ETL.024: Some Things You Probably Didn’t Know, But Should, About One of the Most Popular Psalms—119

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Psalm 119 is well known, but for an oddity rather than for what it should be known.  This Psalm is commonly recognized as not only the longest of the 150 Psalms, but also the longest chapter in the Bible.  It is 176 verses long.  But there is a reason a very specific reason for its length.  The structure of this Psalm makes it a literary marvel.

But not only is the structure of the Psalm an incredible fete, its message is delivered in a remarkable fashion as well.  Employing both repetition and variation, this Psalm essentially says the same thing 176 times and in 176 different ways.  Beginning with, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!” this lengthy Psalm goes on to extoll the virtues of God’s word; it’s beauty, value, importance, and desirability.  Seven primary synonymous terms are used to refer to Scripture. These are law, testimonies, ways, precepts, statutes, commandments, and rules.  Two others are also used, but much more sparsely: promises and faithfulness.

 

Some of the best known and beloved statements from Psalm 119:

  • “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (11).
  • “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors” (24).
  • “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (72).
  • “Forever, O Lord, you world is firmly fixed in the heavens” (89).
  • “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (103).
  • “Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way” (104).
  • “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (105).
  • “Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold.  Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right; I hate every false way”  (127-128).

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