Friday, January 05
In Love with God’s Word
1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, Who walk in the law of the LORD!
2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart!
3 They also do no iniquity; They walk in His ways.
4 You have commanded us To keep Your precepts diligently.
5 Oh, that my ways were directed To keep Your statutes!
6 Then I would not be ashamed, When I look into all Your commandments.
7 I will praise You with uprightness of heart, When I learn Your righteous judgments.
8 I will keep Your statutes; Oh, do not forsake me utterly!
Psalm 119 has the distinction of being the longest chapter in the Bible. It is made up of twenty-two stanzas with eight lines or verses in each one for a total of 172 verses. I’ll never forget taking the time and effort to memorize this psalm in its entirety back in 1985-86. I worked very hard on it every day and at one time could quote it verbatim. (Don’t ask me to do it today.) Over the past 40 plus years, I have also read 8 verses from this psalm every day for the first 22 days of each month. The reason I was motivated to do this was because it was obvious to me that whoever wrote this psalm was in love with the Word of God and desperately desired that it was in his mind and heart to encourage and guide him each day!
Because there is no inscription with Psalm 119, we do not know who wrote this psalm. Suggestions have included David, Hezekiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Malachi, and Daniel. The internal evidence makes it evident that the author was a suffering saint who had to endure contempt if not downright ill treatment. His enemies included Jews who were in a position of power and able to do him harm. He was in physical danger, he was faced with apathy and even apostasy in the ranks of his people, and he had successfully resisted temptation. Some have thought he was a young man, others that he was old.
I personally always leaned toward Ezra being the writer of Psalm 119. One of my favorite expositors, Warren Wiersbe, believes that Jeremiah the prophet was the writer and gives several good reasons to support this. But again, whoever he was he was in love with God’s Word. The psalm, as most Bibles show, is an acrostic. It consists of 22 stanzas, each consisting of eight verses, and each emphasizing, in order, a letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Each verse in each stanza begins with the letter of the alphabet to which the stanza is related. For instance, each of the eight lines of vv. 1-8 begins with the Hebrew letter Aleph, the lines in vv. 9-16 begin with Beth, in vv. 17-24 with Gimel, and so on. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and that his why there are 22 stanzas. This would be like using our 26 letters in our English alphabet, with all the first 8 verses beginning with an A, the next 8 verses all beginning with a B, and so on through all 26 letters. This psalm was probably written this way as an aid to memorizing it.
The basic theme of Psalm 119 is the practical use of the Word of God in the life of the believer. When you consider that the writer probably did not have a complete Old Testament, let alone a complete Bible, this emphasis is both remarkable and important. Christian believers today own complete Bibles, yet how many of them say that they love God's Word and get up at night or early in the morning to read it and meditate on it (vv. 55, 62, 147-148)? How many Christian believers ignore the Old Testament Scriptures or read the Old Testament in a careless and cursory manner? Yet here was a man who rejoiced in the Old Testament Scriptures—which was the only Word of God he had—and considered God's Word his food (v. 103) and his greatest wealth! (vv. 14, 72, 127, 162). His love for the Word of God puts today's believers to shame. If the psalmist with his limited knowledge and resources could live a godly and victorious life feeding on the Old Testament, how much more ought Christians today live for the Lord. After all, we have the entire Bible before us and two millennia of church history behind us!
I trust as we journey through this psalm over the next several weeks that you will find yourself loving God’s Word more than ever before.