This is the longest psalm and the longest chapter in the entire bible. I’m sure glad no one has (I hope) ever used this for a hymn – that would be an endurance test.
There’s a reason it’s so long – it’s an acrostic, written in stanzas. Each stanza has 8 verses, and each of the verses in each stanza starts with the same letter. The letters beginning each stanza follow the Hebrew alphabet in order, from A to Z; in Hebrew, that’s from Aleph to Taw. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet: 22 X 8 = 176 verses.
So what’s it about? Here, I can sum it up in a few lines. It’s an ode to obedience:
- People who follow god’s laws are good.
- I will try to follow god’s laws. They will give me good advice.
- God, please teach me your laws. I will spend my life trying to follow them. Sometimes I might screw up, but I will keep trying.
- Please shower me with your love and punish my enemies for me.
- I tremble in fear of you (there’s that fear theme again!).
- You are righteous and your laws are wonderful. I am worthless (v 141) but you are always right.
- Listen to my cry; hear my prayer; please help me.
I think that pretty much covers all the significant points. 176 verses of simpering, ass-kissing adulation. The relationship of a slave to his master, or a dog to its owner. Disgusting.