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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Psalms 119

 

 

Verses 1-176

CXIX. Praise of the Law.—This is the longest and most artificial Ps. in the whole collection. It is divided into twenty-two strophes, each beginning with one of the twenty-two letters of the Heb. alphabet in regular order. Again each strophe contains eight verses, and each verse begins with the same letter which introduces the strophe. The number of strophes then is determined by the number of the Heb. letters. But what of the eight verses in each strophe? The Psalmist had derived from a kindred Ps., viz. Psalms 19, the eight synonyms for the conception "Word of God" and impresses these terms on his readers by introducing them all into each stanza of his work. So Cheyne, in his Book of Psalms (1904), following D. H. Müller. It is right, however, to bear in mind that this theory involves considerable, though by no means extravagant or arbitrary, changes in the received text both of Psalms 19 and Psalms 119. There is no progress of thought and such progress would scarcely have been possible under the iron rule which the author imposed upon himself.

Psalms 119:23. Omit against me. The meaning is that princes take counsel with their chief men, whereas the Psalmist finds his counsellors in the precepts of the law.

Psalms 119:26. my ways: i.e. perhaps "my circumstances": with this the rest of Psalms 119:26 agrees, viz. "God sent an answer according to my needs."

Psalms 119:29 b. i.e. "Be gracious unto me (in giving) thy law."

Psalms 119:30. Read, "Thy judgements have I desired."

Psalms 119:32. "enlarge my heart," i.e. fill it with joy and courage, which make observance of the Law easy (cf. Isaiah 60:5).

Psalms 119:37 b. i.e. Give me the life and strength I need to keep thy laws and resist temptation.

Psalms 119:38 b. The LXX omits the relative and thus gains a simple construction, "to promote thy fear," "fear of Yahweh" being a Heb. synonym for religion generally.

Psalms 119:69. Lit. "have plastered falsehood over me," so that my real character cannot be recognised.

Psalms 119:78. Lit. "have perverted me," i.e. deprived me of my "legal rights."

Psalms 119:83. The wineskins, when not in use, were apparently hung up on the roof, and since in ancient houses there were no chimneys, the skins were exposed to the smoke from the hearth which dried and blackened them.

Psalms 119:87. Expunge, "upon the earth." Where else could they be consumed?

Psalms 119:96. Perfection in all other cases has its limits, but the Law is so wide and ample, that no man can exhaust its manifold excellence.

Psalms 119:109. "My soul" (i.e. "life") "is continually in my hand," exposed to constant peril (cf. Judges 12:3, Job 13:14*).

Psalms 119:127. Therefore has no meaning here. The Psalmist did not love the Law because others set it at nought, though he may well have loved it more on that account. Read, "Above all I love thy commandments, above gold, yea above fine gold."

Psalms 119:130. "The opening of thy words," i.e. the interpretation of them.

Psalms 119:164. There is no reason why we should not take the number here in its strict and literal sense. The later Jews observed the times of daily prayer: so Daniel 6:10 (cf. Psalms 55:17, where, however, the words "evening," "morning," "noonday" may be used loosely for "all the day long.")

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Psalms 119:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/psalms-119.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, August 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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