Psalm 119:1-88

Psalm 119 is most commonly known for being the longest chapter in the Bible...but it is also one of the most creatively poetic.  The psalm is an alphabetical acrostic, consisting of twenty two stanzas, eight verses each (The Expositor's Bible Commentary).  Each of the twenty two stanzas correlate to one of the 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet.  And within each stanza, there are eight lines with each line beginning with the corresponding letter.  Simply, there are 22 divisions of this psalm, each division has eight lines.  If we were using the English alphabet, all eight lines of the first stanza would begin with "A" and each of the remaining stanza's eight lines would follow this pattern with the next letter in the alphabet.  This pattern escapes us obviously because we are reading an English translation.

I would like to suggest however that the psalm's structure is not just to be creative.  I believe it is instructive.  There is supposed to be an order to life, a living symmetry.  In fact, the poetic structure of the psalm is in keeping with its theme...a life structured around the wisdom of God found in His Word.  There are eight different words used for God's law in this psalm:  law, word, laws, statues, commands, decrees, precepts, and promise.  This is a great study, digging around in the meaning of each!  This is not redundancy but rather emphasis.  Symmetry is defined as the quality of being made up of exactly similar parts facing each other or around an axis.  Every part of my life is supposed to be facing, centered around the wisdom of God's instruction, my eternal axis!

In reading the first 88 verses today, I am fixated on one verse, 35.  "Make we walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found."  If your orientation to Christianity is trying to do the right things so you avoid punishment, you miss the heart of God.  We pursue righteousness not to avoid punishment but rather to reach hard for the depth of fulfillment in life that can only come from embracing "the way" of God (sounds like a great idea for a blog title!).  His every yes and every no is motivated by having our best interest at heart...can you trust Him?

Pastor Fred