A Psalm 119 Approach

Excitement bubbled inside me as my husband and I finally made the decision to redo the majority of our master bathroom. Then we faced the dilemma of where to start. A multitude of decisions piled up in front of us and the choices seemed overwhelming. Glass shower enclosures, bathtubs, tile, paint—the list appeared endless. It became obvious before tackling this project we needed a game plan. Understanding exactly what our needs were was vital. This encompassed determining exactly what needed replacement and what would fit within the space we had. Only then did we proceed to look at and determine which models/tiles/fixtures fit our budget and needs, making our selections from those options. And finally, we applied our choices to our remodel through the contractor we hired.

Breaking down our remodel into several stages guaranteed us the success we desired to complete our project. And so it is with studying the Bible. At first it’s overwhelming, but by formulating an approach to scripture you can successfully study and understand God’s Word. As we read scripture and search for its meaning and application to our life, I perceive three stages:

Discern, Decipher, and Digest God’s Word.

Psalm 119 displays the heart of the Psalmist as he declares the priority of God’s Word in his life. How I desire to have the same nature—a heart yearning for God’s Word and placing it first in my life.

  • Discern

Before we read and consider scripture, we first need to discern what our goal is or more simply put, where we’re headed. Discern means “to detect with the eyes and to come to know or recognize.” Verse 18 of Psalm 119, asks the Lord to, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” A good first step for all of us is to seek discernment about what to study in order to see these “wonderful things.” Perhaps you’ve felt the Lord’s leading to participate in a group Bible study, Sunday school, or home fellowship using a predetermined course of study. Or, you know the Holy Spirit is nudging you to investigate a particular book of the Bible or do a topical study on your own.

I desire to recognize treasure in God’s Word, so I pray for discernment and awareness as I read and consider scripture in the course of study He has laid out for me. Verse 125 takes us deeper with, “I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes,” which leads us into the next stage.

  • Decipher

Merriam-Webster.com defines decipher as, “To make out the meaning or interpret the meaning of.” Thus, when we decipher a passage of scripture we succeed in understanding or interpreting it. Verse 130 conveys this process with, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Pray for the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and give you insight, when you read your Bible. Additionally, there are many resources to take advantage of in our research, and a reliable Bible commentary, dictionary, handbook, and atlas are indispensable. With these materials accessible online, we have information readily available as we delve into scripture.

When we inspect and decipher God’s Word, he will give us understanding. Verse 27 promises, “Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders,” which transitions us into the following phase.

  • Digest

Our final stage involves digesting His Word. When we digest something, we meditate on it. I’ve heard different pastors and Bible teachers compare meditating on God’s Word to a cow chewing its cud. A cow will lie in the field all day savoring the food he has eaten. As we assimilate and properly digest scripture, the “nutrients” are absorbed in us, and we will be ready to apply the truth we have learned. As we go about our day we can contemplate truth. Verses 15-16 declare, “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.”

A thoughtful, step-wise approach to our bathroom remodel brought about our desired result. In the same way, by discerning, deciphering, and digesting God’s Holy Word, we can discover truth and apply it to our lives. May we all aspire for a heart devoted to scripture as that of the Psalmist who penned Psalm 119.

Father God, I desire to know more of your Word, but sometimes I look at the Bible and feel overwhelmed. Please assist me to discern what to study, enable me to decipher scripture, and finally help me to digest your truths. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Psalm 119:36 (NIV): “Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.”

Psalm 119:133 (NIV): “Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.”

Psalm 119:148 (NIV): “My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.”

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