Psalm 119:161-168 SCHIN - Gleanings from Historical Commentaries                                         Collected by Jack Kettler


Psalm 119:161-168 introductory observations from The Treasury of David:


“Princes have persecuted me without a cause." Such persons ought to have known better; they should have had sympathy with one of their own rank. A man expects a fair trial at the hand of his peers: it is ignoble to be prejudiced. Moreover, if honour be banished from all other breasts it should remain in the bosom of kings, and honour forbids the persecution of the innocent. Princes are appointed to protect the innocent and avenge the oppressed, and it is a shame when they themselves become the assailants of the righteous. It was a sad case when the man of God found himself attacked by the judges of the earth, for eminent position added weight and venom to their enmity. It was well that the sufferer could truthfully assert that this persecution was without cause.” (1)


161 Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.


From Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible:


“SCHIN. Princes have persecuted me without a cause,.... These were either the princes of the Philistines at the court of Achish; or the princes of Israel, who joined in the conspiracy with Absalom; or the princes in Saul's court, as Kimchi observes; who insinuated that David had evil designs against the king, drove him from abiding in the Lord's inheritance, and pursued him from place to place, as a partridge on the mountains, 1 Samuel 29:4; and all which was without any cause or reason on his part; and which, as it was an aggravation of the sin of his persecutors, so it was an alleviation of his affliction: in this he was, a type of Christ, against whom the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers took counsel together; Herod, Pontius Pilate, and others, the princes of this world, who crucified the Lord of glory, and hated him without a cause; who was holy and harmless, and never did any injury to any man's person or property, Psalm 2:2;


but my heart standeth in awe of thy word: not in awe of the princes, but of the word of God; he had a greater regard to that than to them: when they in effect said, “go, serve other gods”, 1 Samuel 26:19; he remembered what the word of God says, “thou shall have no other gods before me”, Exodus 20:3; and this was a means of preserving him from sinning. Kimchi thinks some respect is had to the word of God by Nathan the prophet, “I will raise up evil against thee out of thine house”, &c. 2 Samuel 12:11; and he was afraid, on account of this word, lest he should fall into the hands of the princes: but it seems not to be an excruciating tormenting fear that is here meant; but a high regard for, and a holy reverence of the word of God, or a reverential affection for it; such as is consistent with the highest joy on account of it, as follows.” (2)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:


שָׂ֭רִים (rîm)

Noun - masculine plural

Strong's Hebrew 8269: 1) prince, ruler, leader, chief, chieftain, official, captain 1a) chieftain, leader 1b) vassal, noble, official (under king) 1c) captain, general, commander (military) 1d) chief, head, overseer (of other official classes) 1e) heads, princes (of religious office) 1f) elders (of representative leaders of people) 1g) merchant-princes (of rank and dignity) 1h) patron-angel 1i) Ruler of rulers (of God) 1j) warden


Cross-References for verse 161: 1 Samuel 24:11; 1 Samuel 26:18; Psalm 119:23; Psalm 119:86;

Psalm 119:120; Psalm 119:157


162 I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.


From The Pulpit Commentary:


“Verse 162. - I rejoice at thy Word, as one that findeth great spoil. We must not limit this to the promises contained in God's Law. The psalmist views the precepts of the Law as a real treasure (vers. 14, 72, 127), since they make him wise unto salvation.” (3)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:


אָ֭נֹכִֽי (’ā·nō·ḵî)

Pronoun - first person common singular

Strong's Hebrew 595: 1) I (first pers. sing.)



שָׂ֣שׂ (śāś)

Verb - Qal - Participle - masculine singular

Strong's Hebrew 7797: 1) to exult, rejoice 1a) (Qal) to exult, display joy


Cross-References for verse 162: 1 Samuel 30:16; Psalm 119:14; Psalm 119:111; Isaiah 9:3


163 I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.


From Barnes' Notes on the Bible:


“I hate and abhor lying - The mention of lying here particularly seems to have been suggested by the necessity, from the structure of the psalm, of finding some word at the beginning of the verse which commenced with the letter Schin. At the same time, it is an illustration of the nature of piety, and doubtless there had been numerous occasions in the life of the psalmist when he had seen and experienced the effects of falsehood. This sin, therefore, might occur to him as readily as any other. It is unnecessary to say that religion "forbids" this sin in all its forms.


