How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. (v. 9)
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (v. 11)
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. (v. 18)
The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. (v. 72)
If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. (v. 92)
Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. (v. 97)
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (v. 103)
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (v. 105)
Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. (v. 111)
Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold. (v. 127)
My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law. (v. 136)
The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever. (v. 160)
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules. (v. 164)
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments. (v. 176)
Psalm 119 is called an acrostic psalm. It is divided into 22 sections. Each section corresponds to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet (aleph, beth, etc.). Each section has eight verses, with the first word of each verse starting with the same letter (verses 1-8 starts with aleph; verses 9-16 with beth; and so on). The composition is very thorough, elaborate, and beautiful. Its length and beauty may have moved Spurgeon to say, “Other psalms have been mere lakes, but this is the main ocean.”
Of course, if you cannot read Hebrew you cannot appreciate it much. But nonetheless, reading through that long psalm brings much delight to the soul. If you don’t believe me, try reading it out loud, non-stop. You will be drawn closer to the Word of God because almost every verse speaks of it (using names like law, rules, precepts, statutes, testimonies, etc.). Spurgeon calls this sacred psalm “a little Bible, the Scriptures condensed, rewritten in holy emotions and actions.”
I don’t know how 2010 has been for you regarding your personal reading and study of the Word of God. Maybe you found it boring and unsatisfactory. Maybe you got frustrated for your lack of discipline. Maybe you did not experience much of its power. The Bible is not the problem. Your heart is.
This new year, if you want to reawaken your love and desire for the Word like the psalmist, try reading through this whole psalm. It may well be our ABC of the Bible, “for here we have set forth in inexhaustible fulness what the word of God is to a man, and how a man is to behave himself in relation to it” (Franz Delitzsch).
I believe this psalm is very important for every Christian to chew on. That is why my first sermon in 2011 will be on its first eight verses. I’m planning to do a sermon for every section every three months in our church (It will take me more than five years to finish Psalm 119 at that rate!). My purpose is to stir up the heart of God’s people toward more love for his Word.
I’m also planning on posting my meditations for each verse of that psalm at least once a week (That would take more than three years!). So I invite you to join me in devouring this delightful meal. I welcome your comments and reflections on how God is using this psalm to draw you closer to the Word of God and, therefore, to the God of the Word.