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Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Psalm 119 Archives

Pleas and Praises

posted by xscot mcknight

The last verse of Psalm 119, which marks the end of this series, surprises:

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Pleas and Praises

posted by xscot mcknight

The second to last verse of Psalm 119 brings to fruition the center of the entire psalm:

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Pleas and Praises

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist often declares his commitment to God and to God’s Word and therefore he believes the Lord should deliver him. Notice these lines:

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Pleas and Praises

posted by xscot mcknight

In the final paragraph of Psalm 119, in v. 171, the psalmist erupts into praise and he describes before God what his experience is (or will be) like.

Pleas and Praises

posted by xscot mcknight

We’ve now come to the end of Psalm 119, the taw section. Like much of the psalm, there is an interchange between pleading with God for deliverance and publicly confessing the psalmist’s commitment to God. In this section, that commitment […]

Peacefully resolved to …

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist has found peace but he has not found that peace in the security of knowing he’s no longer persecuted nor in the security of being “in the know” with the right people. He’s found peace, great peace, because […]

Peacefully resolved to …

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist is at peace and resolved to tremble at God’s word — not the princes of his day — and to take his joy in the promises of God — not the strength that comes from association with powers […]

Peacefully resolved to …

posted by xscot mcknight

With princes breathing down his neck, the psalmist finds peace and is resolved to tremble at God’s word and to find joy in God’s promise. How does he do so? I suspect this is how:

Peacefully resolved to …

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist’s tranquility is palpable … chiefs are chasing him but he’s found repose in knowing God. He’s not only peacefully resolved to tremble at God’s word, he’s peacefully resolved as well to rejoice in God’s promise.

Peacefully resolved to …

posted by xscot mcknight

In the Shin/Sin section of Psalm 119, that is verses 161-168, we find a subtle shift of mood and tone. The psalmist is resolute and determined, but now a tranquility and peace hangs over the psalm. He’s peacefully resolve to […]

Against the Wall: Focal Point

posted by xscot mcknight

The focal point of this psalmist, a fella who has his back against the wall and is surrounded by those who want to do him in, is this:

Against the Wall: Plea

posted by xscot mcknight

As with vv. 153, 154, the psalmist’s plea is very simple and clear. We find it in vv. 156 and 159:

Against the Wall: Where not to look

posted by xscot mcknight

When your back is against the wall you know have to know not only where to look (to God) but also where not to look — and the psalmist explores that in vv. 155, 157-158. Here are his words:

Against the Wall: Longing for Life

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist’s back is against the wall. He has faced God, he has asked God for rescue, and he has appealed to his own integrity — that’s 119:153. In v. 154 there is a subtle, revealing development.

Against the Wall: Rescue

posted by xscot mcknight

Have you ever had your back to the wall? Ever wonder if you were going to make it? Ever wonder if the enemy would do you in? Ever wonder if you would live another day? The psalmist knows the experience, […]

Call’s Memory

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist begins this section by crying out to God for deliverance. As the section develops he becomes confident, and part of the reason for his confidence can be found in v. 152.

Call’s Confidence

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist’s confidence brims over the top now: if v. 149 shows that he can make claim on God because of God’s steadfast love and judgment, in vv. 150-151 the psalmist expresses a singular confidence.

Call’s Foundation

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist is crying out for deliverance from his persecutors. He wants to be delivered so he can continue a life of Torah observance. He cries out to God all night long — and the foundation for his cry for […]

Call’s Diligence

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist is diligent. Notice his words — a kind of two-step direction in his diligence:

Call’s Commitment

posted by xscot mcknight

The qof section of Psalm 119, vv. 145-152, explores the psalmist’s call to God. The psalmist, once again in a condition of being hunted down like an animal (v. 150), cries out to God. And along with his cry is […]

Right God, Right Mind

posted by xscot mcknight

What we read, what we listen to, what we watch — what fills our mind — makes us who we are. We become what fills our mind. So also the psalmist: “Your statutes are always righteous; give me understanding that […]

Right God, Right Hope

posted by xscot mcknight

God is righteous. If God is righteous, there is hope in God. 142 Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true.

