Great blessing belongs to those who read and understand the Word of God,
and more blessed is the man whose life is the practical transcript of the will of God as revealed in the Scriptures.
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.
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.
Psalm 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Psalm 119:1-16 – God’s Word an Inner Power
This long and noble psalm is devoted to the praise of God’s Word, which is mentioned in every verse but one, Psalm 119:122. Probably if we were to substitute Will for Word we should not be far wrong. The earnest desire of the writer was that his will should be brought into blessed and unbroken union with the divine purpose in his life.
In its structure the psalm is an elaborate acrostic. In the original, each verse in a given section begins with the same letter, so that the twenty-two sections present the complete Hebrew alphabet.
It needs to be often used to be understood and valued. Chrysostom, Ambrose, Augustine, and Luther have left on record high tributes to its worth. There are several key expressions, which recur again and again, such as quicken and teach me thy statutes. It is interesting, also, to construct the psalmist’s biography from his confessions. He had gone astray like a lost sheep, was small and despised, had many adversaries, was like a bottle in the smoke; but he accounted God’s will and service more than food or gold, and his one desire was to be taught to do that will. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Psalm 119:12—Teach me thy statutes.
This petition occurs many times in the course of this psalm. It is urged on many pleas: because God is blessed, and therefore must want to lift us to share his blessedness; because the suppliant desires to complete the declaration of God’s ways to others; because he is eager to turn them into songs; because the earth is so full of Divine mercy; because God is good, and does good. Take this petition as your guide, and follow it through the psalm, and especially trace that recurring word statutes, and you will see how the whole of this splendid ode crystallizes around it.
There is a heavenly wisdom, which can only be acquired from the lips of the Greatest of Teachers, at whose feet Mary sat. It is not to be acquired by the intellect, but by the heart. It will never come by emulation, ambition, or pride; but to those who live a life of perfect love, of deep humility, and of fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Sometimes the pupil wearies of the lesson. Winsome as the Teacher is, the bench is hard, and the horn-book difficult. Outside, the summer land attracts with scent of flower, hum of bee, and frisking squirrel. Yet God loves us too well to let us off till our lesson is learnt. He often turns it back. But some day these statutes shall become our songs in the house of our pilgrimage.
When Elizabeth Fry died at sixty-five, after such a life of Christian philanthropy as few have ever known-for half a century she had been able to affirm that she had never awakened from her sleep, in sickness or in health, by day or by night, without her first waking thought being, “How best may I serve my Lord?” —Our Daily Homily
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.
Psalm 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Psalm 119:17-32 – A Prayer for Understanding
These verses are full of yearning and unsatisfied desire. The soul breaks for longing, cleaves to the dust, and melts for heaviness. We are reminded of the complaint of a godly man, uttered two centuries and a half ago: “If God had not said, ‘Blessed are ye that hunger,’ I know not what could keep weak Christians from sinking into despair. Many times all I can do is to complain that I want Him and wish to recover Him.”
We learn from this psalm to pour out before God such desires. If we can do nothing else, we can complain that we are lacking in relish, in the sense of His nearness, and in the comfort of holy prayer. The expression of desire for God is prayer, which He accepts and will answer. “He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them” (Psalm 145:19). When the father of the prodigal first saw him, he was a long way off, but love could not wait till the son had traversed that intervening distance. He ran to meet him, and kissed him, while the words of confession were trembling on his lips. So God will draw near to quicken, strengthen, teach, and cause us to understand. Then we shall run where now we limp. —Through the Bible Day by Day
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.
Psalm 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Psalm 119:33-48 – Love for God’s Commands
Twice over the psalmist says, “thy commandments, which I have loved,” and then proceeds to give the key to perfect love of them in the words, “I will meditate in thy statutes.” Fugitive moments spent over God’s Word will never lead to a deep and fervent affection for it. If you look cursorily at a great painting, you will fail to become enthralled with it. In the Dresden gallery connoisseurs will spend hours before a single painting by Raphael. They go away, and return the next day. They make the painting their own by prolonged communion with its matchless forms. One of them said: “I could spend an hour every day, for years, upon that assemblage of human, angelic, and divine ideals, and on the last day of the last year discover some new beauty and a new joy.” But what thoughts, what ideals, can genius express in a painting which can be compared with those great thoughts of God, of heaven, and of eternity, which are given on the page of Scripture. Surely we cannot hope to spring into possession of such thoughts in less time than lovers of art spend on a masterpiece! We must meditate! —Through the Bible Day by Day
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.
