One Sunday evening, Colleen Dyckman, from Long Island, New York, accidentally swept her engagement ring and wedding ring into the garbage can while cooking for her family. On Monday morning, the garbage truck picked up their trash, and only after that did Colleen realize what had happened. In addition to being worth $5,000, the rings, which she had had for almost 20 years, also had huge sentimental value for her. So, she followed the garbage truck to the local dump. Arriving there, she tearfully told the driver what had happened and begged several workers to help her search for the rings.
Miraculously, after she, her husband, and eight trash employees searched the garbage dump for four hours, they found them! Everybody was very relieved for the success, but Colleen, who was the most relieved, broke into tears of joy and gratitude.
Now you may be thinking to yourself, That’s an interesting story, Omar. Thanks for sharing it—but what does it have to do with me?
To answer that question, let me ask you one of my own: what if every day, you went to God’s Word, the Bible, with the same intensity as Colleen in search of her rings? How do you think it would affect you?
a word about “the Word”
The Bible has a lot to say about itself, but I can think of no place that is clearer and more direct than Psalm 119. The Old Testament book of Psalms is referred to as one of the “Wisdom Books,” which leads me to believe that we should all be seeking its counsel every day!
Interestingly, Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the entire Bible (at a whopping 176 verses!), and it’s no coincidence that its subject is . . . well,the Bible. It contains some pretty significant things about the Bible that I’d like to share with you. I’ll begin by explaining something unique about this psalm. It has 22 sections, and each section begins with one of the 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Each section also has eight verses, and each verse begins with the Hebrew letter that pertains to that section.
Tradition has it that King David wrote this psalm, but he used it specifically to teach his son King Solomon the alphabet. This psalm contains eight basic words that are used used to describe the Bible, God’s revelation to us, which the Bible writers all agree is God’s Word to us. Following are these eight words:
- Law (Hebrew: torah, used 25 times in Psalm 119). The parent verb for law means “to teach” or “to direct.” Therefore, coming from God, it means both “law” and “revelation.” It can be used of a single command or of a whole body of law.
- Word (Hebrew: dabar, used 24 times). The idea is that God’s spoken Word is His revealed Word to human beings. These words proceed from His mouth and are revealed by Him to us.
- Judgments (Hebrew, mispatim, used 23 times). Judgment means that we should be concerned about our words and works; they should show the rules we live by and cause us to discern what is right and wrong and decide accordingly.
- Testimonies (Hebrew, edut/edot, used 23 times): This word is related to the word for witness. It means to obey God’s testimonies, and it signifies loyalty to the terms of the covenant made between the Him and Israel.
- Commandments (miswah/miswot, used 22 times). The word commandments emphasizes the straight authority of what is said, the right to give orders.
- Statutes (Hebrew, huqqim, used 21 times). A noun, the word statutes is derived from the root verb “engrave” or “inscribe.” The idea is that the written Word of God and the authority of His written Word declare His authority and power to give us laws.
- Precepts (Hebrew: piqqudim, used 21 times). The word precepts is drawn from the sphere of an officer responsible for looking closely into a situation and taking action. So, it points to the particular instructions of the Lord as One who cares about every detail.
- Word (Hebrew, imrah, used 19 times): In Psalm 119, Imrah is similar in meaning to dabar, yet it’s a much different term, although both are translated into English as “word.” This word can denote anything God has spoken, commanded, or promised.
Now, people who know me will readily admit that many times my elevator doesn’t go to the top floor, but even I can’t ignore the glaring point that in this psalm, God is trying to make something plain: the Bible is really, really important, and you and I should treat it accordingly! Ellen White had this to say about the Bible: “The Bible is a field where are concealed heavenly treasures, and they will remain hidden until, by diligent mining, they are discovered and brought to light. The Bible is a casket containing jewels of inestimable value, which should be so presented as to be seen in their intrinsic luster. But the beauty and excellence of these diamonds of truth are not discerned by the natural eye. The lovely things of the material world are not seen until the sun, dispelling the darkness, floods them with its light. And so with the treasures of God’s word; they are not appreciated until they are revealed by the Sun of Righteousness.”
light in the darkness
So, in light of what the Bible and plain common sense tell us, I’d like to share some of my favorite verses from this key chapter of the Bible as they are translated in the New Living Translation: “Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are my constant guide. Yes, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your laws. I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your commandments. I have refused to walk on any evil path, so that I may remain obedient to your word. I haven’t turned away from your regulations, for you have taught me well. How sweet yourwords taste to me; they are sweeter than honey. Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life” (verses 97–104; emphasis added).*
a challenge to you
I don’t know about you, but 2020 dished out some serious and awful stuff, and I want to challenge you to read your Bible every day—and I suggest you begin with this psalm! Think about it as an energy drink for your soul.
Then, make it a daily habit to dig into the Bible as if you were searching for a diamond—because, in reality, you are! Rest assured that your time searching will bring you gems of truth that are much more valuable than any physical diamond.
* New Living Translation Bible verses are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Omar Miranda frequently contributes to Signs of the Times®. He lives in Plainville, Georgia.