The Joy of My Heart
“Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart” (Psalm 119:111).
Is your time in God’s Word is marked by joy and delight? Let me encourage you as we enter this new year to read and meditate on Psalm 119. I have found this psalm to be personally transformative in growing in love for God’s Word during my own personal study over the years.
Psalm 119 is unlike other psalms. As a psalm of praise about the Word of God, it is the longest psalm, the longest prayer, and the longest chapter in the Bible. It’s about equal in length to Ruth, the book of Philippians, or the epistle of James.
This psalm is unique in that it is an alphabetic acrostic, built on the 22 characters of the Hebrew alphabet. From the beginning to the end of the Hebrew alphabet, Psalm 119 is an exhaustive celebration of God’s Word. The poetic structure displays the literary artistry of the psalmist, and the beauty and complexity of the authorship that God has inspired. And the content of the psalm praises God for the wisdom, beauty, and goodness of His Word.
It’s not definitively known who authored the psalm, but many believe it was written by King David. It’s also worth noting how Psalm 119 echoes Psalm 19 from 100 psalms earlier, which displays the intentionality of its location in the psalter — after the announcement of God’s salvation in Psalm 118 and in preparation for the worshipful songs of ascent (Psalms 120–134).
As you read Psalm 119, let me encourage you to make it your own prayer. So much of it helps to orient our hearts as we begin to open the Scriptures:
- “Let me not wander from your commandments” (v.10b)
- “Teach me your statutes” (v.12b)
- “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (v.18)
- “Strengthen me according to your word” (v.28b)
- “Incline my heart toward your testimonies, and not to selfish gain” (v.36)
Read Psalm 119, meditate on it, memorize it, make it your prayer, and let it soak into your soul. The richness of this psalm can shape how you see God’s Word, your motivations to read God’s Word, how to approach God’s Word, how to enjoy God’s Word, encourage faith in God’s Word, grow your affections toward God’s Word, and so much more. And as we do so, we grow in faith and love for God.
Last, if you are planning to read through the Bible this year, let me encourage you to read this blog post by Justin Taylor. And if you're not planning to read through the Bible this year, read this blog post by Garret Kell. Finally, if you're looking for a devotional, I encourage you to consider the New City Catechism as a discipleship tool for yourself and/or your family.
“Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart” (v. 111). May abiding in God’s Word be a great joy throughout this new year!