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Psalm 119

posted Feb 15, 2017, 6:52 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Feb 15, 2017, 7:06 AM ]
ALEPH
Blessed those whose way is blameless, who walk by the law of the LORD.
Blessed those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with all their heart.
They do no wrong; they walk in his ways.
You have given them the command to observe your precepts with care.
May my ways be firm in the observance of your statutes!
Then I will not be ashamed to ponder all your commandments.
I will praise you with sincere heart as I study your righteous judgments.
I will observe your statutes; do not leave me all alone.
BETH
How can the young keep his way without fault? Only by observing your words.
With all my heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your commandments.
In my heart I treasure your promise, that I may not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes.
With my lips I recite all the judgments you have spoken.
I find joy in the way of your testimonies more than in all riches.
I will ponder your precepts and consider your paths.
In your statutes I take delight; I will never forget your word.
GIMEL
Be kind to your servant that I may live, that I may keep your word.
Open my eyes to see clearly the wonders of your law.
I am a sojourner in the land; do not hide your commandments from me.
At all times my soul is stirred with longing for your judgments.
With a curse you rebuke the proud who stray from your commandments.
Free me from disgrace and contempt, for I keep your testimonies.
Though princes meet and talk against me, your servant meditates on your statutes.
Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.
DALETH
My soul clings to the dust; give me life in accord with your word.
I disclosed my ways and you answered me; teach me your statutes.
Make me understand the way of your precepts; I will ponder your wondrous deeds.
My soul is depressed; lift me up according to your word.
Lead me from the way of deceit; favor me with your law.
The way of loyalty I have chosen; I have kept your judgments.
I cling to your testimonies, LORD; do not let me come to shame.
I will run the way of your commandments, for you will broaden my heart.
HE
LORD, teach me the way of your statutes; I shall keep them with care.
Give me understanding to keep your law, to observe it with all my heart.
Lead me in the path of your commandments, for that is my delight.
Direct my heart toward your testimonies and away from gain.
Avert my eyes from what is worthless; by your way give me life.
For your servant, fulfill your promise made to those who fear you.
Turn away from me the taunts I dread, for your judgments are good.
See how I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life.
WAW
Let your mercy come to me, LORD, salvation in accord with your promise.
Let me answer my taunters with a word, for I trust in your word.
Do not take the word of truth from my mouth, for in your judgments is my hope.
I will keep your law always, for all time and forever.
I will walk freely in an open space because I cherish your precepts.
I will speak openly of your testimonies without fear even before kings.
I delight in your commandments,which I dearly love.
I lift up my hands to your commandments; I study your statutes, which I love.
ZAYIN
Remember your word to your servant by which you give me hope.
This is my comfort in affliction, your promise that gives me life.
Though the arrogant utterly scorn me, I do not turn from your law.
When I recite your judgments of old I am comforted, LORD.
Rage seizes me because of the wicked; they forsake your law.
Your statutes become my songs wherever I make my home.
Even at night I remember your name in observance of your law, LORD.
This is my good fortune, for I have kept your precepts.
HETH
My portion is the LORD; I promise to observe your words.
I entreat you with all my heart: have mercy on me in accord with your promise.
I have examined my ways and turned my steps to your testimonies.
I am prompt, I do not hesitate in observing your commandments.
Though the snares of the wicked surround me, your law I do not forget.
At midnight I rise to praise you because of your righteous judgments.
I am the friend of all who fear you, of all who observe your precepts.
The earth, LORD, is filled with your mercy; teach me your statutes.
TETH
You have treated your servant well, according to your word, O LORD.
Teach me wisdom and knowledge, for in your commandments I trust.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I hold to your promise.
You are good and do what is good; teach me your statutes.
The arrogant smear me with lies, but I keep your precepts with all my heart.
Their hearts are gross and fat; as for me, your law is my delight.
It was good for me to be afflicted, in order to learn your statutes.
The law of your mouth is more precious to me than heaps of silver and gold.
YODH
Your hands made me and fashioned me; give me understanding to learn your commandments.
Those who fear you rejoice to see me, because I hope in your word.
I know, LORD, that your judgments are righteous; though you afflict me, you are faithful.
May your mercy comfort me in accord with your promise to your servant.
Show me compassion that I may live, for your law is my delight.
Shame the proud for leading me astray with falsehood, that I may study your testimonies.
Let those who fear you turn to me, those who acknowledge your testimonies.
May I be wholehearted toward your statutes, that I may not be put to shame.
KAPH
My soul longs for your salvation; I put my hope in your word.
My eyes long to see your promise. When will you comfort me?
I am like a wine-skin shriveled by smoke, but I have not forgotten your statutes.
How long can your servant survive? When will your judgment doom my foes?
The arrogant have dug pits for me; defying your law.
All your commandments are steadfast. Help me! I am pursued without cause.
They have almost put an end to me on earth, but I do not forsake your precepts.
In your mercy give me life, to observe the testimonies of your mouth.
LAMEDH
Your word, LORD, stands forever; it is firm as the heavens.
Through all generations your truth endures; fixed to stand firm like the earth.
By your judgments they stand firm to this day, for all things are your servants.
Had your law not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts; through them you give me life.
I am yours; save me, for I cherish your precepts.
The wicked hope to destroy me, but I seek to understand your testimonies.
I have seen the limits of all perfection, but your commandment is without bounds.
MEM
How I love your law, Lord! I study it all day long.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my foes,as it is forever with me.
I have more insight than all my teachers,because I ponder your testimonies.
I have more understanding than my elders, because I keep your precepts.
