Nearly a year ago, I began studying Psalm 119. Yeah, that one. The longest chapter in the Bible and for many of us, quite intimidating merely because of its’ length. If you can’t tackle all 176 verses, where do you begin? Where do you end? While I have read Psalm 119, I never really took the time to study it, to really dive into the text and see what is there for us in the 21st century. That changed awhile back and I must tell you, it has been an eye opening exercise. While I had always heard how Psalm 119 describes God’s Word, I’ve never realized how practical it is for the contemporary believer.
For example, one of the many little nuggets I’ve stumbled onto are simple but powerful instructions about living a life devoted to God and His Word. Beginning in verse 57 through 64, this section seems to describe eight characteristics of a mature believer.
What Do I Talk About?
Vs 57 – “You are my portion, O LORD. I have said that I would keep Your words.”
One obvious mark of a true believer is how we speak about God’s Word. Speaking or making a public confession about His Word and our publically stated desire to follow it.
What Do I Search After?
Vs 58 – “I entreated Your favor with my whole heart. Be merciful to me according to Your word.”
Some versions say “I sought”. The term here implies a degree of effort on my part. Much like the words of Jesus in Matthew 6, “Seek and you will find…” requires some exertion on my part. I remember it being described to me once as a “hunter pursuing his prey.” Knowing God, knowing His character and seeking His will means I need to spend effort in seeking Him through His Word.
What Do I Think About?
Vs 59 – “I thought about my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies.”
What do you spend your time thinking about? That dream vacation? Retirement? A new house? Here, we are told how the Psalmist “thought about” his ways and “turned my feet to Your testimonies.” A mature believer spends time and mental energy thinking about what God was done in their life.
How Quickly Do I Follow?
Vs 60 – “I made haste and did not delay to keep Your commandments.”
This might be the hardest verse in this section for me. Remember the WWJD fad a few years ago? Everything was postured with the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” I rarely have trouble knowing what Jesus would do in situations. Rather, my problem often is I don’t want to do it. Here we are told to quickly obey His Word. Make haste! Get at it! Don’t let the grass grow under your feet and move quickly to keep His commands!
How Committed Am I?
Vs 61 – “The cords of the wicked have bound me. But I have not forgotten Your law.”
The first part of this verse tells of the “cords of the wicked have bound me.” This seems to indicate a degree of personal persecution or opposition making a difficult or even hostile circumstance for me. I might even feel helpless and “bound” unable to do much about it. Yet in spite of those opposed to Him, I am still to follow Him and not forget His law.
Am I Thankful?
Vs 62 – “At midnight will I rise to give thanks to You, because of Your righteous judgments.”
The phrase “at midnight” isn’t really referring to a time of the day, but rather the darkest hour. Those times when it seems like the darkness has surrounded me and I’m alone. Times when there seems no way of rescue and I’m at the end of myself and see no way out, a mature believer still displays an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude. If I can thank Him even at these darkest times, I can trust Him and His plan for me even when it seems the darkest.
Who Do I “Hang” With?
Vs 63 – “I am a companion of all those who fear You and of those who keep Your precepts.”
This isn’t a verse of isolation. Meaning that I only am around other believers and never connect with the the world. We’d never be able to fulfill the Great Commission by totally isolating ourselves. Living on an island like compound and controling all outside contact is cultish. However, we do need to make wise decisions about who we closely associated. That’s why we are to “assemble together” (Hebrews 10:25), find encouragement and accountability with other Christians via church, small groups and personal friends.
Do I See Him Everywhere?
Vs 64 – “The earth O LORD is full of Your mercy, Teach me your statutes.”
If we look for it, you can see God’s mercy all over this world. Mature believers look for and see God’s mercy and are not distracted. The writer sees God’s mercy and asks God to “Teach” him His statues. Even with a whole world of options, I still need to be dedicated to His Word
So here are eight questions we can ask ourselves based off these eight verses:
- Do I speak about His Word and my allegiance to it? Or do I shrink away and remain silent when the authority of the Word is challenged?
- Do I put in the effort to dig into His Word?
- Do I ever think about God and what He’s done?
- Do I delay my obedience for my convenience?
- Do I still follow Him through the hard and difficult times in my life?
- Am I thankful for His will even when it’s midnight?
- Do I make special efforts to be close to other strong Bible-centered believers?
- Am I easily distracted by other things – even good things – at the expense of time in His Word?