The “Golden Alphabet” Psalm

Note: Every Monday in 2013, along with another short chapter from the Book of Psalms, we are reading a stanza from Psalm 119.  

Hinterglasbild Psalm 119, 22 (Text) Hammerhof,...

Hinterglasbild Psalm 119, 22 (Text) Hammerhof, Deggenhausertal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm, as well as the longest chapter in the Bible (176 verses), and is a literary marvel of God’s majestic word.  If you use a search engine on the Internet, you will find many interesting things about this psalm of all psalms.  Charles Spurgeon, in his seven volume “Treasury of David,” said “The Germans called it ‘The Christian’s golden A B C of the praise, love, power, and use of the Word of God’.”  It is the ultimate acrostic, separated into 22 stanzas (or strophes), each containing eight verses.  Each of those stanzas begins every single verse of the stanza with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet, using all 22 letters of that alphabet in succession.  In most translations, the name of the Hebrew letter that a stanza represents serves as a heading over each stanza (Aleph, Beth, Gimel, Daleth, Heh, Vav, Zayin, Cheth, Teth, Yod, Kaph, Lamed, Mem, Nun, Samekh, Ayin, Peh, Tzaddi, Qoph, Resh, Shin, Tav).

The author and date that the psalm was written is unknown.  Spurgeon, Matthew Henry, and others extolled it as the work of David.  Others place the date sometime after Ezra, or in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.  Still others (such as Adam Clarke) favor at least a pre-Exilic date, if not Davidian authorship.  Some commentators have stated that the rigid acrostic structure which the author imposed upon himself made it difficult to maintain continuity of thought and theme.  Others who have been more diligent in their study come to a very different conclusion!

The structure makes it in actuality a compilation of 22 psalms that come together in harmony with one central theme.  It contains ten synonyms for the “law” or word of God (eleven, if you count “truth”) that are repeated in almost every single verse.  It is a guide-book to God’s word,  It teaches us (among other things) about the love of God, what His word is, what it means for us, how we should live in view of His word, how our lives are affected by it, and how others are affected by the way we treat God’s word.

Hebrew children in Jesus Christ’s time and before were taught to memorize this great psalm; and the acrostic structure, along with the element of song, made that task easier.  If God had so much work put into writing something as complex as this psalm, He must have had a good reason.  He did indeed.  A careful study of this psalm over the course of this year – or any year – will be certain to enrich your life!

Summing Up

Each weekend, I post a small PDF of one week of chapter summaries (on the website’s “Summaries” page), current to the beginning of the previous week.  I have posted the summary for Week 2 (January 2013 Week 2) of the schedule I am following this year.  This short PDF documents contains condensed comments about Proverbs 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9, with hyperlinks to the ESV version of each chapter for listening or reading, and joins the summaries for other weeks already posted there.

/Bob’s boy
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.


3 comments on “The “Golden Alphabet” Psalm

  1. Pingback: Verse of the Day 2-3-13 | ricklee's poetry plus

  2. Pingback: God is More than Enough by Tony Evans: A Review « Revolutionary Paideia

  3. Pingback: God, Motivate Me– Psalm 119, ה |

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