I will praise Him!
He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have become your father.
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
You will break them with a rod of iron;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Reading: Psalm 119
Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the LORD.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart—
they do no wrong
but follow his ways.
You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me (NIV).
We are about to start a twenty-two day journey through Psalm 119, the longest Psalm in the Bible. This is also an acrostic poem, which in this case means each stanza of this poetic psalm begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The section above for instance, begins with the letter Aleph, which roughly corresponds to our letter A. Also, within each alphabetic stanza are eight verses, which all begin with the same Hebrew letter. In this way the psalm’s composer works his way through the entire twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This psalm is a truly remarkable literary composition, which was originally structured to be memorized, like the alphabet. Alas, for the English reader, much of the elaborate, intricate beauty of this psalm is lost the moment it is translated from its original tongue.
The theme of this psalm is consistent throughout. It is a poetic testimony in praise of God’s holy, unchanging word. Here we find the alpha and omega of the psalms—a literary tribute to the A to Z wonder of God’s word. Every letter trumpets the salutary goodness of God’s written word.
From the beginning of this poetic masterpiece the author recognizes his need. His life needs to be governed by the law of the LORD. His goal and heart’s desire is to lead a blameless life. God’s blessing comes to such a person. Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart—they do no wrong but follow his ways.
In a world of injustice and moral rot the words of Psalm 119 pierce like a steel-tipped bullet to the heart. The need for all humanity to follow his ways, rather than our own selfish ways has never been greater.
Response: LORD God, like the psalmist I want to fall in love with your word. Here is the purpose to my desire. I want to live a blameless life that brings honor to my Maker because you are good. Amen.
Your Turn: Is holy living one of your goals? Do you see value in leading a blameless life before God?
Reading: Psalm 106
Praise the LORD.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the LORD
or fully declare his praise?
Blessed are those who act justly,
who always do what is right.
Remember me, LORD, when you show favor to your people,
come to my aid when you save them,
that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones,
that I may share in the joy of your nation
and join your inheritance in giving praise (NIV).
Let’s face the truth. We all want to live a blessed life. We desire God’s blessing, whether we clearly state it in those terms or not. In today’s reading, the psalmist begins Psalm 106 with a flurry of praise for the LORD. Then he makes this statement: Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.
I confess that I have a problem with that statement. I am certain there is great blessing in acting justly and doing what is right. My problem is with the word always. I’m not an always kind of guy. I would be far more comfortable if the verse read like this: Blessed are those who act justly, who ‘usually’ do what is right. I think I can achieve ‘usually’, but ‘always’ is setting the bar higher than I can achieve. I would like a little wiggle room, LORD.
It would appear that the psalmist was of a similar persuasion, because in the following verse he asks for the favor of the LORD. We desperately need the LORD’s favor because we cannot always achieve the high mark of God’s righteousness and justice. We fall short.
Consider the psalmist’s plea: Remember me, LORD, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them, that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may share in the joy of your nation and join your inheritance in giving praise.
In reality, this is a prayer for inclusion. The psalmist wants to be included with all those who experience the salvation and blessing of the LORD. He wants to be one of the chosen ones. I am reminded of the words of that old gospel spiritual ‘When the Saints Go Marching In.’ O Lord, I want to be among the number, when the saints go marching in!
Our shortcomings or sins exclude us, but it is the grace of God—His unmerited favor—that includes us. It has always been this way. We are a people—a nation—in need of God’s favor. Our efforts and good intentions fall short. We need to rely on God’s favor. He is the true source of blessing.
Response: Father God, I call on you. Look on me with favor. I know I fall short of your standard. I need your mercy. I depend on you. I know my efforts are inadequate. I rely on your grace. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you an always, a usually, or a sometimes kind of person, when it comes to doing right?