This is the longest Psalm, by far, in the Psalter.
There are 22 sections, one for each letter in the Hebrew alphabet.
Each section has 8 verses, and each of those eight verses begins with that section's same Hebrew letter— which an English translation can't duplicate.
Also, almost every verse— in Hebrew— contains a synonym to the words that occur throughout each section.
For example, in this first section, Aleph, the Psalmist has "law" in verse 1, "decrees" in verse 2, "commandments" in verse 4, "statutes" in verse 5, "commandments" again in verse 6, "judgments" (or "ordinances" according to the New Revised Standard Version) in verse 7, and "statutes" again in verse 8.
When the people of Israel recited these verses, they had in mind the various laws, decrees, commandments, statutes, and judgments or ordinances which recur throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, or what Christians traditionally call the Old Testament.
When Christians recite these verses, we may have in mind one or all of the two (or three) New Testament commandments that encompass and fulfill the various Old Testament synonyms:
Jesus said, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is the same: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40, and parallels at Mark 12:29-31 and Luke 10:27).
Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another." (John 13:34)
Keeping and Jettisoning
Aleph Beati immaculati
1 Happy are they whose way is blameless, *
who walk in the law of the Lord!
2 Happy are they who observe his decrees *
and seek him with all their hearts!
3 Who never do any wrong, *
but always walk in his ways.
4 You laid down your commandments, *
that we should fully keep them.
5 Oh, that my ways were made so direct *
that I might keep your statutes!
6 Then I should not be put to shame, *
when I regard all your commandments.
7 I will thank you with an unfeigned heart, *
when I have learned your righteous judgments.
8 I will keep your statutes; *
do not utterly forsake me.
As much as I would have liked to preserve the 8-verse format for this inaugural section of Psalm 119, I have jettisoned verses 6-8.
I have jettisoned verse 6 because failing to keep the Lord's statutes should lead to renewal, not shame; and shame should not be the motivation for keeping them.
I have jettisoned verse 7, because we should thank the Lord with unfeigned hearts regardless of whether we have learned his righteous judgments!
And I have jettisoned verse 8 because the idea that the Lord might utterly forsake us is contradicted by Jesus' death and resurrection, and by these other Old and New Testament verses:
Deuteronomy 31:6: "Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:8: "It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed."
Hebrews 13:5: "Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, "I will never leave you or forsake you."
Next: what would you keep and what would you jettison?
Beth In quo corrigit?
9 How shall a young man cleanse his way? *
By keeping to your words.
10 With my whole heart I seek you; *
let me not stray from your commandments.
11 I treasure your promise in my heart, *
that I may not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O Lord; *
instruct me in your statutes.
13 With my lips will I recite *
all the judgments of your mouth.
14 I have taken greater delight in the way of your decrees *
than in all manner of riches.
15 I will meditate on your commandments *
and give attention to your ways.
16 My delight is in your statutes; *
I will not forget your word.