Today I have been studying the 119 Psalm and found this from the Matthew Henry Commentary. I see I can make a lifetime of studying this Psalm and not complete the work. Praying that others of you may likewise benefit from this most excellent scripture.
(This is only an abbreviated except of the commentary, MH is very detailed in his writings.)
This is a psalm by itself, like none of the rest; it excels them all,
and shines brightest in this constellation. It is much longer than any
of them more than twice as long as any of them. It is not making long
prayers that Christ censures, but making them for a pretence, which
intimates that they are in themselves good and commendable. It seems to
me to be a collection of David's pious and devout ejaculations, the
short and sudden breathings and elevations of his soul to God, which he
wrote down as they occurred, and, towards the latter end of his time,
gathered out of his day-book where they lay scattered, added to them
many like words, and digested them into this psalm, in which there is
seldom any coherence between the verses, but, like Solomon's proverbs,
it is a chest of gold rings, not a chain of gold links. And we may not
only learn, by the psalmist's example, to accustom ourselves to such
pious ejaculations, which are an excellent means of maintaining
constant communion with God, and keeping the heart in frame for the
more solemn exercises of religion, but we must make use of the
psalmist's words, both for the exciting and for the expressing of our
devout affections; what some have said of this psalm is true, "He that
shall read it considerately, it will either warm him or shame him." The
composition of it is singular and very exact. It is divided into
twenty-two parts, according to the number of the letters of the Hebrew
alphabet, and each part consists of eight verses, all the verses of the
first part beginning with Aleph, all the verses of the second with
Beth, and so on, without any flaw throughout the whole psalm.
Archbishop Tillotson says, It seems to have more of poetical skill and
number in it than we at this distance can easily understand. Some have
called it the saints' alphabet; and it were to be wished we had it as
ready in our memories as the very letters of our alphabet, as ready as
our A B C. Perhaps the penman found it of use to himself to observe
this method, as it obliged him to seek for thoughts, and search for
them, that he might fill up the quota of every part; and the letter he
was to begin with might lead him to a word which might suggest a good
sentence; and all little enough to raise any thing that is good in the
barren soil of our hearts. However, it would be of use to the learners,
a help to them both in committing it to memory and in calling it to
mind upon occasion; by the letter the first word would be got, and that
would bring in the whole verse; thus young people would the more easily
learn it by heart and retain it the better even in old age. If any
censure it as childish and trifling, because acrostics are now quite
out of fashion, let them know that the royal psalmist despises their
censure; he is a teacher of babes, and, if this method may be
beneficial to them, he can easily stoop to it; if this to be vile, he
will be yet more vile.
II. The general scope and design of it is to magnify the law, and make it honourable; to set forth the excellency and usefulness of divine revelation, and to recommend it to us, not only for the entertainment, but for the government, of ourselves, by the psalmist's own example, who speaks by experience of the benefit of it, and of the good impressions made upon him by it, for which he praises God, and earnestly prays, from first to last, for the continuance of God's grace with him, to direct and quicken him in the way of his duty.
There are ten different words by which divine revelation is called in this psalm, and they are synonymous, each of them expressive of the whole compass of it (both that which tells us what God expects from us and that which tells us that we may expect from him) and of the system of religion which is founded upon it and guided by it. The things contained in the scripture, and drawn from it, are here called,
1. God's law, because they are enacted by him as our Sovereign.
2. His way, because they are the rule both of his providence and of our obedience.
3. His testimonies, because they are solemnly declared to the world and attested beyond contradiction.
4. His commandments, because given with authority, and (as the word signifies) lodged with us as a trust.
5. His precepts, because prescribed to us and not left indifferent.
6. His word, or saying, because it is the declaration of his mind, and Christ, the essential eternal Word, is all in all in it.
7. His judgments, because framed in infinite wisdom, and because by them we must both judge and be judged.
8. His righteousness, because it is all holy, just, and good, and the rule and standard of righteousness.
9. His statutes, because they are fixed and determined, and of perpetual obligation.
10.His truth, or faithfulness, because the principles upon which the divine law is built are eternal truths.
