Psalm 119

The Word Made Fresh

1Those who live blameless lives are blessed,
for they obey the law of the LORD.
2Those who keep God’s laws are blessed,
for they search after God whole-heartedly.
3They do nothing wrong, and they follow God’s ways.
4You have commanded that your precepts be kept carefully.
5I wish my behavior was perfect in keeping your statutes,
6Then I would not be ashamed
because I would focus on all your commandments.
7I will praise you with a pure heart
when I learn your righteous ordinances.
8I will keep your statutes.
Please don’t turn away from me.

9How can the young be pure in all their behavior?
By using your word to guide them.
10I will search after you wholeheartedly.
Don’t let me wander from your commandments.
11Your word is my heart’s treasure,
and keeps me from sinning against you.
12I praise you, LORD!
Teach me your statutes.
13My mouth will repeat
all the ordinances you have spoken.
14I take delight in your decrees
as much as in great riches.
15I will meditate on your precepts,
and your ways will be my goal.
16I will take delight in your statutes.
I will never forget your word.

17Treat your servant fairly,
so that I may live and keep your word.
18Let me see the wonderful things contained in your laws.
19I live as if I were a stranger in the land.
Please don’t hide your commandments from me.
20My soul is constantly filled with longing for your ordinances,
21for you reprimand those who are insolent
and arrogantly turn from your commandments.
22Take their scorn and contempt away from me,
because I have obeyed your decrees.
23Princes sit around making plans against me,
but I, your servant, make plans based on your statutes.
24I delight in your decrees,
and consult them as my counselors.

25My life lies in the dust;
revive me with your word.
26When I confessed my ways you answered me;
now teach me your statutes.
27Help me to understand your precepts,
and I will ponder your wonderful creation.
28My life seems to melt away in sorrow;
Strengthen me by your word.
29Put deceitfulness far away from me.
Be gracious and teach me your law.
30I have chosen to live faithfully.
I have placed your ordinances before me.
31I hold on to your decrees, LORD.
Don’t let me be shamed.
32I run down the paths your commandments lead me in,
and you help my understanding to grow.

33Teach me the ways guided by your statutes, LORD,
and I will follow them all my life.
34Help me to understand so I might keep
and observe your law wholeheartedly.
35Lead me down the path of your commandments,
because I take delight in them.
36Let my heart be turned toward your decrees
and away from selfish gain.
37Turn my eyes away from those things that are vain.
Let me live in your ways.
38Help me to understand your promises
which belong to those who respect you.
39Turn away from me all dreaded disgrace,
for your ordinances are good.
40See how truly I desire your precepts.
Fill my life with your righteousness.

41Give me your steadfast love, LORD.
Give me the salvation you have promised.
42Then, whenever I am taunted, I will answer them,
for I trust in your word.
43Don’t take truth from my voice,
for I place all my hope in your ordinances.
44I will obey your law constantly,
always and forever.
45I can walk about freely
because I have searched your precepts,
46and I can even share your decrees with kings
and not be ashamed.
47I love your commandments and take delight in them.
48I adore them, and I will study all your statutes.

49Remember the word you have spoken to your servant,
the word which has given me hope.
50When I am in distress it comforts me,
and your promises enrich my life.
51Arrogant people make fun of me,
but I will not turn away from your law.
52I take comfort in your ordinances, for they are from of old.
53Wicked people infuriate me
because they have turned away from your law.
54Wherever I have made my home,
your statutes have been my songs.
55I remember your name in the night, LORD,
and I obey your law.
56I have enjoyed the blessings you have given me
because I have obeyed your precepts.

57You, LORD, are my reward,
and I promise to obey your word.
58With all my heart I seek your favor,
and ask you to be gracious to me as you have promised.
59When I consider your path
it makes me turn toward your decrees.
60I do not delay, but hurry to keep your commandments.
61Even if wicked people bind me with ropes
I will not forget your law.
62I arise at midnight to praise you
because of your good ordinances.
63I keep company with others who respect you
and strive to keep your precepts.
64Your steadfast love encompasses the whole earth, LORD.
Teach me your statutes.

