I love a story. Whether on TV, in a book, or a film; I just love to lose myself in the tale. The Bible is full of stories but it also has history, poetry, prophecy, and teaching. When God breathed His words into ordinary men He used a variety of writing techniques. God enjoys words and uses literary devices like metaphors, “Your word is a lamp to my feet”, human characteristics, “God’s arm or hand”, and word plays; Jesus said, “You are Peter (small pebble), and on this rock (boulder-size) I will build My church.”
Today we begin a journey into the depths of Psalm 119. God chose a man to creatively write a poem using the Hebrew alphabet, an acrostic. This acrostic poem, which doesn’t rhyme, follows a divine pattern chosen by God Himself. He divided it into sections with eight verses and the first line begins with the sequential letter of the Hebrew alphabet. If you read Hebrew, you’re in good shape. Unfortunately, most people don’t read Hebrew therefore how can we appreciate this literary technique of God? My plan is to walk you through this Psalm and give you the Hebrew letter with it’s word-counterpart in English. Stay with me, we’ll begin next week with the first section. But for now, let’s continue to lay the groundwork.
Why do you suppose God may have chosen eight verses for each section (you may want to retrieve your Bible from the closet)? I submit that God not only likes words but He also enjoys numbers and they’re significant in the Bible. Let’s look briefly at the number eight (shemonah):
*In the beginning God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. The eighth day He formed mankind, Adam, out of the soil of the earth (adamah, another word play) and there was a new beginning. Eight signifies new beginnings.
*David was Jesse’s eighth son which was a new beginning for the monarchy of Israel and the bloodline of Messiah. When we come to Jesus, the Messiah, He offers us a new beginning in life.
Eight people were saved from the Flood: Noah and his wife, three sons and their wives. This family of eight would produce a new beginning for humanity.
*Circumcision is performed on the eighth day. It’s not by accident that this sign of the Covenant, a new spiritual beginning, was on the day when blood clotting reaches its peak in an infant’s life.
*Eight stringed instruments were heard as the Ark of the Covenant, God’s Presence, entered Jerusalem, a new beginning, and remained there until the Temple was built.
Ponder this: each section of this Psalm, divided into eight verses (I’ll call them octaves), begins a new thought depending on that
- first word
. I’ll give you those Hebrew to English words each week with a meditation on God’s focus as we travel through this longest chapter of the Bible together. Get your Bibles ready, you won’t want to miss a single week!