Psalm 119:137-144 TZADDI - Gleanings from Historical Commentaries                                         Collected by Jack Kettler


Psalm 119:137-144 introductory observations from The Treasury of David:


“‘Righteous art thou, O Lord.’ The Psalmist has not often used the name of Jehovah in this vast composition. The whole Psalm shows him to have been a deeply religious man, thoroughly familiar with the things of God; and such persons never use the holy name of God carelessly, nor do they even use it at all frequently in comparison with the thoughtless and the ungodly. Familiarity begets reverence in this case. Here he uses the sacred name in worship. He praises God by ascribing to him perfect righteousness. God is always right, and he is always actively right, that is, righteous. This quality is bound up in our very idea of God. We cannot imagine an unrighteous God. “And upright are thy judgments.” Here he extols God's word, or recorded judgments, as being right, even as their Author is righteous. That which comes from the righteous God is itself righteous. Jehovah both saith and doth that which is right, and that alone. This is a great stay to the soul in time of trouble. When we are most sorely afflicted, and cannot see the reason for the dispensation, we may fall back upon this most sure and certain fact, that God is righteous, and his dealings with us are righteous too. It should be our glory to sing this brave confession when all things around us appear to suggest the contrary. This is the richest adoration - this which rises from the lips of faith when carnal reason utters about undue severity, and the like.” (1)


137 Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments.


From Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible:


“TZADDI. Righteous art thou, O Lord,.... Essentially, originally, and of himself; naturally, immutably, and universally, in all his ways and works of nature and grace; in his thoughts, purposes, counsels, and decrees; in all the dispensations of his providence; in redemption, in the justification of a sinner, in the pardon of sin, and in the gift of eternal life through Christ;


and upright are thy judgments; they are according to the rules of justice and equity; the precepts of the word, the doctrines of the Gospel, as well as the judgments of God inflicted on wicked men, and all the providential dealings of God with his people, and also the final judgment.” (2)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

And upright

וְ֝יָשָׁ֗ר (wə·yā·šār)

Conjunctive waw | Adjective - masculine singular

Strong's Hebrew 3477: 1) straight, upright, correct, right 1a) straight, level 1b) right, pleasing, correct 1c) straightforward, just, upright, fitting, proper 1d) uprightness, righteous, upright 1e) that which is upright (subst)


Are Your judgments.

מִשְׁפָּטֶֽיךָ׃ (miš·pā·ṭe·ḵā)

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 137: Ezra 9:15; Nehemiah 9:33; Psalm 116:5; Psalm 129:4; Psalm 145:17; Jeremiah 12:1; Lamentations 1:18; Daniel 9:7; Daniel 9:14


138 Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful.


From The Pulpit Commentary:


“Verse 138. - Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful; literally, righteousness and very faithfulness (see the Revised Version). "Harsh and severe as thy testimonies may seem, they are all thoroughly for man's highest good" (Kay).” (3)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

You have laid down

מְאֹֽד׃ (ṣiw·wî·ṯā)

Verb - Piel - Perfect - second person masculine singular

Strong's Hebrew 6680: 1) to command, charge, give orders, lay charge, give charge to, order 1a)(Piel) 1a1) to lay charge upon 1a2) to give charge to, give command to 1a3) to give charge unto 1a4) to give charge over, appoint 1a5) to give charge, command 1a6) to charge, command 1a7) to charge, commission 1a8) to command, appoint, ordain (of divine act) 1b) (Pual) to be commanded


Cross-References for verse 138: Psalm 19:7; Psalm 19:9; Psalm 119:75; Psalm 119:86; Psalm 119:90; Psalm 119:144; Psalm 119:172


139 My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.


From Barnes' Notes on the Bible:


“My zeal hath consumed me - Margin, "cut me off." The word which is here translated "consumed" is rendered "cut off" in Lamentations 3:53; Job 23:17; Psalm 54:5; Psalm 88:16; Psalm 94:23; Psalm 101:5; Psalm 143:12; "vanish," Job 6:17; "destroyed," Psalm 73:27; 2 Samuel 22:41; Psalm 18:40; Psalm 101:8; Psalm 69:4. It means here, that he pined away; that his strength was exhausted; that he was sinking under the efforts which he had put forth as expressive of his deep interest in the cause of God and of truth. On the sentiment here expressed, see the notes at Psalm 69:9.


