Psalm 119:169-176 TAU - Gleanings from Historical Commentaries                                         Collected by Jack Kettler


Psalm 119:169-176 introductory observations from The Treasury of David:


“The Psalmist is approaching the end of the Psalm, and his petitions gather force and fervency; he seems to break into the inner circle of divine fellowship, and to come even to the feet of the great God whose help he is imploring. This nearness creates the most lowly view of himself, and leads him to close the Psalm upon his face in deepest self-humiliation, begging to be sought out like a lost sheep.” (1)


169 Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord: give me understanding according to thy word.


From Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible:


“TAU. Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord,.... Not “my praise”, as the Syriac version; but "my prayer", put up in great distress, and with great vehemence and importunity; see Psalm 119:145; and when it is desired it might "come near before" the Lord, it does not so much suppose distance of place between the petitioner and the petitioned as earth is from heaven, as Aben Ezra observes, as distance of state and condition; the petitioner being a creature, and a sinful creature, and whose sins had separated between God and him: and now the only way of access is by Christ; prayer can only pass to God through him, who is the only Mediator between God and man; by whom persons and services are brought near unto, him with acceptance. The sum of this request is, that his prayer might not be rejected and shut out; but that it might be admitted, might come up before God, and into his ears, and be regarded by him, and accepted with him;


give me understanding according to thy word; meaning not natural, but spiritual understanding; not that he was without any, as natural men are, whose understandings are darkened; for he had a large share of understanding of spiritual things; but he wanted more, he desired to know more of himself, of his wants and weaknesses; to know more of God in Christ, and of Christ, his person, offices, and grace; to know more of the doctrines of the word, and of the duties of religion; and particularly that he might have a better understanding of the business of prayer, and might know both what to pray for, and how to pray as he ought; all which is a gift from God: and he desires in all to be directed “according to the word” of God, the means of enlightening the understanding, and of increasing spiritual knowledge; or else he means the promise of God, that he would give him more knowledge and understanding; that he might be taught of God, and follow on to know him, and increase in every branch of spiritual knowledge.” (2)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

May my cry

רִנָּתִ֣י (rin·nā·ṯî)

Noun - feminine singular construct | first person common singular

Strong's Hebrew 7440: 1) ringing cry 1a) of entreaty, supplication 1b) in proclamation, joy, praise


Cross-References for verse 169: Job 16:18; Psalm 18:6; Psalm 102:1; Psalm 119:27; Psalm 119:65; Psalm 119:144; Psalm 119:154


170 Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word.


From The Pulpit Commentary:


“Verse 170. - Let my supplication come before thee. A repetition of the "cry" in the preceding verse, which is distinctly shown by the next clause to be a cry for deliverance - Deliver me according to thy Word; or, "according to thy promise" (imrathka). God had "promised" to deliver all those who in the day of trouble should call upon him (Psalm 50:15; Psalm 91:15).” (3)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

May my plea

תְּחִנָּתִ֣י (tə·ḥin·nā·ṯî)

Noun - feminine singular construct | first person common singular

Strong's Hebrew 8467: 1) favour, supplication, supplication for favour 1a) favour 1b) supplication for favour


Cross-References for verse 170: Psalm 22:20; Psalm 28:2; Psalm 31:2; Psalm 59:1; Psalm 130:2

Psalm 140:6; Psalm 143:1


171 My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes.


From Barnes' Notes on the Bible:


“My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes - The sentiment here is the same as in Psalm 119:7. The language is varied, but the meaning here, as in that verse, is, I will praise thee in proportion as I learn thy precepts or thy law. The more I learn of thy will, the more I will praise thee. I shall see more for which to offer praise and adoration, and I shall be more and more inclined to praise and adore time. Each new degree of knowledge will excite a corresponding desire to praise thee. This will be true of all who love God, while this life lasts, and forever. The ever-increasing knowledge of God will excite ever-increasing praise; and as God is infinite and eternal, it follows that the increase of knowledge and of happiness, in those who are saved, will be eternal. These things will go hand in hand forever and ever.” (4)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:


תְּהִלָּ֑ה (tə·hil·lāh)

Noun - feminine singular

Strong's Hebrew 8416: 1) praise, song or hymn of praise 1a) praise, adoration, thanksgiving (paid to God) 1b) act of general or public praise 1c) praise-song (as title) 1d) praise (demanded by qualities or deeds or attributes of God) 1e) renown, fame, glory 1e1) of Damascus, God 1e2) object of praise, possessor of renown (fig)


Cross-References for verse 171: Psalm 51:15; Psalm 63:3; Psalm 94:12; Psalm 119:12; Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2


172 My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.


Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers:


“(172) My tongue shall speak of Thy word.—Rather, My tongue shall make response to Thy word, that all Thy commandments are true.” (5)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

of Your word,

אִמְרָתֶ֑ךָ (’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 172: Psalm 51:14; Psalm 119:138


173 Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.


