A Transformed Life (Psalm 119)
Psalm 119:11 (NASB) Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, 176 verses. Psalm 119 is longer than some entire books of the Bible, yet curiously it was written to be memorized. It’s divided into twenty-two stanzas of eight verses each, following the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. To put it simply, every verse in the first stanza begins with the Hebrew equivalent of the English letter A, and so on until we come to the last stanza (vv. 169-176), which ends with the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This served as a built-in memory device to enable Hebrew children to learn the whole passage by heart.
Additionally, nearly every verse of Psalm 119 deals with the Word of God.
Psalm 119:11 promises that if we hide God’s Word in our hearts, it will slow the development of sin in our lives. All of us are tempted in different ways, but there are verses in the Bible to equip us to fight whatever temptation we face.
The second stanza of Psalm 119 begins with a wisdom question—How can a young man keep his way pure?—that resonates with the wisdom words of Ps. 73:13 and Prov. 20:9. Neither Psalm 73 nor Proverbs 20 provides an answer to the question. According to 119:9, the answer is: “by guarding the word of the LORD.”
When Jesus was tempted by the devil, He quoted memorized Scripture, giving us an example. If we’ll fill our minds with God’s Word, we’ll have the weapons needed to fend off the attacks of the evil one. God has put more than thirty-one thousand verses in this Book to help us withstand the temptations we face in life. It’s like having thirty-one thousand rounds of ammunition; and there’s no excuse for having your arsenal empty.
In old England, when psalms were sung instead of hymns, it took congregations quite a while to sing all the way through Psalm 119. According to one account, Rev. William Grimshaw of Haworth would sometimes announce the singing of Psalm 119 while he left the building and walked through the village looking for absentee worshipers. He had plenty of time to round up the slackers and herd them into church before the psalm was over; then he would preach to them. It was said absentees were more frightened of Grimshaw than of the justice of the peace.
When tempted by greed, find help in 1 Timothy 6.
When tempted to be anxious or depressed, Philippians 4 can rescue you.
When you feel lazy, bored, or lonely, verses in Romans 12 are at your disposal.
There are many such passages in our Bible to help us in the time of temptation. The more we know God’s word in our mind and heart, the more sensitive we become to circumstances that might cause us to sin.
Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.