The unfolding of his word…

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I’m writing a book at the moment – a sort of journal about what the Bible means to me and how God uses it to encourage and help me. Today I wrote a little chapter about a Psalm I’ve been reading, and I thought I’d share it on here too 🙂

Psalm 119

‘The unfolding of your word gives light...’ Verse 130

The verse above conjures the image of scrolls being unfolded to read God’s Word, a precious and sacred act for all Jews, but to me it speaks more of the sacredness of God’s Word unfolding in my life, becoming part of my story, of the clarity with which I can see things after reading the Bible and praying and of the radiance of Jesus, illuminating the goodness and possibility in human life.

Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm by far, containing some 176 verses, and it basically consists of reams of prayers expressing David’s love of God’s Word, how even as he flees from human persecutors he longs to hear God speak, longs for God’s Salvation, longs to obey God’s statutes and follow his direction, repeating over and over ‘I love your statutes… your law is precious…’ It’s a Psalm that would be easy to write off as over-long and irrelevant in today’s world, but reading and copying it out over the last few weeks has repeatedly restored in me that ‘Shalom’ that David and centuries of other Jews have spoken and written of. Shalom means peace and wholeness and health, and I’ve found that in my busy, prickly world I need it so much.

Most nights I have read and copied a small section of Psalm 119, and then done a little praying. It’s amazing how these ancient words of David have spoken directly into the situations of each day.

At a time when I felt aware of negativity and gossip at work, I read ‘though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees. Your statutes are my delight, they are my counsellors…’  On a sad evening, I read ‘my soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your Word.’  On a day when I was tired of waiting, I read ‘May your unfailing love come to me…according to your promise…I have put my hope in your laws…’  There was one time when I was cross and resentful of someone I knew to be a fellow Christian, and then I read ‘I am a friend to all who fear you…’ and I knew I needed to apologise to her. Our relationship was healed and fresh after that.

Each night as I pored over the prayers of David, I discovered my own prayers too. My soul found a way to reconnect with the love of God, and his goodness. I found myself able to look back over my day and see the sacredness of it, to search my heart for my worries and see them in perspective, and trust them to God.

On a deep level, this Psalm restored my focus, reminding me that I am a servant of God, that He and His ways come first in my life, but also that there is great freedom in living that way. As David put it, ‘I run in the path of your commands…’

God has used the Psalm to make my heart soft and loving and worshipful in places where it had grown hard and bitter and rebellious. He’s been the Father and the Friend who has brought me back to him with a new intimacy and trust, the Counsellor who has restored my peace, the Provider who has sustained my well-being.

As I come to the end of the Psalm, I am approaching a time of change in my life, and I am glad of this snippet of prayer from it: ‘Your decrees are the theme of my song – wherever I lodge.’  It reminds me that whether I am in familiar waters or strange ones, my song will always be that God is true and good, that He loves me and that his ways are good and right for me.

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