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Now as we get to Psalms 119:1-176 , it is an extremely difficult psalm for exposition, because each section seems to be more or less independent of in itself, and each verse, many times, almost independent within itself.
There are many psalms that are called acrostic psalms because the first letter of each line is a succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet. And so it's sort of like a crossword puzzle in a sense, wherein writing it, each line that they would write would begin with the successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. So the first line would begin with Aleph, the second line would begin with Beth. The third line with Gimel, and Daleth, and so forth through their alphabet. Usually those psalms had twenty-two verses in them. Many of them had eleven verses, but they had twenty-two lines. So when we divided them we divided, or when men divided them they divided them into verses. But there are twenty-two lines. And so each succeeding line and some with each succeeding verse is successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Now this every eight verses, all of the lines in the first eight verses begin with the Hebrew letter Aleph or A. In the next eight verses, all of the lines begin with the Hebrew letter, Beth, B. All of the verses in the next psalm begin with Gimel, and so on through the whole Hebrew alphabet is here in this psalm, eight verses devoted to each letter. Each verse of the eight beginning with that letter.
Now the Hebrew children in learning their alphabet were required to memorize this one-hundred-and-nineteenth psalm. It would probably be a little easier for them to memorize it because of the fact of it being an acrostic. Because of the A's and the B's and the C's. And it would be extremely difficult for us to memorize it because we would not have the same ability to relate it to the A and the B and the C as they did. But it is, of course, the longest what they call chapter in the Bible. It really... psalms really aren't chapters. They are each one psalms. So with that as a background, let's jump in to Psalms 119:1-176 .
Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD ( Psalms 119:1 ).
Now, in these psalms, it is a psalm that is dedicated to God's Word. And in each verse, with the exception of two, the verse declares something about the Word of God. And so all the way through, you'll find, "Thy law," "Thy statutes," "Thy judgments," "Thy words," "Thy truth," "Thy ways," all of them making reference unto God's Word, with the exception of just two of these verses.
So in understanding this psalm, of course, you need to understand, or you need to underline where the Word of God is referred to in each of the passages. And, of course, in the first verse, "Who walk in the law of the Lord." "Undefiled, who walk in the law of the LORD."
Blessed are they which keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. I will keep thy statutes: forsake me not utterly ( Psalms 119:2-8 ).
So the law, the testimonies, the ways, the precepts, the statutes, the commandments, the judgments, and statutes are mentioned in the first eight verses.
Verse Psalms 119:9 :
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? ( Psalms 119:9 )
Good question. How can a young man keep clean? How can he cleanse his way?
by taking heed thereto according to thy word ( Psalms 119:9 ).
Jesus said, "Now you are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you" ( John 15:3 ). We will find another psalm down in the one hundred nineteenth, it said, "Thy word, O Lord, have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee" ( Psalms 119:11 ). The Word of God is a power in your life, God's power in your life against sin. God has purposed that you hide His Word away in your heart. It is a power to keep you clean. It is the power against temptation. If someone comes and is complaining because they're constantly stumbling and falling, it's because they're not really into the Word sufficiently. "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By giving heed, taking heed according to Thy Word."
When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness and on the high mountain and at the temple pinnacle, in each case Jesus answered the temptation of Satan with, "It is written." He used the Word of God to answer every temptation that the enemy threw in His path. We need to have the Word of God in our hearts that we might be able to withstand every temptation that Satan throws in our path. "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Thy Word."
With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments ( Psalms 119:10 ).
The Lord said in the day that you seek Me with your whole heart, in that day I will be found of you. There are many people who have a half-hearted seeking after God. "In the day that you seek Me with your whole heart," God said. And so the psalmist, "With my whole heart I've sought Thee."
Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee ( Psalms 119:11 ).
So going back with verse Psalms 119:9 , "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? Thy Word have I hid in my heart."
Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes ( Psalms 119:12 ).
Now we've been dealing a lot with the blessed man, and now, "Blessed art Thou, O LORD."
With my lips I have declared all of the judgments of thy mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches ( Psalms 119:13-14 ).
There's an interesting verse. How valuable do you consider the Word of God in your life? Here he said, "Hey, I count it as much as... I rejoice in it as much as I do in riches."
I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word ( Psalms 119:15-16 ).
Now we enter into the third section, the Gimel.
Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law ( Psalms 119:17-18 ).
O God, open my eyes. Open my heart to Your Word. Open my eyes that I might see and understand Your truth.
