Psalm 119: Worth All 176 Verses

This short Bible study offers a fun and effective way to study Psalm 119, the longest psalm.

Before doing this study, please read the one minute introduction 
Psalm 119: 176 Verses Filled with Wisdom, Comfort, and Instruction.  It talks about the importance of Psalm 119 and suggests a fun and meaningful way to study it by making three lists: the benefits of God's Word, the descriptions of God's Word, and the psalmist's attitudes toward God's Word. 

These are not absolute categories. They will overlap and one person will see them a bit differently from another. 

Psalm 119 is made up of 22 stanzas, one for each letter in the Hebrew alphabet, with a total of 176 verses. God's Word is described in a variety of ways, so your lists will be based on all descriptions whether the law, precepts, testimony, statutes, commandments, etc., There are only two verses in Psalm 119 that don't contain a reference to God's Word (122 & 132).

In this study, we'll make the 3 suggested lists for the first 8 verses. I hope you'll complete these lists for the whole psalm. 

I encourage you to make your own lists for these verses before reading my insights below.

Psalm 119: 1-8:
1 Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. 
2 Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart— 
3 They do no wrong but follow his ways. 
4 You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. 
5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! 
 Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. 
7 I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. 
8 I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me. 

This short Bible study offers a fun and effective way to study Psalm 119, the longest psalm.
Note that God's Word is described 6 ways in these 8 verses:

Law, statutes, ways, precepts, decrees, commands. These names show the multi-faceted purposes of God's Word. It provides instruction, testimony, revealed paths, positive laws, judgments, etc.

The Benefits of God's Word in these 8 verses:
1. It blesses the man who obeys it (v.1 & 2)
2. It's principles produce godliness (v. 1)
3. It keeps the godly man from feeling shame (v.5)

♥ The descriptions of God's Word
1. It is designed to be fully obeyed (v.4)
2. It is righteous (v.7)

The Psalmist's attitude toward God's Word:
1. He understands and expounds on the benefits of those who obey God's Word
2. He longs to be steadfast in obedience to God's Word (v.5)
3. He "considers" - takes into account, acknowledges, remembers God's Word (v.5)
4. He learns God's Word with a thankful heart (v.7)
5. He commits to obey God's Word (v.8)

Psalm 119:1-8 in a nutshell: Obedience to God's wonderful Word brings blessings and godliness. 

James 1:22-25 shares similar truths:
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do."

For additional insights on Psalm 119, see these one-minute devotions:

3 Ways to Overcome Temptation, a biblical strategy found in Psalm 119.

Hidden, But Not Hidden, offering 7 practical ways to obey Psalm 119:11.

How I Delight in Your Commands, a theme found in Psalm 119 that is relevant for our present cultural conditions.

 copyright 2014, Gail Burton Purath,, updated 2023

Living Dead Sea Scrolls

A young Bedouin shepherd throws a rock into a cave, hears breaking pottery, and discovers some of the most significant ancient documents ever found.

The time: March 1947
The place: Qumran area on northwestern shore of the Dead Sea

This true story is a wonderful example of how God has preserved His Word throughout history.

In these and nearby caves, they found older copies of Old and New Testament books than had ever been discovered before. Where else could these ancient scrolls have survived for 1900 years!

But that's not the most amazing part: When authorities compared these scrolls with scrolls previously discovered, there were only slight variations. The truths of Scripture we knew before this discovery were accurate. They were confirmed in the older manuscripts. There were slight differences - the older manuscripts did not contain some of the verses of the newer manuscripts. These extra verses did not contradict biblical teaching but were probably added by scribes.

Think about it: Thousands of years, hundreds of scribes writing by hand, and the Bible remains the same. That's nothing short of supernatural.

Sources: The Everything History of the Bible, Jeff Donley, Ph.D, copyright 2006, F&W Publications; 
The Dead Sea Scrolls 

Note: Some of these minor changes have lead to variations between older translations such as the KJV and newer translations. Even though the scribal additions/errors did not change the message of Scripture, the modern translations have chosen to be more accurate and leave them out or footnote them. See Why the KJV is Not the Most Accurate Translation.

