All Articles

June 18, 2013

10 Things to Know About Psalm 119

Topics

Free Daily Devotionals from Open the Bible

Many of us desire to love God’s Word more, but are unsure of how to cultivate those desires. Psalm 119 is a heartfelt prayer from the Psalmist that can be used as a tool to transform your affections to love God’s Word more.

Here are 10 Things to Know about Psalm 119:

1. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible with 176 verses. It has a similar length to some of the Bible’s shorter books like Philippians, James, or Ruth!

2. The purpose of this Psalm is to celebrate God’s word and instruction to his people. It is used in Jewish tradition to celebrate Rosh Hashanah (which is Jewish New Year). This holiday is the first of a series of holidays called Yamim Nora’im, or in English ‘Days of Awe.’ It is fitting to use this psalm in that setting because the Psalmist beautifully expresses awe and adoration of God for his Word. Here is one verse commonly used in this celebration:

“The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” Psalm 119:72

3. The structure of Psalm 119 is comprised of 22 stanzas, each starting with a different letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Each stanza has 8 verses with two lines each.

4. There is a tradition in the Eastern Orthodox Church that King David used this psalm to teach his son Solomon both the Hebrew alphabet and the “alphabet of the spiritual life.”

5. Many of the verses mention God’s Word in one line, and then in the second line connect it to God’s revelation. Other words used to describe God’s revelation are: law, testimonies, precepts, statutes, commandments, word, and rules.

6. Psalm 119 is a prayer that includes many different elements, including prayers of praise (45-48), lament (81-88), vindication (132-134), obedience (57-64), and petitions for wisdom (33-40).

7. David Powlison observes, “Psalm 119 is actually not about the topic of getting Scripture into your life. Instead, it is the honest words that erupt when what God says gets into you. It’s not an exhortation to Bible study; it’s an outcry of faith…Psalm 119 is the thoughtful outcry that rises when real life meets real God.” (Speaking the Truth in Love, p. 14).

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” Psalm 119:71

8. Charles Spurgeon liked this Psalm so much, he said, “we might do well to commit it to memory.” That’s a tall order for a Psalm that has 176 verses!

He also had this to say about it from his Psalm 119 commentary:

“As those who drink the Nile water like it better every time they take a draught, so does this Psalm become more full and fascinating the oftener you turn to it.”

9. The song “Thy Word” by Amy Grant is based on one of the most memorable verses from this beloved Psalm, verse 105 which says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (KJV). You can listen to the song here.

10. Use this Psalm as a tuning fork to tune your heart to love God’s Word more. Read the psalm straight through and pray that God will shape your life and heart to love him and his Word more!

 


You may also enjoy: 5 Psalms to Pray When the Wicked Prosper

Editor’s Note: Kevin Halloran’s new book is When Prayer Is a Struggle: A Practical Guide for Overcoming Obstacles in Prayer.  Pastor Colin Smith called the book, “A treasure chest of wise and practical counsel. . . . This book will expand your horizons and give you a new vision for how you can pray more effectively.”


Kevin Halloran

Product Manager

Kevin serves as Product Manager for Open the Bible and leads the Spanish-language outreach of the ministry. Kevin loves spending time with his wife, Jazlynn, and two young daughters. In his free time, you can find him reading, writing (in English at Anchored in Christ and Spanish at Anclado en Cristo), and serving at his church. Kevin is the author of When Prayer is a Struggle: A Practical Guide for Overcoming Obstacles in Prayer (P&R) and the free video course Pray the Bible. Connect with Kevin by subscribing to his newsletter that shares new articles and free resources to build your faith.
Kevin serves as Product Manager for Open the Bible and leads the Spanish-language outreach of the ministry. Kevin loves spending time with his wife, Jazlynn, and two young daughters. In his free time, you can find him reading, writing (in English at Anchored in Christ and Spanish at Anclado en Cristo), and serving at his church. Kevin is the author of When Prayer is a Struggle: A Practical Guide for Overcoming Obstacles in Prayer (P&R) and the free video course Pray the Bible. Connect with Kevin by subscribing to his newsletter that shares new articles and free resources to build your faith.