Here we go, the longest chapter in the Bible.
22 stanzas, one for each letter of the Jewish alphabet, and each about the law, the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. I should have read this first, it’s a phenomenal sales pitch for the law.
It’s a prayer, addressed from one individual to God, full of intimate and vulnerable language.
One line summaries of each stanza:
- You’ll be blessed, aka not forsaken, if you follow the law.
- Meditate on, delight in, seek & follow the law to stay pure and true
- Help me keep longing for the law, don’t let me become like the cynics around me
- I’m low and sorrowful, may the law give me understanding and strength
- Keep me learning & focused on what is right, the worthless things don’t bring life
- I’ll boldly and freely speak the law to Kings: keep your promises of love and salvation
- I’m mercilessly mocked for keeping the law, but my hope comes from you who promises life
- You are all I need Lord, the world is about your love, the wicked can bind me but won’t change me
- You taught me though affliction, I had strayed, but now I value the law more than gold.
- You made me who I am, an example to others, a target for the wicked; and your love comforts me
- I’m fainting from waiting, blind from looking for your promise, save me from persecution so I can love you more
- Your word is eternal, boundless perfection, it saved my life before and will again.
- The law is sweeter than honey, it made me wiser than enemies, teachers and elders
- Your law lights a path though constant danger, and I’m determined to keep it ’til the end.
- Only the law is solid, everything else is a delusion that will come to nothing.
- I’ve lived your law and I’m under attack, it’s time to act on your promises Lord!
- Your law is wonderful unfolding light. I’m confident of deliverence and cry over disobedience.
- I’m exhausted, people ignore you, but the lasting rightness of your law withstands all tests.
- The wicked are near, but so are you Lord day and night, and your word will last.
- I love you Lord, unlike the wicked, show me compassion
- Kings persecute me but I obey and praise you all day, and I have peace – how I love your law!
- I’ve strayed, but not forgotten your law, hear me, save me and so I can continue to praise you.
Some things that struck me:
It’s like a portrait of the god revealed in Jesus. I remember the sense of God’s compassion and justice coming from so many of the laws, as well as weird rules about skin diseases etc. But here we have the full character of God revealed to this person through the law. Gives resonance to Jesus’ claim to be the fulfillment of the law, it was always pointing his direction.
It’s a detailed picture of the life of a believer. Aware you aren’t perfect. Determined to be obedient, aware of God’s love and relying on his truth, compassion and steadfastness. Finding peace under attack, being grateful for God even in hard times and the sense of revelation continuing to unfold to moments of overwhelming joy.
I liked how it is so intimate, the private prayers of one believer, but clearly with the acrostic structure designed as a teaching tool, an encouragement for many. It’s testimony, not doctrine, and so powerful for that, as the personal feelings about God aggregate.
For all that it is feeling a bit inadequate to my circumstances this morning. My frustration with my oldest son boiled over into ugly anger last night that is unresolved, and is a long ongoing drag on his and everyone’s mental health and happiness. I struggle so profoundly to come to terms with it.
His 27th birthday a week or so ago, with the prospect of him maybe never launching into a life outside his room, and perhaps the death of my fondly remembered youth group aquaintance feed into the feelings of dissatisfaction I’ve been having of late.
Praying for wisdom. I suppose the life of the writer of the psalm was as challenging. The lives of others often seems simpler from the outside. He said God’s law was enough, his portion, but it doesn’t feel it today.
I need to say some of this stuff to him.