Cleansed by the Word

I. The 119th Psalm is uniquely the Psalm of the importance of Scripture.

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  Verse 1
Krbdk rmsl wxra-ta ren-hkzy hmb n ← BETH Verse 9
Krbd hrmsaw hyxa Kdbe-le lmg ← GIMEL Verse 17

B. There are eight different words used in this Psalm 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

7. DABAR – a “word” or matter/issue; to arrange in order

8. IMRAH – something said; “speech”

II. The First Stanza (Psalm 119:1-8) opens with a promise and a prayer.

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

1. They “are undefiled in the way.”

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

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

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

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

B. The prayer is for God to “direct” the “journey” of the Psalmist.

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

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

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

4. 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.

III. The second stanza (Psalm 119:9-17) lists ways to “cleanse” our lifestyle.

A. The opening question sets the message for the 2nd stanza.

1. How may a young man cleanse his way?

a. The action required is a “purification” of behaviour.
b. Isaiah 1:16-18 is a good example:
1) Wash you, make you clean put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

2. The focus is on the “path of life” – the lifestyle of the Believer.

a. Psalm 16:11 -- Thou wilt shew me the path of life:
b. Psalm 25:4 -- Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.
c. Psalm 27:11 -- Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path because of mine enemies.
d. Psalm 119:101 -- I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.
e. Psalm 119:104 -- Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.

B. The immediate answer is to “take heed” to the “Word” of God.

1. The Hebrew DABAR is the descriptor for the Scriptures in this verse.

a. It is a general term for a “matter” or “concept” – essentially comparable to the Greek LOGOS – “that which can be communicated.”
b. It is used some 70 times in the Psalms and over 1,400 times in the Old Testament.

2. The emphasis for DABAR seems to be on grasping the truth of what is communicated.

a. Psalm 33:4 -- For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.
b. Psalm 45:1 -- My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
c. Psalm 50:17 -- Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.
d. Ps 103:20 -- Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.

3. The action required (taking heed) focuses on guarding and obeying.

4. All eight of the “Bible” words are objects of “taking heed” in Psalm 119.

a. Psalm 119:4 -- Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts (PIQQUWD) diligently.
b. Psalm 119:5 -- O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! (CHOQ)
c. Psalm 119:9 -- - Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. (DABAR)
d. Psalm 119:34 -- Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law;  (TORAH) yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
e. Psalm 119:60 -- I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments. (MITSVAH)
f. Psalm 119:67 -- Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. (IMRAH)
h. Psalm 119:106 -- I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments. (MISHPAT)
i. Psalm 119:167 -- My soul hath kept thy testimonies; (EDAH) and I love them exceedingly.

IV. The Psalmist makes several promises to “cleanse” is “way.”

A. He will “seek” God with his whole heart (verse 10).

1. Psalm 119:34 -- Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

2. Psalm 119:58 -- I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.

3. Psalm 119:69 -- The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.

4. Psalm 119:145 -- I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes.

B. He will store God’s word in his heart to prevent sinning (verse 11).

1. The word (Hebrew: TSAPHAN) means to “treasure” or “save”

2. Proverbs 2:1 -- My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;

3. Proverbs 2:7 -- He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.

4. Proverbs 7:1 -- My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.

5. Proverbs 10:14 -- Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.

C. He will submit to the teaching of God (verse 12).

1. The Hebrew (LAMAD) is a passive verb “I will be taught – I will learn.”

2. Psalm 25:5 -- Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

3. Psalm 25:9 -- The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.

4. Psalm 34:11 -- Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

D. He will use his mouth to declare the justice of God (verse 13).

1. The focus is on the active witness about God’s righteous dealings with men – the “Bible” word is MISHPAT – the “decrees” of God.

2. Psalm 40:9 -- I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest.

3. Psalm 141:3 -- Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

E. He will rejoice over God’s “witness” as though he had found great wealth (verse 14).

1. Psalm 119:162 -- I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.

2. Matthew 13:44-46 – The “hid treasure” and the “pearl of great price.”

F. He will “meditate” in God’s precepts (verse 15)

1. The Hebrew (SIYACH) emphasises “ponder” or “muse”

2. Psalm 119:27-- Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.

3. Psalm 119:48 -- My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.

4. Psalm 119:148 -- Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

G. He will have “respect” to God’s “paths” (verse 15).

1. The Hebrew (NABAT) emphasises careful evaluation.

2. Psalm 119:18 -- Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

3. Psalm 119:104 -- Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.

4. Psalm 119:128 -- Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.

H. He will “delight” in God’s statutes (verse 16).

1. The Hebrew (SHA‘A‘) emphasises physical joy.

2. Psalm 119:47 -- And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.
3. Psalm 119:70 -- Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law

I. He will not “forget” God’s words (verse 16).

1. The Hebrew (SHAKACH) emphasises loss through lack of use.

2. Psalm 119:83 -- For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes.

3. Psalm 119:93 -- I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.

4. Psalm 119:141 -- I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts.

5. Psalm 119:176 -- I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.

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