Daily Family Worship

Psalm 119: 1-8: Love for the Lord’s Word

by | Jun 22, 2024

psalm 119:1-6

The one theme of this blessed composition is the Word of the Lord. The Psalmist sets his subject in many lights, and speaks of it in various ways. In fact, there are ten different words used throughout this Psalm (at least one of the ten in each verse, except for verse 122), by which he refers to God’s Word – namely, the words way, law, testimonies, commandments, precepts, statutes, judgments, word, righteousness, and truth. He who wrote this wonderful song was saturated with a love for those few Books of Scripture which he possessed. Andrew Bonar tells of a simple Christian in a humble farmhouse, who had meditated his way through the Bible three times. This is precisely what the Psalmist had done – he had gone past the mere formality of reading the Scriptures, and had meditated upon the inspired comfort and teaching which he derived therefrom. Like Martin Luther, David had shaken every fruit tree in God’s garden; and he had gathered much golden fruit from their branches. One man has observed that most people “read their Bibles like cows that stand in the thick grass, and trample under their feet the finest flowers and herbs.” Alas! It is to be feared that we too often do the same! This is a miserable way to treat the pages of Divine inspiration. May the Lord prevent us from repeating that sin while reading this precious Psalm!

The best way for our souls to be benefited by this sacred composition is to get our own minds into intense sympathy with its subject: the Word of God. In order to do this, we would certainly do well if we would commit it to memory. Philip Henry’s daughter (and Matthew Henry’s sister) wrote in her diary, “I have of late taken some pains to learn by heart Psalm 119, and have made some progress therein.” She was a sensible, Godly woman! The same Philip Henry taught his sons and daughters to go through this Psalm in order, and meditate upon one verse every day. This would enable them to derive consolation and instruction from each of its verses twice in a year, and (as he told them) it would cause them to fall “in love with all the rest of the Scriptures.” How favored we are to have a letter that the Eternal God has written to us, in His own hand and style! Let us pray to Him for grace to read and understand these precious words, and find them to be better than a garden of sweet flowers!

These first eight verses, in the original Hebrew, all begin with the letter aleph. They are entirely filled with a contemplation of the blessedness which comes through keeping the statutes of the Lord. The subject is treated in a devout manner, rather than in a didactic teaching style. Heart-fellowship with God is enjoyed through a love of that Word, which is God’s way of communing with the soul by His Holy Spirit. Prayer and praise and all sorts of devotional acts and feelings gleam through these verses, like beams of sunlight through an olive grove! We are not only instructed, but also influenced, to holy expressions of emotion.

Lovers of God’s holy Word are here spoken of as being blessed, for several reasons – first, because they are preserved from defilement (verse 1); second, because they are made practically holy (verses 2-3); and third, because they are led to follow after God sincerely and intensely (verse 2). It is seen that this holy walking must be desirable because the Lord commands it (verse 4); therefore, the pious soul prays for it (verse 5), and feels that its comfort and courage must depend upon obtaining it (verse 6). In the prospect of answered prayer – in fact, while the prayer is being answered – the heart is full of thankfulness (verse 7); and it is fixed in a solemn resolution to not miss the blessing, if the Lord will only give enabling grace (verse 8).

It is worth noticing that there is a transition, in verse 4; the Psalmist proceeds from speaking about other people, to a more personal conversation with the Lord. This transition becomes even more clear as we advance – until, in the later verses, the communion becomes very intense and soul-moving. O that every one of us may feel the glow as we read these words!

O Lord, we beseech You to send the Holy Spirit as our infallible Teacher, Who holds the Key of David, so that He may open the blessed contents of this Psalm to us as we diligently search for blessedness therein! Amen.

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