But thy law do I love - Particularly here the law which forbids lying. The psalmist was conscious, as every good man must be that he truly loved that pure law which forbids falsehood in all its forms.” (4)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

I hate

שָׂ֭נֵאתִי (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 163: Psalm 31:6; Psalm 119:47; Psalm 119:104; Psalm 119:128; Proverbs 13:5


164 Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.


Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers:


“(164) Seven times.—Some commentators think the number is used here only in a general way for “often,” “repeatedly;” but the number seven evidently had some sacred association for the Hebrews. (Comp. Leviticus 26:18; Proverbs 24:16; Matthew 18:21 &c) No doubt, the seven canonical hours were partly derived from this verse. Elsewhere we find three times as the stated occasions of prayer (Psalm 55:17).


“Seven times a day, not merely morning noon and night (Psalm 55:17), but constantly and repeatedly.” (5)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

Seven times

שֶׁ֣בַע (še·ḇa‘)

Number - feminine singular

Strong's Hebrew 7651: 1) seven (cardinal number) 1a) as ordinal number 1b) in combination-17, 700 etc.


Cross-References for verse 164: Psalm 79:12; Psalm 119:7; Psalm 119:160


165 Great peace have they, which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.


The Pulpit Commentary:


“Verse 165. - Great peace have they which love thy Law (comp. Proverbs 3:1, 2; Isaiah 32:17; James 3:18). There is always disquietude where there is sin. A sense of perfect peace and rest belongs to those who love and keep God's Law. And nothing shall offend them; rather, and they shall have no stumbling-block. Nothing shall cause them to stumble, much less to fall away from grace.” (6)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

Your instruction;

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 165: 1 John 2:10; Psalm 37:11; Proverbs 3:2; Proverbs 3:17; Proverbs 3:23; Isaiah 26:3; Isaiah 32:17; Isaiah 48:18; Isaiah 63:13


166 Lord, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.


From John Calvin:


“166 O Jehovah! I have waited for thy salvation. It is not without cause that the Prophet often repeats this sentence, which is in all men's mouths, there being nothing easier than to ascribe to God the praise and office of saving, while yet there is hardly to be met with in the world a single example of steadfast hope, when men come to wrestle with temptations for any length of time. From the order of the words we learn, that if a man would keep himself in the fear of God, and the love of the law, it is necessary for him, above all things, [36] to seek for salvation in God. If faith in God's grace be removed from our minds, or patience shaken off, we will be carried away hither and thither, and will cease any longer to cultivate godliness. The chief virtue of the faithful, therefore, is a patient endurance of the cross and mortification by which they calmly submit themselves to God; for so long as no adversity happens to hypocrites, they seem, also to be well-affectioned to the work of serving him. There are also other reasons why it behoves us to keep our minds intent upon the salvation of God, if we desire to regulate our life aright; for if the, allurements of the world hold us in their snares, we will immediately become discouraged. The reason, as we plainly see, why the hearts of the great majority fail, is because it is difficult to believe assuredly that salvation is to be hoped for only from the grace of God. That we may therefore persevere in serving God, it is indispensable that faith shine on the future before us, and next, that patience accompany us, to nourish within us the love of righteousness. For, as we have said, our alacrity in persevering proceeds from this, that with a patient spirit we suffer our salvation to lie hidden in the bosom of God, and that we doubt not of his at length, proving a faithful rewarder of all such as seek him, although he may withdraw his favor from the eye of sense. In the subsequent verse the Psalmist confirms this doctrine by other words, saying, that he kept God's testimonies with his soul By the word soul he expresses still more forcibly than before, that he had the doctrine of the law enclosed within the deepest recesses of his heart. The cause of this peculiarly diligent keeping of the law, was the singular love which he had to it, as he states in the concluding clause of the verse. He who by constraint and in a slavish manner obeys the law, is so far from receiving it into the secret habitation of his heart to keep it there, that he would have it removed far away from him.” (7)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

I wait

שִׂבַּ֣רְתִּי (śib·bar·tî)

Verb - Piel - Perfect - first person common singular

Strong's Hebrew 7663: 1) to inspect, examine, wait, hope, wait upon 1a) (Qal) examined (participle) 1b) (Piel) 1b1) to wait (for), wait upon 1b2) to hope (for)


Cross-References for verse 166: Luke 2:30; Genesis 49:18; Psalm 119:81; Psalm 119:174


167 My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.


From Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament:


“The eightfold ש (both Shin and Sin)


