My last semester of seminary I took Old Testament 1 with Dr. Peter J. Gentry, (noted Septuagint and Hexapla scholar) who, in his inimitable style (i.e., giant beard and Canadian accent) spoke briefly about using Psalm 119 as a "controller" for the study of the entire Old Testament. What a beautiful thought: to use a love letter to God's word as a tool for the study of God's word!
I thought as I was thumbing through the psalm today, "I want this to be what my heart says about God's word." The Psalmist takes such delight in God's word that he thirsts after it, longs for it, desires it. And God's word is effective! It accomplishes what God desires (Isaiah 55:11). Let's take verses 73-80 as an example:
73 - God's word teaches us that God is our creator. It gives us understanding.
74 - It causes other believers to rejoice when they see our obedience to it.
75 - It gives us a proper understanding of God's righteousness and faithfulness.
76 - It comforts us as we recognize God's fulfillment of his promises to us.
77 - It gives us delight.
78 - It is a comfort when we are being slandered.
79 - It is a cause of unity among believers.
80 - It lays out the aim of our lives - to be blameless before the Lord.
Almost every verse can be meditated upon in two or three ways:
1. As a prayer for our hearts: "Lord, cause me to love your word in this way..."
2. As a record of the effectiveness of God's word: "Lord, thank you that your word effects this change in me..."
3. As a reflection of God's character as a God who reveals himself to his people: "Lord, thank you for revealing yourself in your word as a God who is..."
(Here are some other pointers from a previous post.)
One of the things I want to characterize me is a passion for God's word. I want to come home at the end of the day and want nothing more than to hear from my Father. I want my children and grandchildren to glean wisdom from the things the Lord reveals to me as I earnestly seek him in his word. I want my Bible's pages to be marked with "P" for "precious" and "T&P" for "tried and proven," like the woman in Spurgeon's classic story. I highly recommend doing this exercise as training in the love of God's precious word!