"To Love Your Word" by Lynne McCarthy
Observe Daleth, He, Waw, the 4th to 6th letters of the Hebrew alphabet, mark the next three stanzas of this acrostic Psalm.
Daleth ד: Revived from the dust. At first, the poet’s soul clings to the dust (25), but he later declares I cling to your testimonies, O Lord (31a). He recognizes his failures and resulting sadness (28) yet knows that God reveals Himself in His works. The poet deliberately chooses to keep to His way. Because of his obedience, God enlarges his heart, that is, deepens his awareness of God’s truth.
He ה: A plea for guidance and life. So many verbs! -- teach, give, lead, incline, turn, confirm, turn away, God's instructions to help the poet know His will. The poet's responses: will keep, keep and observe, delight, move him into God's realm; His law gives him life.
Waw ו: Liberty comes from loving God's word. Looking back on his life, the poet uses the Word for self-examination. He desires to keep God's law, especially in the face of mockers; his witness is sure because he hopes in and trusts that powerful Word, that law of liberty. He will not be disappointed, because his delight is in God's law -- based in love.
Interpret A single theme fills this extraordinary Psalm: God’s steadfast love, expressed through His Word, His law, rules, precepts, testimony, commandments, ways, statutes – all to be loved, sought after and followed wholeheartedly, because they lead to life. “Law”, Torah, in the Hebrew Bible, prefigures the new revised standard that Christ embodies – the law of love.
Apply Timothy Keller writes, “Contemporary people tend to examine the Bible, looking for things they can’t accept. But Christians should reverse that, allowing the Bible to examine us, looking for things God can’t accept.”
In a society that defies authority, “rules” are a Bad Word, supposedly depriving us of our freedom to ‘be whatever we want to be’, while insisting on ‘my truth’. But God’s law is based in His love -- not an easy love because He asks for our lives. As we yield them up to Him, we quietly walk His path, trusting His direction. He is our good Shepherd, King, Ruler.
In being ready to give an account for our sure hope (1Pet 3:15), we need to know Him and His Word to be effective witnesses to His order and righteousness, the new life He has given us. We do this by learning and obeying His law, fulfilled in Jesus. His Words are good!
Ask How do You see me, Jesus?
Pray Holy Lord Jesus, incline my heart to obey and love Your Word, Your commandments. In following them, I learn they are not a burden. They give me life, they lead me in Your right way, they show me Your love and care. In keeping Your Word there is great reward in living for and in You. Thank you for Your endless, sacrificial, steadfast love.
Sing Ps 119
Poor Bishop Hooper - Daleth
Poor Bishop Hooper - He
Poor Bishop Hooper - Waw
My Soul among Lions - The Words of the Lord
Psalm 119:1-24 by Trish Reimer
Psalm 119 is the longest psalm in the Bible as well as being the longest chapter in the Bible. We will be taking 7 blogs to cover this amazing chapter.
The Hebrew alphabet is made up of 22 letters and this psalm is divided up into 22 stanzas (or sections) each representing a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Within each stanza are 8 verses, with each verse also beginning with that particular letter of the alphabet (for a total of 176 verses). For example, the first 8 verses of Psalm 119 (the first stanza) represent the Hebrew letter aleph and each of those 8 verses also begin with the letter aleph. Let’s dive in.
Psalm 119 in general magnifies God’s Word and makes it honourable. Look for the following 10 words throughout the psalm which are basically synonyms for God’s Word.
Aleph (verses 1-8)
Almost every single verse in Psalm 119 are written or spoken to God with the exception of a few verses. The first 3 verses of the psalm are one of those exceptions where the psalmist makes a declaration of blessing for those who follow the Word of God. Verses 4-8 show his desire for blessing by following the Lord’s decrees.
Beth (verses 9-16)
The word “beth” also means “a house” and it has been suggested by some that these verses tell us how to make our heart a house for the Word of God. How do we do that? By keeping our life pure and meditating joyfully on the Word of God.
