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My souls seeks your salvation

For in your word, I hope.

My eyes seek your promise

Saying, when you will comfort me?

Though I have become like a wineskin in smoke

I do not forget your statutes.

How long the days of your servant!

When will your justice be done to my pursuers?

The mockers have dug a pit for me

Despite your law.

All your commandments are truefirm

-By lies they pursue me: Save me!

They have almost made an end of me on earth

Yet I will not abandon your statutes.

According to your steadfast love make me live

For I will keep the testimonies of your mouth.


Hebrew Text & Notes:

Psalm 119:81–88 (BHS/WHM 4.2)

81 כָּלְתָ֣ה לִתְשׁוּעָתְךָ֣ נַפְשִׁ֑י לִדְבָרְךָ֥ יִחָֽלְתִּי׃

82 כָּל֣וּ עֵ֭ינַי לְאִמְרָתֶ֑ךָ לֵ֝אמֹ֗ר מָתַ֥י תְּֽנַחֲמֵֽנִי׃

83 כִּֽי־הָ֭יִיתִי כְּנֹ֣אד בְּקִיט֑וֹר חֻ֝קֶּ֗יךָ לֹ֣א שָׁכָֽחְתִּי׃

84 כַּמָּ֥ה יְמֵֽי־עַבְדֶּ֑ךָ מָתַ֬י תַּעֲשֶׂ֖ה בְרֹדְפַ֣י מִשְׁפָּֽט׃

85 כָּֽרוּ־לִ֣י זֵדִ֣ים שִׁיח֑וֹת אֲ֝שֶׁ֗ר לֹ֣א כְתוֹרָתֶֽךָ׃

86 כָּל־מִצְוֹתֶ֥יךָ אֱמוּנָ֑ה שֶׁ֖קֶר רְדָפ֣וּנִי עָזְרֵֽנִי׃

87 כִּ֭מְעַט כִּלּ֣וּנִי בָאָ֑רֶץ וַ֝אֲנִ֗י לֹא־עָזַ֥בְתִּי פִקֻּודֶֽיךָ׃

88 כְּחַסְדְּךָ֥ חַיֵּ֑נִי וְ֝אֶשְׁמְרָ֗ה עֵד֥וּת פִּֽיךָ׃




כָּלְתָ֣ה לִתְשׁוּעָתְךָ֣ נַפְשִׁ֑י

Klh: to come to an end, be finished – vanish, fade away, perish

My soul fainteth for thy salvation (comp. Ps. 84:2). The phrase used expresses the most intense desire possible. But I hope in thy Word. (So also ver. 74.) While almost fainting, the psalmist is sustained by his hope and trust in God’s promises.


H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Psalms, vol. 3, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 108.

Whence learn, 1. It is not strange to see God breaking the heart of his own child with affliction, even when he is suffering persecution, that so his faith may be tried and trained to more strength: my soul fainteth. 2. A believer in God, how afflicted soever he be, seeketh not to be delivered, but in a way allowed by God: my soul fainteth for thy salvation: or, till thou deliver me in thy good way. 3. The strength of the faith of the strongest of God’s servants will prove but small, when affliction is great, and God’s help is delayed: my soul fainteth for thy salvation. 4. Albeit the faith of the Lord’s children seem to faint, yet it cannot die, it cannot fail altogether; for it looketh to the word, and thereby gathereth strength and hope: my soul fainteth, but I hope in thy word. 5. Albeit hope keepeth the eye of the mind so fixed upon the promise, that it is ever looking for deliverance, yet long delay of help maketh hope weak and ready to faint: mine eyes fail for thy word. 6. Hope, patience, and complaining to God may stand altogether, but they must never be severed from prayer: mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When milt thou comfort me? 7. Longer exercise by trouble may affect the body of God’s dearest children, so that wasting leanness may be seen on it: I am become as a skin bottle dried in the smoke. 8. No trouble should drive us to sin, but we should choose rather to pine away in affliction, than to be freed from it with sin: I am become like a bottle in the smoke, yet I do not forget thy statutes. 9. It is good, in time of every persecution or affliction, to have an eye both on the promises, and on the precepts: for the looking to the promise encourageth to hope, and the eying of the precepts proveth the hope to be sound; the psalmist hoped in the word, v. 81, and v. 83, he forgat not the statutes. 10. Albeit long affliction be able to make the believer weary of life, and desire to die, yet must he yield to God, to live so long as he pleaseth: how many are the days of thy servant? 11. The delivery of the persecuted is ordinarily joined with the punishment of the persecutors, and the afflicted must wait till their cup be full: when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?


