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Psalm 119 Round Table and Journal

In retirement I find myself with an abundance of time and choice. This wealth of opportunity is easy to squander, and so I've been praying about how to spend it wisely.

I have always struggled when my morning bible reading routine brought me to Psalm 119. It’s length makes it more difficult to comprehend than many other Psalms. But I have recently begun to apprehend the riches of theological wisdom it contains and now understand it to be one of the most impressive and memorable portions of the entire biblical text.

Excited by this, my first impulse was to share what I was seeing with others. Perhaps I could study one stanza each week and write a short piece about it as an encouragement to friends - including many in the Christian academic community at Virginia Tech. The tools I bring to the text are still quite limited and this made me want to hear what others are able to see in it before documenting my own impressions. A round table discussion group seems like a win win strategy for accomplishing this. A small group of interested individuals - including students, retired professors, and local pastors - are meeting each Thursday during the spring semester to discuss two stanzas of the Psalm. I susequently incorporate insights shared at the roundtable in my weekly journal entries. Hopefully, this makes for better informed, though still largely personal, observations. While my desire is for each post to contain something of substance the entire collection does not approach an exhaustive exposition.

The content of Psalm 119 has been described as a “basket of gold rings” – nuggets of wisdom. Some commentators believe King David sifted through writing journals and curated a collection of the more profound passages. Hebrew tradition suggests that David used Psalm 119 to teach the alphabet and reading to Solomon. Others believe that Solomon himself was the author. If true, any of these theories would explain some of the similarities between Psalm 119 and the Book of Proverbs.

A central theme in Psalm 119 is the relationship of the Word (Law) of God to the human condition. The law is portrayed as the only pathway to human fulfillment. Psalm 119 offers the portal to reality through which one may rightly meditate on the relation between truth and goodness, faith and practice, calling and vocation.

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