Bible Reading: Psalms 119


Psalm 119 is the longest poem in the Book of Psalms. It has 22 stanzas of 8 lines each giving a total of 176 verses. It has 22 stanzas because there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Many English versions will put the name of the Hebrew letter above each stanza (e.g., Aleph, Beth, Gimel). That means each of the eight lines of a stanza begins with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet as the author works through the entire alphabet.

The author could be King David, but the author seems to be a younger man, because he says he has more understanding that all his teachers (119:99) and the aged (119:100), since he meditates on God’s testimonies and keeps God’s precepts. Maybe that is why he asks the question: “How can a young man keep his way pure” (119:9a)? Although he now memorizes God’s instructions so that he might not sin (119:11), he confesses “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word” (119:67). The circumstances of the psalmist are persecution (119:84-87) and desire for salvation and comfort (119:81-82). He complains, “I have become like a wineskin in the smoke” (119:83). The image is of a wineskin becoming so dried out and brittle that it is in danger of perishing. In the midst of his difficulties, he hangs on to God’s faithfulness and steadfast love (119:88, 90), and he is sustained in his trials by God’s word.Personally, after reading this chapter a few times, I now see a real person in the ups and downs of life, who hangs on to God by reliance on God’s word.

Psalms 119 was read from the New Living Translation

Background Music

Holy Spirit River –
Recorded and performed by Dan Musselman.