Psalm 119 is an Alphabetical Psalm, the longest and most perfect of its kind. Have you noticed the Hebrew letters at the beginning of every 8-verse section? If you were to read this psalm in the original language, you would see that each verse also begins with that same Hebrew letter. Another interesting note is that every verse contains a reference to the Word of God. Imagine 176 such references, and no two exactly alike! This truly is a remarkable psalm. Very likely it was used in the schools as a catechism, to instill in the young learners a love for Jehovah and His Word even as they learned the 22 letters of their alphabet. Albert Barnes, in his Notes on the Bible, puts it nicely:
The general subject of the psalm is the law of God considered as a rule of life; as sanctifying the soul; as a support in trial; as imparting happiness to the mind – in its contemplation, and in obedience to it. The psalm appears to have been intended to set forth the excellency of that law, and the happy effects of obeying it, in every variety of form, and with every variety of expression.
Normally I would begin my post with a poem, but today I shall end with one. I can hardly claim this one as original, for I merely took verses from Psalm 119 and modified them to create an alphabetical poem based on the English language. Years ago I was attempting to do this with all 176 verses, but I’ve long since given up on that project. Rather than eight verses for every letter, I have only one. It is my prayer that whether you read the 176-verse poem found in your Bible, or the 26-line poem found here, your heart will be turned toward the God of the universe in a spirit of praise and gratitude for His mercy, love, and grace.
An Alphabet of Praise
At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You, O God,
because of Your righteous judgments.
Blessed are they who keep Your testimonies
and seek You with the whole heart.
Comfort me, for my eyes fail for Your word,
even the word of Your righteousness.
Deal with Your servant according to Your mercy,
and teach me Your statutes.
Enlarge my heart,
and I will run the way of Your commandments.
Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven,
Your faithfulness to all generations.
Great peace have they who love Your Law,
and nothing shall offend them.
How sweet are Your words unto my taste!
yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes always,
even unto the end.
Judgment and justice have I done;
leave me not to my oppressors.
Kindness shall be for my comfort,
according to Your word unto Your servant.
Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live;
for Your Law is my delight.
My tongue shall speak of Your word:
for all Your commandments are righteousness.
Now have I kept Your word;
but before I was afflicted, I went astray.
Order my steps in Your word,
and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
Princes have persecuted me without a cause,
but my heart stands in awe of Your word.
Quicken me after Your loving-kindness;
so shall I keep the testimony of Your mouth.
Remember the word to Your servant,
upon which You have caused me to hope.
Seek Your servant, for I have gone astray like a lost sheep;
yet I do not forget Your commandments.
The entrance of Your words gives light;
it gives understanding unto the simple.
Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live;
and let me not be ashamed of my hope.
Vain thoughts do I hate:
but Thy law do I love.
With my whole heart have I sought You;
O let me not wander from Your commandments.
eXceeding broad is Your commandment,
and I have seen an end of all perfection.
You, O Lord, are good, and do good;
teach me Your statutes.
Zeal has consumed me,
because my enemies have forgotten Your words.
❧ ❧ ❧
Reference: Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible. SwordSearcher. Study Lamp Software, LLC: Broken Arrow, OK, 2017.
Photo taken in Milton, FL, 2018