A pilgrim and stranger guided day and night by the Law of the Lord

If psalm 117 is the shortest, this is the longest. It is unusual in many respects. It is divided into twenty-two sections, so being commensurate with the Hebrew alphabet. Each section is prefixed with the respective letter of the alphabet, as also is the beginning of each verse in every section. It is thought that this facilitated easier memorising for the Jewish children.

Another peculiar feature is, that apart from two verses all the rest contain a synonym for the Word of God. So there is reference to testimonies, judgments, statutes, precepts, etc. The whole psalm describes devotion to, and persuasion of, the Word of God as containing all the principles of true religion and practice. Without it we have no light to our path, nor lamp for our feet; and by it, as with the book of Proverbs, there is given divine wisdom for conducting ourselves in all circumstances of life. One has written of v. 174, “Religion will decay or flourish as it (the Law) is our duty or delight.”

Psalm 119:1-40

Aleph - the 1st part.

  1  Blessed are they that undefiled,
        and straight are in the way;
     Who in the Lord's most holy law
        do walk, and do not stray.

  2   Blessed are they who to observe
         his statutes are inclined;
      And who do seek the living God
         with their whole heart and mind.

  3  Such in his ways do walk, and they
        do no iniquity.
  4  Thou hast commanded us to keep
        thy precepts carefully.

  5  O that thy statutes to observe
        thou would'st my ways direct!
  6  Then shall I not be shamed, when I
        thy precepts all respect.

  7  Then with integrity of heart
        thee will I praise and bless,
     When I the judgments all have learned
        of thy pure righteousness.

  8  That I will keep thy statutes all
        firmly resolved have I:
     O do not then, most gracious God,
        forsake me utterly.

Beth - the 2nd part

  9  By what means shall a young man learn
        his way to purify?
     If he according to thy word
        thereto attentive be.

 10  Unfeignedly thee have I sought
        with all my soul and heart:
     O let me not from the right path
        of thy commands depart.

 11  Thy word I in my heart have hid,
        that I offend not thee.
 12  O Lord, thou ever blessed art,
        thy statutes teach thou me.

 13  The judgments of thy mouth each one
        my lips declared have:
 14  More joy thy testimonies' way
        than riches all me gave.

 15  I will thy holy precepts make
        my meditation;
     And carefully I'll have respect
        unto thy ways each one.

 16  Upon thy statutes my delight
        shall constantly be set:
     And, by thy grace, I never will
        thy holy word forget.

Gimel - the 3rd part

 17  With me thy servant, in thy grace,
        deal bountifully, Lord;
     That by thy favor I may live,
        and duly keep thy word.

 18  Open mine eyes, that of thy law
        the wonders I may see.
 19  I am a stranger on this earth,
        hide not thy laws from me.

 20  My soul within me breaks, and doth
        much fainting still endure,
     Through longing that it hath all times
        unto thy judgments pure.

 21  Thou hast rebuked the cursed proud,
        who from thy precepts swerve.
 22  Reproach and shame remove from me,
        for I thy laws observe.

 23  Against me princes spake with spite,
        while they in council sat:
     But I thy servant did upon
        thy statutes meditate.

 24  My comfort, and my heart's delight,
        thy testimonies be;
     And they, in all my doubts and fears,
        are counselors to me

Daleth - the 4th part

 25  My soul to dust cleaves: quicken me,
        according to thy word.
 26  My ways I showed, and me thou heard'st:
        teach me thy statutes, Lord.

 27  The way of thy commandements
        make me aright to know;
     So all thy works that wondrous are
        I shall to others show.

 28  My soul doth melt, and drop away,
        for heaviness and grief:
     To me, according to thy word,
        give strength, and send relief.

 29  From me the wicked way of lies
        let far removed be;
     And graciously thy holy law
        do thou grant unto me.

 30  I chosen have the perfect way
        of truth and verity:
     Thy judgments that most righteous are
        before me laid have I.

 31  I to thy testimonies cleave;
        shame do not on me cast.
32   I'll run thy precepts' way, when thou
        my heart enlarged hast.

He - the 5th part

 33  Teach me, O Lord, the perfect way
        of thy precepts divine,
     And to observe it to the end
        I shall my heart incline.

 34  Give understanding unto me,
        so keep thy law shall I;
     Yea, ev'n with my whole heart I shall
        observe it carefully.

 35  In thy law's path make me to go;
        for I delight therein.
 36  My heart unto thy testimonies,
        and not to greed, incline.

 37  Turn thou away my sight and eyes
        from viewing vanity;
     And in thy good and holy way
        be pleased to quicken me.

 38  Confirm to me thy gracious word,
        which I did gladly hear,
     Ev'n to thy servant, Lord, who is
        devoted to thy fear.

 39  Turn thou away my fear'd reproach;
        for good thy judgments be.
 40  Lo, for thy precepts I have long'd;
        in thy truth quicken me.


Recommended Tunes

Jackson (Verses 1-8)

St Paul (Verses 9 - 16)

St Minver (Verses 25 - 32)