an ode to the word of God
The 119th Psalm is the longest "chapter" in the Bible. Its 176 verses are an ode to the word of
God. Its twenty-two sections correspond to the fetters of the Hebrew alphabet. In fact, each
section is labeled with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Each verse (or couplet, since
Hebrew poetry is characterized by parallelism as well as visional composition) in each section
begins with the letter designating that section. Thus, verses one through eight each begin with
the Hebrew letter ALEPH (somewhat corresponds to the English letter "A"}. Verses nine through
sixteen each begin with the Hebrew letter BETH, and so on.
The first section of the 119th Psalm becomes an introduction to the psalm.
1. There is the blessing of God to be found in being blameless in the way of righteousness, to
be found walking according to the law of the Lord! The call Is not for perfection (a flawless
keeping of the law), but of blamelessness (those who habitually Keep the law, and make the
necessary corrections when they falter in their walk).
It is impossible to speak of the blessings of the word of God without speaking of obedience;
because, the true blessings are found not in knowing or in believing, but in obedience. Those
who travel the path of righteousness mapped out in the law of Jehovah are those whom the
psalmist says are blessed of God. The law of the Lord defines a life which we are to live, a path
which we travel. The law which defines this way is that which originated with the Lord, that is the
God who is described by the Tetragrammaton (JHVH or YHWH) translated here by the Quere,
Lord. It is the name by which God revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush. It indicates
the eternally existing one, the one who was, the one who is, and the one who will be. It is the
God who gave the covenant to Moses, and keeps His covenant with the nation of Israel.
2. Again, the blessing is upon those who keep His testimonies. Not just in obedience, but who
keep them in their heart and mind, allowing them to direct the thoughts and the emotions.
This is not a blessing of mechanical obedience, but of heartfelt meaningful submission to the
will of God. It is not merely doing certain things, it is doing them for the right reason. It is
seeking to please God in all things, to give Him the honor, to give Him the glory. It is an
obedience that stems from godliness, that awe, respect and reverence which is within the heart
and mind of God's people. The dedication to the testimony of the Lord is singular. It does not
lend itself to others. "One cannot serve God and mammon." "He who is not for us, is against
us." The whole heart, the whole soul, the whole spirit must be dedicated to following the Lord.
Following the Lord means turning away from iniquity. You cannot do right by doing wrong. The
law of the Lord defines both what to do, and the perimeters of error. If you walk in darkness
and do not the truth, and say you have fellowship with the Father, you lie. You cannot habitually
or deliberately do what is wrong and walk in His ways.
The commands of the Almighty are to do what He says. To neither turn to the right nor to the left
from following the commandments of the Lord. It is the work of His people. It is their labor of
love. It is something that takes effort. It takes labor. It takes work. It takes diligence.
The prayer of the psalmist is that his ways would be directed by the statutes of God. The plea is
that the thoughts and intents of the heart might be influenced by what is the will of God, rather
than the will of man. May the emotions of the heart be formed by the wilt of God to create a
desire to do right and a misery of wrong done. May the thoughts of the mind be directed by the
will of God to determine to do right and repent of sin.
If the heart and mind would be directed by the will of God, then, and only then, would shame for
sin be absent when looking at the commandments of God.
The word of God lays bear "the thoughts and intents of the heart." When one reads or hears the
commandments of God, conscience compares the life with the commandments. When there is
a discrepancy, shame is the result. The greater the discrepancy, the greater the shame.
It is said that the greatest problem with people reading, studying and listening to the word of
God is that it is too painful for their conscience. The psalmists plea is that his conduct might
relieve this pain by thinking, living and feeling the right way.
7. The worship of God is to be in obedience. Isaiah wept over the fact that God did not accept
the worship of Israel because of their disobedience, raising hands full of blood. Their
sacrifices, in such a case, were useless. Paul declared that we are to pray lifting up holy hands,
that is, hands that are obedient to the will of God. The psalmist desires to present himself in
worship before God in purity, with an obedient heart and life. This is possible only by teaming
the righteous judgments of God. The psalmist realizes that to present himself acceptable
before God, he must first team what God expects of him, and be obedient to it.
8. The psalmist's determination is to do the will of God, and asks God to have patience with him
and mercy on him.
The psalmist dedicates his heart, mind and life to keep the statutes of God. It is an obedience
that begins from within. It is not a mechanical obedience of the body; but, a submission of the
heart, soul and mind to the will of God. It is the presenting of himself as a living sacrifice unto
The psalmist understands that this is a process. Knowledge is accumulated. Habits are built.
Maturity is obtained only through experience. He asks God not to give up on him. He will need
mercy. He will need grace. He will need longsuffering. But, his determination was to to continue
on, becoming better as he learned better ~ getting up one more time than he falls down.