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Daily Devotional Ideas Based on Psalm 119
Reading carefully and prayerfully through Psalm 119 can take less time than watching a 30-minute sitcom episode. No matter the time of day, the psalm offers the basic ingredients for spiritual and mental well-being:
- At the beginning of the day, there are prayers for God's guidance.
Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found (verse 35).
- In the middle of the day, there is motivation and mental reset.
Your laws are my treasure; they are my heart’s delight. I am determined to keep your decrees to the very end (verses 111, 112).
- At the end of the day, there are affirmations of peace and assurance.
Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble (verse 165).
For those who find the entire psalm too much for one sitting, it is conveniently divided into 22 sections, each of which provides good subject matter for meditation whether studied consecutively or in any order the individual selects.
Unique Features of Psalm 119
- Psalm 119 is The Longest Psalm, with 176 verses.
- It is titled the Christian’s Golden A B C1 in a German version of the psalms, because it is an acrostic in its original Hebrew form. The verses are equally divided into 22 sections, each section of 8 verses titled in alphabetical order with a Hebrew letter. Each verse in a section begins with the title letter.
- Despite losing its grand poetic form in the English translation, it is referred to by Charles Hadden Spurgeon as the Sacred Ode in recognition of its “saintly aphorisms” of “Holy Writ rewritten in holy emotions and actions.”2
- The theme of the psalm is the Word of God, mentioned in 173 of its 176 verses by synonyms such as law, testimonies, ways, precepts, statutes, commandments, judgments.3 However, the author "never repeats himself," observes Spurgeon, "for if the same sentiment recurs it . . . exhibits another interesting shade of meaning."4
- The psalmist gives credit to God’s Word for sustaining him in his youth as well as later in life. While some scholars are sure that David is the author, others believe that it was written by a young person (perhaps Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, Ezekiel, Ezra or Esther) taken from Jerusalem into Babylonian exile.5
Did You Know?
- William Wilberforce (1759-1833), leader of the movement to abolish slavery, prayed Psalm 119 from memory as he walked from Baker Street to Regency Park in London, England.
- David Livingstone (1813-1873), missionary explorer memorized Psalm 119 when he was nine years old.
- James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879), scientific genius, memorized all of Psalm 119 by the time he was 8 years old.
Suggestions for Devotional Use
The New King James Version of the Bible is recommended for the reading of Psalm 119. It titles the chapter Meditations on the Excellencies of the Word of God. This version also records the Greek alphabet symbols, of which the names and meanings are provided by Biblical Scholarship.
There are several ways in which Psalm 119 can serve as the basis for personal or group devotionals.
(1) Devotional for Any Day
On any day when the pressure from life's stresses seem overwhelming, find relief in a conversation with God. That is exactly what the reading of Psalm 119 sounds and feels like--speaking with God. From verse 4 and all the way through, the statements are addressed to Him, and quiet listening results in a response of assurances from Him.
(2) Daily Devotionals for 3 Weeks
Read an 8-verse section every day for a 3-week supply of daily devotional material (plus 1 extra day).
(3) Daily Devotionals for 4 Weeks
Select a weekly topic for meditation for 4 weeks (one month) as in the sample guide which follows. Consider one verse under the selected topic on weekdays, leaving the weekend free for miscellaneous passages from the psalm, even for selecting verses for the following week's topic.
In the table below, the numbers in brackets refer to the verses in Psalm 119. For the most part, the topic names the result of passionate devotion to the study of God's laws.
Four-Week Daily Devotional Topics for Personal Empowerment
Week 1 Spiritual
Week 2: Moral
Week 3 Mental
Week 4 Emotional
Good judgment (66)
Good company (63)
I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.— Psalm 119: 16 (NKJV)
(4) Daily Devotionals for 22 Weeks
Spend an entire week in a detailed study on each of the 22 sections. On the first day, read the section from the selected study version. For the rest of the week read in different Bible versions. Use study notes and commentaries for in-depth study, and memorize selected verses.
(5) Daily Devotionals At Personal Pace
Study the psalm at personal pace, selecting favorite verses which speak to the heart. Journal the messages received and short stories of personal application. Return to special, meaningful verses as often as necessary.
Regardless of the form and period of meditation on Psalm 119, it is necessary to meditate on it. The statements of confessions and longings cannot be improved upon. It is a prayer. It is a song. It is an expression of sincere surrender to the joy and comfort of God's Word while enjoying intimate communion with Him.