day 48 – put a psalm in my heart

Today, we begin the beauty of learning, and re-learning, our ABC’s (Psalm 119.1-32).*

Morning: read Psalm 119.1-16. Knowledge, by itself, is at best, a dead end street; at worst, an elevated freeway to pride. As surely as whenever God speaks, something happens, our knowing God’s word is not meant to be an end in itself. We’re to seek after what God would have us to know for the express purpose of becoming it and doing it. Or to put it another way: we take up learning our ABC’s so that we may actually be what God would write through/with us.

“You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.” (vs. 4)

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (vs. 11)

Mid-day: read Psalm 119.17-24. In the Western world today, we tend to think in terms of “head” and heart” being separate matters, the former referring to our reasoning and the latter addressing our affections. Such a separation is the opposite of Scripture’s understanding and use of the terms for in the Biblical world, and in the world of the Bible, these terms were/are synonymous. But, if we were to roll along anyway with our Western thinking here, we cannot help but be impressed with the pure, unbridled passion this author has for grasping what God has given. May we become more and more like this author in heart and head, daily, like a Labrador off the leash!

“My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.” (vs. 20)

Evening: read Psalm 119.25-32. Fact: we are totally dependent on God’s involvement and good grace for any and every good thing in our life. This holds true for all that he has revealed to us both in creation and revelation. We know this innately whenever we marvel over a spectacular sunset or stare at the twinkling stars. We are transported in wonder and mystery to our Creator. No one has to tell us that there is far, far more to be known of him than what we will ever know, and that if we ever know more of him, it will come only by his granting us such insight, and not merely by our effort.

But, let us be remember: the same holds true when we peer into God’s “other” book of inspiration, the book we call Scripture. We do not merely need this book of God, we need God’s personal involvement with us in understanding and applying it in our life. As surely as we must open his book and open our hearts, he must open our hearts and his book to us. His work was not made complete in revealing his will; his work is made complete as we revel in his ways that are beyond words, or in the words of an old hymn, “beyond the sacred page.” And he does indeed work to that end … as we invite him to do so.

“Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.” (vs. 27)

* Note: This psalm, as is made obvious in the NIV’s rendering of it, is an acrostic; the thought divisions of the psalm follow the Hebrew alphabet. This is how it works. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet and there are 22 distinct paragraphs in Ps. 119. Each paragraph consists of 8 lines/verses. All 8 lines of each paragraph begin with a word that has the same first letter in the Hebrew alphabet.

Le me illustrate it this way: imagine creating a similar psalm in English. There would be 27 paragraphs, each of them 8 lines in length, making a total of 216 lines. Every line in the first paragraph would begin with a word that starts with the letter “A,” all 8 lines of the second paragraph with a “B,” etc. Oh, the thought and effort required to even come up with such a piece!

And so, the great love the author of Ps. 119 had for their subject – praise of God revealing his will to us in the form of his written word – is expressed not merely in what the author says, but in the very beauty of the form in which it is expressed. Like Rachael (cf. Gen. 29.17 KJV), Ps. 119 is “fair in face and form.” Quite literally, the medium is part of the message.

And the same is meant to hold true for us.