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The Power and Protection of God’s Word

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Psalms 119

To love God is to love the Word He has given to us—the Bible. It is through His Word that we grow in our knowledge of Him and His work and grow to love Him more. And it is through obedience to His Word that we experience His blessing and true satisfaction. 


The Power and Protection of God’s Word

Psalm 119—Part 1


In the Hebrew language of the Old Testament, there are no exclamation points to emphasize certain words or sentences. Instead, God will often repeat something in a variety of ways. Repetition seems to be His way of saying, “Now pay attention to this!”

That is what we see here in Psalm 119. The divinely inspired psalmist repeats himself over and over again throughout these 176 verses. He uses one synonym after another to refer to the Word of God a total of 187 times in this psalm. That is like the Holy Spirit saying 187 times, “Pay attention! God’s Word is critically important. I want you to read it and study it and memorize it and apply it to your life.”

Now before we dive into the longest chapter in all the Bible, we need to note that the psalmist is not just rambling on and on here. He has carefully organized this psalm into twenty-two stanzas, and each stanza is eight verses long.

This clever poet also has composed an acrostic, which follows the Hebrew alphabet. Each stanza begins with a successive Hebrew letter. In fact, the eight verses in each stanza all begin with that same Hebrew letter.

In other words, if this poem were written in English, all eight verses in the first stanza would begin with the letter A. Then all eight verses of the second stanza would begin with the letter B, and so on. More than likely, these twenty-two stanzas were composed, using each of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, as a way to help people memorize this passage. 

Now as you read this psalm, you will notice early on that several different words are used to describe the Bible—words like precepts, statues, and testimonies. In fact, there are eight of these words. They are synonyms, but they each carry a little different flavor of meaning. The accompanying chart lists these eight synonyms with simple definitions for you to keep handy as you read Psalm 119.

For instance, verse 4 says, “You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.” The word translated “precept” refers to the details of God Word that need to be followed. It’s related to the authority of an overseer or supervisor.[1]So, when you read the word “precept,” it is highlighting the idea that God’s Word is your supervisor, directing you to follow the details of God’s instruction.

We do not know who wrote this psalm or exactly when it was composed. But there are clues here to tell us that this poet was someone who had faced the hard realities of sin and temptation as a younger man.

For instance, in verse 9 the psalmist writes, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” The Bible provides the guardrails, so to speak, as we travel through life. Many years ago, I wrote in the flyleaf of my Bible, “Either sin will keep you from this Book or this Book will keep you from sin.” And by the way, that’s true for a young woman as well as a young man.

As I was working on my notes for this program, I was sent a copy of an email – a note – that had arrived at our international headquarters. It came from a young woman, who wrote:

I was searching the radio and found Wisdom. I loved the way you explain the Bible, and you got my attention. God has changed my life from an empty, weed-smoking, alcohol-drinking, fornicating party animal, and the power of God has opened my heart and my eyes and showed me I needed a Savior. Now I’m a child of the King, and I’m living for Jesus Christ. I listen to you every day and never miss a “Wisdom Journey.”

There are times Psalm 119 sounds like it was written by someone who had wandered away in life but then began to follow the wisdom of God’s Word—someone like this woman, whose life has been put back together.

I have heard it said that a Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone whose life is not. Listen beloved, other books have been written to inform your life, but this Book was given to transform your life. So, the question is not whether you should you study and learn God’s Word but whether you can afford not to!

Now down in verse 23, it sounds like the author might have been a political leader or perhaps even an Old Testament prophet. He writes, “Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.”

It appears the author is embroiled in some political intrigue or drama. But if he is indeed serving in some high-level role, God has not only called him to that occupation, but God’s Word has provided the wisdom he needs as he follows the Lord in that high-pressure role.

The author gives us another insight on how to walk with God through the trials and temptations of life. In verse 63, he writes, “I am a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts.” In other words, his close friends are equally interested in God’s Word. Let me tell you, choosing the wrong friends has ruined many lives. So, choose your close friends carefully. In fact, do what this psalmist did—he chose his friends according to their view of God’s Word. That is the way to get the best friends in life.

I want to point out another clue here that seems to make it obvious that this psalmist suffered in life—although we are not given the details. Maybe you can relate to verse 67, where he writes, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” God used some sort of suffering to draw the author close to Him. I have seen that happen over and over again, beloved. Some affliction, some trial, was nothing more than the shepherd’s crook that pulled that sheep out of danger and into closer fellowship with the Shepherd.

The poet writes here in verse 71, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” That is quite a perspective on life.

His affliction could have been the result of a disability, an injury, or a financial loss; it could have been persecution or trouble or hardship. We don’t know. And I’m glad we don’t, so that we can insert our experience into this text, and say, “It was good that I was afflicted—by that bankruptcy, that illness, that loss—so that I might learn deep truths about God and His Word.”

Now by the time you get to the last verse of Psalm 119, you might be tempted to put the psalmist on a pedestal. It seems like this person had it all together and every aspect of his life was perfect.

Well, I assure you, this psalmist is not about to climb up on any pedestal. In fact, he ends this great psalm with these words:

[Lord,] let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments. (verses 175-176)

He is praying here, “Lord, help me praise You; keep me on track, Lord. I so easily go astray, Lord, so keep after me like a good shepherd.”

If you are a believer, here is a model for living. Stay in the Word and be encouraged. Your Shepherd will always lead you along the right path.

If you are reading this today and you are not a follower of the Lord, I want you to know that Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, has come to seek people just like you. He is calling you right now to trust in Him and ask Him to forgive you and save you and make you a child of God. What are you waiting for? Ask Him today.

Words for the “Word” in Psalm 119





Number of Uses








1, 18, 72

God’s instruction; also used of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible)




9, 16, 105

God’s spoken revelation

Word, Promise



11, 38, 67

Saying or promise; a synonym of debar




7, 62, 120

Law or verdicts of God; rules




2, 24, 99

God’s authoritative witness




6, 127, 151

God’s authoritative orders




5, 26, 155

Inscribed or engraved laws




4, 15, 159

God’s detailed instructions, or covenant

[1] Derek Kidner, Psalms 73–150 (InterVarsity, 1973), 418.

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