Allen Ross on Psalm 119

As promised in a recent review on this blog, here are some quotes on Psalm 119 from A Commentary on the Psalms: Volume 3 by Allen Ross. I especially like this Psalm and I really appreciate how he treated it.

Psalm 119 has not received the kind of attention that it deserves. For many students of the Bible its massive size and apparent repetition is off—putting. This is reflected in a number of commentaries and studies as well. Leopold Sabourin, for example, says, “Tedious repetitions, poor thought-sequence, apparent lack of inspiration reflect the artificiality of the composition.” Anderson calls it monotonous, but impressive in many ways. Weiser considers it a purely literary composition that is wearisome in its repetition of motifs—and one that opens the way for later legalism; he offers no commentary on the text. But most would agree with Breuggemann that it is a massive achievement.

Finding himself in persecution from powerful people who ridicule his faith in an effort to shame him into abandoning it, the psalmist strengthens himself by his detailed meditations on the Word of the LORD, which is his comfort, his prized possession, his rule of life, his resource for strength, and his message of hope, all of which inspire him to desire it even more, to live by it, and to pray for its fulfillment.

If people simply read through Psalm 119 quickly they most likely will conclude it is a repetitious and random collection of meditations on the Word of God. But if they take time to study each stanza in sequence, they will discover how each of the stanzas forms a complete meditation with certain themes and emphases. They will also see how the collection builds on the themes from stanza to stanza to develop a general flow to the message. To gain a full appreciation for this amazing work one must study it carefully from beginning to end, stanza by stanza.

As a major resource for meditation this psalm is superb. It reveals how divine revelation is the basis for everything that the believer does; but it also shows how the Word of the LORD is applied in all the circumstances of life.

Commentary on Psalms by Ross Vol 3

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