During the last few days I been reading through Psalm 119 in my daily devotions. The Psalmist expresses his affection for the Word of God. An often repeated phrase is I love your commands. In Psalm 119:105 he writes: Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path. This Psalmist wants us to know the Word of God and its teaching are indispensable. We cannot live without them.
One of the really interesting things about this Psalm is not readily evident to English readers. It is much more evident in the original Hebrew. What you will notice in an English Bible is written before verse 1. It is the word “Aleph.” You skip down to verse nine and you will see the word “Beth.” Then again before verse seventeen is the word “Gimel.” These words are the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Every eight verses you will see the next letter of the alphabet listed until you get to the last letter of the alphabet, “Taw,” before verse 169. The purpose of these letters for the English reader is to let us know that if we were reading the original Hebrew we would be able to see that every verse begins with the corresponding letter. Verses 1-8 begin and “Aleph.” Verses 9-16 begin with “Beth.” This pattern continues throughout the entire Psalm.
It is a bit unfortunate we miss some of the poetic qualities of the Psalms when we read them in English. But in the end it is more about the message than anything else. And Psalm 119 carries an important message for us.
In my message last Sunday I spoke about patience. We live in a world of impatience. We get everything in an instant. We thrive on instant messaging. We eat fast food. And when we have had a little too much of that fast food, we look for a quick weight loss program. Patience is something lost on many of us.
We are currently in the season of Advent. Advent is a time of waiting. It is a time of anticipation. God calls us to wait upon him. He doesn’t necessarily offer us a quick fix. But while the world can only offer us a temporary fix, God offers us a permanent fix.
Mature disciples are not birthed overnight. It takes time. It is a process. And most importantly it takes testing. Maybe the reason our faith is so shallow in America is because our faith has not been tested. We have our religious cliches and slogans. We love our best-selling Christian authors and speakers. We love to hear them talk about the Bible. But do we love the Bible itself? In an time when we have so many resources to help us read and understand the Bible, our knowledge of the Bible is more lacking than ever before.
We say the Bible is difficult to read and hard to understand. It is not like that novel you can pick up and read in a few short hours. It takes time. It takes faith. It takes effort and the determination to follow Jesus. Ultimately, it takes the Holy Spirit working in us to give us insight and understanding.
The message I read in Psalm 119 is stick with it. You may not see the quick fix or get the instant relief you are looking for. But in the end the Word will give you insight and understanding and you will receive a greater reward that God has left in store for you.