How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word. I have tried hard to find you— don’t let me wander from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
I praise you, O Lord; teach me your decrees. I have recited aloud all the regulations you have given us. I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches. I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways.
I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word. Be good to your servant, that I may live and obey your word. Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. I am only a foreigner in the land. Don’t hide your commands from me! I am always overwhelmed with a desire for your regulations. You rebuke the arrogant; those who wander from your commands are cursed. Don’t let them scorn and insult me, for I have obeyed your laws. Even princes sit and speak against me, but I will meditate on your decrees. Your laws please me; they give me wise advice.
This is both the longest psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible. It may have been written by Ezra after the Temple was rebuilt (Ezra 6:14-15) as a repetitive meditation on the beauty of God’s Word and how it helps us stay pure and grow in faith. Psalm 119 has 22 carefully constructed sections, each corresponding to a different letter in the Hebrew alphabet and each verse beginning with the letter of its section. Almost every verse mentions God’s Word. Such repetition was common in the Hebrew culture.
Most of us chafe under rules, for we think they restrict us from doing what we want. At first glance, then, it may seem strange to hear the psalmist talk of rejoicing in following God’s statutes as much as in great riches. But God’s laws were given to free us to be all he wants us to be. They restrict us from doing what might cripple us and keep us from being our best. God’s guidelines help us follow his path and avoid paths that lead to destruction.
Share your thoughts with God about his laws. You might use some of the verses of Psalm 119 in a prayer.