Perhaps it’s not a bad exercise to see how many different ways we can sing God’s praise without repetition, deviation or hesitation… Psalm 119 seems to be the psalmist’s attempt.
I remember as a student, quite soon after becoming a Christian, putting off reading Jim Packer’s ‘Keep in Step with the Spirit’ because he advised reading Psalm 119 carefully, twice, before starting the book. Eventually I did realise that even if Psalm 119 looked a bit daunting, it was going to be much quicker to read that than even the first chapter of a pretty substantial book that would follow, so I did read the psalm – probably more quickly than I should, but it still started to sink in to me. The book was well worth reading as well!
Years later, Psalm 119 is a fairly regular part of my prayer and reading. The lectionary I use for ‘prayer during the day’ spreads it out a stanza at a time across 22 days of each month, with the following few psalms filling the last week or so of each month. I must admit that I prefer reading 8 verses at a time rather than 176, and I think I get more out of them as they remind me daily (-ish; I’m not quite so disciplined about daytime prayer as I am about morning and evening) of the wonders of God’s word.
After all, that’s what the whole poem is about – 22 acrostic stanzas finding one way after another to say how great the Bible is.
If you haven’t already done so, please read it today and tomorrow – then perhaps aim for your own eight verses to follow on. I may give that a try tomorrow myself…