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The Scriptorium

By the Word Affected

May we be, too. Psalm 119.

Psalm 119.161-168

Pray Psalm 119.161, 162.
Princes persecute me without a cause,
But my heart stands in awe of Your word.
I rejoice at Your word
As one who finds great treasure.

Sing Psalm 119.161, 162.
(Hymn to Joy: Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee)
Lord, I take my stand with gladness on Your holy, righteous Word.
I rejoice as with great treasure in Your holy Law, O Lord.
Princes persecute me daily; without cause they seek my harm.
Yet I stand on Your Word squarely; hold me with Your mighty arm.

Read Psalm 119.161-168; meditate on verses 161, 162.

1. How did the psalmist feel about God’s Word?

2. To what did he liken the Word?

Throughout Psalm 119 we have commented on the various affections the psalmist mentions with respect to the Word of God. This ש(sin/shin) stanza is no exception, and it affords us an opportunity to reflect on the role of affections in the life of faith.

Jonathan Edwards wrote that “true religion, in great part, consists in holy affections” which “are no other, than the more vigorous and sensible exercises of the inclination and will of the soul” (A Treatise on Religious Affections). Affections are those deep sentiments of the heart, the values and priorities of the conscience, and the brightest and most illuminating thoughts of the mind which cause our souls to incline – to seek and desire certain things more than others – and our wills to choose in certain ways. We want to have “holy affections” operating in our soul so that we will always incline toward and will to be holy.

Our psalmist mentions several such holy affections with respect to God and His Word: awe (v. 161), rejoicing (v. 162), treasuring (v. 162), love (vv. 163, 165, 167), praise (v. 164), peace (v. 165), hope (v. 166), and diligence (vv. 166-168). Such affections are not natural to us, at least, not where God and His Word are concerned. We must cultivate these affections and focus them consistently on the Lord and His Word. Otherwise, our affections can become misguided, attach to other objects, and lead us away from God rather than to Him (2 Cor. 6.12).

How do we do this? By returning often to the Lord, listening and responding to Him as He speaks to us from His Word, and calling on Him to shape our soul to know, love, and serve Him. When we allow the Word thus to affect us, our affections will cling to the Lord and His Word, precisely as He intends.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Celtic Christians during the revival period of 430-800 AD claimed things from the world and used them for God’s glory. Rather than destroy or cancel things, they reused and repurposed them. I would like to do the same with Elizabeth Barret Browning’s poem entitled How Do I Love Thee? Imagine you are reciting this beautiful love poem to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (thus Thee is capitalized).

How Do I Love Thee?
Sonnet XLIII

How do I love Thee? Let me count the ways.
I love Thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love Thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love Thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love Thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love Thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love Thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love Thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love Thee better after death.

~Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806-1861

When we love God most of all, we will long to read about Him, share time with Him, talk with Him, learn what pleases Him, know what brings Him delight, and do the things that show Him that we love Him dearly.
He is, after all, our greatest treasure (Jn. 14.15; Eph. 2.10; Ex. 20.1-17; Jer. 15.16; Ps. 119.162). “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Lk. 12.34).

“How do we do this? By turning often to the Lord, listening and responding to Him as He speaks to us from His Word, and calling on Him to shape our soul to know, love, and serve Him. When we allow the Word thus to affect us, our affections will cling to the Lord and His Word, precisely as He intends.”

For reflection
1. How would you encourage a new believer to grow in love for the Lord and His Word?

2. The more you love the Lord and His Word, the more you will become like Jesus. Why is this so?

3. How can we keep negative and distracting affections in check?

We are to praise God even for afflictions; through grace we get good from them. Those that love the world have great vexation, for it does not answer what they expect; those that love God’s word have great peace, for it outdoes what they expect. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Psalm 119.161-165

Pray Psalm 119.163-168.
Use your time of prayer to inventory your affections where the Word of God is concerned. Talk with God plainly about how you feel about His Word, about reading and meditating in it, and about carrying it with you into every aspect of your life. Pray Browning’s poem to God.

Sing Psalm 119.163-168.
(Hymn to Joy: Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee)
Lord, I hate all sin and lying but I love Your holy Law.
All throughout the day I praise You, thanking You in joy and awe.
For Your judgments all are righteous; all who love Your Law have peace.
We shall never stumble as our faith and love for You increase.

Lord, I hope for Your salvation and I keep Your holy Word.
All Your precepts and commandments I love as I love You, Lord.
All my ways are spread before You; my soul keeps Your holy Word!
More than life itself I love You and Your Word, O righteous Lord.

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.
Books by T. M. Moore

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