Psalm 119 is the longest psalm in the collection. It is a hymn in praise of and appreciation for God’s instructions to His people. You see, God not only called Israel to be His people and gave them a wonderful land, but He gave them a blueprint for living. The Hebrew word for that is torah, sometimes translated “law” or “teachings.” In torah God tells them how to structure their lives and communities so that they will live long, prosperous lives in the land He has given them. As you read through the psalm, you will notice words like law, teachings, precepts, word, decrees, and commands. Each of these words is a synonym highlighting some attribute of God’s instructions to His people.
Another memorable feature of this psalm is its form. The psalmist constructs this hymn as an elaborate acrostic poem that moves artfully through each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Essentially, all the elements of this psalm combine to emphasize the importance of God’s Word to His people, to the praise and glory of the one True God.
Happy are the people who walk with integrity,
who live according to the teachings of the Eternal.
Happy are the people who keep His decrees,
who pursue Him wholeheartedly.
These are people who do nothing wrong;
they do what it takes to follow His ways.
You have given us Your precepts
so we would be careful about keeping them.
Oh, that every part of my life would remain in line
with what You require!
Then I would feel no shame
when I fix my eyes upon Your commands.
With a pure heart, I will give thanks to You
when I hear about Your just and fair rulings.
I will live within Your limits;
do not abandon me completely!
How can a young person remain pure?
Only by living according to Your word.
I have pursued You with my whole heart;
do not let me stray from Your commands.
Deep within me I have hidden Your word
so that I will never sin against You.
You are blessed, O Eternal One;
instruct me in what You require.
My lips have told how
You have delivered all Your wise rulings.
I have celebrated Your testimonies
as though rejoicing over an immeasurable fortune.
I will fix my mind on Your instructions
and my eyes on Your path.
I will find joy in Your ordinances;
I will remember Your word forever.
Treat Your servant well, Lord,
so that I may live and remain faithful to Your word.
Let me see clearly so that I may take in
the amazing things coming from Your law.
I am a sojourner in the world;
do not keep Your commands hidden from me.
My soul aches from craving
Your wise rulings day and night.
You rebuke those who are proud,
and those who stray from Your commands are cursed.
Free me from the contempt and disdain of others
because I keep Your decrees.
Even though powerful princes conspire against me,
I fix my mind on what You require.
Yes, Your testimonies are my joy;
they are like the friends I seek for counsel.
My very being clings to the dust;
preserve my life, in keeping with Your word.
I have admitted my ways are wrong, and You responded;
now help me learn what You require.
Compel me to grasp the way of Your statutes
so I will fix my mind on Your wonderful works.
My soul weeps, and trouble weighs me down;
give me strength so I can stand according to Your word.
Eliminate faithlessness You find in my step,
be gracious, and give me Your guidance.
I have decided to take the path of faith;
I have focused my eyes on Your regulations.
I cling to Your decrees; O Eternal One,
do not let me face disgrace!
I will chase after Your commandments
because You will expand my understanding.
O Eternal One, show me how to live according to Your statutes,
and I will keep them always.
Grant me understanding so that I can keep Your law
and keep it wholeheartedly.
Guide me to walk in the way You commanded
because I take joy in it.
Turn my head and my heart to Your decrees
and not to sinful gain.
Keep my eyes from gazing upon worthless things,
and give me true life according to Your plans.
Verify Your word to Your servant,
which will lead me to worship You.
Take away the scorn that I dread
because Your actions are just and good.
Look and see—I long for Your guidance;
restore me in Your righteousness.
May Your unfailing love find me, O Eternal One.
Keep Your promise, and save me;
When that happens, I will have a good response for anyone who taunts me
because I have faith in Your word.
Do not take Your message of truth from my mouth
because I wait and rely on Your just decisions.
Therefore I will follow Your teachings,
forever and ever.
And I will live a life of freedom
because I pursue Your precepts.
I will even testify of Your decrees before royalty
and will not be humiliated.
I will find my joy in Your commands,
which I love,
And I will raise my hands to Your commands, which I love,
and I will fix my mind on what You require.