When I taught my kids how to tie their shoes, they didn’t master it on the first, second, or even eleventh attempt. It took patience, persistence, and sometimes the uncomfortable lesson of tripping over their laces to understand both the importance of mastering the bunny ears and the practical application.
As we seek spiritual growth, Psalm 119 is a rich resource that repeats its lessons to help us grow to maturity. With 176 verses, it is the longest chapter in the Bible. It is written as an acrostic where each of the 22 sections starts with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
The clearest focus in this psalm is a love for God’s law and promises, and this love is mentioned in nearly every verse. Warren Wiersbe comments that this Psalm “describes how the Word enables us to grow in holiness and handle the persecutions and pressures that always accompany an obedient walk of faith.”
Navigating the depths of this weighty psalm takes time. Taken broadly, we can learn a right posture for worship, prayer, and praise.
Worship: You are God, and I am not
Worship is an expression of humility before God. When translated literally, the most common words for worship in Scripture means “bend over” or “bow down.” When we worship God, we recognize the holiness of God, and we correctly understand just how sinful we are. This recognition should not lead us to live a life under the umbrella of shame. Instead, it grows our gratitude for the extravagant grace provided by Jesus.
The psalmist repeatedly reminds us to worship by submitting our thoughts and actions to God.
Help me understand
the meaning of your precepts
so that I can meditate on your wonders.
— Psalm 119:27
Help me understand your instruction,
and I will obey it
and follow it with all my heart.
— Psalm 119:34
I thought about my ways
and turned my steps back to your decrees.
I hurried, not hesitating
to keep your commands.
— Psalm 119:59–60
To apply this truth in our lives, we can ask God on a daily basis to remind us of his ways, his precepts, and his commands. Steeping ourselves in Scripture reminds us that God’s plan is worth following even when it feels countercultural or uncomfortable. This daily practice will attune our thoughts and actions to God’s will for us.
Prayer: Relying on God’s strength instead of our own
Prayer is our chance to communicate with the creator of the universe. Yet many of us rush through a quick prayer before meals and bed without stopping to listen to what God wants us to learn. Psalm 119 urges us to seek God’s face not to fulfill our desires but to deepen our understanding of God’s ways.
We are called to trust in God’s promises and surrender our impulse to try and live within our own feeble strengths.
I have sought your favor with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
— Psalm 119:58
I rise before dawn and cry out for help;
I put my hope in your word.
— Psalm 119:147
Let my cry reach you, Lord;
give me understanding according to your word.
— Psalm 119:169
Make a practice of seeking God’s face on a regular basis. If we seek to understand his laws, we will start to experience the freedom of righteous living.
When the world feels like it is crumbling, we can put our hope in a God who never fails, crying out to him for protection, guidance, or comfort.
Praise: Sharing God’s goodness
Praising God is declaring his goodness to those around us and/or to God himself. This outward confession is not a showy display or an empty weekly ritual. Psalm 119 gives us practical ways to share our praise of God throughout our day.
I rejoice in the way revealed by your decrees
as much as in all riches.
— Psalm 119:14
Lord, please accept my freewill offerings of praise,
and teach me your judgments.
— Psalm 119:108
Lord, your word is forever;
it is firmly fixed in heaven.
Your faithfulness is for all generations;
you established the earth, and it stands firm.
— Psalm 119:89–90
Corporate praise services on Sunday mornings are just one small chance for us to express the goodness of God to a watching world. It should not end there. Instead, compelled by all God has done for us and how much guidance he graciously gives in Scripture, our praise should extend to us sharing that good news with those around us all throughout our week.
Our praise of God might look like sharing our gratitude for his creation with our kids or grandkids. It could be explaining to our coworkers why we choose to be faithful in marriage or prioritize serving. We can praise God by committing Scripture to memory so that we are prepared to encourage others with biblical truth.
To dive deeper into the truths found in Psalm 119, join our new e-course that is launching this month.