Blessed by the Word

I. The structure of this Psalm is unique among biblical passages.

A. It is an Acrostic – each stanza beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

1. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, starting with Aleph and ending with Tau

2. There are 22 stanzas of 8 verses each in the Psalm, each beginning with the representative letter: each verse in the first stanza begins with Aleph.  Each verse in the second stanza begins with Beth, and so on.

3. There are a total of 176 verses in the 22 stanzas.

4. The Hebrew language is structured to be written and read from the right hand to the left.  It this case . . .

hwhy trwtb Myklhh Krd-ymymt yrsa ← ALEPH
YAHWEH of LAW (Torah) the by walk who, way the in not defile who are those Happy

B. It is a Psalm (song – lyrics) about the Word of God.

1. The “Law of the LORD” (Torah) is the primary name for the Old Testament Scriptures as a whole, especially the Pentateuch (Luke 24:44)

2. The “Law” (Torah) occurs most frequently of the eight different words used for the Scriptures in this psalm – the longest chapter in the Bible.

3. The use of at least one of the eight words appears in all but six verses (3,37,90,91,122,132) although six verses use two of the different words (16,43,48,160,168,172), bringing the total of the references to 176, equal to the number of verses in the Psalm.

4. This structure is clearly intended to stress the literal (letter-by-letter) divine origin of the Scriptures (Matthew 5:18)

C. It is a Psalm of some mystery.

1. The six references without the use of a Hebrew term for the Word of God may indicate the tendency of Man to corrupt or dilute the Scriptures.

a. Six (6) is often identified with the sinful humanity of man.
b. Seven (7) is often identified with completion and/or perfection
c. Thus the “Anti-Christ” numbers 6--6–6 (Revelation 13:18)

2. The number 22, representing language, and the number 8, speaking of regeneration and victorious life are indelibly stamped on this Psalm.

3. The eight words used for the Scriptures appear in four (4) geometric patterns: the sum of which equals 44 [Torah -25x and Imrah - 19x] [Edah – 23x and Mishpat - 21x] [Dabor - 23x and Piqqudim – 21x] [Chuqqah – 22x and Mitsvah 22x].  Thus 4 x 44 = 176.  Intriguing!

II. The First Stanza contains a promise for happiness.

A. Happiness is promised

1. The Hebrew word is ah’- sher, a term that stresses forward progress in life – a prosperity of success.

2. The word is common in the Psalms (28 times of the 63 in the OT)

a. Psalm 32:1 – Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven
b. Psalm 34:8 -- blessed is the man that trusteth in him
c. Psalm 40:4 -- Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust
d. Psalm 41:2 -- …he shall be blessed upon the earth
e. Psalm 128:2 -- happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee

B. Happiness is granted to those who live according to God’s Word.

1. They “are undefiled in the way.”

a. Psalm 15:2 – he walks uprightly and works righteousness
b. Psalm 84:11 – God will not withhold goodness from the upright
c. Psalm 101:6 – he who walks in a perfect way will serve God
d. Psalm 191:80 – when our heart is sound in His statutes

2. They “walk in” the LAW [Torah] of the LORD.

a. Psalm 1:1 -- Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
b. Psalm 86:11 -- Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.
c. Psalm 1:2 -- But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

3. They are the ones that “keep his testimonies” and “seek him with the whole heart.”

a. “Keep” has a military background. It connotes “guard” or “protect”
1) Psalm 25:21 -- Let integrity and uprightness preserve me
2) Psalm 34:13 -- Keep thy tongue from evil
3) Psalm 119:69 -- I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.
4) Psalm 141:3 -- Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep door of my lips.
b. “TESTIMONIES” [ay-daw’] stresses the witness of God in His word.
1) Joshua 24:27 -- And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.
2) Psalm 93:5 --Thy testimonies are very sure
c. “Seek” [daw-rash’] demands an intense and care-driven search.
1) Psalm 9:12 -- When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them.
2) Psalm 77:2 -- In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.
3) “With the whole heart” connects with Proverbs 2:1-9 and Matthew 22:37. (see also Jeremiah 29:13

4. They are the ones who “do no iniquity;” they “walk” in His “ways.”

a. The focus of the Hebrew word [pa’al] is active and conscious
b. Psalm 14:4 -- Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge?
c. Psalm 36:12 -- There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.
d. “Walking” in the “way” is a double emphasis to live godly lives.
1) Psalm 86:11 -- Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walkthy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.
2) Psalm 128:1 -- Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.

5. They keep the Lord’s “PRECEPTS” [pik-kood] diligently.

a. “Precepts” emphasizes the “listed” commands.
1) Psalm 19:8 -- The statutes of the LORD are right,
2) Psalm 103:18 -- To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
b. “Diligence” [meh-ode’] is required to keep this commandment.
1) The Hebrew word requires intense feeling and energy.
2) Psalm 21:1 -- The king shall joy in thy strength, O LORD; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!
3) Psalm 119:167 -- My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.

III. The First Stanza ends with a prayer requesting obedience.

A. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!

1. The “way” [deh’- rek] spoken of is “life’s journey.”

a. Psalm 1:6 -- For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
b. Psalm 139:3 -- Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

2. The prayer is for God to “direct” [koon] the “journey” of the Psalmist.

a. Psalm 10:17 -- LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:
b. Psalm 90:17 -- And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

3. The “STATUTES” [choq] are enactments, judgments, decrees by God.

a. Psalm 2:7 -- I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
b. Psalm 148:5-6 -- Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.  He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass.

B. Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.

1. Confidence will come after respect for God’s commandments.

a. Shame or confusion [Hebrew – boosh] is the result of lack of knowledge of what God has provided.
b. Psalm 71:1 -- In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.
c. Psalm 119:80 -- Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.

2. Respect is the foundation for obedience to the commandments.

a. “Respect” [Hebrew – nabat] is obtained through attention.
1) Psalm 13:3 -- Consider and hear me, O LORD my God
2) Psalm 119:18 -- Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
b. “COMMANDMENTS” [Hebrew – mitzvah] include all God’s word.
1) Psalm 19:8 -- The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
2) Psalm 119:96 -- I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad.

C. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have leaned thy righteous judgments.

1. Proper praise comes when we have learned God’s righteous judgments.

a. Psalm 97:12 -- Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
b. Psalm 138:4 -- All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O LORD, when they hear the words of thy mouth.

2. “JUDGMENTS” [Hebrew - mish-pawt’] are the formal sentences of God.

a. Psalm 1:5 -- Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
b. Psalm 9:4 -- For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.

D. I will keep thy statutes; O forsake me not utterly.

1. After an emotional promise that the Psalmist would carefully guard all the words, teachings, commandments, and applicatory judgments of God – he suddenly realizes that he cannot do so without God’s help.

a. There are six different words used in this stanza that reference different aspects of God’s word.
1) TORAH – the formal “Law” of God
2) ADAH – the “witness” of God about His works.
3) PIQQUWD – the “mandates” the “listed” commands
4) CHOQ – the “enactments” the “decrees” of God
5) MITZVAH – all the “commandments” given by God
6) MISHPAT – the formal “sentences” of God
b. There is good understanding of the breadth of God’s word.

2. The last thought of the prayer is a pleading with God not to “forsake” him “utterly.”

a. The plea is that God not “leave him” to “fail” or “fall” on his own.
b. The adverb “utterly” (greatly, exceedingly) applies to his being “left alone” by God.  The plea is strengthened by that request.  “Please” do no leave me on my own!
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