Long Song Study, part A


It’s Bible Study Day!
Since we can’t gather together in person right now,
let’s meet up here!

study

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, longer than some entire books of the Bible. Perhaps its length is meant to tip us off to a little secret: learning to walk with God in faith and obedience is not learned in a day. It takes a lifetime. So take God up on His gift of grace, and give yourself some, too.

This study will be more like a slow marathon than a speedy sprint. For those of us non-runners, it will be more like a stroll than a power walk. We’re going to stop and smell some rose-scented words as we saunter through the first eight verses.

Ready? Open up your Bible to Psalm 119. Let’s go!

Verse 1
“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.”

How does this magnificent psalm begin? With a blessing! It sounds a lot like the first words Jesus spoke in His first public sermon: “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” The main idea is that there is great blessing in walking in the ways of the Lord.  All of the 175 verses that follow support that one key thought.
Notice it’s a walk, not a run, but also not a sit. We walk, which means there is steady progress, a quiet advance, a persistent continuance. No fast forward, no hurried quick-fix, no checklist with instant results. Also, no lazy bones, no couch potato procrastinating, no waiting for maturity to magically appear.

Verse 2
“Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,”

Another blessing! This time it’s for keeping and seeking. “We must first get a thing before we can keep it. And in order to keep it well, we must get a firm grip on it.” (Spurgeon) So, we are to grab ahold of the scriptures and not let go. Keep His Word. But seek Him with all your heart. The Hebrew understanding of “heart” includes the emotions, the will, and the intellect. All of it.

Verse 3
“who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!”

It’s not enough to refrain from doing wrong things. We are to pursue the right things! By seeking, we find out what His ways are, so that we can walk like Him.

Verse 4
“You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.”

At this point, the focus shifts from talking about God, to talking directly to God. And he never stops. The rest of the psalm is a prayer with praise and testimony sprinkled in.
Now we learn how the Word is to be kept: with diligence. The Hebrew word used here means “vehemently”, which is defined as zealously, ardently, strongly emotional, and intensely passionate. Is that how you feel about God’s Word?

Verse 5
“Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!”

No wonder, then, that he immediately begins to confess his lack of zeal. He wishes he was farther along when it came to knowing and obeying God’s laws. That’s actually a good place to start, though. When we recognize all our best intentions and lofty goals often fall short, we are in a good position to ask God to provide a consistent desire for and love for the Word.

Verse 6
“Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.”

He doesn’t want to stand before God someday and have nothing to show for his life and be exposed as a fraud, as one who professed the name of God but did not fully live for Him. That would be embarrassing. How can we avoid that situation? Fix our eyes on God’s Word and let it do its work in us. Shame rises up when we compare ourselves to each other. Walking with God is not a competition so don’t worry about lagging behind or being out in front. Just keep walking with your eyes on Jesus.

Verse 7
“I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.”

Prayer leads to praise. We may have a long way to go, but we can give Him praise as we continue growing and learning. The more we learn about the Lord, the more we will want to praise Him.

Verse 8
“I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!”

A resolution is made: I will do this! He commits to keeping all the commandments. Whew! That’s impressive, but we all know willpower only takes us so far. Aware that he probably won’t measure up to such perfection, he appeals to God’s mercy. “Don’t give up on me!” And, of course, He never gives up on us. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5)

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What do we know for sure from this passage?

  • There is a way that leads to a life of blessing.
  • We can choose to walk in that way, or not.
  • There are things we can do to stay on track: seek Him, keep His commands, fix our eyes on Him.
  • Walking with God is a lifelong process with some successes and some failures.
  • He walks with us and never gives up on us.

Please share your thoughts, insights, comments and questions! This is intended to be a conversation, not a monologue!

10 thoughts on “Long Song Study, part A

  1. Thanks Dinah. I love how you can pick apart this stanza and get to the real meaning of it. It is encouraging that even this author struggled with completely obeying God’s commands, even though it was the desire of his heart. I can’t wait for more!

  2. There is so much going on here. My thoughts are many and range in different categories. I strive to follow His precepts. I have misgivings as I am not perfect. Only by Christ am I lifted up.
    Who am I to say I am blameless have kept His commands every minute hour or day of my life. Even though I am unworthy Christ has paid the price of my salvation and as such causes me to praise the Lord and strive to reach the righteousness expected of a child of God. Praise God forever and ever.

  3. Pingback: A is for All | a small drop of ink

  4. Do you think we could use your blog as a Bible study? We are coming to an end of a study of Ephesians and the group expressed interest in going on especially in this time of zoom. We usually take off the summers.
    I like how you express the first 8 verses starting with the letter “A”.
    This is really good!

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