In 22 strophes, Psalm 119 brings its reader down a path with multiple interwoven results. The meditating reader learns about a relationship with God through His words. In the original language, the reader has the opportunity to learn basic Hebrew in light of God’s working in-with-and-by His revealed words. Through immense repetition God frames the question, lays out His worldview, and draws in the reader to submit his soul to God’s perspective.
These truths are unmistakable. In Psalm 119:
- The question-framing comes from God;
- The worldview is shaped by God;
- God orients, reorients, and reshapes one’s entire perspective.
An acrostic Psalm, each of the 22 eight-verse strophes in Psalm 119 begins with a theme word or phrase by which the entire strophe is memorialized in the mind. As with the memorizing of any long portion, the first word or words of each strophe forms the mental chain-link by which the entire strophe is brought to mind.
It is reasonable to consider that God foreordained just the right theme words which He would use to trigger the content of each strophe in the minds of those hungry enough for Him to memorize this entire psalm. With this in mind, it seems an appropriate study to consider the 22 theme words chosen by God for the memorializing of the words of this psalm:
v. 1 Blessed (אַשְׁרֵ֥י)
v. 9 How To? (בַּמֶּ֣ה)
v. 17 Do Unto (גְּמֹ֖ל)
v. 25 It Clings (דָּֽבְקָ֣ה)
v. 33 Teach Me (הוֹרֵ֣נִי)
v. 41 And Let Come to Me (וִֽיבֹאֻ֣נִי)
v. 49 Remember the Word (זְכֹר־דָּבָ֥ר)
v. 57 My portion (חֶלְקִ֖י)
v. 65 Goodness (טוֹב)
v. 73 Your Hands (יָדֶ֣יךָ)
v. 81 Longing (כָּלְתָ֣ה)
v. 89 Unto Forever (לְעוֹלָ֥ם)
v. 97 How [I Love]! (מָֽה־אָהַ֥בְתִּי)
v. 105 Lamp to My Feet (נֵר־לְרַגְלִ֥י)
v. 113 Double-Minded (סֵעֲפִ֥ים)
v. 121 I Have Worked (עָשִׂיתִי)
v. 129 Wonderful (פְּלָא֥וֹת)
v. 137 Righteous (צַדִּ֣יק)
v. 145 I Call Out (קָרָ֣אתִי)
v. 153 See My Affliction (רְאֵֽה־עָנְיִ֥י)
v. 161 Princes (שָׂרִים)
v. 169 Let It Come (תִּקְרַ֤ב).
There are many interwoven themes in this psalm, such as the repetition of “Teach me Your statautes” found 6 times. However, there is also a progression within the strophes. The first two strophes consider where and how to find the blessing of God. Strophes 13 and 14 begin by such memorable words that they generate choruses in the minds of their readers. It appears that the twentieth strophe, or the Hebrew letter “Resh,” brings the Psalm to a climax, whereby the reader calls out for salvation from God.
Psalm 119 is an immensely profound and meaningful psalm. It is well-worth the memory work of any Christian!