Psalm 119: DiliGENTLY

Saturday of the First Week of Lent

February 27, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with our familiar Psalm 119. Because it is the longest of the Psalms, there is plenty of material for its frequent use.


But sometimes, when things are frequent and familiar, they can also become “humdrum”. Our prayers, especially repeated vocal prayers such as those we say at Mass, can become veiled in monotony.


Thinking of this, I read Psalm 119 with new eyes today, looking for a dynamic word to pop out and speak to me. And here it was:

You have commanded that your precepts
    be diligently kept.
Oh, that I might be firm in the ways
    of keeping your statutes!

Psalm 119: 4-5

Diligently” – it is a wonderful word that suggests a range of attitudes we should hold in the Presence of God.

The word is derived from the Latin diligere: “to single out, value highly, esteem, prize, love; aspire to, be content with, appreciate”.

The psalmist suggests that God wants us to esteem and love God’s Word in a singular manner – that we should pay sharp attention, prize, and develop a deep appreciation for God’s precepts.


Our careful engagement of the Word of God must be delicate and gentle, as the root of “diligently” implies. We might imagine careful fingers peeling ripe fruit so delicately that nothing is lost of its pulp or juice.

In our daily prayer, we then savor that sweetness over and over, releasing its eternal meaning into the circumstances of our lives, feeding our spirits with its graces.

I will give you thanks with an upright heart,
    when I have learned your just ordinances.

Psalm 119:7

Poetic Advice: Taken from “The Journey of the Mind to God” by St. Bonaventure (1221–1274)

Do not assume that mere
Reading will suffice without fervor,
Speculation without devotion,
Investigation without admiration,
Observation without exaltation,
Industry without piety,
Knowledge without love,
Understanding without humility,
Study without divine grace.

Music: Wonderful Words of Life – Philip Bliss, 1874.
This is a lesser known hymn by the prolific Bliss who also composed the music for the more popular “It Is Well with My Soul”.

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