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The Longest Song

Have been thinking again about the surprise and irony of the longest chapter in the Bible. In the Hebrew language it was poetry, a song written to express heart felt appreciation for “the revealed teaching” of the Lord.

When numbers were attached to the individual “verses” of this song, the count went to 176 ways of honoring “the Law of the Lord”.

Look again how this amazing song begins, expands, and ends– and then let’s compare notes.

The song begins like this: Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord…. (v 1)

The song continues with over 170 expressions similar to this: I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you… (v 11)

The song ends with these words: I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands. (v 176)

PS Whoops! As pointed out by by one of our friends below, I forgot to mention that I’m referring to the 119th Psalm. Sorry for the oversight.


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28 Responses to “The Longest Song”

  1. handmaiden says:

    I have always loved this chapter; it inspired me to learn Biblical Hebrew because I wanted to read it in its original format. I want to be as dedicated to the Lord as the writer, but also like him, I fall short so often. My Lord sees me busy with life, and not prioritizing His word as I dream I could have. Holy Spirit, remind us daily that Your word is worth the time it takes to read and study it…

  2. narrowpathseeker says:

    I am a little slow so I may be missing something, but I wanted to read the entire chapter, but I don’t know what chapter to look up. However, from what you posted of it, I can fully relate to the plan and the seemingly apparent failure in keeping those plans.

  3. SFDBWV says:

    Psalms 119: 105 “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Is perhaps the most quoted from this “Longest Song”.

    Alphabetized into sections as well as subjects the author of this Psalm gives homage to the law and precepts of God as well as begging for insight and a life filled with obedience.

    One could take each section and using only the first sentence of each produce an excellent *psalm* in its own right.

    If you read and look closely at this Psalm you can see what is hidden in all of the OT writings…Messiah is exposed and called for, a cry for salvation.

    I am not sure where this is going Mart, but I hope it fills the need you have put forth as a study of this Psalm could take weeks to explore if we were so inclined to do so.

    Steve

  4. narrowpathseeker says:

    After I posted, I thought that it sounded like the heart of David so I browsed Psalms and found it.

  5. oneg2dblu says:

    handmaiden… yes to read and study the word in the original language could be a valuable part of being dedicated like the writer himself. As the writer states most poetically, being he who has hidden God’s word in his heart that he might not sin against God because he has not forgotten God’s commands. But, having strayed like us all, He calls upon his God to forgive him and help him with his disobedience. For obedience to the commands of God that you have already stored up in your heart, in any language, is how we truly stay in his will. To read and study is of great value, and to then learn from Him how to walk in His ways… priceless.
    Be blessed, Gary

  6. handmaiden says:

    oneg2dblu…thanks for your comments. Yes, walking in the word learned is the necessary next “step”. And the more we learn and act on the learning, the more we learn of our great God’s personality and character; what He likes and dislikes, so that we can be more mindful of pleasing Him instead of ourselves. In other words, by hiding His word in our hearts and acting on that word, He changes our “want to”. sidenote: my learning Hebrew is a personal calling, one that I would not recommend lightly to anyone, but I am learning it to know my Lord’s heart better, by seeing the nuances in the original language.

  7. poohpity says:

    Steve you are so right when you said, “Messiah is exposed and called for, a cry for salvation.” If we want to know Jesus then the reading of the OT is imperative since as John wrote with hind sight John 1:1-5NIV. Then Jesus said in Matthew 22:40 that all the law and the words of the prophets are contain in 2 commandments and if you obey these 2 then we are doing all the others, Matthew 22:37-39.

    David knew what it was like by what he wrote in this Psalm to meditate day and night on the Word and the consequences were that he was a man after God’s own heart.

  8. oneg2dblu says:

    handmaiden… where you are fing a discerning and enlightening nuance relative to a closer revealing of the heart of God in the oringinal langauge, I see a nuance revealed in these more modern characters, as a help in revealing the heart of God in the modern language of the New Testiment: h,o,l,y,s,p,i,r,i,t.
    A different journey perhaps, but revealing the same destination…Gary

  9. handmaiden says:

    oneg2dblu…(smile)…isn’t it neat, that God can use one narrow path, and one Savior; but use different tools (ex: Hebrew or modern translations) to bring us closer to Him and His heart?! For the Messiah was in the Old and the New; and thanks to Him for sending His Holy Spirit so we can understand what was written for us…His word.

  10. poohpity says:

    handmaiden,
    I think your journey through the OT in the original language is admirable and learning a second language is difficult. I understand, not through personal experience, that there are many words that we have no English equivalent. Even the sound of the language brings joy to my heart when I hear it spoken. Hey there are many who do not even read it in English, lol.

  11. oneg2dblu says:

    Whether we learn and recite verbatim a lengthy song, call upon Him in a newly learned language, or in a one word prayer, God knows the heart of the seeker. He responds to either one as being ever present. We just call upon Him who reveals himself as that ever present one, hidden in our heart. Praise God! He is just a thought away… as He renews our minds and changes our thinking. Gary

  12. poohpity says:

    From what I understand Gary, is that our minds are renewed and our hearts changed by the Word if I believe what is written in Psalm 119; Romans 12:2; 2 Tim 3:16; and Eph 6:17. Usually those who have not read the whole Bible yet make an argument for not having to read it. It seems the way to change our thinking is to put something else into our brain, just a thought.

  13. poohpity says:

    I fully believe just as the Psalmist wrote in verse 178 that the Lord seeks us and will use whatever means to speak to us. Just as God seeks us when we realize His love and just how big it is, we seek Him. I want to know the promises that God has made to us, all of humanity, which in Psalms 119:114NLT it say that is his hope. We see in this song the realization that nothing is perfect except God’s words Psalms 119:96NLT and then Psalms 119:97NLT.

  14. handmaiden says:

    poohpity…thanks for your comments. I agree that His word, His promises, are a hope for us. I certainly can’t put any weight in my thoughts, worries, perspectives…!!! Seeking Him through His word, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and acting on that word with Him in mind… I just think this is reflective to our Lord’s eyes of how much we love and serve Him.

  15. dependent says:

    My take:
    A humble man taking stock of the ever-present gap between his tireless pursuit and lofty intentions of knowing and pleasing the God he loves and the stark reality of his desperate need for a loving God to seek and save him from his failings.

  16. Mart De Haan says:

    Narrowpathseeker,
    It was my oversight to not give the Psalm. Wasn’t intending to make this into a puzzle :-)…Thanks for your patience and effort to find 119.

  17. Mart De Haan says:

    The point I wanted us to think about together is that the expectation of the songwriter seemed to be that the law of the Lord would keep him on the path. But, in the end, “the law of the Lord” apparently didn’t fulfill his expectations, since it didn’t “keep” him on the path. What it did do was, as he wandered, to remind him of what he had strayed from, and therefore his need for the Lord’s help to be found, led back, and renewed.

    Romans 7:4-12 and following seems to be a commentary on what happens in the songwriters love for the law that reveals his problem– so that he can find hope in his God.

    Whether we read law/torah as “teaching” or “God-given standards”… in either case we find knowledge of what is good– that exposes our inclination to stray– that shows our need for the forgiveness and sustaining Spirit of Christ.

    Anyway, that’s my take. Please push back if you have a different explanation for the difference between most of Psalm 119 and its last statement.

  18. SFDBWV says:

    When I read Psalm 119: 1 I am reminded of Psalm 1:1; is it because it is the same author or because after all the time that passed between them the author is still singing the same song?

    The fact is that a great many of the verses in psalm 119 are echoed all throughout the Psalms, I think much like me, even though I have experienced many events of spiritual magnitude with God, the author continually has to keep coming to God in prayer asking for help in every area of life.

    While at the same time praising the only one we can come to for help in the areas of our life that we are the most concerned with.

    The Psalms are usually a place of rest for me, I can always relax and find some soothing power within the reading of these *songs*. I have never heard them sang as they were originally intended, I think I prefer the music of God voice to any earthly tone and so will leave it that way for now.

    Going back to the verse 1 of each Psalm I mentioned, why is a person blessed who obeys God’s ways?

    It would seem that our friend Job walked in obedience to God’s ways long before the *law* was given to Moses, yet he suffered greatly for it. It would equally seem, listening to many of us, that our suffering seems to be in contrast to what we think is a blessing.

    Job was innocent of any wrong doing because of his exemplary life, while our lives, for the most of us, have been filled with sin enough to condemn us to judgment, yet we fall under the umbrella of Christ’s blood and are not judged, yet we all can relate to Job’s suffering; looking for relief from our Savior.

    Is the blessing because of living a righteous life, or for acknowledging a need for Christ? Followed by the acceptance of Him as Savior?

    Could this same action of ours to accept Jesus of Nazareth as Christ be equivalent to OT believers looking for Him before His coming? Many looked forward to His arrival yet when He did they rejected Him, their day of deliverance it would seem came and went, unfulfilled. They were not blessed but cursed for their choice, their actions brought about their destruction.

