Psalm 119 is a fascinating portion of Scripture for at least two reasons. First and most obviously, it is fascinating simply because it is in the Bible and so comes from the very mind and mouth of God. That is reason enough.
It is also fascinating from a literary standpoint. It is the longest chapter in the Bible (176 verses) and is divided into 22 stanzas, each 8 verses long. And every verse of each stanza begins with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
Most modern translations reflect this structure of 22 verses of 8 verses. You’ll note the names of the 22 Hebrew letters immediately before verses 1, 9, 17, and so on.
So when we come to stanza 17, which begins with verse 129, it amazes me that even though we don’t see this in English, all 8 verses (129 – 136) begin with the 17th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, “pe”.
Could you write 8 sentences about the Bible that all begin with the 17th letter of the English alphabet? In case you’re wondering, that would be the letter “Q”. I’m having trouble just coming up with 8 words that begin with “Q”, let alone 8 sentences.
I started reading verses 129 – 136, wondering how I could take these verses and rewrite them in my own words, but starting each sentence with a word that begins with “Q”. Take a look at these – the first sentence is from the real Bible (NIV); the second sentence (in italics) is my “Q” sentence. Sometimes I was able to create a paraphrase of the actual Bible verse; other times, I went in a different direction.
Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. (v. 129)
Quite amazing is your word, O Lord; you give us so many good reasons to follow you.
The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. (v.130)
Quality teaching comes from your mouth; may your Spirit enlighten me whenever I read your law.
Redeem me from human oppression, that I may obey your precepts. (v. 134)
Quicken my heart as I meditate on your truth; please empower me to obey your commands.
Make your face shine on your servant and teach me your decrees. (v. 135)
Quiet my mind as I ponder your laws; remove all distractions so I can sit at your feet and learn your ways.
I came up with four “Q” words that seemed to fit four of the verses in Psalm 119:129-136. And then I started realizing how difficult this is – coming up with 8 words for each letter of the alphabet, and then writing a sentence about the Bible that began with that word – this is no easy task!
Why not do this yourself? Go ahead and give it a try! And you are welcome to send me an email with your writings.
One final suggestion – perhaps it would be easier if your sentences begin with a letter other than “Q”, so feel free to tackle this exercise with one of the other stanzas in Psalm 119.