The Power of the Word of God in psalm 119
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 NIV
“For we have the living Word of God, which is full of energy, and it pierces more sharply than a two-edged sword. It will even penetrate to the very core of our being where soul and spirit, bone and marrow meet It interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts.” Hebrews 4:12 TPT
It is sharper than any two-edged sword and can pierce more deeply. In fact, it can even divide the soul from the spirit! Who or what can claim that? While my mind agrees to the concept, I really don’t understand it and could not imagine being able to separate the two. It can divide joints from marrow – penetrating to the very core of our being. There is no one and nothing other than God and His Word which hold this power, and, for those of us who have experienced it, we know the truth of it.
The Word Has Unrivaled Power
The Word of God interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts! That is frightening and is exactly why we must be totally honest with God when we speak to Him and listen to Him. We must be totally honest with ourselves as well because – God knows!
Psalm 119, the longest Psalm, extols the Word. Over and over it recounts what the word, law, testimonies, and commandments do for us and to us and how we should view them and live them. While it may seem repetitive, it isn’t because it each section shines a slightly different light revealing a new facet of our relationship to the Word of God and its power. 171 of the 176 verses mention Scripture referring to it as:
- Word – spoken by God to man. “Proceeding from his mouth and revealed by him to us.” (Poole)
- Word – “The ‘word’ may denote anything God has spoken, commanded, or promised.” (VanGemeren)
Psalm 119 Extols the Word
No one knows who wrote Psalm 119. Many believe it was David. Others believe it was a compilation of various writers. The only real theme is that of the Word of God in its various forms. The Psalm is an acrostic using the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each line in a section starts with the letter for that section. Only a few other Scriptures use this acrostic pattern. It is the longest Psalm and throughout extols, praises, lifts up, and glorifies the beauty and power of the Word.
For those of us who live under grace rather than law, it can be a source of wonder that the Law could bring such joy to people. However, this was God’s word to these people and they treasured it. Of course, they had the ten commandments and then they had the Mosaic law. But to them, all of it was God’s guidance for life and they revered it as originating from their creator.
Aleph – Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart—
They do no wrong but follow his ways.
You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me.
Here you see how the Word is the primary focus. There is so much to talk about in each section that it would require a book to contain all of it. It speaks of being blessed, blameless, seeking with all your heart, doing no wrong, fully obeying, being steadfast, not being put to shame, praise, an upright heart, obedience, and cry to not be forsaken. All in 8 short verses.
Psalm 119: 9-16
Beth – How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees.
With my lips, I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.
How can a young man stay pure? By living according to God’s Word, There is power in the Word to keep us pure! Then the psalm tells us from a first-person perspective, how to live. I :
- Hide the word in my heart
- Recount God’s laws
- Rejoice in obedience as one rejoices in great riches
- Meditate on the Word
- Consider God’s ways
- Delight in His decrees
- Do not neglect the Word
Again, a wealth of instruction in eight short verses giving us a blueprint for living as a lover of God studying His wisdom; His ways; His decrees; and His Word. We are to seek, hide, recount, rejoice, meditate, consider, delight in, and not neglect His Word.
Gimel – Be good to your servant while I live, that I may obey your word.
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.
I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me.
My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.
You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed, those who stray from your commands.
Remove from me their scorn and contempt, for I keep your statutes.
Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees.
Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.
Here, the writer asks God to be good to him or her, knowing that God’s goodness will assist in obedience. I have never thought God’s goodness helping me to be obedient! What a wonderful insight on God’s goodness. There is also a request for our eyes to be opened so that we can see all the wonderful things in God’s law. For me, the ‘law’ consists of the Ten Commandments which are really guidelines for living which every person could agree with. Jesus’ new commandment – to love others as He loved us – is the Ten Commandments all wrapped up in one! This is the ‘law’ of grace and love that Jesus gave us. If we are seeking Him, I believe He will continually reveal more and more wonderful things to us.
Consumed With Longing
The writer says he is consumed with longing for God’s law at all times. What a powerful statement and challenge to us to do the same. We are given another set of guidelines in this section:
- Obey God’s Word
- See wonderful things in His word
- Seek Him – He is no longer hidden from us since Jesus tore the veil away
- Be consumed with longing for His Word at all times
- Do not stray from His commands
- Keep His statutes
- Meditate on His decrees even when you are being slandered
- Delight in His statutes
Daleth – I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.
I gave an account of my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees.
Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful
My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.
Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me and teach me your law.
I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws.
I hold fast to your statutes, Lord; do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.
I have put some of the verbs of each section in bold because I want to emphasize the action that is brought out. Some are requests for God’s action in our lives and others are our actions in response to God’s actions or Word.
There is constant movement.
- The writer says he/she is laid low or humbled and then asks that, from this position of humility, God would preserve her life according to the Word.
- The writer is giving an account of his ways, asking God to teach him.
- He asks God for understanding so that He can meditate on God’s wonderful deeds.
- In his weariness, he asks God to strengthen Him with the Word.
- He prays for protection from deceitful ways, for grace on his life and for God to continue to teach him God’s law.
- Here, he pledges to choose the way of faithfulness and to set his heart on God’s laws.
- He determines to hold fast to those statutes and asks not to be put to shame.
- Then he runs in God’s path because his understanding has been expanded.
Use these as a prayer for yourself. “Father, as I humble myself before you, keep my life pure in Your Word. You see my ways, the ones which are right in your sight and the ones which are not. You answer me with grace and forgiveness as I am honest in Your presence. Teach me everything about your Word and Your ways. I ask for a deeper understanding of your precepts as I meditate on all Your wonderful deeds. In those areas where my soul is weary or there is sorrow, please strengthen me with Your Word. Keep me away from paths that are not true to Your Word. Don’t let me be deceived. Instead, shower Your grace on me and teach me Your way. I will hold fast to Your commandments and conform myself to the image of Christ, my Savior, and Lord. Keep me from being put to shame as I choose the path of Faithfulness. Father, I set my heart on your laws of grace and mercy. Now, I will run the path of your commands, knowing You have enlarged and expanded my understanding of You. I ask in Jesus precious name, Amen.”
Wisdom Yet to Come
We will stop here. We are only a little over one-third of the way through this wonderful psalm! There is so much more wisdom yet to uncover here.
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**We use verses from different Bible translations.
To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit our Scripture Citations.