The Bible – Old Testament
1 Happy those whose way is blameless, who walk by the teaching of the LORD.
Happy those who observe God’s decrees, who seek the LORD with all their heart.
They do no wrong; they walk in God’s ways.
You have given them the command to keep your precepts with care.
May my ways be firm in the observance of your laws!
Then I will not be ashamed to ponder all your commands.
I will praise you with sincere heart as I study your just edicts.
I will keep your laws; do not leave me all alone.
How can the young walk without fault? Only by keeping your words.
With all my heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your commands.
In my heart I treasure your promise, that I may not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your laws.
With my lips I recite all the edicts you have spoken.
I find joy in the way of your decrees more than in all riches.
I will ponder your precepts and consider your paths.
In your laws I take delight; I will never forget your word.
Be kind to your servant that I may live, that I may keep your word.
Open my eyes to see clearly the wonders of your teachings.
2 I am a sojourner in the land; do not hide your commands from me.
At all times my soul is stirred with longing for your edicts.
With a curse you rebuke the proud who stray from your commands.
Free me from disgrace and contempt, for I observe your decrees.
Though princes meet and talk against me, your servant studies your laws.
Your decrees are my delight; they are my counselors.
I lie prostrate in the dust; give me life in accord with your word.
I disclosed my ways and you answered me; teach me your laws.
Make me understand the way of your precepts; I will ponder your wondrous deeds.
I weep in bitter pain; in accord with your word to strengthen me.
Lead me from the way of deceit; favor me with your teaching.
The way of loyalty I have chosen; I have set your edicts before me.
I cling to your decrees, LORD; do not let me come to shame.
3 I will run the way of your commands, for you open my docile heart.
LORD, teach me the way of your laws; I shall observe them with care.
Give me insight to observe your teaching, to keep it with all my heart.
Lead me in the path of your commands, for that is my delight.
Direct my heart toward your decrees and away from unjust gain.
Avert my eyes from what is worthless; by your way give me life.
For your servant fulfill your promise made to those who fear you.
Turn away from me the taunts I dread, for your edicts bring good.
See how I long for your precepts; in your justice give me life.
Let your love come to me, LORD, salvation in accord with your promise.
Let me answer my taunters with a word, for I trust in your word.
Do not take the word of truth from my mouth, for in your edicts is my hope.
I will keep your teachings always, for all time and forever.
I will walk freely in an open space because I cherish your precepts.
I will speak openly of your decrees without fear even before kings.
I delight in your commands, which I dearly love.
4 I lift up my hands to your commands; I study your laws, which I love.
Remember your word to your servant by which you give me hope.
This is my comfort in affliction, your promise that gives me life.
Though the arrogant utterly scorn me, I do not turn from your teaching.
When I recite your edicts of old I am comforted, LORD.
Rage seizes me because of the wicked; they forsake your teaching.
Your laws become my songs wherever I make my home.
Even at night I remember your name in observance of your teaching, LORD.
This is my good fortune, for I have observed your precepts.
My portion is the LORD; I promise to keep your words.
I entreat you with all my heart: have mercy on me in accord with your promise.
I have examined my ways and turned my steps to your decrees.
I am prompt, I do not hesitate in keeping your commands.
Though the snares of the wicked surround me, your teaching I do not forget.
At midnight I rise to praise you because your edicts are just.
I am the friend of all who fear you, of all who keep your precepts.
The earth, LORD, is filled with your love; teach me your laws.
You have treated your servant well, according to your word, O LORD.
Teach me wisdom and knowledge, for in your commands I trust.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I hold to your promise.
You are good and do what is good; teach me your laws.
The arrogant smear me with lies, but I observe your precepts with all my heart.
Their hearts are gross and fat; as for me, your teaching is my delight.
It was good for me to be afflicted, in order to learn your laws.
Teaching from your lips is more precious to me than heaps of silver and gold.
Your hands made me and fashioned me; give me insight to learn your commands.
Those who fear you rejoice to see me, because I hope in your word.
I know, LORD, that your edicts are just; though you afflict me, you are faithful.
May your love comfort me in accord with your promise to your servant.
Show me compassion that I may live, for your teaching is my delight.
Shame the proud for oppressing me unjustly, that I may study your precepts.
Let those who fear you turn to me, those who acknowledge your decrees.
May I be wholehearted toward your laws, that I may not be put to shame.
My soul longs for your salvation; I put my hope in your word.
My eyes long to see your promise. When will you comfort me?
I am like a wineskin shriveled by smoke, but I have not forgotten your laws.
How long can your servant survive? When will your edict doom my foes?
The arrogant have dug pits for me; defying your teaching.
All your commands are steadfast. Help me! I am pursued without cause.
They have almost ended my life on earth, but I do not forsake your precepts.
In your kindness give me life, to keep the decrees you have spoken.
5 Your word, LORD, stands forever; it is firm as the heavens.
Through all generations your truth endures; fixed to stand firm like the earth.
By your edicts they stand firm to this day, for all things are your servants.
Had your teaching not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts; through them you give me life.
I am yours; save me, for I cherish your precepts.
The wicked hope to destroy me, but I pay heed to your decrees.
I have seen the limits of all perfection, but your command is without bounds.
How I love your teaching, Lord! I study it all day long.
Your command makes me wiser than my foes, for it is always with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers, because I ponder your decrees.
I have more insight than my elders, because I observe your precepts.
I keep my steps from every evil path, that I may obey your word.
From your edicts I do not turn, for you have taught them to me.