This is, I think, a prayer that we need to always pray before we begin reading the scriptures, because, "The natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit, neither can he know them, they are spiritually discerned" ( 1 Corinthians 2:14 ). So if I am going to have any understanding at all, it is important that God open my eyes that I might be able to see the truth. That I might be able to understand. That I might come to that spiritual dimension where I can really understand.
A lot of people read the Bible and say, "I don't, you know. I read it but I don't get anything out of it. Or I tried to read it, but man, it just didn't make sense to me." Well, yes, that is quite true, and it is quite logically true because the natural mind of man cannot understand. You have to have that work of the Spirit in opening your eyes. And so the prayer, "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law."
I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me. My soul breaks forth for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times. But thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments. Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies. Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes. Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors ( Psalms 119:19-24 ).
How many times I look to the Word of God for counseling. I look to the Word of God for guidance. I want God to guide my life. I turn to the Word and the Word becomes my counselor.
Moving into the next section, the Daleth.
My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word. I have declared my ways, and you heard me: teach me thy statutes. Make me to understand the way of your precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works. My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen me with thy word ( Psalms 119:25-28 ).
Oh, what strength the Word of God is to our lives. When we're just about ready to give in and roll over and play dead, and the Word comes and just is such strength to us.
Remove me from the way of lying: grant me thy law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me. I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame. I will run the way of the commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart ( Psalms 119:29-32 ).
Now the interesting thing about this is that each of these is talking about the Word of God. Each of them, remember, is beginning with a particular letter of the alphabet. And really, he is not repeating himself. Now it would be an interesting venture on your part to try to write eight verses about the Word of God all beginning with A, and not repeating yourself. And then write eight more beginning with the letter B, about different aspects of the Word of God and not repeat yourself. And going through the alphabet, you'll find that this is indeed quite a remarkable feat of this psalm. As all of these things are written about the Word of God, really no repetitions, saying different things about God's Word and going through the whole alphabet.
In the next section, he speaks of the statutes.
Teach me, LORD, the way of your statutes; I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, I will keep thy law; I shall observe it with a whole heart. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein I delight. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken me according to thy way. Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy reverence. Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good. Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness ( Psalms 119:33-40 ).
And then in the next section,
Thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word ( Psalms 119:41 ).
And so the mercy of God and God's salvation-the knowledge of these things come to us through the Word of God. "How can they hear, how can they believe in whom they have not heard?" ( Romans 10:14 ) So the necessity of the Word, for me to know the mercy of God and the salvation that God has provided.
So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproaches me: for I trust in thy word ( Psalms 119:42 ).
And so within the Word, the answer to those that bring reproach.
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments. So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. I will speak of thy testimonies also before the kings, and not be ashamed. And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes ( Psalms 119:43-48 ).
Thy commandments, Thy statutes, Thy testimonies, Thy precepts, Thy Word, Thy judgments. All of these in the particular letter in the Hebrew alphabet here.
Now the next section. The Word.
Remember the word unto your servant. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me ( Psalms 119:49 , Psalms 119:50 ).
So God's Word, the comfort to me when I am afflicted.
The proud had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law. I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself. Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law. Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law. This I had, because I kept thy precepts ( Psalms 119:51-56 ).
I kept Your law. I kept Your precepts.
And the next section, Thy words, Thy Word, Thy testimonies, Thy commandments, Thy law, Thy righteous judgments, Thy precepts, and Thy statutes. All of these are spoken of.
In the next section, again, Thy Word, Thy commandment. And in verse Psalms 119:67 ,
Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word ( Psalms 119:67 ).
The Bible says, "Is any man afflicted? Let him pray. Is there any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of the Lord will save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up. And if he has committed any sins, they shall be forgiven him" ( James 5:13-15 ). But notice a distinction is made between the affliction and sicknesses.
It would seem that afflictions are something that are placed upon us by God and they come as a chastisement, a punishment. Well, not a correctional exigency of God in my life. The afflictions. Now if I'm afflicted, I'm not told to call for the elders of the church. I'm to work that out between myself and God. It's something that God has allowed in order that He might teach me. God allows afflictions, and when they come, then I am to pray and work that out with God.
If I'm sick, that's something different. Then I'm to call for the elders of the church and they can pray over me in the name of the Lord, anointing me with oil and the prayer of faith will save the sick. The Lord will raise him up. But there's a distinction made between the afflictions and sickness in the New Testament. "Before I was afflicted I went astray." So the purpose of the affliction is to get him back on the path. He had gone astray, but now have I kept Thy Word.
