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The Scriptorium

Heart Devotion

Where it must start. Psalm 119.41-48

Psalm 119.41-48

Pray Psalm 119.41, 42.
Let Your mercies come also to me, O LORD—
Your salvation according to Your word.
So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word.

Sing Psalm 119.41, 42.
(Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
Let Your mercies come to me, Your salvation by Your Word.
From reproaches set me free, for I trust in You, O Lord.
Let my life an answer be for those who may question me.

Read Psalm 119.41-48; meditate on verses 119.43-45.

1. What is the psalmist’s attitude toward God’s Word?

2. What does that lead him to do?

Stanza 6 of Psalm 119 continues, with sharpened focus, a theme which has threaded through most of the preceding stanzas – that of heart devotion to the Law and Word of God. It’s not enough just to know the contents of the Bible. We need to let the Word saturate and shape our minds, of course, but unless the heart is devoted to the Word, no amount of Biblical information will serve us as God intends.

The heart is the seat of our affections and is thus the most important component of the soul. Note how this stanza “circles the wagons” of the heart around the Word of God, to keep and defend and secure it:

  1. 41: longing (“Let Your mercies…Your salvation…”)
    v. 42: trust
  2. 43: hope
  3. 44: resolve (“So shall I keep…”)
    v. 45: seek
    v. 46: courage (“not be ashamed”)
    v. 47: delight
  4. 47: love
  5. 48: eagerness (lifting hands for it)
    v. 48: love

Solomon exhorts us to keep our hearts with all diligence, because the great issues of life flow from our affections – what we long for, trust in, hope for, seek, delight in, reach out for, and love (Prov. 4.23). Hide the Word of God in your heart; surround it by your strongest and most devoted affections; and the Spirit of God will use the Word to shape you into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18). So shall your witness for the Lord be firmly established (vv. 42, 46).

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
And not only will our witness for Christ be firmly established, but it will be happening continually.

This will be done regularly; repeated frequently in the same way; without interruption; and constantly. In other words, all the time.

“So shall I keep Your law continually,” and just to make sure that we understand how continually, the psalmist adds the additional description of “forever and ever” (Ps. 119.44). That makes it all the time, perpetually and eternally.

Peter used the word continually to describe the disciples calling to prayer and to the ministry of the word. (Acts 6.4). He was describing and delineating their calling as opposed to the new calling of the seven men who would now hold the office of deacon.

Paul used the words continue earnestly to tell all believers that this is how we should pray, “being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (Col. 4.2).

The writer of the book of Hebrews used the word continue to extol Christians everywhere to let “brotherly love” be done without interruption and constantly (Heb. 13.1).

There are many things that we, as believers, are called to that need to be done regularly and repeated frequently, all the time.

But the most important thing, for our heart’s devotion, is to keep God’s law continually, forever and ever.

For by so doing, we show love to our dear Savior (Jn. 14.15); full obedience to God (Ex. 20.1-11) and service to others (Ex. 20.12-17).

Being a Christian is not a half-hearted endeavor. It is a constant calling. All the time. Continually.

For reflection
1. What do we mean by saying that Christianity is a full-time calling? How should we prepare each day to take up that calling?

2. Why is it so important that we keep a close watch on our heart? How do you do that?

3. Which of the affections mentioned in this stanza do you need to improve on? How will you work on that today?

“…[the psalmist] was not so concerned about outward confession as not to give the preference to the faith of the heart; but considering that he is making his address to God, there is nothing strange in his making mention only of the former, under which, however, he includes also the latter. ‘Lord, support not only my heart by faith, lest I be overwhelmed with temptation, but grant me also freedom of speech, that I may fearlessly sound forth thy praises among men.’ We observe, when he asks to be endued with boldness of speech, that he begins with the heart.” John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Psalm 119.43-45

Pray Psalm 119.43-48
Pray that God will increase in you love for His Word and delight in reading, studying, and obeying it. Pray also that this will enable you to become a more consistent witness for the Lord.

Sing Psalm 119.43-46.
(Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
Let my words be Your words, Lord; strengthen me to keep Your Law.
All my hope is in Your Word, and I seek Your precepts all.
I will ever keep Your Word, for I trust in You, O Lord! 

Lord, take not Your Word from me, for I trust it day by day.
I will walk in liberty as Your precepts I obey.
Let me speak Your truth, O Lord, for I hope in all Your Word.

To Your Law I lift my hands to embrace and hold it dear.
In Your truth my glad heart stands, knowing You are ever near.
I will meditate, O Lord, on Your statutes and Your Word.

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 Ground for Christian Ethics, on the other hand, explains why the Law matters and how we are to use it. You can order free copies of each of these here and here.

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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.
Books by T. M. Moore

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