If you missed the introduction post, you could find it here to learn more about Psalm 119: Stringing Pearls series.
In the first section, and throughout this chapter, you’ll see there are 8 verses under each letter. These verses hold life-changing principles that will help us understand the definition of the Hebrew letters and give us a new perspective of each section in Psalm 119. There are many definitions for the letters, but we will look at one or two per post. Let’s dive right in!
The letter Aleph is traditionally believed to depict an ox’s head (or an ox). When you think of an ox, you might think of how big and bulky or strong and sturdy they are. If you were to push an ox, you’d probably get knocked over before making it budge. They’re not easily swayed no matter what the opposer, weather, or their workload looks like. They have a natural strength and endurance that allows them to bear through whatever they face.
Global crises, riots, politics, broken and hurting relationships, mental, emotional, and physical health–these and probably a few more can scar us. It can take every bit of your strength to face the day ahead without giving up. Psalm 119:1-8 gives us three principles we can apply to our lives to increase endurance and strength, to be more ox like and not easily swayed.
How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. 2 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart. 3 They also do no unrighteousness; They walk in His ways.Psalm 119:1-3
Principle 1: Surround yourself with those people.
When reading these verses, it’s easy to criticize yourself for your shortcomings and failures. For not having a blameless way, or walking in the law of the Lord, etc. But if you turn the lens and look for those who are already doing these things, you will quickly reflect on them after spending time with them.
For example, Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were of the captives who got selected to be in the king’s court (Daniel 1). The king changed their names and gave them a new diet, but they decided to not defile themselves and to stick to God’s law. They remained pure and ate a clean diet which resulted in more strength and better appearance than the rest of the King’s men. They had each other to stay accountable in the decisions and goals they made, which became noticeable to the king himself. He brought them into his inner circle because he saw how blessed they were.
As people, success is attractive to us. We’re our worst critics and best motivators, constantly seeking to better ourselves and our lives. When looking at those people, it’s not saying I can’t do it. It’s saying, who’s already doing it? And where can I find them to be with them? We need ox-type people in our lives because we can’t do it on our own. Maybe you can, but it will be a lot more effective with a driven and motivating companion.
If you can’t think of any person or group of people who are where you want to be, pray about it. Pray these three verses: God, bless me with people whose way is blameless – God, lead me to those who walk in your law and observe your testimonies, etc. Oxen are strong and have endurance, and they can go through anything and with anyone. We need to surround ourselves with those kinds of people.
You have ordained Your precepts, that we should keep them diligently. 5 Oh that my ways may be established to keep Your statutes! 6 Then I shall not be ashamed When I look upon all Your commandments.Psalm 119:4-6
Principle 2: Get into a routine.
Getting into a routine means to become established in our ways and habits. You become familiar when you get established in something. In verse five, the Psalmist cries out to God to help them with this. God already laid out his precepts and commanded us to keep them, now it’s on us to actually keep them diligently. After surrounding ourselves with strong and persevering people, it’s important to get into a routine and get established in our ways. Self-discipline is vital for self-improvement.
We can look at Daniel again and note that he was a man of routine. He was consistent in praying three times a day. For some, that seems way too much. But in the time that he lived, it was important to him to stay devoted in prayer, which also increased his confidence and led him out of trouble. In comparison to an ox, they need a routine to get stronger in their abilities – ex: they get trained in the field to plow.
When we familiarize ourselves with good habits, the bad ones become more obvious and annoying, which motivates us to break them and become even better. Just like working out, you build endurance and strength from routinely going to the gym, and then find other ways to improve and get stronger. Get into a routine and watch your confidence boost as you improve in strength and endurance.
I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart when I learn Your righteous judgments. 8 I shall keep Your statutes; Do not forsake me utterly!Psalm 119:7-8
Principle 3: Do what you can & do your best!
Sometimes it takes time to find the right crowd and get into consistent routines. So with that, do what you can today, and do your best. Continue to pray and learn, and give thanks to God for how far you’ve already come. When we continue to learn and keep His righteous judgments and statutes, we can come before Him with an uprightness of heart, yet humbly dependent on Him.
It’s essential to stay open-hearted, ready to learn and to depend on God for the growth. His desire is for us to know Him, and what better way than through prayer and His word. Let’s surround ourselves with those people, find routines that better us, and do what we can today at our best!