The Chaplains desk – Psalm 119
A Loving God
I mentioned before how I have been reading the Psalms lately, especially Psalm 119. I have always heard it mentioned that King David wrote this Psalm. Then, lately I found that it is called an orphan Psalm” because the writer did not identify himself like in some of the others.
A Jewish site “vesomsechel.blogspot.com,” gives several reasons why the writer of the blog feels it was indeed written by David. He names some rabbis who say it was David, while others say it may have been the prophet/priest Ezra, or even some unknown individual during the exile to Babylon.
Sechel gives interesting reasons that keep me believing it was David.
1) The structure of the Psalm, in which the first letters of the verses follow an alphabetical acrostic, is found only in psalms explicitly attributed to King David.
2) Throughout the Book of Psalms, only King David refers to himself (or is referred to) as “Your servant” when addressing Hashem (God). This phraseology appears in Psalm 119 several times.
3) The phrase — turn to me and show me favor — is found only in Psalms composed by David, and appears in Psalm 119.
4) Only in Psalms by King David are the commandments referred to as “pekudim” (offices; assignments); this terminology is employed in Psalm 119 as well. (There is one exception to this rule, Psalm 111, but it is also an “orphan psalm” that shows signs of being the work of King David according to many scholars.)
5) The author of Psalm 119 states that noblemen sit around and talk about him, and that he speaks of Hashem’s testimonies in the presence of kings. This certainly indicates that the Psalmist was not a commoner, but a king, i.e., David.
6) The themes of Psalm 119 bear a striking resemblance to the words of King David in Psalm 19, “The Torah of Hashem is perfect, restoring the soul, the testimony of Hashem is trustworthy, making the simpleton wise, etc., etc.” They are also reminiscent of Psalm 18,
7) Psalm 119 describes experiences of suffering — being unjustly pursued, etc. — that are strongly reminiscent of the travails of King David as characterized elsewhere in Psalms and in Nach (Torah).
Considered together, these observations seem to provide a very strong (if not incontrovertible) argument in favor of the traditional view that King David was the author of Psalm 119.
The Psalm is written in a different type of acrostic. Instead of just one verse staring with one letter of the alphabet, there are eight verses starting with a letter from the Hebrew alphabet. We have a total of 176 verses making this the longest chapter in the Bible and someone has said that the middle of this chapter is the very center of the entire Bible. God’s entire Word, but for me lately this chapter, brings life, liberty, joy, and blessings to all who believe and trust in God.
In this Psalm, God’s word is designated by several terms: word, saying, way, testimonies, judgments, precepts, commandments, law, statutes, and faithfulness. God tries in many ways to make contact with our senses and our hearts.
- Blessed are the undefiled in the way, Who walk in the law of the Lord!
God loves to daily walk with His people. We saw the beginning of that when God walked with Adam in the evening. He will only walk with those who are undefiled by His standards. Since then we have references of those who walked undefiled, like Enoch, who knew God and was no more. In his day, Noah was the only one, with his family, out of believed to be millions of people, who believed in God. Elijah, Samuel, David, the many prophets God sent to Israel and Judah, Paul, Peter, James, John, and so many more. Being human they would sin but they knew it and asked God for forgiveness. They loved God. They walked in His ways.
- Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart!
The people I mentioned sought God with their whole heart, not just with part. My devotion with the Men’s study group yesterday focused on turning over our whole being to God. Most of us like to keep just a room, a closet, or maybe just a drawer where we keep God out. Be it relationships, money, things, or something else, it all needs to be turned over to God so He can work in our lives.
- They also do no iniquity; They walk in His ways.
Whose ways do you follow? Are they God’s ways or are they your own? I followed mine for years and made quite the mess of things. God’s ways are much better. He’s a lot smarter than I am.
- You have commanded us To keep Your precepts diligently.
- Oh, that my ways were directed To keep Your statutes!
God talked face-to-face with Moses and gave him directions for the people to follow. Look what happened to Israel when they failed to walk in God’s ways. David knew what God’s ways were and tried in his own way to follow them but that led to disaster. When he confessed his sins to God, David was forgiven and blessed.
Decades later, a man named Saul also tried to follow God through his own ideas. But God met him on a busy road and changed his perspectives on a godly life. Still, Paul said he was the chief of sinners. (Saul his Hebrew name and Paul his Greek name,)
Paul told the Romans: 7:14-25: For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.
But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
- Then I would not be ashamed, When I look into all Your commandments.
. . . For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Rom. 1:16) We all seem to have days when we refuse to talk about God or about our relationship with Him. Paul didn’t seem to have that problem and neither should we. Read the whole Book; God wins the war!
- I will praise You with uprightness of heart, When I learn Your righteous judgments.
- I will keep Your statutes; Oh, do not forsake me utterly!
What a great promise for those who follow God: I will follow You, and because I do, You will never leave me for good. He tests me to see how far I’ve come and shows me what needs to be cleaned up, but He will never forsake me utterly.
- How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
- With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
- Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
It’s so much easier to live a long life for God when you let Him in when you are young. But we often have the tendency to wander away on our own. But, if we have God’s Word in our hearts and minds, God will bring those words out when needed to help us testify and also to help us not sin against Him. Oh what wondrous love that is!