I keep my steps from every evil path, that I may observe your word.
From your judgments I do not turn, for you have instructed me.
How sweet to my tongue is your promise, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I gain understanding; therefore I hate all false ways.
NUN
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
I make a solemn vow to observe your righteous judgments.
I am very much afflicted, LORD; give me life in accord with your word.
Accept my freely offered praise; LORD, teach me your judgments.
My life is always at risk, but I do not forget your law.
The wicked have set snares for me, but from your precepts I do not stray.
Your testimonies are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
My heart is set on fulfilling your statutes; they are my reward forever.
SAMEKH
I hate every hypocrite; your law I love.
You are my refuge and shield; in your word I hope.
Depart from me, you wicked, that I may keep the commandments of my God.
Sustain me by your promise that I may live; do not disappoint me in my hope.
Strengthen me that I may be safe, ever to contemplate your statutes.
You reject all who stray from your statutes,for vain is their deceit.
Like dross you regard all the wicked on earth; therefore I love your testimonies.
My flesh shudders with dread of you; I fear your judgments.
AYIN
I have fulfilled your righteous judgment; do not abandon me to my oppressors.
Guarantee your servant’s welfare; do not let the arrogant oppress me.
My eyes long to see your salvation and the promise of your righteousness.
Act with mercy toward your servant; teach me your statutes.
I am your servant; give me discernment that I may know your testimonies.
It is time for the LORD to act; they have disobeyed your law.
Truly I love your commandments more than gold, more than the finest gold.
Thus, I follow all your precepts; every wrong way I hate.
PE
Wonderful are your testimonies; therefore I keep them.
The revelation of your words sheds light, gives understanding to the simple.
I sigh with open mouth, yearning for your commandments.
Turn to me and be gracious, according to your judgment for those who love your name.
Steady my feet in accord with your promise; do not let iniquity lead me.
Free me from human oppression, that I may observe your precepts.
Let your face shine upon your servant; teach me your statutes.
My eyes shed streams of tears because your law is not observed.
SADHE
You are righteous, LORD, and just are your judgments.
You have given your testimonies in righteousness and in surpassing faithfulness.
I am consumed with rage, because my foes forget your words.
Your servant loves your promise; it has been proved by fire.
Though belittled and despised, I do not forget your precepts.
Your justice is forever right, your law true.
Though distress and anguish come upon me, your commandments are my delight.
Your testimonies are forever righteous; give me understanding that I may live.
QOPH
I call with all my heart, O LORD; answer me that I may keep your statutes.
I call to you to save me that I may observe your testimonies.
I rise before dawn and cry out; I put my hope in your words.
My eyes greet the night watches as I meditate on your promise.
Hear my voice in your mercy, O LORD; by your judgment give me life.
Malicious persecutors draw near me; they are far from your law.
You are near, O LORD; reliable are all your commandments.
Long have I known from your testimonies that you have established them forever.
RESH
Look at my affliction and rescue me, for I have not forgotten your law.
Take up my cause and redeem me; for the sake of your promise give me life.
Salvation is far from sinners because they do not cherish your statutes.
Your compassion is great, O LORD; in accord with your judgments, give me life.
Though my persecutors and foes are many, I do not turn from your testimonies.
I view the faithless with loathing because they do not heed your promise.
See how I love your precepts, LORD; in your mercy give me life.
Your every word is enduring; all your righteous judgments are forever.
SHIN
Princes persecute me without reason, but my heart reveres only your word.
I rejoice at your promise, as one who has found rich spoil.
Falsehood I hate and abhor; your law I love.
Seven times a day I praise you because your judgments are righteous.
Lovers of your law have much peace; for them there is no stumbling block.
I look for your salvation, LORD, and I fulfill your commandments.
I observe your testimonies; I love them very much.
I observe your precepts and testimonies; all my ways are before you.
TAW
Let my cry come before you, LORD; in keeping with your word, give me understanding.
Let my prayer come before you; rescue me according to your promise.
May my lips pour forth your praise, because you teach me your statutes.
May my tongue sing of your promise, for all your commandments are righteous.
Keep your hand ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
I long for your salvation, LORD; your law is my delight.
Let my soul live to praise you; may your judgments give me help.
I have wandered like a lost sheep; seek out your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.
Psalm 119, with 176 verses, is by far the longest in the Psalter. It praises God for giving such splendid instructions for people to live by. It thanks God for the Torah, prays for protection from sinners enraged by others’ fidelity to the law, laments the cost of obedience, begs for wisdom to understand the precepts, and asks for the rewards of keeping them. The “law” here is different from legal law, it’s God’s word written in the hearts of people: and this psalm recognizes the benefits of God’s word guiding human life.

It’s an acrostic psalm, meaning its twenty-two stanzas (of eight verses each) are in the order of the Hebrew alphabet. Each of the eight verses within a stanza begins with the same letter; the first stanza starting with the Hebrew equivalent of the letter “A”; the second with “B” etc.

Irish conductor Charles Villiers Stanford published a motet in 1905 based on Psalm 119:1; "Beati quorum via". Psalm 119:18 inspired the American hymn writer Clara H. Scott to pen “Open My Eyes, That I May See” in 1895. English Renaissance composer William Byrd set Psalm 119:33–38 to music as “Teach Me, O Lord”. Psalm 119:89 is a popular Nigerian praise song and the basis of “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”. The contemporary Christian song “Thy Word” by Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant is based on Psalm 119:105. Psalm 119:134 is the inspiration for “We Gather Together”. In 1671, the German organist Heinrich Schütz, who is generally regarded as the most important German composer before Bach, set the entire psalm to music. And in 1894, Czech composer Antonín Dvořák set verses 114, 117, 119 and 120 to music in his song cycle Biblical Songs.