I, Me, My, Mine to You, Your, LORD
Often because of its length and focus upon God’s Word we often lose the personal-ness of Psalm 119. This psalm is much more intimate than it is academic; relational than theological. God’s Word is not viewed as a textbook or resource, but as a life line. Psalm 119 is not a thesis; it is a prayer. As you study Psalm 119 hear the interaction between the author of the psalm and the Author of the Bible. Allow yourself to be challenged not merely by the content of Psalm 119 (i.e., “I should memorize more Bible; verse 11), but by the style of Psalm 119 (i.e., “I should talk to the Author of Scripture this way about His good gift to me.”).
APPLICATION: Read the Psalm slowly as if you are eavesdropping on a private conversation. Listen with the ears of a (redeemed) gossip wanting to discern the nature of a powerfully intimate relationship that you cannot wait to share with anyone who will listen.
The Theme of Suffering
As you read Psalm 119 do not let the obvious theme of praising God’s Word distract you from the equally strong theme of suffering and struggle. The psalmist is clinging to God’s Word to be rescued from undefined, but intense hardship. The psalmist is searching God’s Word for answers to dilemmas that overwhelm him. The psalmist is feeding on and drinking God’s Word to nourish his famished soul. Psalm 119 is not celebrating stoic, unmoved biblical reflection. Psalm 119 is the exclamation of the starving man who found “the food to eat you know not about (John 4:32).”
APPLICATION: Read Psalm 119 like a prisoner in a concentration camp who found the journal of former prisoner who carefully plotted an escape and was successful. You are hurting and have many times lost hope. Those around you are in the same boat. Hope began to feel like a fairy tale. Now you have the words of one who was in your
shoes, shared your pain, but recorded the key to his freedom and peace.
“I Have Hidden Your Word in My Heart”
There are few Christians who would doubt the importance of memorizing Scripture. However, most American Christians own more Bibles than they know Bible verses. Don’t look away in shame. Shame doesn’t change the human soul and is not an appropriate response to God’s grace.
Consider the following points to assist and encourage you to memorize Scripture as a part of your regular battle against sin and for God’s glory.
- Memorize from one translation to avoid confusion.
- Create a list of verses you want to memorize as you read through the Bible
- Enlist a friend to encourage you and follow up with you
- Use note cards and decorate them to increase visual memorization cues.
- Spend equal time reviewing old verses as you do learning new ones.
- If you are studying through a book of the Bible, memorize verses from that book.
- Reward yourself in the same way you would for weight loss, completing chores, or getting a promotion.
- Occasionally memorize larger portions of Scripture (i.e., a chapter, the Sermon on the Mount, or an entire book).
- Reflect on your verses while you are doing mundane activities (i.e., cleaning, yard work, driving, etc…).
- As you work to memorize a verse, read a couple of commentaries on the passage it comes from to increase your understanding of the words you are reciting.
- Do not let memorization become a chore. The message of Psalm 119 is that it is the delight in God’s Word that changes the heart. When we grudgingly recite God’s Word God becomes a distant, demanding professor; not a loving Heavenly Father.
Introduction to the “Living Our Faith” series.