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Acorn to the Oak

It's all in there. Psalm 119.1-8

Psalm 119.1-8

Pray Psalm 119.1-4.
Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the LORD!
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 verses 1, 2.

1. How can we be blessed?

2. How must we seek the Lord?

We will see throughout Psalm 119 how the composer ties each stanza together and fits it, puzzle-like, into the entire poem. This artful effort is fully on display in verses 1-8, which introduce the theme of the rest of Psalm 119 and thus serve as the acorn to the oak of the entire Psalm.

This first stanza is in two parts, an opening proem (vv. 1-3) followed by a prayer which sets forth the primary message of Psalm 119: God offers happiness to those who obey His Law diligently (who walk, keep, seek, look into, and learn it), that is, with their whole heart (the heart being the wellspring from which all the issues of life emerge, vv. 2, 7; cf. Prov. 4.23). The interjection, “O” (אַ֭חֲלַי, acheli, v. 5), precisely in the middle of the stanza, emphasizes the earnestness and longing such obedience requires.

God’s Law (v. 1) – His testimonies (v. 2), commandments (vv. 4, 6), precepts (v. 4), statutes (vv. 5, 8), and judgments (v. 8) – brings us into His Presence, so that we may know Him continually (vv. 2, 8). In God’s Presence we realize an increasing measure of our original upright condition, are not ashamed, bask in the happiness (“blessed”) this affords, and praise God for His goodness and Law (vv. 1, 5, 6, 7).

Progress in blessedness is a process – we walk toward it (vv. 1, 3) and look forward to it (v. 7) – which involves laying aside sinful ways (vv. 1, 3) and continuing in the path marked out by the Law of God (vv. 3, 5, 8). The way the poet balances the verbs and nouns throughout this stanza creates a powerful linking experience for the reader and introduces what will be the more concisely unpacked in the remaining 21 stanzas.

Anne Bradstreet, America’s first lady of verse, once wrote, “Art can do much.” Psalm 119.1-8, the acorn to the oak of Psalm 119, proves the truth of that observation.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Imagine that you are online trying to decide what to read, and you see this teaser for an article entitled Fourteen Simple Steps to the Fountain of Youth. Underneath the title it adds the byline, you’ll be thin, healthy, happy, wealthy, and popular in perpetuity. Do you think you might be tempted to read it? Perhaps with at least a little curiosity? Or be willing to give it some passing interest? Maybe even sit a spell and ponder the possibilities of it?

Here in Psalm 119.1-8 we have an article just like that, the difference being it is true, and it is feasible.

Fourteen Simple Steps in How to be Forever Happy:

1. Be undefiled in God’s way of life.
2. Walk in the Law of the LORD.
3. Keep His testimonies.
4. Seek Him with your whole heart.
5. Do no iniquity.
6. Walk in His ways.
7. Keep His precepts diligently.
8. Keep His statutes.
9. Be ashamed enough of your sins to repent.
10. Look into learning all His commandments.
11. Praise God with an upright heart.
12. Learn His righteous judgments.
13. Keep His statutes.
14. Ask God to never forsake you.

We have read this article, we are enticed to participate, we only need the power to live it:
“‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit’, says the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 4.6).
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1.8).

Yes, but how can we receive that Holy Spirit power?

“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12.9).

Only Jesus fulfilled all those 14 points, and only Jesus can lead us down that path to eternal happiness with God. He can give us the power of God’s Spirit for the happiness we seek.

And with God’s Spirit, His power, His grace, and His all-sufficiency, He will overwhelmingly bless us as we walk in this truth, the acorn to the oak, in the whole of our lives. 

For reflection
1. What does it mean to be “blessed” as in “eternally happy”?

2. God insists His Law is the way to such blessing. Why then do we need to look to Jesus?

3. Whom will you encourage to walk the path of blessedness today?

God is by no means satisfied with mere external service, for he demands the sincere and honest affection of the heart. And assuredly, if God be the sole judge and disposer of our life, the truth must occupy the principal place in our heart, because it is not sufficient to have our hands and feet only enlisted in his service. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Psalm 119.2

Pray Psalm 119.1-8.

Call on the Lord to help you learn more of His Law and all His Word. Ask Him to give you something new for today that you might live out in your walk with and work for Him.

Sing Psalm 119.1-8.
(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.

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

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.

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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