This will be the first post through a 22 week study through Psalm 119!
As we get ready to walk through Psalm 119 I pray that we will ask God to show us what we should believe about His Word and about Himself, and how we are to apply these precious truths to our own lives so that we walk away more in love with God and His Word, more aware of – and brokenhearted over our sins, and more thankful for Christ and His sacrifice.
I wanted to begin by sharing some interesting facts about the book. This beautiful Psalm is an acrostic made up of twenty-two stanzas, and each stanza is made up of eight verses. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and this Psalm contains 22 units of 8 verses each. Each of the 22 sections is given a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and each line in that section begins with that letter. The closest book that mocks this pattern in Scripture is found in Lamentations 3, which is also divided into 22 sections. Our study will follow this pattern. We will focus on 8 verses a week! These posts will be devotional in nature.
Who wrote it?
Scripture is not clear in regards to who the author of Psalm 119 is. Some scholars believe it was written by David, while others believe it was written well after David’s time. Despite who wrote it, it is the inspired Word of God and should be poured over carefully (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
When was it written?
Most commentators believe it was written during the post-exilic time, coming from the days of Nehemiah or Ezra.
Why I love this Psalm:
I love this Psalm because it is not only the longest chapter in the Bible, but it glorifies Scripture in just about every verse! In addition, the Psalmist is desperate to follow the commands of the Lord, but recognizes how much help he needs from the spirit.
Now that we have covered the basics, let's get started with a devotion through
Psalm 119: 1-8
Aleph Psalm 119:1-8 Devotion
One of the many times I accompanied my mother in the hospital, she was not allowed to eat or drink due to an upcoming procedure. Her mouth was so dry that her lips would crack. She longed for a sip of water but was not allowed to have it. I remember wanting to help her be more comfortable, so I walked to the nurse’s station and asked what I could do to help the dryness of her mouth. The nurse gave me pink mouth swabs and told me to dip them in water to moisten her mouth. She was refreshed by the smallest amount of water from those swabs. In the same way water provided refreshment for my mother, I feel God's word is able to refresh our souls.
Just like my mother's dry cracking lips, my soul once felt as if it was dry and cracking. It felt as if I could crack into a million pieces at any moment. I longed for a soul satisfying solution that I was not sure existed. And I often turned to solutions that left me unfulfilled. It wasn’t until I returned to the words of the One who quenches thirsts that I was satisfied. Scripture says, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters…”- Isaiah 55:1. And I am excited for us to come to the living Waters together as we journey through Psalm 119. I am excited for God’s Word to saturate our hearts and minds and overflow our cups with true soul hydration!
Psalm 119:1-8 begins with, “blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!”
It is not popular today to walk in the “blameless” way, but this is the way in which blessings are found. Matthew 7:14 tells us, “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” I think there are few who find it because they have convinced themselves that the way of the world and the pleasures and comforts of the world, are more fulfilling than living by the Word.
Psalm 119: 1-2 demonstrate parallelism. Parallelism was a writing principle the Hebrew writers used to place emphasis on something. In the ancient world, if they wanted to emphasize something, they couldn’t just write it in bold font or put it in a special color so they used parallelism instead. Parallelism involves the repetition in the second part of what has already been expressed in the first, while simply varying the words.
In verse two, the writer is emphasizing the fact that we are blessed when we *keep *His testimonies and seek Him with the *whole *heart. When it comes to the Christian life, it is easy to have a divided heart, with one foot in the world and one foot in the church. But we must fight against this. We must be wholly devoted to the Lord. Seeking God with a whole heart must include His word, not just our emotions. You cannot properly love what you do not know. And the best way to know God is through His Words He left behind for us.
Keep means doing, not just hearing. Remember ladies, we must strive to be like those written about in the book of James, who were doers, not just hearers. Scripture says “be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing" (James 1:22-25).
Imagine what the world would look like if it was filled with women who are not just keeping the Word out of obligation, but living it out because we love the Lord with a whole heart and want to seek to please Him because of what He has done for us.
Seeking Him with a whole heart helps us avoid becoming “check mark” Christians. It forms us into diligent, Spirit filled, fruitful Christian women.
As Christian women there should be a goodness that marks our lives from unbelievers. Obviously it is impossible for us to do no iniquity without the help of God and His Spirit, but we should be striving to do our best. In order to walk in the ways, we must know the way. The way we know the way is through deep devotion to the Word of God.
I resonate with this Psalmist because it seems like he is striving so hard to be obedient, but still realizes Gods hand in his obedience. For example, in verse 5 after the first few verses talk about keeping, seeking, and walking in the ways of the Lord, the writer writes, "Oh that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes! Then I would not be ashamed, when I look into all Your commandments.”
It is like the writer knows what he should do, but realizes he still falls short. I resonate with this so much because there are times when I know there are blessings that come with obedience, but I would still rather binge 3 seasons of Netflix instead of pick up my Bible. I would still rather remain angry instead of forgive… and so on.
If I am honest, as my mind turns away from God and His life-giving Words, my delight shrinks, my courage fails, and heart hardens. Yes, I absolutely need the Lord to help me overcome those temptations, and I am so incredibly thankful for the blood of Jesus, Who makes up for what I lack. But I also need to take action in times like those. Taking measures to create a habit of being in prayer and soaking in the Scripture daily has been a game changer for me.
At the end of this stanza, we sense the desperation in the psalmist. He knows and loves God’s word, yet is also very conscious of his inability- apart from the word of God in his life to live God’s word. If God did forsake him, he would be lost. As would we.
My prayer for this study is that we will fall more in love with the Word of God, become more devoted to studying, and realize our dependence on Him along the journey.
I want to close this writing by sharing just a few simple ways you can keep God’s Word in front of you throughout the day this week:
1. Pick a memory verse from the assigned 8 verses this week and save it to your phone screen.
2. Print out our Psalm 119 here to work through the verses.
3. Keep your Bible open in your kitchen to glance at while cooking.
4. Tape memory verses or Post-it notes to your bathroom mirror.
5. Tape a memory verse in front of the place you look while doing dishes.
6. Join our online Refined group for accountability here.
(Some of these ideas were inspired by Angela Perritt!)
If you have read this whole thing, my closing question is: How do YOU plan to keep God’s Word in front of you? Snap a picture of your current study place and comment below.
In addition, Let’s see those handwritten scriptures and marked up scriptures in the comment section! I will include examples from our group below: