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Reading:                                        Psalm 119

א Aleph

(Verses 1-8)

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).

Reflection

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.

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A misty September morning near Dow’s Lake, Ottawa, ON — photo by David Kitz

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.

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?