Updated: Nov 7, 2022
How often in a day do you have random thoughts? Maybe you remember something you need to do or an item you need to pick up at the store. Or maybe you think of something you need to tell someone. If you're like me and don't write these thoughts down they're forgotten almost as quickly as they were remembered!
As a writer I often have thoughts come to me at crazy times. Things I want to include in a devotion, ideas for a blog post, sometimes even profound revelations about a passage of Scripture I've been studying. The notes app on my phone is full of such random ramblings!
At first glance it seems Psalm 119 is just a list of random ramblings. Like we peeked into David's notes app and found a treasure trove of his thoughts about God, His Word, and David's own responses to God's Word. Reading the Psalm through in one sitting there seems to be no coherency between the 176 verses. However, a closer look reveals David took great thought in writing these verses. The entire Psalm is an acrostic of the ancient Hebrew alphabet. The 176 verses are broken down into 22 sections each corresponding to a letter in the alphabet. Each of the 8 verses in these 22 sets begins with the letter of the alphabet it is listed under. This is a fact we lose in translation and with it the poetic flow of the Psalm.
Throughout this Psalm David magnifies God's law and reveals obedience to it the most excellent way to live. Ten synonyms are used interchangeably throughout the verses.
torah = law; refers to the Pentateuch (first 5 books of our Old Testament)
dabar = word; the general term used for God's revelation
imrah = saying or promise; poetic rendering of dabar
miswah = commandment; means a definite, authoritative order or charge
huqqim = statutes; literally means "things inscribed" and refers to the Law as given to Moses; may also be translated decrees
mispot = judgment; two meanings: 1) an actual judicial decision which sets a precedence for behavior (2) God's judgment of sin and wickedness (and the wicked)
piqqudim = precepts; a poetic rendering of the judicial process set forth by God's Law
edah = testimony; a solemn declaration to the truth of God's Word; an official affirmation of the Word's validity
derek = way; used metaphorically to describe the pattern of life laid out in God's Law
orah = path; synonym of derek
(The Bible Knowledge Commentary; Old Testament; John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck)
David begins this Psalm speaking vaguely about "those whose ways are blameless". There is no one completely blameless.
Romans 3:10-12 says:
"There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."
And in Romans 3:23 Paul declares:
"...for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."
Yet here is David, centuries before Paul's declaration, proclaiming those blessed whose ways are blameless. How can he make such a claim? David is known as the man after God's own heart yet the Bible is clear about the sin he committed. He was familiar with the fact that no one is blameless before God. David's statement reveals his belief in God's redemptive power. He was sincere in his devotion to God and his belief in God's coming Messiah.
David calls these people blessed. The AMP defines blessed as "happy, fortunate, to be envied". Those who are sincere in their devotion to God are blessed with true happiness. This happiness is not the fleeting, circumstance driven happiness of the world; rather it is the deep abiding joy of knowing God, believing in Jesus, and having His Spirit living within. This is the only way to true happiness - Jesus is the only way because He is the only completely blameless One. Those who seek after Him, those who daily inquire of Him, asking for His guidance in living His way - those are the one's who are fortunate. The truly happy and fortunate one's are those who have asked Jesus into their heart, accepted His forgiveness, been cleansed of their sin, and have His righteousness placed on them. Those are the one's who stand blameless before God. Right away in the first 3 verses of this long Psalm David has established the sovereignty of God and humanities need for a mediator, someone to help us uphold God's law blamelessly. Jesus is this Mediator. Jesus is the only way to stand blameless and righteous before God.
1 John 3:9 tells us:
"No one born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God."
Have you accepted Jesus? How does your life show this acceptance? Where does your happiness lie; in the circumstances of life or in the deep abiding knowledge of God as Savior? How do you seek after God; half heartedly or daily asking His guidance to live His way? In what ways are you continuing to sin? What do you need to do in order to stop sinning?
Spend some concentrated (translate: uninterrupted) time with God.
Ask His Spirit to reveal the places of sin in your life.
Sit quietly before Him. Don't rush. Truly listen. As God lays a sin on your heart write it down. When you sense He is finished speaking, start confessing! Don't rush.
Go through your list one item at a time confessing and asking God's forgiveness. Imagine Jesus taking each one of those sins from you and placing it on Himself. See Him hanging on the cross for that sin.
Lay cruciform, face to face with Your Savior. Look into His eyes - eyes of utter and lavish love for you, eyes filled with grace, mercy, forgiveness. Feel His grace, mercy, and forgiveness wash over you. Don't rush.
Stay in His presence until you know He has forgiven you and placed His righteousness on you once again. Then go and sin no more.
Daily confession of sin is the only way to be blameless before and blessed by God.
In verse 4 we see David's pronoun switch. No longer is he talking about "those", he begins talking about "me". He begins addressing God Himself. No longer vague but now personal, the Psalm becomes the cry of David's heart. We begin to see David's deepest desire is to be obedient to God, to diligently keep His commandments.
God commands obedience from His people. The very first words He spoke to Adam in Genesis 2:16-17 reveal this truth:
"And the Lord God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.'"
Right from the get go we learn obedience to God brings freedom, disobedience to Him brings death.
In Psalm 119:4 David reminds himself and his readers that God has indeed commanded obedience and expects us to be diligent in that obedience. When we are diligent about something we put forth constant effort, we are attentive and persistent. In order to observe God's precepts diligently we must pursue His word with passion. This is what David means in verse 5 when he pleads that his steps be steady in following God's decrees. The NLT says, "Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect Your decrees." David is longing for diligent obedience and he knows the only way to be diligently obedient to God's Word is to know God's Word. We cannot be obedient to what we do not know.
Paul addresses this very fact in Romans 7:7. The Message paraphrases 7:7b like this, "The law code had a perfectly legitimate function. Without its clear guidelines for right and wrong, moral behavior would be mostly guesswork."
Obedience to God's Word requires hearing God's Word, reading it, studying it, receiving it into our hearts and minds. As we are diligent in the discipline of becoming intimately acquainted with God's Word our love for Him grows and with it our desire to diligently obey Him.
When David speaks of not being put to shame in verse 6 he may be thinking of God's promise found in Exodus 19:5:
"Now if you will obey Me and keep My covenant, you will be My own special treasure from among all the people on earth; for all the earth belongs to Me." NLT
Obedience to God brings the blessing of His promise. Diligently obeying God give us the assurance of our inheritance.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade. The inheritance kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:3-5
How well do you know God's word? What is your desire toward God - to diligently obey Him or only obey when it's convenient for you? Identify one way you can begin to know God's Word better. How will you implement this discipline? When?
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:1-6 is:
God bestows true happiness on those who delight in and diligently obey His Word.
David's desire as expressed in verse 7, is to press into God's Word so much so that it becomes a part of him and begins sanctifying; not only him, but his works as well. Like Paul, David realizes such perfection in godly conduct is not attainable in this life. God's sanctifying work is a lifelong process which will not reach completion until we see Him face to face.
David proclaims he will strive to learn as much of God's Word as possible and to be as good as humanly possible in his obedience to it. This should be our gaol as well. Like David and Paul we must endeavor to be students of God's Word, be steeped in tis truth, unceasing in our study of it, allowing it to do its sanctifying work in us until that glorious day we stand before Him in heaven!
"Not that I have already attained all of this, or have arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14
Pressing on in godliness is our responsibility. Like David we must cry out to God not to forsake us, not to give up on us and leave us to our own devices in living this life. Our default button is always to the flesh.
"So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin." Romans 3:21-25
We all fall prey to temptation and sin despite our love for God and our desire to diligently obey Him. We all hit our default button from time to time in life. And though God may, for a time, turn His back on us because of our sin; He will never utterly forsake us. The moment we turn even one degree in His direction, that very moment we cry out for forgiveness, God restores us! As he promised Joshua, so He promises us:
"No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." Joshua 1:5
Pressing into God's Word brings His presence into our lives. With His presence surrounding us and His Word upholding us we are less likely to fall into sin.
Gathered manna from Aleph (Psalm 119:1-8) is:
God's presence is with those who know, love, and obey His Word.
God's Word is the only thing that can keep us from sin. Remember Jesus' response to Satan's temptations in the wilderness: "It is written...It is written...It is written..." It has been said of the Bible: This book will keep me from sin or sin will keep me from this book.
