Hiding His Word in My Heart
Each time I read through the Psalms, I wish I could commit more of them to memory. I even started working on one recently. I did really well for two weeks or so, then just gradually forgot to make it a priority. All right, then! I need a plan.
I find the acrostic Psalms interesting, and Psalm 119 is packed full of insight. I could memorize that. I could take it slowly, one Hebrew letter at a time. After all, that’s one reason it’s written as an acrostic, isn’t it? Aleph – each verse in this section starts with the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet. I’m not going to memorize in Hebrew, but each letter has an eight-verse stanza with the letter as the title. That will help me remember.
The Plan: Each morning (for 22 mornings) I will copy one section of the Psalm onto spiral-bound note cards. This focuses my mind on the words in a way that merely reading often does not. When I have finished that phase, I plan to print out the Psalm, cut it into sections, and tape each to a card that I can post, one a day, someplace I can see and review it for that day. One day isn’t likely going to be long enough for me to memorize eight verses permanently. I will repeat the process until I have it firmly.
A notable feature of this Psalm is repetition. I’ve never been one for repetition. I would like to think that once the author states that he loves and obeys God’s Law, we could move on. However, the Psalmist, knowing better than I, finds several different ways of saying this; “I love and obey your law,” “I love and obey your precepts,” “I love and obey your statutes,” “I love and obey your commandments,” “I never forget your law, precepts, statutes, commandments.” No one can mention too often, “His steadfast love.”
Because I’m only going to focus on one section a day, rather than skimming them as repetitious, I will take time to stop and consider each of these statements on their own. Can I honestly say I always love and obey God’s laws? Do I rise in the night to consider them? Do I meditate on them all day long?
I know I do not. So I have determined that I will chose one verse each morning to focus on for the day.
Meditation on Psalm 119
I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have given me life.
Yes, I know my physical existence is a result of God’s grace. It’s essential that I acknowledge that. Is that all the author means here? Even if it were, is that all it means to me? Life! What would this life be for me without the assurance of eternal life?
Lord, remind me to be grateful every day of this life for the promise of eternal life. Thank you for the assurance that my life is hidden with Christ, who is my life,
and that when he appears, I will appear with him in glory.
Meanwhile, how have His precepts given me life here?
I grew up in church, and church people were my primary association. My mother and one grandmother were godly examples for me. However, they were far outnumbered by bad examples, several of whom were wolves, devouring the flock they were charged with protecting. I could easily have followed the false shepherds.
Recently, circumstances have brought to mind something I don’t often contemplate. Where I could have been. Of course, there’s really no way to know that, but sometimes the thought of someone I used to know, someplace I once lived, or a minor turning point cause me to ponder the possibilities. “When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies.” Psalm 119:59
This blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept your precepts. – 119:56
Fallen to me. I’ve done nothing to earn my life. As I look back at possibilities, “there, but for the grace of God, go I?” Absolutely.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word. 119: 65
It is good for me that I was afflicted,
That I might learn your statutes. 119:71
Oh, that’s difficult to say out loud. It was good for me that I was afflicted? I’m afraid so. “Whom the Lord loves he chastens.” Whether I want to admit it or not, I know that when life gets too easy, I incline toward laziness.
I’m always ready to acknowledge that many people have a much tougher life than I. I have not yet resisted sin to the point of shedding blood, that’s for sure. But I’ve had my own hard times. Do I look back at them with rejoicing for what little patience I’ve learned? Do I look forward to the perfection they are working in me?
“Incline my heart to your testimonies . . . “ (v. 36) God, incline my heart!
“I incline my heart to perform your statues forever, to the end.” (v. 112) I must incline my heart.
To incline is to lean in a particular direction. Which way am I leaning? Do I practice that tendency, have the correct aim? Am I disciplining my propensity so as to add virtue to faith, knowledge to virtue, self-control to knowledge, steadfastness to self-control, godliness to steadfastness, brotherly affection to godliness, and love to brotherly affection?
In light of God’s promises, mercy, salvation, faithfulness, steadfast love, and righteousness (119:31, 41, 64, 76, 88, 90, 124, 137, 149), this is my reasonable service.
He is good and does good!