Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Psalm 119 - Let's Start at the Very Beginning (a very good place to start)

So, are you now singing that song from the Sound of Music?  If you are, it's actually rather fitting.  When I decided to study & meditate on Psalm 119 I knew it was long.  But, then when I looked at my study Bible I found out that Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm in the Bible...and it is an acrostic.

In other words it's alphabetically arranged.  The first stanza or section of verses is marked as 'Aleph'.  Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew language and each line in that stanza in the original Hebrew would have begun with that letter.  The next section of verses is marked 'Beth', the next letter.  The next is 'Gimel'...and so on.  There are 22 total stanzas.  So, it was designed a lot like that song from The Sound of Music in that it was designed in a way that it could be easily learned or remembered in it's original form.

I'm going to take one section at a time (one each day)  in my own study.  I may journal on here through each as well...so it's going to be a lot of blogging on Psalm 119.  :)  Here we go....

Psalm 119:1-8   (Aleph)

Blessed are they whose ways are blameless,
  who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are they who keep his statutes
  and seek him with all their heart.
They do nothing wrong;
  they walk in his ways.
You have laid down precepts 
  that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast
  in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame 
  when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart
  as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees;
  do not utterly forsake me.

At first glance this section  sounded like a tall order to me.  Words like 'ways are blameless', 'they do nothing wrong', 'precepts to be fully obeyed' sound impossible.  They sound like perfection - something I definitely do not have a grasp on.

Other parts sounded more do-able. 'Seek him with all their heart'.  'Praise him with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws'.  Seeking and Praising are some things I can do!

As I continued to look at this section I also saw that it was progressive.  Those whose ways are blameless walk in the law of the Lord.  And those who do that (keep his statutes...his laws) seek him with all their heart.  So, it actually begins with seeking Him through which we learn his laws, and then we follow his ways.

But, I was still stuck with this 'blameless' thing.  I mean who among us is blameless?  No one, no matter how closely we follow God can stand blameless solely through following his commands. We are bound to fail in that regard.  And, then as I begin reading the section out loud & attempting to memorize it, I had additional insight.  I think David actually begins this Psalm describing those he is striving to be like...perhaps not an actual person...but an ideal - the ideal of being blameless.

He goes on to say (and this is my paraphrasing) that he wishes he was constant in obeying all God's decrees...that then he wouldn't be put to shame as he looks at God's commands.  And, then he makes a commitment to learning God's laws.

And, that is what I take from this first section....a dedication page of sorts....making that commitment to learn God's laws, to learn His Word so that I can follow Him & walk in His ways.

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