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Good you did for your servant, O Lord

Just as you spoke.

Fine taste and knowledge teach me

For it is your commandments that I trust.

Before I was afflicted, I went straying

But now … your word I keep.

Good are you, who does good:

Teach me your statutes.

Insolent liars smear me –-

I guard your precepts with my whole heart.

Unfeeling as fat is their heart —

I rejoice in your law.

Good it is for me that I was humbled,

Because I have learned your statutes.

Good it is for me, the law of your mouth

Better even than gold and silver.


 Hebrew text and translation notes: 

Psalm 119:65–72 (BHS/WHM 4.2)

65 ט֭וֹב עָשִׂ֣יתָ עִֽם־עַבְדְּךָ֑ יְ֝הוָ֗ה כִּדְבָרֶֽךָ׃

66 ט֤וּב טַ֣עַם וָדַ֣עַת לַמְּדֵ֑נִי כִּ֖י בְמִצְוֹתֶ֣יךָ הֶאֱמָֽנְתִּי׃

67 טֶ֣רֶם אֶ֭עֱנֶה אֲנִ֣י שֹׁגֵ֑ג וְ֝עַתָּ֗ה אִמְרָתְךָ֥ שָׁמָֽרְתִּי׃

68 טוֹב־אַתָּ֥ה וּמֵטִ֗יב לַמְּדֵ֥נִי חֻקֶּֽיךָ׃

69 טָפְל֬וּ עָלַ֣י שֶׁ֣קֶר זֵדִ֑ים אֲ֝נִ֗י בְּכָל־לֵ֤ב׀ אֱצֹּ֬ר פִּקּוּדֶֽיךָ׃

70 טָפַ֣שׁ כַּחֵ֣לֶב לִבָּ֑ם אֲ֝נִ֗י תּוֹרָתְךָ֥ שִֽׁעֲשָֽׁעְתִּי׃

71 טֽוֹב־לִ֥י כִֽי־עֻנֵּ֑יתִי לְ֝מַ֗עַן אֶלְמַ֥ד חֻקֶּֽיךָ׃

72 טֽוֹב־לִ֥י תֽוֹרַת־פִּ֑יךָ מֵ֝אַלְפֵ֗י זָהָ֥ב וָכָֽסֶף׃



ט֭וֹב עָשִׂ֣יתָ עִֽם־עַבְדְּךָ֑


Good you did to your servant.

A very similar phrase is found in 1 Kings 3:6:

6 וַיֹּ֣אמֶר שְׁלֹמֹ֗ה אַתָּ֨ה עָשִׂ֜יתָ עִם־עַבְדְּךָ֙

The LXX  has     with 1 Kings 3:6 in the LXX also uses. Poein + meta is not a common Greek construction [I could find no usage of this phrase outside of the LXX, 2 Kingdoms 3:6, 2 Chron. 1:8, 2 Chron. 2:2, Ps. 118:65], but it does translate the Hebrew rather directly.

The tet strophe fosters appreciation of aspects of Yahweh’s goodness (טוב). God’s past benefits and revealed character, the positive value of suffering, and the preciousness of the Torah are all themes of praise.

Leslie C. Allen, Psalms 101–150 (Revised), vol. 21, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 188.


יְ֝הוָ֗ה כִּדְבָרֶֽךָ׃

Lord, according to your word

YHWH: vocative. LXX has Kurie, vocative.

Ki=measure of God’s good action. Kata ton logon


ט֤וּב טַ֣עַם וָדַ֣עַת לַמְּדֵ֑נִי

Good/pleasant sense/discernment and knowledge teach me


Interesting word: HALOT has taste, sense, discernment, feeling & order/decree as the attested uses. The sense seems to be “taste” when used in English with reference to art: He has good taste in music.

Zemek translates the phrase “judgment and knowledge” but glosses it literally as “good taste and knowledge”.

Clinging believingly to the commandments of God, he is able confidently to pray that He would teach him “good discernment” and “knowledge.” טַעַם is ethically the capacity of distinguishing between good and evil, and of discovering the latter as it were by touch; טוּבטַעַם, good discernment, is a coupling of words like טוּבלֵב, a happy disposition, cheerfulness.


Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 5 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 741.

כִּ֖י בְמִצְוֹתֶ֣יךָ הֶאֱמָֽנְתִּי׃


For in your commandments I trust.

The ki gives the move for the prayer.

