Not long after I gave my life to Christ, I developed a deep and abiding passion for the Word of God. It has been a consuming love affair for me from the day I found the Truth embedded there for me to discover. A love of syntax and language study, only furthers my longing to know the how and the why and the where the words originated. Digging deep into God’s Word spills into my daily devotions and personal study and reflection, I tend to take notes on literally everything. In fact, there are running jokes in my house regarding the notes and the note cards that are scattered all over, including the lawn mower, with scripture prompts and memory verses written out so I can remember what His Word says.
But sometimes, with all that looking there is a wondering of where to start…
Have you asked the question? ” Where do I start when it comes to studying God’s Word?”
When friends ask, my answer is usually,the Gospels, especially Luke and John. However, whenever I feel down or discouraged, weary or broken, hopeless and distraught, or unsure, Psalms has been my prescription of choice. I often call it the Rx for my everything. Seriously.
Coupling an interest in word etymology with my love of journals and over-indulgent note-taking penchant, I began putting together small studies to help me unearth the treasures which were hidden in plain view for us to find. That is the beauty of Studying God’s Word… we discover His great and precious promises that always point to the majesty of the Father and the beauty of His Son. It is absolutely full of so much goodness and it all reminds us that we are loved by God with a deep and true love that meets us right where we are.
Sola Scriptura- Scripture alone.
Through His Word, God revealed His Son, His nature, and His sovereignty. It is wise to study His Word. That word, as John 1 reminds us, is the beginning of all things.
In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, Himself. he was present originally with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing was made that has come into being. John 1:1-3 amp
We are called to seek, study, and find God through His Word, through prayer, and through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Colossians 3:1-2 reminds us to set our minds on the things that are above, yet to do that, completely, we need to fill our hearts and our minds with the Word of God.
“Seek first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; …” Mt. 6:33
“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.” Is. 55:6
“If you seek Him, He will be found by you.” 1 Chr. 28:9
“Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek His face evermore.” Ps. 105:4
The most important thing we can do each day is fill up on His Holy Word. We need to ingest it as a divine meal of holy proportions. Feasting on the supreme Wisdom of God, getting it in front of our eyes, listening to it with our ears, writing it down with our hands, and speaking it with our mouths opens up every gate of entrance to our heart. And out of the abundance of the heart we live by the words we speak. ( Lk 6:45; Mt 4:4, Pr 18:21)
Studying God’s Word reveals His heart to us in ways that listening to sermons, reading expositional offerings, or soaking up someone else’s ideas or thoughts about God simply can not do. Look at what Hebrews 4:12 says about God’s Word, ” ..it is alive and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword..“, and friend it is there for us to take in. Please understand that sermons, essays, blogs ( hello, you are reading mine), and books that expound upon the validity of His Word and His way are necessary for our growth. But, friend, can I please just encourage you that no time spent in the Word of God, the real living full and complete WORD of God, is a waste of time.
Discovering God’s Promises in His Word: Psalm 119
The prayers and petitions of this Psalm are literally a praise offering of esteem for God’s Word. As I have been reading commentaries on this Psalm I have found multiple exhortations to commit the entire passage to memory. (All 176 verses)
It is referred to as ,’The Saint’s Alphabet’, because each stanza in the Psalm begins with one of the 22 letters of the Hebrew Alphabet which remind the individual of an attribute or a characteristic of God.This Psalm is an acrostic poem that actually becomes a prayer.
The number 22 is significant for a few reasons:
- Each section corresponds with a significant letter of the Hebrew Alphabet.
- The stanzas consists of 8 verses which begin with the same word represented by the a Hebrew letter.
- The 22 letters of the Hebrew Alphabet are considered the building blocks of Creation.( ie: the way the first letter, Aleph, is drawn represents upper and lower waters.)
Our breath prayers are often an example of poetic praise, elevating God as we journey through life.
David is the assumed author of this song of praise in which Matthew Henry relates are, ” …a collection of the breathings and elevations of his soul to God…”. Most writers believe the Psalm is a collection of experiences over a lifetime, not something penned in one sitting. How fitting to consider, the possibility of our breath prayers as a Psalm of praise and reflection.
” …using only a few words the writer of Psalm 119 has produced permutations and combinations of meaning…. never repeating himself. The more one studies it, the better they are.” – Charles Spurgeon
“Its obscurity is hidden beneath a veil of light, and hence only those discover it, who are in thorough earnest, not only look on the word, but like the angels, look into it.” – St Augustine
The whole point of its construction is to speak to both the mind and the memory.
- The theme of this Psalm is simply, the Word of God.
- The purpose is to magnify God’s Law and honor its holy truths.
- As we read it, the practicality of the words draw us in and get our attention. (our mind is connected)
- As we meditate on the beauty and depth of the promises, our hearts are redeemed by the fullness of its truth. (our memory replays redemption’s theme)
Validating God’s Word through a Poem of Praise
The unique structure of this poem has caused it to be a study in wisdom through the ages. In this Psalm, the personal name of God, YAHWEH¸is used 24 times. Our God is a personal and real God. He is not beyond connecting with. And yet, we can easily forget that He is God, and we need to revere and respect Him in awe and wonder. When we consider that his Law and His Word are synonymous it should fill us with deep appreciation for Truth.
There are 10 different words which reveal the validity of God’s Word and His Law in this Psalm. These synonyms are contained in almost every single verse throughout the Psalm.
- God’s law is sovereign.
- His way is provident and should be obeyed.
- His testimonies are complimentary all throughout the Word. (The Word literally testifies of itself over and over.)
- His commandments are given by authority and are trustworthy.
- His precepts can be (should be) personally applied in all our life situations.
- The Word, Christ, is all and in all.
- His judgments are wisdom which leads us to judge wisely in life.
- His righteousness is holy and they set our standard of conduct.
- His statutes are perpetually fixed as the physical laws which govern our world.(Science and Creation are not combative but complimentary.)
- His Truth is verified. It is the foundation upon which everything else has been built in eternal faithfulness.
Our lives should be influenced by His Word so much that the influence leaves a pattern of His fingerprint upon all our ways.
The whole Psalm is designed to illustrate the influence of one who seeks after God. His Word provides as counsel through all the circumstances we encounter in our life’s journey. To live as we know God, we must then know His law, His ordinances, His commandments, His statutes, His precepts, His decrees, His testimonies, His ways, His faithfulness, and His Word. Like the rest of scripture, this inspired poem testifies of God’s trustworthiness, His faithful love of those who are called by His Name, and His righteous eternal holiness.
For the next 8 weeks, I will be sharing bits and pieces of this study on Psalm 119. I pray we will learn to follow David’s example of collecting our thoughts upon His word in poetic praise and that our breath prayers would, like David, ride on the wind of hope reaching heaven on the wings of faith.
May we learn by example the humble art of writing out our sacred petitions directed by His Word igniting a fire of faith in our hearts.
An Invitation to Studying Psalm 119 in Community
Each Saturday I will share a post here on Journeys In Grace that revolves around 3 stanzas from this chapter in Psalms. There is already a group building who is planning to study these words together over at the Table in Grace Community on FB. I will be much more interactive with this study over there by posting questions, thoughts, and interesting details about the Psalm, the Words, and the lessons we can learn from this study through the week. If you would love to join the group study, please know you are always welcome at the Table of Grace.
Even if you don’t want to join us in the FB group are you interested in going deeper? Discovering God’s promises through His Word: Psalm 119. is a resource I would love to share with you. For a short while it will be available here and then will only be available to my email subscribers.