Michael Boling – Reflections on Psalm 119:1-88

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Psalm 119:1-88

This particular Psalm is a rather impressive piece of writing. As noted by Charles Bridges:

“The structure of this Psalm is peculiar. It is divided into twenty-two parts, according to the number of the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet; each part, and its several verses, beginning with the corresponding letter of the Alphabet.” (http://gracegems.org/26/BRIDGES.htm)

Bridges also notes “The prominent characteristic of the Psalm is a love for the word of God, which is brought before us under no less than ten different names, referring to some latent and distinguishing properties of the Divine word, whose manifold excellencies and perfections are thus illustrated with much elegant variety of diction. In many instances, however the several terms appear to have been varied, to adapt themselves to the metre; while, perhaps, at other times they may be promiscuously used for the whole revelation of God, that the view of its inexhaustible fullness might thus conciliate a more attentive regard to its authority; and might add fresh strength to the obligation to read, believe, love, and live in it.” (http://gracegems.org/26/BRIDGES.htm)

I have often ventured into conversations with people about the word law, in particular with those who make the claim that the law is no longer of any importance for the New Testament believer. Psalm 119 is a treasure trove of proof and explanation as to exactly what is meant from a biblical perspective regarding the word law. The law is not just what we find in the writings of Moses. The word translated as law in our Bibles is the Hebrew word Torah which simply means instruction and directions, specifically the instructions and directions concerned with how we are to love God and love others.

Psalm 119 references the Torah over and over and over. The Torah is never presented as a burden or something that would someday be nailed to the cross. Conversely, happy are those who live by the Torah (vs. 1). We are told how a life can be lived in purity – by guarding it according to God’s Word, His Torah (vs. 9). The Psalmist asks God to teach him the Torah (vs. 12). We are to meditate on God’s precepts found in His Torah (vs. 15). The Psalmist also asks God to open his eyes to see the wonder of the Torah (vs. 18). God rebukes those who stray from His commands (vs. 21). The request is made to keep deceitful ways far from him and to be favored with Torah (vs. 29). The Psalmist takes pleasure in God’s commands (vs. 35). The wicked abandon the Torah (vs. 53). Even when the wicked close around him, the Psalmist refused to forget God’s Torah (vs. 61). The Torah means more than a fortune in gold and silver (vs. 72). All of God’s commands reveal His faithfulness (vs. 86). Keep in mind I skipped over many, many references to Torah, commands, instructions, and rulings found in the other verses of Psalm 119:1-88.

There is a great misunderstanding of what the Torah is all about. While it does include prescriptions for what one should eat and instructions about the Sabbath (two of the more discussed and debated elements) and there are plenty of do’s and don’ts in the Mosaic Law that can be argued to be applicable only to certain individuals with many situations no longer in effect, God’s Torah is far more than that portion of Scripture. Anywhere in Scripture where God outlines what it means to love Him and to love others should be considered His Torah. Since all of Scripture serves that function, all of Scripture is the Torah if you really think about it. All of Scripture, regardless of whether a command is specifically for us today or not, reveals God’s plan of salvation, restoration, and redemption. Psalm 119 is a beautiful picture of why we should declare our love for God’s Torah, His holy Word.

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