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A Devo From Scot - Psalm 119

Dear Church,

This is the week. Christmas is just days away. You may be on the road today. You may still be working. You may be planning or preparing a big celebration. You may be planning a small and quiet one. No matter how, when, where or with whom you will be celebrating Christmas (or how many times), I want to take just a moment to engage your heart. I’m sure you’re aware that sometimes in seasons and holiday celebrations with lots of activity, your heart is sadly neglected. The nagging, belligerent whine of eyes and stomach have a way of drowning out the usually softer cry of the heart. I pray this week - starting now - is a week of heart songs, heart laughs, heart joys and heart thanks.

Let’s do something different today and try to set a little heart-plan for the next two weeks. Yes, from now until the last day of the year. I invite you to the longest psalm in the whole book, Psalm 119. It will be the perfect guide for you through Christmas and New Years Eve.

First, a little background. Psalm 119 is a masterful song based on a favorite ancient memory device that is hidden from English speakers. Every section (consisting of 8 verses each) begins with letters of the Hebrew alphabet in order. That means that the first word of verse 1 and verse 9 and verse 17, etc., begin, in Hebrew, with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Some of our English versions recall that letter as a heading to the eight verse section. This scheme was primarily a way to remember the song, but also celebrated “all” of God’s glory and faithfulness by attaching the song to the “full” complement of the basic components of language.

Second, as you’ll see, the theme of Psalm 119 is consistent and clear: God’s Word. The author uses several synonyms such as law, ordinances, decrees, testimonies, commandments, statutes and precepts. It is all about this simple revolutionary truth: God is a God of revelation. The Creator God, eternal Father and Source, has told us who He is and what He is like. He has spoken. He is not hiding from us. He has given us His Divine, inspired, perfect word. This song, even in its ancient Old Testament - pre-Christmas - context, celebrates God’s invasion of history with Himself.

So here's the plan. Beginning today, I invite you to read just 16 verses of Psalm 119. You can read it multiple times, but take your time. Then another sixteen verses - that’s two of the Hebrew letter sections - tomorrow. And so on. You will finish the psalm in this plan, on December 31, 2020. This way Psalm 119 will be a linking guide to your celebration of Christmas and transition to the new year. It will be a beautiful reminder of the centrality of God’s presence, God’s grace, God’s character and God’s Word.

“Establish my footsteps in Your word, and do not let any iniquity (sin) have dominion over me.” Psalm 119:133

What an amazing prayer for the close of a year and the start of a new one.

I love you church,

Scot

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