Qoph–Day and Night

In the Qoph section of Ps 119 (v145-152) I want to pick out another recurring theme, and that is that the Psalmist focuses his attention on God’s Word all the way through the night (see for example Ps 119:55,62). So for example in verses 147 and 148 he says:

147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;
   I have put my hope in your word.
148 My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,
   that I may meditate on your promises.

Through the night

Both of these verses suggest he is foregoing sleep to meditate on God’s Word. This may be due to his great personal discipline – he is making time to be with God alone by waking in the night. But verse 148 suggests a sleepless night, perhaps because of fear of those who are out to get him. Verse 147 implies that he is in some kind of trouble and is rising early to cry out for help from God at the start of a day he is not eagerly anticipating.

There is something about the night that can make us feel more vulnerable, and fears that we might suppress in the light of day can prey upon our minds when the lights are out. But the Psalmist knows that the word of God is a refuge he can turn to for hope and encouragement. This again highlights the importance of having key promises of God’s Word memorised, in order that we can draw on them to fill us with faith when we are tempted to fear.

All the time

He may also be using the contrast of “early in the morning” and “late at night” as a poetic technique (a “merism”) to simply mean “all the time”. In other words, all day long, from breakfast to bedtime, he wants God’s Word to be filling his thoughts, guiding his actions and inspiring praise:

164 Seven times a day I praise you
   for your righteous laws.

97 Oh, how I love your law!
   I meditate on it all day long.

Again, I don’t see how that is possible unless we are people who know God’s Word really well. In some ways, I think this is why it doesn’t necessarily matter if you felt you “got something” out of your daily Bible reading. It might have seemed quite dry. But the more we simply read the Word of God, the more familiar with its contents we become, and the greater the chances that its teaching will shape the way think, inform our decision making and govern our emotions. It is often pointed out that the Holy Spirit is said to “remind” us of what Jesus said (Jn 14:26), but unless we know what he said in the first place, we are not going to be able to “remember” it. We need to fill up on both the Word and the Spirit in order to maximally benefit from the transformative power of God’s Word.

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