*Pastor’s Note: The following is from one of Warren W. Wiersbe’s Bible outlines. Warren W. Wiersbe (May 16, 1929 – May 2, 2019) was an American Christian clergyman, Bible teacher, conference speaker and a prolific writer of Christian literature and theological works. Wiersbe is perhaps best known for his series of 50 books in the “BE” series: Be Real, Be Rich, Be Obedient, Be Mature, Be Joyful, etc., and other theological works. He pastored the Moody Church in Chicago (1971–1978) and succeeded Theodore Epp as director of the Back to the Bible radio ministry.
I believe he was one of the greatest men of God when it came to helping others understand the Bible and I have loved to follow his writings and teaching. I hope this will bless you in the way he broke this Psalm down for us.
This psalm is special in several ways. It is the longest psalm (176 verses), and it is an acrostic psalm, following the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In most editions of the Bible, the twenty-two sections of this psalm are headed by the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet (Aleph, Beth, Gimel, etc.). In the Hebrew Bible, each verse in a section begins with that Hebrew letter. For example, all the verses in the “aleph” section (vv. 1–8) begin with the Hebrew letter “aleph.” Look at the “teth” section (vv. 65–72) and start v. 67 with “Til” and v. 71 with “Tis,” and you will have each line starting with the English letter “T” (which is the same as the Hebrew “teth”). The Jews wrote in this fashion to help them memorize the Scriptures so they could meditate on God’s Word. We do not know who wrote this psalm, although the writer refers to himself many times. He was suffering for his love for God’s Law (vv. 22, 50–53, 95, 98, 115), yet he had determined to obey the Word regardless of the cost. All but five verses mention the Word of God in one way or another. The exceptions are vv. 84, 90, 121, 122, and 132. God is referred to in every verse. The number eight is stamped all over this psalm. Each section has eight verses; there are eight special names for God’s Word listed; there are eight symbols of the Word given; the believer has eight responsibilities to the Word. The word “eight” in Hebrew literally means “abundance, more than enough”; it is the number of new beginnings. It is as though the writer is saying, “God’s Word is enough. If you have the Scriptures, that is all you need for life and godliness.” Indeed the Bible points us to Christ: He is the Living Word about whom the written Word speaks. In one sense, Psalm 119 is an expansion of Psalm 19:7–11. Note the eight basic titles of the Bible in the first nine verses of the psalm: law of the Lord, testimonies, ways, precepts, statutes, commandments, judgments, and word. These are repeated many times throughout the psalm.
I What the Bible Is
- Water for cleansing (v. 9). This whole section (vv. 9–16) deals with victory over sin. Young people in particular need to learn to heed and hide the Word that they might overcome temptation. As you read the Word and meditate on it, it cleanses your inner being, just as water cleanses the body. See John 15:3 and Ephesians 5:25–27.
- Wealth and treasure (vv. 14, 72, 127, 162). Many people do not know the difference between prices and values. Your Bible may cost but a few dollars, but what a treasure it is. How would you feel if you lost God’s Word and could not replace it?
- A companion and friend (v. 24). The writer was a stranger (v. 19), rejected by the proud (v. 21) and by princes (v. 23), but he always had the Word to be his counselor. Read Proverbs 6:20–22.
- A song to sing (v. 54). Imagine making a song out of statutes—laws! Life is a pilgrimage; we are “tourists” and not residents. The songs of the world mean nothing to us, but God’s Word is a song to our hearts.
- Honey (v. 103). The sweetness of the Word is like honey to the taste. It is sad when the Christian must have the “honey” of this world to be satisfied. See Psalm 34:8 and Job 23:12.
- A lamp (vv. 105, 130). This is a dark world and the only dependable light is the Word of God (2 Peter 1:19–21). It leads us a step at a time, as we walk in obedience. 1 John 1:5–10 tells us we walk in the light as we obey His Word.
- Great spoil (v. 162). Poor soldiers were made rich from the spoil left by the defeated enemy. The riches of the Word do not come easy; there must first be that spiritual battle against Satan and the flesh. But it is worth it. Read Luke 11:14–23.
