Studies in Psalm 119:25-32 DALETH - Gleanings from Historical Commentaries Collected by Jack Kettler
Introductory observations from The Treasury of David
“Here, it seems to me, we have the Psalmist in trouble bewailing the bondage to earthly things in which he finds his mind to be held. His soul cleaves to the dust, melts for heaviness, and cries for enlargement from its spiritual prison. In these verses we shall see the influence of the divine word upon a heart which laments its downward tendencies, and is filled with mourning because of its deadening surroundings. The word of the Lord evidently arouses prayer (Psalm 119:25-29), confirms choice (Psalm 119:30), and inspires renewed resolve (Psalm 119:32): it is in all tribulation whether of body or mind the surest source of help.
This portion has D for its alphabetical letter: it sings of Depression, in the spirit of Devotion, Determination, and Dependence.” (1)
25 My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.
Matthew Poole's Commentary on this verse is brief yet beneficial:
My soul cleaveth unto the dust; I am in evident danger of present death, through the rage and power of mine enemies; I am like one laid in the grave, without all hopes of recovery. So this phrase is used Psalm 22:15.
Quicken thou me; preserve my life, or revive me and raise me out of the dust by thy almighty power.
According to thy word, according to thy promise.” (2)
The Psalmist prays for God to “quicken,” revive, or make me live “according to thy word.” According to thy word is because God remembers His Word of promise. See Psalm 105:42.
Cross-References for verse 25: Luke 10:11; Psalm 44:25; Psalm 71:20; Psalm 119:37; Psalm 119:40; Psalm 119:65; Psalm 119:93; Psalm 119:107; Psalm 119:149; Psalm 119:159; Psalm 143:11; Isaiah 38:16
26 I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes.
Make me to understand, or teach me thy statutes asks the Psalmist in this passage.
John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible unpacks this passage for us:
“I have declared my ways... That is, to the Lord; either the ways he had chose and desired to walk in, and not wander from, and therefore entreated help and assistance, guidance and direction, in them; or his sinful ways and actions, which he acknowledged and confessed, lamented and bewailed, and entreated the forgiveness of; or all his counsels and cares, his affairs and business, in which he was concerned, and which he declared and committed to the Lord, to be directed and assisted in; or all his wants and necessities, which he spread before him at the throne of grace; which he did not as though the Lord was ignorant of these things, but partly as knowing it was the will of God that he should be inquired of by his people, to do the things for them they want; and partly to ease his own mind, and encourage his faith and hope in the Lord; and thou heardest me: and directed him in the way he should go, and what he should do; forgave him his sins, and supplied his wants; teach me thy statutes; which he desired to learn and obey, in gratitude for being heard and answered by him; See Gill on Psalm 119:12.” (3)
Cross-References for verse 26: Psalm 25:4; Psalm 27:11; Psalm 86:11; Psalm 119:12
27 Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.
The Pulpit Commentary ties together Verse 27 with the previous verse 26:
“Verse 27. - Make me to understand the way of thy precepts. Exegetical of the last clause of ver. 26. What the psalmist longs for is to have a perfect knowledge of God's Law in all its breadth (ver. 96) and depth (Psalm 92:5) and fullness. So shall I talk of thy wondrous works; rather, so will I muse upon thy marvels (so Kay, Cheyne, and the Revised Version). The “marvels” spoken of are “the wondrous things of God's Law” (ver. 18).” (4)
Note, “talk” from Strong’s 7878 שִׂיחַ siach: commune, complain, declare, meditate, muse, pray, speak, talk, with. In Psalm 119:15 siach is translated meditate.
Cross-References for verse 27: Genesis 24:63; Psalm 71:17; Psalm 105:2; Psalm 119:34; Psalm 119:125; Psalm 119:144; Psalm 119:169; Psalm 145:5
28 My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers provides a unique understanding to this passage:
“(28) Melteth—The Hebrew word is used in Ecclesiastes 10:18 of a dripping roof of a house; in Job 16:20 of weeping. The LXX. And Vulg. have “slumbered,” which suits far better with the next clause, which is literally, make me rise up. Symmachus has ‘distils.’” (5)
Note: The Psalmist knows the solution to his soul’s melting or travail found in God’s Word, “according to thy word.”
Cross-References for verse 28: 1 Peter 5:10; Psalm 20:2; Psalm 22:14; Psalm 107:26; Psalm 119:29
29 Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously.
Your or Thy law
Strong's Hebrew 8451: 1) law, direction, instruction 1a) instruction, direction (human or divine) 1a1) body of prophetic teaching 1a2) instruction in Messianic age 1a3) body of priestly direction or instruction 1a4) body of legal directives 1b) law 1b1) law of the burnt offering 1b2) of special law, codes of law 1c) custom, manner 1d) the Deuteronomic or Mosaic Law
Barnes' Notes on the Bible illuminate the need for grace:
“Remove from me - Take it from me; cause it to depart; let me not be under its influence or power.
The way of lying - Every false, deceitful, hypocritical way. We are not to suppose that the psalmist was addicted to lying, but that he felt he was, like all people, in danger of acting from false views, from wrong motives, or under the influence of delusion and deceit. It is a prayer that he might always be sincere and truthful. No man who knows his own heart can doubt the propriety of this prayer. On nothing does a man need more to examine himself; in nothing does he more need the grace of God, than that he may be sincere.
