Dear Rules, I Love You

| March 4, 2015

If there were Seven Wonders of the Hebrew Bible, Psalm 119 would top the list. At 176 verses in length, it is the Mt. Everest of the Psalter. If you have ever unwittingly begun reading Psalm 119 and given up part way, don’t feel bad. No one has ever unwittingly climbed Mt. Everest, either. Poetry is tough going after all. So if you arrive at Psalm 119 unprepared to trek its mountainous four or five pages of parallelism, you might not make it in one go.

Biblical poetry is all the more demanding. It is, to change the metaphor, God’s Word simmered down, like a savory reduction sauce. Psalm 119 is no exception, so come hungry. The Puritan Thomas Manton wrote and preached 190 sermons on it (published in 3 vols.). So how do you navigate a poem of this scale? Especially one so dense and rich? I want to focus on some broad themes in the psalm to guide us through this scriptural monument.

How Do I Love You? Let Me Count the Verses

The first theme is rules. Psalm 119 is basically a love poem to the law (vv. 47, 48, 97, 113, 119, 127…

To read the rest of this article, visit