Psalm 119:1-16 (Blessing and Cleansing)

books-1155565_960_720How many of us have attempted to read through the Bible in a year and happened upon the 119th Psalm.  Its 176 verses can be quite daunting.  There are others who attempt to skim through this psalm in one sitting and find it hard to digest. Thankfully, the psalm is divided into stanzas of eight verses each. Each stanza is linked to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet making more practical for the ancients to meditate on and memorize. I have been taking my class through Psalm 119 a couple of stanzas at a time.

Here we go. You get the impression from reading this psalm (believed to be written by King David of ancient Israel) that it’s a compilation of life experiences.  Throughout these experiences David has tried to stay true to the teachings of the Jewish Law found in the Old Testament. I would like to emphasize that this involves more than just complying with the 10 commandments. “Following the Law” would require adherence to the Jewish faith, which includes the observance of all required laws, rituals, sacrifices and festivals described in the Old Testament.

Virtually every verse in Psalm 119 references the Word of God. Synonyms such as the law, God’s word, commandments, statutes, way, judgments, precepts and testimony all reference the awesome nature of God’s Word, placing it on the highest pedestal imaginable.

Stanza 1

The first eight verses highlight the blessings found through obedience to God’s Word.

vv1-3               Those who walk in obedience (whole-heartedly) are blessed.

vv4-6               Highlights a desire to be more obedient in light of God’s commands.

vv7-8               Vow to give thanks as one learns about God’s statutes.

Stanza 2

The second stanza (9-16) focuses on the cleansing aspect of God’s word.

vv9                  A person cleanses his way by obeying God’s Word

vv10-14           A person purifies his way by internalizing God’s Word

vv15-16           We must continuously meditate on God’s Word in order to be transformed by it

Way (v9), the word conveys the idea of transgressing repeatedly, creating a sinful rut of the sort made by the wheel of a cart.

These two stanzas encourage us to go beyond simply reading God’s word and seek to internalize it or meditate on it. Pick one of the first sixteen verses of Psalm 119 and meditate on it daily this week.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Ps 119:11

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