In Psalm 119:9 David asks a hard question: "How can a young man keep his way pure?" This is a question few young people are willing to ask. In today's society young people are inundated with temptation from every place imaginable. They literally have 24/7 access to all sorts of sin. They have full libraries at their fingertips yet few open the one book that can lead them into an abundant, fulfilling life.
Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 2:22:
"Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the name of the Lord out of a pure heart."
How can today's young people flee the wrong things and pursue the right things when we fail to teach them God's Word? How can they keep their hearts pure? What makes a heart pure anyway? David answers this question in verses 9b-11:
1) living according to God's Word; comforming one's life to it
2) seeking God with the whole heart; inquiring of Him; yearning for Him; not wondering from His commandments, either from ignorance or from willful disobedience
3) hiding God's Word in the heart; memorizing His Word so it is readily available and quickly recalled in times of temptation
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:9-11 is:
Knowing God's Word is the only path to purity.
Once again, how well do you know God's Word? What passages have you hidden in your heart? Where are you easily swayed by temptation?
Look back at your list of sins from our first activity. Choose the one that trips you up the most. Look up Scriptures that address that particular sin. Write these Scriptures down and commit to memorizing them.
After declaring those blessed who follow God's law; in verse 12 David proclaims God as the blessed One. This is an act of praise, something we find interspersed throughout this prayer of David's. This act of praise should be a part of our prayers as well; praise and petition intermingled so intimately there is no disconnect between them. We see this beautifully in verse 12. David praises God: "Blessed are You, O Lord." and right away petitions God: "Teach me You're statues." It is as if David is saying: "God, You are complete and happy in and of Yourself. You don't need me but You have chosen me. Please teach me how to live in a way that pleases You, show me how to be godly."
Will you make this your prayer today?
After praising and petitioning, David points out to God the fact that he has declared God;s Word to others. We see in verse 11, David had hidden God's Word in his heart and God's Word bubbled forth from his mouth.
Jesus said in Matthew 12:34b:
"For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of."
And wise King Solomon said in Proverbs 10:11:
"The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life..."
What is your heart full of? How can you ensure your mouth is a fountain of life? What changes do you need to make in order for God's Word to easy spill from your lips?
Unlike many who share what they learned just to show what they know, David shared from his great love for God's Word and for others. He spent time thinking about what he read in God's Word. He processed it and pondered what God's word meant for his life. This meditation is what enabled David to delight in God's Word and joyfully declare it to others. Meditating on God's Word, hiding it in his heart, declaring it to others, and truly delighting in it gave David the assurance to proclaim: "I will never forget Your Word."
The 18th century French moralist, Joseph Joubert once said: "To teach is to learn twice." I have seen this truth fleshed out in my own life many times. When I homeschooled my children and taught them phonics instead of sight words, I became a better speller. When I taught them algebra, I understood it much better than I did in high school. When we teach others we always learn more than the student, because we must put forth the effort to truly know the subject we are teaching. In his quest to help the next generation know God and keep their ways pure, David became a scholar of God's Word. In the process his love for God's Word grew into delight for God's Word.
When we delight in something we find our satisfaction in that thing; it brings us great joy. So we find ourselves full circle. Just as "those whose way is blameless" are blessed, knowing and delighting in God's Word blesses us with true joy.
Gathered manna from Bet (Psalm 119:9-16) is:
Memorizing, delighting in, and proclaiming God's Word leads to godly living and true satisfaction.
I pray you will learn to delight in God's Word as we delve into Psalm 119 this summer!
Until next time,
God bless and keep you,
1) Continue with our reading and writing plan for Psalm 119 (To receive your copy subscribe to my email list www.pleasingaromaministries.com/lets-connect
2) Write the synonyms used throughout this Psalm on an index card and keep it as your bookmark for Psalm 119. Each time you read one of these words mark it in the same way. (I circled them in blue ink because that's the color of a law officers uniform and these Words all refer to God's law.)
3) Prayerfully work through each activity and answer the questions found in this teaching.
4) Two questions I like to answer as I read through Scripture are: Who is God/what does He do? and What am I to be/do? You may like to keep a list of the answers to these questions as you read through Psalm 119!