Because mine enemies have forgotten thy words - Thy law; thy commands. It was not because they were his foes - not because he was endeavoring to destroy them, or to take vengeance on them - but because they were unmindful of God, and of the claims of his law. It is a great triumph which religion gains over a man's soul, when, in looking on the conduct of persecutors, calumniators, and slanderers - of those who are constantly doing us wrong - we are more grieved because they violate the law of God than because they injure us; when our solicitude is turned from ourselves, and terminates on our regard for the honor of God and his law. Yet that is the nature of true religion; and that we should be able to find in ourselves in such circumstances. A man should doubt the evidence of his personal religion, if all his feelings terminate on the wrong done to himself by the wicked conduct of others; if he has no feeling of solicitude because the law of God has been violated, and God has been dishonored. Compare the notes at Psalm 119:136.” (4)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

My zeal

קִנְאָתִ֑י (qin·’ā·ṯî)

Noun - feminine singular construct | first person common singular

Strong's Hebrew 7068: 1) ardour, zeal, jealousy 1a) ardour, jealousy, jealous disposition (of husband) 1a1) sexual passion 1b) ardour of zeal (of religious zeal) 1b1) of men for God 1b2) of men for the house of God 1b3) of God for his people 1c) ardour of anger 1c1) of men against adversaries 1c2) of God against men 1d) envy (of man) 1e) jealousy (resulting in the wrath of God)


Cross-References for verse 139: John 2:17; Psalm 69:9


140 Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.


From Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary:


“140. Very pure—literally, "refined," shown pure by trial.” (5)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

Therefore Your servant

וְֽעַבְדְּךָ֥ (wə·‘aḇ·də·ḵā)

Conjunctive waw | 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 140: 2 Samuel 22:31; Psalm 12:6; Psalm 19:8; Psalm 119:47


141 I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts.


The Pulpit Commentary:


“Verse 141. - I am small and despised (comp. vers. 22, 51). Some translate, "I am young." But the writer can scarcely have been really a young man. His thoughts are the thoughts of one who has had much experience of life. Yet do not I forget thy precepts. As do those that persecute me (see ver. 139).” (6)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

am lowly

צָעִ֣יר (ṣā·‘îr)

Adjective - masculine singular

Strong's Hebrew 6810: 1) little, insignificant, young 1a) little, insignificant 1b) insignificant, mean 1c) young, younger, youngest


Cross-References for verse 141: Deuteronomy 26:13; Psalm 22:6; Psalm 119:61


142 Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.


From John Calvin:


“142. Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness. Here the law of God is honored by the additional encomium, that it is everlasting righteousness and truth; as if it had been said, that all other rules of life, with whatever attractions they may appear to be recommended, are but a shadow, which quickly vanishes away. The Psalmist, no doubt, indirectly contrasts the doctrine of the law with all the human precepts, which were ever delivered, that he may bring all the faithful in subjection to it, since it is the school of perfect wisdom. There may be more of plausibility in the refined and subtle disquisition's of men; but there is in them nothing firm or solid at bottom, as there is in God's law. This firmness of the divine law he proves in the following verse from one instance -- the continual comfort he found in it when grievously harassed with temptations. And the true test of the profit we have reaped from it is, when we oppose to all the distresses of whatever kind which may straiten us, the consolation derived from the word of God, that thereby all sadness may be effaced from our minds. David here expresses something more than he did in the preceding verse; for there he only said that he reverently served God, although from his rough and hard treatment he might seem to lose his labor; but now when distressed and tormented, he affirms that he finds in the law of God the most soothing delight, which mitigates all grief's, and not only tempers their bitterness, but also seasons them with a certain sweetness. And assuredly when this taste does not exist to afford us delight, nothing is more natural than for us to be swallowed up of sorrow. Nor ought we to omit noticing the form of expression which the Prophet employs, by which he teaches, that although he was besieged and shut up on all sides, he found a remedy sufficiently powerful in improving the consolation offered him by the word of God. As this could not be true of the bare commandments, which so far from remedying our distresses, rather fill us with anxiety, there is no doubt that under the word commandments there is comprehended by the figure synecdoche, the whole doctrine of the law, in which God not only requires what is right, but in which also calling his elect ones to the hope of eternal salvation, he opens the gate of perfect happiness. Yea, under the term law are comprehended both free adoption, and also the promises which flow from it.” (7)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

Your righteousness

צִדְקָתְךָ֣ (ṣiḏ·qā·ṯə·ḵā)

Noun - feminine singular construct | second person masculine singular

Strong's Hebrew 6666: 1) justice, righteousness 1a) righteousness (in government) 1a1) of judge, ruler, king 1a2) of law 1a3) of Davidic king Messiah 1b) righteousness (of God's attribute) 1c) righteousness (in a case or cause) 1d) righteousness, truthfulness 1e) righteousness (as ethically right) 1f) righteousness (as vindicated), justification, salvation 1f1) of God 1f2) prosperity (of people) 1g) righteous acts


is an everlasting

לְעוֹלָ֑ם (lə·‘ō·w·lām)

Preposition-l | Noun - masculine singular

Strong's Hebrew 5769: 1) long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world 1a) ancient time, long time (of past) 1b) (of future) 1b1) for ever, always 1b2) continuous existence, perpetual 1b3) everlasting, indefinite or unending future, eternity


Cross-References for verse 142: Psalm 19:9; Psalm 111:3; Psalm 119:151; Psalm 119:160

Malachi 2:6


143 Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.


From Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament:


“The eightfold Tsade. God rules righteously and faithfully according to His word, for which the poet is accordingly zealous, although young and despised. The predicate ישׂר in Psalm 119:137 precedes its subject משׁפּטיך (God's decisions in word and in deed) in the primary form (after the model of the verbal clause Psalm 124:5), just as in German [and English] the predicative adjective remains undeclined. The accusatives צדק and אמוּנה in Psalm 119:138 are not predicative (Hitzig), to which the former (“as righteousness”) - not the latter however - is not suited, but adverbial accusatives (in righteousness, in faithfulness), and מאד according to its position is subordinate to ואמונה as a virtual adjective (cf. Isaiah 47:9): the requirements of the revealed law proceed from a disposition towards and mode of dealing with men which is strictly determined by His holiness (צדק), and beyond measure faithfully and honestly designs the well-being of men (אמונה מאד). To see this good law of God despised by his persecutors stirs the poet up with a zeal, which brings him, from their side, to the brink of extreme destruction (Psalm 69:10, cf. צמתּת, Psalm 88:17). God's own utterance is indeed without spot, and therefore not to be carped at; it is pure, fire-proved, noblest metal (Psalm 18:31; Psalm 12:7), therefore he loves it, and does not, though young (lxx νεώτερος, Vulgate adolescentulus) and lightly esteemed, care for the remonstrances of his proud opponents who are old and more learned than himself (the organization of Psalm 119:141 is like Psalm 119:95, and frequently). The righteousness (צדקה) of the God of revelation becomes eternal righteousness (צדק), and His law remains eternal truth (אמת ). דקה is here the name of the attribute and of the action that is conditioned in accordance with it; צדק the name of the state that thoroughly accords with the idea of that which is right. So too in Psalm 119:144: צדק are Jahve's testimonies forever, so that all creatures must give glory to their harmony with that which is absolutely right. To look ever deeper and deeper into this their perfection is the growing life of the spirit. The poet prays for this vivifying insight.” (8)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

but Your commandments

מִ֝צְוֺתֶ֗יךָ (miṣ·wō·ṯe·ḵā)

Noun - feminine plural construct | second person masculine singular

Strong's Hebrew 4687: 1) commandment 1a) commandment (of man) 1b) the commandment (of God) 1c) commandment (of code of wisdom)


are my delight.

שַׁעֲשֻׁעָֽי׃ (ša·‘ă·šu·‘āy)

Noun - masculine plural construct | first person common singular

Strong's Hebrew 8191: 1) delight, enjoyment 1a) delight 1b) object of delight


Cross-References for verse 143: Psalm 119:24; Psalm 119:144


144 The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live.


From Matthew Poole's Commentary:


“Ver. 144. I shall be kept from those sins which deserve and bring death.” (9)


Gleanings from Strong's Lexicon:

Give me understanding,

הֲבִינֵ֥נִי (hă·ḇî·nê·nî)

Verb - Hifil - Imperative - masculine singular | 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 144: Deuteronomy 4:8; Psalm 19:9; Psalm 119:27; Psalm 119:138;

Psalm 119:169


Concluding summary from Matthew Henry’s Bible Concise Commentary 119:137-144:


“119:137-144 God never did, and never can do wrong to any. The promises are faithfully performed by Him that made them. Zeal against sin should constrain us to do what we can against it, at least to do more in religion ourselves. Our love to the word of God is evidence of our love to God, because it is designed to make us partake his holiness. Men's real excellency always makes them low in their own eyes. When we are small and despised, we have the more need to remember God's precepts, that we may have them to support us. The law of God is the truth, the standard of holiness, the rule of happiness; but the obedience of Christ alone justifies the believer. Sorrows are often the lot of saints in this vale of tears; they are in heaviness through manifold temptations. There are delights in the word of God, which the saints often most sweetly enjoy when in trouble and anguish. This is life eternal, to know God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, Joh 17:3. May we live the life of faith and grace here, and be removed to the life of glory hereafter.” (10)


Notes on Psalm 119:137-144 TZADDI:

  1. C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. II, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 390.

2.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Psalms, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 1434.

3.      H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Psalms, Vol.8., (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 111.

4.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Psalms, Vol. 5 p.1847.

5.      Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 452.

6.      H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Psalms, Vol.8., (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 111.

7.      John Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries, Psalms, Volume V, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House Reprinted 1979), p. 21.

8.      Keil-Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Psalms, vol. 5, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Reprinted 1985), p. 260-261.

9.      Matthew Poole's Commentary on the Holy Bible, vol. 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 190.

  1. Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary, Psalms, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 962.


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: