Praying Through the Bible #68
TEXT: Psalm 119:169-176
Today, we come to the longest psalm in the book of Psalms. Psalm 119 is also the chapter with the most verses in the Bible. As you may know, this psalm is in the form of an acrostic poem. An acrostic poem is one in which each line or each stanza begins with a letter of the alphabet. Well, each of the stanzas of this psalm include eight couplets that begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This is repeated 22 times for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
This is a very deep and detailed psalm. Charles Spurgeon wrote 400 pages of commentary on this psalm alone. Thomas Manton, a Puritan preacher and writer, wrote a three-volume work on Psalm 119. Each volume is between 500 and 600 pages. Some great people have memorized this whole Psalm and found great blessing in doing so. Among them are: John Ruskin, the 19th century British writer; William Wilberforce, the British politician who led the movement to abolish the slave trade in England; Henry Martyn, the pioneer missionary to India; and David Livingstone, the pioneer missionary to Africa.
If we were to look at this entire psalm, we would find that the overall theme of the psalm is God’s word or God’s law. The author of this psalm deems the Word of God most important. He wants us to understand that God’s Word should be the top priority in our lives.
For faithful Jews, the Law that God had given to Moses and the prophetic word that God gave through the prophets was paramount. If we were to look at this emphasis on God’s Word from a New Testament perspective, we must contemplate the fact that Jesus Christ is called “the Word” in John chapter 1. In Hebrews, we are told that the Word of God is like a living thing — “quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.” Paul commands us to use the Word of God as an offensive weapon to resist the onslaught of Satan. Furthermore, in the book of Revelation, John reveals that when Jesus Christ returns to earth to defeat the antichrist and the rebellious nations, he comes on a white horse “clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”
The Word of God is very important. The late writer and professor Neil Postman famously pointed out in his classic treatise, Amusing Ourselves to Death, that the prohibition of graven images in the Ten Commandments suggests that the Judeo-Christian God is one who is to be known through rational, abstract language — the Word! As writer and Liberty University professor Karen Swallow Prior notes, ‘Christianity is a Word-centered faith. That term — “Word” — takes on layers of significance, all of which are meaningful and relevant to our faith. Because Christ is the Word and the Bible is God’s revealed Word, it is clear that Christians have a special calling to the understanding of the Word.’
Very briefly today, I want us to look at four prayer requests that God is certain to hear from the last stanza of Psalm 119. And, as we will see, the reason why God is certain to hear these prayer requests is because they are based on His Word.