How sweet to my tongue is your promise, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I gain insight; therefore I hate all false ways.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
I make a solemn vow to keep your just edicts.
I am very much afflicted, LORD; give me life in accord with your word.
Accept my freely offered praise; LORD, teach me your decrees.
My life is always at risk, but I do not forget your teaching.
The wicked have set snares for me, but from your precepts I do not stray.
Your decrees are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
My heart is set on fulfilling your laws; they are my reward forever.
I hate every hypocrite; your teaching I love.
You are my refuge and shield; in your word I hope.
Depart from me, you wicked, that I may observe the commands of my God.
Sustain me by your promise that I may live; do not disappoint me in my hope.
Strengthen me that I may be safe, ever to contemplate your laws.
You reject all who stray from your laws, for vain is their deceit.
Like dross you regard all the wicked on earth; therefore I love your decrees.
My flesh shudders with dread of you; I hold your edicts in awe.
I have fulfilled your just edict; do not abandon me to my oppressors.
Guarantee your servant’s welfare; do not let the arrogant oppress me.
My eyes long to see your salvation and the justice of your promise.
Act with kindness toward your servant; teach me your laws.
I am your servant; give me discernment that I may know your decrees.
It is time for the LORD to act; they have disobeyed your teaching.
Truly I love your commands more than the finest gold.
Thus I follow all your precepts; every wrong way I hate.
Wonderful are your decrees; therefore I observe them.
The revelation of your words sheds light, gives understanding to the simple.
I sigh with open mouth, yearning for your commands.
Turn to me and be gracious, your edict for lovers of your name.
Steady my feet in accord with your promise; do not let iniquity lead me.
Free me from human oppression, that I may keep your precepts.
Let your face shine upon your servant; teach me your laws.
My eyes shed streams of tears because your teaching is not followed.
You are righteous, LORD, and just are your edicts.
You have issued your decrees in justice and in surpassing faithfulness.
I am consumed with rage, because my foes forget your words.
Your servant loves your promise; it has been proved by fire.
Though belittled and despised, I do not forget your precepts.
Your justice is forever right, your teaching forever true.
Though distress and anguish come upon me, your commands are my delight.
Your decrees are forever just; give me discernment that I may live.
I call with all my heart, O LORD; answer me that I may observe your laws.
I call to you to save me that I may keep your decrees.
I rise before dawn and cry out; I put my hope in your words.
My eyes greet the night watches as I meditate on your promise.
Hear my voice in your love, O LORD; by your edict give me life.
Malicious persecutors draw near me; they are far from your teaching.
You are near, O LORD; reliable are all your commands.
Long have I known from your decrees that you have established them forever.
Look at my affliction and rescue me, for I have not forgotten your teaching.
Take up my cause and redeem me; for the sake of your promise give me life.
Salvation is far from sinners because they do not cherish your laws.
Your compassion is great, O LORD; in accord with your edicts give me life.
Though my persecutors and foes are many I do not turn from your decrees.
I view the faithless with loathing, because they do not heed your promise.
See how I love your precepts, LORD; in your kindness give me life.
Your every word is enduring; all your just edicts are forever.
Princes persecute me without reason, but my heart reveres only your word.
I rejoice at your promise, as one who has found rich spoil.
Falsehood I hate and abhor; your teaching I love.
Seven times a day I praise you because your edicts are just.
Lovers of your teaching have much peace; for them there is no stumbling block.
I look for your salvation, LORD, and I fulfill your commands.
I observe your decrees; I love them very much.
I observe your precepts and decrees; all my ways are before you.
Let my cry come before you, LORD; in keeping with your word give me discernment.
Let my prayer come before you; rescue me according to your promise.
May my lips pour forth your praise, because you teach me your laws.
May my tongue sing of your promise, for all your commands are just.
Keep your hand ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
I long for your salvation, LORD; your teaching is my delight.
Let me live to praise you; may your edicts give me help.
I have wandered like a lost sheep; seek out your servant, for I do not forget your commands.
1 [Psalm 119] This psalm, the longest by far in the psalter, praises God for giving such splendid laws and instruction for people to live by. The author glorifies and thanks God for the Torah, prays for protection from sinners enraged by others’ fidelity to the law, laments the cost of obedience, delights in the law’s consolations, begs for wisdom to understand the precepts, and asks for the rewards of keeping them. Several expected elements do not appear in the psalm: Mount Sinai with its story of God’s revelation and gift to Israel of instruction and commandments, the temple and other institutions related to revelation and laws (frequent in other psalms). The psalm is fascinated with God’s word directing and guiding human life. The poem is an acrostic; its twenty-two stanzas (of eight verses each) are in the order of the Hebrew alphabet. Each of the eight verses within a stanza begins with the same letter. Each verse contains one word for “instruction.” The translation here given attempts to translate each Hebrew word for “instruction” with the same English word. There are, however, nine words for “instruction,” not eight, so the principle of a different word for “instruction” in each verse cannot be maintained with perfect consistency. The nine words for “instruction” in the translation are: law, edict, command, precept, word, utterance, way, decree, and teaching.
2  A sojourner in the land: like someone without the legal protection of a native inhabitant, the psalmist has a special need for the guidance of God’s teaching.
3  For you open my docile heart: literally, “you make broad my heart.”
4  I lift up my hands to your commands: to lift up the hands was an ancient gesture of reverence to God. Here the picture is applied to God’s law.
5 [89-91] God’s word creates the world, which manifests that word by its permanence and reliability.