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Reflecting on Psalm 119

A Lent Reflection for Monday, March 18 by Ruth Jensen Zschoche

Lectionary reading for 03/18/20243: Psalm 119:9-16; Isaiah 43:8-13; 2 Corinthians 3:4-11

Selected passage for reflection: Psalm 119:9-16


Psalm 119:9-16 The Message

How can a young person live a clean life?

    By carefully reading the map of your Word.

I’m single-minded in pursuit of you;

    don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.

I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart

    so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.

Be blessed, God;

    train me in your ways of wise living.

I’ll transfer to my lips

    all the counsel that comes from your mouth;

I delight far more in what you tell me about living

    than in gathering a pile of riches.

I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you,

    I attentively watch how you’ve done it.

I relish everything you’ve told me of life,

    I won’t forget a word of it.


Seventy-nine years ago on Christmas Day, 1944, my father gave my mother a Bible for her 21st birthday. They were married the following summer during WWII. On the inside page of this Bible he wrote Psalm 119:9-11, 89. Seventy-three years later, a couple of months before her 95th birthday and a few weeks before she died, I was with her reading to her from her newer Bible. I asked her what she’d like me to read to her. I had already read Psalm 23. Even with Dementia, she asked for Psalm 119. I opened her Bible to this passage to find it underlined in so many places. It wasn’t until after she died that I was looking through that original Bible and found the note from my father to my mother. What was in Psalm 119 that kept my mother still focused on this passage? I decided to find out. I began to read Psalm 119, very slowly, one section at a time. As I read, I wrote in my journal each section in my own words. Just as Eugene Peterson in his Message Version wrote out the words in simpler form, my writing these verses sunk deeply into my heart.  

Psalm 119 in its entirety tells us how to live a life according to God’s truth. Look through each section, you will see that it is filled with instructions for following God’s commands.

My parents loved and served the Lord as missionaries. They took these words seriously and lived their lives according to the truths in these verses. I like to think about what my father was trying to share with my mother when he wrote those words in her Bible. I think he was promising her that he wanted to stay pure, by obeying God’s Word. He didn’t want to wander from the commands written in that Word. He was hiding God’s Word in his heart so that he wouldn’t sin against God and against my mother. He was a man of integrity, saturated by God, who studied the Bible daily and delighted in the decrees, not forgetting what the Word was saying to him. And he was encouraging her to do the same.

Some of my favorite memories are seeing both of my parents sitting in their favorite chairs, spending time with God in the Word. They lived their lives according to Psalm 119 even to the end of their lives. May it be the same with me!

Psalm 119:9-16 (Ruth’s version)

How can I keep my way pure? 

  I can by living according to Your word.

I look for You with all my heart, don’t let me walk away from Your commands.

  I have and will continue to hide Your word in my heart, so that I won’t sin against You.

Let all my praise go to You O Lord, teach me everything I need to know.

  With my lips I remember and speak all of the commands that come from Your mouth.

I rejoice in following Your ways as someone who rejoices in great riches.

  I meditate on what I read in Your Word and think about how You want me to live.

I delight in Your leading me; I will not neglect what You say to me and what You 

  are teaching me.  


Read this Psalm 119:9-16 in a different version. As you reflect on it, take time to write it down in your own words. What is God saying to you? 

In this Lenten season as we are focused on Christ’s final days before the crucifixion and resurrection, imagine spending time with Him, sitting at His feet, asking Him to share with you how He put these verses into His daily practice. 


Lord, keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions. I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations. I cling to your laws. Lord, don’t let me be put to shame! I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding. Teach me your decrees, O Lord; I will keep them to the end. Amen. (Psalm 119:29-33)

About the Author

Ruth loves her time as a Spiritual Director. She delights in holding space and walking alongside those who are listening for God’s movement in their lives. She is mom to one son, a daughter-in-love and Omi to two beautiful granddaughters. She loves to travel with her husband and enjoys running, hiking, biking, swimming, reading, playing the piano and praising God in the beautiful Colorado mountains.

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1 Comment

What good encouragement! No matter what joys or challenges we have, we find a record of God's faithfulness and words that express our own experiences in the riches of God's word. Thank you for this beautiful reminder today!

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