the comfort itself; or the source of the knowledge of where (and why) the comfort will come? Both.

77. May Your compassion come to me that I may live, For Your law is my delight.

  • Sounds like David is trying to bargain - ‘have compassion and let me live, because I love your law’. As mercenary as it sounds, it does recognise God’s sovereignty and rule over all things.
  • By the same token it also recognises our responsibility (response-ability) to God’s creatorship and authority.
  • David also recognises (or verbalises) that the life he wants to live is one that is fuelled by God’s compassion. He wants to live on the right side of God and indicates that faith, humility and obedience are at the core of that.

78. May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie; But I shall meditate on Your precepts.

  • The Psalmist returns to the theme of being slandered and maligned by his enemies.
  • The idea of ‘subversion’ is the Hebrew avath (H5315) and means to wrest, to deal perversely, to subvert. David’s enemies are attempting to paint a false image or, in today’s parlance, ‘create a false narrative’.
  • David’s solution is not to turn to the civil courts, social media or a PR manager, but to the word of the Lord. David will meditate on the Lord’s precepts.

79. May those who fear You turn to me, Even those who know Your testimonies.

  • Another somewhat weird verse today (I think, anyway) - that David would seek that people who fear the Lord would turn to David.
  • I think David is seeking support or empathy from believers within the Israeli nation. It seems this is tied up with David being afflicted and slandered by his enemies and is seeking some show of support and kindness from other ‘true believers’.
  • Matthew Henry comments that, “He does not mean so much that they might side with him, and take up arms in his cause, as that they might love him, and pray for him, and associate with him.”

80. May my heart be blameless in Your statutes, So that I will not be ashamed.

  • David makes an interesting connection between blamelessness and being subject to shame.
  • The blamelessness David is seeking is in or compared to the Lord’s statutes. So he is seeking justification before the law.
  • I think the idea of not being ashamed is relative to approaching the Lord. David is seeking purity of heart so that he can approach the Lord with confidence. This is reminiscent of Hebrews 4:16 where the writer speaks of having boldness to approach the throne of grace.

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

  2. I presume this is a word. If it’s not, then it should be. Maybe it needs a hyphen? ↩︎