Lenten Daily Devotionals 2024

Rev Dr. Samson Parekh, Senior Pastor

CONCLUSION

Psalm 1:2-3

When God laid it on my heart to write forty Lenten Devotionals based on this single Psalm, I approached the task with apprehension, fearing it might become monotonous since only one subject is addressed throughout the entire chapter. I pondered how various topics could be drawn from one Psalm, as the Psalmist solely focuses on one theme: the Word of God and elaborates on the same theme by using eight different terms. However, upon delving into the Psalm, I was surprised and blessed to discover the multitude of subjects, nuances of meaning, appeals, and applications contained within it. Charles Spurgeon aptly summarizes Psalm 119, stating:

“Some have said that in it there is an absence of variety, but that is merely the observation of those who have not studied it. I have weighed each word and looked at each syllable with lengthened meditation; and I bear witness that this sacred song has no tautology in it but is charmingly varied from beginning to end. Its variety is that of a kaleidoscope: from a few objects a boundless variation is produced. In the kaleidoscope you look once, and there is a strangely beautiful form. You shift the glass a very little, and another shape, equally delicate and beautiful, is before your eyes. So, it is here.”

Thus, I believe that the study of this single Psalm in the form of Lenten Devotionals has illuminated various subjects with diverse shades of meaning, greatly benefiting the reader. I also hope that through this study, readers are drawn closer to God’s Word and become more passionate about studying it. Such studies nurture our love for God’s Word, fostering spiritual growth. I trust this has been the case.

The study of Psalm 119 teaches us that loving God’s Word and gaining understanding from it does not depend on our circumstances. Like the Psalmist, we should cling to it, study it, and proclaim it to the world regardless of our circumstances. As Paul says in 2 Tim. 4:2, we should be prepared to study and share God’s law, both in season and out of season. This persistence enables us to draw encouragement and strength in times of need, enabling us to rise above our circumstances.

Let us heed David’s final charge to Solomon from his deathbed in 1 Kings 2:2-3:

“I am about to go the way of all the earth, so be strong, show yourself a man and observe what the LORD your God requires: walk in his ways, keep his decrees and commandments, his laws and requirements as written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.”

What precious and practical advice from a king who, at the end of his 70 years of life, remained devoted to the Word of God! Let us be encouraged to follow David’s example. Let us love God’s commandments with our whole hearts, like the Psalmist, and live by them so that all our ways will prosper, and we will become shining and effective witnesses for the Lord in this world. Apostle John says in 1Jn 2:3-5, “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But anyone obeys his Word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him; Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.’ 

May the words of Psalm 1:2-3 ring true in our lives, as we become God’s people “whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditate on his Law day and night, who become like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither but whatever they do prospers.” Therefore, let us reassess our loyalty to God’s Word and our passion to study it, show it in life, and share it with others. As Spurgeon puts it, “Let it be for us ‘a lamp by night, a light by day, and a delight at all times.’”

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, instill within us a deep desire to contemplate your Word ceaselessly, integrate its teachings into our lives daily, and  share it with those in our midst generously. Amen.

POURING FORTH PRAISES

119:169-176

In verse 171, the verb na-ba’ means “to overflow, spring, bubble up, or pour forth.” Here it is used in imperfect tense signifying a continuous action of pouring forth or bubbling up. At the end of this long Psalm, the Psalmist offers this prayer: “May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees. May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous.” What a prayer to utter in the face of looming death! Since he prays in verse 175, “Let me live that I may praise you,” it seems the Psalmist’s life is in danger. Yet, his heart is set on learning the Word of God to such an extent that God’s decrees will result in the pouring forth of praise from his mouth.

This is the most extreme condition a person can face: the final moments of life. But this is the lesson we glean from the Psalmist here. At any point in our lives and even under the most perilous circumstances, the Word of God must continue to bubble up, as Jesus promised, with the joy of eternal life becoming like a spring that continually bubbles up from within [John 4:14]. The Word of God should remain a source of joy and vitality in our lives, even in difficult circumstances. Then the Psalmist is prepared to receive help from the powerful hand of God and to continue praising him. Even if he strays like a lost sheep, God will seek him out and guide him back to the path of righteousness because God is always pleased with his sacrifice of praise as Psalm 50:23 says, “Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me.” Guzik rightly asserts, “The psalm ends with the reminder that the power and greatness of God’s word do not solely reside in its literary brilliance. Its greatness and glory lie in the fact that God comes to us and seeks us through His word” [Guzik]. Being in God’s fold and under his protection and provision result in praise and thanksgiving.

As we reflect on the Word of God, learn from it, and experience his faithfulness, our hearts cannot help but overflow with praise and worship. The more we meditate on God’s commandments and laws, the more we recognize his righteousness and goodness and feel compelled to share them with others by continuously speaking forth from our mouths. May God’s goodness and righteousness follow us all the days of our life as we meditate upon, practice, and share God’s Word in and through our lives.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, may I continue to learn from your precepts so deeply that they overflow from my mouth continuously, testifying to your goodness and righteousness. Amen.

THE FEAR OF THE LORD

Psalm 119:161-168

From verse 161, we can understand that the Psalmist is enduring high-level persecution by the rulers. This condition is reminiscent of Apostle Paul, who stood in chains before Roman governors Felix and Festus, and King Agrippa in Caesarea [Acts 24-26]. Jesus and his disciples too were persecuted by both Jewish and Gentile leaders. The history of the Bible and Christianity is replete with accounts of God’s people being persecuted by rulers. Emperors like Nero persecuted and killed hundreds of innocent people of God in Rome, just as the Psalmist was persecuted without cause. Even today, believers face increasing persecution in many nations around the world, unjustly. However, this is to be expected. Jesus says in John 15:18-20, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first … but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you … no servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” Thus, persecution is a part of a believer’s life, sometimes from our enemies and sometimes from our own people, like Judas Iscariot. And we are persecuted without cause.

However, the Psalmist neither dwells on persecution by his enemies nor fears them. Instead, he trembles at the Word of God. Persecution by those in authority would not cause the Psalmist to lose his awe and reverence for God’s word. Spurgeon rightly asserts, “He might have been overcome by awe of the princes had it not been that a greater fear drove out the less, and he was swayed by awe of God’s word. How little do crowns and scepters become in the judgment of that man who perceives a more majestic royalty in the commands of his God.” And so, Apostle Paul asks in Romans 8:31, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” He who fears God does not fear anyone or anything in the whole world. The God who has revealed his omniscience, omnipresence, omnificence, and omnipotence in his Word, is able to deal with any human or supernatural ruler or circumstance. When we truly honor him out of reverence, he empowers us to withstand any rulers and their persecution, like Apostle Paul and many others. Then we will not fear losing our lives for the Lord, like thousands of martyrs before us.

The Psalmist’s fear of God comes from his constant meditation upon God’s Word. He says, “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.” When we devote ourselves to meditating on God’s righteous law, we gain more knowledge of God, which fosters reverence for him and his Word. This reverence empowers, strengthens, and energizes us to stand against any rulers or wicked persons opposed to God and who persecute us. Then what Jesus says in Luke 12:11-12 comes true, “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers, and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” This wisdom and strength come only from being in fellowship with God and meditating upon His Word.

Therefore, let us set aside the fears instilled by humans who devise schemes to intimidate us, and let us fear only the Lord. He will dispel our fears and empower us to face all kinds of people and circumstances.

Heavenly Father, help us to fear You with our whole hearts so that all fear of man may be removed from us. Amen.

PLEADING WITH WHOLE HEART

119:145-152

The Psalmist initiates this section by fervently calling upon the LORD with his whole heart. This isn’t a half-hearted plea but rather an earnest and sincere appeal for God’s intervention. His undivided attention is fixated solely on one thing: a response from God to his prayer. This is evident as he implores for God’s help even before the break of dawn, commencing his day with entreaties to God. The night is divided into four watches. Through the watches of the night, he keeps his eyes open and focused on the LORD, meditating on God’s promises with unwavering faith in their fulfillment. Thus, day and night, he harbors only one concern in his heart: God’s response to his prayers in accordance with his promises.

This exemplifies how we must fix our gaze entirely upon the Lord and his promises. We must plead for the answers to our prayers with our whole hearts, leaving no room for other thoughts, and steadfastly claiming God’s promises. In our times of trouble, God is ever-present to help. When we fix our eyes intently upon the Maker of heaven and earth, he will answer us and attend to us because he does not slumber but watches over us day and night [Psalm 121].

In seeking answers to his prayers and aid from God, the Psalmist acknowledges the reciprocal nature of his relationship with God; he submits himself to God in obedience. While pleading for God’s answer to his prayers, he declares, “I will obey your decrees” and “I will keep your statutes,” signifying the commitment he makes to the Lord. This is how we ought to pray to God: with complete obedience to his commandments, recognizing their truth and eternality. Through complete obedience to God’s Word, we demonstrate our unwavering loyalty to him. For instance, Daniel, Mishael, Hananiah, and Azariah refused to defile themselves with royal food in obedience to God’s command. And the three of them also refused to worship the statue of king Nebuchadnezzar. As a result, they received help and deliverance from the Lord. Therefore, when we implore God to respond to us, we must ensure our obedience to his Word because through his Word, God reveals his will for us, emphasizing obedience as stated in 1 Samuel 15:22, “Behold, obedience is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” [See also, 1 Pet. 1:14; Acts 5:29; 1 Jn. 5:3].

During our Lenten journey, let us evaluate our obedience to the Lord in all areas of our lives and examine our loyalty to him. Let us approach God with wholeheartedness and lay our requests before him, claiming his promises. Then, in our times of need, we will experience the ever-present help of God.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to dedicate my heart completely to you and seek your face with my whole heart. Amen.

GOD THE RIGHTEOUS ONE

Psalm 119:137-144

In verse 137, the Psalmist speaks of God being righteous. This means, in essence, that God is inherently and eternally right. By his very nature, character, and existence, God is right and nothing but right. His attribute of being right is intrinsic, everlasting, immovable, and immutable throughout all eternity. Therefore, his attribute of righteousness is unchangeable. God exists as the righteous One, and thus, there is no wrong in him. His inherent righteousness is absolutely and eternally firm, akin to a solid mountain that cannot be moved. Because God is inherently right and knows what is right, he only does what is right. Therefore, he is absolutely truthful, dependable, and trustworthy at all times.

This righteousness of God is expressed in his Word. Therefore, just as God is absolutely truthful and trustworthy, his Word is also entirely truthful and trustworthy. In his Word, the righteous God lays down what is right in his eyes. When we believe in and follow his Word, we are considered right in his eyes and share fellowship with him. Thus, by obeying God’s Word, the Psalmist demonstrates that he is right in God’s eyes. This is why he holds the Law of the Lord so dear to him and is fervent in implementing God’s righteousness in the community. And when enemies disregard God’s righteousness revealed in his Word, the Psalmist finds it intolerable.

If we believe in our righteous God and fully obey his righteousness expressed in his written Word and his Living Word, Jesus Christ, we also are reckoned righteous in his eyes. And we will love the Lord and his Word with all our hearts [1 Jn. 2:29]. When his righteous commandments, especially to believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord, are flagrantly violated by the unrighteous people of the world, it will deeply trouble us like the Psalmist. We will be filled with concern and compassion for them, praying earnestly for them and making every effort to help them follow God’s righteousness revealed in his Word.

Due to his correct understanding of God and his righteous Word, the Psalmist finds great delight in them even amidst trouble and distress. Without believing that our God is righteous and does what is right, including allowing trouble and distress in life, we cannot find joy in adversity [Mt. 5.11-12, Lk. 12.11]. Paul and Silas were able to sing praises to God in prison because they were convinced that those circumstances were allowed by God and thus, they were enduring rightful suffering. This understanding led them to sing and worship in the darkest hours of the night [Acts 16]. James similarly advises in Jam. 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” [See also, Rom. 5:3-5]. Because of this understanding from the Lord, they were able to live purposefully and fruitfully for the Lord even within the confines of a prison cell. Jesus also says in Mat. 5:11-12, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.”

