Psalm 119: Introduction

Welcome! Whether you are here by invitation from the Facebook group, Memorizing Psalm 119, or have been following this blog, I would be honored if you will join with me in attempting to memorize and/or study the longest psalm in the Bible.  If you merely stumbled across this blog by accident, welcome just the same! The same invitation applies.

Whatever brings you here, my intention for the next several months is to both memorize and study Psalm 119. I would love nothing more than to do this in the fellowship of my Christian sisters and brothers.  My hope is to post devotional thoughts or to share what God is teaching me, personally, as I ruminate on this Word.

I am particularly excited about this project.  For a few years now, I have met at different times with friends, and we have prayed for God’s people to truly hunger for His word.  Even before these prayer meetings, I have had a personal wish to memorize this Psalm. Recently, God prompted me to combine the two into one project, and so here we are.

This theme of Psalm 119 is quite simply a passionate love of God and of His Word.  The psalmist uses a synonym for God’s Word in almost every line of the poem, and his powerful desire to walk closely with His God is evident throughout. Considering the focus of my prayer groups, it seems fitting, then, to study or memorize this psalm of passion for the Word of God and it’s Author.

Before we move on, let’s take a quick peek at the psalm itself. Besides being the longest psalm, it is also the longest chapter in the Bible. The author is not explicitly mentioned in this psalm, but many attribute it to David. Personally, I tend to favor Charles Spurgeon’s approach to assigning authorship:

It is Davidic in tone and expression, and it tallies with David’s experience in many interesting points. . .  After long reading an author one gets to know his style, and a measure of discernment is acquired by which his composition is detected even if his name be concealed. . .

This work was originally penned in Hebrew, of course, and it is an acrostic poem. It is broken into 22 stanzas of 8 verses each; one stanza for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  All 8 verses within each stanza begin with the corresponding letter, so the first word of each line of the first stanza begins with “aleph,” the first word of each line in the second stanza begins with “bet,” and so on.  You could even say it is the “aleph-bet” of following the Lord!

A little nerdy aside: I actually had to do a little legwork to figure this out. I have always heard that Psalm 119 was an acrostic, but when I would use the Strong’s numbers to look up each first word, I was befuddled to find that they did not start with the same-shaped letter.

Only recently did I realize my error: I was looking at the wrong end of the Hebrew word! Hebrew is written from right to left; quite the opposite from English. So when I was looking at what I thought was the beginning of the word in Hebrew, I was actually looking at the final letter!

If you are interested in additional fun facts about Psalm 119, check out this resource at basicsofthebible.org for more nerdy bliss.

OK, now that you have a basic overview of the Psalm, let’s dive in, meditate on this wonderful Word, and store it up in our hearts…

Living Word, please be with each of us as we begin this venture to meditate on a section of Your Word. As we tuck these tidbits into our hearts,  let us taste and see that You are good.  Protect each brother or sister who embarks on this journey from the evil one’s attempts to counterfeit or destroy Your work.

We ask that You will provide the time, the mental ability, and the steadfastness that we will need to get into Your wonderful word, both to study and for those of us who will try to commit it to heart. As we seek to learn this Psalm, I pray that we will also meditate on the psalmist’s words. May it be that some of his ardor will trickle into our own hearts as well. Protect us from our own pride and may it all be done for the glory of Your Son in whose name we pray,  amen. 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s