65You have been helpful to your servant, LORD,
as your word promises.
66Teach me good judgment and give me knowledge,
for I believe in your commandments.
67I often went astray before you humbled me,
but now I obey your word.
68You do good because you are good:
teach me your statutes.
69Arrogant people tell lies about me,
but I obey your precepts wholeheartedly.
70Their hearts are puffed up and foolish,
but I take delight in your law.
71I have been humbled, and that is good
because I have sought to learn your statutes.
72The law that you have spoken is a greater blessing to me
than thousands of gold and silver coins could ever be.

73I was crafted and shaped by your hands.
Help me to understand and learn your commandments.
74Others who fear you will rejoice when they see me
because they know your word is my hope.
75I know that your pronouncements are good, LORD,
and it is in faithfulness that you have humbled me.
76Let me be comforted by your steadfast love,
as you have promised your servant.
77Be merciful to me, and let me live –
your law is my delight.
78Put all those arrogant people to shame
who have tried to undermine me with their trickery.
I will continue to meditate on your precepts.
79Let those who fear you come to me
so that they may learn your decrees.
80May my heart be blameless in your statutes
that I might never be ashamed.

81My life would be barren without your salvation.
But your word has given me hope.
82My eyes sometimes grow tired watching for your promise,
and I cry out, “When will you bring me comfort?”
83I am like a wineskin dried out in the smoke,
but I will not forget your laws.
84How long can I survive my trials?
When will you deal with those who persecute me?
85Arrogant people are trying to entrap me,
and they completely disregard your law.
86I know that all your commandments will endure,
but I am being persecuted without reason. Help me!
87They have almost succeeded in putting an end to me,
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
88I know that your love is steadfast; let me live
so that I might keep the decrees you have spoken.

89LORD, you have always been and always will be.
Your word is written forever in heaven.
90Your faithfulness to us continues through the generations.
You established the earth, and it is steadfast.
91Your word and your world still stand today,
and everything you have made serves you.
92If I had not been delighted in your law
I would have died in misery.
93I will never forget your precepts
because they are life-giving.
94I belong to you. Protect me,
for I have searched through your precepts.
95Wicked people are waiting to end my life,
but I will dwell on your precepts.
96Everything that seems perfect will end,
but your commandment is enduring.

97I love your law,
and I dwell on it every day, all day.
98Your commandment brings me wisdom,
wisdom my enemies do not share,
and it is always with me.
99I meditate on your decrees,
and they give me greater understanding than all my teachers.
100I have more understanding than my teachers,
because I meditate constantly on your decrees.
101I keep my feet from walking down any wrong path
so that I might keep your word.
102I don’t turn my back on your ordinances
which you have taught me.
103Your words are sweet to the taste,
even sweeter than honey.
104I gain understanding through your precepts,
and because of that I hate every wrong path.

105Your word is a lamp to guide my feet,
a light to show my path.
106I have made a promise and it is settled;
I will keep your righteous ordinances.
107I have suffered greatly, LORD;
protect my life as your word promises.
108Accept my sacrifices of praise, LORD,
and continue to teach me your ordinances.
109My life is always in my own hands,
but I never forget your law.
110Wicked people have tried to entrap me,
but I have not wandered from your precepts.
111Your decrees are my permanent heritage.
They fill my heart with joy.
112I guide my heart by your statutes,
and promise to do so until the end.

113I hate untrustworthy people,
but I love your law.
114You are my hideout. You protect me,
and all my hope is in your word.
115Leave me alone, you wicked people,
so that I might obey my God’s commandments.
116Uphold me as you have promised, and spare my life,
so that my hope will never be abandoned.
117Lift me up and keep me safe,
and I will constantly hold your statutes dearly.
118You ignore everyone who turns away from your statutes,
because their plans are all in vain.
119You discard the wicked like garbage,
and because of that I love your decrees.
120I tremble before you, for I fear you,
and I am afraid of your judgments.