Understanding that God is righteous and permits only what is right in our lives, even in times of adversity, is the key to living a victorious Christian life. The righteous God makes no mistakes in allowing distressing circumstances in our lives because, as seen above, God has a definite plan and purpose for us and others. Job suffered greatly, yet he became a blessing to millions throughout history. Job was righteous and spoke what is right. The Psalmist had this insight from God, enabling him to live a righteous life that glorified the Lord.

Let us continue to trust our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in whom we have become the righteousness of God [2 Cor. 5:21] and let us continue to live a righteous and God-pleasing life by doing what is right in his eyes.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to live a righteous life by being in the fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. Amen.

THE WONDERFUL WORD

Psalm 119:129-132

In this passage, the Psalmist eloquently portrays God’s Word as truly wonderful. Two notable figures, Spurgeon and M. Henry, aptly capture this sentiment. Spurgeon asserts,

“Jesus, the eternal Word, is called Wonderful, and all the uttered words of God are wonderful in their degree. Those who know them best wonder at them most. It is remarkable that God should have borne testimony at all to sinful men, and even more remarkable that his testimony should be of such clarity, fullness, grace, and power.”

Similarly, M. Henry expresses,

“Thy testimonies are wonderful. The word of God provides remarkable revelations of God, Christ, and the eternal realm, offering undeniable evidence of divine love and grace. Its majestic style, pure content, and harmonious composition are all awe-inspiring. The impact it has on human consciences, both in conviction and comfort, is astounding. If we fail to admire God’s testimonies, it is a sign that we are either unfamiliar with them or do not comprehend their significance.”

Thus, it is unsurprising that the Psalmist finds God’s Word to be wonderful. Consequently, we too must regard it with wonder as we engage in reading and meditation. Spending time with the Word opens our eyes to profound insights, filling our hearts with joy as we encounter its marvelous truths.

The testimonies of God are supernatural in origin and essence (2 Timothy 3:16). They alone offer genuine and truthful understanding of both temporal and eternal matters, revealing our eternal destination and guiding us along the path to it. The living and active nature of the Word is likened to a sharp, two-edged sword, capable of discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Witnessing its illuminating and transformative power on our outlook, attitude, and perspective on life, both temporal and eternal, leaves us astounded. The Holy Spirit employs it to persuade us to love, forgive, and bless our neighbors and even our enemies. They impart wisdom to those considered simple-hearted by the world, thus elevating them to positions of honor when they relate their wisdom before the world.

This is why the Psalmist yearns for God’s Word like a thirsty animal pants for water, symbolizing an intense desire to satisfy one’s thirst. Just as the Psalmist received wisdom in response to his longing and composed such a monumental Psalm, we too can attain enlightenment and true understanding through a fervent longing for God’s Word Day and night.

As Clarke rightly emphasizes, “There is a depth and breadth in your Word and testimonies that are truly astonishing. This is why my soul loves and diligently studies them. The more I study, the more light and salvation I receive.”

Therefore, let us not approach God’s testimonies as a dry task or mere academic pursuit, but let us focus our minds with faith, humility, and prayers on a deeper contemplation of them with longing hearts. Let us never grow weary of meditating on the matchless and marvelous Word of God day and night, like Joshua, and implementing them in our daily lives. Then sin will not rule over us, but we will be able to live as more than conquerors [v. 133].

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, instill in us a longing heart to behold the wonders of Your Word. Amen.

SERVANT’S PASSION FOR GOD’S WORD

119:125-128

For the third time in four verses, the psalmist refers to himself as a servant of God, acknowledging his obligation to the Almighty. Thus, he approaches God with humility, seeking understanding of his testimonies as a reward for faithful service. He seems to express, “I have willingly devoted myself to you, chosen what pleases You, and embraced the covenant. Now, all I desire from you is understanding.” [Trapp]. He desires nothing more than understanding in God’s Word, not to know the future or hidden secrets but to better grasp God’s testimonies, as Guzik explains. This understanding is crucial to him, as it leads to wisdom and insight into all areas of life, elevating divine precepts above all else, even gold. In verse 127, he declares, “I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold.”

To gain a deeper understanding of the eternal Word of God, we too must adopt the same attitude: the humility of a servant and a fervent desire for understanding in God’s Word. God grants grace and understanding to those who humbly sit at his feet, as only an empty vessel can be filled. Even though Apostle Paul studied under the learned Rabbi Gamaliel and was well-versed in the law of the Lord, he always referred to himself as a servant of Christ (Acts 22:3; Rom. 1:1; Phil. 1:1). Due to his servant attitude, he received profound understanding and divine insights into God’s Word, enabling him to write the epistles. Let us therefore pray for God to grant us understanding to comprehend his testimonies better as his servants.

These verses also challenge us to examine our priorities. Do we value God’s Word above all else? As we journey through Lent, let us reassess our affections and recommit ourselves to loving and cherishing God’s commandments wholeheartedly.

The Psalmist’s deep love for the law of the Lord stirs indignation in his heart toward those who violate it. As a servant of God, he boldly requests divine intervention. This sentiment echoes Habakkuk’s plea to God when confronted with violence, injustice, and exploitation, as seen in Habakkuk 1:1-4,

“How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘violence!’ but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore, the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.”

It is our duty as servants of the righteous God to cry out for help when confronted with sinfulness and wickedness. Let us recognize the righteousness of God’s precepts and reject every false way, as the Psalmist does (v. 128). And cry out to the Lord for his justice to be served. When human rulers fail to provide justice, only God in his righteousness can bring it about.

Let us approach our Master with humble hearts, seeking deeper understanding of his Word, rejecting falsehood, and living with genuine passion for the Lord and His Word.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, grant us the courage to pursue the righteous path and to detest falsehood by clinging tightly to Your Word with servant hearts. Amen.

DELIVERANCE OF THE RIGHTEOUS

Psalm 119:121-124

In this Psalm, the writer expresses deep concern about feeling abandoned. Given the circumstances at hand, it’s natural to feel deserted and lonely. Even the closest friends might leave during such times. For instance, when Jesus needed his disciples the most, they abandoned him due to fear, leaving him lonely. In his distress and abandonment, the Psalmist prays to God to be with him because of his righteousness. It’s worth noting that despite being righteous, he faces abandonment, confinement, and loneliness. In such situations, we may question why we face challenges despite our efforts to live righteously. However, we must remember that our righteousness doesn’t exempt us from persecution; rather, it positions us to receive God’s grace and deliverance.

Psalm 34:19 reassures us, “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” In times of suffering, we find comfort in knowing that God sees our struggles, hears our cries, and, in his time, delivers us from all troubles according to his promises. Both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, God has promised to us, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” [Deut. 31:6; Heb. 13:5]. Therefore, even in most difficult situations, we can confidently proclaim, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” [Heb. 13:6].

The Psalmist is convinced that only God is the Source of his well-being, as he is unable to do anything about his distressful situation in confinement and abandonment. There are times when, despite all our resources, strength, and wisdom, oppressors bring us to a place where we cannot do anything about the oppression we face. This writer has had similar experiences. Once, during a gospel preaching mission in Rajasthan, India, despite having good transportation, manpower, and a qualified and wise team members, we found ourselves lost in a desert under the scorching sun. No help was available in the middle of the desert. Then, we turned to the Lord in faith, and he delivered us in a miraculous way. Our God is a present help in times of trouble created by our enemies. Let us continue to look to the Source of deliverance in our helplessness and ask him to ensure our well-being, even though it might take time and our “eyes may fail,” like the Psalmist looking for God’s salvation. Let us never give up.

In the midst of such extremely difficult circumstances, the Psalmist has one prayer to offer, “teach me your decrees” [v. 124]. That is the genuine and deep commitment of a man of God to God’s Word. Let us ask God to give us a heart like the Psalmist’s to learn from his Word in all circumstances including the most adverse ones. Let us not be bogged down by the oppression of the enemy but live above the circumstances by relying persistently on the Lord and his Word.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us rely on you and your Word for deliverance from the oppression of the enemy, and enable us to learn your decrees more and more. Amen.

SAFETY IN THE STATUTES OF GOD

Psalm 119:117-120

In this passage, the Psalmist reflects on God’s support in sustaining him throughout his daily life. He implores God to uphold him for his safety, recognizing that without divine support, human strength is fleeting, and progress is limited. As we’ve seen in earlier devotionals, the Psalmist faces severe adversity orchestrated by his enemies, putting his life in peril. Hence, it’s natural for him to seek physical safety. Yet, amidst such trials, one also becomes vulnerable to spiritual attacks from the adversary, Satan, necessitating a safety net for spiritual well-being. For instance, Satan tempted Jesus after his forty days and nights of fasting when hunger made him vulnerable. At that time, Jesus used God’s statutes to win the battle against Satan [Mt. 4].

The Psalmist likely seeks holistic safety, desiring God’s support not just for physical preservation but also for spiritual endurance. He yearns to be so entrenched in God’s Word and obedience to it that nothing else concerns him. His devotion to God’s Word is so consuming that he cannot exist without it. He seeks to persevere in the strength derived from God’s promises. Matthew Henry aptly notes that the Psalmist acknowledges his inability to stand or progress on his own strength, relying instead on God’s Word to maintain his integrity, safety, and endurance.

When we beseech God for sustenance and a safety net, we must commit to being led by Him in all aspects of life, forsaking reliance on our own strength and wisdom, and fully embracing God’s Word like the Psalmist. Our holy security rests upon our obedience and the divine support, drawing us closer to God’s statutes for protection against the assaults of evil. Meditation on and obedience to God’s Word safeguard us, fostering an ever-deepening engagement with it.

The Psalmist elucidates a divine principle: God guides and safeguards those who honor him by adhering to his precepts, while rejecting those who deviate from his statutes. This rejection might result in the removal from earthly existence. Departure from God’s Word is fatal. Those who depart from God become possessed by earthly pursuits, storing treasures on earth, indulging in earthly pleasures, and becoming estranged from heavenly matters [Henry]. This fate awaits those who reject God’s Word or adhere to it superficially. Ananias and Sapphira are stark example of this phenomenon.

Conversely, those who place their hope in God’s Word can trust that it will not disappoint, ensuring they are not put to shame. Let God’s decrees serve as a moral compass, guiding us in the safe path of righteousness and steering us away from the path of wickedness and deception.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, sustain us with Your safety as we immerse ourselves in Your Word. Amen.

WORD OR WORLD

119:113-116

Starting from verse 113, it appears that the Psalmist confronts double minded individuals who lack commitment and exhibit uncertainty in their way of life. Much like the prophet Elijah rebuking God’s people in 1 Kings 18:21, questioning, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, follow him.” Kidner aptly labels them as those who stand “first on one leg and then on the other,” illustrating their wavering allegiance.

These double-minded individuals vacillate between the ways of the world and the ways of the Word, without unwavering loyalty to the Lord. Matthew likens them to those attempting to serve two masters: money and the Master [Matthew 6:24]. However, their allegiance to either remains incomplete. James characterizes such individuals as unstable in all they do, akin to a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind, warning that they should not expect anything from the Lord [James 1:6-8].

If we, too, become double-minded, we cannot please God, as it signifies a lack of absolute faith in him, as asserted in Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” We must constantly have a check on us concerning our total loyalty to the Lord like Daniel and his friends.

The Psalmist’s loyalty to the Lord and His Word is so steadfast that he cannot tolerate those who do not share this commitment. He voices his frustration, stating, “I hate the double minded.” His deep love for the Lord leads him to detest what displeases the Lord: believers who invest time and energy in worldly pursuits while attempting to please God through spiritual endeavors, yet unable to choose a path with complete loyalty.

