Psalm 119 is a great acrostic poem, the longest psalm and also the longest chapter in the Bible. The 22 stanzas each consist of 8 lines, each line starting with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet, each stanza having a different start letter. It is an epic love song for God’s law.
25 My soul clings to the dust;
give me life according to your word!
26 When I told of my ways, you answered me;
teach me your statutes!
27 Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
28 My soul melts away for sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word!
29 Put false ways far from me
and graciously teach me your law!
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your rules before me.
31 I cling to your testimonies, O Lord;
let me not be put to shame!
32 I will run in the way of your commandments
when you enlarge my heart![e]
33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;
and I will keep it to the end.[f]
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
35 Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it.
36 Incline my heart to your testimonies,
and not to selfish gain!
37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.
38 Confirm to your servant your promise,
that you may be feared.
39 Turn away the reproach that I dread,
for your rules are good.
40 Behold, I long for your precepts;
in your righteousness give me life!
41 Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord,Psalm 119:25-48
your salvation according to your promise;
42 then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
for my hope is in your rules.
44 I will keep your law continually,
for ever and ever,
45 and I shall walk in a wide place,
for I have sought your precepts.
46 I will also speak of your testimonies before kings
and shall not be put to shame,
47 for I find my delight in your commandments,
which I love.
48 I will lift up my hands towards your commandments, which I love,
and I will meditate on your statutes.
These are the 4th to 6th stanzas of Psalm 119, with each line of each stanza starting with the 4th to 6th letters of the Hebrew alphabet. I shall be looking at one aspect of God’s word and one attributes of God in this post.
The word miswah, meaning commandment, together with its plural miswot, is used 22 times in Psalm 119. This word emphasizes the straight authority of what is said, the right to give orders and is used for the laws in the first 5 books of the Bible.
That would be easy if the purpose of the psalm was teaching, but it is nothing of the sort. Psalm 119 is a love song for God’s word. The biblical word miswah, and its modern equivalent is mitzvah (as in Bar/Bat Mitzvah, son/daughter of Commandment) is more nuanced than to be just about keeping rules, as miswah is also a synonym meaning favour or kindness. God giving us laws to live by is a sign of God’s favour on us and his kindness.
So when you wish to point out God’s laws to someone remember that God wishes to pour out his favour on that person, not to pour out his wrath. God’s lovingkindness is stronger than his wrath, he would rather see the most evil deliberate sinner come to repent than destroy them.
Can we trust God’s word in difficult times?
God can be trusted to keep his promise says Hebrews 10:23 quoting Numbers 23:19. God is trustworthy, he always keeps his promises, so we can trust in God’s word as it reflects the nature of God. We need to be careful when reading the Bible to know God’s will. Many events in the historical books say that an event happened without moralising, saying whether it was right or not. The nature of God is one, if something is true about the Father it is also true about the Son and the Holy Spirit who caused the many Biblical authors to write.
As we trust, be confident and sure of God’s protection, so we can be bold, confident and secure enough to be careless in what we do confident, in God which brings hope. That hope leads to more confidence.
Ps 118:8 says: “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”