Recall the things from the introductory lesson that you wanted to keep in mind as you study the text of Psalm 119.
Don’t forget to read in complete sentences instead of stopping at the end of each verse.
Recall the themes you’ve been noticing in Psalm 119. Watch for those themes to be repeated in today’s and future passages. You may wish to make a list of those themes to refer to throughout this study.
Questions to Consider
1. Review your notes from last week’s lesson. Does that passage relate to this week’s passage? How? Do you notice any repeated words, thoughts, or themes?
2. Let’s look at a few themes in today’s passage.
The first is the theme of the psalmist’s imploring. Make a list of all the phrases in this section which indicate imploring (e.g. “Answer me, O Lord”). Who is he imploring, for what, and why? When we implore someone about something, what does our imploring indicate that we believe about that someone? What does the psalmist’s imploring God indicate he believes about God? Is his belief correct? How do we know this? Think of a time when you implored God about something. What did your imploring indicate you believed about God? Regardless of how He answered, was your belief correct? How do you know?
Our next theme is the theme of night. Which two verses in this passage contain this theme? What is “the watches of the night” (148), and what does the psalmist mean in this verse? (It may help to compare a few different translations.) What sort of picture do darkness and night paint in this passage? What is the antidote to darkness and night in this passage?
The third theme is the theme of far and near. Which verses explore this theme? In each instance, list what is far from or near to what. In what ways are far and near contrasted? In each instance of far or near, note whether the psalmist is indicating that far or near is a good thing or a bad thing. Have you experienced any of these instances in your own life? What does this teach us about salvation and the nature and character of God?
The final theme is the theme of hope. Which verse explicitly declares the psalmist’s hope? What does he hope in, and why? Make a list of other phrases in today’s passage which implicitly indicate the psalmist’s hope. Who or what does he hope in? How does this hope ease the tension of, and comfort him in his affliction? Do you have that same hope in Christ? Write out a few statements of your own hope in Christ and His Word modeled after the structure of verse 147 (e.g. “I [negative circumstance], but I hope in [characteristic of God / the Word].)
How do the themes of imploring, night, far and near, and hope relate to and inform one another in this passage?
Did you notice any other themes in today’s passage? Explore them using your cross references. How do they connect to the aforementioned themes?
3. Note the word “promise” in 148. In this context, does “promise” mean Scripture in general, a specific verse or promise, the nature and character of a God who keeps His promises, all of the above? Explain why. (Again, it may help to compare a few different translations.)
4. How many times, and in which verses, does the psalmist use the phrase “give me life according to Your…”? How does the first line of each verse inform or relate to the “give me life” part of the verse? What are the three “according to’s” in these verses?
Whenever God acts in any way, in any circumstance, explain how and why He always acts:
- according to His promise:
- according to His rules:
- according to His steadfast love:
Can you think of some examples from Scripture in which we see God acting according to His promise, according to His rules, and according to His steadfast love? What about some examples from your own life?
5. Make a list of each phrase in today’s passage in which the psalmist is basically saying, “I obey Your Word.”. Do you get the sense that the psalmist is saying to God, “I obey You, therefore, You owe me X,Y, and Z.”? That God should react to his obedience as a quid pro quo? Why or why not?
Remember that, unlike Christians today, the psalmist was living under the Mosaic covenant. Under this covenant, God promised to bless Israel’s families, fields, flocks, finances, and fighting men if they obeyed Him, and to curse them in all of these areas if they disobeyed him. This was the air the psalmist breathed that informed his view of God, his relationship to God, and how he expected or anticipated that God would act in his life. Knowing this background, why do we see this repeated refrain of “I keep Your commandments,” especially when the psalmist is suffering, in today’s passage and throughout Psalm 119? What is the psalmist reminding himself of – about himself and about God – by repeating this again and again? How does “holding God to His Word” demonstrate the psalmist’s trust in God to keep His promises? Explain how the psalmist’s constant cry of “I obey Your Word” calls upon God to be God – to act in accord with His nature and character, to keep the promises He made in the Covenant, and to act within the parameters of the Covenant.
How is the psalmist’s brand of “stake my life on it, total obedience, so much so that I don’t get why God hasn’t acted yet” faith and belief different from the easy, shallow, mental assent, untested “I love Jesus” brand of belief that requires nothing of, and demonstrates nothing about the “believer,” that we see in so many professing Christians today? Which type of belief is Jesus calling us to when He says “Repent and believe the gospel,” and Paul and Silas, when they said to the Philippian jailer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”? How is this type of “stake my life on it” belief different from both the works righteousness, “quid pro quo” type of “belief” in God and the easy / shallow type of “belief” in Jesus? How is the posture of the psalmist’s heart, and the genuinely regenerated Believer’s heart different from the posture of heart of those who subscribe to these other two forms of “belief”?
Praying Psalm 119
Have you ever tried praying the psalms? I want to encourage you to try praying part of Psalm 119 back to God each week of this study. (If you’re familiar with my other studies, this will take the place of the weekly “Homework” section.)
The psalms are uniquely suited for praying back to God, both verbatim and conceptually, because they are often written as prayers – as though the psalmist is talking to God. Did you notice that about today’s passage? In which verses?
What is a concept or thought for your own life that the Holy Spirit impressed on your heart or convicted you about from today’s passage? Is there a particular verse(s), or maybe the whole passage, that you would like to pray back to God verbatim? Whatever your “prayer point” from today’s lesson, pray it at least daily until we get to the next lesson.