Recently we finished a fence project on our property where we have now placed some goats. Three of these goats are so small that our children are feeding them with bottles a few times each day. The last feeding of the day is at night just before bed, and my two oldest have to make their walk down into the edge of the woods to the fence to feed the goats. When one of my children complained—I handed them a flashlight and explained that it would give them aid as they walked in the darkness. The longer we live in this life, the more precious God’s Word becomes as a light for the journey of faith.
Out of all of the psalms that we have in the Bible—Psalm 119 is the longest and perhaps the one with the most light. With the lengthy arrangement of 22 stanzas each containing 8 verses—the total of 176 verses are solid gold. While some insist the unnamed author is David, there is good reason to believe that it’s perhaps a different author. Some argue for Hezekiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Malachi, or Daniel. Whoever this mysterious man is—we can be certain that his gaze is fixed on God’s Word.
Augustine skipped the 119th psalm in his preaching through the Psalms stating, “As often as I began to reflect upon it, it always exceeded the utmost of my powers.” Although it’s a formidable psalm containing much truth that reveals much about ourselves and our God—it’s a worthy psalm for reading, meditation, and memorization. In fact, the 22 stanzas are arranged in such a way that they each begin with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This organization and design was created for the purpose of memorization. Charles Spurgeon writes the following about this Psalm:
“This sacred ode is a little Bible, the Scriptures condensed, a mass of Bibline, Holy Writ rewritten in holy emotions and actions.”
Philip Henry’s daughter (you may know the popular commentary series by Matthew Henry – and that individual was Philip’s son) wrote in her diary, “I have of late taken some pains to learn by heart Psalm CXIX., and have made some progress therein.”
This psalm contains various vocabulary words that all point us to the value and treasure of God’s Word. The psalmist refers to God’s Word as law and testimonies, precepts, statutes, commandments, and rules. Listen to what the psalmist writes:
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth (Psalm 119:103)!
While the psalmist loved the Word and viewed it as a lamp for his feet and a light upon his path (Ps. 119:105)—he would often meditate upon the Word in the dark of night (Psalm 119:55, 62, 147):
My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise (Psalm 119:148).
We all go through dark times in this life and challenging seasons, and it’s extremely important to keep our eyes fixed upon God’s Word. The Bible will never fail us, never lead us in the wrong direction, nor will the Scriptures lie to us. We have a sure and certain Word as the psalmist makes clear:
Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it (Psalm 119:140).
Friends will fail you, spouses will disappoint you, family will betray you, and co-workers will scheme against you in this life, but what you can rest assured of is that God never fails and his Word is true. If you want to hear comforting words from God, read Psalm 119. As John Calvin said, “Where the Bible speaks, God speaks.”
The psalmist mentions the law of God some 173 times in 176 verses. However, we must not overlook the fact that the psalmist points to God in every single verse. The psalmist was fixed on God’s Word, but more importantly, his focus was on God himself.
As you journey through your day, don’t take your gaze off of God. Meditate upon his Word, think about your decisions in light of God’s revealed truth, and seek to honor God with your entire life—not just one day each week.
Thomas Manton, the Puritan writes, “The law of God is a love letter to the soul. The saints put it in their bosoms and it gains upon their hearts.”