Do you feel a sense of excitement when reading the bible? Does the thought of attending a bible study thrill you with a sense of anticipation? I think for the majority of us the answer is no. We may enjoy reading the bible, study may be rewarding but excitement, thrilling, I’m not so sure.
My daily bible reading includes working through the book of Psalms; yesterday I came to 119 where the psalmist is excited, thrilled, exhilarated by God’s word.
It’s the longest psalm and at 176 verses is longer than some books of the bible. It is made up of 22 stanzas, each of 8 lines and each line begins with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet which heads the stanza: Aleph to Taw. It’s poetry; carefully, beautifully crafted.
Every line refers to some aspect of God’s law and is an expression of how the people of God related personally and objectively to it.
In verses 1-4 the psalmist describes how we can experience God’s blessings; by obeying God’s commandments diligently. Blessing means happiness. Then in verse 5 a prayer which gives hope for all of us who know we don’t diligently abide by God’s word.
‘Oh that my ways be steadfast, in keeping your statutes!’
An expression of longing when the psalmist realises he doesn’t achieve his desire to be obedient to the word of God.
In vs 7 the psalmist does something which is reflected by the prophet Isaiah and again by Jesus when he quotes the prophet. The psalmist links the heart, emotion, with the mind, intellect. In Matthew 15 we read of Jesus being challenged by the Pharisees responding with:
“‘This people honours me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me……..”
I find the Psalms to be a challenging guide to prayer. The psalmists, there was more than one, were honest, open and frank in their addressing God. Emotion; happy, joyous, angry, bitter pours out and they are never afraid to question God about what he is doing and why. There is something genuine about the prayers of the psalms because they express the full gamut of human emotions. I think it’s a lesson we need to learn, or perhaps be reminded of in our prayers; personal and corporate.
We are most open with the people we know well, who we love, and we know love us sincerely. Openness in a relationship is a sign of sincerity. I think some find prayer difficult because they believe they are acting; talking to God in a way they think is right rather than opening up to him and being honest. One of the great encouragements for me is the awareness that God KNOWS each one of us and nothing is hidden. More than that, he understands our motives for the way we behave and act; even though we don’t really understand them ourselves; and still He loves us!
In John 17 we read of Jesus prayer for those who follow him; in it he speaks of a deep intimate relationship between the Heavenly Father and His Children. He wants that relationship but reticence prevents it becoming a reality for many of us.
Heavenly Father, give us the courage to let you have your way in our lives; Reckless abandonment to the will of God. Amen