Psalms for Troubled Times – Psalm 119:169-176


Live Life by Praising God

I trust you’ve found our journey through this epic psalm to be profitable. It certainly is very practical, and there’s plenty for us to work on, whether in relation to personal character, social behaviour, or spiritual attitude and action.

I think it will be helpful to look back and summarise each section, and as we see the life of the Blessed Man set out in its fulness, we will be able to see which aspects we may need to work on, with the Lord’s help. For it’s one thing to read and enjoy God’s Word, but if we’ve learnt anything from this psalm, it is the Blessed Man’s continual exercise to put God’s Word into practice. It is only through this process that we are blessed.

Selfward Aspect – Personal Character

  1. Aleph – 1-8 – The Blessed Man
  2. Beth – 9-16 – The Holy Man
  3. Gimel – 17-24 – The Strengthened Man
  4. Daleth – 25-32 – The Hopeful Man
  5. He – 33-40 – The Obedient Man
  6. Vau – 41-48 – The Devoted Man
  7. Zain – 49-56 – The Faithful Man

Manward Aspect – Social Behaviour

  1. Cheth – 57-64 – The Satisfied Man
  2. Teth -65-72 – The Experienced Man
  3. Yod – 73-80 – The Assured Man
  4. Caph – 81-88 – The Enduring Man
  5. Lamed – 89-96 – The Disciplined Man
  6. Mem – 97-104 – The Wise Man
  7. Nun – 105-112 – The Joyful Man

Godward Aspect – Spiritual Attitude & Action

  1. Samech – 113-120 – The Godly Man
  2. Ain – 121-128 – The Humble Man
  3. Pe – 129-136 – The Wondering Man
  4. Tzaddi – 137-144 – The Righteous Man
  5. Koph- 145-152 – The Worshipping Man
  6. Resh- 153-160 – The Praying Man
  7. Schin – 161-168 – The Praising Man

Tau – The Lively Man

‘Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee’.


As we come to the end, seeking to put all these aspects of the spiritual life into practice, the psalmist has one last request: he wants to live, to really live, but how is this possible?

The world has its answers, often expressed in slogans: ‘live, and let live’, ‘living the dream’, ‘you only live once’, ‘live in the moment’, ‘live life loud’, ‘live, love, laugh’ … and while there may be some truth in all of these, on their own none of them fully satisfy our deepest longings and desires.

The whole point of Psalm 119, is to show us that the answer we are looking for is found, with the Lord’s help, in His precious Word.

And so in conclusion the psalmist cries unto the Lord in supplication: ‘give me understanding … deliver me, according to thy Word’ (v169,170). He knows that through the Word, he’ll understand God’s ‘righteousness’ (v172).

The world scoffs at God’s righteousness; see’s it as restrictive, and sadly in our time … rejoices in and promotes the breaking down of marriage, and the murder of precious unborn souls, to name a few examples. This is done foolishly, thinking it enables all to live life more fully, but in reality it is destroying the very foundations of life.

The psalmist has more wisdom than that, so he says: ‘let thine hand help me, for I have chosen thy precepts’ (v173).

He wants to live according to the righteous standards of God, for he knows that only when we come into line with these standards will we have the foundation and structure in our lives to fully live. But, desire after God’s righteousness is not enough, and the psalmist realised that he cannot reach this standard on his own: He longs for God’s ‘salvation’ (v174).

So while he prays for spiritual life, he is conscious that he has ‘gone astray like a lost sheep’ (v176). Of course, this is not limited to the psalmist, for ‘all we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned, everyone, to his own way, but …’ (Isaiah 53:6).

How precious that ‘but’ is? It tells us we are not forever lost. There is a shepherd who cares; a shepherd who seeks the lost; a ‘Good Shepherd’ who ‘giveth His life for the sheep’ (John 10:11). He has done this so we can be declared righteous; so that the lost ‘might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly’ (John 10:10).

This is the only foundation, the only way whereby we can fully live. And when we appreciate the reality of this truth, there is only one response: ‘My lips shall utter praise’ (v171).

And so, if we wanted a slogan for our Blessed Man’s outlook on life, it might be: ‘Live Life, Praise God’!

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