Loving the Book

Bible Reading: Psalm 119

Soon after Laura and I were married we began attending the newly formed St. Helens Community Bible Church in St. Helens, Oregon. One of my co-workers at Trojan Nuclear Plant, Max Snook, was the pastor. Anyone who knows Max knows him to be a man possessing an exceptional devotion to knowing the Word and growing in it. He’s been contagious in that, discipling others who have grown to love the Word just as he does. Max began that ministry at St. Helens Community Bible Church by preaching a series through Psalm 119–one eight verse stanza each Sunday–for he wanted the church to be well founded in its commitment to living according to the truth. That was almost forty years ago, and Pastor Max is still faithfully preaching the Word at that church! Praise the Lord!

Psalm 119 is an amazing work of literature!  There’s a beauty in its structure that we can’t easily see in our English bibles. You may have noticed in your Bible that there’s a Hebrew word preceding each of the eight-verse stanzas.  Those words represent Hebrew letters.  There are twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and this psalm contains twenty-two stanzas of eight verses each.  Each of the twenty-two stanzas is given a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and each line in that stanza begins with that Hebrew letter!  Imagine how difficult it would be to replicate that! 

It would be good for any of us to be more devoted to the Word, but how do we do that?  This Psalm is a prayer expressing awe and adoration of God for His Word!  The Psalmist loves the Word because He loves God.  He understands how the Word can bring blessing to his life in so many ways.  Because He loves God, and loves the Word, he prays that his heart and life will be increasingly aligned to the truth.  In prayer he wrestles with the truths that he already knows that they might be increasingly embedded in his innermost being. 

David Powlison has commented on this: “In other words, Psalm 119 is personal prayer. It’s talking to, not teaching about. We hear what a man says out loud in God’s presence: his joyous pleasure, vocal need, open adoration, blunt requests, candid assertions, deep struggles, fiercely good intentions…we overhear the honest words erupting when what God says gets into you. We hear someone speaking to the God who speaks, someone who needs the God who speaks, someone who loves the God who speaks. It’s not thinking about a topic; it’s getting down to business.” 

There’s so much in this Psalm and it would be impossible for us here to even survey it all.  But since we’ve adopted Psalm 119:18 as our memory verse for the month, let’s take a moment to consider it.  “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law” is a prayer.  It is a good prayer for any of us at any time, but it’s especially appropriate as we approach the Word in reading or study.  The prayer humbly acknowledges our dependence on the Spirit if our hearts and lives are to be fully aligned to the truth.  As Adrian Rogers once said, “It took a supernatural miracle to reveal it; it took a supernatural miracle to write it; and it’ll take a supernatural miracle for you to understand it.”  The prayer also acknowledges that there are wonderful things to behold in God’s Word.  God is an awesome God!  Jesus is a wonderful Savior!  The gospel is a glorious gospel!  In Jesus, we possess unfathomable riches!  The Holy Spirit works through the Word to open our eyes to all the awe-inspiring realities bound up in the infinitude of our great God!

The Holy Scriptures tell us what we could never learn any other way: they tell us what we are, who we are, how we got here, why we are here and what we are required to do while we remain here.

A. W. Tozer


Open my eyes that I may see
glimpses of truth thou hast for me.
Place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my ears that I may hear
voices of truth thou sendest clear,
and while the wave notes fall on my ear,
ev’rything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my mouth and let me bear
gladly the warm truth ev’rywhere.
Open my heart and let me prepare
love with thy children thus to share.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my mouth, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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