Psalm 119:113-120 SAMECH - Gleanings from Historical Commentaries                                         Collected by Jack Kettler


Psalm 119:113-120 introductory observations from The Treasury of David:


“‘I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.’ In this paragraph, the Psalmist deals with thoughts and things and persons, which are the opposite of God's holy thoughts and ways. He is evidently in great fear of the powers of darkness, and of their allies, and his whole soul is stirred up to stand against them with a determined opposition. Just as he began the octave, Psalm 119:97, with ‘O how I love thy law,’ so here he begins with a declaration of hatred against that which breaks the law.” (1)


113 I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.


From Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible:


“SAMECH.--The Fifteenth Part.

SAMECH. I hate vain thoughts,.... Or thoughts: evil thoughts are undoubtedly meant, no other can be the object of hatred to a good man; they are such as are contrary to the law of God, and forbidden by it, mentioned in the next clause as the object of love, in opposition to these; and which are abominable to God, and defiling to men; should be forsaken, need pardon; and, if not pardoned, will be brought into judgment, and there exposed, and men punished for them. There are multitudes of these rise up in the minds of men, not only bad men, but good men; even sometimes atheistical blasphemous thoughts, as well as proud, haughty, revengeful, lustful, impure, and worldly ones; which, when observed by a good man, give him great concern and uneasiness, and raise a holy indignation in him against them. The word is used for the “opinions” of men; the ambiguous, doubtful, wavering, and inconstant sentiments of the mind, 1 Kings 18:21, and is used of branches, or the tops of trees, waved with the wind to and fro: and may be applied to all heterodox opinions, human doctrines, damnable heresies; such as are inconsistent with the perfections of God, derogate from his grace, and from the person and offices of Christ; and are contrary to the word, and which are therefore rejected and abhorred by good men. The Targum is,

“I hate those who think vain thoughts;”

and so Jarchi and Aben Ezra interpret it of persons, thinkers, or devisers of evil things; and to this sense are the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions; and which is approved of by Gussetius (k); even free thinkers, such as devise things out of their own brains, and regard not the law, doctrine, or word of God; but thy law do I love; which forbids and condemns such vain and wicked thoughts, and requires pure and Holy Ones. Or, “thy doctrine”; which comes from God, is concerning him, and reveals his mind and will, his grace and love, to men; the doctrine of Christ, concerning his person, office, and work; the doctrine of the Scriptures, which contain the whole Gospel of Christ, as well as the law of God; the doctrine according to godliness, and which is good, sound, and wholesome, and to be received in the love of it.” (2)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

The double-minded

סֵעֲפִ֥ים (sê·‘ă·p̄îm)

Noun - masculine plural

Strong's Hebrew 5588: 1) ambivalent, divided, half-hearted


I despise,

שָׂנֵ֑אתִי (śā·nê·ṯî)

Verb - Qal - Perfect - first person common singular

Strong's Hebrew 8130: 1) to hate, be hateful 1a) (Qal) to hate 1a1) of man 1a2) of God 1a3) hater, one hating, enemy (participle) (subst) 1b) (Niphal) to be hated 1c) (Piel) hater (participle) 1c1) of persons, nations, God, wisdom


Cross-References for verse 113: James 1:8; James 4:8, 1 Kings 18:21; Psalm 119:47


114 Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.


From The Pulpit Commentary:


“Verse 14. - I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches (comp. ver. 72). God's Word is a treasure, beyond expression precious, calculated to rejoice the heart of all such as possess it.” (3)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

As much as in

כְּעַ֣ל (kə·‘al)


Strong's Hebrew 5921: prep 1) upon, on the ground of, according to, on account of, on behalf of, concerning, beside, in addition to, together with, beyond, above, over, by, on to, towards, to, against 1a) upon, on the ground of, on the basis of, on account of, because of, therefore, on behalf of, for the sake of, for, with, in spite of, notwithstanding, concerning, in the matter of, as regards 1b) above, beyond, over (of excess) 1c) above, over (of elevation or pre-eminence) 1d) upon, to, over to, unto, in addition to, together with, with (of addition) 1e) over (of suspension or extension) 1f) by, adjoining, next, at, over, around (of contiguity or proximity) 1g) down upon, upon, on, from, up upon, up to, towards, over towards, to, against (with verbs of motion) 1h) to (as a dative) conj 2) because that, because, notwithstanding, although


Cross-References for verse 114: Psalm 1:2; Psalm 19:8; Psalm 112:1; Psalm 119:111; Psalm 119:162


115 Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.


From Barnes' Notes on the Bible:


“I will meditate in thy precepts - I will think of them; I will find my happiness in them. See the notes at Psalm 1:2.


