In our last visit we began a chapter study of Psalm 119. I suggested that the first 8 verses were introductory.
You will notice the Psalm is divided into sections with each one having 8 verses. The psalmist took great care in organizing his thoughts and presenting them in a thoughtful, poetic form. Each section represents a letter of the Hebrew alphabet and each verse in the section begins with that letter. We don’t get the full impact of this in the English translation.
In the first section the psalmist presents the ideal picture of the significance of God's Word in the first 4 verses. Verse 4 says that God laid down precepts and they are to be fully obeyed. The first 3 verses describe the benefits of full obedience – life will be blessed and be exemplary in every way.
But do you know anyone who could be thus described? Even the psalmist who wrote them had to acknowledge the reality in his life over against this ideal. In verse 5 he confesses that he comes short of the ideal even though he desires to be steadfast in his obedience. In verse 6 he expresses the shame he feels as God’s Word convicts him. He doesn’t measure up!
Verse 7 expresses confidence that as he makes progress in learning and experiencing God’s Word in his life he’ll be encouraged to praise God for what He’s doing. Verse 8 declares his commitment – “I will obey your decrees.” Realizing he’ll likely fail at times in spite of his commitment he cries out, “Do not utterly forsake me.”
This is a picture of a man who is desirous of pleasing God and is committed to growing toward that end.