- A heritage (v. 111). What a precious inheritance is the Bible! And think of those who had to suffer and die that we might have this inheritance.
II What the Bible Does
- It blesses (vv. 1–2). It is the book with a blessing (Psalm 1:1–3). We are blessed in reading the Word, understanding the Word, and obeying the Word. We are also blessed when we share the Word with others.
- It gives life (vv. 25, 37, 40, 50, 88, 93). “Quicken” means “to give life.” The Word gives us eternal life when we believe (1 Peter 1:23). It is the living Word (Hebrews 4:12). But the Word also quickens us when we are weak, discouraged, and defeated. Revival comes when we yield to God’s Word.
- It gives strength (v. 28). Trusting the Word encourages us (Matthew 4:4). God’s Word has power (Hebrews 4:12) and can empower us when we believe and obey.
- It gives liberty (v. 45). A law that gives liberty—what a paradox! Sin would have dominion over us (v. 133), but the Word sets us free (John 8:32). True liberty comes in obeying God’s will. His Word is “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25).
- It imparts wisdom (vv. 66, 97–104). We may get knowledge and facts in other books, but true spiritual wisdom is found in the Bible. Note in vv. 97–104 that there are various ways to discover truth—from your enemies, from your teachers, from your older friends—and all of these are good. But above them all is a knowledge of the Bible. Teachers may know from books, and elders may know from experience (both deserving respect), but these without the Bible are not sufficient.
- It creates friends (v. 63). Knowing and obeying the Bible will bring into your life the very finest friends. Those who love God’s Word are friends indeed. There are false friends who may dazzle you with their worldly wisdom and wealth, but their friendship will lead you astray. Stick with those who “stick” with the Bible (v. 31).
- It gives comfort (vv. 50, 76, 82, 92). More than sixty verses in this psalm mention trial and persecution (vv. 22, 50–53, 95, 98, 115, etc.). The believer who obeys the Word will have trials in this world, but the Bible gives him lasting comfort. The Comforter, the Spirit of God, takes the Word of God and applies it to our hearts to comfort us.
- It gives direction (v. 133). The Christian life is a “walk,” a day at a time and a step at a time (vv. 1, 3, 45). The Word directs our steps, both for walking and for running (v. 32). Note the prayers in vv. 35 and 116–117. As we pray for guidance, the Lord answers through His Word.
III What We Must Do with the Bible
- Love it (vv. 97, 159). The way you treat your Bible is the way you treat Christ. To love Him is to love His Word. The Word is a delight (vv. 16, 24, 16, 35, 47, 70) and not a disappointment; we rejoice to read it (vv. 14, 162).
- Prize it (vv. 72, 128). To hold the Bible in high esteem is the mark of a true saint. It should be more precious to us than any earthly treasure.
- Study it (vv. 7, 12, 18, 26–27). At least twelve times the psalmist prays, “Teach me.” The Christian who daily studies his Bible will be blessed of God. Bible study is not always easy, for it takes the “whole heart” (vv. 2, 10, 34, 69, 145).
- Memorize it (v. 11). “The best Book, in the best place, for the best purpose!” is the way Campbell Morgan explained this verse. All ages need to memorize the Word, not children and young people alone. Joshua was not a youth when God commanded him to memorize the Law (Joshua 1:8). Jesus was able to quote Scripture when He faced Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1–11).
- Meditate on it (vv. 15, 23, 48, 78, 97, 99, 148). Meditation is to the soul what digestion is to the body. To meditate means to “turn over” God’s Word in the mind and heart, to examine it, to compare Scripture with Scripture, to “feed on” its wonderful truths. In this day of noise and confusion, such meditation is rare but so needful. Meditation is impossible without memorization.
- Trust it (v. 42). We trust the Bible about everything, because it is right about everything (v. 128). It is true and can be trusted wholly. To argue with the Bible is to argue with God. We test every other book by what God says in His Word.
- Obey it (vv. 1–8). To keep the Word is to obey it, to walk in its commandments. Satan knows the Word, but he cannot obey it. If we know God’s truth and fail to obey it, we are only fooling ourselves.
- Declare it (vv. 13, 26). As we obey, we should also witness to others about the Word and tell them what the Lord has done for us.