Gimel (verses 17-24)
In this section we can observe a prayer for blessing so God’s Word may be kept (vs. 17), a prayer for understanding of God’s Word (vs. 18), a prayer for longing of God’s Word (vs. 19-20) and a prayer for refuge in God’s Word. (vs. 21-14)
Interpretation and Application
As a young child I memorized Psalm 119:11 and often wondered what it really meant to hide God’s Word in my heart. As an adult, this verse has become much more meaningful. His Word is hidden, where no one can see it, but also as a result of being hidden, it is also safe where no one can take it away. As I get older I find it harder and harder to memorize scripture, but because I did so much as a child I find that verses (although maybe not the exact references) spring to mind in times when I am trying to recall it in moments of need. If ever I were to be faced without having access to the scriptures, I at least have some recollection of some passages of the precious Word of God. It has become ingrained in my heart and mind. Because of that I have the benefit of not sinning against the Lord. Hiding His Word in my heart has become my defense against sin. I would challenge you to try to memorize some of these wonderful truths, no matter how young or old you are!
Father, as we navigate through Psalm 119, reveal to us Your truth and help us to appreciate Your Word. We pray that we will hide Your Word in our hearts and be able to recall it to those who don’t know You. Amen.
Steve Green - I Have Hidden Your Word Psalm 119:11&9
"The Last Hallel" by Lynne McCarthy
Observe The final Egyptian Hallel sung at Passover is a joyful prayer, calling on Israel to praise God for His enduring love; the repetition typical of Hebrew poetry provides a strong reminder for His people to do this.(1-4).
Verses 5-18 testify to God’s rescue from struggling with enemies: … the Lord answered and set me free… the Lord is on my side… The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. The Psalmist has gone through a trial and emerges victorious (18). He recognizes the Lord’s hand, to form him and deliver him from death.
The final section (19-29) returns to joy, picturing a procession to the Temple, imploring God to open… the gates of righteousness (19) so they may enter into praise. The potent image of the rejected cornerstone in vv. 22,23 here refers to Israel, and this is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our sight (23). Verse 26a recalls the crowd’s short-lived joy at Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We hear echoes of the Aaronic blessing in verse 27; the poem closes with the song of praise (29) from the first verse.
Interpret The wonderful imagery in this Psalm is a pointer to the coming Messiah, His sovereignty, His salvation, His righteousness. He is the cornerstone of the church, therefore of our lives; He told us so (Mt 21:42; Mk 12: 10-1;Lk. 20:17; Acts 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:7). His discipline may be severe at times (18), but it purifies and fits His people for His purposes. Even in times of difficulty, we can still praise, using our imaginations (and memory verses, perhaps?) before Him. He is our strength and song.
Apply So much of this Psalm is pure joy. On our vulnerable days, if we manage to remember, we can reread those verses that remind us to rejoice in God’s strength, to thank Him for His enduring love that keeps us in His circle of righteousness. He will answer us when we lament (21a). The Lord is God, and He has made His light to shine upon us. (27a) It’s worth the effort to remember neither human strength nor (will)power pull us through tough times, it’s the Lord as we seek Him, so let us rejoice and be glad in [this truth]! (24b)
Ask Lord, will You open to me Your gates of righteousness, so I can approach Your heart with praise?
Pray For the lonely and ill, from Psalm 118: Oh Lord, I am ill and feel frightened and alone as I have no one to care for me. I have no one who is really interested in me at all, and I feel lost and alone and so vulnerable. And now Lord Jesus, I have come down with this sickness and I feel so ill. Lord, I ask You please to make me well again soon, and lift up my sagging spirit, I pray.
I know Lord in my heart that I am not alone, because You are with me, which is the real reason that I am praying to You now, because You promised to be with me and never to leave me or forsake me, even when everyone else does. Be with me now, I pray, and reach out Your healing hand of blessing and touch me, Lord. Please make me feel better, not only in my body but also in my life, I pray.
Thank You that I can call on You in times of trouble, illness, or loneliness and know that You are always there to hear and answer, to heal and comfort and help. Lord, I pray that You would help me to really apply this truth in my life, not just when I am sick, but every day. Source: https://prayer.knowing-jesus.com/Psalm/118
Sing Psalm 118
Poor Bishop Hooper
Shane Barnard - This is the Day
Rawn Harbor - This is the Day
U. of Notre Dame Folk Choir - This is the Day
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.