It is fitting that the greatest tribute to the Word of God is IN the Word of God, itself, and is in the longest chapter of the Word of God! This Psalm has no author’s name, historical incident, or other distraction from its theme. It is divided into 22 sections (one for every letter in the Hebrew alphabet), each consisting of 8 lines, each line beginning with the alphabet letter of that section (aleph is the first letter of each line under the aleph section, for instance). The chapter uses some 8-10 different words to describe the Word of God, each bringing something extra to the total picture of the Word of Truth. In order to savor the depth and richness of teaching in this Psalm, we will examine each portion as if it were its own chapter.
Psalm 119:137-144 Tsadde Keeping Right
Verses 137-138 say, “God is always right;”
Verses 139-141 teach that God’s Word shows what’s right;
Verses 142-144 show one pleased to be forever right;
Verses 137-138: (Verse 137) God, Himself, is “righteous” (upright, unwavering). “Right” can variously be used of: direction (or “left”); morals (or “wrong”); truth (or “lie”), but God is always correct. God’s character is the absolute definition of “righteous,” just as He is “true” (John 3:33), “faithful” (1 Corinthians 1:9), “light” (1 John 1:5), “love” (1 John 4:16). His “judgments” (decisions) are “upright” (not slanted or varied). (Verse 138) God’s “testimonies” (words about His character) are “righteous” and “very faithful” (which isn’t describing an amount, but extent). “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).
Verses 139-141: (Verse 139) “Zeal” is passion, but needs to be for the right if “consuming.” This thought is completely given in Psalm 69:9 and there predicted Jesus’ cleansing of the temple (John 2:13-17). Believers should be “zealous” to correct the ignorance of those without God’s Word. (Verse 140) Just as metals are highly valued when refined or purified, God’s servants highly value God’s Word because of its purity. (Verse 141) A person who is “small” (in stature) and “despised” (in popularity) gains self-esteem by remembering God’s “precepts” (words highlighting or supervising the right way).
Verses 142-144: (Verse 142) God’s “right-ness” is “everlasting” (always right), and His “law” (defining the proper direction) is “truth” (accurate, factual). (Verse 143) Though “trouble and anguish” find us, we may always turn to God’s “commandments” (words urging, ordering what is right) which give pleasure and restore confidence in ourselves that we at least please God. (Verse 144) The absolute confidence in life is that God’s “testimonies” are always “right,” thus we live better now and forever when we “understand” them.
All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.