Our God is one who speaks to his people. In the Old Testament, he spoke to his people “through the prophets, at many times and in various ways” (Hebrews 1:1-2). In the New Testament, he spoke to us “by his Son” – whom John the Apostle calls “the Word” (John 1). Consonant with his teaching that he came to fulfill the law and not to abolish it (Matthew 5:17), Jesus quoted 24 books of the Old Testament.
Today, in Psalm 119, we read of the high value that the Psalmist placed on the Word. As an acrostic psalm, the psalm has 8 couplets for each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Today, we consider the first 3: aleph (v. 1-8), beth (v. 9-16), and gimel (v. 17-24).
Here, the Psalmist used 8 different words to refer to the Word – each with a distinct meaning. “Word” indicates that which God himself has spoken. “Laws” and “statutes” give insight into the mind of God, where the laws enable binding judgment and statutes bear witness to God. The Psalmist uses the word “decree” to signify the enduring significance of the word. Teaching and authority is conjured up by the word “law.” Finally, the words “commands,” “precepts,” and “ways” indicate that teaching which has practical application to life.
In regards to each of these types of the Word, we are to walk according to it, obey it, live by it, hide it in our hearts, learn it, recount it, rejoice in it as one rejoices in great riches, meditate on it, consider it, delight in it, and not neglect it. According to the Psalmist, if we do these things, we will be called “blessed,” we will “do nothing wrong,” we will “not be put to shame,” and we can keep our ways “pure.”
Take comfort. This is impossible to do on your own strength.
Yet, in Christ, it is possible. God not only gives us the commands to obey, he also gives us the power by which we can obey it. But, we must come before him with a willing heart and ask. And, if you ask, you will receive. Matthew 21:22.
And, the Psalmist knows this. For he wrote perhaps one of the most powerful verses in all of the Word – and one that I pray every time before I open the Word,
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.
Use this verse to pray for your own heart each time you open his Word. God will open your eyes for he longs for you to see the wonderful things that he has in store for his creation.