A work assignment had taken my coworker and me on a 250-mile journey, and it was late when we began our trip home. An aging body with aging eyes makes me a bit uneasy about nighttime driving; nevertheless, I opted to drive first. My hands gripped the steering wheel and my eyes gazed intently at dimly lit roads. While driving I found I could see better when lights from vehicles behind me beamed on the highway ahead. I was much relieved when my friend eventually took the wheel of his vehicle. That’s when he discovered I had been driving with fog lights and not the headlights!
Psalm 119 is the masterful composition of one who understood that God’s Word provides us with light for everyday living (v. 105). Yet, how often do we find ourselves in situations similar to my uncomfortable night on the highway? We needlessly strain to see, and we sometimes stray from the best paths because we forget to use the light of God’s Word. Psalm 119 encourages us to be intentional about “hitting the light switch.” What happens when we do? We find wisdom for purity (vv. 9–11); we discover fresh motivation and encouragement for avoiding detours (vv. 101–102). And when we live with the lights on, the psalmist’s praise is likely to become our praise: “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (v. 97).
Father, please fill my heart with Your Word so I can have the light I need for today!
Psalm 119 is the longest “section” in the Bible, longer than any other psalm or any chapter of Scripture, weighing in at 176 verses. It also provides a rich example of the nature of Hebrew poetry. Unlike Western poetry, which depends on rhyme and meter, Hebrew poetry utilizes poetic devices, including metaphor, contrast, analogy, and alliteration. Psalm 119 follows a structure that is not uncommon in Hebrew poetry—an acrostic. Following the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, each stanza of the song begins with successive letters. Why? Because apparently Psalm 119 was meant to be memorized, and the alphabet acrostic made it easier for memorization.