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The Scriptorium

Proem (2)

Deeper and more intensive. Psalm 119.2

Psalm 119.1-8 (2)

Pray Psalm 119.1-4.
Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the L
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart!
They also do no iniquity;
They walk in His ways.
You have commanded us
To keep Your precepts diligently.

Sing Psalm 119.1-4.
(Ode to Joy:
Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee)
Blessed are they whose way is blameless, all who walk within God’s Law,
who, His testimonies keeping, seek Him, filled with joy and awe.
These are they who, no wrong doing, ever walk within God’s ways.
Lord, Your precepts You command us; we would keep them all our days.

Read Psalm 119.1-8; meditate on verse 2.


1. What new verbs are introduced in this verse?

2. How are we supposed to seek God?

We’re continuing to look at the introduction to Psalm 119 – the proem – to see how it lays the cornerstone for the rest of the psalm. We saw in verse 1 that the focus is on the Lord and His Law; we must set aside all defilement and walk in God’s ways. This is the way of happiness. Happiness = walking in God’s Law.

Verse 2 further defines what it means to “walk in the law of the L
ORD!” Here is an example of how Hebrew poetry works to enrich its message by taking a statement to deeper and more intensive levels of meaning. Two additional verbs explain how happy people walk. First, we “keep” or more pointedly “guard” the “testimonies” of the Lord. The testimonies of God are what He has written for His people, and how saints and prophets have elaborated on and exemplified those testimonies by their own lives. We are to guard these as a precious treasure, and to keep watch over them so that they are always before us (cf. Deut. 6.8). We will know happiness as we are careful and diligent concerning the testimonies of God.

Second, we are to “seek” the Lord. Seeking implies attention and objectives for our walk. It deepens our focus on His Law by reminding us that what we’re really trying to achieve is the Presence of God, where there is fullness of joy and pleasure forevermore (Ps. 16.11). The end of our reading, meditating, and guarding God’s Law is to know God and to love and serve Him obediently in all our ways. This is the happy life.

Finally, verse 2 further deepens the nature of our walk by explaining that it must come from within, from our heart, that we must long for God, desire and delight in His Word, and cherish Him and His Law above all other things. When we do, and as we guard the treasure He has deposited in us – earthen vessels though we are (2 Cor. 4.7) – we will walk in His ways and know complete happiness and fulfillment.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The psalmist offers clarification on the way to know blessing from God: Keep His testimonies. Seek Him with our whole heart. And to emphasize the indispensability of these, our translators end with an exclamation mark! (Ps. 119. 2)

James warns us that without faith in God we are double-minded. And being double-minded makes us unstable in all our ways. We are to seek God with our whole heart. Not half our heart. If we do it with only half, we will be unstable in all our ways. It’s a warning from the Word of God (Jms. 1.6-8).

James very kindly gives us a remedy for being in this poorly condition: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (Jms. 4.8). It is always nice to know there is a cure for our dilemma.

James was echoing our psalmist and Moses, who told us long ago how we should seek the L
ORD. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut. 6.5). No room for bifurcation there. All, all, all.

And Jesus reiterated Moses’ words. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22.37). Again, all, all, all.

Moses, and Jesus, the psalmist, and James all want us to be blessed. And they all agree about how we are to go about receiving this blessing: With everything that is within you, keep His Law and seek His help to do it.

All for Jesus! All for Jesus! All my being’s ransomed pow’rs;
All my thoughts and words and doings, All my days and all my hours.
(James, 1889/Stainer, 1887)

For reflection

1. What does it mean to “seek” God in His Word? How should you “keep” that Word before you throughout the day?

2. The Scripture emphasizes the importance of engaging God’s Word with all your heart. What does this mean for you?

3. What is Biblical happiness? Why is Biblical happiness the only happiness that truly satisfies?

We will be blessed if we know the heavenly commands, yet still more so if we eagerly pursue in our works the things that we know. One who neglects to keep his known commandments is not capable of being happy; one who scorns finding out about these [commandments] is separated much further away from the heritage of the blessed. The Venerable Bede (672-735), Homilies on the Gospels 2.5

Pray Psalm 119.5-8.
Pray that God’s Word will be before you throughout the day and that you will walk in His ways in all you do. Set your heart to give Him thanks and praise throughout the day as He leads you along His chosen path.

Sing Psalm 119.5-8.
(Ode to Joy:
Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee)
Let my ways steadfastly keep to all the statutes of Your Word.
Then shall I, no shame enduring, fix my eyes on You, O Lord!
With an upright heart I praise You, in Your rules will I abide.
I will keep Your statutes wholly; keep me ever by Your side!

T. M. and Susie Moore

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by
clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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