And I think there is but one verse (ver. 122) in all this long psalm in which there is not one or other of these ten words; only in three or four they are used concerning God's providence or David's practice (as ver. 75, 84, 121), and ver. 132 they are called God's name.
The great esteem and affection David had for the word of God is the more admirable considering how little he had of it, in comparison with what we have, no more perhaps in writing than the first books of Moses, which were but the dawning of this day, which may shame us who enjoy the full discoveries of divine revelation and yet are so cold towards it.
In singing this psalm there is work for all the devout affections of a sanctified soul, so copious, so various, is the matter of it. We here find that in which we must give glory to God both as our ruler and great benefactor, that in which we are to teach and admonish ourselves and one another (so many are the instructions which we here find about a religious life), and that in which we are to comfort and encourage ourselves and one another, so many are the sweet experiences of one that lived such a life. Here is something or other to suit the case of every Christian. Is any afflicted? Is any merry? Each will find that here which is proper for him. And it is so far from being a tedious repetition of the same thing, as may seem to those who look over it cursorily, that, if we duly meditate upon it, we shall find almost every verse has a new thought and something in it very lively. And this, as many other of David's psalms, teaches us to be sententious in our devotions, both alone and when others join with us; for, ordinarily, the affections, especially of weaker Christians, are more likely to be raised and kept by short expressions, the sense of which lies in a little compass, than by long and laboured periods.
1: Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
2: Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
3: They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
4: Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
5: O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
6: Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
7: I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
8: I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.
[b]2. BETH [/b]
9: Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
10: With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
11: Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
12: Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
13: With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
14: I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
15: I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
16: I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
17: Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.
18: Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
19: I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.
20: My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.
21: Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.
22: Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.
23: Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
24: Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.
25: My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.
26: I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes.
27: Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.
28: My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.
29: Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously.
30: I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.
31: I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame.
32: I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.
33: Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.
34: Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
35: Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.
36: Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
37: Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
38: Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.
39: Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.
40: Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.
41: Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word.
42: So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.
43: And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.
44: So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.
45: And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.
46: I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.
47: And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.
48: My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.
49: Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.
50: This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.
51: The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.
52: I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself.
53: Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.
54: Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.
55: I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law.
56: This I had, because I kept thy precepts.
57: Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words.
58: I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.
59: I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
60: I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.
61: The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.
62: At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.
63: I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.
64: The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes.
65: Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word.
66: Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.
67: Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
68: Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.
69: The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.
70: Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.
71: It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
72: The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.
73: Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.
74: They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.
75: I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
76: Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.
77: Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.
78: Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.
79: Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies.
80: Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.
81: My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.
82: Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?
83: For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes.
84: How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?
85: The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law.
86: All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me.
87: They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not thy precepts.
88: Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.
89: For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
90: Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.
91: They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants.
92: Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.
93: I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.
94: I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts.
95: The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies.
96: I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad.
97: O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
98: Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
99: I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
100: I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.
101: I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.
102: I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.
103: How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104: Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.
105: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
106: I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.
107: I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word.
108: Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me thy judgments.
109: My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law.
110: The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.
111: Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.
112: I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.
113: I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.
114: Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.
115: Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.
116: Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.
117: Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.
118: Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood.
119: Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies.
120: My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.
121: I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressors.
122: Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me.
123: Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness.
124: Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes.
125: I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.
126: It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law.
127: Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.
128: Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.
129: Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.
130: The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
131: I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.
132: Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.
133: Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
134: Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts.
135: Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes.
136: Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.
137: Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are thy judgments.
138: Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful.
139: My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.
140: Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.
141: I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts.
142: Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.
143: Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.
144: The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live.
145: I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes.
146: I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies.
147: I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.
148: Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.
149: Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: O LORD, quicken me according to thy judgment.
150: They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law.
151: Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth.
152: Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.
153: Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law.
154: Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word.
155: Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes.
156: Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD: quicken me according to thy judgments.
157: Many are my persecutors and mine enemies; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies.
158: I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word.
159: Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness.
160: Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
161: Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.
162: I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.
163: I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.
164: Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.
165: Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
166: LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.
167: My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.
168: I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee.
169: Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word.
170: Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word.
171: My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes.
172: My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.
173: Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.
174: I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight.
175: Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.
176: I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.