The Pulpit Commentary:


“Verse 173. - Let thine hand help me; literally, be to help me; i.e. be ever ready to help me. For I have chosen thy precepts. I have cast aside all other helpers, and have pinned my faith on thee and thy Word.” (6)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

May Your hand

יָדְךָ֥ (yā·ḏə·ḵā)

Noun - feminine singular construct | second person masculine singular

Strong's Hebrew 3027: 1) hand 1a) hand (of man) 1b) strength, power (fig.) 1c) side (of land), part, portion (metaph.) (fig.) 1d) (various special, technical senses) 1d1) sign, monument 1d2) part, fractional part, share 1d3) time, repetition 1d4) axle-trees, axle 1d5) stays, support (for laver) 1d6) tenons (in tabernacle) 1d7) a phallus, a hand (meaning unsure) 1d8) wrists


Cross-References for verse 173: Luke 10:42; Joshua 24:22; Psalm 37:24; Psalm 73:23


174 I have longed for thy salvation, O Lord; and thy law is my delight.


From John Calvin:


“174. I have longed for thy salvation, O Jehovah! Although all men desire to be in happy circumstances, and no man avowedly repudiates God's favor; yet so confused and uncertain are the ideas which they entertain of that in which a life of happiness or propriety consists, that very few are to be found directing their aspirations to God. Some are carried away by their own ambition, some are wholly possessed with avarice, and others burn with lust, all imagining, that the farther they recede from God, everything will prosper so much the better with them. In short, in proportion as each man is desirous to be safe, in the same proportion does he provoke the anger of God, by seeking the means of his safety in all directions. The construction in the Hebrew text denotes steadfastness, or constancy of desire; for literally it is, that He Had longed for the salvation of God, and not that he only at the present time began to long for it. He next expresses the manner in which we are patiently to long for salvation; which is, by seeking consolation and relief in all our calamities from the word of God; for whoever does not comfort himself by a reliance on the grace promised in the word, will quail at the slightest assault made upon him. The Prophet then wisely kept his thoughts close upon the divine word, that he might not be turned away from hoping for the salvation of God.” (7)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

for Your salvation,

לִֽישׁוּעָתְךָ֣ (lî·šū·‘ā·ṯə·ḵā)

Preposition-l | Noun - feminine singular construct | second person masculine singular

Strong's Hebrew 3444: 1) salvation, deliverance 1a) welfare, prosperity 1b) deliverance 1c) salvation (by God) 1d) victory


Cross-References for verse 174: Luke 2:30; Genesis 49:18; Psalm 119:16; Psalm 119:24; Psalm 119:166


175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.


From Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament:


“The eightfold Tav. May God answer this his supplication as He has heard his praise, and interest Himself on behalf of His servant, the sheep that is exposed to great danger. The petitions "give me understanding" and "deliver me" go hand-in-hand, because the poet is one who is persecuted for the sake of his faith, and is just as much in need of the fortifying of his faith as of deliverance from the outward restraint that is put upon him. רנּה is a shrill audible prayer; תּחנּה, a fervent and urgent prayer. ענה, prop. to answer, signifies in Psalm 119:172 to begin, strike up, attune (as does ἀποκρίνεσθαι also sometimes). According to the rule in Psalm 50:23 the poet bases his petition for help upon the purpose of thankful praise of God and of His word. Knowing how to value rightly what he possesses, he is warranted in further supplicating and hoping for the good that he does not as yet possess. The “salvation” for which he longs (תּאב as in Psalm 119:40, Psalm 119:20) is redemption from the evil world, in which the life of his own soul is imperilled. May then God's judgments (defective plural, as in Psalm 119:43, Psalm 119:149, which the Syriac only takes a singular) succour him (יעזּרני, not יעזרני). God's hand, Psalm 119:173, and God's word afford him succour; the two are involved in one another, the word is the medium of His hand. After this relationship of the poet to God's word, which is attested a hundredfold in the Psalm, it may seem strange that he can say of himself תּעיתי כּשׂה אבד; and perhaps the accentuation is correct when it does not allow itself to be determined by Isaiah 53:6, but interprets: If I have gone astray - seek Thou like a lost sheep Thy servant. שׂה אבד is a sheep that is lost (cf. אבדים as an appellation of the dispersion, Isaiah 27:13) and in imminent danger of total destruction (cf. Psalm 31:13 with Leviticus 26:38). In connection with that interpretation which is followed by the interpunction, Psalm 119:176 is also more easily connected with what precedes: his going astray is no apostasy; his home, to which he longs to return when he has been betrayed into by-ways, is beside the Lord.” (8)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