Thou art good, you do good: teach me your statutes. The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep your precepts with my whole heart. Their heart is as fat as grease: but I delight in thy law. Now it is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes ( Psalms 119:68-71 ).
Now going back, "Before I was afflicted I went astray." "It's good for me that I was afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes."
For the law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold or silver ( Psalms 119:72 ).
The Word of God is more valuable to me than all the wealth of the world. "What should it profit a man, if he would gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" ( Mark 8:36 ) The value of God's Word in our lives is worth more to me than all of the gold or silver.
Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments. They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word. I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that you in faithfulness have afflicted me ( Psalms 119:73-75 ).
"I know, Lord, that Your judgments are right and that the afflictions that I have were just the faithfulness of God." God is so faithful and good to me. I have people that come in and they're into all kinds of trouble because they were messing around. "Everybody's doing it." Yeah? But you can't. Because you see, inasmuch as you are a child of God, He's not going to let you get away with it. They may all be able to cheat and get by with it, but you can't. You're going to get caught. God's not going to let you get by with it because you're His child. God loves you too much to let you get by with those things. And so, "God, You are faithful. When you afflicted me, Lord, for Your judgments are right. What You've done, God, is right. In faithfulness You've afflicted me."
Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant. Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight. Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts. Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies. Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed. My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word. My eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me? For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes ( Psalms 119:76-83 ).
And now one of those two verses in which there is no mention to the Word.
How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment upon them that persecute me? The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law. All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help me. Thou had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not your precepts. Quicken me after thy loving-kindness; so shall I keep thy testimony the testimony of thy mouth ( Psalms 119:84-88 ).
Then verse Psalms 119:89 :
For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven ( Psalms 119:89 ).
You have nothing more permanent than the Word of God. This building is not permanent at all. The sidewalks and the asphalt out there are not permanent at all. This earth is not permanent. The sun is not permanent. Someday it will probably go up into a supernova and burn out. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Word shall never pass away" ( Matthew 24:35 ). One thing that God has established forever is His Word. "Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven."
That is why it is so wrong for us to talk about the Word of God applying to a particular culture. "Oh, they wrote according to the understanding of their own culture of those times." And that is why it is so wrong for us to challenge the Word of God or seek to change the Word of God because God has forever settled His Word in heaven. It's something that... God said it; that settles it. There's no disputing of it. There's no arguing of it. There's no challenging of it. It's the Word of God. It's forever settled in heaven.
It doesn't change with the mores of a society. God's commandments and laws don't change because the mores of our society are so changed. The truth of God is absolute. The law of God is absolute. It is not relative to a situation. It is not relative to a society. It is not relative to the mores of a society. God has established the absolute law. His Word is forever settled in heaven. If you find yourself arguing with the Word, you're wrong. God's Word is a settled issue.
Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abides. They continue this day according to thine ordinances ( Psalms 119:90-91 ):
That is, the earth and all are continuing just according to the ordinances that God has established.
for all are thy servants ( Psalms 119:91 ).
The whole universe serves Him.
Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in my affliction ( Psalms 119:92 ).
I would have been wiped out unless Your law was there.
I will never forget thy precepts: for with them you have made me alive. I am yours, save me; for I have sought your precepts. The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider your testimonies. I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad. [How I love,] O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day ( Psalms 119:93-97 ).
That's beautiful, isn't it? "Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But whose delight is in the law of the Lord" ( Psalms 1:1-2 ). "O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation." "And in His law does he meditate both day and night" ( Psalms 1:2 ).
Thou through thy commandments have made me wiser than mine enemies: for my enemies are ever with me ( Psalms 119:98 ).
You'll never escape enemies as long as you live on this earth.
I have more understanding than all of my teachers: for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep your precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way ( Psalms 119:99-104 ).
Now here the psalmist is declaring, "I have more understanding than my teachers. I'm wiser than the ancients." Why? Because of the Word of God. To understand God's Word is to have true knowledge. The unchanging truth of God. What wisdom. What understanding.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, it is a light unto my path ( Psalms 119:105 ).
It's the guide for my life.
I have sworn, and I will perform it, I will keep your righteous judgments. I am afflicted very much: make me alive, O LORD, according unto thy word. Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offering of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me thy judgments. My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law. The wicked have laid a snare for me: I erred not from thy precepts. Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart. I have inclined my heart to perform thy statutes always, even unto the end. I hate vain thoughts: but thy law I love. Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in your word. Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God ( Psalms 119:106-115 ).
That's a good scripture for you to have on hand whenever you get an invitation to some of the parties and some of the events that are happening around. Just remember Psalms 119:115 ,"Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God."
Uphold me according to thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope. Hold me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto your statutes continually. For thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood. You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love your testimonies. My flesh trembles for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments. I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to my oppressors. Be surety for thy servant for good: and let not the proud oppress me. Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness. Deal with thy servant according to thy mercy, teach me your statutes. I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies. It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law ( Psalms 119:116-126 ).
"Time, O God, for You to work." I look at the world today and I see how they have made void the law of God. I see how in our nation they've made void the law of God. It's time for God to work. And God is going to work. And that very shortly.
Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way ( Psalms 119:127-128 ).
I esteem that every precept of God is right.
Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them. The entrance of thy words give light; it gives understanding to the simple ( Psalms 119:129-130 ).
The entrance of God's Word brings light to those that are in darkness. Understanding to those simple understanding.
I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments ( Psalms 119:131 ).
"I long for Your commandments, God." David said, "As the deer thirsteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God" ( Psalms 42:1 ). Just panting after the Lord.
Look thou unto me upon me, and be merciful unto me, as you used to do unto those that love your name ( Psalms 119:132 ).
Another one that doesn't mention the Word of God.
Order my steps in thy word: let not any iniquity have dominion over me. Deliver me from the oppression of man: so I will keep thy precepts. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; teach me thy statutes. Rivers of water run down my eyes, because they keep not thy law ( Psalms 119:133-136 ).
The grief that he felt because of the disobedience to God's law by the people.
Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are your judgments. Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful. My zeal has consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten your words. Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loves it. I am small and despised: yet do I not forget your precepts. Thy righteousness is everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth. Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights. The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live. I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes. I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies. I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word. Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. Hear my voice according to thy loving-kindness: O LORD, quicken me according to thy judgment. They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law. Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth. Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever ( Psalms 119:137-152 ).
So they are forever established and they have been forever founded. God's Word is... it's forever. It has always and shall always be.
Consider my affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law. Plead my cause, deliver me: quicken me according to thy word. Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes. Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD: quicken me according to thy judgments. Many are my persecutors and mine enemies; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies. I beheld the transgressors, I was grieved; because they kept not thy word. Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy loving-kindness. Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart stands in awe of thy word. I rejoice at thy word, as one that finds great spoil ( Psalms 119:153-162 ).
Oh the rejoicing, have you ever just rejoiced over the Word of God? I get so excited as I read the Word of God. Sometimes I come across a promise or passage of scripture and the Holy Spirit will just open it up to me and I just rejoice. I just have neat shouting fits of joy. When God just seems to open up the Word to my heart. Just, it's like you found treasure or something. Just the glorious rejoicing and it's just something that's always thrilling to me when the Spirit of God just opens up a scripture to my heart. This gives me a new insight, new understanding of its depth and all.
I hate and abhor lying: but thy law I love. Seven times a day do I praise thee, because of your righteous judgments. Great peace have they which love thy law ( Psalms 119:163-165 ):
Read that one. Underline that one. "Great peace have they who love thy law."
and nothing shall offend them. LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments. My soul hath kept thy testimonies; I love them exceedingly. I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee. Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me the understanding according to thy word. Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word. My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes. My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all of thy commandments are righteous. Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts. I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep: seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments ( Psalms 119:165-176 ).
He surely had a lot to say about the Word of God.
There's an interesting story about the one-hundred-and-nineteenth psalm that actually happened in England. There was a bishop that was about to be put to death because his patron had come into disfavor with the government and had been executed, and the bishop was waiting at the gallows. And according to the British law, he had the right to request that a psalm be sung. And so the wise bishop requested the one-hundred-and-nineteenth psalm. And because it was the law of the land, they started singing the one-hundred-and-nineteenth psalm before the gallows, before he was hanged on the gallows, and about halfway through the psalm, his pardon came. And thus, he was pardoned and missed his appointment on the gallows. Had he chosen Psalms 117:1-2 , he'd have been wiped out. That actually happened. Spurgeon, in his Treasury of the Psalms speaks about that at the beginning of the one-hundred-and-nineteenth psalm. He names the bishop and so forth whose life was actually spared by his choice of this psalm to be sung prior to his execution on the gallows.
Now may the Lord be with you and keep you in His love and grace, watching over you, guiding you, protecting you through this week. May you be enriched in Christ Jesus in all things. And may your understanding of God's love be increased day by day as you begin to fathom the depth, experience the height of God's love and grace and mercies towards you through Jesus our Lord. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Psalms 119". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent