P.R.A.Y. – Psalm 119 – Oh how I love your law!
Goal: To understand the Psalms and Psalm 119 better – not only how they were used in ancient times but how modern Christians use them to pray and worship.
Background: Psalm 119 is considered a Psalm mainly devoted to “Wisdom”. It praises God’s instruction for living or “Torah”. We think of “laws”as harsh rules to be obeyed or face penalties. In the Old Testament context of the covenant between God and His people, God’s instruction is better seen first and foremost as loving fatherly advice intended not to penalize but to give the Lord’s wisdom for obtaining a blessed life.
With 176 verses, Psalm 119 is the longest “chapter” in the Bible. It is obviously longer than many whole “books” of the Bible.
It has 22 subsections or “stanzas” with 8 verses each in alphabetical order – if you’re using the Hebrew alphabet that is! Each verse in each section begins with the same Hebrew letter in fact!
As you read the Psalm, how many different ways of saying “God’s Law” can you find in your translation? In English class we called these “synonyms” – two words describing approximately the same thing! How many different synonyms for “law” can you find?
If the statements the Psalmist makes about his love for God’s instruction were true for your life, how different might your life be? What do you think you’d have to change? A lot? A little? What comes to mind? Is that frightening to you?
Consider this: A Christian man who wants to be a missionary himself goes on Facebook and finds that one of his high school friends is himself a missionary. He is working with people who have never heard about Jesus before, who have never been exposed to “Western Christians”, and who come from a very zealous religion and who risk everything to follow Jesus.
The first man asks “Can I visit you and bring a mission team?”
Much to his surprise he hears an emphatic “No!” – this missionary trains new believers to immediately put in to practice what they learn from God’s Word and share what they learn with others.
This missionary does not want them exposed to outsiders, especially Western Christians who might spread their bad habits to these new Christians. He doesn’t want his converts to think that people can be “Christians” without being, in essence, “Psalm 119 Christians”.
What do you think about that?
Additional Helps and Tools:
- Use more than one Bible version (i.e. New Living Translation, English Standard Version; New International Version). By comparing different versions, often a question is answered.
- The ESV Study Bible, NIV Study Bible, and NET Bible have notes can help you understand various Bible issues and provide additional information
Read through Psalm 119 this week. Observe, Interpret and P.R.A.Y. through the Psalm and be prepared to share next week.
How are you doing trying to obey God’s Word when you study it weekly? Are you saying “Yes!” to God and putting it into practice?
Are you sharing what you learn with other people inside and outside the Body of Christ?