Thinking about the longest chapter in the Bible
From the Word of God: “Your word is a lamp that guides my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119: 105, NLT).
“What is the longest chapter in the Bible?” Was a common question in Bible quizzes when I was a child. The answer….? Psalm 119. It has 176 verses. I remember that my grandmother had a painting in the kitchen with the verse from the beginning. It is the old version of GPS.
Psalm 119 is a Hebrew acrostic poem; there are 22 stanzas, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet consecutively. Each of the 8 verses in each stanza begins with the Hebrew letter mentioned in the heading.
Its author is not known for sure but what we do know is that whoever wrote it loved the Word of God. His passion was to know the Word, live it, treasure it, obey it. I ask God that that same passion be ours and if at some point it has died down, he enlivens it and we come to understand that this is not just any word, it is not just another book, the Word of God is life.
Verse one says: “Happy are the upright, those who follow the teachings of the Lord.” Integrity is about to become a dying virtue, don’t you think? It is difficult to find a person of integrity, who keeps his word, who does not negotiate principles, who does not join the current of relativism where there is no longer good or bad but everything is as one perceives it.
However, this wise man begins by telling us that those who follow the Lord’s teachings are people of integrity, and happy! So much so that, as verse 3 reveals, they don’t bargain with evil and only walk in the ways of the Lord. I don’t know about you but I wish that could be said of me. Easy to achieve? Of course not! In fact I would tell you that it is practically impossible, if it weren’t for God’s grace and a heart willing to obey him.
In our walk with God we long for many things, but they could be summed up very well in what verses 5 and 6 say: “Oh, how I want my actions to be a vivid reflection of your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your mandates ”. What is my life reflecting? I can honestly tell you that I am not always a reflection of someone who complies with God’s commands. Sometimes I lose my temper, I say the wrong thing, I struggle with feelings that are far from being all the good, just and pure that Paul exhorts us in Philippians. But just like this psalmist, my wish is to act others can see Jesus in me.
Wonderful that verse 7 tells us that as we learn God’s ordinances, we will live giving thanks. Other versions say: “I will praise you with integrity of heart”, but in Hebrew the word is Yadah , a term that implies to give thanks, praise, acclaim. Living in obedience to God’s commands leads us to a life of gratitude. Hallelujah!
And finally, how much I identify with the words of verse 8! This man had in his heart a genuine desire to obey God, his commands. But, like you and me, many times I failed in the attempt, fell, repeated what in reality I would not have wanted to do … so human, so sincere! To the point that he asks God: “Please don’t give up on me!” Those same have been mine on several occasions and in a way it gives me relief to see that I am not alone, that the Word of God itself contains the testimony of fragile people like you and me, willing to expose themselves before the eyes of many generations but trusting in that even so, God loves them.
Now is your turn. Read these verses again. Write down what God speaks to your heart. And above all, ask him for passion to learn and treasure his Word.
(Originally posted on wendybello.com )
© 2016 Wendy Bello