I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
Psalm 119:89-104 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
89 The Lord exists forever;
your word is firmly fixed in heaven.
90 Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
91 By your appointment they stand today,
for all things are your servants.
92 If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my misery.
93 I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have given me life.
94 I am yours; save me,
for I have sought your precepts.
95 The wicked lie in wait to destroy me,
but I consider your decrees.
96 I have seen a limit to all perfection,
but your commandment is exceedingly broad.
97 Oh, how I love your law!
It is my meditation all day long.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is always with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your decrees are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
102 I do not turn away from your ordinances,
for you have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Psalm 119 has 176 verses making it the longest psalm as well as the longest chapter in the Bible.
Psalm 119 is one of several acrostic poems found in the Bible. Its 176 verses are divided into 22 stanzas, one for each of the 22 characters that make up the Hebrew alphabet. In the Hebrew text, each of the eight verses of each stanza begins with the same Hebrew letter. You will probably notice in your translation that each of the 22 sections of 8 verses is subheaded with the name of a letter in the Hebrew alphabet and most printed editions show the Hebrew letters also.
In most of the verses of this psalm the writer uses a synonym for Torah, the first five books of the Bible—words like law, word, precepts, ordinances, decrees, and commandment. The psalm is an extended prayer with an elaborate structure. The psalmist is both praising and making a commitment to the teachings found in the Torah.
The psalmist declares, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (vs. 103)
Around the twelfth century a custom developed in Germany when a child was brought to Hebrew school for the first time. Here is part of the description written in the thirteenth century by R. Eleazar of Worms (1160-1230): “They bring the slate upon which is written alef, bet, gimel, dalet, tav, shin, resh, kuf [the Hebrew alphabet both forwards and backwards]…And the rabbi reads every letter of the alef-bet and the child repeats after him…And the rabbi puts a little honey on the slate and the child licks the honey from the letters with his tongue. And then they bring the honey cake upon which is inscribed “The Lord God gave me a skilled tongue to know…” (Isaiah 50: 4-5), and the rabbi reads every word of these verses and the child repeats after him. And then they bring a peeled hard-boiled egg upon which is written “Mortal, feed your stomach and fill your belly with this scroll… and I ate it and it tasted as sweet as honey to me” (Ezekiel 3:3). And the rabbi reads every word and the child repeats after him. And they feed the child the cake and the egg, for they open the mind…” (David Golinkin, “Torah is as Sweet as Honey,” The Jerusalem Post, May 22, 2007, https://www.jpost.com/jewish-world/judaism/torah-is-as-sweet-as-honey)
What an impressive, multi-sensory way to put in the child’s mind that the words of Torah are as sweet as honey!
Are you tasting the words of life found in both the Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament?
There is a lot of theology woven in to hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “Wonderful Words of Life”. I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul. Listen to this hymn on SoundCloud.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster