Psalm 119 is amazing! One hundred and seventy-six verses in groups of eight, all the verses in each group beginning with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Every letter of the alphabet is used. Each verse in the group has a different word for the word of God. And no two verses are identical. The great Victorian preacher, Charles Spurgeon, said of it: ‘Other Psalms have been mere lakes, but this is the main ocean’.
I love walking by lakes. But most of all, I enjoy coast paths high above the ocean swell. And, wherever we walk, sooner or later we see a lighthouse. They are there to show where there are dangerous reefs and headlands. But they are also useful to enable seafarers to fix their position by taking bearings on them. Perhaps not so often nowadays, with GPS.
The opening of Psalm 119 uses the word Torah for the word of God. It is often (as above) translated ‘law’. But it means more than that. It’s not just rules and regulations. It is, rather, a pattern for life, teaching, instruction. It’s like lighthouses, warning of dangers and enabling people to navigate their course safely through life. It makes it possible to ‘know where you are’.
I think lighthouses are beautiful. They’re also very strong. I’ve stood at Land’s End, watching the waves break right over the top of the 35-metre-high Longships Lighthouse which has stood there for over a hundred and forty years. The word of God contains wonderful, beautiful things. It’s also rock solid and lasts forever.
Imagine the delight of a tired seaman, at night after a long Atlantic crossing, first glimpsing the unmistakable flash of the Longships. He can now safely navigate past the treacherous rocks on which it stands. At last, he knows for certain where he is.
And, as we navigate our way through many challenging situations, God’s Torah, is an indispensable, beautiful, unshakable guide. Let’s use it!
Today’s prayer is Psalm 119:18. How about praying it several times, each time emphasising a different word (‘Open my eyes… Open my eyes… Open my eyes… etc.)?
Prayer: Lord, open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your Torah.
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