Psalm 119: The prayer a Text-Driven Life (2)

All In

Psalm 119 is a prayer of a text-driven life. As stated in a previous post, a text-driven is a life that responds to God through His Word.

Here is a helpful infographic on the content of Psalm 119.[1]

Psalm 119.Final

When examined graphically, something becomes clear. This is about being all in for God.  Think of it.

As a prayer, Psalm 119 can be divided into three categories, affirmations, or praises for  God and His Word; requests; and finally declarations. Declarations are audible responses to God speaking: “God, based on your character, I will do this!” Here are some examples:

39 Your rules are good                                                                AFFIRMATION

41Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD,                   REQUEST

Your salvation according to your promise

45 I will keep your law continually, forever and ever,           DECLARATION

46 and I shall walk in a wide place,

for I have sought your precepts.

I will also speak of your testimonies before kings

And shall not be put to shame.


This is fascinating. Out of all the 176 verses in Psalm 119, there are 26 affirmations, 51 requests, and 118 (!) declarations.  By far, the most dominant type of prayer is declaration. In other words, this is the prayer of someone who is all-in.  The Psalmist is responding to God and has determined to know Him through His Word. That’s it. They love the Word so much that they will spend the rest of their life knowing God’s Word and relating to God through His Word.

The text-driven life is the domain of those who are all-in. They have crossed the line, burned the ships, they are not turning back, and any other metaphor you want to throw at it. There is no part of them that is not God’s.

Will and Understanding

The relationship between the will and knowledge is found in Jesus’ teaching in the eight parables of Matthew 13 where He equates, “understanding” with obedience. Those who do not understand (v.14), are those whose hearts have become “dull” (v.15). They can’t know the truth, because their hearts are hardened with sin. When someone tries to sow Gospel seed in their heart it never penetrates the topsoil. Like seed thrown on pavement they hear the Word but they can’t receive it because of hardness. Consequently, Satan tries to rob them of ever hearing it again (v.18).

In the kingdom of God, understanding is always tied to obedience.

We often hear of evangelical college students who, after attending church all their lives, jettison their faith in college. It really happens, but I’m suspicious that’s not the whole story.

What is driving a college student’s rejection of the Bible is not that they have examined Christianity and found it an insufficient belief system, but the reality that they already decided to live a lifestyle that their faith condemns. Rather than change their life, they find an alternative belief system to accommodate what they have already decided to do. At least one Higher Ed study suggests this might be the case.

The little truism I learned in grade school, “Sin will keep you from this book, or this book will keep you from sin” is in fact true. In the kingdom of God true understanding is only for the obedient.

God’s word must be read with open palms as well as open Bibles for the reason that the eyes are opened as the will is bent. Knowledge follows obedience like day after night. If I want to life a text-driven life the question is one of the will more than the intellect.

The Lord’s prayer has affirmations, “Hallowed be thy name”, and several requests for provision, forgiveness, and protection respectively.  But where in the Lord’s prayer are the declarations?  Perhaps they are in the very first thing we are to request, “Thy Kingdom Come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  To ask God for His will to be done is a declaration that we will do it!  The request is itself a declaration of obedience.  And that’s what a text-driven life is about, a coming kingdom.

A kingdom, and will, we would not know without God’s word.  So it is that a bent will is the field guide that walks knowledge into the heart and mind.  In this way the heart, hands, and head are spiritually synched.  We read the Bible with hearts wide open.

[1] Special thanks to Caitlyn Jameson for creating this infographic.


  • Barbara says:

    I could not find the original Regnerus publication referred to in the article, but the Jaschik article you link to was from 2007. Do you think the collegiate landscape has changed in the last 9 years regarding faith retention? The millennials are starting to age, with the oldest now in their 30’s and the youngest filling our colleges. “In the kingdom of God, understanding is always tied to obedience.” Do we approach equipping our young people differently so they stay in God’s Word in college and beyond or is this simply a chronic human condition unrelated to generational differences?

    • Steven Smith says:

      Hey Barbara! Actually there has been more research on this than the article cited, although I don’t have it at my finger tips. I think it deserves another blog alone. My suspicions about this began as a a college dean when I would recruit out of Christian high schools and found administrators alarmed at how many of their students lost their way, even with theological foundations. It seemed they made the lifestyle choice first. Again, it needs more reflection. Thanks for reading!

  • Todd Kimball says:

    Wow. Whoa. Okay. God, you’re getting my attention now. You’ve affirmed me all morning so I’d be ready to receive my course adjustment directive. I will go deeper than surface level into your word. I’ve felt those waters before and know your goodness there, but I digress. Lord, I want to be all in. Also, Lord, you always surprise with your added love. I’ve missed Steven’s annointed words from when he was at Hillcrest, but this is sweet to hear what you have through him with these postings. I am so grateful.

  • Russ says:

    Love love love this!

  • bill elliff says:

    Great articles, Stephen. We’re just finishing a series on Psalm 119 that has been incredibly rich for our people (and for us). These articles are real helpful. I have constantly been telling our folks that reading the Bible is not about the Bible, it’s about HIM–encountering and experiencing Him. You will love this poem that Holly calligraphied years ago and is on my study wall.

    I read Thy word, O Lord, each passing day
    and in Thy sacred Word find glad employ;
    Yet, this I pray-
    Save from the killing letter.
    Teach my heart, set free from human forms,
    the holy art of reading Thee in every line,
    in precept, prophecy, and sign,
    Till all my vision filled with Thee
    Thy likeness shall reflect in me.
    Not knowledge, but Thyself my joy,
    for this I pray.

    J.C. MacCauley

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *