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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday thoughts- Psalm 119

I just finished up a long, casual reading of Psalm 119 this morning.  For those of you (like me) that don't have every chapter memorized, this is the "acrostic" psalm- an 8 verse section for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  And as I finished, I thought about how many good lessons I could write up from this piece- the central prayer of each stanza, God's reply to each, how to do each concept the right way- it could stretch out to be one of those classic seven week lessons that my son is always telling me he gets nothing out of (he gets more from "one and dones"- and frankly so do I).  So rather than doing this the way suggested by the spelling mistake I just caught and "pslam" you with its entirity, I thought, "You know, I'm not trying to be a Sunday School teacher here.  Just boil down what I learned."  But when you learn a lot, it's not easy to boil down.  However the whole thing does deal with a fairly basic concept- the walk in faith.

The Psalmist begins with the concept of staying in the Word.  Not just the reading of it- though that is central- but also a) considering it- mulling over what is said in your own mind, meshing it with other precepts as well as with your day to day life; b) meditating on it- not just debating it, but breaking it down in to useful facets, in prayer; c) understanding it- which involves the concept of taking each part to God that He might "open your eyes" to it; and d) practicing it in daily life- not just once a day but each moment.  One of the verses says "Seven times a day" the psalmist comes to God to worship and to learn (You'll have to excuse the lack of annotation, I left my Bible upstairs, and I am trying to be general here).

He builds on this with the concept of constant communication with God: whether in rejoicing at His mercy, or in need when he needs refreshing, or for help when it seems everything around him- his friends, his government, his own family- are lying and corrupt and seeking to pull him off the path.  In all things, for the psalmist, all roads lead back to God.

He then goes on to the concept of his own sins and shortcomings- with the same brush that he paints a picture of himself completely following God, he also pictures that he is human, "dust", and flawed.  He expresses his shame at these faults, and calls on God's mercy for his salvation, his only leg to stand on being that he still comes to God for the aid.  He realizes that all these good things he does amount to nothing without the mercy of God.

And he finally ties it all back to the beginning- that simply walking with God and actively learning the steps he must take (emphasis on the "actively") - these things will lead to God's blessings on him.

Like I said, there are a million other things that can and should be gleaned from all this.  A good pastor could take each letter and draw up an outline for a hour sermon from each stanza, or you could do it on your own, as I try to.  But Moses summed the whole thing up quite well in Deut. 6:4:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.[a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Or to put it another way, faith is a muscle.  And Psalm 119 is an excellent exercise program.

2 comments:

  1. CWM:
    That is a marvelous way of expressing it...as a muscle.
    And the "ABC" aspect is spot on.
    -consideration
    -meditation
    -practice

    THREE has always been a powerful numerical symbol throughout the Bible.

    And don't people say good things come in threes?
    (I know bad ones do, but I think that's because it's a learning experience in some fashion).

    Very good post.

    Stay safe up there.

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