Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm in the book, and the longest chapter in the Bible. Even in its structure it is a piece of art. It is divided into twenty-two sections, corresponding to the twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet. That’s what those strange letters and words are in the headings of each section (aleph, beth, gimmel etc.) Each section has eight verses and each verse begins with a word that starts with the letter of that section.
The Psalm is devoted to praise for the Word of God, His written word. I know it is written because of the abundance of terms used to describe it – laws, statutes, decrees. It’s those same terms that indicate the importance of the Word: it provides boundaries and direction for our lives.
God’s word is supremely that guide. So much so that when, ages later, Isaiah confronted various and often conflicting views of God and His will, Isaiah replied: “To the law and to the testimony. If they do not agree with me (or you), then my (and your) words have no light of dawn.
The Psalmist will list the blessings that come form God’s word. But why are those blessings so often absent from our lives? Has the word failed?
It is not that the way of the Lord has been tried and found wanting. It is simply the way of God has not been tried. If you doubt that, just think about what a challenge it has been to stick with the daily Bible readings.