Sunday, July 30, 2017

Psalm 119 from my new book:

Praying the Psalms: a modern interpretation

A New Look at the Old Psalms


I present here a new perspective on the psalms. I have rewritten them from a New 
Testament Christ-centered point of view. I did not try to capture the poetry of the 
psalms – I leave that to more gifted writers – but I attempted to capture their message
with a more modern interpretation.
God bless,

Psalm 119

(This psalm describes the highway to heaven.)

lessed are they who follow the path of Christ and obey the Lord’s commandments. They love him with all their heart. Those who disobey his laws are on the road to perdition.

I went looking for you, Lord, and found your words of life. I have hidden them in my heart. I delight in your laws more than a rich man values his gold. I meditate on your statutes all day long to better understand and know you with my whole heart. How I will rejoice once I have learned the wisdom that they teach.

You are the keeper of my soul. You know that I live every day of my life according to your precepts. Your word has become a part of my life. Your laws bring great joy to my heart, a heart that is forever dedicated to doing your will. To live my life according to your will is the only reward I seek.

Your truth, O Lord, is eternal. Since the foundation of the world, all creation has obeyed your statutes. Your word illuminates the path before me. Without your direction, my soul would have perished in sin. Your commandments are dear to me, Lord, for they are the words of life.

All your decrees are righteous and will endure eternally. They are filled with what is right and true. Your words have stood the test of time, and I love them. Though I am a man without much experience or reputation, I know the truth when I see it. Teach me your ordinances, so that I may share them with others. Your precepts give much peace and delight to those who love them.

You are righteous, Lord, and your laws are fair. Your words give me hope. Your statutes are wonderful and provide so much insight. Yet even a child can understand them. I understand more than all my teachers and elders. How sweet are your teachings; they are sweeter than honey. They taught me to detest everything that is unrighteous. I will boast of your commandments, for they are right and just.

It is my pleasure, Lord, to follow your statutes. I love your commandments. I cannot stop praising your righteous decrees. I awake at midnight to thank you for your just ordinances because your laws keep me righteous. May my words of gratitude be acceptable to you.

Your words are uplifting. Therefore, I will follow your precepts forever. I will boast of your laws everywhere I go, even before kings, for your decrees are perfect and impartial. I will memorize what they say. They are always on my mind.

How shall we remain innocent if we ignore your words? My soul has always longed to know your ways, for I see how you scold the arrogant and condemn the wicked. Do not count me among those sinners, Lord, for I seek to do your will. I only associate with those who love you and obey your laws. Powerful people have sought to dissuade me from following your commandments, but your precepts are all I think about. They are the counsels by which I live.

I confessed my sins to you, so teach me how not to sin again. My soul was weak before I discovered your statutes. Root me firmly now in your word. Have mercy on me and let me not fall into temptation. Your truth is what I seek, and I embrace it. Let me not be humiliated before the naysayers, for I have been following your path ever since you replaced my stone heart with a tender heart filled with love for you.

Before you chastised me, I used to sin. But now I obey your teachings. I am fortunate that you disciplined me. If you had not humbled me, I would not have learned about your laws. I gave your precepts careful thought and decided to follow them. Your words are now more valuable to me than all the world’s riches. Let the arrogant who treated me unjustly be disgraced. As for me, I will continue to concentrate on your commandments. May your laws help me to avoid sin and the disappointment of having failed you.

Even now I am surrounded by arrogant sinners who tempt me to join them in their evil ways, but I hold fast to your laws. Evil pursues me at every corner, but I keep the faith in your word. The more foolishly the ungodly act, the more I long for you. They ignore your teachings, but I love them. Evil tries to trap me, but your decrees keep me from falling. I see how limited and flawed we humans are, but you and your commandments are limitless and perfect. That is why I cling to your statutes. The hearts of the wicked are bitter, but I meditate on the sweetness of your precepts.

I detest sinners, but love your law. I reject the wicked, for I live according to your commandments. You reject those who ignore your statutes, for they prefer evil over good. Do not regard me as a sinner, for I follow your precepts. Let me never cease to worship you, for I would dread your judgment for having offended you.

I felt the shame of my former sinful life, but your words comforted me. I know what you decree is truth, and I was chastened so that I could see the value of that truth. I learned my lesson: follow your laws diligently and that will keep me from sinning against you.

Although I saw the arrogant sometimes go unpunished, I was never tempted to abandon your decrees. Past experience taught me that sinners eventually receive their comeuppance, and that consoled me. However, I did get depressed when I saw sinners break your laws, seemingly without consequence. At such times, I would recall how they used to sing songs to me about your statutes when I was young. I used to dream about them. I remembered that you promised to hold all sinners accountable for their transgressions. Therefore, I left matters of crime and punishment up to you and continued to obey your laws.

How zealous I became to correct those who ignore your words, for those who do not keep your commandments risk damnation. I hate sin, but love your law. May I always follow your precepts to avoid the shame of sin.

Whenever I am in distress, I seek comfort in your word. Your truth never fails to help me keep things in perspective and uplift my spirits. I rely on your precepts in times of trouble. I use your words against those who mock me. Your commandments teach me wisdom that enables me to outsmart my enemies. I will heed their message forever.  

The devil is not one to take things lying down. Powerful people attacked me for no reason. They have no regard for your laws. I kept studying your teachings, but I got no comfort from them. I felt dried up and useless, but I still believed in your word. I would complain, “How long do I have to wait for you to stop those who are attacking me? The wicked have their own set of rules by which they live, but their rules are not like yours. You teach only the truth. The enemy is persecuting me unfairly. Look how they have humiliated me. Have mercy and save me, for I have always obeyed your precepts. Intercede for me and be my redeemer, just like you promised. Come to my aid.”

They almost killed me, but I clung fast to your commandments. I got up in the middle of the night to pray for help, for your awesome words gave me hope. They filled me with great joy, as if I had just found a hidden treasure of immense value. Because I trusted your word, I knew you would help and protect me when I called upon your name.

“I strive to do what is right and just, Lord. Protect me from those who seek to harm me. Take your servant away from what is evil. Prevent the arrogant from making false accusations against me. I grow weak waiting for your help. Have mercy on me, Lord, and show me how to deal with such evil. Now is the time for you to settle with those who have sinned against you. Because I treasure your commandments above all riches, I avoid everything that does not reflect your goodness. Guide me and let no evil overcome me. Defend me against slanderers, and I will continue to obey your laws. I am heartbroken when I see others ignore your precepts.

Bless me, Lord, for I follow your statutes. Help me to understand the wisdom that they teach. I am just a pilgrim passing through this life. Show me the path you want me to pursue. I must, for the time being, live on this earth, so show me how to live this life according to your laws. Help me to understand your teachings so that they may be more firmly established in my heart. Show me how to avoid greediness and vanity. Teach me how not to offend you, Lord, and remove the shame of my past failures. I long to live a new life now, a life guided by your commandments.

Teach me to be good and instruct me in your ways, for I believe what you say is true. Since you are goodness itself, be good to me, Lord, and ground me in your statutes. You created me, so show me how to act. Surround me with those who love you and respect your precepts. God-fearing people will rejoice when they see how I hope in your sayings. Give me the wisdom to serve you properly. Hear my prayer and help me to understand your word. Give me eternal life, for I love your law.

Have mercy and save your servant, Lord, as you promised in your teachings. I was suffering greatly, and I swore that I would keep your commandments if you would let me live in security and peace. So give me life, Lord, as you promised.

Lord, your mercy knows no bounds. Show me the same mercy that you have shown to others who love you. My soul longs to be saved. As you promised, Lord, strengthen me so that I may live life abundantly here on earth and enjoy eternal life with you in the world to come. Do not disappoint me. I count on your help for my salvation because I obey your decrees.

Lord, hear my prayer and rescue me. You said you would save me if I kept your commandments. In your mercy, answer my prayer and revive my spirit. I know you are near, Lord, and that I can always count on your word, for truth is always reliable. I learned long ago that your statutes will be valid forever. In your compassion, Lord, give me life, for that is what you have sworn to do for those who obey your law. Be merciful and bring my soul back to life.

Lord, I cherish your commands. You see how I obey them because all my ways are known to you. Deliver me, for that is what you promise in your laws. I will always obey your statutes, so do not forsake me. I love only you, Lord.”

And the Lord answered my prayer and saved me.

“Lord, you have been good to me and kept your vow. My soul will spend eternity with you in heaven giving you praise. Your word redeemed me. I strayed like a lost sheep, but you came and found me. I am your servant, Lord, and I will never forget your commandments. Alleluia!”

Cover image: Christ the Saviour (Pantokrator)." Web. 25 Sept 2016.
"Creative Commons License." Web. 18 May 2016.

This book and other books I have written are posted for your reading pleasure at Booksie.

Scriptural quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, 
copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois
60189. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2016 by John P. Gross. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this material must 
be done in its entirety with the copyright notice intact. This book is not for sale, but is 
offered to the public free of charge for the glory of God.

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