It is the longest chapter in the Bible with 176 verses. It is an acrostic poem formed by the Hebrew alphabet. I think we probably lose something of the poetic beauty in translation because each of the 22 sections is made up of 8 lines with each line beginning with the same letter of the alphabet. The consideration and work that went into this beautiful section of Scripture is mind boggling to me. Full confession…I think sometimes that my understanding of these men being inspired to write down Scripture is that it must have happened in some easy glowy the “pen” practically moved itself across the page kind of way. I’m not sure what the process looked like but as my appreciation and love for the book grows I am becoming more aware that it probably didn’t look like that.
The author is unknown but is generally thought to be either Ezra or possibly Nehemiah or even David. Tradition does say that David used it to teach his son Solomon the alphabet.
It has long been one of my favorite chapters to read regularly. The psalmist expresses such a deep love for the word of God and I want to tether myself with the same deep affection to the Scriptures. I want to love God’s ways with that same depth of devotion and the only way to have that is to feast on it every day.
CS Lewis said that Psalm 119 “…is not, and does not pretend to be, a sudden outpouring of the heart…it is a pattern, a thing done like embroidery, stitch by stitch, through long quiet hours for the love of the subject and for the delight in leisurely disciplined craftsmanship.”
Blessed are those whose way is blameless
Essentially, happy is the one who is so devoted to God’s word that his entire life is lived in obedience to it.
In his book, The Golden Alphabet, Spurgeon says that we must settle in our hearts the fact that “…holiness is happiness and that we are wise to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness.”
He also went on to say that because of this great love and allegiance to God’s law that Christianity was not anything out of the ordinary but was rather just the everyday way of life to those who lived by it. It molded their public behavior as well as their private devotions.
One of the greatest tricks of the enemy has been to convince mankind that living according to God’s way is just not worth it. That it is somehow lacking in fun or boring. But while a life lived by following after God is not devoid of suffering or heartache, it is a life that does not have to experience such things without hope.
Who walk in the way of the Lord
It is not enough to just know what God’s way is, that knowledge must lead to right behaviors. When I was reading about this psalm I can across another quote by Charles Spurgeon that I just loved.
“To enjoy this beatitude a holy walking must become habitual. This sacred exercise is very different from sluggish piety. ‘Blessed are the undefiled in the way who walk in the law of the Lord.’ A man may sit down in the road without soiling his skin or fouling his apparel, but that is not enough. There must be progress – practical action – in the Christian life; and in order to experience blessedness we must be doing something for the Master.”
Jesus told us that the greatest commandment is to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. And the second greatest is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
We can do neither of those things without a devotion to knowing God’s ways and for that knowledge to have a practical outworking in our lives toward other people.
We could spend hours and hours studying this beautiful chapter and never reach an end to the wisdom found inside it. The day we ladies met we just went over the first eight verses and still only skimmed the surface. One suggestion that is helpful is to read a section of this psalm everyday. Can you imagine the fatness of our souls if we did this over and over and over again?
CS Lewis also said “…the most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.”
May we live such delight and may our prayer be the same as found in verse five:
Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!