Right God, Right Love

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist believes God is righteous and has spoken words in Torah that are right and that can guide God’s people. But those two convictions are at odds with others: they evidently don’t believe either of his convictions. How does […]

Right God, Right Trust

posted by xscot mcknight

Not only are the mishpatim — commands, rulings, judgments — of God right, but also the adot — statutes — are righteous. God is right — he is a righteous God. Therefore, what God says is right — what God […]

Right God, Right Laws

posted by xscot mcknight

Psalm 119:137-144, each verse beginning with the Hebrew letter tsade, revolves around familiar themes for those who read Psalm 119: the Law of God is right, the psalmist is committed to observing the Law of God, his enemies are a […]

Bible words: Decrees

posted by xscot mcknight

The sixth word for Torah in this section of Psalm 119 is “decrees” (huqqim), words of binding force and permanence — inscribed forever now that they are written in the Torah. Commitment to such permanence brings the psalmist the sense […]

Bible words: Promise and Precept

posted by xscot mcknight

Psalm 119:133-134 uses two more words for the Torah: promises (imra) and precepts (piqud). Imra can mean “word” but “promissory word” is a little better. Implications are obvious: Torah is promissory word and preceptual word in order to guide the […]

Bible words: Commandments

posted by xscot mcknight

The third word used for Torah in Psalm 119:129-136 is “commandments” (mitzvot; v. 131). Attached to v. 131 is v. 132: because the psalmist longs for God’s mitzvot and because that longing expresses the psalmist’s love (v. 132b), he implores […]

Bible words: Word

posted by xscot mcknight

In Psalm 119:129-136 the psalmist uses seven different words to describe the Torah: today we look at the second word. It is “word/s” (devar). Psalm 119:130: “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”

Bible words: Statutes

posted by xscot mcknight

Psalm 119:129-136 (letter pe) expresses two things: various words of the Bible (seven different ones) and the wonderful delight the psalmist finds in them. The first word mentioned is “statutes” (‘edot). He finds the edot of God wonderful and therefore […]

Integrity as Self-identity

posted by xscot mcknight

Christian conversion is the transformation of one’s own identity in relationship to Jesus Christ. One “self-identifies” in relationship to Jesus Christ. The psalmist self-identifies as:

Integrity as Demand

posted by xscot mcknight

In Psalm 119:126, the psalmist informs God that “It is time for you to act, YHWH.” Why? “Your law is being broken.” We are back to the integrity of vv. 121-122 and the appeal he made there: now his appeal […]

Integrity as Service

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist’s integrity comes from God because his disposition before God is that of a “servant” (ebed; see vv. 122, 124, 125): 124 Deal with your servant according to your love and teach me your decrees. 125 I am your […]

Integrity as Yearning

posted by xscot mcknight

Psalm 119:123 is a little tricky: “My eyes fail, looking for your salvation, looking for your righteous promise.” Is the psalmist despairing and at the end of his hope or is he yearning intensively? The Hebrew word here (qalah) can […]

Integrity as Appeal

posted by xscot mcknight

In the next paragraph of Psalm 119 (vv. 121-128, each beginning with the Hebrew letter Ayin), the psalmist considers his own integrity before God from a variety of angles. He appeals to God on the basis of his own integrity, […]

God Awes

posted by xscot mcknight

“My flesh,” the psalmist admits, “trembles in fear of You; I stand in awe of your laws.” So Psalm 119:120. I could have said God “intimidates” but that normally means intent to scare. What the psalmist has in mind is […]

God Rejects

posted by xscot mcknight

Some may have been tempted to skip this post by because of the title. Others may have become slightly infuriated by the title. Others may think it is politically incorrect. If you read Goldingay’s summary that I posted on Sunday, […]

God Supports

posted by xscot mcknight

God supports us. Notice the psalmists words from which we can receive instruction for our day:

God Protects

posted by xscot mcknight

Not only is God revealed as “teacher” in Psalm 119:113-120, but God is also the protector in v. 114. The psalmist uses two concrete images for God’s protections:

Heart of the Foot

posted by xscot mcknight

Some people put their foot in their mouth; this psalmist puts his foot in his heart — or does he have his heart in his foot? Notice these words:

Foot Joy

posted by xscot mcknight

I wear golf shoes made by FootJoy — and I like them. They are firm; they shed water well (for early morning golf); they have lasted. The psalmist has another kind of foot joy: “Your statutes (adot) are my heritage […]

Foot Resolution

posted by xscot mcknight

Again, the psalmist — the one whose torch in the Torah that guides his path — is in trouble: his life is in jeopardy (119:109) — snares have been set for this light-following feet (110), but he still does not […]

Foot Circling

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist has taken an oath (119:106) to follow God’s righteous laws (mishpatim); for this oath and his stubborn commitment to walk in God’s ways — with his feet enlightened by Torah — he has suffered afflictions.

Foot Lights

posted by xscot mcknight

The Torah, the Bible for the psalmist, was God’s communication with Israel in order to inform Israel of God’s ways — and its intent was to guide the whole of an Israelite — heart, soul, and strength. Here the psalmist […]

Bible Study: Pleasure

posted by xscot mcknight

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)

Bible Study: Moral Development

posted by xscot mcknight

I don’t know an expression any more accurate, so I’ve chosen to say that the one who listens to Torah, who delights in God’s Word, develops morally. So Psalm 119:101-102, 104b:

Bible Study: Insight

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist says that because he muses on the God’s Torah all day long, he has “gained more insight than all his teachers” (119:99).

Bible Study: Wisdom

posted by xscot mcknight

Listening to the Bible the way one delights in the words of the one whom we love leads to wisdom. I don’t know how you define wisdom, but here’s mine:

Bible Study: Love it

posted by xscot mcknight

Psalm 119:97-104, the section labeled mem because every sentence begins with this letter, is about Bible study, or more accurately, Torah devotion. Today we look at v 97 and v 104.

Olam Unlimited

posted by xscot mcknight

I really like what I read in Psalm 119:96: “To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.”

Olam Attachment

posted by xscot mcknight

If God is Olam, forever, and if God’s Word and Faithfulness are also Olam, what are we to do? Attach ourselves to the Olam God whose Word and Faithfulness are Olam. I get attachments in my e-mails quite often; they […]

Olam Faithfulness

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist tells us that the Olam God, the Forever God, the God who is in and of himself the very life that sustains who we are, is “faithful”. The Olam God, therefore, has an Olam Faithfulness. God remains true […]

Olam Word

posted by xscot mcknight

Our God is an Olam (eternal, forever, out of time drawing us into his life kind of) God. Therefore, any word that is uttered from the Olam God becomes an Olam word. Let us say it turns word into Word, […]

Olam God

posted by xscot mcknight

We now turn to the “Lamed” section of Psalm 119 — verses 89-96. The first word of this section, le-olam, “unto forever,” sets the whole tone and opens the window on what the psalmist urges us to see. God is […]

Wineskin questions

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist, who depicts himself as an exhausted wineskin in his persecution, asks two questions that are at the heart of this section (koph) of Psalm 119. They are found in v. 84, and they are not questions of doubt […]

Wineskin resolution

posted by xscot mcknight

I don’t know much about wineskins, but I know this wineskin, our psalmist, was resolute. If he sees himself as an exhausted, depressed wineskin, he is one tough wineskin. [Note: a reader explained the image of a “smoked wineskin” to […]

Wineskin problems

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist depicts himself like a parched wineskin being dried out in a smoker. What are his problems? People. Notice these:

Wineskin hope

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist is parched and his only hope is moisture if the skin is to survive. How does he cope? What can he do? Notice these words:

Wineskin hope

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist is parched and his only hope is moisture if the skin is to survive. How does he cope? What can he do? Notice these words:

Wineskin condition

posted by xscot mcknight

It might not be our image today, but it was the psalmist’s image: “I am like a wineskin in the smoke” (119:83). Or as the JPS translator has it: “Though I have become like a water-skin dried in smoke.” What […]

Established in the face of opposition

posted by xscot mcknight

No one who reads the Psalter can fail to observe how frequently the psalmists are opposed. Here he refers to the insolent, the seethingly rebellious, and he knows they are the opposite of those who “fear” God. Notice 119:78:”Let the […]

Established for one another

posted by xscot mcknight

“Those who fear You will see me and rejoice” (Ps. 119:74) and “May those who fear You… turn again to me” (119:79). Friendship of the “fearful”, friendship of those who fear God.

Established for a purpose

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist, in 119:73 knows that God’s hands have “firmed him up” — the way the sun is “fixed” in the sky at midday, the way pillars hold up the building, and the way a king has been established on […]

Good humbling

posted by xscot mcknight

“It was good for me that I was humbled, so that I might learn Your laws” (119:71). Abraham learned this in Egypt; Moses learned this in the wilderness; neither Saul nor Solomon evidently did; David sure did. Josiah learned it […]

Gooder than gold

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist knows God is good and that everything that comes from him is good. Notice these:

Good taste

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist prays for “good moral taste/judgment” (Hebrew taam) in 119:66 — along with good knowledge. We might ponder what we have a good taste for:

Good days

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist acknowledges that the Lord has “done good” or “treated him well” — though I think the psalmist is much less interested in “how” (well) God has treated him and more with “what” (good) God has done to him. […]

Earth-filling Love

posted by xscot mcknight

I love these words: “The earth is filled with your love, LORD; teach me your decrees” (119:64).

Companions

posted by xscot mcknight

A theme verse for the Evangelical Covenant Church, the sponsor of North Park University and the seminary, is Psalm 119:63:

Houdini

posted by xscot mcknight

Erik Weisz was the great Houdini — no matter how they tied him up, he could escape. He had, of course, all kinds of secrets to his clever ways, but always he managed to get out of the bonds. The […]

Post-haste

posted by xscot mcknight

The expression “post-haste” was something I once heard from a teacher and it followed a request to go to some office to get something. “And do it post-haste.” I thought about the meaning of that expression then about as often […]

Relaxing in God

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist’s journey is clear: he has been faithful to God; those around him who should know better have not been faithful; they have opposed him; the psalmist has complained bitterly to God about his situation; he has called on […]

Remembering God’s name

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist tells us that he remember’s God’s name at night. Night prayer … a common idea in the Bible is set prayers at set times.

Raging prayers

posted by xscot mcknight

I am struck by Psalm 119:53: “I am seized with rage because of the wicked who forsake Your teaching.” Why?

Reminding God

posted by xscot mcknight

If memory has the capacity to heal us if we remember truthfully and remember in light of what God is doing in this world, then reminding God of our condition is a way both to discover who we are and […]

God Remembers

posted by xscot mcknight

Psalm 119:49 is the kind of hope we find in all those who long for redemption, who long for God to make God’s glory present, and who yearn for justice. In fact, people like Mary and Simeon and Anna — […]

Torah Joy

posted by xscot mcknight

Psalm 119:45 and 47 are delightful lines: “I will walk about at ease” and “I will delight in Your commandments.” That first line is evocative.

Going Public

posted by xscot mcknight

Psalm 119:44-48 is an interplay between “going public” about commitment to Torah and the joy that comes from that Torah. The going public can be found in vv. 44, 46, 48, and the joy in vv. 45 and 47. Today […]

Hoping in Rules

posted by xscot mcknight

When we combine the Reformation (e.g, esp Lutheran) antithesis of law and gospel with pietism’s and Liberalism’s and the Western democracy’s sense of individual freedom, it is not hard to predict that many will find “rules” difficult expressions for genuine […]

Getting Tongue-tied

posted by xscot mcknight

Psalm 119:43 is odd: “Never take your word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws.” My rabbi commentary, by Samson Hirsch, says this: “Do not make it appear as if my mouth had […]

Manifold Mercy Manifested

posted by xscot mcknight

God’s manifold mercy, God’s lovingkindness that embraces us in our manifold needs, is the hope of the psalmist in the next section (waw-section; 119:41-48). His prayer: “May your steadfast love reach me.”

The Yearning of Learning

posted by xscot mcknight

“How I long for your precepts! In your righteousness preserve my life” (Ps 119:40). To long for (taev) is how the psalmist caps this section of the psalm. He yearns for God’s precepts.

The Turnings of Learning

posted by xscot mcknight

We are fond of the word “repent” at times, and we learn that the Hebrew behind our “repent” is to turn (shuv). But that is not the word used in Psalm 119:36-37, but its central idea is present in these […]

The Purpose of Learning

posted by xscot mcknight

I am as guilty of this as anyone, and many of us “theological types” are the same: we read in order to learn, in order to know, and in order to master. Scripture, however, is God’s communication with humans, with […]

The Source of Learning

posted by xscot mcknight

If the posture of learning is to listen, the source of our learning, the source to whom we listen as we listen to the Bible being read, is God. There is a danger in some circles to equate Bible with […]

The posture of learning

posted by xscot mcknight

The “he” section of Psalm 119 (vv. 33-40) notably puts the psalmist in the posture of learning. The verbs are so clear in this psalm:

Heart at ease

posted by xscot mcknight

I find Psalm 119:32 fascinating. TNIV: “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” JPS: “I eagerly pursue your commandments, for you broaden my understanding.” Hirsch: “I shall walk once again with vigor […]

Psalm 119 on Thanksgiving

posted by xscot mcknight

This week’s prayer from the Daily Hours: Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant me so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that I may embrace and ever hold […]

I Have Decided

posted by xscot mcknight

Psalm 119:25-32, the “D” sentences of this Hebrew acrostic psalm, contains commitments. The psalmist announces to God in prayer the equivalent of our “I Have Decided.” Notice the following commitments:

Give me life!

posted by xscot mcknight

At times the psalmist of 119 expresses his pain. In v. 25 he asserts that his soul clings to the dust. In vs. 28 he claims that he is “racked with grief.” Of course, we don’t know why he says […]

Psalm 119 and SBL

posted by xscot mcknight

I spent Friday through Sunday in Washington, DC, at the Annual Meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature — and on Friday I was at the Evangelical Theological Society. Because I have been pondering Psalm 119 the last month or […]

My friends

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist declares his friends: “your decrees (edah) are my delight (shashua), my intimate companions (enosh etsah) — my friends who counsel me” (119:24).

Royal pains

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist’s longing to know God through the study and observance of Torah is not without opposition. He is aware of those who are “insolent” (119:21) and stray from the commandments. Even more, he experiences “taunt and abuse” (v. 22) […]

Consumed?

posted by xscot mcknight

“My soul,” the psalmist announces, “is consumed in its longing for Your mishpatim/commandments” (119:20). Actually, the word “consumed” means “crushed” (garas). My soul, he says, is broken into pieces because it so longs to commune with God through hearing from […]

Foreigner in the Land

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist, in 119:19, tells us this: “I am only a sojourner in the land.” At first blush, this would mean he is a Gentile (ger ‘anoki) dwelling for awhile in the Land of Israel. On top of this, he […]

Open my eyes

posted by xscot mcknight

Humans, the psalmist seems to assume, have veiled eyes. To see, the veil must be lifted. “Open (galah) my eyes, that I may perceive…”. Here the words of Balaam in Numbers 22:31: “Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he […]

Longing to live for praxis

posted by xscot mcknight

Psalm 119:17 is both a little request and a world of insight. “Do good to your servant, and I will live; I will obey your word.” That first verb, “Do good,” brings one element of the verb gml to the […]

Absorption

posted by xscot mcknight

A meditation on the experience of the psalmist in Psalm 119, esp vv. 1-16. I take the key idea of this psalm to be absorption. I see this in three directions:

Word pleasure

posted by xscot mcknight

The pleasure the psalmist speaks of in Psalm 119:14-15 is not simply the mental exhilaration of study and discovery — the sort of thing many experience when they chance upon something previously unseen in the Bible, which I think is […]

Learning law

posted by xscot mcknight

Psalm 119:12-13 expresses the psalmists commitment — to learn the law and to rehearse the rules. Thus:”Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.”

With my whole heart

posted by xscot mcknight

“With all my heart,” the psalmist says in 119:10, “I have turned to You; do not let me stray from Your commandments. In my heart I treasure your promise.” Commitment to God, a life absorbed in Torah, begins in the […]

Getting started young

posted by xscot mcknight

“How can those who are young keep their way pure?,” asks the psalmist in the opening line of the Beth lines of Psalm 119 (v. 9a). Some think the entire psalm is the journal reflections of an ancient Israelite as […]

Torah as Mirror

posted by xscot mcknight

I am impressed this morning with Psalm 119:5-6: “Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.” What impresses me is that desire (v. 5) […]

Negative and Positive

posted by xscot mcknight

Psalm 119:3 says “They have done no wrong, but have followed God’s ways.” The one whose identity is shaped by Torah, by the revealing words from God, are characterized by (at least) two attributes:

Thinking it through

posted by xscot mcknight

Commentaries on Psalm 119 fade. That is, they treat each paragraph in sum and make only brief comments. I suppose this saves space because Psalm 119 can be treated as 22 individual psalms. Today I’ll look at the flow of […]

A Medley called Psalm 119

posted by xscot mcknight

Psalm 119, captured by some as Torah piety, is a “medley of praise, prayer and wisdom” (R. Allen, Psalms 101-150, Word). This Psalm, noted above by it being an acrostic with eight lines beginning with the same Hebrew letter (vv. […]

Established for a purpose

posted by xscot mcknight

The psalmist, in 119:73 knows that God’s hands have “firmed him up” — the way the sun is “fixed” in the sky at midday, the way pillars hold up the building, and the way a king has been established on […]

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