Duluth Church of Christ

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Psalm 119: Teach Me (33-40)
Lessons - Psalm 119

TEACH ME (119:33-40)



First John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”  This verse might well capsulize the eight verses before us today.  He wants teaching and understanding so that he can delight in doing right!

Understanding is needed in order to:

¨ Know what is commanded and what is forbidden.

¨ Avoid the snares laid before us in the way of duty.

¨ Do good works in their scriptural place, time and manner.

Let us meditate on these eight verses with a view to learning and understanding.  Let us decide to allow our godly emotions to be guided by good understanding.


MEMORY WORK:  Psalm 119:33-40.




v. 33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes—“Cast” or “throw” the things that I need in order to know the way that is evident from a proper view of Thy statutes.  This word “teach” (to cast) implies that he wants it all “out there” (broadcast) so he can do right by it.

and I shall keep it unto the end—The “end” has been taken to refer to the end of life or to the fact that a life which is pleasing to God is itself regarded a reward.

v. 34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law—How important is understanding?  How much of it do we need?  This writer knows that he cannot have correct views of the law without it!  And he knows the source of understanding, too.

yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart—Again we are reminded of the great power of individual affections (Matthew 6:19-34).  Let us do what we do “from the soul” (Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 3:23).

v. 35 Make me to go in the path of thy commandments—This verse reminds me of the true nature of God’s commandments, and that they ought to be seen for what they are (1 John 5:3).  This path has been used before, and it can be recommended as a happy way to go.

for therein do I delight—This spirit leads to going to and fro in life with joy, confidence, purpose, and a light that shows others that this ought to be “checked out” (Psalm 119:16).  How happy the person is who can truly say that he or she delights in Jehovah’s commandments!

v. 36 Incline my heart unto thy testimonies —Verses 36 and 37 are a contrast of values that reveals our hearts and exposes our priorities.  We must ask ourselves, “What do I want and why do I want it?”

and not to covetousness—“There is probably no principle so opposed to the Lord’s testimonies.  It casts out the principle of obedience, since the love of God cannot co-exist with the love of the world (1 John 2:15); and the desire to serve Mammon is a proof of unfaithfulness to God (Matt. 6:24)” (Bridges). 

v. 37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity—“Make this come to pass—I do not want to use my sense of sight to view the trivial. I know that looking can cause sin to lose its ugliness” (1 John 2:15-17; Job 31:1).  Controlling the eyes is essential if we are to seek God’s laws wholeheartedly.

  and quicken thou me in thy way—Now he is back to the positive, completing the four phrases of these two verses.  Life is possible only through the way of God (John 14:1-23).

v. 38 Stablish thy word unto thy servant—“Make your promise come true” in me and in my life.  My resource for being “raised up” is Thy word.  I want this confirmation so that I can have the confidence I need to live (Romans 12:1-2).

who is devoted to thy fear—The word “devoted” is not in the text.  A simple translation is, “That I may fear Thee.”  This fear is a fear of forsaking or offending God.  It leads to a true respect for His law and reverence for His name.

v. 39 Turn away my reproach which I fear—Some say this reproach (shame or dishonor) is that which he has to bear for choosing to serve God (Psalm 119:22,23,42); others refer it to the shame he would bear for his own failures.  Is there not some fear in us due to the persecutions we face?  And shouldn’t there be fear when we fail Our God?  Saul totally missed this point (see 1 Samuel 15:30).

for thy judgments are good—In any case, I will acknowledge the true character of the judgments of God, and be benefited by living up to my words (Psalm 119:13,20,30).

v. 40 Behold, I have longed after thy precepts—It is no wonder that a heart such as this poet had would long after the precepts of God—and this poem is a tribute to the wonderful character of God’s precepts.

quicken me in thy righteousness—The many things that the poet asks of God are constant reminders of the need for God’s graciousness at all times.  Life is not merely me and my Bible, it is me, my Bible, and the Gracious God of the Bible (Psalm 17:5; 1 John 3:2).




1. Teach (Psalm 119:33, 102): To cast; to guide, direct, or instruct in a right way or course of action.  This is the verb from which “torah” (law) is derived (Kirkpatrick, p. 710).

2. Understanding (Psalm 119:34; also Psalm 119:27,73,100,104,125,130,,144,169): To separate, to distinguish; hence, to discern, to mark, to understand, all which depend on the power of separating, distinguishing, discriminating.

3. Observe (Psalm 119:34): To keep, to watch, to guard; to keep in view; that is, not to violate.

4. Path (Psalm 119:35,105): Trodden, a trodden way, beaten path.

5. Incline (Psalm 119:36,112): “The word imports the action or motion of stretching or extending, expanding.  It is applied to the stretching out or extending the heart towards an object in regard, favour, mercy, compassion” (Wilson, p. 226).

6. Covetousness (Psalm 119:36): To cut and tear away, to plunder; to get by covetous, dishonest means.

7. Turn away (Psalm 119:37, 39): To pass, to cross over; used very widely of a transition.

8. Beholding (Psalm 119:37, 158): To see, look; the act of the senses.

9. Vanity (Psalm 119:37): Evil, specially falsehood, a lie; emptiness, vanity, nothingness; of idols; taking the name of God in vain (Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11).

10. Stablish (Psalm 119:38): To raise up.

11. Fear (Psalm 119:38, 63, 74, 79): To fear from an apprehension of danger and a sense of our own weakness.

12. Fear (Psalm 119:39): To live in fear of some evil that may befall us or others.




1. What things can “understanding” do (see the Introduction)?

2. How can “teaching” be defined as “casting” (Psalm 119:33)?

3. What are undivided affections (see Matthew 6:19-34)?  What are the dangers of divided affections?

4. In what connection does the author use the word “delight” (Psalm 119:35)?

5. Give two illustrations of contrasts in values (Psalm 119:36, 37).

6. Think of covetousness in light of Exodus 20:1-17; Luke 12:15-21; and Colossians 3:5.

7. What things are connected with the concept of “reproach”?

8. What things do people long after? What thing should people long after?