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Ancient Words: Reflections in Psalm 119

May 20, 2023 at 12:00 a.m.

By Scott Johnson

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, having 176 verses divided into 22 sections, with each section beginning with a letter from the Hebrew alphabet in sequence for all of the 22 letters. Appropriately, the beginning of Psalm 119 sets the course for the remaining verses: ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly. (Psa 119:1-8 KJV-BRG)

Psalm 119 is much like Proverbs, wise instruction is given by the Psalmist, for the reader to consider, follow, and commit their life: Live according to the word....Open my eyes to see wonderful things....Give me understanding to obey....Give me comfort in my suffering....Teach me knowledge and good judgement....Don't forsake his precepts....Your hands made me and formed me....Oh, how I love your law....Your word is eternal....I hate every wrong path....Direct my footsteps....Hear my voice....Defend my cause....Rejoice in his promise....My lips over flow with praise....Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

TAU. Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word. Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word. My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes. My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness. Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts. I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. (Psa 119:169-176 KJV-BRG)

LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants. Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction. I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me. I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts. The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies. I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad.

MEM. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. (Psa 119:89-105 KJV-BRG)

Scott and Jane Johnson minister with East Faulkner Church of Christ and BRG Bible. Bible questions can be sent to [email protected]

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