David Dickson, A Brief Explication of the Psalms, vol. 2 (Glasgow; Edinburgh; London: John Dow; Waugh and Innes; R. Ogle; James Darling; Richard Baynes, 1834), 374–375.

Teshu‘ah: salvation

Lamed: Marks the aim of the soul’s movement.

Naphshi: my soul


לִדְבָרְךָ֥ יִחָֽלְתִּי׃

In your word I hope

Lamed: Here the lamed specifies the object of the hope. Note that is not precisely a direct object, because to hope/wait is an intransitive verb.



כָּל֣וּ עֵ֭ינַי לְאִמְרָתֶ֑ךָ

Klh: they come to an end

My eyes: construct

Lamed: a parallel construction to the soul’s longing in verse is the ultimate end/goal of the eyes’ searching.

Your words


לֵ֝אמֹ֗ר מָתַ֥י תְּֽנַחֲמֵֽנִי

To say(ing) when your comfort

Lamed + infinitive construct: The infinitive obscures the speaker in an odd sort of way. The previous substantive is “my eyes” – which obviously cannot speak. “[T]he personal reference of some forms [of the infinitive] may be surprising (Waltke & OConnor, 36.2.1e). The lamed + infinitive marks purpose or result of the searching.

Nhm: regret, be sorry; piel, to comfort


כִּֽי־הָ֭יִיתִי כְּנֹ֣אד בְּקִיט֑וֹר


Although/for I have become like leather bottle in smoke

Ki: concessive (Zemek), hypothetical (Delitzsch).

Beth: location

The particle כי, ki, translated for, might also, not improperly, be resolved into the adverb of time, when; so that we might read the verse in one connected sentence, thus’When I was like a dried bottle, I, nevertheless, did not forget thy law. The obvious design of the Psalmist is to teach us, that, although he had been proved by severe trials, and wounded to the quick, he yet had not been withdrawn from the fear of God. In comparing himself to a bottle or bladder, he intimates that he was, as it were, parched by the continual heat of adversities. Whence we learn, that that sorrow must have been intense which reduced him to such a state of wretchedness and emaciation, that like a shriveled bottle he was almost dried up. It, however, appears that he intends to point cut, not only the severity of his affliction, but also its lingering nature that he was tormented, as it were, at a slow fire; d427 even as the smoke which proceeds from heat dries bladders by slow degrees. The prophet experienced a long series of grief’s, which might have consumed him a hundred times, and that, by their protracted and lingering nature, had he not been sustained by the word of God. In short, it is a genuine evidence of true godliness, when, although plunged into the deepest afflictions, we yet cease not to submit ourselves to God.


John Calvin, Psalms, electronic ed., Calvin’s Commentaries (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1998), Ps 119:83.

For I am become like a bottle in the smoke. Keble’s paraphrase brings out the true sense—


“As wine-skin in the smoke,

My heart is sere and dried.”


Wine-skins were smoked to toughen and harden them.


H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Psalms, vol. 3, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 108.

What does the simile in v 83 mean? Obviously the connotation is negative in the context. Bergler (VT 29 [1979] 274) interpreted as swaying to and fro and so alluding to human inconstancy. But most take it as a figure for distress in general, regarding the wineskin as unused, shriveled, and black.

Leslie C. Allen, Psalms 101–150 (Revised), vol. 21, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 189.



חֻ֝קֶּ֗יךָ לֹ֣א שָׁכָֽחְתִּי׃

Your precepts not I forget


כַּמָּ֥ה יְמֵֽי־עַבְדֶּ֑ךָ

Kmh = mh, what, when, how many/how few

כַּמָּה in v. 84 is equivalent to “how few.” Our life here below is short, so also is the period within which the divine righteousness can reveal itself.


Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 5 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 742.


Days of your servant


מָתַ֬י תַּעֲשֶׂ֖ה בְרֹדְפַ֣י מִשְׁפָּֽט׃

Mathay: at what time

Beth: indicates direction of divine justice (Zemek)

Rdph: participle: pursuing (me)

When you will do against those pursuing me justice?


