Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Gift of God's Word

What can we say about the 119th Psalm? This Psalm is a Psalm in its own class and it is not like any of the other Psalms. It outshines and excels them all. This Psalm praises God for His Word – because God has given us the bible and it is only through the bible that we can come to know who God is and how to praise Him.

In a sermon from 1661 it was called a star in the firmament of the Psalms, of the first and greatest magnitude. That same sermon went on to say, that this Psalm is made up of three things: 

• Prayers to God

• Praises of God

• Protestations unto God 

Johannes Paulus Palanterius in 1600 called it “the alphabet of divine love, the paradise of all doctrines, the storehouse of the Holy Spirit, the School of truth.”

Franz Delitzsch of the German OT commentary, Keil & Delitzsch said that the German version had the appropriate inscription, “The Christian’s golden A B C of praise, love, power, and use of the Word of God.” “Here we have set forth in inexhaustible fullness what the word of God is to a man and how a man is to behave himself in relation to it.”

Matthew Henry gave instructions concerning this particular Psalm, he said “that we are to meditate on one verse each morning, and thus mediate through this Psalm twice a year” and he believed that this would bring us to be in love with all the rest of the Scriptures.

Augustine, who left us voluminous commentary on the bible, commented on this particular Psalm last, and only after much urging of his friends, “... because as often as I essayed to think thereon, it always exceeded the powers of my intent thought and the utmost grasp of my faculties.”  I can't even imagine anything to be beyond the grasp of this man's faculties.

William De Burgh wrote in 1860, “... it applies an all-containing medicine to the varied spiritual diseases of men – sufficing to perfect those who long for perfect virtue, to rouse the slothful, to refresh the dispirited, and to set in order the relaxed.”

At one time or another we all qualify for this – as children of God we should long for “perfect virtue, we need periodically to be roused from our sleepiness, we certainly from time to time need to be refreshed.

And if you were to be tempted to regret or complain about the length of this Psalm as you study it or even memorize it, then remember this little tribute to its length:

George Wishart, the chaplain and biographer of the Marquis of Montrose, was on the scaffold of the gallows that was to hang him. In keeping with the custom of the day, the condemned prisoner was allowed to choose a Psalm to be sung. He chose the 119th Psalm. Before 2/3 of the Psalm was sung, a pardon arrived which spared his life.

Charles Spurgeon adds this little tid-bit that the choice of this Psalm wasn’t necessarily made because of Wishart’s spirituality as much as it was made for shrewdness to gain as much more time as possible while he waited on his pardon. 

Martin Luther said – “…he prized this Psalm so highly that he would not take the whole world in exchange for one leaf of it.”

Derek Kidner – “This giant among the Psalms shows the full flowering of that ‘delight…in the law of the Lord’ which is described in Psalm 1 and gives its personal witness to the many-sided qualities of Scripture praised in Psalm 19.” 

Countless books, sermons, and writings have been done on this Psalm – Charles Spurgeon in his Treasury of David wrote 349 pages about it; Charles Bridges wrote some 481 on this one Psalm, Thomas Manton wrote three (3) volumes on this Psalm totaling 1677 pages. 

What makes this Psalm unique is its theme – the word of God. God’s word is mentioned in every verse except a couple. The Masoretes stated that the Word of God is referred to in every verse except verse 122.

Derek Kidner states God’s word is mentioned in every verse except 84, 121, and 122. Boice seems to think God’s Word is not mentioned in verses 90 & 132 – but he says 171 of 176 verses mention God’s Word.

According to H. C. Leupold the writer must have determined to do three (3) specific things when he wrote this Psalm: 

• Resolved to address God throughout this Psalm, except maybe the first three (3) verses

• Resolved to make mention of the Law of God in one way or another thought most of this Psalm

• Resolved for some reason to make this Psalm an acrostic, by using eight (8) verses which begins with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet

Let me encourage you to spend some time reading this Psalm. Use it as a prayer guide to learn to love, cherish, and teasure the word of God as this Psalmist did. Come to love it and be fed from its great depth of nourishment.



It appears a good psalm to study so will read it tonight after the hustle and bustle of the day has passed.

Have a good day,


Good advice from Matthew Henry and other great men of God that you quoted.

God has put His Word above His Name?

Psalm 138:2
I will worship toward Your holy temple,
And praise Your name
For Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.

IanH said...

Wow, what a wealth of history! Thanks!

Kansas Bob said...

Reminds me of a verse from another psalm:

They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.

And I love that story of the guy getting ready to be hanged.. really what chapter in all of scripture would stay death more than Psalm 119 :)

Wanda said...

I've been found of Psalm 119 for a long time.

Gregg said...

Yvonne - you can read it in one sitting even as lenghty as it is. I recommend after you have read it once or twice in one sitting to go back and take it 8 verses at a time for 22 days and meditate and pray as you read each stanza.

Ron - isn't that amazing how highly God prizes and exalts His word? Yet, we barely admit its existence.

Ian - you are welcome! Thanks for reading!

KB - thanks for reading and joining! I am honored. I preached recently on that Psalm. Amazing comparison David made.

Wanda - isn't it great? It is easy to be fond of!

LibbyLibbyLibbyLibbyLibby said...

Beautiful, thank you Gregg! :)

Lisa said...

I especially love how the pardon was given due to the length of the 119th Psalm. Now that is something! Love it!