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God's longest poem (part 2)

 Psalm 119 is like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Here is the second morsel of truth we should all be chewing on.

2) God’s word is the path to happiness and blessing – Walking in God’s way brings life –

  • In verse 35 he says "Make me walk along the path of your commands for that is where my happiness is found"

Our culture cannot be blamed for seeing God as a kill-joy because  that is often how Christians present him. Too many of us live like God is the God of "Thou Shalt Not" But this is really only part of who God is.  "Thou Shalt Not" is not how the story begins. God makes the first man and the first woman in Genesis 1:26-28 and the first thing he does to them is BLESS them.

God is a God of blessing. He is life and he gives life. He knows how human beings were designed to work. He gives us his word as a way to help us stay alive. We should see that his word is a gift to us like two rails are a gift to a locomotive. Walking in his ways is the way to happiness. But the lie our culture has been stumbling over is the lie that God is a kill-joy and happiness is found elsewhere in, food, drink, success, popularity, vacations, in... you name it.

But God's word actually provides the rails that keep us from crashing and burning. Human beings need a track to run on.

photo by Roxanne Alley on Flickr

All of the political regimes over the history of the world have been offering tracks for people to adopt. Yet, God's word is clear. Any track we lay that is not securely founded on God's word will result in destruction. The end destination God offers you is eternal joy in the presence of your creator and redeemer. It is not by accident that Jesus says "I am the way (the track), the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me." (John 14:6)

But like our first parents though we often believe just the opposite to be true. We believe God's ways will be the death of us. We think they will leave us depressed or bored or both. Nothing could be further from the truth. God's commands offers us life. Psalm 119 offers us this important reminder.  

When we follow God's tracks with our money we are generous with others and we care for the poor. This protects us from being smug and prideful. It also gives us something more to live for than our own comfort and pleasure.

When we follow God's tracks in our sex lives it protects us from broken hearts, broken trust and more.

When we follow God's tracks with our neighbors we love them and spend time getting to know them. This creates a neighborhood of friendliness and fun instead of a scary place where we are always watching our back. When we love our neighbor as ourselves it protects us from the loneliness of isolation.

When Moses brought God's word to the people of Israel he told them "Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!" (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Posted by Rich McCaskill with
in Psalms

God's longest poem

The Guiness World Record for the largest all-you-can-eat buffet was once held by Alka Seltzer. It has since been surpassed. Their 510 item spread was presented at the Las Vegas Hilton. It was as if they were advertising, "Come eat our food, we guarantee it will make you sick."

I think I would prefer to eat at Les Grandes Buffet in Narbonne, France.

photo by Bernd Zimmerman on Flickr

 In an article for Civilian Global, Nick Harman writes about Les Grands,

"you stand and stare in amazement: there are rooms and rooms of food, all very, very big, with little islands of excess in the centres. Each is surrounded by hundreds of people in a lather of indecision. Every so often someone takes a frantic run at the food, as if it all might disappear any second, which seems possible as it’s all so dreamlike.
...the desserts beggared belief – there were over a hundred to choose from around the Chocolate Fountain ...how enormous and how wonderful the cheese section was. Let’s just say that I think every single cheese in France was represented in perfect condition, and that I still think about it wistfully in the small hours of the night."

Psalm 119 is like this.  If you take the time to read it. It goes on and on with truth about us, truth about God and prayers that help us get real. Bursting with 176 verses, all arranged as an acrostic poem spanning the entire Hebrew alphabet, it reminds me very much of a huge all-you-can-eat buffet. Pull up a chair. Get out your fork. Because this is an extravagant display of soul-food that beats my mother's fried chicken. While there is no way to digest all of it at once, there are still a 5 take-aways none of us should miss. Here is a buffet you can eat and not get sick!

1) Biblical faith is about being real before God

Listen to verse 81-88 that all begin with the Hebrew letter Kaph

  • "I am worn out waiting for your rescue,
        but I have put my hope in your word.
     My eyes are straining to see your promises come true.
        When will you comfort me?
     I am shriveled like a wineskin in the smoke,
        but I have not forgotten to obey your decrees.
     How long must I wait?
        When will you punish those who persecute me?
     These arrogant people who hate your instructions
        have dug deep pits to trap me.
     All your commands are trustworthy.
        Protect me from those who hunt me down without cause.
     They almost finished me off,
        but I refused to abandon your commandments.
     In your unfailing love, spare my life;
        then I can continue to obey your laws."

Do you hear how raw and real this is?

In verse 39 he prays

  • "Help me abandon my shameful ways"

And in verse 43 he prays

  • "Do not snatch your word of truth from me, for your regulations are my only hope"

This is a person who is praying real prayers to a real God who can handle it. He is not performing or putting on a show. He is laying out his needs and his fears (even though they are sometimes shameful and irrational) because he knows God can handle his honesty.

You can see this same realness in the New testament when a dad comes asking Jesus to help his sick son. He cries out, "Lord I believe, help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24) By the way, his son is still healed even though he is this raw before Jesus. God is not into our performance. He is into our honesty.

That is the first morsel of soul-food Psalm 119 offers us. Having a Biblical faith means having a real and raw and unpretentious relationship with God. The other four will be posted later. Click Here for the second one.

Where else do you see this theme in Scripture or in Psalm 119?


Posted by Rich McCaskill with