Psalm 119 – Part 1

This is the first in a series of 15 devotionals from Psalm 119, the longest single chapter, and arguably the longest prayer, in the Bible. We will update the content near the first of each month for you to study at your own pace. Each devotional will contain an eight-verse section of the chapter. Although each verse is not technically a prayer to God, taken as a whole Psalm 119 is a prayer concerning God’s Word.  If you’re ever confused about what you think about the Word of God, you can pray this prayer back to the Lord… He will dispel all confusion. Your soul will be edified and built up like never before. 

Introduction to Psalm 119:  taken from the Scofield Reference Bible and The Bible Knowledge Commentary Pp. 879,880 Vol. I.

 

The Psalm is divided into twenty-two sections corresponding to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.  The eight verses of each section begin with the same letter, in the proper sequence of the alphabet as designated at the head of each section.  I.e. each of the first eight verses begins with ALEPH; each of the next eight with BETH; etc.

This Psalm extols the beauties and excellences of the written Word of God in a way found nowhere else in the Bible.  God’s Word is treated under the following designations:

 

  • law, v.1; (torah) 25x’s primarily used for instruction or teaching,

      legal pronouncements, rules of divine administration, then all of God’s revelation for life.

  • testimonies, v.2; (edah) 22x’s indicate God’s own declarations concerning

His nature and

purpose.

  • precepts, v.4; (piqqudim) 21x’s relate to man’s moral obligations as

enjoined by God.

  • statutes, v.5; (chuqqim) 21x’s refer elsewhere to civil and religious

appointments of the Mosaic Law.

  • commandments, v.6; (mishwah) 21x’s authoritative orders used as

religious principles.

  • Judgment, 75 (mishpot) 19x’s law or laws.  It represents a judicial

decision that constitutes a precedence, a binding law.  In the Pentateuch it referred to the laws after the Ten Commandments.  The word can also mean God’s judgmental acts on the wicked.

  • saying, (imrah) 19x’s promise and is often a poetical synonym for

dabar.

  • word(s), v.11;      (dabar) 20x’s speech or utterance, a general word for the

 disclosure of God’s will.

  • way, v. 27;           (derek) 5x’s used as a synonym for all the above terms.
  • path (orach) 5x’s used interchangeably with “derek” as a

 synonym for all of these terms.

 

Only Vv. 90, 121, 122, and 132 do not give a synonym for the law.

 

 

When we read Psalm 119 through all 176 verses, God gives us a continual encouragement to listen to and obey His Word.  Whether you study it exegetically, or just read it and meditate on the truths, or whether you pray through all 176 verses, you will experience a wonderful reorientation to Him and His Word and the ramifications that that will have in your life.

 

Ps. 119:1-8

 

V.1      “How blessed are those whose way is blameless (complete), who walk in the law of the Lord.”  One thing is sure.  God’s will for your life is blessing.  You may be sure of death and taxes, but if you walk in obedience to His Word, you’ll be sure of His blessing in your life.  This takes the guess-work out of God’s blessing.  Do you want blessing in your relationships?  Find out what God says about relationships and submit to it.  What about finances?  What about God’s blessing this school year?  Whatever school you’re attending, God wants blessing in your life – how can you secure that?  Give yourself to His will this academic year (in all things). What about service in the church?  It’s all there.  So often we pray and plea for God to bless us and them and this and that¼ God blesses obedience to His Word.  Would it make sense for a child to come to a mother and say, I’m not going to eat what you fixed for me for dinner, can I have desert now?  Please, please, please!  I really and sincerely want desert!  Please, I love your deserts so much mommy!!!  God doesn’t bless our intentions or ambitions, but our obedience.  And our obedience to Him means our good!  Our ambition in life should be to find out what His Word says and give ourselves to it.  In this pursuit there will be blessing – God’s blessing, Guaranteed.  Pray, “God, I want desperately to walk in Your ways.  It is Your universe.  You set up the rules and guidelines, I want to experience Your highest and best.  You are my Creator, My sustainer, My Father.  I submit to You, through Your Word.”  Obedience and blessing are in absolute correspondence.  By the way, if we love God we will obey, and the obeying is not burdensome (I Jn. 5:3).  “God, help my unbelief.  Help me to Love you and to completely entrust my soul to the Lover of my soul, Jesus.  I want my obedience to flow out of trust and a response to Your love for me!”  Compare this verse to Ps. 1:1-3.