In the midst of persecution God's word was still his fear, his joy, and his love, the object of his thanksgiving, and the ground of his hope. Princes persecute him without adequate cause, but his heart does not fear before them, but before God's words (the Ker likes the singular, as in Psalm 119:147), to deny which would be to him the greatest possible evil. It is, however, a fear that is associated with heartfelt joy (Psalm 119:111). It is the joy of a conflict that is rewarded by rich spoil (Judges 5:30, Isaiah 9:3). Not merely morning and evening, not merely three times a day (Psalm 55:18), but seven times (שׁבע as in Leviticus 26:18; Proverbs 24:16), i.e., ever again and again, availing himself of every prayerful impulse, he gives thanks to God for His word, which so righteously decides and so correctly guides, is a source of transcendent peace to all who love it, and beside which one is not exposed to any danger of stumbling (מכשׁול, lxx σκάνδαλον, cf. 1 John 2:10) without some effectual counter-working. In Psalm 119:166 he speaks like Jacob in Genesis 49:18 and can speak thus, inasmuch as he has followed earnestly and untiringly after sanctification. He endeavours to keep God's law most conscientiously, in proof of which he is able to appeal to God the Omniscient One. שׁמרה is here the 3rd praet., whereas in Psalm 86:2 it is imperat. The future of אהב is both אהב and אהב, just as of אחז both אחז and אאחז.” (8)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:


נַ֭פְשִׁי (nap̄·šî)

Noun - feminine singular construct | first person common singular

Strong's Hebrew 5315: 1) soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion 1a) that which breathes, the breathing substance or being, soul, the inner being of man 1b) living being 1c) living being (with life in the blood) 1d) the man himself, self, person or individual 1e) seat of the appetites 1f) seat of emotions and passions 1g) activity of mind 1g1) dubious 1h) activity of the will 1h1) dubious 1i) activity of the character 1i1) dubious


Cross-References for verse 167: Psalm 119:47; Psalm 119:129


168 I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee.


From Matthew Poole's Commentary:


“Ver. 168. For, or because, all my ways are before thee. This is added either,


1. As the reason or motive of his obedience, which was the consideration of God’s omniscience, and his desire to approve himself and his ways to God; or,


2. As a proof and evidence of it. Whereas this and all his former professions of his piety were charged by his enemies with deep hypocrisy, and might seem to savour of pride and vainglory, here in the close of them he makes a solemn appeal to that God who knew his heart and all his ways, and whether these things were not true and real; which if they were not, he tacitly imprecates God’s judgment upon himself.” (9)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

Your precepts

פִ֭קּוּדֶיךָ (p̄iq·qū·ḏe·ḵā)

Noun - masculine plural construct | second person masculine singular

Strong's Hebrew 6490: 1) precept, statute


Cross-References for verse 169: Job 24:23; Psalm 119:2; Psalm 119:22; Psalm 139:3; Proverbs 4:4; Proverbs 5:21


Concluding summary from Matthew Henry’s Bible Concise Commentary 119:161-168:


“119:161-168 Those whose hearts stand in awe of God's word, will rather endure the wrath of man, than break the law of God. By the word of God we are unspeakable gainers. Every man hates to have a lie told him, but we should more hate telling a lie; by the latter we give an affront to God. The more we see the beauty of truth, the more we shall see the hateful deformity of a lie. We are to praise God even for afflictions; through grace we get good from them. Those that love the world have great vexation, for it does not answer what they expect; those that love God's word have great peace, for it outdoes what they expect. Those in whom this holy love reigns, will not perplex themselves with needless scruples, or take offence at their brethren. A good hope of salvation will engage the heart in doing the commandments. And our love to the word of God must subdue our lusts, and root out carnal affections: we must make heart work of it, or we make nothing of it. We must keep the commandments of God by obedience to them, and his promises by reliance on them. God's eye is on us at all times; this should make us very careful to keep his commandments.” (10)


Notes on Psalm 119:161-168 SCHIN:

  1. C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. II, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 423.

2.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Psalms, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 1444.

3.      H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Psalms, Vol.8., (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 112.

4.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Psalms, Vol. 5 p.1858.

5.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Psalms, Vol. 4, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 268.

6.      H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Psalms, Vol.8., (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 112.

7.      John Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries, Psalms, Volume V, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House Reprinted 1979), p. 41.

8.      Keil-Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Psalms, vol. 5, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Reprinted 1985), p. 262-263.

9.      Matthew Poole's Commentary on the Holy Bible, vol. 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 191.

  1. Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary, Psalms, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 963.


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: