The Preeminence of Torah: Commentary on Psalm 119
David Ha Melek (the King) loved the Torah more than women for he had several wives. He loved Torah even more than his “BFF”, Jonathan, and he loved him more than he loved women! (II Sam. 1:26) When David took the throne, one of his first duties was to write out a personal copy of the Torah. (Deut. ) No doubt this is when he fell head over heels for His Word. He was clearly talking about the Torah, the Law, the Five Books of Moshe, for there was no other Scripture then. The Prophets had barely begun to be called out, David was in the process of writing many Psalms, and Solomon was not even born yet! Not to mention the Brit Chadashah from the time of Yeshua and after was about 2000 years away!
As you read through this Psalm, keep in mind the multifaceted-ness of the Torah, how David Ha Melek used different words to describe different aspects of the Law.
· Law (Torah) = The whole will of G-d, His INSTRUCTIONS to us for holy living.
· Testimonies (Edot) = This describes Torah as a witness to G-d and His righteousness.
· Precepts (Pikudim) = These are specific guidelines for all who defines themselves as G-d’s People.
· Way (derech) = This speaks of the path, the way we are to walk according to the Torah.
· Commandments (Mitzvot) = These are specific “Thou Shalt’s” and “Thou Shalt Not’s”.
· Statutes (Chukim) = These are laws in which G-d does not give us a logical explanation; we keep them simply because HE said so.
· Ordinances / Judgments (Mishpatim) = Judicial standard of fairness.
· Word (Davar, Imrah) = An all around general term for the expressed-will of G-d.
We will also notice that each stanza starts with each letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet. Symbolizing that God’s Word, God’s Law covers everything from Aleph to Tav, from A to Z. That it is all encompassing and it is perfect and complete.
Now Yeshua the Messish is the Living Manifestation of The Written Torah, so we can say that David’s love affair and praise of the Torah is actually that of The Messiah.
I have said before that if you don’t have Torah, you don’t have the Messiah.
1 ¶ ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
God is the same as in David’s day, and as in ours. God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb.13:8). He changes not (Mal. 3:8). The Torah is not just something you keep to get brownie points with God, or to “earn” your way to Heaven. It is something we walk in like second nature, something we do because we love God so much. We are “Blessed”, or another translation is, “Happy” we are when we walk in the Torah undefiled. The Torah makes us happy, it is not sad or a burden to keep as most Christians would have you think.
2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
We are happy when we remember the Great things God has done, and to remember that He is Holy, Pure and Righteous. We guard and keep alive the Greatness of God when we retell of His awesome deeds, and when we set
our hearts to love and please Him, to trust that “Father knows best”. To love Him and seek His will (Torah) with ones whole heart.
3 They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
“Iniquity” is the opposite of Torah. It literally means “Torah-less-ness”, “No Torah” or “Without Torah”. So, if we naturally keep the Torah we will not walk in iniquity. And, what will God say to those who “work iniquity”? (Matt. 7:23)
4 ¶ Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
If we love God, and know He loves us and wants what is best for us, we will realize that He is an orderly and specific God. We will be sure to do our best to follow and keep His Torah to the best of our ability. We will not be casual with God and be flippant with, or haphazard in keeping His Instructions, and we will enjoy doing it. Just like when we wrap a present for someone we love, we just don’t wrap it with just any paper; we don’t just hastily crumple paper around the gift and wrap tape around it like a mummy. No, we make sure the present is wrapped just so. The creases of the wrap are sharp and precise, the tape is virtuously invisible, and the bow is curled just right and is balanced atop of the box perfectly. We relish and are giddy about making sure every detail is perfect because we want everything to be just right when we present the gift. For the gift not only shows our love, but the way it is wrapped shows our care. The way we wrap it is a gift to. And so it is, when being scrupulous in keeping the details of the Law.
5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
He is saying, “God make me want to keep Your Commandments even when I don’t want too! I want to want to keep your Laws. Give me the desire to keep your Torah!”
6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
I John 3:4 tells us that breaking Torah is sin, and sin brings on shame, personally and publicly when exposed, and this will not come when we take joy in keeping God’s Torah.
7 ¶ I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
“Daddy, when I learn how to keep your Torah the way You want me too, I will make you so proud!”
8 I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.
“I am not perfect, and I will fail here and there, but you know my heart to keep Your Torah perfectly. So please forgive me and don’t give up on me when I screw up.”
9 ¶ BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
In other words, what can the Torah do? It has the power to give one a “squeaky clean” reputation. It’s simple, it’s all in black and white in His Torah and all we have to do is read and heed. It cannot be mechanical either; it has to be from the heart, as you will see.
10 ¶ With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
David knew that to know the Commandments was to know God. David also knew that the Commandments are life (Deut. 32:47), so to wander from the Torah is to wander from the path of Life.
11 ¶ Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
I have heard this verse in what is known as the “Pledge to the Bible”. There is a pledge to the American flag and the Christian flag and to the Bible. David knew that it was important to memorize His Torah if he was to combat and conquer temptation and sin.
12 ¶ Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
David is saying that even though he, as a finite human, may not understand why an infinite God might have commanded certain things; he nonetheless wants to know them. He wants God Himself to teach them to him because he is so zealous to love and please God.
13 ¶ With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
As king, he is saying he will rule fairly by the Torah as his guide.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
David knows the Torah is the true treasure, not money and possessions. He is probably alluding to his personal, hand-scribed Torah as being his greatest possession.
15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
Even though we may not understand why God commands certain things, David said he would try to wrap his brain around it anyway. In addition, even when he concludes that he still does not get it, he will nonetheless keep these “Chukim”.
16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
He is saying that he will keep the commandments that rule and guide our daily lives with joy, that he will make the Torah a part of him so he will not forget His Torah.
17 ¶ GIMEL. Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.
He is saying in a way that if he had much bounty there would be many more ways that he could keep God’s Torah.
18 ¶ Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
Here David is saying that the Torah is so deep, he is asking that God open his eyes to understand it and to see it in all its depth and glory, for the sole reason of keeping them and thus praising God by doing so.
19 ¶ I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.
The Torah is David’s road map, He cannot survive without them, and they are his life and security.
20 ¶ My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.
The Torah is like a love affair, he cannot get her (Torah) off his mind, it is all he can think about, it is wonderful, and it is perfect. In short, he is lovesick for the Torah.
21 ¶ Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.
He is implying that he is humble, because he knows that the prideful are self-reliant and do not allow God to lead and guide them. He knows that it is inevitable that they will one day crash and burn without rescue. He is saying he cannot make it without God and His Instructions, His Torah.
22 ¶ Remove from me reproach and contempt, for I have kept thy testimonies.
David has been faithful, and has been encouraged and believed the miracles recorded in the Torah and therefore has seen miracles in his own life because he has trusted Him fully through thick and thin. We see the Torah is David’s constant companion, guide, and comforter.
23 ¶ Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
David knows that his vindication lies in the Torah, the Words of the Living God. The Torah is what David turns to, to ease his mind and to get his mind off things when political life gets cumbersome.
24 ¶ Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.
David learns from the mistakes and the triumphs of the past Patriarchs. He trusts Moshe, Aharon, and Yehoshuah more than he trusts his royal advisers!
25 ¶ DALETH. My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.
Only God’s Word gives him life and power.
26 ¶ I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes.
It’s no secret David is a Torah Keeper; it is obvious, everyone knows it. He does not hide that fact. He again cries out to God, he wants to know His more Mysterious Commandments.
27 Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.
He is asking God what are the reasons for, the cause and effects, the benefits of keeping the everyday things of the Torah, just so he can tell others and compel them to keep them, so he can tell others how great and wise His God is.
28 ¶ My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.
Here David is saying that the Torah is a Living Supernatural Document able to give peace and strength when needed. He can have true confidence because he keeps God’s Torah out of zeal and love, and therefore knows that God is on his side.