The beth marks the object which is trusted or believed, e.g., Genesis 15:6

וְהֶאֱמִ֖ן בַּֽיהוָ֑ה



Hifil: to trust, believe, rely upon: Numbers 14:11, Deut. 1:32, et cetera.


67 טֶ֣רֶם אֶ֭עֱנֶה אֲנִ֣י שֹׁגֵ֑ג

Before I was afflicted I straying


Before, as contrasted with “but now” in the second clause.

The verb means to be afflicted or humbled. It is an imperfect but it refers to a past time: “In the domain of the past the yiqtol expresses aspect only; repeated or durative action.  The time value of the form is only derived from the context.” Joun, 113e, 367.

The participle: “With reference to a past state of affairs, a participle may describe the circumstances accompanying a principal event” (Waltke & OConner, 37.6d, 625.  Going astray. HALOT notes   ,שׁגג: ? a by-form of שׁגה

If so, then this statement matches the statement in Psalm 119:21, “You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments.”

וְ֝עַתָּ֗ה אִמְרָתְךָ֥ שָׁמָֽרְתִּי׃

But now, your word I guard/keep

There is an interesting word play: imer/shamar.

The contrast between the past and now: He no longer wanders, now he guards the word.

טוֹב־אַתָּ֥ה וּמֵטִ֗יב

Good-you and making/causing good

God has brought him into this relationship to His word by humbling him, and thus setting him right out of his having gone astray. אִמְרָה in v. 67b, as in v. 11, is not God’s utterance conveying a promise, but imposing a duty. God is called טֹוב as He who is graciously disposed towards man, and מֵטִיב as He who acts out this disposition; this loving and gracious God he implores to become his Teacher. In his fidelity to God’s word he does not allow himself to be led astray by any of the lies which the proud try to impose upon him (Böttcher), or better absolutely (cf. Job 13:4): to patch together over him, making the true nature unrecognisable as it were by means of false plaster or whitewash (טָפַל, to smear over, bedaub, as the Targumic, Talmudic, and Syriac show)


Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 5 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 741.

לַמְּדֵ֥נִי חֻקֶּֽיךָ׃

Teach me your statutes.


טָפְל֬וּ עָלַ֣י שֶׁ֣קֶר זֵדִ֑ים

They smear me lie insolent sone

The BDB has “smear, plaster, stick, glue” – the lies have been smeared onto the psalmist. We have the idiom of “smearing” someone’s reputation.

אֲ֝נִ֗י בְּכָל־לֵ֤ב׀ אֱצֹּ֬ר פִּקּוּדֶֽיךָ׃

I, with a whole heart, I keep your precepts

A rather emphatic construction: Despite what they have done, I ….


טָפַ֣שׁ כַּחֵ֣לֶב לִבָּ֑ם

Unfeeling like fat the heart of them

The Ki is comparative: like fat.

The verb is 3rd person singular: it is their heart (a collective unity) in contrast to the “them” third person plural.


אֲ֝נִ֗י תּוֹרָתְךָ֥ שִֽׁעֲשָֽׁעְתִּי׃

I your law I rejoice in it

If the heart of these men, who by slander make him into a caricature of himself, is covered as it were with thick fat (a figure of insensibility and obduracy, 17:10; 73:7, Isa. 6:10, LXX ἐτυρώθη, Aquila ἐλιπάνθη, Symmachus ἐμυαλώθη) against all the impressions of the word of God, he, on the other hand, has his delight in the law of God (שִׁעֲשַׁע with an accusative of the object, not of that which is delighted, 94:19, but of that which delights). How beneficial has the school of affliction through which he has attained to this, been to him! The word proceeding from the mouth of God is now more precious to him than the greatest earthly riches.


Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 5 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 741.

טֽוֹב־לִ֥י כִֽי־עֻנֵּ֑יתִי

Good to me for I was afflicted.

Zemek notes that the translation could be either it is good or it was good.


Pual: I was afflicted.

לְ֝מַ֗עַן אֶלְמַ֥ד חֻקֶּֽיךָ׃

Because I learned your statutes.

The imperfect for past time indicates durative action: the learning took place over time.

טֽוֹב־לִ֥י תֽוֹרַת־פִּ֑יךָ

Good to me the law or your mouth

מֵ֝אַלְפֵ֗י זָהָ֥ב וָכָֽסֶף

From a thousand of gold and silver.

The comparative with min treats both the law and gold/silver as good; but the law is better. Waltke & OConner, 14.4d, 264.