Welcome to Read Psalm 119!
One may wonder why a whole website on one particular psalm in the Holy Bible.
When a young person, during the middle school years, I read the entire Bible through twice. It all started with a “check-sheet” grid at the back of a paperback modern translation of the Bible called The Way. I love checksheets! Our youth leaders at church urged us to read the Bible through as they gave us the Bibles. I’m pretty sure not many did. But in my bedroom, I would read and record my “x” inside the grid for each chapter.
Psalm 119 is a long chapter.
I wondered, “Why the repetitions? Why the division into 22 groups of eight verses each?And what’s with the Hebrew section titles?” In my youth, I figured that this had some good logic and purpose, so I made a commitment to myself to figure it out. Sometime.
In the (many) years which have followed, I came back to the chapter and learned bits and pieces enough to satisfy a passing curiosity. Dr. David Powlison (School of Biblical Counseling, Christian Counseling and Education Foundation, ccef.org/school), stressed anew for me the value and beauty of the entire book of Psalms. I knew I needed to really dig in to the entire collection and learn them well. So I catalogued them in a Table of Contents (which I will one day upload on this site). And then I came to Psalm 119. It was time.
The more I studied Psalm 119 in detail, the more I began to see how very important, how very central the message of this psalm is to all of life–to the very questions of existence that puzzle us–and yet how neglected and how misunderstood it is! The psalmist stands back from scripture in order to see it and appraise it. This is a conversation between the psalmist and God and often with the people of God…and it includes me.
It takes in all of life’s realities in a moment-by-moment intensely personal drama. This is not archaic, it is immensely relevant! The psalmist points to scripture as the sole standard for comprehending life’s meaning and life’s trajectory. Through scripture, through the written promises of God, we know who God is. We know who we are before Him, and we can know the plans he has for us. This chapter of Psalms is a picture story of the power of sustaining faith in God’s Word. We can match our own life walk to its truths and experience the same sustaining power!
The Psalms are a record of our human nature of need and of God’s loving and sure response to that need. We have a written record of proof that our God knows and understands everything about us and our life here. What’s more, God has a purpose and gives meaning to all joy, sorrow, and suffering. There are three words that come to mind when reading Psalm 119 deeply: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these lies at the foundation of all: God’s love.
Come with the psalmist and the many voices who have joined in throughout history, and with those of us who are depending upon the truths of this scripture even now. I will continue this post in Part II.
- This post was updated Oct 9, 2018. The Bible that I used in middle school was the entire Old and New Testament Bible called The Way, not the New Testament version called Reach Out, that I had erroneously listed. Other edits were made to improve the quality of the post (e.g., links, proofing).