Friday, December 6, 2013

Psalm 119


Psalm 119 is the longest of the psalms, the longest chapter in the Bible according to anyone's canon. It is an alphabetic acrostic, made up of 22 stanzas, each 8 lines (verses) long. Each line of a stanza begins with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The stanzas go through the Hebrew alphabet in order.

The psalm is a prayer which praises God for the Torah, asks for help in understanding and keeping the Torah, and requests relief from the afflictions visited upon the psalmist by enemies.

According to the Jewish Study Bible there are 8 synonyms for torah in the Hebrew. Reading the psalm in the NIV, I found the English terms law, statutes, ways, precepts, decrees, commands, word, and promise. One of these words occurs in every verse of Psalm 119 with only four exceptions that I found, verses 84, 90, 121, and 132.

This psalm's earworm is verse 105:

Your word is a light to my feet and a lamp to my path.

The song it calls to mind is not my favorite.

Verse 84 uses a striking image:

Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke,
   I do not forget your decrees. 

I'm not sure what a wineskin in the smoke looks like, but it can't be pretty.

Next: Psalms 120-125

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