And have respect unto thy ways - And look to thy ways - thy commands. I continually regard them, or refer to them in my mind as the guide of my life. See the notes at Psalm 119:6.” (4)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

Your ways.

אֹרְחֹתֶֽיךָ׃ (’ō·rə·ḥō·ṯe·ḵā)

Noun - common plural construct | second person masculine singular

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 (meton)


Cross-References for verse 115: Genesis 24:63; Psalm 1:2; Psalm 25:4; Psalm 27:11; Psalm 119:23; Psalm 119:48; Psalm 119:78; Psalm 119:97; Psalm 119:99; Psalm 119:117; Psalm 119:148; Isaiah 58:2


116 Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.


From Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:


“We must carefully treasure up the word of God, declare it to others, meditate on it, and heartily delight in it; and then by His grace we shall act according to it.” (Ps 50:5, 14, 23).” (5)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

I will delight

אֶֽשְׁתַּעֲשָׁ֑ע (’eš·ta·‘ă·šā‘)

Verb - Hitpael - Imperfect - first person common singular

Strong's Hebrew 8173: 1) to stroke, be smeared over, be blinded 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to be smeared over, be blinded 1a2) to smear eyes shut 1b) (Hiphil) to besmear (of eyes), smear over eyes 1c) (Hithpalpel) to blind oneself, be blinded 2) to sport, take delight in 2a) (Pilpel) to sport, delight in, take delight in, delight oneself 2b) (Palpal) to be fondled 2c) (Hithpalpel) to delight oneself


Cross-References for verse 116: Psalm 1:2; Psalm 112:1; Psalm 119:24; Psalm 119:35; Psalm 119:47; Psalm 119:70; Psalm 119:77; Psalm 119:92; Psalm 119:93; Psalm 119:109; Psalm 119:153; Psalm 119:174; Psalm 119:176


117 Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes


From Matthew Poole's Commentary:


“Deal bountifully; I plead no merit, but only thy free grace and rich mercy.


That I may live; safely and comfortably, in spite of all the attempts of mine enemies to take away my life.


And keep thy word: I do not desire life that I may satisfy my own lusts, but that I may spend it in thy service.” (6)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

Your servant,

עַבְדְּךָ֥ (‘aḇ·də·ḵā)

Noun - masculine singular construct | second person masculine singular

Strong's Hebrew 5650: 1) slave, servant 1a) slave, servant, man-servant 1b) subjects 1c) servants, worshippers (of God) 1d) servant (in special sense as prophets, Levites etc) 1e) servant (of Israel) 1f) servant (as form of address between equals)


Cross-References for verse 117: Psalm 13:6; Psalm 116:7; Psalm 119:18


118 Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood.


From John Calvin:


“118. Thou hast trodden under foot all those who wander from thy statutes. By treading under foot he means, that God overthrows all the despisers of his law, and casts them down from that loftiness which they assume to themselves. The phrase is directed against the foolish, or rather frantic, confidence with which the wicked are inflated, when they recklessly deride the judgments of God; and, what is more, scruple not to magnify themselves against him, as if they were not subject to his power. The last clause is to be particularly noticed: for their deceit is falsehood [439] By these words the prophet teaches, that the wicked gain nothing by their wiles, but that they are rather entangled in them, or at length discover that they were mere sleight of hand. Those ignorantly mar the sense who interpose the copula and, as if it had been said, that deceit and falsehood were in them. The word rmvh, remyah, signifies a subtle and crafty device. Interpreters, indeed, often translate it thought; but this term does not sufficiently express the propriety and force of the Hebrew word. The prophet means, that, however well pleased the wicked are with their own cunning, they yet do nothing else than deceive themselves with falsehood. And it was needful to add this clause; for we see how the great bulk of mankind are fatally intoxicated with their own vain imaginations, and how difficult it is to believe what is here asserted, -- that the more shrewd they are in their own estimation, the more do they deceive themselves.” (7)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

Who stray

שׁוֹגִ֣ים (šō·w·ḡîm)

Verb - Qal - Participle - masculine plural

Strong's Hebrew 7686: 1) to go astray, stray, err 1a)(Qal) 1a1) to err, stray 1a2) to swerve, meander, reel, roll, be intoxicated, err (in drunkenness) 1a3) to go astray (morally) 1a4) to commit sin of ignorance or inadvertence, err (ignorantly) 1b) (Hiphil) 1b1) to lead astray 1b2) to lead astray, mislead (mentally) 1b3) to lead astray (morally)


Cross-References for verse 118: Psalm 119:10; Psalm 119:21


119 Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies.


From Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament:


“The eightfold Samech. His hope rests on God's word, without allowing itself to be led astray by doubters and apostates. סעפים (the form of nouns which indicate defects or failings) are those inwardly divided, halting between two opinions (סעפּים), 1Kings 18:21, who do homage partly to the worship of Jahve, partly to heathenism, and therefore are trying to combine faith and naturalism. In contrast to such, the poet's love, faith, and hope are devoted entirely to the God of revelation; and to all those who are desirous of drawing him away he addresses in Psalm 119:115 (cf. Psalm 6:9) an indignant “depart.” He, however, stands in need of grace in order to persevere and to conquer. For this he prays in Psalm 119:116-117. The מן in משּׁברי is the same as in בּושׁ מן. The ah of ואשׁעה is the intentional ah (Ew. 228, c), as in Isaiah 41:23. The statement of the ground of the סלית, vilipendis, does not mean: unsuccessful is their deceit (Hengstenberg, Olshausen), but falsehood without the consistency of truth is their self-deceptive and seductive tendency. The lxx and Syriac read תּרעיתם, “their sentiment;” but this is an Aramaic word that is unintelligible in Hebrew, which the old translators have conjured into the text only on account of an apparent tautology. The reading השּׁבתּ or חשׁבתּ (Aquila, Symmachus, and Jerome; lxx ἐλογισάμην, therefore חשׁבתי) instead of חשׁבתּ might more readily be justified in Psalm 119:119; but the former gives too narrow a meaning, and the reading rests on a mistaking of the construction of השׁבית with an accusative of the object and of the effect: all the wicked, as many of them as are on the earth, dost Thou put away as dross (סגים( ssor). Accordingly משׁפטיך in Psalm 119:120 are God's punitive judgments, or rather (cf. Psalm 119:91) God's laws (judgments) according to which He judges. What is meant are sentences of punishment, as in Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28. Of these the poet is afraid, for omnipotence can change words into deeds forthwith. In fear of the God who has attested Himself in Exodus 34:7 and elsewhere, his skin shudders and his hair stands on end.” (8)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

Your testimonies.

עֵדֹתֶֽיךָ׃ (‘ê·ḏō·ṯe·ḵā)

Noun - feminine plural construct | second person masculine singular

Strong's Hebrew 5713: 1) testimony, witness 1a) always plural and always of laws as divine testimonies


Cross-References for verse 119: Psalm 2:11; Psalm 119:47; Isaiah 1:22; Isaiah 1:25; Jeremiah 6:30; Ezekiel 22:18; Ezekiel 22:19


120 My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.


From Matthew Poole's Commentary:


“Ver. 120. The observation of thy terrible judgments against ungodly men, and the conscience of my own infirmity and manifold sins, makes me fear lest thou shouldst punish me also, as thou mightest justly do, if thou shouldst be strict to mark what is amiss in me; or lest I should partake with them in their sins, and consequently in their plagues.” (9)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

I stand in fear

יָרֵֽאתִי׃ (yā·rê·ṯî)

Verb - Qal - Perfect - first person common singular

Strong's Hebrew 3372: 1) to fear, revere, be afraid 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to fear, be afraid 1a2) to stand in awe of, be awed 1a3) to fear, reverence, honour, respect 1b) (Niphal) 1b1) to be fearful, be dreadful, be feared 1b2) to cause astonishment and awe, be held in awe 1b3) to inspire reverence or godly fear or awe 1c) (Piel) to make afraid, terrify 2) (TWOT) to shoot, pour


Cross-References for verse 120: 2 Samuel 6:9; Job 4:14; Psalm 2:11; Psalm 55:5; Psalm 119:161

Isaiah 66:2; Jeremiah 5:22; Habakkuk 3:2; Habakkuk 3:16


Concluding summary from Matthew Henry’s Bible Concise Commentary 119:113-120:


“119:113-120 Here is a dread of the risings of sin, and the first beginnings of it. The more we love the law of God, the more watchful we shall be, lest vain thoughts draw us from what we love. Would we make progress in keeping God's commands, we must be separate from evil-doers. The believer could not live without the grace of God; but, supported by his hand, his spiritual life shall be maintained. Our holy security is grounded on Divine supports. All departure from God's statutes is error, and will prove fatal. Their cunning is falsehood. There is a day coming which will put the wicked into everlasting fire, the fit place for the dross. See what comes of sin Surely we who fall so low in devout affections, should fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into heavenly rest, any of us should be found to come short of it, Heb. 4:1.” (10)


Notes on 119:113-120 SAMECH:

  1. C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. II, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 355.

2.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Psalms, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 1422.

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.1838.

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. 189.

7.      John Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries, Psalms, Volume VI, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House Reprinted 1979), p. 492-493.

8.      Keil-Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Psalms, vol. 5, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Reprinted 1985), p. 257-258.

9.      Matthew Poole's Commentary on the Holy Bible, vol. 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 189.

  1. Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary, Psalms, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 961.


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: