Psalm 119 (Greek numbering: Psalm 118) is the longest psalm as well as the longest chapter in the Bible. It is referred to in Hebrew by its opening words, "Ashrei temimei derech" ("happy are those whose way is perfect"). It is the prayer of one who delights in and lives by the Torah, the sacred law. With its 176 verses, Psalm 119 has more verses than 14 Old Testament Books and 17 New Testament Books.
- 1 Literary features
- 2 Eastern Orthodox
- 3 Uses
- 4 Verse Notes
- 5 Musical settings
- 6 References
- 7 Quotes
- 8 External links
- 9 Further reading
This psalm is one of about a dozen alphabetic acrostic poems in the Bible. Its 176 verses are divided into twenty-two stanzas, one stanza for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet; within each stanza, each of the eight verses begins (in Hebrew) with that letter. The name of God (Yahweh/Jehovah) appears twenty-four times.
The acrostic form and the use of the Torah words constitute the framework for an elaborate prayer. The grounds for the prayer are established in the first two stanzas (alef and beth): the Torah is held up as a source of blessing and right conduct, and the psalmist pledges to dedicate himself to the law. The prayer proper begins in the third stanza (gimel, v. 17). Like many other psalms, this prayer includes dramatic lament (e.g. verses 81–88), joyous praise (e.g. verses 45–48) and prayers for life, deliverance and vindication (e.g. verses 132–134). What makes Psalm 119 unique is the way that these requests are continually and explicitly grounded in the gift of the Torah and the psalmist's loyalty to it.
The first and fifth verses in a stanza often state the same theme followed by a statement of opposition, affliction or conflict, and the final (eighth) verse tends to be a transition introducing the next stanza. Several dozen prayers are incorporated into the Psalm, e.g. "Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law." Themes include opposition by man, affliction, delight in the law and the goodness of God, which sometimes run into each other: "I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me" (v. 75), or "If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction" (v. 92). The Psalmist at times seems to appeal to God's sovereignty, "inclining his heart to the law" in contrast to the Psalmist saying "I incline my heart."[clarification needed] It ends with an appeal to God to seek his servant who strayed.
The psalm (118 in the Septuagint) figures prominently in the worship of the Orthodox Church. There is a tradition that King David used this psalm to teach his young son Solomon the alphabet—but not just the alphabet for writing letters: the alphabet of the spiritual life.
The psalm comprises an entire Kathisma (division of the Psalter) in Orthodox liturgical practice. In Orthodox monasteries it is read daily at the Midnight Office: "At midnight I arose to give thanks unto Thee for the judgments of Thy righteousness" (v. 62). It is read at Matins on Saturdays and is also chanted on many Sundays throughout the year. A major portion of Matins on Holy Saturday comprises chanting the entire psalm as a threnody, divided into three parts (stases) with Praises (Greek: Enkomia) interspersed between each verse. This chanting is done as all stand holding candles around a catafalque over which has been placed the Epitaphion (a shroud embroidered with the figure of Christ laid out for burial).
The psalm is also chanted with special solemnity at Orthodox funeral services and on the various All-Souls Days occurring throughout the year, with "Alleluia" chanted between each verse. Its use here is a reflection of the chanting done on Holy Saturday. "Alleluia" is chanted between the verses to signify the victory over death accomplished by Christ's death and Resurrection, and the eternal reward promised to the faithful.
The Psalm contains several dozen prayers and several themes run through it. God's goodness in the midst of affliction and delight in God's law. God is seen sovereignly "inclining ones heart" and the Psalmist "inclines his heart" to the statutes.
- Verse 66 is recited prior to the Shofar blowing on Rosh Hashanah.
- Verse 72 is found in Pirkei Avot Chapter 6, no. 9.
- Verses 89–91 are recited during the blessings before the Shema on the second day of Rosh Hashanah.
- Verse 99 is found in Pirkei Avot Chapter 4, no. 1.
- Verse 108 is recited prior to the Shofar blowing on Rosh Hashanah.
- Verse 122 is recited prior to the Shofar blowing on Rosh Hashanah.
- Verse 142 is part of Uva Letzion and Tzidkatcha.
- Parts of verses 153–154 comprise the blessing Re'eh of the weekday Amidah.
- Verse 160 is recited prior to the Shofar blowing on Rosh Hashanah.
- Verse 162 is recited prior to the Shofar blowing on Rosh Hashanah.
- Verse 165 is part of Talmud Berachos 64a.
- Verses 166, 162, and 165 are recited in that order by the mohel at a brit milah.
- 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.
- 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 counselors.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 129 Your testimonies are wonderful; Therefore my soul keeps them.
- 130 The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.
- 131 I opened my mouth and panted, For I longed for Your commandments.
- 132 Look upon me and be merciful to me, As Your custom is toward those who love Your name.
- 133 Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me.
- 134 Redeem me from the oppression of man, That I may keep Your precepts.
- 135 Make Your face shine upon Your servant, And teach me Your statutes.
- 136 Rivers of water run down from my eyes, Because men do not keep Your 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.
- 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.
- 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 119:1 was set to music by Charles Villiers Stanford.
- Psalm 119:33–38 was set music by William Byrd as Teach Me, O Lord.
- Psalm 119:89 is a popular Nigerian praise song.
- Psalm 119:105 was set to music by Amy Grant.
- Psalm 119:1–176 was completed in 1671 by Heinrich Schütz.
A complete English version of Psalm 119 from the King James Bible was completed by Frederick Steinruck, Michael Misiaszek, and Michael Owens.
The Psalm is put to music in The Book of Psalms for Worship, published by Crown and Covenant Publications.
- Murphy, Roland E. (2000). The Gift of the Psalms. Hendrickson. ISBN 1-56563-474-8.
- The Complete Artscroll Machzor for Rosh Hashanah page 435
- The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 587
- The Complete Artscroll Machzor for Rosh Hashanah page 269
- The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 565
- The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 157
- The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 525
- The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 102
- The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 479
- The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 209
- Pride is listed among the things that the LORD hates in Proverbs 6:16–19
- The Psalmist seeks God's righteousness in accordance with Matthew 6:33.
- "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 10:32–33)
- v. 145–149 describe the energetic prayerfulness of the psalmist.
- Rev. H. Venn: This is the Psalm (Psalm 119) I have often had recourse to, when I could find no spirit of prayer in my own heart, and at length the fire was kindled and I could pray, (from Charles Bridges on Psalm 119)
- Tehillim - Psalm 119 (Judaica Press) translation with Rashi's commentary at Chabad.org
- Yemenite Jewish reading of Psalm 119 by Aharon Amram (published by http://www.nosachteiman.co.il/?CategoryID=725&ArticleID=3078)
- Psalm 119 (New Skete translation)
- Psalm 118 (LXX numbering) Holy Transfiguration Monastery translation
- Exposition of Psalm 119 by Charles Bridges, 1827 (Full Text - Public Domain)
- The Golden Alphabet: Exposition of Psalm 119 by Charles Spurgeon, 1887 (Full Text - Public Domain)
- Psalm 119 CD and Sheet Music by Susie Kimbrough
- An Exposition of Psalm 119 by Charles Bridges (1794–1869), The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1974 (first published 1827) ISBN 0-85151-176-7
- In its original preface, Bridges stated that his purpose in writing on Psalm 119 was to 'furnish a correct standard of Evangelical sincerity for the habitual scrutiny of his own heart', corresponding to 'the several graces of the Christian system'
- Scott N. Callaham, "An Evaluation of Psalm 119 as Constrained Writing," Hebrew Studies 50 (2009): 121–135.