If we, as God’s people, adopt a double-minded approach, God is displeased, desiring absolute loyalty. Historical examples, such as Ananias and Sapphira, Annas, and Caiaphas, demonstrate the disastrous consequences of attempting to straddle both worlds.

It is crucial to examine our loyalty, discerning whether it aligns with the world or the Word and the Giver of the Word. We must cast aside inclinations towards worldly pursuits, as described in Matthew 6. Simultaneously, we should harbor such love for the Lord and His Word that, when faced with double-minded individuals, compassion fills our hearts, compelling us to pray for them. However, our primary focus should be on evaluating our own loyalty to God’s Word before praying for others, echoing Jesus’ instruction to remove the log from our eyes before addressing our brothers and sisters.

Lent provides an opportune time to assess our loyalty to the Lord and his Word. Despite persecution by double-minded individuals, the Psalmist’s prayer remains simple: “Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live.” Our hope, too, should rest on God’s Word as we seek sustenance and encouragement for our souls in His presence.

During this Lenten season, let our hopes remain anchored in God and his promises, despite the challenges in our Christian journey. May these verses serve as a guide when confronted with double-minded people, urging us to steer clear of their contaminating influence. Let our love for the Word be unwavering, becoming the guiding principle for a normal and fruitful Christian life.

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, empower me to rely on you and your Word when faced with double-minded people and their confusion. Amen.

TRANSMIT THE HERITAGE

Psalm 119:109-112

In verse 103, the Psalmist expresses a profound sentiment about the precariousness of his existence, stating, “I constantly take my life in my hands.” These words evoke the actions of Jephthah in Judges 12, who, amidst a dire struggle against the formidable Ammonites, requested the Ephraimites for aid to no avail. Resolute, Jephthah declared, “When I saw that you wouldn’t help, I took my life in my hands and crossed over to fight the Ammonites.” His courageous act epitomized risking his life to safeguard God’s people in the face of perilous odds.

Similarly, the Apostle Paul, speaking of Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:30, attests to his near-death experience in service to Christ, underscoring the theme of “risking his life” for the cause of Christ. The Psalmist appears to navigate similar life-threatening circumstances amid relentless conflict with adversaries. However, instead of seeking human intervention, he finds solace and strength in the Word of God, demonstrating unwavering trust in divine providence amidst adversity.

The Psalmist’s adversaries are not merely combative but also crafty, laying subtle traps in addition to direct confrontations. Such trials are familiar to the faithful, as evidenced by references in 2 Timothy 2:26 and 1 Timothy 3:7. They highlight the devil’s schemes through his agents to ensnare believers in sin and temptation. It is like a hunter laying snares for unsuspecting prey. These traps endanger the spiritual well-being of God’s people and require vigilance and complete reliance on God’s decrees.

Yet, the Psalmist remains unyielding, steadfastly aligning his heart with God’s decrees as Ezra did in Ezra 7:10. He “set his heart” on meditating and practicing the law of the Lord. He found sustenance and guidance in divine teachings. Similarly, when King Ahaz and the people of Judah faced conspiracy and impending destruction from three powerful enemies and even from their own countrymen [Isa. 7-8], Isaiah exhorts them to prioritize fear of the Lord over human conspiracies, emphasizing divine protection and sanctuary for the faithful. He exhorted them in Isa. 8:13-14 by saying,

“Do not call conspiracy, everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The LORD almighty is the one you are to regard as the Holy One, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary for you.”

This message resonates through the ages: despite adversarial schemes, believers must fix their gaze on Jesus and his promises, finding refuge and strength in unwavering devotion to God’s Word. Like the Psalmist, we must accept and follow God’s statutes as our heritage [verse 111]. Clarke rightly asserts,

“The Psalmist says, ‘Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage.’ To these he was heir; he had inherited them from his fathers, and he was determined to leave them to his family forever. If a man can leave nothing to his child but a Bible, in that he bequeaths him the greatest treasure in the universe.”

Therefore, we must ensure the transmission of that heritage to our future generations, promoting a legacy of obedience and trust in God’s Word and provision.

In conclusion, let us emulate the Psalmist’s resolve to cherish and uphold God’s law in face of death-like traps and snares, committing to pass down this invaluable inheritance to next generations. May we, in times of relentless trial, anchor our hearts solely in God’s precepts, finding refuge and strength amidst life’s challenges.

 PRAYER: Heavenly Father, in the time of facing traps and snares, help us to set our hearts only on your precepts. Amen.

LIGHT OF GOD’S WORD

Psalm 119:105-108

The Psalmist employs a profound metaphor to illustrate the significance of God’s Word: “Your Word is a lamp.” Metaphor, a more direct and potent comparison than simile, underscores the direct correlation between two entities. It implies that one is not merely similar to the other but embodies its essence. By likening God’s Word to a lamp, the Psalmist accentuates its role in guiding God’s people toward the right path. When we walk in its light, we avoid straying and navigate our journey without stumbling. God’s Word illuminates our path, providing clarity where there would otherwise be confusion and disorientation.

In Eph. 5:8 and Col. 1:13, we learn of humanity’s plight in darkness, with only the Word of God serving as illumination. According to 2 Timothy 3:15, the holy Scriptures impart wisdom and give light for our salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. As we engage with God’s Word, it acts as a mirror, revealing the darkness of sin in our lives and its eternal consequences. Additionally, it directs us towards the light—Jesus Christ [John 1:4]. Confessing “Jesus is Lord” and believing in his resurrection leads to salvation [Rom. 10:9], transitioning us from darkness to light and making us children of God.

The Word not only leads us from the darkness of sin to the light of eternal life but also guides us on the path of righteousness towards the eternal Kingdom of God. Along our journey, the Bible instructs us on distinguishing right from wrong. While our conscience may offer some guidance, it can be flawed. The Word of God, however, surpasses our conscience, refining and educating it [Guzik]. For instance, as seen in 1 Jn. 2:9-11, it enlightens us about the darkness of failing to love our brothers and sisters, urging reconciliation and righteousness:

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

God’s Word reveals our spiritual state and provides guidance for righteous living. It admonishes us to reconcile with others before presenting offerings [Mat. 5:23-24] and warns against the perils of worldly darkness [Gal. 5:19-21]. Embracing its teachings may entail suffering, yet it ultimately leads to the praise of our lips. Let us, therefore, keep the lamp of God’s Word ever before us, ensuring that we do not stumble or falter but instead live lives that glorify God.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, empower us to walk in the light of your Word, leading lives of holiness and righteousness. Amen.

SWEETNESS OF GOD’S WORD

Psalm 119:101-104

Spurgeon aptly asserts, “There is no treasuring up the holy word unless there is a casting out of all unholiness: if we keep the good word, we must let go of the evil.” Here, in verse 101, we encounter a principle of replacement as mentioned by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:20-24. Just as the old self and the new self cannot coexist, so too the wicked ways and the righteous ways cannot dwell in one heart simultaneously. The unholy ways must be removed to make room for storing the holy Word of God. Then, guided by the Holy Spirit, it enlightens us with all truth. God’s Word sanctifies us (John 17:17). Hence, we must constantly be vigilant of any wicked inclinations within our hearts and eliminate them through continuous fellowship with God. In doing so, it is God Himself who instructs us.

In verse 102, although the pronoun ‘you’ for God is included in the verb ‘teach’, the Psalmist also employs this pronoun separately. Thus, the word “you” referring to God is emphatic and signifies “you, yourself.” It conveys that when we store only God’s Word in our hearts, God Himself opens our eyes to perceive its truths. The Lenten season provides an opportune moment for self-examination and to open our eyes to our true self. Let us pray with the Psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Throughout this Psalm, the Psalmist employs various terms to describe the Word of God, each highlighting different aspects. Here, in verse 103, he emphasizes its sweetness, likening it to honey, the sweetest commodity of his time. The Psalmist arrives at this conclusion after experiencing the goodness of God and His Word, for only through tasting honey can one truly appreciate its delight. Pure honey is desired and consumed with gladness. Similarly, believers who passionately and consistently meditate on the Word, as exemplified by Joshua and David, can attest to its sweetness (Joshua 1; Psalm 19). If we fail to experience this sweetness, the fault lies not with the Word but with us. Boice correctly asserts, “If you can’t find anything beautiful or sweet in these verses, your taste buds are terribly dulled, and your eyes horribly glazed by the crude glitz of our culture.” If we lack a longing for the Word or find meditation upon it burdensome rather than joyful, we must question the sensitivity of our spiritual taste buds.

Only through spending time in God’s Word can we grasp its abundant sweetness. As Spurgeon notes, “Here, the Psalmist, expresses the fact of their sweetness, but as he cannot express the degree of their sweetness he cries, ‘How sweet!’” Once we begin to taste its sweetness, our desire for more will be insatiable. It brings great satisfaction to the soul. As we experience the true sweetness of the righteous ways of the Lord, our aversion to wickedness will naturally increase, and it will fade from our hearts.

Therefore, let us discover the sweetness of God’s Word and rid our hearts of the bitterness of wickedness so that divine blessings may flow into our lives and the streams of God’s sweetness may flow from us to others.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, teach us Your Word and help us to remove the wickedness from our heart by filling it with the sweetness of Your Word. Amen.

PASSIONATE LOVE FOR THE WORD

Psalm 119:97-100

Earlier in this chapter, the Psalmist has expressed his love for the Word of God three times [Psalm 119:47-48, 97], and throughout the rest of the Psalm, he continues to do so several more times. Yet, his repetition is not for the sake of redundancy. Here, the expression of his love is more fervent. His loyalty to God and His word has forged a deep love-relationship between the Psalmist and the Word of God [Guzik]. When he declares, “Oh, how I love Your law!”, he acknowledges his profound affection for God’s law. “It is a word of admiration, or a note of comparison; similar expressions are found in various other places…it signifies a kind of excess or excellence, even beyond expression. The Psalmist seems to speak with a sigh, so enraptured with love for the law of God that he is overwhelmed.” [T. Stoughton].

Superficial Christians may claim to love God’s Word, but only those who genuinely love the Word and demonstrate it in their lives possess this love truly and passionately. In fact, they are consumed by their love for God’s Word. Their imaginations, inclinations, intentions, thoughts, and activities are fully governed by the Word. Like the Psalmist, when our everything is governed by God’s Word, we experience the following results:

  1. We become wiser than our adversaries, staying a step ahead of them. While our cunning enemies constantly devise wicked schemes against us and attempt to execute them to thwart us, we possess more knowledge and wisdom than Satan and his agents. 2 Timothy 3:15 states, “And how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Matthew 7:24 mentions, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Let us therefore seek divine wisdom from the Word, as it provides us with insight surpassing that of our enemies, teachers, and even the elders. It is wisdom that transcends mere intellectual understanding and enables us to walk on level ground.
  2. Like the Psalmist, we will have greater and deeper insight than our teachers. In Oriental cultures, a teacher is considered the ultimate authority on education and is expected to possess all knowledge. However, through the wisdom of the Word, we are endowed with greater wisdom, divine wisdom that dwells within our hearts.
  3. In Oriental society, young people traditionally remain silent in the presence of elders with gray hair, as they are assumed to possess superior understanding of the ways of the world. Yet, when we genuinely and passionately love God’s Word, we gain more understanding than the elders of the community.

All these consequences stem from loving and obeying God’s Word. Therefore, it is imperative for us to cultivate a passion for it. As we contemplate these verses, we are prompted to examine our own attitude toward God’s Word. Do we embrace it with the same fervent love and devotion as the Psalmist? Do we recognize its transformative power in our lives? Are we allowing it to mold our thoughts, words, and actions after the example of Jesus Christ?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, instill in me a passionate heart for Your Word and a desire to obey. Amen.

