“Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens” – Psalm 119.89From Dave Atkinson:
I’m currently reading through the Bible in a year and, this time, I’m using a different approach. It’s a reading plan by a 19th Century minister, Robert Murray M’Cheyne. I am really enjoying it. Do please ask me about it if you’re interested.
The reason I mention it today is that I’ve just read Psalm 119; a marvellous Psalm, for a host of reasons.
It’s marvellous because it is the longest chapter in the Bible at 176 verses!
It’s marvellous in structure and composition because (although we miss this in our English translations) it is an acrostic poem; meaning that each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet is given its turn to be the opening letter of each of the eight verses in each of the corresponding 22 sections of the Psalm.
It is marvellous in content, because it is a celebration of the Bible, the written Word of God. The writer tells us why his delight is in the Word of God, why he spends so much time reading and meditating on it, why he seeks God’s help in disciplining him to read, study and understand it.
And, it is marvellous because it shows us the character of God and the personal relationship that the writer has with God, as the Psalmist records that God in person is consistent with what God has caused to be written about himself. Although the Psalmist wouldn’t have known, we see this truth ultimately in the Word made flesh – Jesus.
Of all the 176 verses, it has been verse 89 that has struck me most because it reminded me why, when we turn to his Word, God will speak straight into our life with truth that is relevant for us today. God’s Word is eternal and firm – it doesn’t change.
Whoever wrote down the words of Psalm 119, did so using the words breathed out by God’s Spirit. Whenever the words were first written down, they were written from the perspective of God who is eternal, infinitely wise and whose knowledge is unfathomable – who makes known the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46.10).
So when Psalm 119 was written, the words of the Bible were relevant for the readers of the day. When Mr M’Cheyne pulled together his reading plan in the 19th Century, the Bible spoke truth to the readers then. And, as you read it today, God will speak to you through his eternal Word – to challenge and encourage you with relevant truths that will deepen your relationship with the living Word, the Lord Jesus.
Reading Psalm 119 has also reminded me how we need both discipline and desire to get the most from God’s Word. Your desire might be stronger than your discipline. Or you could be the other way around. Ask the Lord for both. Reading Psalm 119 will help on both fronts.