29 Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously.
Seeing the Torah is Truth, David pleads to be led down that road, the road opposite and far from the road of the way of lying.
30 ¶ I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.
Love this verse too. Basically, being Torah Obedient is 100% a choice; no one can convince you, or make you keep it, not even God Himself. Only you can decide to do so out of a genuine love and desire to please and obey God.
He is saying that the Torah is True, the only way to live and the only way in which to have dealings with others because it is fair.
31 I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame.
Again, David says he believes every word of Torah, every victory, every triumph of God in his dealings with Israel. And since he believes, he trusts that God will act in the same way on his behalf. David knows that everyone knows what he believes and who he serves and therefore it is God’s reputation that is at stake, so he says “put me not to shame” because people will see it and put the failing not on David, but on his God.
32 I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.
He says, “Make my heart big enough, more able to take in and understand all your Torah so I can keep it and run with it for the honor and glory of Your Name!”
33 ¶ HE. Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.
Boy, David really wants to know God’s Chukim; even if he does not understand it, he says he wants to keep them. I have heard many well meaning people say they will not follow Torah until they understand it, and that is noble, you certainly want to understand why they are doing what they are doing. However, this can be a devil’s cop-out too. If it were a matter of truly understanding all of God’s 613 Mitzvot, I would never begin to obey one. All of them are so deep and multi-faceted that no one can truly understand them fully because they come from the mind of an infinite God to a finite creation.
34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
He says that he will keep God’s Laws even if he does not understand them, but here he is praying for that understanding anyway, because to understand is to fulfill with a full, joyous and fully engaged heart.
35 ¶ Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.
Clearly keeping the Torah was not some laborious, burdensome task to David. He loved it, he enjoyed it, and in a way he is saying that even in the rare times that, “I don’t wanna”, he says make me “wanna”.
36 Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
And with bounty comes that temptation of greed and covetousness for more. David is saying, “Let my motive always be pure and true, don’t let me glory in the tools that You give me to fulfill Your Commands.” If he covets, he wants to covet the true life stories of His Word. He is asking God to tune his ear to understand these true life, historical stories of God’s actions on behalf of His people Israel.
37 ¶ Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
As his son, Solomon, would say in Ecclesiastes that all is vain but His Torah, David says, enliven me to be able to keep Your Torah.
38 ¶ Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.
David is T-totally submitted to YHWH, He says, “Go ahead God lay down the Law to me and I will follow it. Your wish is my command.”
39 ¶ Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.
David knows how bad he can really be and that scares him, he knows that adhering to God’s Torah can change all that when he submits to His Judgments.
40 ¶ Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.
David desires all of God’s Torah, especially the commandments he does not fully understand; he is asking God to give him the strength to keep His Torah, for it is the Righteousness of God. You see as James said that faith (belief in God and His Word) without works (doing the Torah) is dead. There is Faith Righteousness, which is believing in God and His Word, and Works Righteousness (Keeping the Commandments) and you cannot have one without the other, like the yin and the yang, like peanut butter and chocolate, like peanut butter and jelly…. Well, you get the picture.
41 ¶ VAU. Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word.
David knew that the Torah led to salvation. Don’t the Scriptures say that Salvation comes from the Jews? (John 4:22) The Written Torah tells what the Living Torah (The Messiah) was to be like.
42 So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.
The Torah is the final word in what God considers righteous conduct, and when one is living by the Torah, no one can say anything legitimate against you in the realm of wrongdoing.
43 ¶ And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.
Here David clearly says that the Torah is Truth. This is the answer to Pilate’s question to Yeshua, “What is Truth? (John 18:38)
44 So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.
Notice there is not an italics or parentheses in the ancient text that disclaims this verse by saying “until the Messiah come.” No, he says the Torah is to be obeyed forever. If David knew about the coming of the Messiah and that the Torah told about Him (even Yeshua said the Torah speaks of Him (Luke 24:13-49)), then he would have known if the Torah would be changed by the Messiah. Instead, He affirms that the Torah stands forever.
