Daily Devotional

August 14, 2020

Daybreak: Psalm 119:89-136

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” (Psalm 119:130)

While visiting a small town on the picturesque Southern Oregon Coast, my wife and I decided to travel a different road back over the mountains to our home. Though the coastline offers many gorgeous scenic vistas, the high country has its own type of beauty, and enjoying the scenery and the fresh mountain air in that area seemed like a nice way to conclude our trip. We knew it would be necessary to get proper directions, so we stopped to speak to an elderly gentleman who we supposed to be a resident of the area.

When we asked about the road which winds through a rugged river canyon and up over a mountain pass, we were surprised by his reply. That route was one to be avoided, he warned us — it was a very problematic stretch to traverse. He stated we should not even think about attempting it without a four-wheel drive vehicle with plenty of clearance underneath. His reason was that part way up the canyon we would have to cross the river at a point where no bridge existed. By that time my wife and I were envisioning getting stuck in the river, maybe having to swim out…and then what? As the man went on painting a grim picture of the road, though, he made a statement that really caught our attention: he had never traveled through the area himself. His information was based solely on what had been told him by someone else!

Thanking him politely, we decided to go where we could find someone who had traveled that road and was personally familiar with the area — the local sheriff’s office. The information we received there was completely different! The deputy gave us good directions and informed us that even though the road had many curves, it was well-maintained and had much to offer the traveler. We were encouraged to enjoy our trip. This source of information was one of authority: he had driven that road many times and knew everything about it.

Maintaining a correct spiritual course can be only as effective as the source from which we get our directions. We should not be alarmed by the negative viewpoints of those who have never followed God’s way. Rather, we must look to the ultimate directional resource: the Word of God. 

In our key verse, the psalmist stated, “The entrance of [unfolding or exposition of] thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple [those who are teachable].” The Bible’s pages are filled with numerous examples of those who successfully traveled the road to the “high country” of God’s will and blessing. We can do the same, as we rely upon the Word for guidance, and apply its precepts to our daily tasks and concerns.

Background

Psalm 119, Stanzas 12-17

These six stanzas continue in the same pattern as the previous stanzas of Psalm 119; they contain eight verses each, are titled with consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and carry the theme of appreciation for and reliance upon God’s Law. The titles in this third section are Lamed, Mem, Nun, Samech, Ain, and Pe.

In the stanza titled Lamed, the focus is the unchanging permanence of God’s Word. The psalmist recounted that he had found earthly perfection was limited, but God’s Word knows no bounds. It will last forever because just as God established the earth and caused it to remain, He has appointed His Word to do the same.

Mem addresses how God’s Law imparts wisdom and understanding to the obedient. The key point is that more spiritual insight will be gained from it than from instruction by others, however brilliant it may be. The psalmist pointed out that knowing the Word of God restrained him from “every evil way.” 

In the stanza titled Nun, the psalmist focused on the concept that the Word is light. Though surrounded by bleak circumstances, he determined to keep God’s Law. The psalmist may have been in exile and unable to make a physical sacrifice when these words were written.

Samech is a comparison of the way of life to the way of death. In it, the psalmist demonstrated that God is a refuge for those who love His Law and are obedient to it. The statement that God has “trodden down” the wicked (verse 118) literally means He caused them to be “set at nought” or “come to nothing.”

In the stanza titled Ain, the psalmist testified to his loyalty to God’s Word, though surrounded by oppression and tribulation. He pleaded with God to take action against those who ignored His Law, but said he would submit to His will no matter the outcome. 

The concluding stanza of this section of text, titled Pe, highlights freedom in the light of the Law. The psalmist thirsted after God’s Law, and asked God to help him keep the Law by guiding him, shielding him from temptation, delivering him, and blessing him. Verse 132 is one of only two verses in Psalm 119 that bears no reference to God’s Law. In it, the author asked God to answer his prayers as had been done for others in the past. 

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I.    Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II.    Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III.    Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV.    Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V.    Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
    A. Psalm 119 
        12. Lamed (119:89-96)
        13. Mem (119:97-104)
        14. Nun (119:105-112)
        15. Samech (119:113-120)
        16. Ain (119:121-128)
        17. Pe (119:129-136)

A Closer Look

  1. According to the stanza titled Mem, the psalmist studied and applied God’s Law to gain wisdom and understanding. How does the act of obeying God’s Law make one wiser?
     
  2. In the stanza titled Samech, what did the psalmist say God was to him? 
     
  3. Like the psalmist, we need the desire and understanding to apply Scripture to our own lives. What are some principles related to Bible study that can help us in that quest?

Conclusion

The Bible is our source of direction, but it can only guide us if we know what it says and obey it. The psalmist received guidance through reading, obeying, and meditating on God’s Word. If we follow his example, we will reach our goal.

Reference Materials