Hope for the Helpless Bible Reader

In reading through Psalm 119, it struck me how many of the verses of this song are cries of helplessness and longing, not the triumphant shouts of arrival. For example, from the very beginning, the Psalmist admits,

If only my ways were committed to keeping Your statutes! (119:5)

Then again,

Open my eyes so that I may contemplate wonderful things from Your instruction (119:18).

Particularly in the He section (verses 33-40), there are repeated pleas for help:

Help me understand Your instruction,
and I will obey it
and follow it with all my heart.
Help me stay on the path of Your commands,
for I take pleasure in it.
Turn my heart to Your decrees
and not to material gain.
Turn my eyes
from looking at what is worthless;
give me life in Your ways (119:34-37, emphasis added).

In so many words, the Psalmist says, “I don’t automatically get everything when I read the Bible; God, help me!” Here’s a guy who wrote 176 alphabetized verses about the Bible, and that guy admits that Bible study is hard. He admits to being helpless, distracted, dense, sinful, greedy, and just feeling dead at times. Three thousand years later, things aren’t that much different.

And yet, this utter helplessness does not lead to despair. Astoundingly, it leads to hope! Even though the Psalmist knows how much of a knuckleheaded sinner he can be (and we know the same of ourselves), there is still hope for joyful time in God’s word because God loves to help us.

Here, enshrined within the Inspired Text itself, is an admission that loving God’s word doesn’t come naturally. In fact, it can only come supernaturally–which is why we pray for it!


Psalm 119 Tweets (Round 2)

Psalm 119 א: Your word is a delight because Another kept it on my behalf and gave His Spirit to enable me to learn and love it!
Psalm 119 א: True happiness is found in righteousness; Jesus is our righteousness (and holiness, redemption, and wisdom, too!).
Psalm 119 ב: Where can I find a guide, a map, to purity and righteousness? The delightful Word of our joyful God!
Psalm 119 ג: Grace gives His word, and Grace enables the living and loving of that word.

Psalm 119 ג-א: See the happiness of obedience → See my disobedience → Long for happiness → Pursue obedience by grace → Live by faith

Continue reading “Psalm 119 Tweets (Round 2)”

Psalm 119 Tweets

In my reading plan through the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs, I divided up Psalm 119 into four days’ reading. The psalm is divided into 22 8-verse sections, where each verse in a section begins with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. For the #psalmtweets, I wrote one tweet per section.

As with the other #psalmtweets (Books II, III, and IV), the purpose is to condense the truth of the psalm into a memorable, tweet-length summary, to draw out a particular image or metaphor in the text, or both. The goal behind the exercise is to help me to better understand the psalm and to make it stick in my mind better. I’ll be going through the Psalms four times this year, and the plan is to tweet the Psalms each time through. Then, as the year progresses, I can look back to see the riches of Scripture I’ve been shown.

Psalm 119

Psalm 119 א: I wish I were as diligent to keep Your word as You are to give it! Nothing would make me happier!

Psalm 119 ב: Set Your word as guardrails for my road, so I can rejoice in Your freedom and be lost in thoughts of Your word.

Psalm 119 ג: The world may leave me and mock me, but You never do. Your word is wiser than royal advisors, and more delightful!

Psalm 119 ד: Your word keeps me alive when I think I can’t go on. I choose Your word, because You have proven it to my heart.

Psalm 119 ה: Lord, I believe; help my unbelief! I believe, O help me understand! Put blinders on my heart to only look to You!

Psalm 119 ז: Your word calms my heart in its distress; I burn with rage at the thought of anyone rejecting Your word.

Psalm 119 ה: Lord, I believe; help my unbelief! I believe, O help me understand! Put blinders on my heart to only look to You!

Psalm 119 ז: Your word calms my heart in its distress; I burn with rage at the thought of anyone rejecting Your word.

Psalm 119 ח: Your word cut the ropes of the wicked around me, and it bound me in chains of love to You.

Psalm 119 ט: It was Your word that taught me to trust You, that broke my hard heart, and that showed me Your goodness.

Psalm 119 כ: Your word is all that keeps hope alive; how long until You deliver me? When will You come to me?

Psalm 119 ל: Your word is as solid and reliable as the ground I stand on–more so, even! It has no end to its perfection!

Psalm 119 מ: Your word is higher education than any college, and a better teacher than any university: it keeps me from sin.

Psalm 119 נ: The wicked lay speedbumps and road spikes for me, but Your word guides me around them all.

Psalm 119 ס: Guard me from evil and evil ones, so I can concentrate on knowing and obeying Your word.

Psalm 119 ע: Rise up, O Yahweh, in defense of Your word and those who love both You and it! Strike down those who hate both!

Psalm 119 פ: Your word is wonderful–I can’t wait to get into it. My heart breaks because people don’t see it the same way.

Psalm 119 צ: I can find nothing in Your word that is impure, imperfect, or unrighteous. How can anyone not love it?

Psalm 119 ק: Day or night, it doesn’t matter: I cry out to You, and Your word is always there to answer and comfort me.

Psalm 119 ר: Afflictions and enemies assail me, but Your word gives me life. They will fade, but You and Your word remain.

Psalm 119 ש: All my hopes and all my loves are bound up in Your word; what can man do to me?

Psalm 119 ת: Hear my cries, hear my praise; sustain me by Your word so I can cry and praise again.