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Meditating on Psalm 119

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:9

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105

“Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” Psalm 110:165

When I first started studying the Word of God, I was puzzled by Psalm 119. It was the longest psalm—it contained twenty-two sections of one hundred and seventy-six verses. That was not what I found odd. What I found odd was that Psalm 119 had strange words, sub-headings, for each of the twenty-two sections. “And this psalm was supposed to have been in an English translation,” I thought. So, my interest was ignited—I needed to find an explanation for those foreign sounding sub-headings. I knew finding out about them would give me the clarity I needed in understanding this psalm.

I found out in researching Psalm 119 that those strange sub-headings are the names of the Hebrew alphabet. There are twenty-two characters in the Hebrew alphabet—thus each of the twenty-two sections or stanzas of this acrostic psalm represent one of the Hebrew alphabets. Each section or a Hebrew alphabet contains eight verses.

  • ALEPH. Verses 1-8
  • BETH. Verses 9-16
  • GIMEL. Verses 17-24
  • DALETH. Verses 25-32
  • HE. Verses 33-40
  • VAU. Verses 41-48
  • ZAIN. Verses 49-56
  • CHETH. Verses 57-64
  • TETH. Verses 65-72
  • JOD. Verses. 73-80
  • CAPH. Verses 81-88
  • LAMED. Verses 89-96
  • MEM. Verses 97-104
  • NUN. Verses 105-112
  • SAMECH. Verses 113-120
  • PE. Verses 129-136
  • TZADDI. Verses 137-144
  • KOPH. Verses 145-152
  • RESH. Verses 153-160
  • SCHIN. Verses 161-168
  • TAU. Verses 169-176

Psalm 119’s author is unknown—some believe it was written by Ezra. It was probably one of the new psalms that was composed when the Jewish people rebuilt the temple after returning from exile. It was a prayer and meditation in the Old Testament of one who lived by the Torah—God’s sacred law. In Hebrew culture, the word was memorized and passed down to successive generations. This psalm was often set to music. Psalm 119 is believed to have been written over a period of time and later placed together.

It is a daily guide in a troubling world— “Oh! How we can use a spiritual guide in this tumultuous time of the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice! The theme is God’s Word is true, no matter what. We are to stay true to God’s law and his Word and this will brings real joy in the midst of hardships.

There are several special words used throughout Psalm 119: God’s word, sayings, statutes (decrees), judgements, law, commandments, precepts, testimonies, ways (path), truth/faithfulness, righteousness and promises.

This is a celebration and song of God’s Word and his laws and reflects his faithfulness and righteousness. It acknowledges and encourages us to keep our focus on the Word, which is our firm foundation in the midst of a troubling world.

Be Blessed and Stay Safe study

Published inCultivating a Devotional Life

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