EVER-REMEMBERED PRECEPTS OF GOD

Psalm 119:93-96

The Hebrew term ō·lām is interpreted in various ways. It is commonly understood as “eternity” [Gen 3:22; 9:16; Ex. 3:15]. This is what the Psalmist refers to in verse 93 when he says, “I will never forget your precepts.” The concept of eternity emphasizes the negative particle, making it “never.” Thus, the Psalmist conveys that God’s eternal precepts have become so ingrained in his being that he will never forget them under any circumstance. As seen earlier, he is enduring times of persecution and suffering. Yet, he will persistently meditate on and obey them until the end of time, meaning until his life comes to an end. This illustrates how deeply we should cherish God’s precepts. Through reading, meditating on, and obeying God’s Word, they should become an integral part of our existence, guiding us until our time on earth concludes. The Psalmist reiterates this notion repeatedly, emphasizing its importance for our minds to retain. Therefore, it is essential for us to adopt God’s eternal precepts as our life manual and live accordingly.

By steadfastly adhering to them, our lives will undergo transformation, equipping us to serve God through our good deeds, as stated in 2 Tim. 3:16: “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Subsequently, our lives will radiate before others, leading them to glorify our heavenly Father [Mat. 5:16]. Not only will our lives serve as a testimony for the Lord, but these precepts will also safeguard us in every circumstance. Even as the wicked lay in wait to harm us, the precepts will serve as our shield of protection. The greatest wicked one is the devil, who prowls around us like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us. However, we can resist him by standing firm in our faith and consistently relying on the Lord and his Word.

As demonstrated in Mat. 4:1-11, Jesus is our example of relying on the Word of God when confronted with the devil’s schemes to undermine our faith. Each time the devil attempted to lead Jesus into sin, Jesus countered him with God’s Word, triumphing over him. Nonetheless, to consistently rely on God’s precepts, we must engrain them in our minds and hearts. They will only be advantageous when they become an intrinsic part of our being and result in obedience. Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian pastor, and many others endured inhuman torture in prison because they were intimately familiar with God’s precepts, utilizing them to stand firm in their faith in the prison.

Therefore, let us immerse our minds and souls in the Word, obeying it without hesitation or fear, for it will enable us to emerge victorious. These precepts are so flawless that they surpass all earthly perfection. Their perfection endures longer than heaven and earth because although all human perfection will fade away, they will remain eternal. Let us devote persistent and consistent time to God’s eternal precepts, drawing encouragement from them and becoming a source of encouragement to others.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, bless me and others through me as I meditate on your precepts day and night. Amen.

DELIGHT IN GOD’S WORD

Psalm 119:89-92

In these verses, the Psalmist eloquently discusses the eternal nature of God’s Word and its profound impact on our lives, particularly during times of trial and adversity. God’s Word is eternal because it originates from God himself, as affirmed in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is God-breathed.” In the brilliance of his eternal wisdom, God imparts His precepts. Matthew 24:35 declares, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away,” while 1 Peter 1:24-25 emphasizes, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever.” Bridges insightfully asserts, “If I can prove a word to have been spoken by God, I must no more question it than His own Being.” Therefore, we can wholeheartedly rely on God’s Word to abide eternally with the living God.

The Word of God, being eternal, transcends the limitations of time, matter, space, and circumstance. It surpasses the transient nature of humanity and stands as an immutable truth in the celestial realms. It ‘stands firm’ throughout all generations. Thus, in a world marked by instability and uncertainty, the steadfastness of God and his Word provides a firm foundation upon which to anchor our faith. Consequently, as the Psalmist in Psalm 20 proclaims, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” Also, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:8-9). Following numerous life experiences and leading Israel through them, Moses concludes with encouragement in Deut. 33:27, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Relying on the eternal and unchanging God entails trusting in His Word with unwavering faith. Spurgeon aptly remarks, “After tossing about on a sea of trouble, the Psalmist here leaps to shore and stands upon a rock. Jehovah’s word is not fickle nor uncertain; it is settled, determined, fixed, sure, immovable.” By embracing God’s promises, we navigate through life’s challenges with hope and confidence, undeterred and unwavering in our faith.

Through his encounters with the LORD, the Psalmist grasps the concepts of God’s eternality, immutability, and sovereignty through His Word, which sustains him through life’s trials. Like God, His Word remains unchanged. God is truthful and fulfills all His promises (Num. 23:19), executing everything precisely as declared in His Word. Hence, we can place absolute trust in His Word, devoid of fear, irrespective of circumstances. God’s Word serves as His binding covenant with us, unexpired and unfailingly true.

Due to his complete reliance on God and His Word, the Psalmist discovers joy and sustenance, safeguarding him from despair and ruin. Guzik aptly observes, “This delight goes beyond mere Bible knowledge. It is the relationship with God in and through his word that gives strength and spiritual nourishment.” Such should be our approach: not merely reading the Word of God, but obeying it, thus finding true delight in it.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, instill in me a deep longing for Your Word, and may I find true delight in it. Amen.

PRESERVATION IN THE PIT

Psalm 119:85-88

The Bible states in Prov. 26:27, “If a man digs a pit for others, he will fall into it.” “Pit” is a metonymy for trouble and violence, as explained in Psalm 7:16, “The trouble he causes for others recoils on him; his violence comes down on his own head.” This concept reflects the natural law of life through the centuries. Despite this, many presumptuous people continue to dig pits for others, as seen in the case of the Psalmist in verse 85, “The arrogant dig pitfalls for me.” Even though he is a righteous person who intensely loves God and his Word, and fully obeys them, cruel enemies still cause deathlike trouble for him without cause. Their cruel trap resembles hunting a wild animal as Horne explains, “The manner of taking wild beasts was by ‘digging pits,’ and covering them over with turf, upon which when the beast trod, he fell into the pit, and was there confined and taken.”

Many of us have faced similar circumstances created by wicked people, either to destroy us or merely for self-satisfaction and enjoyment. The persecution of the wicked can be so intense that, at times, we may feel as the Psalmist did in verse 87, “They almost wiped me from the earth.” This sentiment echoes verse 81, where the Psalmist feels as though his very existence is in jeopardy. Many have turned away from the way of the Lord and his ministry because of such intense afflictions.

However, the Psalmist confidently declares, “all your commands are trustworthy … I have not forsaken your precepts.” His absolute trust lies in the precepts of the Lord, and therefore, he will not forsake them at any cost. Because of his unwavering trust, he declares, “I will obey the statutes of your mouth,” even as he traverses the valley of the shadow of death. This steadfastness is a fitting response for a man of God who has absolute faith and confidence in the Lord and His Word. In such times, God’s help is all-sufficient, and we can cast ourselves upon it without apprehension or doubt. With solid confidence, we can trust that even though our adversaries may seek our complete destruction, God will preserve our lives according to his love, and his Word will sustain us in faith.

This preservation is evident in the lives of God’s servants like Moses, Elijah, David, Daniel and his friends, the prophets, the disciples of Jesus, and even Jesus himself. In the depths of pit-like situations, they did not give up but trusted in God and His Word. As a result, their lives were preserved, and today, they serve as a source of encouragement and comfort for those facing similar situations. Let us walk in their footsteps when we encounter the pits and traps set by our enemies, and may we be preserved and grow in our faith in God and His Word.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, create in me a heart that trusts you in the midst of the most adverse circumstances of my life and preserves me. Amen.

A RESOLUTE HOPE

Psalm 119:81-84

It is natural for us to seek deliverance and comfort in times of desperation. In earlier devotions, we observed the Psalmist going through suffering and trials because his enemies made his life difficult. Therefore, he expresses a sense of desperation in these verses. Due to severe suffering, he declares in desperation, “my soul faints.” This verb means “to be complete, finished, accomplished, spent, etc.” So, the image is of an acute sufferer who cannot tolerate any more and feels as if his life is coming to an end. He hopes for salvation, and in doing so, his eyes strain to see God’s promises of deliverance fulfilled.

We can relate to such moments when we encounter trying times in our lives. Our enemies turn against us, causing so much pain and suffering that we feel like a “wineskin in the smoke.” We even feel despair and desperation for God’s deliverance and comfort. When they do not come quickly, we long for them, hoping that God will intervene swiftly. But time goes by without deliverance. We find ourselves eagerly looking for and claiming the promises of God in desperation. Like the Psalmist in Ps. 70:1-5, we cry out, “Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me! May those who seek my life be put to shame and confusion” and “Be pleased to save, LORD; Come quickly, LORD” [Ps. 40]. Sometimes the suffering becomes so unbearable that God’s people even pray like Elijah, “I have had enough, LORD. Take my life” [1 Kgs 19:4]. This was the plea of Moses [Num. 11:15]; Jeremiah [Jer. 20:14]; and Jonah [Jon. 4:8].

Yet, in the midst of trials and tribulations, the Psalmist expresses a resolute hope in the Word of God by saying, “I do not forget your decrees” [119:83b]. Therefore, he is able to endure and find relief in the promises of God. And this must be our attitude. In those times of darkest nights, God’s Word becomes our beacon of hope. Then, we can boldly declare by faith with David, “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles” [Ps. 34:17]. Those who seek God will rejoice and be glad in him. They will love his salvation and say, “Let God be exalted” and even amidst the severest afflictions can say with David, “Come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD do not delay” [Ps. 70:4-5].

Thus, because of his hope in God’s promises, the Psalmist is desperate yet not despairing. That is what we must do when we face the most difficult times in life. We must say with Apostle Paul, “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed” [2 Cor. 4:8-9]. This is the victorious Christian life. Trials and tribulations are part of the Christian life. But when we have unwavering faith in God and in his Word, we can be more than conquerors. Let this become our natural attitude and inclination in life.

Heavenly Father, help us to find refuge in you and in your Word in times of adversity and trials and to emerge victoriously from them. Amen.

THE MERCIES OF GOD

Psalm 119:77-80

In verse 77, the term ra·ḥă·m could be construed as “compassion.” The Psalmist acknowledges that his life finds its source in God’s compassion, recognizing that true vitality flows solely from him. Consequently, he implores for the compassion of God to envelop him. In 2 Cor. 1:3, it is stated that the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the Father of all compassion.” The Psalmist acknowledges God as the sole origin of genuine compassion, from which he derives the true essence of life and its fullness. If we desire to experience these qualities in our lives and permeate our existence with meaning and blessings, we too should earnestly seek divine compassion to sustain us through life’s trials and triumphs.

The word ra·ḥă·m could also be construed as “tender mercies.” The Psalmist prays for mercies of God to descend upon him. These mercies reflect a father’s tenderness towards his children, akin to a mother’s compassion for offspring.1By immersing himself in God’s Word and allowing it to permeate his life, he receives God’s tender mercies. Similarly, we must seek God’s compassion and tender mercies by beseeching him and remaining closely connected to his Word. As Bridges aptly asserts, all the candles in the world can never make a day in the absence of the sun. Likewise, the earth, even in its most splendid imaginings, devoid of the Lord’s compassion and mercies, cannot revive or uplift the soul. Only the mercies of the God who is “full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth” can revive and invigorate our spirits [Ps. 85:15].

Therefore, let us entreat God for his tender mercies to lead lives of meaning, success, and fruitfulness consistently, as human life is inherently unpredictable. Circumstances can shift suddenly, as evidenced by King Solomons’ observation in Eccl. 10:7, “I have seen slaves riding on horses and princes walking like slaves on the ground.” Life’s twists and turns are akin to a magician’s box where any situation can arise unexpectedly. David himself transitioned from being a shepherd boy to powerful king of Israel, and then to fleeing from his own son Absalom to preserve his life. However, in every adversity, he sought solace in God and pleaded for his mercies [Ps. 51], thus enabling him to endure, achieve victories, and ultimately pass away in peace.

We cannot navigate life’s adversities alone, many of which are orchestrated by Satan and his cohorts. Yet, “through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because his compassion fails not. They are new every morning” [Lam. 3:22-23]. In a world marked by sin and strife, where trials often loom threateningly, it is only through God’s mercies that we find sustenance, breathing life into our weary souls. Our lives then become a testament to those who seek and receive God’s mercies, fostering fellowship and encouragement.

