Psalm 119

This year (all nine days of it) I’ve been taking advice that pastor Philip Henry gave to his son Matthew some 300 years ago. Matthew was the author of the well-regarded commentary he called An Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, but is more commonly known today as Matthew Henry’s Complete Bible Commentary. I wrote about this particular piece of advice mid last year. The advice is to meditate on a new verse from Psalm 119 each day. Loosely quoting his father, Matthew wrote:

Once pressing the study of the Scriptures, he advised to take a Verse of Psalm 119 every morning to meditate upon, and so go over the Psalm twice in the Year; and that (saith he) will bring you to be in love with all the rest of the Scripture; and he often said, ‘All grace grows, as love to the Word of God grows.’

So I have been doing that. My meditations are brief - some days little more than reading the text a couple of times trying to imprint its message onto my mind without going to the effort of seeking to memorise it. Let’s be honest - it is difficult to meditate on something unless you’ve either memorised it, or written it down so it is readily available throughout the day.

Psalm 119 is, in essence, a Psalm that extols or exalts the Scriptures. Matthew Henry, in his introductory comments to Psalm 119 observes that “There are ten different words by which divine revelation is called in this psalm”. These ten words or phrases are:

  1. God’s law
  2. His way
  3. His testimonies
  4. His commandments
  5. His precepts
  6. His word
  7. His judgements
  8. His righteousness
  9. His statutes
  10. His truth or his faithfulness

Matthew points out that there is only one verse in the entire 176 verses of the Psalm where one or more of these words isn’t referenced - verse 122. I can’t comment on that.

Other commentaries suggest there are nine different words that are used throughout the Psalm to describe God’s word. The difference may be in the translation, and I don’t know if 175 of the 176 verses mention at least one of these nine descriptors.

As mentioned in my earlier post, this Psalm comprises 22 stanzas of eight verses each. But more than that, each stanza is named/indicated by a letter of the Hebrew alphabet - aleph, beth, gimel etc, and each verse in the stanza begins with that Hebrew letter.

It is my intention to post some of my thoughts on these stanzas as I complete them. We’ll see how we go.