כָּֽרוּ־לִ֣י זֵדִ֣ים שִׁיח֑וֹת

Crh: to hollow out, dig

Ver. 85. “The proud have digged pits for me.” Houbigant explains the word כרו by the Arabic כרר, repetivit. “The proud pester me with vain subtleties.” שיחות. “Vain subtle reasonings, such as unbelievers have ever delighted in.” To the same effect, the LXX. Διηγήσαντό μοι παράνομοι ἀδολεσχίας; and the Vulgate, “Narraverunt mihi iniqui fabulationes.”


Samuel Horsley, The Book of Psalms; Translated from the Hebrew: With Notes, Explanatory and Critical, Fourth Edition. (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans; F. & J. Rivington, 1845), 358.


The zedim, the insolent mentioned in 69 & 78.

Shiyhoth: pit, trap (Jeremiah 18:22)


אֲ֝שֶׁ֗ר לֹ֣א כְתוֹרָתֶֽךָ׃

Which not according to your law

K: according to


כָּל־מִצְוֹתֶ֥יךָ אֱמוּנָ֑ה

All your commandments [are] sure

This very important concept in biblical doctrine gives clear evidence of the biblical meaning of “faith” in contradistinction to the many popular concepts of the term. At the heart of the meaning of the root is the idea of certainty. And this is borne out by the NT definition of faith found in Heb 11:1.

The basic root idea is firmness or certainty.

Jack B. Scott, “116 אָמַן,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 51.

In the first place, he tells us, that the consideration, by which he was armed for repelling all assaults, was this, That the faithful, under the conduct of God, engage in a prosperous warfare, the salvation which they hope for from his word being absolutely certain. For this reason he declares, that the commandments of God are true; by which encomium he teaches us, that those who rely upon the word of God are out of all danger; and he lays down this truth, that such a support may always sustain our courage.


John Calvin, Psalms, electronic ed., Calvin’s Commentaries (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1998), Ps 119:86.


שֶׁ֖קֶר רְדָפ֣וּנִי עָזְרֵֽנִי׃

Sheqer: lie, adverbially: falsely


They pursue me


Help me! The word/phrase is used in Psalm 109:26

Help me O Lord my God! Save me according to your steadfast love. Here it is used in parallel to “save”.

Psalm 118:13:  I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me.

כִּ֭מְעַט כִּלּ֣וּנִי בָאָ֑רֶץ

Almost they made an end of me in the earth


Used in various ways to describe something small, easy or almost so.


In vv. 81 & 82 the verb is used to refer to the soul & eyes bringing brought to an end, through desire. Here is used to refer to the enemies who have almost brought his life to an end. He is straining toward the end of God’s law; the enemies are working to make an end of his life.

The same negative root כלה, “be destroyed,” occurs figuratively in vv 81a and 82a and literally in v 87a; such evidence of suffering leads to the appeal for renewed life in v 88a.

Leslie C. Allen, Psalms 101–150 (Revised), vol. 21, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 189.


וַ֝אֲנִ֗י לֹא־עָזַ֥בְתִּי פִקֻּודֶֽיךָ׃

But I: disjunctive waw.

Not I have abandoned. The prayer of v. was not to be abandoned, forsaken by God. Here he protests that he has not abandoned God.

Your statutes.


His application to God in his persecuted state. 1. He acknowledges the truth and goodness of his religion, though he suffered: “However it be, all thy commandments are faithful, and therefore, whatever I lose for my observance of them, I know I shall not lose by it.” True religion, if it be worth any thing, is worth every thing, and therefore worth suffering for. “Men are false; I find them so; men of low degree, men of high degree, are so, there is no trusting them. But all thy commandments are faithful; on them I may rely.” 2. He begs that God would stand by him, and succour him: “They persecute me; help thou me; help me under my troubles, that I may bear them patiently, and as becomes me, and may still hold fast my integrity, and in due time help me out of my troubles.” God help me is an excellent comprehensive prayer; it is a pity that it should ever be used lightly and as a by-word.


Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 921.

כְּחַסְדְּךָ֥ חַיֵּ֑נִי

According to your hesed make me alive/revive me

וְ֝אֶשְׁמְרָ֗ה עֵד֥וּת פִּֽיךָ׃

And I will keep [the] testimonies of your mouth

The construct verb is definite.