Psalm 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Psalm 119:49-64 – Comforted by God’s Judgments
Rays of comfort begin to steal into the psalmist’s heart. Thou hast caused me to hope; this is my comfort in my affliction; thy statutes have been my songs; at midnight I will rise to give thanks. Often prayer clears itself as it proceeds. It is the repeated testimony of all who have become proficient in the art of prayer that the seasons which begin with a struggle against depression, gloom, and the sense of absence, end in triumphant joy. Jeremy Taylor puts it thus: “So have I seen a lark rising from his bed of grass and soaring upward, singing as he rises, and hoping to get to heaven and climb above the clouds; but the poor bird was beaten back by the loud sighings of an eastern wind, his motion became inconstant and irregular, till the little creature was forced to sit down and pant, and stay till the storm was over; and then it made a prosperous flight, and did rise and sing, as if it had learned music and motion from an angel, as he was passing through the air about his ministries of mercy.” —Through the Bible Day by Day
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.
Psalm 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Psalm 119:65-80 – Profiting from Affliction
Before I was afflicted I went astray (Psalm 119:67); it is good for me that I have been afflicted (Psalm 119:71); thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me (Psalm 119:75). Here is the far-off interest of our tears. God measures out our sorrows and the trials which cause them. But our condition requires the stern and bitter regimen. The stone must be cut by the lapidary. The heavy clouds, with their drenching showers, must hang over the landscape. The fire must cleanse the metal. If need be, ye suffer heaviness through many temptations. Yes, there is a need-be, and only if need be, for He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. It is His strange work, Isaiah 28:21. The very least and the very greatest sorrows that befall us are provided, or permitted, by his unspeakable love. If we be without chastisement, whereof all children are partakers, then are we bastard and not sons, Hebrews 12:8. But amid the affliction, his loving-kindness always waits upon our comfort, Psalm 119:76. “God, that comforteth those that are cast down,” says the Apostle, “comforted us by the coming of Titus” (2 Corinthians 7:6). —Through the Bible Day by Day
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.
Psalm 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Psalm 119:81-96 – The Word That Stands Fast
They persecute wrongfully; they dig pits; they have almost consumed; they have waited to destroy; but thy Word abides steadfast. The driven soul flees to the cleft of the Rock and hides there.
At the beginning of our religious life we rest on the assurances of others. Our parents, teachers, ministers, all insist on the truth of Scripture and the certainty of the facts which it reveals; but as life goes on we change our foundations and advance to the personal and experimental conviction which has been wrought in us by years of testing the Word of God for ourselves.
The famous Scotch clergyman, Thomas Erskine, said that no demolition of outward authority, even if such demolition were possible, could deprive him of the conviction of the divine origin and authority of the Bible, because it so exactly coincided with the experiences of his life, and had been verified in so many remarkable instances. We have experienced God’s faithfulness to His promises too often to be afraid of any attack upon the truth of Scripture. It is settled in heaven, Psalm 119:89. —Through the Bible Day by Day
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.
Psalm 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Psalm 119:97-112 – “Thy Word Is a Lamp, unto My Feet”
The psalmist cries, O how love I thy law! He then proceeds to say that he has become wiser than his enemies and has more understanding than all his teachers. But this is not to be wondered at, because love is so quick and unerring in its intuitions. They who love, know. We have two organs of knowledge the head and the heart. The latter is the swifter and truer of the two; and it lies open to love, human and divine, as the lyre to the musician’s hand. The study of God’s Word by a loving heart gives, to simple and unlearned people, an understanding which no college learning can impart. They have a lamp that lights them unerringly on the devious tracks of this mortal life.
