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Introduction to the month of February – Aleph (1): Torah

Psalm 119 is special in several ways.

It is the longest chapter in the Bible, containing 176 verses. How often we like to joke about its length! All joking aside, we readily admit this chapter in the book of Psalms is a treasure trove in itself. It is a song in honor and praise of God’s Word, the law.

Psalm 119 is also an acrostic. That means each section or stanza in this psalm starts with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Since there are 22 letters, there are 22 stanzas, each containing eight verses. Even more amazing, each of the eight verses within a stanza begins with that same letter! Psalm 119 is an alphabet of prayers and praise about God’s Word. It is made clear in our English translation when each section is headed by the next Hebrew letter spelled out: Aleph, Beth, Gimel, Daleth, etc. Believe it or not, the purpose for this acrostic was to aid memorization! Memorizing, in turn, allows a person to meditate on God’s Word.

As there are 29 days in February this year, we hope to cover each section day by day, dividing some up to bring us to the total of 29 devotions. My prayer is that through this month we, as God’s covenant children, will all the more come to appreciate, value and love the wonderful truths of God’s law for our lives.

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“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!” – Psalm 119:1

Scripture reading: Psalm 19

Psalm 119 is about the Torah, which means “teaching” or “directing”. In verse 1 it is “the law.” The Bible is not merely given for our knowledge and interest, but also for our instruction and obedience. James 1:25 says, “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” In the remaining 175 verses (except for five) we find the term torah or one of seven synonyms. In almost every stanza, each having eight verses, these eight different words for law are found.

The acrostic form (see introduction) and the use of these eight torah words throughout the Psalm form the framework for an elaborate prayer. The chief aim of the psalmist is to ask God to fill his heart with a love for His law, to fill his mind with the truth of its instruction and to help him so he delightfully obeys it to the glory of God his Saviour.

One tradition states that King David used this psalm to teach his young son Solomon the alphabet. If true, that was very clever of Dad! For then father David could also teach his son the alphabet of spiritual life! His son could learn the abc’s of daily prayer too, living for, and obedience of his heavenly Father. His son could come to know the God Who saves and delivers His people from the slavery of sin so that they may freely live for Him!

Suggestions for prayer

Ask God to fill your heart with a love for His law, to fill your mind with the truth of its instruction and to help you so that you delightfully obey God Who has saved you from your sins.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada.


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