These compassions and tender mercies of God are not bestowed upon the arrogant and involved in wrongdoing to his people [Ps. 119:78]. They must be sought with humility in accordance with his Word. When we experience them. We are filled with great delight.

Therefore, let us prioritize God and his Word in our lives, relying on them to receive divine mercies with humble hearts, and live lives of joy, peace, and blessings for the glory of God and the edification of his people.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, guide us to seek your tender mercies daily, that we may live lives of peace, joy, and contentment. Amen.

HONOR OF THE CREATOR

Psalm 119:73-76

The Psalmist initiates this portion by reverting to his origin, acknowledging God as his Creator. If this Psalm is indeed penned by David,1 he acknowledges this in Psalm 139:13, “You created my innermost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” This acknowledgement leads to praising God, as expressed in verse 14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful.” When we consider the eternal God as our Creator and ourselves as mere temporal human beings created from dust [Ps. 103:14], our entire focus shifts from ourselves to God. This consideration helps us realize two things: We must ascribe all honor and glory to God alone, and we must walk in utter humility before God. The realization of our lowly state will help us refrain from becoming puffed up and live with humility among others. God is the progenitor, and we are merely the recipients of his goodness and grace.

The aforementioned realization would help us understand that we are dust and ashes. We are like grass and flowers of the field. The grass withers, the flowers fall, and their place is remembered no more [Ps. 103:15; 1 Pet. 1:21]. Thus, we are reminded of our insignificance apart from our Creator. The Lenten Season begins with Ash Wednesday, signifying our lowly and temporary status on earth. Therefore, during Lent, we must take a good look at ourselves and realize that we are mortal beings with nothing to boast about. We must live in humility, as demonstrated by our Lord himself and described in Philippians 2.

The aforementioned realization must also help us honor God, our Creator, and his Word with our whole heart. Then, we have absolute loyalty to our Creator and Benefactor because not only did he create us with his own hands, but he also sustains us until the end of our lives. Isa. 40:6 says, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and will rescue you.” That is why the Psalmist boldly declares in Ps. 119:74, “I have put my hope in your Word,” which means in the One who has given his promises in his Word. The Psalmist relates God’s faithfulness in afflictions in verse 75. As our Creator and Sustainer, God has a purpose in every circumstance in our lives, even in afflictions [v. 71; Rom. 5:3-5]

Martin Luther once said, “Affliction is the Christian’s theologian.” The Word of God gives us knowledge of God and how we ought to live before him. Through afflictions, we come to God in a more intimate, personal, and deeper way. In them, God draws near to us, and we actually learn firsthand who he is and experience what he can do. What we learn of God in the Word becomes real for us when we walk with him through the fires and floods of life. Even in our afflictions, God is faithful to sustain us and deliver us [Dan. 3; Isa. 46]. He will not let us be afflicted beyond our ability, and he will provide a way for us to overcome them [1 Cor. 10:13].

Therefore, let us always be reminded of our eternal Creator, honor him, and give glory to his name. Let us also realize our own mortal existence and live humbly before God and with other human beings. At the same time, if God allows afflictions in our lives as our Creator, let us draw courage, strength, and comfort from his Word and be a source of strength and comfort to his people.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, may I always be mindful of you as my Creator and give you honor and praise. May I walk with you and others with humility and love. Amen.

GOD’S WORD IN AFFLICTION

 

Psalm 119:69-72

 

As we journey through the Lenten season, contemplating the afflictions of our Lord, we find the Psalmist’s expression of devotion amidst adverse circumstances in these verses to be very encouraging. These circumstances are brought about by the falsehoods and lies of his arrogant enemies who have turned against him. Bridges correctly asserts, “if the Lord does us good, we must expect Satan to do us evil. He readily inspires his children to fabricate lies against the children of God.” And as we know from Jn. 8:44, Satan is a liar and the father of lies. He utilizes his arrogant agents whose “hearts are callous and unfeeling” to fabricate falsehoods and lies against us, burdening us with afflictions [Ps. 119:70]. These individuals are “hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron” [1 Tim. 4:2]. Through them, Satan leads the whole world astray and accuses the brethren [Rev. 12:9-10]. At times, we too encounter such afflictions due to falsehoods and lies from our enemies and even from our own people. It is easy to become disheartened. Sometimes, like Apostle Paul, the afflictions are “beyond our ability to endure so that we despaired even of life” and consider giving up the task God has given us [2 Cor. 1:8].

 

However, under these unbearable circumstances, the Psalmist makes an astounding statement that gives great hope to us in our afflictions. He says in verse 71, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” This is what Job did when he was afflicted beyond human endurance. He said, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” [Job 1:21]. Through his afflictions, Job was drawn closer to God and became a testimony and source of hope for millions of people. This must be the attitude of God’s people when faced with extreme pressures.

 

The afflictions draw the Psalmist closer to God and his decrees due to his passion for God’s Word. He is asking God to grant him a deeper understanding of his decrees during these trying times. This should occur to us when we face afflictions. Instead of grumbling and becoming disheartened, we must turn to God’s Word because during these times we have a greater and deeper understanding of God and his Word. Paul, who endured intense suffering in life, says in Rom. 5:3-4, “We glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” This can only happen when we are drawn to God by relying on his Word and obeying it in these times. The lies of the enemies should not distract or discourage us from God-given task but rather inspire us to dedicate ourselves more intensely to it by pledging wholehearted obedience to the Word of God.

 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us not to be distracted or discouraged by the afflictions we face. Instead, help us to rely on your Word and gain a deeper understanding to live a victorious Christian life. Amen.

GOODNESS OF THE GOOD GOD

 

Psalm 119:65-68

It is an irrefutable fact that God has bestowed upon us all good things, even without our asking. He created us in his own image, with his own hands, and filled us with life without solicitation. When we sinned, he provided a path to salvation by sending his own Son, Jesus, which is unfathomable. He chose insignificant people like us in Jesus and called us, drawing us near to himself. Through the blood of his Son, he cleansed our sins and imputed his righteousness to us. He placed his Spirit within us and adopted us into his family. He sent the Holy Spirit to guide us in all truth and provide for all our needs, rewarding us for our work for him. These are all good acts of God for which we are unworthy.

God performs these good deeds out of his inherent goodness and love for us. Therefore, the Psalmist can say in verse 68, “You are good, and what you do is good.” Thus, by his very nature, our God is inherently good, existing as a benevolent and benefactor Father who loves doing good to his children. His mercy and goodness follow his people all the days of their lives [Ps. 23], and he gives them good gifts, including the Holy Spirit [Lk. 11:13]. That is why James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.”

Because God is inherently good, he does good and nothing but good to his people. Out of his intrinsic goodness, he gives good promises to us, and when we trust and fear him, he fulfills all his promises to us. Ps. 31:19 says, “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you … on those who take refuge in you.” “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” [Ps. 84:11].

Therefore, we are obliged to reciprocate God’s goodness to us by being good to others, thus reflecting God’s goodness before people. It includes doing good to neighbors [Deut. 22:4], but also to our enemies as it is instructed in Ex. 23:4, “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it.” The climax of God’s goodness is demonstrated in the cross of Jesus out of his love for enemies [Rom. 5:8-10]. If we want to be grateful for God’s goodness, we must do so by sharing it with others and helping them to experience it by believing in Jesus.

There is another way of responding to God’s goodness:  thanking him and giving honor to his name. 1 Chr. 16:34 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, and his love endures forever,” and in Psalm 50:23, God says, “Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor Me.”

Therefore, let us experience the goodness of God by trusting him and his Word, and let us reflect his goodness by being good to others, even to our enemies, and offering sacrifices of thanksgiving every day and all day long.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us always to be thankful for your goodness and to share it with others. Amen.

THANKFULNESS AT MIDNIGHT

Psalm 119:61-64

In this passage, the Psalmist appears to be bound by ropes. The ropes signify a sense of confinement and affliction, imposed upon the Psalmist by his wicked enemies [Ps. 119:22, 25, 28]. However, his primary concern lies not in the distressful situation he finds himself in, but rather in the law of God. He vows not to forget God’s law even amidst this extremely painful situation [v. 60]. From there he draws encouragement and hope of deliverance. Constrained situations often arise in the lives of God’s people due to the presence of sinful individuals around us. Furthermore, our adversary Satan aggravates these situations by employing his wicked agents. We may feel bound by metaphorical ropes, unable to break free. In such times, our focus should not be well on the circumstances but rather on the One who possesses the power to resolve them, for these situations are temporary. Our unchanging God, who holds the power to address them, remains the same forever and will deliver us.

By keeping his mind steadfast on God and his Word, the Psalmist can express gratitude even in the darkest hours. This sentiment is echoed in Isa. 26:3, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind stays on you; because he trusts in you.” Likewise, Paul and Silas, despite enduring severe flogging and being put in prison, were able to give thanks and sing praises to God after midnight [Acts 16:23-25]. Similarly, the apostles left the Sanhedrin with rejoicing hearts, despite suffering for the Name [Acts 5:21. When Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah fixed their minds on the words from the Lord amid an attack from three enemies, they sent praise to the Lord and experienced miraculous deliverance [2 Chr. 20]. When our minds and hearts are anchored in God and his Word, the afflictions imposed upon us by our enemies cannot deter us from following God or diminish our joy in the Lord.

This is the secret to transcending adverse circumstances and dwelling in peace despite seemingly insurmountable situations: steadfastly anchoring our minds in the Word of God and placing complete trust in it at all times. Thus, we can rest peacefully at night, and even upon waking, God’s praises remain in our hearts and on our lips. When our hearts are saturated with God’s Word, we find strength and encouragement, growing in the fear of the Lord.

Consequently, when we share God’s Word with like-minded individuals, our circle of God-fearing brethren expands, providing immense strength during times of adversity. As Pro. 27:17 suggests, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  Let us meditate upon the Word so much that they become an integral part of our person and become our strength and help always. And let us be an encouragement to one another by sharing the precepts of the Lord.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, may our minds and hearts be wholly immersed in your Word so that we may dwell in complete peace amidst life’s adversities. Amen.

THE LORD AS MY PORTION

Psalm 119:57-60

In Gen. 43:34, Joseph had his brother Benjamin serve the portion of the meal five times greater than his other brothers. The act demonstrated Joseph’s special favor towards Benjamin, considering him more prominent than the others. Similarly, the firstborn son inherited a double portion of all the possessions of his father [Dt. 21:15-17]. The Levitical priests and whole tribe of Levites received the Lord’s offering as their portion [Dt. 18:1-2].  Thus, the allocation among God’s people held great significance for prominence. Here, in verse 57, the Psalmist claims the LORD himself as his portion and nothing else. Boice rightly states, “The Psalmist is saying that he wants his portion of divine blessing to be God himself since nothing is better and nothing will ever fully satisfy his or anyone else’s heart but God himself. To possess God is truly to have everything.” To achieve this, the Psalmist obeys God’s Word.

The Psalmist has found true satisfaction and fulfillment in life by making God his portion through His Word and obedience to it. The Lord becomes the true homestead of the Psalmist because he knows that it is God’s law that fills the earth with all that makes life secure and joyous [NIV]. There is a great lesson for us to learn. Instead of seeking satisfaction, fulfillment, and prominence in worldly matters, we must prioritize having God himself as our portion. Our significance must come from the Lord himself through obedience to him. For God and his Word are an inexhaustible treasure of all riches, sufficient for innumerable men, while the world offers mere trifles and fascinations [Guzik]. Therefore, the Psalmist rightfully seeks his significance and prominence in the Lord himself by making him his portion and fully obeying his Word. Jesus himself is a glaring example of this fact. He had only his Father and his will as the focus of his life. He says in Jn. 5:30, “I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” and “I love the Father and I do exactly what my Father has commanded me” [Jn. 14:31]. He even laid down his life and took it back again according to the command of his Father [Jn. 10:17-18].

As disciples of Jesus, that is what we must do. Hold the Lord in the highest priority and do his will as expressed in his Word. Only then we have real significance in the eyes of God. Then we will be able to seek his face with our whole hearts and find grace in his eyes [Ps. 119:58]. Then our steps will not depart from his statues, and we will hasten to keep his commands like Jesus [v. 59].

The Lenten season is an appropriate time to assess who or what is our portion. Let us renew our first love for the Lord during this time and desire him as our portion. Then our lives will be overflowing with his divine blessings, and we will become blessings to others.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to have only you as our portion and to prioritize you over the things of the world. Amen.

PASSION FOR GOD’S WORD

Psalm 119:53-56

In verse 53, the Psalmist’s intense sentiments are described by two terms. The noun zal·ā·p̄āh conveys the meaning ‘raging anger’ and the verb ’ă·ḥā·z means “to grasp, take possession.”  Thus, indignation has seized him. He is consumed with fierce anger. Both these terms paint a picture of the Psalmist trembling with indignation, as though he has lost control of himself. The reason for such indignation is twofold: his profound love for the Word of God, and his anger towards the wicked people who forsake it.

The Psalmist’s intense love for God’s Word is evident in several thoughts expressed in these verses. He is gifted in composing songs, and the theme of his compositions revolves solely around the decrees of the Lord because his heart is fully occupied with them. There is nothing else in his heart except God’s word. Therefore, wherever he has his sojourn, his mind is fixed solely on the Word. Even in the stillness of night, he remembers God and contemplates keeping his laws, akin to Paul and Silas in Acts 16:25. He declares that remembering God’s precepts is his practice. Thus, day and night, he holds only the Word of God in his heart, and consequently, he obeys them continually. This is what we must strive to do; allow God’s Word to become an integral part of our being by loving them with our whole heart and meditating on them day and night.  Let the Word be reflected in our daily walk with God and serve as a witness to others.

Because of his intense and unwavering love for God and his Word, the Psalmist is consumed with raging anger towards those wicked individuals who forsake God’s law, and in doing so, rebel against it. He cannot tolerate when God’s Word is disregarded and violated by the wicked – perhaps by the proud who hold him and others who trust in God’s word in great derision – this fills him with indignation. They reject the word of God, and worse yet, they may lead others astray. Jesus explicitly described severe punishment for those who lead others astray (Luke 17:1-2).

We always find such people around us who mock us when we live according to the Word of God and share them. Out of our love for God’s Word, when we advise them to accept and live by them, they mock us, belittle us, and even persecute us. This should not only create an indignation in us but also compassion for them. Jesus rebuked the leaders of Israel for violating God’s commandments in prioritizing their traditions [Mk 7:1-15; Mat. 15]. Apostle Paul was indignant when God’s Word was disregarded in addressing issues in the church [1 Cor. 4, 11]. Then, they shared the gospel of the Kingdom with them. We cannot tolerate people violating God’s Word and face the adverse eternal consequences. However, we must always pray for them, and even though it may be uncomfortable, we must love them and continue to share God’s Word of eternal life with them.

During this Lenten season, let us take time to assess where we stand in our love for God’s Word and obedience to it. Let us also evaluate our effort in sharing the Word with those who are unsaved. May we have both a passion to grow in the Word and compassion for lost humanity.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, instill in us a fervent love for your Word and willingness to share it with others despite their rejection. Amen.

COMFORT AND HOPE IN SUFFERING

Psalm 119:49-52

Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Since the promises of God are eternally truthful and reliable, we must claim them in the time of our need. 2 Cor. 1:20 says, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” Richard Sibbes rightly says, “When we hear any promise in the word of God, let us turn it into a prayer. God’s promises are his bonds. Sue him on his bond. He loves that we should wrestle with him by his promises.” This is what the Psalmist is asking from the Lord in verse 49. This is precisely what King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah claimed and depended on God’s promises when they were attacked by three nations [2 Chr. 20:6-10]. Through their reliance on God’s promises, God delivered them in a miraculous way.

At this time, the Psalmist is enduring suffering. He is surrounded by arrogant people who mock him without restraint. His life is made uncomfortable. However, like Jehoshaphat, he asks God to remember his promises to him. He expresses his conviction that his hope of deliverance lies solely in the promises of God, and only in his laws, does the Psalmist find comfort. He does not turn to any human for hope, comfort, or deliverance but turns to God and his laws. 

We, the people of God, face suffering and even persecution at the hands of our arrogant enemies through their words and works. Our lives are made uncomfortable and unbearable. Sometimes, suffering becomes overwhelming, and we find it difficult to bear or even share. At times, stress and tension rob us of sleep. However, it is precisely at this times that the promises of God must be relied upon.  Guzik rightly asserts, “When challenged to lessen his confidence and trust in God’s word by the proud mockers, the psalmist wisely responded by increasing his confidence in God’s word!” They give us hope. We must rely on the eternal promises of God for comfort and conviction of deliverance, just as King Jehoshaphat did. Then we will surely witness the deliverance of the Lord and rejoice in him as described in 2 Chr. 20:27,

“Then, after the miraculous deliverance, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the LORD with harps and lutes and trumpets.”

What great rejoicing! This is the end result of trusting God by relying on his promises despite adverse circumstances. We will end up rejoicing before the Lord. Therefore, according to Romans 12:12, let us be patient in our suffering and rejoice in the hope of deliverance by trusting the promises of God. For God says in Is 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, when we go through distressing circumstances, help us to rely on your promises and live peacefully in the hope of deliverance. Amen.

FREEDOM THROUGH OBEDIENCE

Psalm 119:44-48

Throughout Psalm 119, the Psalmist consistently emphasizes the importance of obedience to the Word of God. In verses 44-45, he asserts that this obedience brings a life of liberty. Spurgeon rightly states, “Saints find no bondage in sanctity. The Spirit of holiness is a free spirit; he sets men at liberty and enables them to resist every effort to bring them under subjection. The way of holiness is not a track for slaves, but the King’s highway for freemen.” This freedom comes through obedience and surrender to God and his Word. On the contrary, disobedience and rejection of God’s Word leads to bondage to sin and fear. Therefore, if we want to live a life of freedom, we must seek the precepts of the Lord and “always obey the law, forever and ever” [v. 44].

The freedom that comes from obedience enables us to speak God’s Word freely before people, even before kings. Obedience gives us the courage and boldness to declare God’s Word without restraint to those in high positions. Prophets exemplify this courage. Among them, Nathan boldly declared King David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba [2 Sam. 12], Micaiah prophesied to Ahab and Jehoshaphat of their destruction [1 Kgs. 22], Elijah condemned King Ahab for his murder of innocent Naboth and prophesied Jezebel’s tragic end [1 Kgs. 21], Jeremiah declared the message of exile to Babylon to the rebellious Israel and false prophets through words and symbolic actions [Jer 28]. In the New Testament, John the Baptist condemned King Herod’s relationship with his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias [Mk. 6:14-29], and Paul stood boldly in front of King Agrippa and declared the truth of the gospel [Acts 26] and boldly declared in 2 Timothy 2:8-10, “This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.” Paul and the prophets became courageous men of God, fearlessly declaring God’s Word even to the kings because of their confidence in and complete obedience to it.

The truth that a life of liberty results from obedience to God’s decrees prevails in every age. In today’s church of Jesus Christ, only those who are confident in their complete obedience to the Lord and his decrees can boldly share the gospel of the Kingdom. They feel the freedom of the Holy Spirit in conveying the message of eternal life to those in bondage of sin. Believers who lack confidence in their obedience are filled with fear and shy away from sharing the gospel of salvation. They are in the bondage of fear.

During this Lenten season, let us evaluate our obedience to the Lord and the freedom we have in Jesus. If there is any bondage resulting from a lack of obedience to God’s Word, let us address it with the help of the Holy Spirit, set ourselves free, and engage in proclaiming God’s Word to others.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, grant us the freedom and boldness that result from obeying your Word, and help us to share the gospel with others. Amen.

THE MERCIES OF GOD

Psalm 119:41-43

In verse 41, the Psalmist speaks of the “mercies” of God. He aptly uses the term in the plural. “God’s gracious mercy to us is so immense that it can only be depicted in the plural, with mercy piled on top of mercy” [Guzik]. Our God is merciful. His mercies never cease, and they are renewed every morning [Lam. 3:22-23]. These mercies are pledged to us in his Word by God himself. Therefore, they originate not from any human source but from God himself rendering them truthful and dependable. This is what the Psalmist relies on for his salvation.

Although specific circumstances are not mentioned, we understand that the Psalmist is in distress and need of salvation. In such times, he holds firm to the assured mercies of God promised in his Word and relies on them. We too rely on his mercy for our salvation. Jude emphasizes in 1:21, “You wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” Thus, we must depend on God’s mercies for our salvation from sin and eternal life, as well as for deliverance from any distressing situations of life.

The Psalmist’s situation is further described in verse 42. He faces derision through the taunts of his enemies. There are individuals who use taunting to belittle us and indirectly take a cheap shot. It is more challenging to endure if we refuse to stoop to their level in retaliation. However, in such times, the Psalmist places his trust in God’s Word and in his mercies to provide an answer to his persecutors. Jesus himself encountered such situations in life. He says, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners’” [Mat. 11.19]. The leaders of Israel were constantly after Jesus. They did not miss any opportunity to look down upon him and turn people against him. Yet Jesus used God’s wisdom to silence them. He did not accuse them in retaliation but loved them and gave his life for them. That is how the people of God should respond to their accusers and enemies. Only when we rely on the mercies of God are we able to provide such a response.

Mattew Henry rightly interprets verse 43 by saying, “Lord, make me ready and mighty in the scriptures, for I have hoped in those judgments of thy mouth, and, if they be not at hand, my support and defense have departed from me.” Without the words that proceed from the mouth of God, we are unable to defend ourselves in a godly manner.

Let us turn to the mercies of God promised in his Word, rely on them to face our adversaries, and become a blessed testimony of the Lord.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to rely on your mercies and respond to every circumstance I face with your Word. Amen.

PROMISES OF GOD IN HEART

Psalm 119:38-40

In verse 38, the Hebrew term “qūm” means “to raise, rise, make something stand.” It is also used to establish God’s covenant with his people [Gen. 6:18; 9:9, 11; 17:7, 19, 21]. Thus, God makes his covenant stand firmly between him and his people and makes it immovable and unchangeable [Dt. 7:9]. God is immovable and unchangeable, as is his covenant with his people.

In this sense, the Psalmist requests God to firmly establish his promises within him. When the promises are fulfilled, they will create a sense of awe and reverence for the Lord in the heart of the Psalmist. This has happened with many servants of God. For example, God sent Moses to Egypt to perform an impossible task for any human being: to deliver Israel from Pharaoh, the most powerful king of the world. God promised his presence and power to be with Moses, and after deliverance, to bring Israel to Mt. Sinai to worship God [Ex. 3:12]. When God actually fulfilled his promise through the ten plagues in Egypt and brought Israel to Mount Sinai to worship him, Moses’ heart was filled with awe and reverence for the Lord. God made an impossible promise of giving his own son to Abraham in his old age. When God fulfilled his promise against all hopes [Rom. 4:18], Abraham’s heart would have been filled with reverence and honor for the Lord. Same is the case with Mary in the New Testament. When God fulfilled his promise of placing his Son in the womb of this young virgin, her heart was overflowing with an awe which resulted in praise and worship in Luke 1:46-55. 

As we saw earlier, the Psalmist is in a distressful situation and even bound with a rope [119.61]. Yet he requests God to firmly establish his promises of deliverance in his heart so that when the impossible deliverance is realized, his heart will be filled with awe and reverence for the Lord, resulting in sincere worship of the Lord. Thus, the saving acts of the Lord in fulfillment of his promises contribute to the recognition that only he is the true God.

