Bible Passage: Psalm 119:121-128

 121 I have done what is righteous and just; do not leave me to my oppressors.

 122 Ensure your servant's well-being; do not let the arrogant oppress me.

 123 My eyes fail, looking for your salvation, looking for your righteous promise.

 124 Deal with your servant according to your love and teach me your decrees.

 125 I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.

 126 It is time for you to act, LORD; your law is being broken.

 127 Because I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold,

 128 and because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path. (Ps. 119:121-128 NIV)

Key OT/NT passages on how this passage fits within the Bible story as a whole 

In creation, God not only places Adam and Eve in the garden, but gives them a moral command – they are not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:17). From that point on, his command is for his people to be holy as he is holy (Lev 19:2). Right and wrong are not just anchored in the LORD’s command, but in his character. For that reason, those who love him, love and value his commands (Psalm 119:121-128). In the New Testament, morality still originates from God himself, though that morality is universally suppressed (Romans 1:18). What sets apart the God of the Bible is that he both upholds right and wrong as judge, and at the same time, through the death of Jesus, counts people as morally blameless (Romans 3:26).

 

Brief note on context/key themes of book

 The book of Psalms is a collection of songs known as ‘tehilim’ or ‘praises’ in the Hebrew Bible. Psalm 119, in book 5, is a meditation on the law of God. More than that, it is an expression of pleasure in God’s word as delicious (v.103), delightful (v.143) and his treasure (v.162). God’s word is not only the source of right and wrong (v.128), but something to be greatly enjoyed.

 

Structure of the passage

 God’s words are valuable (v.127)

They are to be loved and desired, as a source of truth

 

God’s words set the standards of right and wrong (v.128)

The psalmist considers God’s precepts to be right – morality has an origin in the word of God

 

God’s words set a long-term direction (v.128)

God’s morality provides not just moral edicts, but a way of life and a path to follow

 

God’s words are all-encompassing (v.129)

Verse 128 says literally ‘Because I esteem right all your precepts concerning everything, I hate every false way. Living under God’s word is a whole-life response.

 

So look for God’s righteous promise (v.123)

Ultimately, we know that we are not righteous, and we depend fully on God’s righteous promise. In the New Testament, we see that as the promise of righteousness (Romans 3:21-26).

 

Summary of author’s main point

 Delight in God’s word as the precious source of right and wrong, and look for God’s righteous promise

 Aim/purpose for original audience

For Christians to delight in God’s word as the precious source of right and wrong, and look for God’s righteous promise in Christ

Aim/purpose for us today

For Christians to delight in God’s word as the precious source of right and wrong, and look for God’s righteous promise in Christ

Key area of application

In history, discussions were focussed on what morality flowed out from God’s character. More recent discussions have tried to base morality on something outside of God, whose very existence is doubted. Not only are those discussions ultimately futile, they have a problematic history of leading to oppression. Only a morality based in God’s words is reliable and delightful. Remarkably, where we have failed to keep God’s standards of right and wrong, he offers the possibility of being put right with him through Christ.