Make God’s law our concern “all day long” and become “wiser than [our] enemies,” “more insight[ful] than all [our] teachers,” and “with more understanding than older men.” (Psalm 119:97-100)
Or at least they’ll stop mopping the floor with us.
Those verses are probably my favorites from Psalm 119; there are 176 to choose from. The odd thing is, just two psalms before is Psalm 117, with only 2 verses. Is it only me who wonders why bother to write a psalm at all if it will only run two verses—especially when big brother shows up just two psalms later to drown you with his 176?
You have to admit, it’s a draw to think you might become wiser than enemies, teachers, and older men through application of Bible principles:
(98) Wiser than my enemies your commandment makes me, Because to time indefinite it is mine.
(99) More insight than all my teachers I have come to have, Because your reminders are a concern to me.
(100) With more understanding than older men I behave, Because I have observed your own orders.
As for other verses, it’s probably worth, for those aggravating nights of insomnia or when you wake after 2-3 hours and can’t get back to sleep, posting something like this on your wall:
(vs 62) “At midnight I get up to give thanks to you for your righteous judicial decisions.”
It’s not a bad idea, is it? I mean, I don’t wake up purposefully for that object, but if I do wake up, I might as well do that as anything else.
Another fine runner up in the very long psalm is verse 165: “Abundant peace belongs to those loving your law, And for them there is no stumbling block.” It reminds me of how my father-in-law would say, “People have let me down, but Jehovah has never let me down.”
Of course! As a Witness, you get a relationship with God and his Son. As a pure bonus, a freebie, God throws in a united brotherhood—a network of believers the world over, numbering in the millions. Anyone would be crazy to let that slip by. But you’d also be crazy to put all your trust in it. They’re people. People can let you down.
It is God’s “law” that brings the abundant peace. That way, if the people ever mess you up, you’re still good. God’s “law’ will do that, along with the closely related terms that comprise the theme of Psalm 119: his reminders (mentioned 22 times), orders (20), regulations (21), commandments (20), and judicial decisions (21). Immerse yourself in those things and it serves you well.
The long psalm has a unique construction. Divide the total number of verses (176) by 22 (the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet) to get 8. Accordingly, the psalm is usually displayed in stanzas of 8. The first 8 verses begin with (rendering this as though English, to make it easier) ‘A’, the second 8 verses each begin with ‘B’, the third 8, ‘C’, and so forth. It is said to be a memory aid, though it would take a lot more than that for me to memorize this monster.
Honorable mentions for winner verses—not that any of them are dogs, but it sort of depends upon your circumstances and mood at the time—would include 65: “You have dealt well indeed with your servant, O Jehovah, according to your word.” This would be in accord with a mindset of counting blessings, see the glass as half full rather than half empty, and so forth. It is healthier when you can look at life that way. One counselor said that even if your reason tells you it isn’t that way at the moment, it still benefits you if you can see the glass as half full.
Somewhat related is verse 71: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, In order that I may learn your regulations.” This verse is in the theme of pulling victory from defeat. You wouldn’t choose ‘affliction,’ but when such a period abates, hopefully you can come out of it with a renewed appreciation for life. Or, if not appreciation, at least better adjusted. If you come out of it with only bitterness, you tend to hurt only yourself.
There are people who have seen plenty of affliction. It resets their attitude. A friend who has spent time in developing countries now says she would be ill-suited for her former customer rep job in the West. It would be too much for her not to say, “I don’t care, you spoiled rich person!”
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