This is what the people of God must do: plead with God to establish his promises firmly in our hearts so that we will never distrust them. We will always stand firmly on those promises during our good times and bad. And when God brings about the answer to our prayers, we will be able to ascribe genuine worship to him. Then our lives will be preserved to walk on the way of righteousness.

However, for God to establish his promises in our hearts we must fully surrender our hearts to God and must be willing to spend regular time in God’s Word. We must read them, re-read them, and read them again and again. It is hard work and takes genuine efforts and sincere love for God. We must let the Word of God inscribe on our hearts and minds so that in all situations we will depend on it, and it will create true reverence in our hearts.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, establish firmly within me your promises so that I will always live by them in all circumstances. Amen.

EYES ON THE WORD OF GOD

Psalm 119:36-37

In verse 36, the Psalmist addresses the critical problem of ‘selfish gain.’ As a man of the Word, he likely knew many individuals through the history of God’s chosen people whose lives were ruined by the pursuit of selfish gain. For example, Balaam attempted to curse God’s chosen people [Num. 22; 2 Pet. 2:14-16], King David committed adultery with the wife of his faithful soldier and orchestrated his murder [2 Sam. 11:2-17], Ahab’s family executed the murder plot of Naboth and his sons [1 Kgs. 21; 2 Kgs. 9:26], Achan and his entire family were stoned to death [Jos. 7], and Gehazi contracted leprosy [2 Kgs. 5:20-27]. In the New Testament, figures like Judas betrayed Jesus for selfish gain by selling him to the priests [Mt. 26], and Ananias and Saphira lied to the Holy Spirit and faced fatal consequences [Acts 5]. Throughout church history, and in contemporary times, many people of God have succumbed to the lure of power, position, possessions, prominence, and paisa [money], resulting in the tarnishing of their testimonies and even loss of life.

However, to avoid the inevitable destruction that accompanies selfish gain, the Psalmist earnestly implores God to help him avert his gaze from it and instead fix his eyes upon the statues of God. Even though we become people of God by believing in Jesus, we still encounter the temptation to fall into the devil’s trap of selfish gain. It’s possible that worldly temptations – such as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life [1 Jn. 2:16] – can corrupt us. But these pursuits are utterly “worthless” [v. 37]. When confronted with the allure of selfish gain and worthless pursuits, we should echo the Psalmist’s prayer to “turn my eyes towards your Word.” Relying on and obeying God’s Word will shield us from the grip of selfish gain and worthless pursuits. Whenever Satan tempted Jesus with worldly desires for selfish gain, Jesus consistently relied on God’s Word and emerged victorious [Mat. 4]. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, enabling us to combat selfish gain and all other forms of sinfulness successfully. Only through adherence to and obedience to God’s Word can we live victorious lives over worldly temptations, becoming more than conquerors for the Lord.

Lent is a season for introspection, when we examine our own lives to root out any desires for selfish gain. Let us utilize this time to cry out to God with the same fervor as David expressed in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”  For ‘the world and its desires will pass away, but the one who does the will of God, as expressed in his Word, will live forever” [1 Jn. 2:17].

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me turn my eyes away from the selfish gain of the world and fix them entirely on your statutes. Amen.

PRAYER FOR UNDERSTANDING AND OBEDIENCE

Psalm 119.33-35

In these verses, the Psalmist offers an honest prayer, expressing a deep desire to walk in alignment with the will of God. He employs three verses – “teach me,” “Give me,” and “direct me” – in an imperative mood. Despite the imperative mood, the request is made in the form of beseeching and intense pleading for God’s help at all times. These verses capture the essence of yielding oneself to divine will and guidance. His pleading with God reflects his humility and acceptance of the fact that his understanding is far too limited, and he needs God’s wisdom to navigate the world filled with confusion due to sin. The Psalmist provides a great role model for us on how to approach God to learn from his Word with humility, intensity, and pleading. Let us plead with God to teach us from his Word, give us a deeper understanding of his Word, and direct our steps on the path of righteousness.

The objective of his plea is to be taught from God’s decrees so that he will obey it “with his whole heart” and to the end. The Word of God is eternal and without end. Therefore, “to the end” must mean throughout the entire journey of life and until the end of life. It is a lifelong commitment and continuous pursuit. This must be the objective of every believer in studying the decrees of God; to obey them with the whole heart and to put them into practice daily until the last day of their lives. Apostle Paul is a perfect example of this fact. He studied the Word, practiced the Word, and preached the Word even from imprisonment until he laid down his life. This commitment stemmed from his dedication to keeping the Word in all circumstances until the end of his life. This exemplifies true obedience that flows from a heart that understands and embraces God’s truth, rather than superficial adherence to mere rules and regulations.

When we obey God’s Word with our whole heart – without apprehension and despite adverse circumstances – and with a determination to practice them until the end of life, we find pure delight. Our hearts rejoice, and we will be bogged down by the pressures of life. God’s decrees become sweeter than honey. Even though the Psalmist was in distressful situations [Ps. 119:22, 25, 28, 39, 42, 51, 85, 86, 157], he still found delight in life because he constantly and fully relied on God’s Word.

Let us take time to plead with God to give us a deeper understanding of his Word, which will result in complete obedience and a pathway to rejoicing in the Lord. Let us behold the beauty and the majesty of the Lord in his Word.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, teach us to follow your commandments by giving us deeper understanding, and help us find joy and fulfilment in them. Amen.

PROTECTION BY THE PRECEPTS OF GOD

Psalm 119:28-32

In this passage of scripture, the Psalmist’s primary concern is to shield himself from the deceitful paths and falsehoods that pervade the world. He, like us, recognizes the pervasive nature of deception in our surroundings. People speak with duplicity, saying one thing while intending another, and their actions frequently contradict their words. Truthfulness is scarce in both their speech and behavior. Moreover, individuals in the world present numerous temptations aimed at diverting us from God through deceit. Our adversary, Satan, is a master of deception, as Revelation 12:9 attests: “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” Through his malicious agents and schemes on earth, he misguides humanity. Sometimes, the devil’s deceitfulness is difficult to discern, and even the faithful can easily succumb to it, leading to the loss of their peace, joy and even their reputation, as depicted in the Psalmist’s plight during times of crisis.

However, despite the pervasive deceitfulness in the world, the Psalmist has firmly ‘chosen the way of truth.’ He achieved this by dedicating himself to God’s laws [v.30]. Ezra 7:10 similarly describes Ezra’s commitment to the Law of the Lord: “For Ezra has set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and teach his statues and rules in Israel.” Consequently, the Psalmist not only shielded himself from the world’s deceit but also spearheaded spiritual reform with the community of believers. Like Ezra, he has ‘set his heart’ on God’s laws [Ps 110.30b], clinging to the Lord’s statutes with the assurance that obedience will safeguard him [v. 31]. Moreover, even if he is tainted by the world’s deceit, God sets his heart free as he follows his commandments [v. 32].

This scripture passage offers a profound lesson. We live amidst falsehood and deceit, making it increasingly challenging to avoid contamination from the sinful world. Yet, like the Psalmist and Ezra, if we devote ourselves to studying and practicing God’s laws daily, they will shield us from deceitfulness of the world and cleanse us of any contamination. Lent provides an opportune time to focus our hearts on God’s laws, meditate on them, assess our loyalty, and put them into practice for a fruitful Christian life.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, guide me in setting my heart on your Word, shielding me from the world’s deceitfulness. Amen.

IN TIME OF TROUBLE

Psalm 119:25-28

The Psalmist opens verse 25 by declaring, “My soul clings to the dust.” Here, dust symbolizes a place of mourning, humiliation, and even death. Using this potent imagery, the psalmist conveys a profound sense of humiliation and nearness to death in his current crisis. Job serves as a classic example of lamenting in the dust. He experienced the loss of everything- children, homes, livestock, prosperity, and even reputation – reducing his life to ashes and lamentation [Job 10:19, 42:6]. Similarly, Tamar suffered utter humiliation at the hands of her brother Amnon, symbolized by placing dust on her head in lamentation [2 Sam. 13:11-14, 19]. It’s not uncommon for many of God’s people to face such humiliation and suffering from adversaries, their own kin, or in various circumstances.

However, in this death-like situation, the Psalmist prays, “Preserve my life according to your Word,” turning to the Word of God for help, strength, and encouragement. As Spurgeon aptly notes, “When a person is depressed in spirit, weak, and bent towards the ground, the main thing is to increase his stamina and put more life into him; then his spirit revives.” This revival occurs through complete reliance on the Word and total obedience to it. By depending on the Word of God, we ultimately rely on God himself, who has given us his Word and promises of deliverance.

The theme of reliance on God’s Word is reinforced in verse 28. When his soul is weary with sorrow, the Psalmist turns to God’s Word. First, he prays for a deeper understanding of the Word, making God the source of enlightenment regarding his precepts. Then, he prays for strength according to the Word. This approach is the right way to engage with the Word during distressing and sorrowful times. Challenging and humiliating experiences are inevitable for every believer, but by immersing ourselves in God’s Word and asking him for understanding and application, we find strength and empowerment to face and overcome them.

Let us cultivate a discipline of relying on God and studying his Word continually to draw empowerment in the midst of adversity and live a victorious Christian life. Let us use the Lenten season as an opportunity to delve deeper into Scripture, seek understanding and revelation through meditation and prayer, and find refreshment and renewal for our souls.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to face the most adverse situations of my life by relying on your Word and finding empowerment and renewal in my soul. Amen.

WORD OF GOD AS COUNSELOR

Psalm 119:21-24

In verse 21, we notice that the Psalmist harbors grave indignation towards those who do not care for the commandments of the Lord and thus come under the curse of God. This sentiment stems from his profound love for God’s Word as he lives in accordance with God’s commandments. Therefore, he is unable to tolerate those who, in their arrogance, deliberately walk in darkness by defying the statutes of the Lord. This must also be the sentiment of believers who love and cherish God’s Word. When the commandments of the Lord are grossly violated, we, as the people of God, not only feel indignant but also compassionate toward those who transgress, knowing the potential consequences for their eternal fate. We pray for them with genuine concern and endeavor to guide them towards the knowledge and path of the Lord. Let this Lent season be a time of interceding for those who deliberately defy the law of the Lord and come under the divine curse.

For his love of God and his Word, the Psalmist and others often face scorn and contempt, a common occurrence among God’s people. Jesus acknowledges this fact in Mat. 24:9 stating, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” Like the psalmist, we may face scorn, contempt, and even persecution for our love for the Lord and his Word. Daniel and his friends serve as glaring examples of such persecution. Peter and John were imprisoned for preaching the Word of God [Acts 4]. The Apostles faced persecution and imprisonment at the hands of the high priest, Sadducees, and all their associates [Acts 5:17-18]. A comprehensive list of Apostle Paul’s persecution by his enemies including his ’own countrymen’ and ‘false brothers’ is detailed in 2 Cor. 11. Persecution of God’s people for their allegiance to the Lord and his Word is a well documented phenomenon throughout the centuries up to the present day. Even rulers and emperors such as Nebuchadnezzar, Nero, and many others have persecuted God’s people, subjecting them even to death.

Nevertheless, in the face of all persecution, like the Psalmist, God’s people find refuge in the Word of God and in God himself, facing persecution with unwavering faith. They find true counsel in the Word, and even amidst such persecution, they can triumphantly declare, “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors” [Psalm 119:24]. While we may encounter challenging times due to our love of the Lord, let us meditate on the Word of God and draw solace and strength to face them.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to meditate on your Word to find strength and encouragement to face the challenging times in life. Amen.

BOUNTIFUL GRACE OF GOD

Psalm 119:17-18

The Hebrew word “gə·mōl” in verse 17 means to ‘deal bountifully.’ Here, the Psalmist is portrayed as a man of God with high expectations from God. This is because of his trust in a great, gracious, and benevolent God. It emphasizes the necessity for God’s people to have a grand perception of God. Only then can we anticipate great things from him. William Carrey made a famous statement, “Expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.” He not only made a statement but also endeavored and achieved remarkable feats for God by tapping into the great and bountiful resources available from God.

