Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wednesday Devotional: Psalm 119.1-8 (Stanza א)

For the foreseeable future, I will be posting a Wednesday devotional each week. I aim for them to be helpful to my students especially, but I also hope than any other believer or spiritual seeker will be drawn to God and deeper study of His Holy Book (i.e. the Holy Bible: Old and New Testaments, minus the Apocrypha). Enjoying God working in our lives by reading and reflecting on Scripture is an important component of Christian Spirituality, regardless of how long or short anyone has been a true believer in Jesus. And while reading the Word of God every day should not be used as a legalistic test of true spirituality, consistent time in the Word of God should be part of a healthy Spiritual life. It is in that spirit, that I provide this devotional. So, without further ado, we will get on with the substance of the Word.

Abba Father, You are Good and Holy and Pure. Everything that is good and right in this world comes from Your hand! Today, may hold for us difficulties and struggles, but we pray that You would encourage us and empower us by Your Holy Spirit to live for Jesus more than we did before! There is no one and nothing like You, Abba, so Holy, True, and Real. No God deserves glory like You do, because You gave Jesus up to pay for our mistakes and You sent Your Holy Spirit to make living for You possible. Praise Your Name! Teach us today Your Word, and be glorified in our lives! In Jesus' Name, we pray, Amen.

Scripture: Psalm 119.1-8 (Stanza א)
1   Blessings for those who have integrity in life's path,
     those who are walking in the instruction of Yahweh.
2   Blessings for those who are keeping His testimonies--
     they seek Him with all their heart
3   Moreover, they don't do what's wrong;
     They walk on His path.
4   You commanded to completely obey Your requirements
5   O that my ways were consistent
     To obey Your laws,
6   Then I wouldn't be ashamed
     When I think deeply about all Your commands!
7   I will praise you with genuine rightness
     When I learn the judgments of Your righteousness
8   I will obey Your laws;
     Don't totally abandon me!

Psalm 119 is the longest psalm in the Bible. It contains 22 stanzas that each have 8 verses. Each stanza begins in Hebrew with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Unlike many psalms that purely a prayer for help, for forgiveness, or a prayer of praise or of wisdom, Psalm 119 pulls in a lot of the highlights of each. However, it is still very much a prayer for help. Furthermore, all the verses are poetic, and most contain two to three subsections. Although it is difficult to break into two pieces in English, verse 4 has two subsections in Hebrew. In many case the second section clarifies or extends the meaning of the first. This first stanza serves as an intro to the psalm as a whole.

I think about this psalm and pray over it, some things really stick out to me. It strikes me that the psalmist starts off thinking about how great it is to live for God, about how happy and blessed it makes a person. He talks about what  a life focused and committed to Yahweh the Holy Trinity looks like and how God wants human life to be oriented towards Him in that way.

But then, like me, and many of us, he recognizes the depths of his own failure to live for God, to understand and reflect on His word. He wants to live for God and he wants to not have to feel bad or embarrassed when he thinks about whether he is doing what God wants or not. Instead, he tells God that he will praise Him and thank Him genuinely if God would just teach Him His ways. He wants his relationship with God, He promises to be faithful. He just wants to keep that relationship with God.

I think one of the key things I take away from this is just how important my relationship with God should be. I have to ask myself, do I long to have a strong relationship with God above all else? Do I seek to know and obey Him? Do I even care about learning from His Word?

Secondly, I see that I need to remember how wonderful and blessed it is to follow and obey God, to do His will and know Him. Will I follow? Will I obey? Do I see following His as valuable and good and filled with joy? I should, I think.

And lastly, I am reminded of my own human frailty. I can't do this on my own. I need my God to help me, to teach me, to strengthen me. This draws me to prayer!


Abba, I've failed to follow You fully so many times. Forgive me. Help me to see how blessed it is to walk with You, to follow You, to obey You! Moreover, teach me Your ways. Don't leave me alone in my experience of life, instead, fill me afresh with Your Holy Spirit and empower me to live for You! You are more important and more valuable to me than anything or anyone I know! O Lord, that You would make that only more and more true! Get the all the glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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