A masterpiece of Hebrew poetry, Psalm 119 exalts God’s Word. Known as an acrostic poem, each of the first eight verses begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The next eight verses start with the second letter. The pattern continues through 22 eight-verse stanzas, to include all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Though English translations may lose the beauty of the form, the content remains powerful and resonant.
Only six of the 176 verses do not contain a synonym for God’s Word — Law. Statues. Testimonies. Way. Precepts. Decrees. Rules. Judgments. Commands. Promises. Over and over the psalmist proclaims the goodness, faithfulness, and the value of God’s commands. He finds great delight in studying, memorizing, and obeying God’s righteous rules. The psalmist pledges to seek God with his whole heart, understanding that pursuing God meant following God’s ways. He memorized Scripture in order to always have it with him.
The verses of Psalm 119 show us how to live with purity and integrity in the 21st century. Choices and temptations may bombard us, but God’s Word provides us with a plumb line by which we can measure every decision. We can check each of our actions and motivations with the truth of Scripture.
God’s Word purifies our thoughts and behaviors. When our minds are filled with truth, we understand more clearly where each choice will lead. Through the Holy Spirit, God uses His Word to shine light on our sinful tendencies and prompt us to surrender to Him.
God, help me to pursue you and love your Word the way this psalmist did. Amen.
Go Deeper — Carve out an hour or so to read Psalm 119 and underline every synonym for God’s commands. Choose one stanza to memorize.
Photo Credit: Matic Kozinc