Why is Psalm 119 called “acrostic psalm”?

Posted by on Jul 28, 2020

Question: Why is Psalm 119 called “acrostic psalm”?

Answer: An acrostic is a verse in which certain letters such as the first in each line form a word or message, or they are place in an alphabetical order. So, what is “acrostic psalm”?

Psalm 119 is known as the acrostic psalm. This is the longest psalm and chapter in the Scripture.

We should notice that Psalm 119 is divided up into twenty-two parts for each letter of the Hebrew alephbet. Therefore, we call it the acrostic psalm. The Hebrew word “alephbet” derives from the names of the first two letters “aleph” and “bet”. Accordingly, the Greek word “alphabet” is derived from the first two letters “alpha” and “beta”.

At the beginning of each of the twenty-two parts is the name of a Hebrew letter. The first part is called aleph, the second is bet, gimel, and so on. What is even more interesting is that the next eight verses of each part begin with the same letter.

The shortest psalm and chapter is Psalm 117 which begins and ends with the words ‘Praise Yehovah’: a praise addressed to the heathen world. But, between the shortest and longest psalm is Psalm 118 which is known as the Messiah Psalm.

The acrostic Psalm 119 is also known as the Torah Psalm for its praising of the Word of YHVH in all verses with different synonyms of “Torah” such as law, precept, command, the Word, etc.; in all verses but one: verse 122. Hence, Psalm 119 is called the Torah Psalm. 

What is the significance of arranging the verses in an alphabetical order in Psalm 119? 

Such an acrostic arrangement of Psalm 119 is a form of Hebrew poetry. The Hebrew poetry (found in the Psalms and Proverbs, but also elsewhere), is quite different from the western poetry which heavily relies on rhymes and the end of the verses. Hear how Psalm 119 sounds in Hebrew!

Now, we recall that YHVH (Rev 1:1) declared through the Messiah the following in Rev 1:8,

I am Aleph and Tav, the beginning and the end, says YHVH, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.   

The acrostic Psalm 119 is the Aleph and the Tav Psalm: the beginning and the end. When Yeshua says, “I am Aleph and Tav”, speaking on behalf of His Father, He is literally saying that He is Psalm 119, the Torah Psalm, the Living Word of YHVH that became flesh.    
So, the next time someone asks you, “Why do you follow the Law of God?”, you can point to how His Son points to the Torah Psalm 119. 

Ever wonder why Yeshua said, “Do not think I have come to destroy the Torah and the Prophets!” Continue reading