45 ¶ And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.
46 I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.
David will tell all other nations and kings about G-d and His dealings with
, and no
matter how they respond, he will not be ashamed because he KNOWS that all the
stories are absolutely 100% true! Israel
47 And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.
Torah makes David happy! What more can I say on this verse?
48 My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.
He says he will DO the Torah, because it is all he can think about. It is so deep he can never come to an end of thinking about God’s Torah! He is especially fascinated with the commandments that have seemingly no logical purpose.
49 ¶ ZAIN. Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.
The Torah is David’s hope; in other places, he says it is his salvation, his Yeshua. And remember what I said that Yeshua is nothing more than the Living Manifestation of the Written Torah?
50 ¶ This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.
The Torah is also His Comfort. And what do we call the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) which comes from God? The Comforter. In passages in the Brit Chadashah (Renewed Covenant) it says that the Ruach will guide us in all Truth (John ), and David already said that the Torah is Truth.
51 ¶ The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.
David says that he will stick to his guns and no matter what pressures from others may come; he will not budge nor compromise in regards to the Torah.
52 ¶ I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself.
David is comforted by God judicial rulings of the Torah because he knows that they are fair, good and holy.
53 ¶ Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.
David hates to think about those who don’t get it, who do not understand the awesomeness of God’s Torah and therefore do not obey it. He knows where Torah-less-ness leads.
54 ¶ Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.
Before David sang and wrote the Psalms, he put the Torah to music and praised God that way, specifically the Commandments in which God gave no logical explanation for, at that!
55 ¶ I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law.
He even wants God’s Torah to rule his unconscious dream life! He wants to be holy through and through. David goes to sleep thinking about the Torah.
56 This I had, because I kept thy precepts.
He knows that his nightlife can only be pure because of God’s Word, His Torah, and because he lives to obey it, he can have a holy nightlife.
57 ¶ CHETH. Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words.
Land, Kingdom, Wealth, Women…. Heck, it’s nothing compared to God and His Torah. That is enough “portion” for David.
58 ¶ I entreated thy favor with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.
Torah is not just a haphazard thing to David; it is all or nothing!
59 ¶ I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
“Turn my feet” implies teshuvah, repentance, a 180 after wrongdoing is realized, a turning away from sin and a turning to the Source, a turning to God. David is turning to God and His Righteousness.
60 I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.
David did not make an excuse NOT to keep the Commandments; HE wasted no time in keeping them!
61 ¶ The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.
Come hell or high water, come persecution or loss David will keep the Torah no matter what!
62 ¶ At I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.
God and His Torah are so awesome, sometimes David can’t even sleep, he is so giddy about it, and he cannot help but give praise to YHWH. Even if something is on his mind and keeping him up all night, he will end up praising God because of His Torah. He knows if he follows it, God has his back and it will all be okay.
63 ¶ I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.
David admits that there is a brotherhood, a family quality among those who keep His commandments, and indeed, I can testify this for myself, that it is so true.
64 ¶ The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes.
Though we cannot understand the Chukim without finite minds, this verse hints that God gave them to us, and that is why the earth is full with His mercy.
65 ¶ TETH. Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word.
God is fair and just, all the time, always whether we can understand it or not.
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.
It is as if David is saying, “Teach me, Teach me, Teach me about every aspect of Your Torah God, even if my little brain can’t fully comprehend it! I want to know about it all!”
67 ¶ Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
Obeying Torah promotes healing and wellness body mind and spirit. Disobeying causes the opposite to occur.
68 ¶ Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.
As the modern saying goes, “God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.” This being fact, this means His Torah, every part of it is good, too. So why wouldn’t we want to know and obey it!?
69 ¶ The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.
Torah keepers WILL be persecuted; regardless, David will not budge from his Torah Obedience. Sounds like something the Messiah Himself said in Matthew 5:10-12.
70 Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.
David knows because of fear, ignorance and rebellion most people are deaf and numb to the Torah, but it is everything to David.
71 ¶ It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
Ah, finally, a clue, a possible ray of light on the part of God’s Torah that God gave us without any logical explanation. He just told us to do it because He is God. Even when David is being punished for disobeying God’s Torah, any lesson derived from Torah, no matter positive or negative, is a worthy lesson learned. See I Pet. 1:6-7, James 1:2
72 ¶ The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.
He acknowledges that man does not make up the Torah, but they are the very Words of God Himself and deserve to be heeded, followed, and obeyed; that The Torah is far more precious and far more valuable than precious metals.
73 ¶ JOD. Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.
“God, You know me inside and out, You hold the blueprint to my physical, mental and spiritual makeups, so teach me in the way I can learn, absorb, and keep the commandments best.”
74 ¶ They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.
As believers, we are all in the same boat and therefore we pray for and encourage one another and we are glad when we see the other succeed, because we know our success will come soon by the same Divine Source.
75 ¶ I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
Rom. 8:28, all things work for the good, and we know whether success or punishment comes by the hand of God, we know He is just and fair and right in doing so. And as a loving Father, he disciplines us because He wants us to do right and see us succeed.
76 ¶ Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.
77 Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.
David desires God to see the desire of his heart, to please Him and to keep His Torah, and therefore, asks for patience and encouragement as he continues to try to do the right thing.
78 ¶ Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.
David knows that the victories of the wicked are short lived and are actually granted as a mercy unto them by God. David knows that God will uphold him and see him through. God will settle all accounts and the righteous will eventually prevail.
79 Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies.
David wants all Torah Observant believers to rally around him the King for he promised God that he would lead them as a nation in the ways of Torah for the Glory of God.
80 ¶ Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.
David wants to know the Torah fully so he can keep the Torah fully and therefore be without the shame of sin.
81 ¶ CAPH. My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.
David knows that the prophecies of Moshiach, Salvation (Yeshua) are encoded in the Torah, and he longs for that day when Moschiach will be revealed.
82 Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?
Sometimes doubts naturally arise when one waits so long for God’s promises. Yet we see in the next verse that it is the Torah that continually encourages him.
83 ¶ For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes.
Even though one is in the world and not of it, just by being in it one is tainted by contact with it; but regardless David remembers and keeps the Torah.
84 ¶ How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?
85 ¶ The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law.
86 All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me.
87 They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not thy precepts.
The age-old question of why the wicked prosper can be answered in the extension of God’s mercy to the wicked who are blind of God’s ways in an attempt to extend the opportunity for them to repent. This is why, too, that we are permitted to suffer at times at the hand of the wicked because really God does not want to see anyone perish. Yet we know that even God has an expiration date in regards to His mercy, and that if the wicked do not repent they will be repaid in kind by God on the righteous people’s account. All we have to do is be faithful in regards to Torah and endure to the end and we WILL be saved.
88 ¶ Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.
David says, “God, make me alive through the life-giving words of your Torah! Give me strength to keep your Torah and thus please You.”
89 ¶ LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
The Torah IS ETERNAL, it WILL NOT be done away with or replaced by another.
90 Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.
91 They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants.
The Torah is relevant and timeless.
92 ¶ Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.
The Written Torah is David’s Yeshua (Salvation), for HE knows the Living Torah, the Messiah will come from the Written Torah.
93 ¶ I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.
Again, the Torah gives life when one keeps it, not death; death comes through disobedience to it.
94 ¶ I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts.
David knows there is Righteousness that comes by Faith, but He also knows that your righteous works through the Torah back up the faith of your heart.
95 ¶ The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies.
When David gets fearful and discouraged, He will remember through the Words of the Torah what God miraculously has done for Israel.
96 ¶ I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad.
David is saying that he sees the end of every perfection, every purpose in this finite world, but that the Torah is eternal, it has no end.