It happened again …

It happened again … fresh insight from a familiar passage of God’s Word. Psalm 119 was written on as an acrostic poem in praise of God’s law. In the Hebrew, each section has eight lines all beginning with the same letter. There is one section for each of the twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet. With a grand total of 176 lines (or verses), Psalm 119 is not only the longest Psalm, but the longest chapter in the Bible.

The authors of my Bible reading plan decided to dole out Psalm 119 … one section a day. So this one psalm took 22 days to read. Psalm 119 has always been challenging to me. Not just because of the length, but because of the professed piety of the author. He uses the personal pronoun “I” incessantly. One proclamation after another about what he has done or plans to do in his pursuit of God and God’s Word. Here’s a sampling from just three verses …

  • I have chosen the way of truth
  • I have set my heart on your laws
  • I hold fast to your statutes, O Lord
  • I run in the path of your commands

Now, there are plenty of pleas for God’s assistance, but they seem overwhelmed by 115 “I” statements like the ones above. So part of me has found it difficult not to dismiss the author’s statements as pharisaical and arrogant. This time, maybe because my pace was slower I saw an “I” that I hadn’t noticed before. It’s the very last verse … Psalm 119:176, I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.

For all the psalmists love of God and His Word, for all his pursuing, the reality was that he strayed … he was prone to wander from God. A proud man would not end his psalm this way. Notice how the psalmist doesn’t say “I’ll come back to you,” but rather “seek your servant.” He has and intends to keep pursuing God, but his confidence is in God pursuing him. I finally heard the psalmists heart and mine resonates with his.