Introduction~Those who are familiar with Psalm 119 understand that it is composed of 22 divisions of eight verses each for a total of 176 verses—making it the longest chapter in the Bible.Each of those 22 divisions begin sequentially with the next letter of the Hebrew Alphabet (ALEPH, BETH, GIMEL, DALETH, HE, VAU…).In Germany this psalm has been known in as The Golden ABCs of the Word of God.
Personal Note~Soon after I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior Charles Haddon Spurgeon became one of my favorite Christian leaders of the past.There are many wonderful accounts of his preaching to literally thousands before the time of microphones or amplifiers.My maternal grandmother heard him speak.Below I have reproduced one of his messages with some modifications to make it more readable in contemporary English.
Spurgeon Still Speaks~This psalm is a wonderful composition. Its many expressions are as many as the waves, its overall testimony is one like the ocean.The psalm deals with one subject.While it contains many verses, its one hundred and seventy-six stanzas provide the same core thought.However, it is not repetitive since there is always a shade of difference, even when the overall thought appears to be the same. Some have said that in it there is an absence of variety—but that is merely the observation of those who have not studied it. I have weighed each word, and looked at each syllable with lengthened meditation; and I consider this sacred song to be charmingly varied from beginning to end. Its variety is that of a kaleidoscope: from a few objects innumerable permutations and combinations are produced. In the kaleidoscope you look once, and there is a strangely beautiful form you shift the glass a very little, and another shape, equally delicate and beautiful, is before your eyes. So it is here. What you see is the same, and yet never the same. It is always the same truth, but always in new light, put in a new connection, or in some way or other invested with freshness.
I do not believe that any subject other than a heavenly one would have allowed of such a psalm being written about.The themes of this world are narrow and shallow. Neither could such a handling have been given even to a sacred subject by any mind less than the divine.Inspiration alone can account for the fullness and freshness of this psalm.
The best compositions of men are soon exhausted; they are merely cisterns, and not ever springing fountains. You enjoy them very much at the first acquaintance, and you think you could hear them a hundred times over; but you could not: you soon find them wearisome. Very soon a man eats too much honey: even children at length are cloyed with sweets. All human books grow stale after a time; but with the Word of God the desire to study it increases, while the more you know of it the less you think you know. The Book grows upon you: as you dive into its depths you have a fuller perception of the infinity which remains unexplored. You are still longing to enjoy more of that which it is you’re a great blessing to taste. All this is true even of the psalm which is in itself nothing more than the eulogy of the divine testimony.
This wonderful psalm, from its great length, helps us to wonder at the immensity of Scripture. From its keeping to the same subject it helps us to adore the unity of Scripture, for it is but one. Yet, from the many turns it gives to its one thought, it helps us to see the variety of Scripture. How manifold are the words and thoughts of God.In His Word, just as in creation, the wonders of His skill are displayed in many ways.
I admire in this psalm the singular commingling of testimony, prayer, and praise. In one verse the Psalmist bears witness; in a second verse he praises; in a third verse he prays. It is an incense made up of many spices; but they are wonderfully compounded and worked together, so as to form one perfect sweetness. The blending greatly increases the value of the whole. You would not like to have one-third of the psalm composed of prayer—marked up to the sixtieth verse, for instance; and then another part made up exclusively of praise; and yet a third portion of unmixed testimony. It is best to have all these divinely-sweet ingredients intermixed, and wrought into a sacred unity, as you have them in this thrice-hallowed psalm. Its prayers bear testimony, and its testimonies are fragrant with praise.
Mr. Charles Bridges has written upon this psalm a peculiarly delightful work. I do not seek to rival him; but I would attempt the edification of the Lord’s people in the same way as he has done, for he has made no effort to display learning, but has aimed at promoting devotion. Several notable authors traversed this heavenly country before Mr. Bridges, and I am one of those who follow after him: the succession will not end till the Lord comes.
I commend my labor to my Lord’s acceptance, and pray that his Holy Spirit may make these praises of Holy Scripture to ring as sweet bells in the ears of his own people evermore.
~ Dear Reader, pray for Thy brother in Christ, C. H. Spurgeon, Westwood, July 1887.
Reference~One of the places this CHS sermon is found is in his seven volume “Treasury of David.”
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