Psalm 119 & The Importance of God's Word
Have you ever wondered what the longest chapter in the Bible is? The answer is: Psalm 119. Find out what this Old Testament passage says and why it contains important instructions for both Jew and Christian alike, with a little help from GotQuestions.org.
Chapter and Verse Divisions in the Bible
Before diving into Psalm 119, it is helpful to understand who divided the Bible up into sections and why it was done.
GotQuestions.org gives us more insight behind why this was done:
Question: "Who divided the Bible into chapters and verses? Why and when was it done?"
Answer: "The Hebrew Old Testament was divided into verses by a Jewish rabbi by the name of Nathan in A.D. 1448. Robert Estienne, who was also known as Stephanus, was the first to divide the New Testament into standard numbered verses, in 1555. Stephanus essentially used Nathan's verse divisions for the Old Testament. Since that time, beginning with the Geneva Bible, the chapter and verse divisions employed by Stephanus have been accepted into nearly all the Bible versions.
When the books of the Bible were originally written, they did not contain chapter or verse references. The Bible was divided into chapters and verses to help us find Scriptures more quickly and easily."
Psalm 119 is not only the longest Chapter in the Bible, but it is also referenced as the "Center of the Bible."
Psalm 119 is referred in Hebrew by its opening words: Ashrei temimei derech, which mean "happy are those whose way is perfect".
Wikipedia tells us some key literary features about Psalm 119: "This psalm is one of about a dozen alphabetic acrostic poems in the Bible. Its 176 verses are divided into twenty-two stanzas, one stanza for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet; within each stanza, each of the eight verses begins (in Hebrew) with that letter. The name of God (Yahweh/Jehovah) appears twenty-four times."
The contents of Psalm 119 shares all of the following:
- What the Word of God is.
- What the Word of God does for us and to us.
- How we should walk in light of God's Word.
- The benefits of knowing God's Word.
- The fruit of walking in the Truth of God's Word.
If you notice above, all of the points share one major thing in common: They all emphasize the importance of God's Word, otherwise known as the Bible.
What and Who is the Word?
Understanding that Psalm 119 emphasizes the benefits of immersing ourselves in God's Word, lets take a look at what (and who) God's Word refers to.
John 1:1 says: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
That is very interesting. Particularly because in John 1:1, the Word is not just a book (or the Bible) as we know it today. The Word was God.
GotQuestions.org elaborates on this concept further:
"By starting out his gospel stating, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,' John is introducing Jesus with a word or a term that both his Jewish and Gentile readers would have been familiar with. The Greek word translated 'Word' in this passage is Logos, and it was common in both Greek philosophy and Jewish thought of that day. For example, in the Old Testament the 'word' of God is often personified as an instrument for the execution of God’s will (Psalm 33:6; 107:20; 119:89; 147:15-18). So, for his Jewish readers, by introducing Jesus as the 'Word,' John is in a sense pointing them back to the Old Testament where the Logos or 'Word' of God is associated with the personification of God’s revelation. And in Greek philosophy, the term Logos was used to describe the intermediate agency by which God created material things and communicated with them. In the Greek worldview, the Logos was thought of as a bridge between the transcendent God and the material universe. Therefore, for his Greek readers the use of the term Logos would have likely brought forth the idea of a mediating principle between God and the world."
So what we actually find out is that while we recognize "The Word of God" as the Bible today, Jesus was the Word as well, which further confirms the New Testament as God's Word as well.
After all, the Bible as a whole is: God's Plan for God's People.
The entire Old Testament points forward to a Savior (Jesus). The New Testament shares the Good news of salvation and the new covenant for believers after Jesus' crucifixion on the cross, and of things yet to come in future times.
If you seek God in the Bible, and through prayer, he will reveal Himself to you.