On Word Law and Life: A Whole

These are my verses in response to Psalm 119.    As we start this new year, I am reposting the whole devotion.

On Word, Law and Life

Along the Way

Aware, aware, finally aware that the righteous are blessed, those who stay close to the Lord, steeped in the Word, blessed are they.
Alive, alive, we are finally alive as we, wide-eyed disciples, search out our master, search deep into the living–that Word from the beginning.
Aware of the way,
they follow His way,
Active, acting, aware and acting on precepts proscribed and written, carefully acting and awesome aware.
Alleluia and Amen! Obedient, praying, discerning, firming–finding the way,
A student, I study, searching the Word,
Today in Law, in the Word.
Abandoned, yes, once abandoned, no more
Alone, I listen, I obey, I try to obey.
Alive, I too live; alive, I give thanks;
in my spirit, alive; keep me right, o Lord.

Blessed in the Way

Born pure, we young struggle and rot, seeking pristine purity, blessed in the Way, this Word.
Breathing in this book, this blessed, blessed Word,
I try, try, try to stay on the narrow path, teetering, tending my weak joints, buckling.
Braving this world, my heart beating, awash in Your Word,
Let me be right and pure today, blessed.
Blessed be your name, O Lord, I thank you, blessed to learn the law that I resist. Yes, I resist.
Beating your Word across my tongue, across my mouth,
Blessed to remember, to repeat, to recall.
Joy in the Word, Blessed!
Joy in the Word.
Beguiled in the reflection of your Word, blessed by your Way.
Bejeweled in your journal, your Word close at hand. Blessed Amen!

Commanded, Living Free

Commanded to live, keep me free, alive, awash in Your Word, cleansed in Your Word,
Cleansed, clinging to Commandments, relationships freed, miracles clearly seen.
Clinging, clawing my way through this strange New World, keep me, hold me in Your Word.
My soul clamors, longing for Your Word, even when I jerk to deny, clamoring for Your Word.
Condemned, firm in the center, encircled in me, we, greedy ones, circle around, condemned, away from Your Word.
Aware, and back, and in Your Command,
Contempt burns me, and faltering I come back.
Contempt around me, I seize the Word,
alive and aware, alive in Your Word.
Clearly these Words guide me, alive, with joy,
At peace, mes amis, alive in Your Word. Amen.
Condemned, away from the Word, was Esau hated, or away–simply away–away from the Word?

Decreed to Live

Death, I am close to death.
Down, I am so down some days. Give me new life.
Done, it is done, and I told you all that I have done, and I am excited–you answered. Decreed to live, teach me the decrees.
Decrees do escape me today. Will you teach me gently?
Do not dumb it down as I reflect on today’s miracles.
Drowning in my own tears, can it be? Down, down, grant me strength.
Divert my wandering eyes from idols of the world. Delight me in surprising ways with the Word. Yes, surprise me.
Descending not low, not now, I rise up in new height, with these decrees of life.
Dragging my Bible with me everywhere these days, digging in the decrees, keep me righteous Lord; don’t embarrass me.
Delighted, I am delighted when I understand your word. Not demands so much, your decrees work through me–my partner.

Elevated, Enlightened

Enough! Again enough! Educated in your laws, I obey them to the end. Endless.
Enlighten me each day; fill my mind gently, and I will hold your heavenly edicts in my heart.
Encircling this earthly tabernacle on this rolling path, I am giddy now; keep me joyful, heavenly one.
Enjoying the rich, enriching edicts of your word, ground me, keep me here,
Ensnared not by these get-rich-quick schemes so frequent here.
Joy in the Word, Blessed!
Joy in your Word.
Entrust your word to me, deep in me, so that I can understand fear, and even then, love you.
Even now these harsh words of too many are drenching me, but
Evasion of word-heaps comes easily, secure in your righteous regulations.
Entering the quiet, cocoon space of your guidance, hearing your word deep in me,
Entering new life, I am right.

Freedom Walk

Freely I embraced your blessings, Lord, and finally I find your promises in me.
And firmly I find in You the answer to those who taunt me here, and
Fully I trust, grab tight to your word.
Freely I find hope in your truth, Holy One;
Freely I trust in your word–it is so.
Following your teaching forever and forever, I obey.
Freely I will walk where I wish, freely following you, fresh-found mentor-friend,
For I sought out your free guidance, and you favored me.
Forthright let me speak your fresh word freely, and
Feel free and brave with bosses and family.
Joyful in your word, blessed!
Joyful in God’s word!
Fully I meditate, and open my hands, offered freely in prayer,
Fully I meditate; not my will, but yours, I freely offer.

Grabbing His Name, Not Going to Fear

God-of-great-love, You give me hope, and I
grab your name and your word each night,
Glomming onto fear some nights, I recall God’s word, and in heaven there will be no suffering. God is good.
God-of-grace, here we suffer, or we suffer with those-who-suffer, and
God, yes, I grab onto your word.
Greedy for your comfort–I confess I am greedy–I
grasp your law, and at the threshold, I find
Goodness and comfort in the words.
Growing haughty and hot in anger at night,
holding onto fear in spite of myself, I
Grasp your name and hold it on my lips.
Going to a joyful place, in the Word, as in Psalms,
Joyfully Blessed!
Joyful in God’s word.
Grabbing hold of your name, God, this night,
Going away from fear,
Not going to deep sorrow, I turn to joy.
Guiding principles gild my heart now, and
God, you give me hope. Hope. Hope. Hope.

Hope Rises, Hope is High

Hope. I have hope. Hope is my inheritance.
I hold tightly to your words and look into them; it is my promise.
Heart-deep, heart-filled, I hear your blessing–my hope. Hope.
Hearing my life over again–deep inside, and
Holding onto your word–I hasten to your calm, your guide.
Hesitating once, now with no halt, I
hasten to obey this day.
Hemp-ropes are tied about me, binds of my people, and I ignore
these binds today, positive in the word.
Heightened in this night, time perverted, I rise up,
hearing the word clearly in my head too,
Hopeful, friendly to brothers and sisters here in your word,
I have hope–Joy in the Word!
Hopeful, your mercy and justice find us;
hopeful, we heed these words of mercy–
Blessed! Joy in your word!

In Judgment, Knowing

Jubilation! I know how you treat me!
As you promised, you treat me just so.
Judgment and knowledge are in your word,
and you teach me each day, because I see
your commandments as jewels.
Just then, again I thought I might wander
away from you again, but I know that in suffering, I yearned again
to hold onto your word.
Joy in the Word, Blessed!
Joy in your word! Teach me.
Judged by haughty and self-righteous hedonists,
I am defamed some days, but I do best when I set these things far away and
obey what you put before me.
Jaundiced and cold, calloused really,
they don’t see me, and miss you, Lord,
but I am happy again, enriched by your word.

Joyful in the Word

Joyful in the word, blessed!
Once I suffered and I learned from you:
Joy and Hope!
Judged by the measures of this fanciful society,
your words fill me more than any
Jeopardy winnings. You are my prize.

Knowing Integrity

Your hands created me and you know me.
Knowing me, Lord, you help me to know me.
Knowing you, Holy One, my friends rejoice–
They know my hope; they know I am with your word.

Know that His commandments are fair when
We know what they say to us–when we listen.

Today I know:
Know your mercy surrounds and comforts me,
Know your sweet compassion cradles my soul,
and knowing your way, I am happy today;
Know that sinners are not forever,
not aware, and not knowing your word,
Know that those who find, come around me,
knowing we are together in your word,
Know my own heart, that place so hard to see when we don’t
Know integrity.

Let Me Pray

Loudly I speak of you, God-of-Grace; let me
Live in your word, learning your commands.
Leavened by your word and your commandments,
Let my hope shine and show your word in me.

Listening to these words, we see that they are true;
Listening, may we learn!
Lord, I pray, let your grace and mercy surround me.
Let me be comforted and be a comfort too.

Let your joy be strong and cradle my soul, and
let me be happy too.
Let me see sinners in failure when they miss the mark, and
Let not the righteous die a hundred deaths.
Lead us, as we join together to study your word,
to your comfortable place, God-of-Grace.
Let me examine my own heart,
Let me be honest and straight; fill me with real
integrity today.

My Soul Aches to be Refreshed

My soul seemed weak for so long as I waited
for you–or did you wait for me?
My eyes were straining, bulging and blood-shot from looking
far and deep; I ask you again: How do I obey?
May I not be hung out to dry, not

bursting as I am hung out in the heat of the day.
Move me from this brittle reality, these
tough times I built up in my life.
Make me joyful in your word, blessed!
Joyfully blessed!
Joyful in God’s word!
Much persecuted, I complain anew, but help me!
May I still not abandon your guiding wisdom.
Make my life new, God-of-Mercy,
Make me fresh and new,
May I obey.
May I still obey your commandments,
even when I complicate them beyond the simple.
Merciful God, make my life new today.

Never to Forget

Never-ending words have been written in
heaven and deep in the foundation of earth;
Nothing less than eternal is this word,
written deep in my heart, etched on my soul.
Neatly in place is this word, your grace and faithfulness abound.
Nothing has toppled, even when we toppled it,
because all that matters is to be in service to our Lord.
Nevermore unhappy, but alive in the word,
I live in joy, and do not die this day in my
old, miserable way.
Never forget! Let me not forget what I once ran from–
precepts, guidance, directions to stay free–
Now free, I wrap my arms (and mind) around my new life.
Noted: toys and tools I thought I’d have
forever are ruined and long-gone,
But your word lives. My life is electric.
Not the wicked!
Not here to stop my walk down the lighted path.
Know that God doesn’t forget who he is:
His faith is everyday–he doesn’t skip any day.
Now let me count your faithful gifts to me today–
Joyful in the Word! Blessed!

Oh How Sweet This Word To Me

Oh, yes, I love what you teach me,
outwardly and inwardly in my thoughts and soul all day,
when my mind is open daily (sometimes not).
Outwardly you make me seem wiser than I was,
than I am, because your commandments are
on my face, on my tongue.
Obvious at times, I may be wiser than I should be,
Obtaining new wisdom when your words fill my thoughts;
Obedient to the words you drive into me, I
obtain wisdom beyond my years–and in spite of my years.
Oh how bright is your path, not the gloomy evil path, but
Ordered and bright, your path is the one I obey.
Obedient to your word, joyful in the word. Blessed!
You have taught me well these days.
Oh how sweet your word to me–
oh how sweet this treat!
On to understanding, I plod after your word–
Oh how bright this path that drives away from lies.

Pathways So Bright

Pathways so bright, your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light for my
Path–so well-lit and safer than others.
Promising freely, I took an oath, and I will keep it!
Righteous regulations show me your way–
even when I fall from righteousness.
Oh grace in your word!
Pathways from suffering,
I seize your new life, Holy One, as you
promised me this life of grace.
Pleased to present all praise to you, God-of-grace,
proud to learn your words, I am joyful in your word.
Perilously, I live life here,
but I am safe in your word for the long-haul, the long journey.
Peril and evil seem to be everywhere, but
principled life keeps me free to find joy.
Penned words, and listening to the word, fill my heart,
and I am blessed to recall: Joy in the word!
Pleased to obey and to be free in obedience,
planning my eternal life, I find joy. I am blessed.

R. Rejected and Restored

Remember that there are so many phonies here, but I am still
Restored, in loving the word, and refreshed.
Revealed in love, you are sometimes my hiding place, and you are a
Rock in the entry, powerful, holy God.
Restore me and set me aside–even when in
my humanity, I seek to fit in, and be in, in the crowd.
Regarding your decrees, as I hear them each day in some small
voice deep in me, God-of-grace,
Restore my hope, high above any disappointment.

Respect for your word, just God, lifts me up,
and I am safe in your arms, held in your words.
Rejecting you, the evil ones wander off,
regretting that lost confidence, and that they are
Rejected by their own laws. I am torn.
Revolted by the rubbish, the evil ones,
all around me, everywhere, I want you to
Rid us of them, ……but
Regulations are deep in the commands, I have hope,
Regard for your words; I am confident somehow in this

S. Smile on Me

Set these miracles brilliantly in my life;
Smile on me and I will obey. Then, will I?
Son-shine, shine on me, sunshine bathing me,
an open door, revealing the words.
Sucking up your words, like some succulent
sponge, I
seek deep in me for your word.
See me, spare me, smile at me, and
Set me free.
Step beside me, lock-legged with you,
and bound together in your commands, gentle God.
Save me from evil-all-around me. Set me free!
Save me so that I will obey your commands to me.
Smile on me.
Teach me.
Streams pour from my eyes:
Joyful in the Word!
Saddened, I too grieve for those who miss the mark.

T. Treat Me With Kindness, Teach Me

Tense, I am wound tight in this tension,
Graceful God:
Treat me with kindness; why don’t you
act right now, God? Crush this evil.
Trounce them, crush them; why do you wait?
Treat them with my golden rule.
I hate this wickedness and I want you to punish,
but you, God, treat them with such patience!
Treat me patiently, too, God-of-Grace;
Treat me, treat me, treat me well.
Treat me with kindness. Teach me.
Trust binds me up, strengthens me, when
I am doubting; my
Trust is built in the strength of your words.
Trusting, I will be your servant;
Trusting, I serve when I still put myself
higher–not a servant!
Trusting, I pray in words that I know
God will know. Do I know? Do I trust?

U. I am Unimportant

Unfair actions happen all around me.
Unknown to many, your Word is fair, because
You are righteous, as you teach us.
Untested at once, we seize hold of
your word, because it is fair and reliable.
Unused to such truth, I burn up with fervor,
Unable to forget these words.
Ugly, ugly; ugliness is all around,
but your word, Holy One, is tested, and
I love it. I love to be with you, God-of-grace.
I am unimportant,
Unimportant, and yet you gave me words to hold as my own.
Unimportant as I am, your
Word is reliable to me.
Unrepentant too often, I find trouble in terror,
but the word of Just-God gives me joy.
Unfailing, the written words are always there for me,
and I am open: Help me to
Understand the words, so that I will live.

V. Voice of My New Life

Voiced with all my heart, I want so much to hear you.
I’ll keep obeying you always anyway. Can I?
Voice–plaintive, plennary voice! Hearing my voice, you give me
Victory, new life.
Viewed before dawn, life looked so low, but I
vaulted from my bed to cry and call for you.
Viewing my hope, I am firm in your words:
Joyful in the word. Blessed!
Joy in your word! Teach me.
Vast is your mercy, God-of-grace. Hear my voice.
Voice of my new life, teach me these Scriptures.
Vying with me for all things, over all things,
volumes are heaped on me: volumes separate them–evil–from you.
Vexed, I try to understand, to make your reliable words mine.
You are close to me, near by me, Holy One.
Volumes ago, and eons ago, I learned from your words:
Teach me again to cry out like that.

W. Wicked Loss

Where do I find this suffering? How far do I go?
Wandering farther than I dreamed, I still hold your teachings in me.
Wind your words around me. Save me! Toss me your rope.
The Word always was, always will be: New life.
Wicked ones lose out; far from the word, they are lost.
Way, away from you, they are lost–weighed down, lawless.
Wonders surprise me regularly, Great God.
You gave me a new life when I could scarcely imagine it.
Wicked ones still intrude in my life, and I seethe, but
Written deep in me are words that miraculously sustain me.
Wicked one disgust me, and then the
Wicked ones are losing. I see it and don’t see it.
Wayward sinners–all of us–but the ones who refuse to repent,
they are lost for good. They missed the words. They are set out to dry in the wind.
Willful still and open, I am joyfully blessed!
Joy in the Word! Blessed!
Joy in your Word.

WW. Exhausted, Waiting With Hope

Wronged by others in my life, I am wrung out, and
Words upset me in spite of my judgement, but your
words speak gently to me.
Waiting here with hope,
I find joy in your presence, like a child with new treasures spilling out of his pockets.
Where do I go when I am wrapped up in lies? Don’t I know when to come back to your words?
While listening to, and searching for, God’s words,
I am joyfully blessed. Joy in the Word!
Joy in your word!
Why do I keep searching for lasting peace?
Where do I find peace, where I will not stumble?
Waiting here with hope, I
wait out my weariness. I study your word.
Written instructions often turn me off, but
I listen to God’s word as best I can.
Written in front of you, with no words edited out,
Whole lives are there for review by you.

Y. Yet I cry; Search for Me

Yet I cry for your help, as I come to you open-palmed,
yearning to understand your words, even as I struggle;
Yelling my questions to you in my mind’s eye,
your word is a life rope, dangling close to me.
Yelping like a dog when I am down, I
yell loudly to praise you, God, when I am hearing you clearly.
Yearning for you in my life, I write these words to you:
I am joyfully blessed! Joy in the Word!
You are the lamplight to my path, and my helping hand, God-of-grace,
and joyfully I follow you.
Yearning for your salvation,
I see you as my great teacher tonight.
Yeast for my life, help me rise:
New life in your penetrating words, Lord, teach me.
Yet I have often wandered from your path, glorious God.
Be my shepherd, and I will remember your words, written joyfully on my heart, and return.

Yet still and open, I am joyfully blessed!
Joy in the Word! Blessed!
Joy in your Word.

© Tom Bolton, 10 March 2012, Milwaukee USA

This poem is dedicated, in fond memory, to my late Disciple Bible teacher, Jim Marsch.

John Wesley said in his notes on Psalm 119, ” The general scope and design of this psalm is, to magnify the law and make it honourable: to shew the excellency and usefulness of divine Revelation, and recommend it to us, by the psalmist’s own example, who speaks by experience of the benefits of it, for which he praises God, and earnestly prays for the continuance of God’s grace, to direct and quicken him in his way.” I pray that my poetic examination of the Psalm has been a blessing to you. Wesley had observed that “the word of God is here called by the names of law, statutes, precepts or commandments, judgments, ordinances, righteousness, testimonies, way and word.” He thought that the Psalmist had used the Hebrew alphabet technique to avoid tediousness and to help us fix the directions in our mind. I pray that I have found this meaning in fresh ways for the American or English reader. This has been an immersion experience for me, and I pray that I have not drowned any of us.



About Tom Bolton

I'm a Husband and Dad, an Enterprise Systems Manager at the City of Milwaukee, and a Disciple and Lay Servant at First United Methodist of West Allis. I love working beside young people. As I study the Bible, sometimes I feel moved to work through my understanding by writing poetry. I also am going through a process to discern my calling, and to learn more about Christian Leadership. Sometimes I just feel like writing about something that grabs my attention too.
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