    Deuteronomy 30: 19 gives record the choice set before us; life or death, blessings or cursing, urging the choice of life. Joshua 24: 15 asks whom this day will we serve, and encourages us to choose the Lord.

    If we choose God our blessing, our reward is *Him*, as we are not promised good health, wealth, long life, or what we consider blessings. Our blessing is to be with God, now and forever.

    If that is not your desire, or your concept of being blessed, you have missed the point and are still looking in the dark for answers that only are meant to satisfy your misgivings.

    Steve

  19. Mart De Haan says:

    Good morning, Steve,
    I think the point you are making helps explain the surprising ending of Psalm 119. The songwriter loved the law that showed him not only the path of the Lord, but also that he had strayed from the path and needed the Lord to find and bring him back.

    What is this but a picture of our Great Shepherd who became the Lamb of God for us….!

  20. foreverblessed says:

    psalm 119 was a great Psalm for me, until I was in a great minor period of my life, since then I did not know what to do with this Psalm.
    I had looked at it as if the law, the Torah, could do all these things, but they couldn’t, and that made me depressed. Psalm 119:139a “my zeal wears me out”
    So what to do with this Psalm?

    And yes, Mart gives a clue: “our Great Shepherd who became the Lamb of God for us….!”
    In that light I will study it again. Psalm 119:166, 174
    Renew my life according to Your Word, v 107,
    only Jesus can renew our life!

  21. oneg2dblu says:

    Mart… Yes I agree, and it is also a picture of David’s realizing he is but a sheep. For at times he has mindlessly wandered into dangerous territory where he needs the Shepherd’s protection. As he then identifies in Psalms both the shepherd’s position and his own.
    Is that not where he then draws upon the word of God hidden in his heart, and where he seeks for his God’s guidance and salvation?
    Where a Christ Follower today has the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit to do the very same thing, if we only listen to that still small voice and obey it we would wander less.
    I believe as David did, to again call upon the Lord, or repent when I come to my senses. Sometimes it is repeatedly even as I write, or read, or live out my wandering life today. Praise God we can have a living personal relationship with Christ, in the same place where David hid the word of God.
    Perhaps I live in a more perilous place then others, for I still tend to wander, so I still tend to call. Thank God he still hears everyone who calls upon him!Gary

  22. poohpity says:

    When I consider this warrior who was renown from all the nations around him for his strength, military might and most importantly the relationship he had with his God. I understand from his writings that God’s word was what he used to guide his life and his being. He admitted his weaknesses and failures with the understanding that God was quick to show him mercy and was always faithful to forgive. In verse 11 David said that he “might not sin against you” to God but in fact would do that but trusted that God would search him out and draw David back to into the relationship when he went astray. David did not cop an attitude of pride or self defense but was open to be corrected, that alone shows what a strong man he was because of his humility.

    Even knowing God’s Word we will still fall short but knowing that God never gives up on us and still searches us out in spite of, helps us understand the significance of the Cross more thoroughly and be so much more thankful for the immense love the Lord has for His children.

  23. poohpity says:

    It seems to be similar to Paul who grew up knowing the Law and the Prophets because he was a Pharisee yet only boasted in the Cross and his inability to follow all the rules but lived under God’s Grace.

  24. bubbles says:

    Yes!

  25. poohpity says:

    Another thing I was thinking about in this psalm is that David usually refers to himself and not the sins of others. He seems concerned about his own life, his own heart and his own response to God. He did not say your Word is light to george’s path, or Deb’s path or even his own son’s but only to his own path. David seemed to seek God’s law and Words to apply to his own heart. This was the out pouring of his soul to the only One who could do anything about helping him to walk the right path and knew God would bring him back even when he messed up.

  26. SFDBWV says:

    Tau; this last stanza in its entirety echoes Psalm 51 and is a road map for any of us seeking salvation.

    We come to God confessing our sin and seeking forgiveness.

    I’m not sure Mart, that I see Psalm 119 as a word picture of Christ as I it see more our need for Him.

    If I were to apply all else I know from scripture, I can clearly see that in order for God to justly apply Grace, that it can only come through Him and by Him and because of Him.

    Not the law or our obedience to it or even our desire to do what is right, only through grace from Him undeserved by us yet offered none the less as the ultimate divine act of love only possible through the sacrifice of the Lamb in our place.

    Steve

  27. poohpity says:

    But how can we know the fullness of that Grace without knowing the Law?

  28. poohpity says:

    I was wondering if David knew that the Word was what keep him on the path but did he realize that was not were salvation was found by what he wrote in Psalms 119:81,123NIV?

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