We have been reading through Psalms 119 at the opening of our Sunday AM services this year. I have been continually impressed with the depth of truth in the verses of this psalm. So much so, that I have felt it valuable to endeavor to post a devotional from each of the eight verse divisions each day for the next 22 days.
Psalms 119 is broken down into 22, eight verse segments. 22 is the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and each segment begins with the next letter in sequence.
Overall, the psalm reminds of the value of God’s Word to us, and the benefit to the life which endeavours to follow it daily.
I often struggle with this very thing. How many times do I think about reading the Bible instead of actually reading it! How often do whole segments of times go by (I am ashamed to say how long those segments have been) when I do not even crack the pages of God’s Word save for Sunday and Wednesday.
I need a reminder of the preciousness of the Bible. To that end, I am committing myself to this exercise. Perhaps you, the reader will also receive a blessing from a look at these truths over the next few weeks.
Section One – ALEPH
Psalms 119:1-7 ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.
I am reminded immediately of the fact that there is a blessing to those who follow God’s Word. They are the undefiled in the way. Why? They walk in the law of the Lord. They are blessed. They are happy. The writer also tells us that there is a blessing for those, or on those, who keep God’s Word and seek Him with their whole heart. I wonder which comes first? Can a man keep God’s Word (That is, obey it) if he is not seeking after God? Will a man keep God’s Word if He is not seeking Him with his whole heart? This much at least seems clear. A man or woman will not do one without doing the other. Dear Christian, where are you on this today?
Next we see that what is done in verses 1 and 2 is only that which has been commanded by God already! We are so prone to pride that we often think we are doing some great thing to read the Bible every day. Loved ones…we are commanded to do so! The Hebrew people would recite the Shemah in the morning and evening prayers. They were reciting from Deuteronomy 6:4-9, which states:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
If you asked a Hebrew in those days, “Why are you doing these things?”
He might answer, “Because it has been commanded by God.”
But this is not the goal. Obedience alone is not what God desires, though obedience to His Word is what He demands. He wants us to obey, and to love Him! In fact, loving Him aids in our obedience. There will be no heart obedience without love. When we love Him as we should (with our whole heart) obedience will become a blessing, not a burden.
But the writer sees in himself the same thing that is in all of us. The song writer put it this way.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.
Prone to leave the God I love.
So the writer laments, “Oh that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!”
It is so often the case, that when we set out to seek God, and obey His Word, we come face to face with our own carnal weakness. Cares of this life, pressures, worldly pursuits; all these and more serve to distract us. We know of the blessing of obedience. We may even desire to follow God and His word; but we fall short.
Take heart. God does not expect perfection from us. He knows our frame. He remembers we are dust. So, dust yourself off, and begin again. Get back on the path. Lament your weakness, but give it to God.
The psalmist ends this segment with the acknowledgement of the result. Praise and rejoicing will be in the every mouth that learns to obey God’s Word. Why? They are for our good!
1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
So, reader, will you join me in renewing your committment to God and His Word? Will you examine your heart and see if you are indeed seeking after God? And will you join me over the next few weeks to take a look at God’s Word together in this wonderful Psalm?
Heavenly Father, You have commanded that we obey your Word. You have promised a blessing to those who do so, and those who seek You with their whole heart. I want to do that. Yet, Lord, I recognize my own weakness. So often, the good that I would do, I don’t do. Help my Father. Direct me steps. I need Thee every hour. Help me, in Jesus name. Amen.