In Tune with God

August 4th, 2011

Psalm 119 is by far the longest psalm. It runs an epic 176 verses, arranged acrostically; that is, each eight-line section begins with a letter following the order of the Hebrew alphabet.

Many people think that Psalm 119 is overwhelming and repetitious, but the author had a reason for writing the psalm this way. Its very length underscores that the Law applies to everything, everywhere, all the time.

Verses 9-16 are a prayer asking for help in keeping the Law. The psalmist was not just asking for guidance in staying away from evil or foolish things. Instead, the request is that every moment of every day be shaped and directed by the word of God. The prayer is asking for a mindset of obedience, where every moment is actively in tune with God’s word.

We rarely set out to disobey God. Most often, we just do not think about it. God’s way is not actively in our thoughts or shaping and controlling our actions. We may love God, but we have not devoted ourselves to living as one of God’s children. This is the difference between being a churchgoer and being a disciple. God’s way is not legislation but is a living word that is meant to direct our hearts and minds.

Yet this stanza is not just about requests for guidance. It nearly bursts with joy! There is no question that the psalmist believed that the way of God is the way of a fulfilled, joyful life. The psalm opens by stating just what the Law offers: “Happy [esher] are those whose way is blameless, / who walk in the law of the LORD!” (verse 1). The Hebrew word esher is translated in the NIV as “blessed,” meaning a happiness that comes from an inner peace born of integrity and trust in God. If you continue to read Psalm 119, you will see that the psalmist had trouble, too. However, with trust in God and in God’s word, the psalmist was able to face those problems with a calm and confident spirit.

Musicians know that they cannot create beautiful music if they do not follow the score. However, when they are following the music and playing as they are directed, they can be part of something wonderful. God asks that we be in tune with him, obeying his word and direction. If we do, we can be part of the very kingdom of God!

Adapted from Daily Bible Study ©2011 by Cokesbury

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