There is also this advantage: the soul which is deeply instructed in God’s Word hates every false way. It is not simply warned against taking it; it does not want to take it. A distaste for sin is the result of Bible love and Bible study. We may not retain all that we read, but the water that percolates through a sieve cleanses it. —Through the Bible Day by Day
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.
Psalm 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Psalm 119:113-128 – “Time for the Lord to Work”
There is an ineradicable difference between the child of God and evil-doers, and the believer does not want to be involved in their fate. Therefore he bids them depart from him. But though we know that in the end the wicked shall be put away as the dross, there seem to be long periods of divine inaction. Sin grows and flourishes like the green bay tree, Psalm 37:35. Wicked men are prosperous and at ease. The divine procedure of judgment seems to be arrested; and we set ourselves to awaken it with the reminding suggestion that it is time for God to work, because men are making void His law, Psalm 119:126. Our eyes fail with long watching for His salvation and the award of righteousness, Psalm 119:123.
In the meantime let us not lose heart. Let us continue to keep the commandments of God. Let us prize the precepts and promises of God above fine gold; and let us dare to regard all his precepts as right. Thus shall we nurse our souls in patience and faith, Luke 21:19, conscious that though we cannot be God’s timekeepers, yet the Judge will come and will not tarry, Hebrews 10:37. —Through the Bible Day by Day
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.
Psalm 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Psalm 119:129-144 – Why Love God’s Word?
What a beautiful soul this is that utters itself in these stanzas! The psalmist acknowledges his simplicity; is quite content to be among the unknown and despised of men. He is very anxious to be free from iniquity and transgression. He sheds bitter tears as he beholds the sin around him. He humbly asks only to be remembered, taught, and cared for. Nothing is left to him but what is God’s or of God. God is his own desire, God’s Word his stay and comfort, God’s love his solace. God is the one goal and purpose of his search.
And his whole nature glows with love. He opens his mouth and pants with pure desire for God. He wants only that face to shine which fills heaven with brightness. The very purity of the Word only stirs again the embers of his true affection. He is one, therefore, with all the saints of every age, for humble, meek, merciful, and loving souls are everywhere of one religion; and when death has taken off the mask, as William Penn put it, they will know one another, though the divers liveries they wear here make them strangers. —Through the Bible Day by Day
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.
Psalm 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Psalm 119:145-160 – The Joy of Communion with God
There is great eagerness in the psalmist’s prayerfulness. He calls with his whole heart; he awakes before the dawn and continues long after the fall of night; he asks that his case may be considered, his cause pleaded, and his soul quickened. When we draw near to God in prayer, our prayers must not be vague or languid. Jeremy Taylor says: “Easiness of desire is a great enemy to the success of a good man’s prayer. It must be an intent, zealous, busy, operative prayer. For consider what a huge indecency it is that a man should speak to God for a thing that he values not. Our prayers upbraid our spirits when we beg tamely for those things for which we ought to die.” But when we pray after the manner of the psalmist, we become aware that God is near. Thou art near, O LORD (Psalm 119:151). This is the crowning moment in prayer, when we cease speaking and almost hold our breath, because we are suddenly aware of a presence, the dear and awful presence of our Lord. —Through the Bible Day by Day
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.
Psalm 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Psalm 119:161-176 – Jehovah Inspires Continual Praise
What a noble conclusion we reach in these closing stanzas! I rejoice at thy word; thy law do I love; seven times a day do I praise thee; my lips shall utter praise; my tongue shall speak of thy word; let my soul live, and it shall praise thee. There are many beautiful things in the world around us. We eat and drink and sleep; we read and meditate; we walk in the pleasant fields of nature. We have our homes, our loved ones, the respect and good-will of many. But, above all, we have God, and His Word, our eternal hope, and blessed foretastes of the heaven that is to be. Surely we should be less peevish and morose! We should rejoice in every good thing that the Lord our God gives us. We should take the cup brimming with salvation and praise His holy Name. “He that hath so many causes of joy must be very much in love with sorrow, who chooses to turn aside and sit upon his little handful of thorns.” And is not this the most wonderful of all, that though we were going astray like lost sheep, the Great Shepherd Himself came to seek and to save? Te Deum Laudamus! —Through the Bible Day by Day