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An Atheistic Bible Study of Psalm 119

A lover of Divine law butters up his God and then asks him to smite his enemies.


By far the longest and most complex of the Psalms and the most literary portion of the entire Bible. It is a very tightly disciplined and structured poem, divided into set stanzas, representing each of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet from Aleph to Tau.

The narrator is a passionate lover of the laws of God, (including the Ten Commandments of Moses). He fears the consequences of breaking the laws, even unintentionally, and sets himself to a life-long meditation and theological study of the laws set out in the Torah.

The writer seems to grovel in fear and promises of devotion to God that begin to seem quite forced and laboured at times. The writer cannot comprehend the wickedness of anyone in the World who is not committed to the same course of action he himself takes on. He cannot understand why some people break laws set anthem by a God they clearly believe in, despite knowing that this God is likely to punish them horribly frothier transgressions from his laws.

The writer also begs God to smite down the people who do him, the righteous believer, any wrong, as he believes in God more than they do.

Here, devotion caves in to fanaticism and grovelling in fear, as well as a willingness to use religion to condemn any of the believer’s enemies. For all its structural complexity, 119 are a simple vision of a man who feels himself a cut above the common rabble around himself. God I love you but here is a list of the people who don’t – hardly a good religious attitude.

Arthur Chappell

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  1. Lynn Proctor

    On January 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    I find that when I try to interpret the meaning of some passages in the Bible, I get overwhelmed by the factors that contribute to the meaning of it. I cannot look at the Bible messages through the eyes of someone living at this time, as it was not written in this time. Some principles are timeless, but the symbols are very much representative of a different era. For instance, what might the “horses” have represented? We don’t know, by our standards now. What might they have represented back then? Perhaps something that would put a whole new meaning to the vision. There were many recorded “visions” and yet how many were really dreams or fabrications from those who had an ulterior motive, to influence Caesar or other rulers of the “day” in which the books of the Bible were written. I hope no one looks back at some of the stuff that is written today and makes religions out of it.

  2. Arthur Chappell

    On January 3, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Very true Lynn – many of the values people had at the time of any sectoion of the Bible’s writings were not too different to those many have today – the basic needs for food, clothing, prayers to God for protection, fear of death, – symbols can vary – I often have to check other sources to be sure of meanings and to be sure i read a text right – some symbols are common, ie sheep as lambs of God, shepherding as god and his angels – though there are literal shepherds in the nativity story too, etc – dreams could be made up or used as propaganda then as now of course – and yes, myth making still goes on – Read or watch Life Of Pi which shows very well how a simple story can be heavily mythologized

  3. afaceristonline

    On January 4, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Very good work good post success

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