A New Devotional

A New Devotional

Today we’ll begin a new devotional study from the longest psalm in the Bible, Psalm 119. Its 176 verses are full with thought about God, His Word, and the blessings of abiding in God’s law. Some have memorized all 176 verses, as a powerful reminder to always place the truth of God in the forefront of their minds and hearts.

Some Interesting Details of This Psalm

Psalm 119 is what is called an acrostic psalm. An acrostic psalm is one in which the first verse or line begins with the first verse of the Hebrew alphabet; the next begins with the second, and so on. If we were to read it in Hebrew, we’d quickly see this pattern, but in English it’s not there. There are nine such acrostic psalms among the 150 psalms in scripture. Psalm 119 is the longest of such psalms.

Another unique feature of this particular acrostic psalm is that in each of the 22 sections, all of the verses begin with the same respective letter. For example, in the first section (119:1-8), all eight verses begin with the letter aleph. In the second section (119:9-16), the verses begin with the second letter of the alphabet, which is beth. And so on throughout the entire 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

While all of the sections in Psalm 119 have the glorious law of the Lord as its theme, there is also a specific emphasis in each section.

Today’s Devotional

Psalms 119:1-8 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD!  {2} Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart!  {3} They also do no iniquity; they walk in His ways.  {4} You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently.  {5} Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes!  {6} Then I would not be ashamed, when I look into all Your commandments.  {7} I will praise You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments.  {8} I will keep Your statutes; oh, do not forsake me utterly!

The psalm begins with a beatitude—a condition of blessedness or true spiritual happiness. You’ll remember the beatitudes of Jesus from the opening words of His sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:1-12). Here, true spiritual blessing comes to the people who keep themselves free from impurities, who sincerely walk with the Lord according to His Word. These are the seekers of God, who look for Him and want Him to be the single dominant focus of their lives. Not only do they love the ways of the Lord, they walk in them as well.

In verse 4, the psalmist recognizes that God has commanded us to be diligent about keeping His word. The word diligent means to be thorough in doing it … to be intense about it. And it’s not just knowing His commands that matters, it’s keeping them that really counts. As James points out, what good is it to be a hearer—and not a doer—of the word? It is self deception to think that we are OK by just hearing or knowing what the Bible says. Doing the Bible is what counts.

This need for diligence re: God’s Word brings the psalmist into a quandary. He knows that his own ways are not naturally inclined toward keeping God’s statutes or laws (v. 5). He is aware of the inner struggle. In the natural, his heart is prone to wander, and goes in its own direction, away from the Lord.

This is why we need to pray, and why we need the Holy Spirit to work strongly in our lives. The only solution for the rebellious heart is the conquering presence of God’s Spirit.

Galatians 5:16-18 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. {17} For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. {18} But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

When we’re filled (or controlled) by the Holy Spirit we are not afraid of, nor ashamed of God’s law. It has nothing on us. It cannot indict us, accuse us, or make us guilty. Why? Because the Lord is enabling us to keep it. He has answered the righteous demands of the law by placing us in Christ. He is our righteousness, and we are hidden in Him. Not only that, but the righteous requirement of the law (which is love) is fulfilled in those who walk according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. {2} For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. {3} For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, {4} that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

The result of receiving such help from the Lord is praise and confidence (119:7-8). The believer knows that the Lord is working, and that produces the inward certainty that He’ll continue to work in us each and every day that we rely upon Him.

Philippians 2:13 …for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

May the Lord direct our hearts to fear Him, to love His word, to avoid evil, and to be diligent to keep His ways. May we trust Him to do these things for us as we consciously depend upon His power, which is infinitely greater than our own. He is ever faithful, and will most certainly hear our cries to be filled with His Spirit (Luke 11:9-13).

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  1. Michael Sowders
    June 3, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Bill, The daily battle with the flesh is ever strong, to turn and face this guided by the Holy Spirit is our only defense. Pray for this and it will be given by the Holy Spirit.

  2. Jane
    June 4, 2010 at 6:49 am

    In reading the portion of scripture for the first day’s study I noted the numerous references to what we are to follow…..law, testimonies, ways, precepts, statutes, commandments. I may be jumping ahead, (excuse me, if I am), but I am wondering about the distinctions between these terms. We often are told to follow these things and am not sure we are always completely clear in our definitions. Thank you for this study. I have always found myself veering away from this Psalm due to an uncomfortable feeling that the author was pronouncing the fact that he KEPT all these guidelines and I have never felt totally up to that task, myself. You brought out the imperative point…..that, indeed, it is NOT I that am to be up to the task, solo, but ONLY through relying on the indwelling empowerment of The Holy Ghost.

  3. June 4, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Great questions and comments, Jane. Thinking saints will naturally want to know these things.

    I’ll dive into the distinctions between the various terms in a future devotional, but suffice it to say that we must look at all the OT commands through the grid of the New Covenant. The O.C. was faulty because it said “Do this, and live.” The New Covenant is infinitely superior in that it says “Done. Live, and then trust the Lord in you to do this.” Jesus paid it all at Calvary, and was raised because of our justification (Romans 4:25). His resurrection from the dead is proof that the work of Calvary accomplished the desired end.

    My comments on Day One are a good answer to the heart of your question:

    “This need for diligence re: God’s Word brings the psalmist into a quandary. He knows that his own ways are not naturally inclined toward keeping God’s statutes or laws (v. 5). He is aware of the inner struggle. In the natural, his heart is prone to wander, and goes in its own direction, away from the Lord.

    “This is why we need to pray, and why we need the Holy Spirit to work strongly in our lives. The only solution for the rebellious heart is the conquering presence of God’s Spirit.

    Galatians 5:16-18 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. {17} For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. {18} But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

    When we’re filled (or controlled) by the Holy Spirit we are not afraid of, nor ashamed of God’s law. It has nothing on us. It cannot indict us, accuse us, or make us guilty. Why? Because the Lord is enabling us to keep it. He has answered the righteous demands of the law by placing us in Christ. He is our righteousness, and we are hidden in Him. Not only that, but the righteous requirement of the law (which is love) is fulfilled in those who walk according to the Spirit.

    Romans 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. {2} For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. {3} For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, {4} that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    The result of receiving such help from the Lord is praise and confidence (119:7-8). The believer knows that the Lord is working, and that produces the inward certainty that He’ll continue to work in us each and every day that we rely upon Him.

    Philippians 2:13 …for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

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