Have you ever been invited to an epic feast? When I lived in the United Arab Emirates, I attended a lavish Emirati wedding as the plus one of my friend, Ellen. The wedding hall was filled with a thousand muslim women, celebrating with the bride, groom, and their families. Platters of appetizers, main dishes, and desserts covered the table all night long, making it clear: guests were invited to feast. It was an unforgettable experience.
Our bodies know a good feast, but do our souls? From Genesis to Revelation, God has spread out a marvelous meal for our souls to savor. From his very own mouth, God feeds us. By his breath he regenerates, renews, and sustains us. One day, we will enjoy a great feast at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
The feast of God’s Word
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. A friend of mine who copied each verse noted that it was quite repetitive. Did it really need to be that long if it’s saying the same things over and over? The answer is a resounding yes.
You see, the central theme of Psalm 119 is God’s Word. His laws, precepts, statutes, testimonies, commandments, and rules are treasured by the psalmist. It is his hope (v.81), salvation (v.123), life (v.107), his light (v.105), strength (v.28), portion (v.57) and delight (v.92) in a wicked and temporal world.
If you’re tempted to “just get through it,” I’m going to challenge you to change your vantage point. Psalm 119 isn’t simply repetitive journaling or an excessively long poem. It is the echo of a typical, average, normal believer’s innermost heart—what he loves and longs for, what motivates his obedience, what captivates his attention and sustains his hope—the very words of God.
It is through his Word we know how the dead are raised to life, how the weak become strong, how captives are set free, how the rejected become the accepted, how the wicked become righteous, and how we were made to enjoy God.
Psalm 119 is the appetizer that gets you ready for the feast that is the whole Bible. It should whet our appetites, preparing us to consider the height, breadth, and depth of God’s unmerited love to us in Christ throughout all of Scripture.
Why does a psalm about the Word of God need to be so long? Perhaps the answer is found at the end of John’s Gospel account as he writes, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” Considering all that could be said, Psalm 119 is actually not that long given the depth and awesomeness of its topic, God’s Word. It is actually abridged!
For God’s Word, his redemptive plan for fallen creation, the risen Christ and the mystery of the Church are so exhaustive, the world could not contain all that could be said. Psalm 119’s length, shape, and style are meant to draw our attention to the truth that if we are indeed God’s, we can’t get enough of his words. We want the meal to go on and on as we are miraculously satisfied and yet hungry for more.
We may know good doctrine, or have our theological ducks in-a-row. Yet nothing replaces the humble act of actually being familiar with the scriptures. Those wonderful moments when a casual conversation with a brother or sister leads to the opening of our Bibles to share exactly what we read. The unspoken excitement we share, as if to say, “You enjoyed him this week as well?!”
We love Psalm 119 and persevere through the entire chapter because we treasure the entire counsel of God. By grace, his testimonies are our heritage. Through his words, the Triune God comes alive before our very eyes. Indeed his words are sweet to our taste, sweeter than honey (v.103). It is through his Word we know how the dead are raised to life, how the weak become strong, how captives are set free, how the rejected become the accepted, how the wicked become righteous, and how we were made to enjoy God. The psalmist knows this. Do we?