Tools For Studying God’s Word – A Family Study Of Psalm 119
By Kim Butts
"Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are they who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart. They do nothing wrong; they walk in His ways" (Psa. 119:1-3).
If the promised blessing for those who accomplish these things seems like an impossibility for your family, consider that at the very end of Psalm 119 (v. 176) the psalmist himself, who for all his devotion to obediently following the Lord’s commands, confesses his inability to keep from falling into sin without the guidance of the Shepherd.
We are all in the process of becoming like Christ, who, when He walked on this earth, was blameless, kept the Lord’s statutes, sought after the Lord with all of His heart, and did nothing wrong while walking in the ways of the Father.
Consider taking your family on an unforgettable journey through the Word of God as revealed in Psalm 119. This psalm is a devotional study dedicated to the Word of the Lord! It is also a prayer, because the psalmist is speaking directly to God. As you read, study, meditate, memorize, pray, seek, repent, obey, praise, and testify to what the Word of God has done, you will gradually become as individuals, and as a family, more of a reflection of Christ Himself.
As you read each verse do the following as a family (realizing that some of these action steps may not apply to every verse):
Read the verse out loud (you can take turns as you go through the psalm). Reading helps you to see His Word with your physical eyes. "Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law" (Psa. 119:18). "It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees" (Deut. 17:19).
Study the verse carefully and discuss what it means for you individually, and as a family. Studying helps you to see His Word with the eyes of your heart. "Teach me, O Lord, to follow Your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep Your law and obey it with all my heart" (Psa. 119:33-34). "I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven" (Eccl. 1:13).
Studying the Word also helps you to discover the character of God. For example: "You are good, and what You do is good; teach me Your decrees" (Psa. 119:68). In this passage, we see that the character of God is goodness – who He is and what He does is good. "You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your Word" (Psa. 119:114). In this passage the character of God is protector. He is our Refuge and our Shield. "Yet You are near, O Lord, and all Your commands are true" (Psa. 119:151). As we study this verse, we can see that God is near to us, and He is truthful. Studying the Word of God helps us to see more clearly what God is like.
Meditate on the verse. Spend some time quietly reflecting as individuals and then ask: "What does God want us to do individually and/or as a family in response to this verse?"
"Let me understand the teaching of Your precepts; then I will meditate on Your wonders" (Psa. 119:27). "My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promises" (Psa. 119:148). "I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways" (Psa. 119:15). "Oh, how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long" (Psa. 119:97).
Determine if this verse is one you should commit to memory. If so, write it down on a 3 x 5 card. Keep all of these cards together as you go through the psalm. Begin to memorize at least one or two verses per week. Memorizing helps you to keep God’s Word in your hearts. "I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You" (Psa. 119:11). "Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn Your commands" (Psa. 119:73).
Pray through each verse, seeking the Lord’s will for your family within it so that He will receive honor and glory. Ask the Lord to reveal His character. Claim His promises for your family. Ask Him to do His work in and through you. Prayer helps you to stay connected to the heart of God as you seek to know Him better through His Word. "I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands" (Psa. 119:10). "Blessed are they who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart" (Psa. 119:2). "I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out Your precepts" (Psa. 119:45).
Repentance – if the Lord shows you individually and/or as a family some area of sin in your lives, take time to confess and to repent. Be sure to thank God for His promise of forgiveness, and talk about how you can keep from committing this sin again. Now, accept His wonderful gift of grace. "I have sought Your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to Your promise" (Psa. 119:58). Repentance helps you to be restored to right relationship with God. "I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek Your servant, for I have not forgotten Your commands" (Psa. 119:176). "Direct my footsteps according to Your Word; let no sin rule over me" (Psa. 119:133).
Ask: Is the Lord asking us to do something in this verse? If so, what should we do in order to obey Him? "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psa. 119:105). Seeking the Lord’s will helps us to become less, so that He can become greater. "You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed" (Psa. 119:4). "He must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:30).
Begin immediately to be obedient. Obedience is the way we learn to humble ourselves before God, and is the way to holiness. "Give me understanding, and I will keep Your law and obey it with all my heart" (Psa. 119:34). "I will always obey Your law, forever and ever" (Psa. 119:44). "I will hasten and not delay to obey Your commands" (Psa. 119:60). "Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them" (Psa. 119:129). "I obey Your statutes, for I love them greatly" (Psa. 119:167). "I obey Your precepts and Your statutes, for all my ways are known to You" (Psa. 119:168).
Rejoice in the Lord and give Him praise for what you have learned through His Word. Praise is the natural response of our gratitude to God. "May my lips overflow with praise, for You teach me Your decrees" (Psa. 119:171). "Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart" (Psa. 119:111). "I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches" (Psa. 119:14).
Ask: How can we testify (tell others) what God has done in and through us as a result of this verse? "With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth" (Psa. 119:13). "I will speak of Your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame..." (Psa. 119:46). How can our very lives be a living testimony of Jesus? "May those who fear You rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in Your Word" (Psa. 119:74). When others come to know Jesus as a result of our lives and our testimony, He will receive all honor and glory!
In Psalm 119, there is a wealth of information about our awesome Lord! We have only to dig in and gather what is more precious than gold and silver – the law from His mouth (Psa. 119:72) that is waiting to become part of who we are in Christ Jesus. If you will allow Him to teach you through His Word, it will truly become a lamp to your feet and a light for your path (Psa. 119:105).
May the Lord give you and your family His richest blessings as you faithfully seek after Him. May the unfolding of Your Word, O Lord, give light (Psa. 119:130) to each individual and to each family that searches for the truth (Psa. 119:160). May their lips overflow with praise as You teach them Your decrees, and may their tongues sing of Your Word, for all Your commands are righteous (Psa. 119:171-172).
"Your Word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations..." (Psa. 119:89-90).