This study was recorded on 2nd January 2022, as a challenge for the New Year.
Back in 2016 we undertook a verse-by-verse study of Psalm 119, the studies of which are all available online. These studies have led to a book by pastor Barry, due to be released in early 2022 that explores this incredible psalm in greater depth and makes some interesting discoveries, demonstrating God’s sovereignty and supernatural design of both this psalm in particular, and God’s Word in general.
As we start a new year, we face many challenges in an uncertain world. But there is one constant: our never-changing God and His Word. To get to know God better and to greater understand His Word should the be goal of every believer. Paul admonishes us to ‘Walk in the Spirit’ and not to ‘gratify the desires of the sinful nature’ (Gal 5:16). But how? How are we to do this when we are continually wrestling against the world, the flesh and the devil?
Psalm 119 is an answer to that question. It is a ‘beginner’s guide’, drawn from the psalmist’s own life and experience. It’s a practical manual for walking in the way; a companion for the journey-through-life that encourages us on to perfection (see Hebrews 6:1-3).
Charles Spurgeon called it “an utterance of spiritual life”. This Psalm encapsulates the walk of faith by a believer. It begins by stating the objective & goal of a follower of Christ; namely, to be conformed to His likeness; but then goes on to travel with us through life’s journey, through the ups and downs, the moments of rejoicing and the times of failure and doubt. This Psalm comes from a heart that wants to see you be victorious, to truly walk by faith and not by sight. My earnest desire for you is that you would fall in love with God’s Word, and my prayer is that, as we study this Psalm together, you will see that you’re not on your own.
Throughout history many have memorised this whole Psalm and have been profoundly blessed in so doing.
John Ruskin (a 19th century British writer), William Wilberforce (19th century British politician who led the movement to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire), Henry Martyn (19th century pioneer missionary to India), and David Livingstone (19th century pioneer missionary to Africa) to name a few.
George Wishart, the Bishop of Edinburgh in the 17th century, was condemned to death and would have been executed. But when he was on the scaffold, he made use of a custom that allowed the condemned person to choose one psalm to be sung, and he chose Psalm 119. Before two-thirds of the psalm was sung, his pardon arrived, and his life was spared! ( – good job he didn’t choose Psalm 134!)
As a practical challenge, I encourage you to take just one verse of this Psalm each day (start today at the beginning of a new year!), and meditate on it throughout the day. Start at breakfast, then remind yourself mid-morning of the verse. Then again at lunchtime, then in the afternoon, then as you sit to eat your evening meal, then in the evening, and finally when you go to bed (“seven times a day do I praise Thee” Psalm 119:164). The next day move onto the next verse.
Most of us have got Bible apps on our phones, so we can keep the text with us wherever we go. Or you might prefer to write the verse for each day by hand on a card or post-it note. You might also find it helpful to get a notebook and jot down the things the LORD reveals to you each day. You will be amazed at what the Holy Spirit will show you, about your life, your walk, His goodness, His grace and patience, and the reality that He is able to make us stand! (Romans 14:4).
If you do this and meditate on His Word each day, even just one verse, you will soon be surprised how the things of this world will grow strangely dim and lose their appeal, in the light of His glory and grace!
May God richly bless you this year as you walk in the Way!