a study of Psalm 119

I thought today I would share some tidbits on the Psalms with special attention to Psalm 119. The Book of Psalms is actually 5 books.  Book 1 – Psalms 1-41; Book 2 – Psalms 42-72; Book 3 – Psalms 73-89; Book 4 – Psalms 90-106; and the last book, Book 5 – Psalms 107-150.

Many believe King David wrote the Psalms.  He did write many but not all. Authorship breaks down as follows:

  • Sons of Korah wrote (10) Psalms 42, 44-49, 84-85, 87;
  • Asaph wrote (12) Psalms 50, 73-83;
  • Herman wrote (1) Psalm 88;
  • Ethan wrote (1) Psalm 89;
  • Hezekiah wrote (11) Psalms 120-123, 128-130, 132, 134-136;
  • Solomon wrote (2) Psalms 72, 127
  • David is credited with having written 73 of Psalms;
  • 40 Psalms have no authorship credited; although many scholars believe these Psalms have the style of David.
  • The acrostic psalms are 9&10 (taken together), 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119, and 145.

Psalm 119-89-90Psalm 119 – authorship is unknown. It reportedly has the most words of all the Psalms written and is found in the middle of the Bible.

*The psalm is written in an acrostic (alphabetical) arrangement. In each paragraph (strophe**) of 8 verses each line begins with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. (The 22 strophes correspond to the 22 letters of the alphabet.) So verses 1-8 each begin with the first Hebrew letter, Aleph; verses 9-16 each begin with the second letter, and so on. 1-8 Aleph; 9-16 Beth; 17-24 Gimel; 25-32 Daleth; 33-40 He; 41-48 Vav; 49-56 Zayin; 57-64 Heth; 65-72 Teth; 73-80 Yodh; 81-88 Kaph; 89-96 Lamedh; 97-104 Mem; 105-112 Nun; 113-120 Samekh; 121-128 Ayin; 129-136 Pe; 137-144 Tsadhe; 145-152 Qoph; 153-160 Resh; 161-168 Shin; 169-176; Tav.

The psalm is largely a collection of prayers and meditations on the Word of God, referred to by 10 synonyms.

  1. Law (torah) – occurring 25x – denotes direction or instruction. More often the word refers to a body of teaching, probably Deuteronomy and Leviticus, if not the whole Pentateuch..
  2. Testimony (edah) – occurring 22x in the plural and 1x in the singular – It is a solemn attestation, a declaration of the will of God.  It is a general word for ordinances that became God’s standard of conduct.  It’s usually rendered ‘statutes’ in the NIV.
  3. Precepts (piqqudim) – occurring 21x – It’s a poetical word for injunctions, found only in the Psalms (always in the plural).
  4. Statutes (huqqim) – occurring 21x – in the psalms it’s always in the plural. – Literally it means ‘things inscribed.’ So it refers to enacted Laws (and is translated ‘decrees’ in the NIV).
  5. Commandment (miswah) –  occurring 21x in the plural (usually translated ‘commands’ in the NIV) and once in the singular collectively. It signifies a definite, authoritative command. It is frequently joined with huqqim and mispot.
  6. Judgment (mispot) occurring 19x in the plural and occurring 4 times in the singular. -(often translated ‘laws ‘in the NIV) It represents a judicial decision that constitutes a precedence, a binding law. In the Pentateuch it referred to the laws after the 10 Commandments. The word can also mean God’s judgmental acts on the wicked.
  7. Word (dabar) – occurring 20x – a general term for God’s revelation, but the ’10 Commandments’ are called “Ten Words”(literal Hebrew… Deuteronomy 4:13).
  8. Saying (imrah) – occurring 19x – often translated ‘promise’ in the NIV and is often a poetical synonym for dabar.
  9. Way (derek) – occurring 5x in the plural and 6x in the singular – is a metaphorical term describing the pattern of life marked out by God’s Law.
  10. Path (orah) occurring 5x – is parallel to ‘way’.

One of my favorite passages from Psalm 119…Forever, O LordYour word is settled in heaven.  Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides.  Psalm 119:89-90 (NKJV)

It would really encourage this gal’s heart, if you my readers would share your favorite verse from Psalm 119 in the comment section below.

More to come next week.
Until next time

* An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty – Old Testament – Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck
**stro·phe – noun – the first section of an ancient Greek choral ode or of one division of it. A structural division of a poem containing stanzas of varying line-length, especially an ode or free verse poem.

About Sandra

I became a writer in my later years. I love blogging and sharing life with others. I speak to women's groups about the Christian life.
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2 Responses to a study of Psalm 119

  1. Cat says:

    Right now at this time my favorite verse is verse 28. AS TIMES CHANGE SO WILL THE VERSES, KATHIE


  2. Linda L Hall says:

    Pretty amazing structure of Psalm 119!!! I always try to pray vs18 before studying the Bible, but my favorite is vs 105. Your word is a lamp my feet and a light for my path. I have several other verses in 119 underlined; wonderful Psalm.


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