More Interesting Facts:
Dead Sea Scrolls, God sustains His Word, God's Word verified by Dead Sea Scrolls

The best preserved scrolls were stored in earthen jars. But even those laying unprotected on the floor produced readable fragments.

As said above, the Dead Sea Scrolls were older than previously discovered copies of Scripture. In the first cave found by the goat herder, they discovered the oldest complete text of Isaiah dating 125 years before Christ. Fragments of New Testament books found in other caves are also the oldest copies in existence. 

Parts of every Old Testament book except Esther were found. 

Below are portions of a thorough article on Apologetics Press:

“While the importance of these documents is multifaceted, one of their principle contributions to biblical studies is in the area of textual criticism. This is the field of study in which scholars attempt to recreate the original content of a biblical text as closely as possible. Such work is legitimate and necessary since we possess only copies (apographs), not the original manuscripts (autographs) of Scripture. The Dead Sea Scrolls are of particular value in this regard for at least two reasons: (1) every book of the traditional Hebrew canon, except Esther, is represented (to some degree) among the materials at Qumran (Collins, 1992, 2:89); and (2) they have provided textual critics with ancient manuscripts against which they can compare the accepted text for accuracy of content.

“...A comparison of the MT [previous copies of Scripture] to this earlier [Dead Sea Scrolls] text revealed the remarkable accuracy with which scribes copied the sacred texts. Accordingly, the integrity of the Hebrew Bible was confirmed, which generally has heightened its respect among scholars and drastically reduced textual alteration.

A great devotional - a hardback priced lower than most paperbacks.
Note: Some fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls displayed in the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. were proved to be fakes, but as the Smithsonian Magazine reports: “The report does not cast doubt upon the authenticity of the Dead Sea Scrolls held by the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. These artifacts are among the most precious relics of the ancient world, first discovered in 1947 in a cave at Qumran, near the shores of the Dead Sea. Dated to around 2,000 years ago, most of the scrolls were written in Hebrew, though some were penned in Aramaic and Greek.

If you like Bite Size Bible studies, you're sure to enjoy the Wisdom for Life devotional. Currently on sale for 25% off at Lifeway, Amazon, and Christian Book

copyright, Gail Burton Purath, 

4 Ways that We Get Off Track and Miss God's Purposes for our Lives

Beware of these errors and excuses when making your  life plans.

Let me share a fictional scenario:

Bob felt God had called him to an overseas mission field, and he prayed about it with trusted friends and family. Several hindrances stood in his way, but he felt God would confirm his call by removing those barriers, and God did just that. 

With these hindrances removed, he moved forward toward his plans with even stronger assurance that God was guiding him. 

However, just short of joining his sending agency, Bob fell in love with a young woman who was opposed to his overseas call. The two of them decided to pray about the situation, but they didn't ask friends and family to pray with them. They felt this was strictly their decision.

It was no surprise that their prayers convinced them that Bob's call was given when he was single and didn't apply to his married life. They felt free to marry and choose another ministry route.

When Bob's close family members questioned his decision, reminding Him of his "fleece" and the way God had removed the barriers, he explained that it wasn't really their business. Even though they had been some of his most trusted Christian friends, he felt they no longer understood him, and he began distancing himself from them.

Bob's first position as a married man was as a youth pastor, but within a few years, he resigned. He and his wife were not pleased with the focus of the head pastor and elders in the church. They had ministry ideas that the church didn't fully support, and they were sure God wanted them somewhere they'd be more appreciated.

After resigning, Bob rejected offers at several other churches because they were in locations he didn't want to live. 

Eventually, he got a job he thought he'd enjoy, but after a year, he realized that his superiors did not fully appreciate his ideas, so he resigned.

Beware of these errors and excuses when making your  life plans.

As years went by, he continued to distance himself from the people in his past who'd once prayed with him about overseas work. He began seeing them as small-minded and legalistic, and he saw no benefit in maintaining healthy relationships with them.

