Psalm 119: An Unexpected Love Song
When I think of the great love songs of all time, I can hear odes and verses directed towards love interests, babies, families, and God. But never before had I thought of a group of instructions as the object of passionate interest.
I mean, who would musically pine after and long for an owner's manual or an atlas? It sounds more like a musical number for a sketch comedy show than a true ode.
Yet that is exactly what Psalm 119 is and does. All but two verses one of 12 different words referencing God's directions, each one appearing anywhere between four and 25 times. That adds up to just under 200 mentions of God's guidance and instruction in just this one chapter. These 'rule words' are mentioned in conjunction with feelings like longing, love, comfort, soul-clinging, melting and delight.
And this is no small love song, 176 verses to be exact. We are talking about what is by far the longest chapter in the Bible, about twice as along as the books of 2 John, 3, John and Jude combined. 22 stanzas, each with 8 phrases! Can you imagine singing a 22 verse hymn in church... about an atlas?
I'll tell you who would get passionate about directions: people who are lost, or more accurately, people who are deeply aware of just how lost they are. Who would get more passionate? Those who are lost in the wilderness and who rely on the proper directions for their very life! And that is exactly what we are without God' guidance.
God's words our very life and sustenance! Even beyond this, God's will for us is the exact same thing as God's best for us. Why would we want to settle for anything less?
"If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my misery." (Psalm 119:92, NRSV)