Pleas and Praises

Pleas and Praises March 30, 2007

The last verse of Psalm 119, which marks the end of this series, surprises:
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek out your servant,
for I do not forget your commandments (119:176).
For the first time in the entire psalm — that I recall — the psalmist admits that he’s messed up. Or does he? Samson Raphael Hirsch, a rabbinic commentator, translates like this: “If I have strayed.” Not “I have gone astray” but if I have strayed.

Even if we make the last verse conditional, the central themes continue to emerge: “seek out your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.” Seek me out God — the psalmist seems to be saying — when I wander away. Why? Because, even if I wander, I have not intended to wander.
Perhaps there’s a better explanation: perhaps the wandering is not moral but geographical — that is, I’ve gotten myself caught in the middle of those who deny your Torah. Find me, God, and deliver me. Why? Because I’ve been faithful.


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  • Scot, Yes we’re so dependent on God. The older I get the more I realize that. We’re very much dependent on him for his daily deliverance and our part is to remain in faith in him and in being faithful to him. This is often tested, but as we work through those tests we can by his help end up more “confirmed” in this.
    Thanks again so much for this series. I’ve really been living in the psalms quite a bit lately, largely thanks to these postings, I believe.

  • Yes, Scot, thank you for this series. Psalm 119 has always been one of my favorites, and it has been nice to take a long, leisurely stroll through it these past months.

  • The end of 119. Oh, Lord, give me more. There is not near enough to fill me with an abandonment to You. Now that I’ve said all I can say about honoring, loving, adhering to, and clinging to Your precepts, I find myself at the end of my own thinking on the subject. Because I have looked into that mirror, do not let me forget the reflection for which you brought me there in the first place. Keep me and seek after me, do not allow me to stray upon another’s pathway or trust another’s guidelines. Keep me ever mindful, Lord, that Your ways are the only ways in which I am to follow. Lead me not into temptation of knowledge of man, of philosophical meanderings. Keep me from all evil and make Your light to ever shine before me. selahV Thanks, Scot

  • Andrew

    I have loved this series, soaking up your take on this passage. As with everyone else, thanks!
    Do you plan on publishing this in book form sometime? (It’s not like you are lacking for resume materials!!)
    Thanks again!

  • No book here, but we are in need of someone’s writing of a nice solid exegetical commentary on Ps 119.