121I have done what is right and fair;
don’t leave me in the hands of those who try to oppress me.
122Give me assurance of my protection,
and do not allow those who are godless to trouble me.
123My eyes are worn out from watching for your rescue
and the fulfillment of your sacred promise.
124Deal with me through your constant love
and teach all your statutes to me.
125I am your servant.
I beg to understand your decrees.
126It is time for the LORD to take action,
because your laws have been ignored.
127I honestly love your commandments more than gold,
even more than the finest gold.
128I honestly try to live by all your precepts,
and hate every false path.

129Your decrees are wonderful –
that is why my soul keeps them.
130Your word enlightens us
and helps even the simpleminded understand.
131My mouth is opened wide, and I breathe heavily
because I long for your commandments.
132Look at me, and treat me fairly,
for that is the way you treat all who love your name.
133Order my steps according to your promise,
and never allow me to engage in sin.
134Rescue me from the threat of oppression,
so that I can freely obey your precepts.
135Turn your shining face toward me
and teach me all your statutes.
136Let my eyes stream rivers of tears
when your law is not kept.

137You are righteous, LORD.
All your decisions are the right ones.
138Your decrees were all made righteously and faithfully.
139I am overwhelmed with determination
because my enemies forget your word.
140Your promise has been tested,
and is well loved by your servant.
141I am unimportant and disliked, but I don’t forget your precepts.
142Your righteousness is everlasting
and your law is true.
143When I am troubled and in anguish
I am upheld by your commandments.
144Your decrees will always be correct.
Help me understand them so that I might live.

145I cry out with my whole heart. Answer me, LORD!
I will obey all your statutes.
146I cry out for you to rescue me
so that I might obey all your decrees.
147I rise before dawn and call out for help.
I place all my hope in your word.
148I awaken before each night watch
so that I can ponder your promise.
149Your love is completely dependable; hear my voice.
Let your justice, LORD, defend my life.
150Those who attack me with evil purposes are approaching.
They are far removed from obeying your law.
151But you are near me, LORD,
and all your commandments are proven.
152I learned a long time ago
that you intend your decrees to apply forever.

153Notice how I am in misery, and rescue me,
for I never forget your law.
154Defend my cause and save me.
Let me live by your promise.
155Wicked people are far from enjoying your salvation,
because they have not cared to learn your statutes.
156Your mercy is so great, LORD.
Let me live my life in accordance with your judgements.
157I have many persecutors, many enemies,
but I don’t swerve from your decrees.
158I look on those who have no faith with disgust
because they don’t keep your commandments.
159See how I revere your precepts!
According to your constant love, preserve my life.
160Your word adds up to truth.
Every one of your righteous ordinances will last forever.

161Rulers persecute me for no reason,
but my heart is in awe of your word.
162Your word makes me rejoice
like someone who has found a great treasure.
163I hate falsehood. I detest it, but I love your law.
164I praise you seven times each day
because your ordinances are righteous.
165Those who love your law have great peace,
and nothing can trip them up.
166I live in the hope of your salvation, LORD,
and strive to live according to your commandments.
167I have kept your decrees all my life.
I deeply love every one of them,
168and I obey your precepts and your decrees
because I know you see everything I do.

169Hear my cry, LORD. Help me understand your word.
170Hear my plea and rescue me as you have promised.
171I will constantly praise you
because you have taught me your statutes.
172I will sing about your promises,
because I know all your commandments are right.
173So, may your right hand be always ready to help me
because I have chosen to follow your precepts.
174I long for your salvation, LORD,
and your law is my delight.
175Allow me to live so that I might praise you,
and give me help through all your ordinances.
176I know that I have strayed like a lost sheep.
Search for me and find me, for I am your servant,
and I do not forget your commandments.


This is the longest psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible. There are 22 sections, each containing eight verses. Each section can stand alone as a short psalm. The verses in each section begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet, beginning with the first letter aleph and ending with the last letter, the 22ndtau. Thus, 8×22=176 verses. The entire psalm focuses on one subject, the extolling of God’s Law. There are ten words used to refer to the law of the LORD: law, ways, precepts, statutes, commandments, ordinances, word, decrees, judgments, and promise. Nearly every verse contains one of these references to God’s laws.

