November 1 – Psalm 119

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November 1 – Psalm 119

By the time Jesus was actively in ministry and then Paul was teaching about the Law, it had become restrictive and negative.  Those who had taken it upon themselves to interpret the Law had removed all of the joy from obedience to God.  They had made the rules of the Law greater than the spirit of the Law and separated obedience to the Law from being in relationship with the Lord, the author of the Law.

However, when the Psalmist was writing the words of Psalm 119, it is easy to see how much joy he takes in his love of what the Law of the Lord really is.  It isn't just about observing the precepts, but since the Law is God’s will expressed to us, because we love God, we will love what it is He desires for us.

Psalm 119 consists of 22 strophes.  A strophe is a unit of verses within a poem.  If we were able to read this in Hebrew, we would see that it is an acrostic.  There are eight lines within each strophe and each line begins with the same letter beginning with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

There are also eight different words used to speak of the Law.  In verses 33-40; 57-64; and 73-80, each word is used in a verse of the strophe.  The RSV (Revised Standard Version of the Bible) is really the only translation that holds consistency with these eight words, so for ease of understanding, that is the translation I will use.  They are: law, testimony, ordinance (or judgment), commandment, statute, precept, word, and promise.

One other thing you might notice as you read through this Psalm is that each verse contains a reference or an address to God.  For the Psalmist, the Law and God are wholly intertwined and by praising the Law, he is also praising the Lord.

There are many different ways he finds to express himself in this Psalm, sometimes he laments his own failings and attacks by his enemies, but for the most part, we discover great joy in his understanding of God’s Law.  He never complains about having to obey it, but recognizes that in obeying God’s Law, he will find life, comfort, hope and wisdom.

Spend today skimming through the Psalm. Tomorrow we will begin with Aleph – Psalm 119:1-8.