And grant me thy law graciously - The knowledge of thy law; grace to obey thy law. The single word rendered “grant graciously” is a word, which implies the idea of mercy or favor. It was not a thing, which he claimed as a right; it was that for which he was dependent on the mercy of God.” (6)
Cross-References for verse 29: Exodus 23:7; Psalm 119:28; Psalm 119:30
30 I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.
The Pulpit Commentary expounds the need to be continuous in our seeking fidelity to God’s Word:
“Verse 30. - I have chosen the way of truth. The converse of “the way of lying” (ver. 29), the path of true religion, of faithfulness and steadfastness to God. Thy judgments have I laid before me. Thy commandments have I set before my eyes as rules to be observed constantly.” (7)
Note on the Psalmist’s personal actions: I laid or I have set
Verb - Piel - Perfect - first person common singular
Strong's Hebrew 7737: 1) to agree with, be or become like, level, resemble 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to be like 1a2) equivalent (participle) 1a3) to set, place 1a4) setting (participle) 1b) (Piel) to level, smooth, still 1c) (Hiphil) to make like 1d) (Nithpael) to be alike 2) (Piel) to set, place
Cross-References for verse 30: 2 Samuel 22:23; Psalm 18:22; Psalm 119:29; Psalm 119:31
31 I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O Lord, put me not to shame.
The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary conveys the intent of Psalmist’s prayer:
“28-32. In order to adhere to His word, we must seek deliverance from temptations to sin as well as from despondency.
My heart—with gracious affections.” (8)
Note on who the Psalmist is addressing: O LORD;
Noun - proper - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 3069: 1) Jehovah-used primarily in the combination 'Lord Jehovah' 1a) equal to H03068 but pointed with the vowels of H0430
Cross-References for verse 31: Deuteronomy 11:22; Psalm 119:30
32 I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.
The New International Version translates the passage: “I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.”
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament while somewhat technical, is edifying:
“The eightfold Daleth. He is in deep trouble, and prays for consolation and strengthening by means of God's word, to which he resigns himself. His soul is fixed to the dust (Psalm 44:26) in connection with such non-recognition and proscription, and is incapable of raising itself. In Psalm 119:25, he implores new strength and spirits (חיּה as in Psalm 71:20; Psalm 85:7) from God, in conformity with and by reason of His word. He has rehearsed his walk in every detail to God, and has not been left without an answer, which has assured him of His good pleasure: may He then be pleased to advance him ever further and further in the understanding of His word, in order that, though men are against him, he may nevertheless have God on his side, Psalm 119:26-27. The complaint and request expressed in Psalm 119:25 are renewed in Psalm 119:28. דּלף refers to the soul, which is as it were melting away in the trickling down of tears; קיּם is a Piel of Aramaic formation belonging to the later language. In Psalm 119:29-30 the way of lies or of treachery, and the way of faithfulness or of perseverance in the truth, stand in opposition to one another. חנן is construed with a double accusative, inasmuch as תּורה has not the rigid notion of a fixed teaching, but of living empirical instruction. שׁוּה (short for שׁוה לנגד, Psalm 16:8) signifies to put or set, viz., as a norma normans that stands before one's eyes. He cleaves to the testimonies of God; may Jahve not disappoint the hope which to him springs up out of them, according to the promise, Psalm 119:31. He runs, i.e., walks vigorously and cheerfully, in the way of God's commandments, for He has widened his heart, by granting and preserving to the persecuted one the joyfulness of confession and the confidence of hope.” (9)
Cross-References for verse 32: 2 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Kings 4:29; Isaiah 60:5
In closing this section, with a good summary from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:
“119:25-32 While the souls of the children of this world cleave to the earth as their portion, the children of light are greatly burdened, because of the remains of carnal affections in their hearts. It is unspeakable comfort to a gracious soul, to think with what tenderness all its complaints are received by a gracious God. We can talk of the wonders of redeeming love, when we understand the way of God's precepts, and walk in that way. The penitent melts in sorrow for sin: even the patient spirit may melt in the sense of affliction, it is then its interest to pour out its soul before God. The way of lying means all false ways by which men deceive themselves and others, or are deceived by Satan and his instruments. Those who know and love the law of the Lord, desire to know it more, and love it better. The way of serious godliness is the way of truth; the only true way to happiness: we must always have actual regard to it. Those who stick to the word of God, may in faith expect and pray for acceptance with God. Lord, never leave me to do that by which I shall shame myself, and do not thou reject my services. Those that are going to heaven, should still press forward. God, by his Spirit, enlarges the hearts of his people when he gives them wisdom. The believer prays to be set free from sin.” (10)
Notes on Psalm 119:25-32 Daleth:
- C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. II, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 189.
- Matthew Poole's Commentary on the Holy Bible, vol. 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 184.
- John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Psalms, 9 Volumes, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 1382.
- H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Psalms, vol. 8. (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 104.
- Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Psalms, Vol.4, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 262.
6. Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Psalms, Vol. 5 p.1804. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell,
7. The Pulpit Commentary, Psalms, Vol. 8. (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 105.
8. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 450.
9. Keil-Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Psalms, vol. 5, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Reprinted 1985), p. 247-248.
10. Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary, Psalms, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 957.
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com