Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. Most commentators believe that it was written by David and composed throughout his entire life. Others believe that it was written after the Babylonian exile. It was likely written over some period of time and later compiled, because there is no definite flow of thought from the beginning to the end.
The psalm is arranged in an acrostic pattern. Meaning that it is written so that each section is given a letter of the Hebrew alphabet and and each line in that section begins with that letter. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and this Psalm contains 22 sections of 8 verses each. The closest parallel to this pattern in Scripture is in Lamentations 3, which is also divided into 22 sections.
This psalm refers to the Torah as God’s revealed Word. The English word “Torah” comes from the Hebrew word toh·rahʹ, which can be translated as “instruction,” “teaching,” or “law.” Toh·rahʹ often refers to the first five books of the Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, as God revealed them to Moses. These are also called the Pentateuch, from a Greek word meaning “fivefold volume.” The Torah was written by Moses, so it is called “the book of the Law of Moses.” Evidently, it was originally written as one book and divided later.
Psalm 119 refers to the revealed Word of God over and over again, and is mentioned in at least 171 of its 176 verses.
There are 8 basic words used to describe the Word;
- Law (torah, used 25 times in Psalm 119)
- Word (dabar, used 24 times): The idea is of the spoken word, God’s revealed word to man.
- Judgments (mispatim, used 23 times): “From shaphat, to judge, determine, regulate, order, and discern, because they judge concerning our words and works; show the rules by which they should be regulated; and cause us to discern what is right and wrong, and decide accordingly.”
- Testimonies (edut/edot, used 23 times): This word is related to the word for witness. To obey His testimonies“signifies loyalty to the terms of the covenant made between the Lord and Israel.”
- Commandments (miswah/miswot, used 22 times): “This word emphasizes the straight authority of what is said . . . the right to give orders.”
- Statutes (huqqim, used 21 times): The noun is derived from the root verb “engrave” or “inscribe”; the idea is of the written word of God and the authority of His written word. “Declaring his authority and power of giving us laws.”
- Precepts (piqqudim, used 21 times): “This is a word drawn from the sphere of an officer or overseer, and man who is responsible to look closely into a situation and take action. . . . So the word points to the particular instructions of the Lord, as of one who cares about detail.”
- Word (imrah, used 19 times): Similar in meaning to dabar, yet a different term. “The ‘word’ may denote anything God has spoken, commanded, or promised.”
The lessons from this psalm are that the Word of God is sufficient to make us wise, train us in righteousness, and equip us for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The Scriptures are a reflection of God’s nature, and from them we learn that we can trust His character and His plan and purposes for mankind, even when those plans include affliction and persecution. We are blessed if we delight ourselves in His law (Word) and meditate on it day and night.
Psalm 1:1-2 (NKJV)1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. (Emphasis mine).
Psalm 37:4-6 (NKJV)4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.