Psalm 119:97-104 MEM - Gleanings from Historical Commentaries                                         Collected by Jack Kettler


Psalm 119:97-104 introductory observations from The Treasury of David:


“David turned away from all else; for in Psalm 119:96 he tells us that he had seen an end of all perfection; but he turned in unto the law and tarried there the whole day of his life on earth, growing henceforth wiser and holier.” (1)


97 O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.


From Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible:


“MEM.--The Thirteenth Part.


MEM. O how love I thy law!.... The whole word of God, the preceptive part of it; the commands of the moral law, which are holy, just, and good, and to be loved: but they are not loved by carnal men, whose minds are enmity to them, and therefore are not and cannot be subject to them, but despise and reject them; but to a good man, on whose heart they are written, they are delightful, and loved to admiration: though this is wholly owing to the grace of God; and marvellous it is that men so sadly depraved by sin should love the holy law of God; yet so it is, and David could appeal to God for the truth of it. So the ordinances of the Gospel, the commands of Jesus Christ, are not grievous to saints, but loved, valued, and esteemed by them; likewise the doctrinal part of the word, the truths of the Gospel, which may be more especially meant by the “thorah”, or doctrine, here; which those who have had an experience of greatly love and justly value, because of the intrinsic worth of them, being comparable to gold, silver, and precious stones; and for the profit and benefit of them to their souls, they being wholesome words, soul nourishing doctrines, and so more to them than their necessary food; and for the pleasure they have in them, these being sweeter to them than the honey or honeycomb: particularly the exceeding great and precious promises of the word, which are more to be rejoiced at than a great spoil; and even the whole Gospel part of the word, that containing the doctrines of peace, pardon, righteousness, salvation, and eternal life through Christ; yea, the whole Scripture, which is both profitable and pleasant to read in, and hear explained;


it is my meditation all the day; not only in the night, when at leisure, and free from the incumbrance of business; but in the day, and while engaged in the affairs of life, yea, all the day long; see Psalm 1:2. Or, “it is my discourse” (c); what he talked of, as well as what he thought on. Good men cannot forbear speaking of this or the other passage of Scripture, which has been of use unto them: and this is a proof of affection for the word; for what men love, persons or things, they often think of, and frequently talk of; see Deuteronomy 6:6.” (2)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

Your law!

תוֹרָתֶ֑ךָ (ṯō·w·rā·ṯe·ḵā)

Noun - feminine singular construct | second person masculine singular

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


Cross-References for verse 97: Psalm 1:2; Psalm 119:15; Psalm 119:47; Psalm 119:48; Psalm 119:96


98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.


From The Pulpit Commentary:


“Verse 98. - Thou through thy command-meets but made me wiser than mine enemies (comp. Deuteronomy 4:6, 8). The knowledge of God's Law gives a wisdom and an understanding infinitely above the cunning and craft of worldly men. If to the knowledge is added a faithful and habitual obedience, a wisdom is attained which can be reached in no other way (see ver. 100). For they are ever with me. Always present to my thoughts, as my rule of life.” (3)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

Make me wiser

תְּחַכְּמֵ֣נִי (tə·ḥak·kə·mê·nî)

Verb - Piel - Imperfect - third person feminine singular | first person common singular

Strong's Hebrew 2449: 1) to be wise 1a) (Qal) to be or become wise, act wisely 1b) (Piel) to make wise, teach wisdom, instruct 1c) (Pual) to be made wise 1d) (Hiphil) to make wise 1e) (Hithpael) to show oneself wise, deceive, show one's wisdom


Cross-References for verse 98: 2 Timothy 3:15; Deuteronomy 4:6; Psalm 19:7; Psalm 111:10;

Psalm 119:130


99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.


From Barnes' Notes on the Bible:


“I have more understanding than all my teachers - Referring perhaps to those who had given him instruction in early life. By constant meditation on the law of God, he had, in the progress of years, advanced to a point beyond that to which they had arrived. He had improved upon their suggestions and instructions, until he had surpassed them in knowledge. His "design" in saying this was to set forth the excellency and the fullness of the law of God, and to show how the study of it was suited to enlarge the understanding. In early life the wisdom of teachers seems to be far beyond anything that we can hope to reach; yet a few years of study and meditation may place us far beyond them. What those teachers seemed to be to us, however, when we were young, may serve ever onward as a means of comparison when we wish to speak of the greatness of human attainments. So the psalmist says that he had now reached a point which seemed to him in early life to be wonderful, and to be beyond what he had then hoped ever to attain. He had now reached that point; he had gone beyond it.


For thy testimonies are my meditation - Compare Psalm 1:2; 2 Timothy 3:15. All this knowledge he had obtained by meditation on the law of God; by the study of divine truth. The effect of that constant study was seen in the knowledge which he now possessed, and which seemed to surprise even himself as compared with the brightest anticipations of his early years.” (4)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

Your testimonies

עֵ֝דְוֺתֶ֗יךָ (‘ê·ḏə·wō·ṯe·ḵā)

Noun - feminine plural construct | second person masculine singular

Strong's Hebrew 5715: 1) testimony


Are my meditation

שִׂ֣יחָה (śî·ḥāh)

Noun - feminine singular

Strong's Hebrew 7881: 1) meditation, reflection, prayer, devotion, complaint, musing 1a) complaint 1b) musing, study (of object)


Cross-References for verse 99: 1 Samuel 1:16; Psalm 119:15


100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.


From Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:


“100. more than the ancients—Antiquity is no help against stupidity, where it does not accord with God's word [Luther] (Job 32:7-9). The Bible is the key of all knowledge, the history of the world, past, present, and to come (Ps 111:10). He who does the will of God shall know of the doctrine (Joh 7:17).” (5)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

I discern

אֶתְבּוֹנָ֑ן (’eṯ·bō·w·nān)

Verb - Hitpael - Imperfect - first person common singular

Strong's Hebrew 995: 1) to discern, understand, consider 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to perceive, discern 1a2) to understand, know (with the mind) 1a3) to observe, mark, give heed to, distinguish, consider 1a4) to have discernment, insight, understanding 1b) (Niphal) to be discerning, intelligent, discreet, have understanding 1c) (Hiphil) 1c1) to understand 1c2) to cause to understand, give understanding, teach 1d) (Hithpolel) to show oneself discerning or attentive, consider diligently 1e) (Polel) to teach, instruct 2) (TWOT) prudent, regard


Cross-References for verse 100: Job 32:7; Psalm 119:22; Psalm 119:56; Proverbs 28:5


101 I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.


From Matthew Poole's Commentary:


“Ver. 101. Evil way; or, way of evil; which either is evil, or leads to it; sin, and the temptations or occasions of sin.


That, I might keep thy word; I did this not for any carnal reasons, as some men abstain from divers sins for their credit or advantage, but out of pure respect to thy word.” (6)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

I may keep

אֶשְׁמֹ֥ר (’eš·mōr)

Verb - Qal - Imperfect - first person common singular

Strong's Hebrew 8104: 1) to keep, guard, observe, give heed 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to keep, have charge of 1a2) to keep, guard, keep watch and ward, protect, save life 1a2a) watch, watchman (participle) 1a3) to watch for, wait for 1a4) to watch, observe 1a5) to keep, retain, treasure up (in memory) 1a6) to keep (within bounds), restrain 1a7) to observe, celebrate, keep (sabbath or covenant or commands), perform (vow) 1a8) to keep, preserve, protect 1a9) to keep, reserve 1b) (Niphal) 1b1) to be on one's guard, take heed, take care, beware 1b2) to keep oneself, refrain, abstain 1b3) to be kept, be guarded 1c) (Piel) to keep, pay heed 1d) (Hithpael) to keep oneself from


Cross-References for verse 101: Psalm 17:4; Proverbs 1:15; Jeremiah 14:10


102 I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.


From John Calvin:


“David commends his own constancy in observing the Law. He declares that ever since he had learned from God the right manner of living, he had pursued the right course. As the way is so slippery, and our feet so feeble, and our whole disposition so prone to go astray after innumerable errors, no small exertions are requisite on our part, in order to avoid declining from God's judgments. But we must attend to the manner of teaching to which the Psalmist refers; for though all, without exception, to whom God's word is preached, are taught, yet scarce one in ten so much as tastes it; yea, scarce one in a hundred profits to the extent of being enabled, thereby, to proceed in a right course to the end. A peculiar manner of teaching is, therefore, here pointed out -- that which consists in God's drawing his chosen people to himself. I have been brought, as if the Psalmist had said, into the way of salvation, and preserved in it by the secret influence of the Holy Spirit.” (7)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

From Your ordinances,

מִמִּשְׁפָּטֶ֥יךָ (mim·miš·pā·ṭe·ḵā)

Preposition-m | Noun - masculine plural construct | second person masculine singular

Strong's Hebrew 4941: 1) judgment, justice, ordinance 1a) judgment 1a1) act of deciding a case 1a2) place, court, seat of judgment 1a3) process, procedure, litigation (before judges) 1a4) case, cause (presented for judgment) 1a5) sentence, decision (of judgment) 1a6) execution (of judgment) 1a7) time (of judgment) 1b) justice, right, rectitude (attributes of God or man) 1c) ordinance 1d) decision (in law) 1e) right, privilege, due (legal) 1f) proper, fitting, measure, fitness, custom, manner, plan


Cross-References for verse 102: Deuteronomy 17:20; Joshua 23:6; 2 Samuel 22:23; 1 Kings 15:5; Psalm 18:21; Proverbs 5:7


103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!


From Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament:


“The eightfold Mem. The poet praises the practical wisdom, which the word of God, on this very account so sweet to him, teaches. God's precious law, with which he unceasingly occupies himself, makes him superior in wisdom (Deuteronomy 4:6), intelligence, and judgment to his enemies, his teachers, and the aged (Job 12:20). There were therefore at that time teachers and elders (πρεσβύτεροι), who (like the Hellenizing Sadducees) were not far from apostasy in their laxness, and hostilely persecuted the young and strenuous zealot for God's law. The construction of Psalm 119:98 is like Joel 1:20; Isaiah 59:12, and frequently. היא refers to the commandments in their unity: he has taken possession of them for ever (cf. Psalm 119:111). The Mishna (Aboth iv. 1) erroneously interprets: from all my teachers do I acquire understanding. All three מן in Psalm 119:98-100 signify prae (lxx ὑπὲρ). In כּלאתי, Psalm 119:101, from the mode of writing we see the verb Lamed Aleph passing over into the verb Lamed He. הורתני is, as in Proverbs 4:11 (cf. Exodus 4:15), a defective mode of writing for הוריתני. נמלצוּ, Psalm 119:103, is not equivalent to נמרצוּ, Job 6:25 (vid., Job, at Job 6:25; Job 16:2-5), but signifies, in consequence of the dative of the object לחכּי, that which easily enters, or that which tastes good (lxx ὡς gluke'a); therefore surely from מלץ equals מלט, to be smooth: how smooth, entering easily (Proverbs 23:31), are Thy words (promises) to my palate or taste! The collective singular אמרתך is construed with a plural of the predicate (cf. Exodus 1:10). He has no taste for the God-estranged present, but all the stronger taste for God's promised future. From God's laws he acquires the capacity for proving the spirits, therefore he hates every path of falsehood (equals Psalm 119:128), i.e., all the heterodox tendencies which agree with the spirit of the age.” (8)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

Are Your words

אִמְרָתֶ֗ךָ (’im·rā·ṯe·ḵā)

Noun - feminine singular construct | second person masculine singular

Strong's Hebrew 565: 1) utterance, speech, word 1a) word of God, the Torah


Cross-References for verse 103: Psalm 19:10; Psalm 34:8; Proverbs 8:11; Proverbs 24:13; Proverbs 24:14; Jeremiah 15:16; Ezekiel 3:3


104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.


From Matthew Poole's Commentary:


“Ver. 104. Understanding; true, and useful and powerful knowledge.


Therefore; because that discovers to me, as the wickedness, so the folly and mischief of such practices.


Every false way; every thing which is contrary to that rule of truth and right, all false doctrine and worship, and all sinful or vicious courses.” (9)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:


שָֽׁקֶר׃ (šā·qer)

Noun - masculine singular

Strong's Hebrew 8267: 1) lie, deception, disappointment, falsehood 1a) deception (what deceives or disappoints or betrays one) 1b) deceit, fraud, wrong 1b1) fraudulently, wrongfully (as adverb) 1c) falsehood (injurious in testimony) 1c1) testify falsehood, false oath, swear falsely 1d) falsity (of false or self-deceived prophets) 1e) lie, falsehood (in general) 1e1) false tongue 1f) in vain



אֹ֬רַח (’ō·raḥ)

Noun - common singular construct

Strong's Hebrew 734: 1) way, path 1a) path, road 1b) the path, way, passing of life (fig.) 1c) way of living (fig.) 1d) traveller, wayfarer


Cross-References for verse 104: Psalm 1:1; Psalm 119:128; Psalm 119:130; Psalm 119:163


Concluding summary from Matthew Henry’s Bible Concise Commentary Psalm 119:97-104:


“119:97-104 What we love, we love to think of. All true wisdom is from God. A good man carries his Bible with him, if not in his hands, yet in his head and in his heart. By meditation on God's testimonies we understand more than our teachers, when we understand our own hearts. The written word is a more sure guide to heaven, than all the fathers, the teachers, and ancients of the church. We cannot, with any comfort or boldness, attend God in holy duties, while under guilt, or in any by-way. It was Divine grace in his heart, that enabled the psalmist to receive these instructions. The soul has its tastes as well as the body. Our relish for the word of God will be greatest, when that for the world and the flesh is least. The way of sin is a wrong way; and the more understanding we get by the precepts of God, the more rooted will be our hatred of sin; and the more ready we are in the Scriptures, the better furnished we are with answers to temptation.” (10)


Notes on Psalm 119:97-104 MEM:

  1. C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. II, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 330.

2.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Psalms, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 1413-1414.

3.      H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Psalms, Vol.8., (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 109.

4.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Psalms, Vol. 5 p.1832.

5.      Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 451.

  1. Matthew Poole's Commentary on the Holy Bible, vol. 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 188.

7.      John Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries, Psalms, Volume VI, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House Reprinted 1979), pp. 476-477.

8.      Keil-Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Psalms, vol. 5, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Reprinted 1985), p. 255-256.

9.      Matthew Poole's Commentary on the Holy Bible, vol. 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 188.

  1. Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary, Psalms, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 960.


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: