Today we read Psalm 119, the longest ‘chapter’ in the Bible. The word “whole” caught our attention, in verses 2,10 and 34 in today’s section. The point is that the only way to approach God is with all our being, with total commitment of mind. Verse 2 says “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!” If the Psalmist is David, something we cannot be sure about, we note how he exclaims, “Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!” (verse 5).

The question and answer given in verses 9-11 are ones we should memorise, and we are sure they apply to young women as much as to young men. The question is, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” And the answer, “By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you”.

David experienced times of depression. The Psalmist writes, “My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!” (verse 28). So, God’s word, as well as inspiring us to remove and keep out impurities from our mind, is a source of strength when we are depressed. He declares, “I cling to your testimonies O LORD … I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” (verses 31,32).

Our hearts and minds need enlarging to contain all the precepts, knowledge and wisdom we gain over time from God’s word. This process pushes out all unwholesome thoughts. “Give me understanding that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart” (verse 34). The word ‘law’ is all embracing, it is not just a set of rules to be kept, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.

Finally, glancing ahead to verse 57, the Psalmist declares, “The LORD is my portion; I promise to keep your words. I entreat your favour with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; I hasten and do not delay …”. We must follow his example with our whole heart!