Let me

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 175: Isaiah 38:19; Isaiah 55:3


176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.


From Matthew Poole's Commentary:


“Ver. 176. I have gone astray like a lost sheep: this is meant either,


1. Of sinful errors. I have too often swerved from the path of thy precepts through mine own infirmity, or the power of temptation. Or,


2. Of penal errors. I have been banished by the power and tyranny of mine enemies from all my friends and relations, and, which is far worse, from the place of thy worship and presence, and forced to wander hither and thither, hiding myself in mountains, and caves, and woods, exposed to a thousand snares and dangers.


Seek thy servant, as the shepherd doth his wandering sheep, and bring me back into thy fold.” (9)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

I have strayed

תָּעִ֗יתִי (tā·‘î·ṯî)

Verb - Qal - Perfect - first person common singular

Strong's Hebrew 8582: 1) to err, wander, go astray, stagger 1a) (Qal) to err 1a1) to wander about (physically) 1a2) of intoxication 1a3) of sin (ethically) 1a4) wandering (of the mind) 1b) (Niphal) 1b1) to be made to wander about, be made to stagger (drunkard) 1b2) to be led astray (ethically) 1c) (Hiphil) to cause to wander 1c1) to cause to wander about (physically) 1c2) to cause to wander (of intoxication) 1c3) to cause to err, mislead (mentally and morally)


Cross-References for verse 176: Matthew 18:12; Luke 15:4; Psalm 119:16; Isaiah 53:6

Jeremiah 50:6; Daniel 9:5


Concluding summary from Matthew Henry’s Bible Concise Commentary 119:169-176:


“119:169-176 The psalmist desired grace and strength to lift up his prayers, and that the Lord would receive and notice them. He desired to know more of God in Christ; to know more of the doctrines of the word, and the duties of religion. He had a deep sense of unworthiness, and holy fear that his prayer should not come before God; Lord, what I pray for is, what thou hast promised. We have learned nothing to purpose, if we have not learned to praise God. We should always make the word of God the rule of our discourse, so as never to transgress it by sinful speaking, or sinful silence. His own hands are not sufficient, nor can any creature lend him help; therefore he looks up to God, that the hand that had made him may help him. He had made religion his deliberate choice. There is an eternal salvation all the saints long for, and therefore they pray that God would help their way to it. Let thy judgments help me; let all ordinances and all providences, (both are God's judgments,) further me in glorifying God; let them help me for that work. He often looks back with shame and gratitude to his lost estate. He still prays for the tender care of Him who purchased his flock with his own blood, that he may receive from him the gift of eternal life. Seek me, that is, Find me; for God never seeks in vain. Turn me, and I shall be turned. Let this psalm be a touchstone by which to try our hearts, and our lives. Do our hearts, cleansed in Christ's blood, make these prayers, resolutions and confessions our own? Is God's word the standard of our faith, and the law of our practice? Do we use it as pleas with Christ for what we need? Happy those who live in such delightful exercises.” (10)


Notes on Psalm 119:169-176 TAU:

  1. C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. II, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 433.

2.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Psalms, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 1448-1449.

3.      H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Psalms, Vol.8., (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 113.

4.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Psalms, Vol. 5 p.1859.

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. 113.

7.      John Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries, Psalms, Volume V, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House Reprinted 1979), p. 48-49.

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

9.      Matthew Poole's Commentary on the Holy Bible, vol. 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 192.

  1. Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary, Psalms, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 964.


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: