Psalm 119:169-176 Taw A prayer and brief note

Lord, I am lost. I can’t see you right now, so I need you to hear my voice. I have said so much about your word. About keeping your word, Seeking your word. Loving your word. But now I need you to hear my word Lord. I need you to hear my voice, because I have wandered. In my cries for help, hear too my praise and rejoicing for the wisdom of your commands. Let your hand be quick to act upon what your ear hears. Look for me Lord! Save me that I may continue to praise you.


The declaration of lostness at the end of Psalm 119 is startling. “Save me” is often cried out. But it is the cry of relief from persecutors, oppression, and affliction. When I read the last verse, I was struck by how little confession of sin and guilt there is in 119. Now I feel as if I need to go back through the Psalm to see if I was missing it or if my stomach was just so full of food from Thanksgiving it started pushing things out of my brain.

Psalm 119:161-168 Sin/Shin A Prayer

What is the good of loving your words? Such love strengthens me to stand against foes. Loving your law teaches me to hate lies. Such live gives me peace and stability. It is from love that I obey. So hearing you speak is the treasure at the end of a journey. Not a minute passes by when I don’t have reason to praise your guidance. O Lord, you are my hope. I desire to do all you tell me to do because you are the one speaking. You are the one who sees all of my steps.

Psalm 119:153-160 Resh A Prayer

O Lord you are my great and merciful defender and savior. You have promised to give me life on your terms. While I love your ways, it is your love for me that gives me life. I’m in some trouble here, but I am not forgetting what you promised or leaving the guidance of your truths. The wicked, on the other hand, flee salvation as they fly from your commands. Disgust me with their sin. I’ve added it all up and know your word is true. Everything you say lasts to the ages of ages.

Psalm 119:145-152 Qoph A Prayer

I am calling to you and crying O Lord. Why don’t you answer and save me so I may show obedience your rules. I am getting up before the sun and everyone else in my family to cry for help; to look for hope in your word; and to fill my mind with your promises. So hear me Lord! Give me life in the faithful mercy of your justice.  People running from your law are running at me with evil. But you are already here Lord. Your truths remain- never coming and going.

Psalm 119:137-144 Tsade A Prayer

O Lord your righteousness is righteous. How this cheers my heart and lifts my soul! Your rightness is right. Not because it is better than someone else’s. Not because it is the best course of action at the time. Your righteousness is right. So all the words you speak are right. Your rules are right. Your truths are always faithful because they are right. Your forever righteousness is faithful. Your law and testimonies are right, faithful, and forever. This gladdens my heart in the midst of trouble and anguish.

Psalm 119:129-136 Pe A prayer

My soul is in awe of your truth. Your word is overwhelming; it floods my mind with light, dispelling the gloom of folly. Your commandments quench my thirst for meaning. Keep me from disaster by keeping every step I take faithful to your promise. Give me patience with the long walk of obedience even when you bless others with quick success, while others seem to prosper in iniquity. Give me eyes to see long and a back to stand strong. Give me grace to mourn the sin of others while cheering me with the light of your face.

Psalm 119:121-128 ‘Ayin A Prayer and notes

Lord I am trying to be fair and do the right thing, but it is hard when I get in trouble and am persecuted for doing so. So I really want to see you act on my behalf. I want to see you keep your promises. If you do, I know it is not because I deserve it. You don’t owe me. But you love me, and your love never fails. Keep on teaching about your love and how it is stronger than the difficulties I encounter. But sometimes I don’t know how much longer I can wait Lord. I don’t know how much longer you can wait. What you tell me to do is better than all the enticements of the world. Show me your law is love.


It has been a few days. I did not give up the task; there are just some things going on now that kept me from completing this octave. So here is a little more than usual as a peace offering.

The stanzas follow a 2+1+2+1+2 pattern.

The first couplet of 121 and 122 is united thematically by the triple mention of just, right, and good. They are united linguistically by the 2 mentions of oppression (same Hebrew word). They are also united by the lack in either stanza of any of the recurring terms for God’s word (cf. 119:90-91).

The middle couplet of 124 and 125 are united thematically by the triple mention of teach me, understanding, and that I may know.  They are united linguistically by the 2 mentions of your servant.

The last couplet of 127 and 128 is united thematically by the contrast between love and hate.

The individual stanzas of 123 and 126 do share a thematic bond of waiting for the Lord to do what he said he will do.

Given this, perhaps an A-B-C-B’-A’ structure can be proposed something along the lines of:

A I have done what is right in spite of oppression

B I am waiting for you to keep your word

C I renounce my will to know the love of your word

B’ I am waiting for you to act

A’ I have loved what is right instead of lies

Psalm 119:113-120 Samekh A prayer

Give me right affections my God. With love for your law give me disdain for those who know it and ignore it. Grow my love for all your truths and help me see the lies of the wicked are worthless. It is not them, not the evil doers, nor those who go astray that I fear; it is you. Your judgment I cannot endure. Lift me up to life and hold me in safety. Make your word my hope.

Psalm 119:105-112 Nun A prayer

Your word, O Lord, lights my way one step at a time. I am directed to your rules in worship. They fill my mouth and I rejoice to give you praise for all you have taught me. I need the light of your word because darkness surrounds me. I don’t forget your law which is always with me. I don’t leave the path you have laid out, even though adversaries fill it with traps. Whatever happens to me, I know the eternal inheritance you have waiting for me. Such promises fill me with joy. Joy that overflows in obedience. Keep me faithful to the end.

Psalm 119:97-104 Thoughts and a prayer

Mem maddens the meditator trying to draw thematic connections.  The middle verses are clear enough. Stanzas 98-100 all revolve around the thematic couplet of intellectual spiritual life and “greater than” comparisons. The poet is wiser than enemies, has more understanding than all his teachers, and understands more than his elders. All because God’s word is his meditation.

Stanzas 101-102 turn from contemplation to action. Both verses focus on the walk of living God’s word. Feet are held back from every evil way and God’s rules are not turned away from.

Verse 100 actually transitions from contemplation to action by mentioning “keep your word.” Verse 102 actually calls back to contemplation after action by saying “you have taught me.” So 98-102 is a tight 3+2 exposition of the value of knowing and doing God’s word.

Things get a little fuzzy at the edges though.

Not so much with the first verse of the octave. After proclaiming love for God’s law, the poet makes it “my meditation all the day.” This certainly fits well with 98-100 as “my meditation” is repeated in verse 99. As previously mentioned, 98-100 all focus on the mental aspect of approaching God’s word. So perhaps our 3+2 is now 4+2.

And really, the last verse isn’t too bad. Stanza 104 seems to tie both concentrations together. In the first line we have “understanding” just as we had twice in 98-100. In the second line hear “every false way” which seems a suitable echo to “every evil way” in verse 101. So again, contemplation and action.

But that pesky verse 103! It simply ruins the 4+4 we seem set up for:

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

The sentiment surely matches the very first line of the octave- “Oh how I love your law!” The declaration of satisfaction in God’s words certainly seems more at home in the first half of the octave which focuses on the inner life. The metaphor is lovely and vivid, but it intrudes in the second half focusing on action.

Upon pondering it, however, I suppose the interruption is a polite one. We like things neat and clean. We like our lines of demarcation, our boxes, definitions, and boundaries. Mem will not let this comfort remain undisturbed. There is no neat and clean line between contemplation and action, doctrine and devotion. We can’t schedule separate blocks of time to respond to God’s word in these ways. Love and duty are always crowding in on one another. One intruding on the other- not to move it out of the way but to strengthen and give life.

I understand more than elders because I keep your word. I don’t follow evil so I keep your word. To love God’s law with your mind and heart is to hate everything against God’s law with your feet. There is One Body.


Fill my days with love and my ways with obedience. Your word makes me more. More understanding, more knowledge, more wisdom  than friend or foe. But your word cannot be bound it must go forth. Your commands keep me on the right path and keep me walking. They keep me so I can keep them.  More. Give me more. Give me more love for your words: sweeter than honey, better than pie and a perfectly cold glass of milk! You instruct my mind and guide my deeds.