 

V.2      “How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart.” “¼seek Him with their whole heart.”   What does that mean?  What do you seek with your whole heart?  What do you really want – so that it changes your actions, governs your priorities and determines what you think about most of the time?  What are you passionate about?  Anything?  That’s what you seek with your whole heart.  I think we’re so involved with so much and we’ve got so many options that our souls are spread so thin that we’re in danger of not seeking anything with a whole heart, much less God.  David says in Psalm 27:8, “When Thou didst say, “Seek My face, “my heart said to Thee, “Thy face, O Lord, I shall seek.”  God wants me to seek His face (Mt. 6:33).        

 

V.3      “They also do no unrighteousness; they walk in His ways.” The person that seeks God with their “whole heart” is marked by obedience (good works – see Titus esp. 2:11-14) a righteous life.  Speaking in the context of immorality being a trap for a young man… “For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he watches all his paths.”  (Prov. 5:21).  God watches, not as a policeman, but as our omni-interested and loving heavenly Father. 

 

V.4      “Thou hast ordained Thy precepts, that we should keep them diligently.” Obedience (To God as His will is revealed to us through His written Word) is not an option.  So often we stand as judge over God’s Word seeking to estimate its worth or even its meaning.  We argue over it and analyze it as if we were the “experts” in our judgments of God’s Word.  We talk more about it than seeking to submit to it.  Maybe just reading/listening/meditating it is in order!  Read and (by faith) obey.  We need to pay attention as we would to a doctor who ordered us to take such-and-such a pill or do such-and-such a physical therapy routine or eat such-and-such a food for so many days¼  come to an appointment as such-and-such an hour¼ We drop everything and perform instant obedience to care for our body¼  ’cause the Dr. said!  What about our eternal soul?  What happened to our obedient spirit regarding God’s Word, which speaks to eternal issues of immensely greater value and proportions?  God’s Word speaks to every single issue, circumstance, problem, etc., in our lives (pointedly, and in principle).  We are often so slow to obey, and we question with anxious fears¼   

What about just good old-fashioned obedience (by faith).  “God, I take Your Word at face value, I try to understand it, and I do what I think it says.”  God honors that kind of abandoned trust. 

 

 

V.5      “Oh that my ways may be established to keep Thy statutes!” “my ways may be established.”  The hardest thing for a person to be is consistent¼ established.   We’re fickle.  We lack priority.  We are so often governed by the urgent demands of the details of life.  Establishing my ways in the Word of God means that I need to seek “first” His Kingdom and His righteousness.  This inevitably means that I need to cut-out some other things that vie for my time and energies.  God’s word (as I develop patterns of listening and obeying) will establish my soul and my ways¼ This is almost a lamentation¼ “Oh that my ways may be established to keep Thy statutes!”   My sinful, fickle, inconsistent self!  Please, O Lord! I want my life to be marked as one that has walked in the law of the LORD!  I want Your priorities for my life at this stage in my life!    

The quickest way to strength in the Lord is acknowledgement of weakness and a plea for dependence – especially in ordering priorities.

How dependent am I on His Word?  Can you think of a lamentation that you can cry out to the Lord?  Go somewhere alone where no-one can hear you and cry out in desperation to the Lord.  Find an area of your life that you know you are woefully deficient and where you have experienced weakness and failure (for some of us it won’t be hard!) and cry out to Him like the Psalmist!  He is listening and waiting.  God comes to the aid of desperate sheep (Ps. 42:1-5). 

If it is a sin that so easily besets you, that you experience failure after failure¼ Get away with the Lord¼ Cry out to Him (Psalm 32:1-11).  Don’t harbor any deceit before Him.  He’s the God of restoration and redemption.    

Now, Praise Him as you meditate on Psalm 40:1-5

 

V.6      “Then I shall not be ashamed when I look upon all Thy commandments.” When I look into the mirror of the Word, I am not continually under conviction because of my complacent heart, or my disobedient spirit.  “Lord, let me not be a forgetful hearer (Jas. 1:22-25).” 

If my ways are established to KEEP Your Word, then when I look upon your Word, I will not be ashamed

 

V.7      “I will give thanks to Thee with uprightness of heart, when I learn Thy righteous judgments.” Obedience to God’s Word brings/reaps/results in thanksgiving.  If you don’t have a thankful heart ¼ Try obedience to God’s Word in whatever stage of life you find yourself in.  Thanksgiving will follow obedience.

 

V.8      “I shall keep Thy statutes; do not forsake me utterly!”  This is a [desperate] promise/vow of obedience¼ Here is a plea for God not to עָזַב Azab to loosen, to relinquish, to release, to forsake, to abandon, to leave behind, to be forsaken or abandon¼ This is a plea for God not to let-go His grip on the psalmist.  “God don’t give up on me!  Don’t take away Your protective covering, Your provisions, Your guidance, Your involvement etc.  I will obey, I will obey, I will obey!”  This is a desperate plea for God’s gracious, sovereign protection and provision in light of the young man’s commitment to obedience.