Welcome to His Encouragement Thursday!
This week I am going to continue my series on Psalm 119.
For those who may not know, Psalm 119 is broken down into 22 stanzas and each stanza begins with one letter from the Hebrew Alphabet. Each stanza is broken up into 8 verses for a total of 176 verses. It is the longest Psalm in the Psaltry. And, Psalm 119 is an example of an acrostic, which is a poem where the first letter of each verse spells out a word, message, or follows the alphabet. In this case, Psalm 119 follows the Hebrew Alphabet.
My goal with this series is not lofty. I am not an expert on Psalm 119. I just love its symmetry and message, and I want to share that with you over the next 22 weeks. Perhaps I will be able to share some insight, some interesting tidbits and facts, or just some thoughts on how the verses strike me. My true goal is that this series is an extra encouragement to you, and helps you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. I hope you enjoy and are blessed!
Psalm 119: 97-104
Mem (the letter M)
Oh how I love Your Law! It is my meditation all the day.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged, for I keep Your precepts.
I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep Your Word.
I do not turn aside from Your rules, for You have taught me.
How sweet are Your Words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
Psalm 119 is all about hearing and doing the Scriptures.
John 4 tells us the story of Jesus and a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well at noontime. In this brief story, Jesus has a dialogue with a seemingly insignificant woman about water. Two things stand out in this story. First, the woman asks Jesus, “Are you greater than our father, Jacob?” (John 4:12). Second, Jesus explains that He is the only source of Living Water that gives Eternal Life.
Wow! What a strange conversation to have at lunchtime!
Is Jesus greater than Jacob? The answer is, “YES!” We modern readers of the Bible have benefit of hindsight that this Samaritan woman did not have, so we know that Jesus is the Messiah. But how does Jesus respond to this question? He starts talking about water. The subtext between the lines is this: Yes, Jacob built this well and this well provides you with much-needed water. With this water you wash, cook, and drink. Jacob is a good father because he provided for your physical needs. BUT, the Water I give is Water that feeds your spiritual and eternal needs. After you drink from Jacob’s well, you are satiated for a moment, but after you drink My Water you will NEVER be thirsty again. The answer is clear — Jesus, and what He offers us, is greater than anything Jacob offered.
In excitement, this woman asks Jesus where she can get this amazing Water. Instead of giving directions, Jesus says, “Where is your husband?” Odd question, but it elicits the response that Jesus wants out of this woman. She says, “I don’t have a husband.” Jesus says, “Correct,” and then they discuss her sins. Then they discuss worship and salvation coming from the Jews. And then they discuss true worshipers of God in a future time. In awe, the woman calls Jesus Messiah, and He says, “YES!”
Why am I reminding you of this story in a post about the 13th stanza of Psalm 119? Because the 13th letter of the Hebrew alphabet that represents this stanza is mem. The letter mem stands for WATER and MESSIAH. According to Jewish commentary, Torah has always represented water, as in the WATER of LIFE. The mem is written in two ways: opened mem and closed mem. Jewish rabbis teach that an opened mem symbolizes the revealed Torah, the Bible that God gave to His people. The closed mem represents the Bible’s hidden secrets that are only revealed through the Messiah (Chabad.org). So, when Jewish people read this section of Psalm 119 and they see the mem at the start of each line, they automatically think about the water of life and the Messiah. Knowing this information makes what Jesus reveals in John 4 all the more amazing.
In John 4, Jesus is declaring that He is the mem the Jewish rabbis teach about. He is the mem they see every time they read Psalm 119: 97-104. He is the Word. He is the Living Water. He is the Bible. He is THE Messiah.
So, how does any of this matter as far as Psalm 119 goes? The psalmist is clearly Bible obsessed. He is a level of obsessed we should all strive for. The psalmist LOVES God’s Word and it is his life. He meditates on it ALL DAY LONG as if he were a thirsty man desiring to quench his thirst. He learns from it ALL DAY LONG. He has made it his teacher, which makes him better than any rabbi on earth because it means that God is his true teacher. This stanza illustrates a man LIVING on the WATER OF LIFE. The psalmist didn’t know the Name of Jesus when he wrote this psalm, but he knew that Salvation (which is the meaning of Jesus in Hebrew) and life comes from God’s Word.
If anything is learned from this Psalm 119 series I pray it is this — God’s Word is SO important it is our Living Water. Without it, we are sin, we are hungry and thirsty, and we are dead. With it, we are saved and nourished and quenched and alive.
NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN!
WHAT BIBLICAL VERSE IS ENCOURAGING YOU TODAY?
Check out more Thursday Encouragement from my fellow blogger friends:
Trisha @ Joy of Reading
Jacquelyn @ A Heavenly Home
Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective
Becca @ The Becca Files
Gina @ Stories by Gina
Rebecca @ Rev. Rebecca Writes
Andi @ Radiant Light
Leslie @ Words of Hope
Claudia @ Claudia Moser
Keneesha @ Women Loving God’s Way