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So beautiful that you can't forget it. Psalm 119.15, 16

Psalm 119.9-16 (6)

Pray Psalm 119.9-11.
How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.

Sing Psalm 119.9-11.
(No Other Plea: My Faith Has Found a Resting Place)
How can a young man cleanse his way, and thus be free of sin?
By keeping God’s Word every day, and storing it within.
With all my heart I seek You, Lord, O let me never stray,
nor let me wander from Your Word, nor stumble in Your way.

Read Psalm 119.9-16; meditate on verses 15, 16.


1. What did the psalmist intend to do?

2. How would that make him feel?

The poet William Cowper once explained that something is beautiful to which we return repeatedly and over a long period of time. And we do this because we delight in the beauty of that to which we often return. For example, as I write this, I’m listening to Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27, which I first heard back in 1978, and which I have listened to scores of times since then. Why? Because it’s beautiful and I delight in it!

By that definition, the psalmist believed the Law of God is beautiful. He resolved both to meditate on it and to contemplate it, understanding that doing so would bring him great delight. “Meditate” here means something like to hold it up to the light, like you would a gem, to examine its surface. “Contemplate” goes deeper and means “to look upon, to consider” – as if you used a jeweler’s eyepiece to look more deeply into the cut and color of the gem. Learning God’s Law (v. 12) requires both.

And the psalmist determined he would not forget God’s Word (v. 16), which assumes he would not only walk in the precepts and ways of the Lord but return to them again and again (I peeked at Daniel Barenboim playing the Mozart and conducting the orchestra – no music, all in his head, both the playing the conducting).

Verses 15 and 16 return us to verses 9-11, but from a somewhat different angle. Verses 9-11 emphasize the affective commitment to God’s Word – devotion from the heart. Verses 15 and 16 emphasize the cognitive commitment to God’s Word – meditation, contemplation, and remembering. Verses 12-16 show what all this leads to: worshiping God (v. 12), proclaiming His Word (v. 13), rejoicing in His truth (v. 14), delighting to read and study God’s Word (v. 16), and walking in God’s ways (vv. 9, 10, 11, 16).

Yeah. Beautiful.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The psalmist is making his to-do list. He seems to be prioritizing his work correctly.
To do today:
1. I will meditate on God’s precepts.
2. I will contemplate God’s ways.
3. I will delight in God’s statutes.
4. I will NOT forget God’s Word.

His day is planned. His work is set. His future is determined. He can pray, “May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the LORD” (Ps. 104.34). He knows his intentions for the work in his Personal Mission Field: “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart” (Ps. 40.8). And most importantly he realizes that without the Word, he has no hope. But with the Word, that he will not forget, he is truly God’s own. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (Jn. 1.1, 2).

And to forget this Word? That omission spells total doom. “If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed” (1 Cor. 16.22). You can easily see why he wants to fully remember this Word.

We, too, need to plan our day. And our plans need to encompass the same routine. All the meditation, contemplation, and delight in the Lord that we do solidifies our remembrance of the One Who makes all things new. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5.17).

When we are saturated in this Word through meditation, contemplation, and delight – so much so, that our minds are full of Him and we could never forget Him, even if we tried – then that is a beautiful comfort to our soul. And a day’s plan worth pursuing.

For reflection
1. Why are both the heart and the mind essential in learning God’s Law?

2. What can you do to improve your daily planning, so that you don’t forget the Word of the Lord?

3. Whom will you encourage today to learn the Law of God and walk in all His ways?

For our proficiency in the law of God will be small, until we cheerfully and heartily set our minds upon it. And, in fact, the commencement of a good life consists in God's law attracting us to him by its sweetness. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Psalm 119.15, 16

Pray Psalm 119.12-16.
Commit yourself to more regular, more consistent, and deeper study and reflection on the Law of God. Wait on the Lord in prayer to suggest some ways you might put that commitment into practice.

Sing Psalm 119.12-16.

(Passion Chorale: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
Be blessed, O God our Savior; teach us Your holy Word!
Our lips proclaim with favor the statutes of the Lord.
How great our joy, dear Jesus, to follow in Your ways;
What more than this could please us, or brighten all our days?

We contemplate Your precepts and cherish all Your ways,
Delighting in Your statutes, rememb’ring all our days.
With wondrous bounty bless us, Your humble servants, Lord,
that we may live with Jesus and keep His holy Word.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website,, and clicking the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Psalm 119 by clicking here.

What is the Law of God and how should we learn and obey it? Two books can help. The Law of God arranges the statutes and precepts of God’s Law under their appropriate number of the Ten Commandments. This book is an excellent tool for meditating on God’s Law and thinking about its application in our time. The Foundation for Christian Ethics, on the other hand, explains why the Law matters and how we are to use it. You can order free copes of each of these here and here.

If you find Scriptorium helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this daily ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal or Anedot, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

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.
Books by T. M. Moore

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