Because of God’s abundant grace upon him, William Carrey became a missionary to India and spearheaded significant social and spiritual reforms. He successfully served as a Baptist minister, translator, social reformer, and cultural anthropologist who established the Senate of Serampore College and Serampore University. Thousands of theological students, like this writer, have had the privilege of receiving theological degrees from this university and have made meaning contributions to the ministry of the church in India and abroad. Many superstitious beliefs in Indian culture were dispelled, and numerous individuals in India were liberated from their sins, malevolent customs, and social evils.

Let us learn from these verses that we must anticipate great things from a great God so that we might strive for great things for him and not for our personal gain. Then God will deal with us bountifully and aid us in achieving great things for him. During the Lenten season, let us reflect on our spiritual lives and seek God’s abundant grace to sustain us spiritually and empower us to achieve great things for him in our church and the entire community.

In verse 18, the Psalmist expresses his hunger for spiritual insight and revelation by desiring to open his eyes to the truths of the Word of God. He is convinced that God’s Word is replete with marvelous works of God. For instance, God created the entire universe with a word from his mouth and without any phenomena in existence [Gen. 1; Ps. 104; Heb. 11:3]. God knows all the stars by their names [Ps. 145; Isa. 40]. God’s Word is a repository of invaluable treasures concerning his existence, nature, character, works, and words. When we believe in God through Jesus Christ, our eyes are opened, and we are enabled to behold the wonderful things in his Word. During this Lenten season, let us beseech God to open our eyes so that we may comprehend the true wisdom, great marvels, and profound truths found in his Word.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, open my eyes to behold the marvelous things hidden in your Word. Amen.

EXUBERANCE OF JOY

Psalm 119:13-16

The psalmist hears and reads the word of God, and thinks about it continually, until it becomes ingrained in both his mind and his heart [Guzik]. The psalmist not only makes it his own by hiding it in his heart, but also verbalizes them. He believes them in his heart and also speaks them out with his lips. Thus, he reinforces them in his mind and heart. This is the best way to memorize the Word of God and make them our own. And at the same time, declare them to the people around us. The more we recount them, the more our hearts and minds align with the counsel of God provided in his Word. As we spend time with God and his Word during the Lent season, let us learn to ingrain the Word in our hearts, recount them with our lips, and live by them as a witness to the Lord.

Then the Psalmist states an important fact that reading, recounting, and reproducing the Word of God in our lives is not a burdensome or imposed task, but it is a delight. In Hebrew, the term ‘delight’ is ’eš·ta·‘ă·šā‘. Adam Clarke says, “This word is very emphatical:  I will skip about and jump for joy.” It gives us as much exuberance of joy as one finds in a treasure. David says in Ps. 19:10, “They are more precious than gold, than much fine gold.” Only those believers who read the Word regularly, inscribe them in heart, and declare them to others know the exuberance of joy that comes from God. Those believers who are not serious in spending regular and focused time in the Word will not understand the exuberance of joy. For them it is a burdensome duty. If we love the Lord, we also must love his Word, enjoy spending time with it, and share with people around us.

Therefore, let us be determined to spend quality time in God’s Word as a priority in life. Let us do it on a daily basis, not as a burdensome duty but as a pure delight because for many believers, doing daily quiet time in the morning is a challenge. Due to setting their hearts more on worldly matters, some believers neglect it and ultimately form a habit of neglecting it. But let us be disciplined in spending time with God’s Word regularly and without getting tired or lazy. Then we will experience the profound joy which stems from understanding the value and significance of heeding the Word. Only the Word of God gives us the knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ who is concealed in the Old Testament and revealed clearly in the New Testament. Therefore, let us love the Word of God and the God of the Word with our whole heart, obey his precepts, and experience the overflowing joy.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us make your Word our own, recount them, and share them with others so that we will be able to experience the exuberance of joy. AMEN. 

THE WORD AND THE WAY OF PURITY

Psalm 119:9-12

In every age, the world is filled with temptations, distractions, and sinfulness, which become more intense with the passing of time. It is becoming increasingly challenging to steer the course of our daily Christian life through them, especially for young people, who are full of youthful energy, vigor, and potential. In their youthful drive, it is easy for them, and even for people of all ages, to succumb to the impure and sinful ways of the world. In 1 Jn. 2:16, this sinfulness of the world is described as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Due to this prevalent sinfulness, God’s people might succumb to them and go astray. And their youthful energy and potential could not be used meaningfully for the Lord.

Therefore, the Psalmist asks a poignant question: How can we, especially young people, steer their way successfully through the impurities and sinfulness of the world and maintain their purity? The answer lies in taking heed to the Word of God and living a daily Christian life by it. The Word is inspired by God himself and makes one wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ [2 Tim. 3.15-16]. It has the power to give knowledge to change eternal destiny from hell to heaven. It shows us the criteria of purity and the reason for purity. It is a protective shield for our soul and guards our hearts from the encroachment of sin. The purity of heart results in purity of life which becomes a testimony for the Lord. If one does not take heed to it, the natural path is toward impurity and degeneration.

Therefore, we must take heed to God’s Word wholeheartedly and obey it. Let us take a moment to evaluate our commitment to the Word of God like Daniel, Michael, Hananiah, and Azariah, who demonstrated absolute loyalty to the Word of God and became a living testimony for the Lord. By taking heed to the Word of God and implementing them in our daily lives, we can live a life of victory over sin and become effective witnesses of the Lord. Our lives will shine as a light in the darkness of the world. Many will see it and glorify our Father in heaven.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, strengthen our commitment to seek your Word with our whole heart and abide by it so that we will walk successfully on the way of holiness. Amen.

THE BLESSED PEOPLE

119:3-8

The Psalmist opens his lengthy Psalm by addressing it to the “blessed” people [v. 1]. They are the people who ‘do nothing wrong’ [v. 3]. When v. 3 is interpreted as a causal clause, its significance enhances. They ‘do nothing wrong’ because they ‘walk in his ways’ and ‘fully obey’ the precepts that God has laid down. And they will be steadfast under all circumstances whether favorable or adverse. They will never be put to shame because of their confidence in the Word of God and complete obedience to it.

Our hearts become upright by believing in the commandments of the Lord and practicing them in daily life. The uprightness of heart results in praising God with whole heart.

We learn an important lesson from these verses. As blessed people of God, we must refrain from doing wrong by knowing the Word of God and obeying it. The more we know the Word of God, the more we realize the need to obey him. The conclusion of Apostle John is, ‘these [the gospel] have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name’ [20.31; see also, Jn. 6.29; Rom. 10:9]. This is an exclusive command of the Lord. When we obey it, our hearts are occupied by Jesus, who will not only give us eternal life but also help us to obey God’s precepts, ‘do nothing wrong,’ and walk in the way of righteousness while we are on earth. Jesus says in Jn. 14:15, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” Then he says in verse 21, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and show myself to him.” To follow his commandments, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help the believers. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit “will live with you and will be in you” and “He will guide you in all truth” [Jn 14:16-17; 16:13]. This was promised long back by the Lord in Ezek. 36:27, “I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will keep my judgments and do them.” Therefore, we must listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and let him take absolute control of our lives. Then, by his help we will be able to obey God’s precepts and do nothing wrong.

During the Lent Season, let us reflect upon ourselves. Let us recommit ourselves by finding deeper understanding of his will and plan by delving in the Word of God. Let his Word be our only guide to walk on the way of righteousness which will result in genuine praise.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, let your Word be our guide to keep from doing wrong and to walk successfully on the way of holiness. AMEN.

LIFE SETTING OF THE PSALMIST

Psalm 119: 22-28

Before delving deeper into the devotionals from Psalm 119, it will be helpful to understand the sitz-im-leben, the “setting in life” of the Psalmist. It will make the study of the Psalm more meaningful and poignant. The Psalmist is in an adverse situation, surrounded by enemies. He is estranged by people on the earth [v.19]. He is faced with scorn and contempt [v. 22]. Due to his suffering and affliction, he is laid low in the dust, his soul is weary with sorrow [vv. 25, 28].  People disgrace him and level taunts against him [vv. 39, 42]. His arrogant enemies mock him without any restraint, forge lies against him, and dig pitfalls for him [vv. 51, 69, 85]. Many enemies persecute him without cause, leading him to fear for his life being wiped out from the face of the earth [vv. 86f, 157]. From verse 61, it seems that the wicked men bound him with a rope to persecute him. He was facing the most adverse circumstances of his life.

However, amidst the most trying times, the Psalmist has only one thing dear to his heart, the Word of God. He is fully devoted to it. And because of his wholehearted devotion to the Word of God, he is able to endure the adverse circumstances. He declares in v. 24, “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.” And in v. 50, he says, “in suffering, your promise preserves my life.” Like Joshua, the Psalmist did not veer from the law of the Lord [Jos. 1:7].

As people of God, we too face various adverse circumstances in life from different sources, sometimes from foes and at times even from well-wishers, relatives, family, and friends. Like the Psalmist, adversities can become very severe and even life-threatening. We might become disheartened by afflictions and persecution. However, in those times, we must turn to the Word of God to draw strength and comfort from the God who has given us his Word. It will renew our hope and strength, enabling us to rise above adverse circumstances, and live a victorious Christian life. Let us renew our commitment to God’s Word during this Lenten season and trust his promises in all life situations.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us love your Word, be devoted to it, and live a victorious Christian life for your glory. Amen.

INTRODUCTORY INFORMATION

Psalm 119

In the Lenten Season of 2024, we will explore Psalm 119. Lent is a time of reflection, repentance, and renewal. It is a time of drawing nearer to God and seek His presence in our lives. Let us pray that the study of this beautiful Psalm will help us to achieve this objective.

This Psalm is located almost in the middle of the English Bible, and it is the longest Psalm with 176 verses. The author is zealously dedicated to the Word of God. This can be observed from the fact that he mentions the Word of God in every verse, except for five verses [vv. 84, 90, 121,122, 132] utilizing a variety of Hebrew terms: derek, “way”; torah, “law”; ‘edoth, “Statutes”; piqqudim, “precepts”; miwōt, “command, commandments”; mishpatim, “Ordinances”; ḥuqqim, “decrees”; dabar, “word”; ’imrah “word” or ‘promise.”  Therefore, the overarching theme of this Psalm is the Psalmist’s unwavering dedication to God’s Word. Let us pray that the devotionals from this Psalm will create in us the passion and devotion to study and practice the Word of God. Luther professed that he prized this Psalm so highly, that he would not take the whole world in exchange for one leaf of it [Guzik].

Another literary beauty found in this Psalm is its alphabetic acrostic form. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet. This Psalm contains 22 stanzas of 8 verses each. Each of the 22 stanzas corresponds to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in sequential order, and each line in that section begins with that letter. E.g., the first stanza is given the first letter of Hebrew alphabet aleph, and all the eight verses in that stanza begin with aleph. It means that with enormous patience and passion, the Psalmist penned this Psalm. Philip Henry, the father of great 18th century Bible commentator Matthew Henry required from his children to meditate on one verse of this Psalm every morning, and thereby go through the entire Psalm twice in the year to bring them in love with all the rest of the scripture. It is a good discipline to be implemented in our own families.

John H. Stek perfectly captures the essence of the Psalmist’s sentiment by stating, “the author had a theme that filled his soul, a theme as big as life, that ranged the length and breadth and height and depth of a person’s walk with God”. Not only the writing of the Psalm but also the study of this Psalm and the entire Bible must fill our soul with a sincere love and commitment to practice the Word of God in our life daily. We must not be only the readers but also be the followers of the Word of God in life.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us study your Word with passion and practice them in our daily life. Amen.