1-8: Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The opening verses of the psalm remind us of Psalm 1. The author expresses the desire to keep God’s law so as to be blameless.

9-16: Beth, the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The author continues, describing his determination to learn and keep God’s law.

17-24: Gimel, the third letter. An underlying theme of the psalm is the author’s predicament, never described clearly but alluded to often. Verse 19 has given rise to the idea that the psalm dates to the time of the Exile. The author is determined to maintain the covenant with God even in a foreign land where other gods are worshiped.

25-32: Daleth, the fourth letter. Being under constant threat and pressure, the author determines to cling to the only connection he still has to God; God’s law.

33-40: He, the fifth letter. The author relies on God’s law to keep him from turning away from the faith of his ancestors.

41-48: Wau, the sixth letter. The law is upheld as the author’s means of surviving his trials.

49-56: Zayin, the seventh letter. These verses introduce a new emphasis on remembrance – God is begged to remember all the promises the author has remembered as he meditates in the night.

57-64: Heth, the eighth letter. “You, LORD, are my reward” is a Hebraic expression related to the initial division of the Promised Land to the tribes of Israel. The tribal lands were to be given in perpetuity. The author is saying that, whatever Israel’s circumstances, they still have the LORD as their God.

65-72: Teth, the ninth letter. The psalmist has discovered that humility is a key virtue in keeping the law of the LORD. This goes hand in hand with the sentiment expressed elsewhere that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.

73-80: Yodh, the tenth letter. In gratitude now the author offers himself as a guide to others who are seeking.

81-88: Kaph, the eleventh letter. Beset by enemies all around, his suffering is long and arduous, and he wonders when God will act on his behalf. In the meantime, he clings to the covenant, believing that God’s steadfast love will ultimately win the day.

89-96: Lamedh, the twelfth letter in the Hebrew alphabet. The theme of waiting for the LORD continues, but it is an active waiting, a waiting of obedience and hope.

97-104: Mem, the thirteenth letter. The benefits of the law are important; obedience keeps the faithful from evil.

105-112: Nun, the fourteenth letter. Amy Grant made a big hit song out of verse 105. The author of the psalm is telling us that obedience to God’s law has kept him from going the wrong way. Verse 110, in referring to the wicked, may not mean the author is in mortal danger, but rather that he is being tempted, and fidelity to God’s law keeps him from straying.

113-120: Samekh, the fifteenth letter. The untrustworthy and the wicked all scheme to drag others down to their level. It is no different in our world today.

121-128: ‘Ayin, the sixteenth letter. Again and again the author reiterates his faithfulness in the face of his oppressors, strengthened by the law and by God’s steadfast love.

129-136: Pe, the seventeenth letter. Not only is the author struggling to be faithful to God’s law, but also has a genuine concern that others are making no effort. It must have been a stressful situation to try to maintain old religious scruples in the midst of a culture under pressure to conform to foreign ways.

137-144: Tsadhe, the eighteenth letter. The author insists that God’s way is the right way. The more I read the psalm the more I am convinced that the author’s suffering is the suffering of someone whose deep religious faith has become an object of ridicule by the very people who should be sharing it.

145-152: Qoph, the nineteenth letter. It is a difficult thing to practice holiness in the midst of people who make a mockery of your faith. The author is clinging to his faith against all odds.

153-160: Resh, the twentieth letter. There is the barest hint that the author is feeling a bit superior because of his diligence in obeying the law. If that is the case, we might understand a little better why he feels that others persecute him.

161-168: Shin, the twenty-first letter. The author insists on his fidelity and clings to the hope that his faithfulness will bring inner peace.

169-176: Tau, the twenty-second letter. In the end, his humility returns and he confesses his imperfection. That is a good way to end this soliloquy on the law of God.


As for you, you deserve a reward for sticking to this psalm and reading it through today. It is by far the longest “chapter” in the Bible. The overall theme of the psalm (and we should strive to make it the overall theme of our lives) is obedience to the will of God. Can you imagine how greatly you will be blessed when you dedicate each day to a search for what God wants you to do?