“A” is for “Apple”
Psalm 119: Every word you give me is a miracle word.
Even with the excellent effort of Eugene H. Peterson in bringing us the paraphrase that is The Message we don’t have much chance of grasping what’s happening in Psalm 119 without some outside help. This is the longest psalm, having, I’m told, 22 parts. If the shorter psalms are called ancient praise and worship choruses, this one might be called a full blown cantata! Now I’m only repeating what I’ve been told as I’m no expert in Hebrew (or English, for that matter) but the reason we miss the neat thing that’s happening here is that this psalm is all about the Hebrew language. The 22 parts of the psalm are based on the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each section is built around one of those letters, working through the alphabet. Then, in each section, there are eight lines, each beginning with that letter. So, what we have happening here is along the line of “‘A’ is for ‘apple'” and “‘B’ is for ‘boy'” and so on. Then eight lines of verse, each beginning with the letter “A” before moving on to “B” and right on through the alphabet. Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with writing a devotional. Well, not much really! It does, though, cause me to better appreciate the creativity of the psalmist.
Take Away: Often knowing the back story of a passage of scripture makes all the difference in the world in our understanding.