At 176 verses, Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. It’s separated into 22 stanzas representing every letter of the Hebrew alphabet whereby each of the 8 lines within each stanza begins with that particular Hebrew letter. Clearly, much thought went into the crafting of this psalm. But what is it about?
Psalm 119 is essentially a love poem to God’s law. I know, I know … you’re probably asking yourself, “why would I love the law? Isn’t it there to point out my flaws or tell me what not to do?”
Every law can be framed in either a positive or negative light. The state patrol could say, “don’t go over 60 mph or else you could get a ticket.” Or they could frame it positively: “the fastest speed for protecting everyone’s safety is 60 mph.” Similarly, the greatest commandment of the Bible could be summarized as loving and glorifying God. Or it could be framed negatively as “don’t sin.” The implication here is that by not sinning, you’re acting in a way that glorifies God.
In Hebrew, the word law (torah) means to teach, direct, or to point. God’s laws are like guideposts that reveal His character and His desire for your life—the actions that please Him. The law comes from God and the psalmist is essentially pouring out his affection because anything that comes directly from God should be cherished above all worldly treasures. Jesus is, of course, the epitome of God’s character and word. He represents the fulfillment of the law. Jesus points out that we cannot become righteous by trying to keep the law. We must, instead, recognize the unattainable, holy standard symbolized by the law. And thus, our need for a savior.
Verse 1 of the psalm says the blessed person is someone who “walks in the law.” It’s someone who uses the law to help guide his steps on the path. To continue this analogy, it may be helpful to think of the path as Jesus (“the way”) and the law as the guardrails along the path. The law is there to help identify the virtuous steps along the path and to course-correct when you’ve strayed.
Let us rejoice in God’s love that is revealed in the law and in its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Pray that the Holy Spirit empowers you to keep God’s good commands and to stay firmly on the righteous path.
Brian C. (Teleios Board Member)