I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have preserved my life.

Psalm 119:93

 

When I was pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, I met early on Friday morning with my elders. We didn’t do business in that meeting, but, rather, spent time sharing concerns and praying. Our prayers would begin with the reading of a psalm, whichever one happened to be our psalm of the day.

Two people at a bus stop.One day we were supposed to read Psalm 119. As we opened our Bibles, we looked at each other with raised eyebrows. Were we really going to read all 176 verses of this psalm, the longest chapter in the Bible? Couldn’t we go back to Psalm 117, the shortest chapter in the Bible? No, we chose to read the psalm that our congregation would read that day. So, for about twenty minutes, we read Psalm 119 aloud, with each person reading a verse as we went around the circle. When we finished, we felt victorious, as if we had climbed a mountain of Scripture.

If you read all of Psalm 119, especially if you take the time to read it out loud, you’ll quickly notice a fair amount of repetition. This psalm makes one basic point, again and again and again. In fact, the structure of Psalm 119 is meant to convey a sense of thoroughness and completeness in making this point. It is an acrostic psalm, with twenty-two stanzas that begin with each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in order. If we were writing a version of Psalm 119 in English, it might read something like this:

Absolutely faithful is God’s Word.
Blessings come to the one who loves his truth.
Come and follow the commandments of the Lord.
Delight in God’s Word and he will direct your life.

Zeal for your Word fills my heart.

Psalm 119 pulls out all the stops in celebrating God’s truth. His Word not only guides our steps and keeps us from getting off course, but also, in a phrase, it gives us life.

Why do we read, study, reflect upon, and pray the Scriptures? Because in them we find life, life with meaning and purpose, life with depth and truth, life both now and forever. The Word of God guides us so that we might live life to the fullest. It shows us how to find significance in every aspect of life as we live for God and his glory.

Something to Think About:

How has your life been enriched by the Word of God?

How has God spoken to you recently through the Scriptures?

Something to Do:

If you feel courageous, set aside a chunk of time today to read all of Psalm 119. If you can, read it out loud. As you read, pay attention to the stirring of God’s Spirit in you. What is God saying to you through his Word?

Prayer:

Gracious God, thank you for your life-giving Word. Thank you for teaching me, challenging me, comforting me, confronting me, and giving me hope. Help me, I pray, to be attentive to you as I read your Word, to listen for what you are saying to me so that I might experience your abundant life and live for your glory. Amen.

 

Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
Renew My Life!

2 Comments

  • As a poet and a teacher of poetry, Psalm 119 is by far my favorite psalm. And as we know, all poetry should be read aloud in order to be fully enjoyed and (at least partially) understood.

    In the Book of Common Prayer 2011, we start reading Psalm 119 as part of Morning and Evening Prayer on the evening of the 24th day of each month and finish on the evening of the 26th day of the month. That’s five readings–three evening readings and two morning readings. When one of the morning readings arrives on a Friday when our Anglican Church meets for our weekly Healing Service including Morning Prayer and Holy Communion, all present read it aloud, round-Robin, as you described above.

    Psalm 119 begs to be read aloud, and even when I am doing MP or EP by myself, I read it aloud anyway. It’s a psalm that soothes my heart more than most. I always sigh when we reach the 27th morning of each month, and we’re done with Psalm 119. Such powerful promises are worth re-reading again and again…and definitely aloud.

    Soli Deo Gloria,
    Susanne 🙂

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