Psalms 119 Aleph -Zayin; We begin looking at the longest chapter in the Old Testament. Psalms 119 is divided into the Hebrew alphabet.
Note The writer, usually considered to be David, registers his delight in the Word of God in an unusual way. The psalm consists of twenty-two sections each of eight verses. Each of these twenty-two sections features a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. For instance, each of the eight verses in the first section begins with the Hebrew letter ‘Aleph’. Each of the verses in the next section begins with the Hebrew letter ‘Beth’. And so it goes through the entire Hebrew alphabet.
While this psalm deals with many aspects of the Word of God, two major themes emerge more forcefully than any others: why we should value the Word of God and how we show that we value the Word of God. [Roger Ellsworth, Opening up Psalms, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006), 23.]
Looking at the language the writer uses to describe the Word of God, indicates the multi-faceted way the scriptures are presented. A word of caution at the onset of Psalm 119, a person could easily look at the words and declare a “legalist” is writing. We cannot allow ourselves to skew the perspective as a religious fundamentalist. The writer is just trying to convey the manifold design and beauty of the Word of God in as many ways as he can.
Additionally, some important thoughts from Logos research –
IT GIVES LIBERTY (v. 45). Sin always promises to bring freedom, but it only creates bondage (2 Peter 2:19). It is the truth of God that brings true and lasting freedom (John 8:32).
IT PROVIDES DIRECTION (v. 105). We live in a dark, perplexing world that offers us many paths. If we are careless about the paths we choose, we invite misery and ruin. The Word of God provides the direction we need. It is like a light shining in a dark place (2 Peter 1:19).
IT PRODUCES UNDERSTANDING (v. 130). Our walking and understanding are inseparably linked. In addition to shedding light on our path, the Word of God enlightens our minds so we can discern what we ought to do.
A second major emphasis in this psalm is this: how we show that we value the Word of God.
Firstly, we will study it diligently. God’s purpose in giving his Word was to point us to himself. We are, therefore, to seek him through his Word (v. 2), and this seeking is to be done wholeheartedly (vv. 2–10). We are to ‘look’ into his Word (v. 6) and to learn its judgements (v. 7).
Secondly, we will obey its commands. The duty of obedience is set forth in these verses in several ways: walking in the law of the Lord and in his ways (vv. 1, 3), keeping his testimonies (vv. 2, 129), and taking heed to our ways to make sure they correspond to the teachings of God’s Word (v. 9).
Thirdly, we will hide it in our hearts. This means we are to store it in our minds and treasure it in our affections with the confidence that it will fortify us against sin (v. 11). G. Campbell Morgan summarizes this verse in this way: ‘The best book, in the best place, for the best purpose.’
Fourthly, we will declare it to others (v. 13). Studying the Word of God will cause our hearts to burn within us (Luke 24:32) in such a way that we won’t be able to keep it to ourselves. We’ll be anxious to share its message of salvation with those who don’t know Christ and to discuss its teachings with fellow Christians.
Rejoicing over it
Finally, we will constantly rejoice over the Word of God and delight in it (vv. 14–16). We must not miss the connection the psalmist makes in these verses. The rejoicing of verse 14 and the delighting of verse 16 are connected by the meditating of verse 15. As we reflect on what the Word of God is and what it does, we will find the rejoicing and delighting to be inescapable. [Roger Ellsworth, Opening up Psalms, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006), 25–27.]
In our look at this Psalm, we will be confronted with many verses that compel us to embrace the Word of God as our own. Words like meditate, hid, observe and others that tell us to make the Bible – God’s word to His people personal. People are not without instruction and knowledge of the Will of God. He has communicated to us through prophets OT/NT so we may have full revelation of His nature and work.
Statutes means laws, commands, decrees, directives – how we are to live
Ordinances means legislation; but can mean prohibitions and restrictions; think of the Mosaic Law and dietary laws
Precepts – general rules of behavior or thought; wisdom and doctrine could also be used
Testimonies – this is a direct reference to the work of the Lord, creation, deliverance, intercession, mercy and grace to mankind and specifically Israel and believers