When he reached middle-age, he landed a pastorate of a small church where he was the only full-time pastor.

Over the years, Bob had relaxed his view of the importance of Scripture, and this church fit his criteria. He was excited that he would finally be in charge to do things as he wanted. 

In truth, Bob had been in charge from the moment he rejected God's plan for overseas missions. 

God's call

God's call is different for each person, based on our skills and opportunities. He doesn't call all of us to Christian work, but He calls all of us to His purposes. For many years, my call was to full-time motherhood, something we sometimes fail to see as a calling. 

"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

Whenever we reject God's plan A, we miss God's full purposes in our lives. But God doesn't give up on us. He offers us plan B, and plan C. But eventually, if we continue to ignore His guidance, our purposes become a shadow of what they were meant to be.

Most people don't make all of the mistakes that "Bob" made in this fictional account. So let's take a look at each of them separately:

1. Placing the desires of loved ones above our call.

This applies to anything God calls us to do, not just a lifetime calling like Bob's. God's clearest guidance comes from Scripture, but He also directs us individually in regard to our careers, our finances, our ministry, our parenting, etc.

Because honoring parents is part of honoring God, we must listen carefully and respectfully to our parents' advice, but in the end, we must choose God's call.

For a glimpse at someone who respectfully disagreed with a parent about his calling, see Reckless Abandon, C.T. Studd

In the well-known passage below, "hate" means esteem less than God. It's about putting God's priorities in proper perspective, above all others.

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26

If God gives you a calling and confirms it in the ways Bob's calling was confirmed (i.e. after prayer, counsel, and confirmation), He will not have you marry someone who disagrees with that call, and if you are already married, you and your wife will jointly agree on that call.  

The fictional Bob in our illustration failed this enormous test in his life, and it affected every decision he made afterward. 

God calls a husband to love and protect his wife, but He also calls a husband to lead his wife. When Bob allowed his wife to lead in this important area, he set a precedence that could not help but cause continuing dysfunction in his marriage relationship. God's design benefits both husband and wife and brings fulfillment that the world can't understand. 

"For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior." Ephesians 5:23

See Why Mutual Submission is Impossible.

Beware of these errors and excuses when making your  life plans.
2. Failing to seek "a multitude of counselors."

"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." Proverbs 15:22

This doesn't mean we seek numerous counselors until we find one that agrees with us. It means we seek counsel from mature Christians who are willing to tell us things we need to hear, not simply things we want to hear. We seek counsel from people who can make biblical judgements apart from feelings and preferences.

Bob not only didn't seek counsel in making his decision, he ignored previous counsel.

3. Failing to learn how to submit to authority.

Learning to respect authority is essential for fulfilling God's purposes. When we have trouble submitting to human authorities, we end up having trouble submitting to God's authority and visa versa. 

Once Bob rejected God's authority in his calling, he had trouble with all authority in his life.

"Obey your leaders and submit to them—for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account—so that they may do this with joy, not groaning; for this would be unhelpful for you." Hebrews 13:17

"You who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, 'God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.'" 1 Peter 5:5

See A Man Who Amazed Jesus.  

4. Rejecting Correction.

Instead of seeing the many important benefits in accepting correction, our modern culture teaches us to judge people by how they make us feel, and many healthy relationships are severed because one person refuses appropriate correction from another.  

"Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you." Proverbs 9:8

When we look back at godly correction, we usually can say with the Psalmist: 
"Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head." Psalm 141:5

 See The Sting of Correction and The Benefit of Constructive Criticism.

Any and all of these things "Bob" did can diminish our ability to hear God's voice. Instead of seeking God's purposes, we begin seeking our own purposes and justifying them with an outward form of godliness.

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people." 2 Timothy 3:1-5

If you have gotten off track, repent carefully, fully, and wholeheartedly. Reconcile with godly counselors you've shoved out of your life. Put God first, and don't trust "easy" answers to your problems. You will have to deny yourself if you want to get back on track with God. 

But He's waiting with open arms to take you back!

copyright Gail Burton Purath, 2022, Bite Size Bible Study,