One of the first things you likely learned—before you even went
to school—was your alphabet. My infant son and I read book
after book together that teach this building block of language
in fun, engaging ways: “A is for Athletic Aardvark . . . B is
for Belly-flopping Buffalo . . . C is for Cavorting Catfish . . . ”
Even if my child’s current vocabulary only includes cooing and
drooling, I figure it’s never too early to start working on these
foundations that will shape his ability to communicate and
understand the world.

The psalmist thought similarly. Multiple Psalms—9; 10; 25;
34; 37; 111; 112; and 145—are acrostic in form, with each line
starting with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Psalm 119
is the mother of all acrostic psalms; not only does each section
start with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet, but every
line in each stanza starts with that same letter. So verses 1-8 start
with the letter aleph, verses 9-16 begin with beth, and so on—all
the way to verses 167–76, where scripture’s longest chapter concludes
with eight verses beginning with taw.

Why write in this way? Perhaps for the same reason we
read alphabet books to children: We want them to internalize
and remember what’s foundational to their functioning. If they
don’t get this one aspect right, everything else will be much
harder! For the writer of Psalm 119, that one aspect is God’s statutes,
God’s ways. The law is the blood that animates life, which
shapes the ability to communicate and understand the world. It
is the building block for all that they know and are.

Think about what your life would be like if you did not
know the basic letters of your language. How would your life
be similarly disoriented without God’s teaching?
God, when I need direction, return me to the building blocks

God, when I need direction, return me to the building blocks laid out in your word, knowing I will find life there. Amen.

Rece las Escrituras usando Leccionario en Audio
Leer Matthew 5:21-37

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Leccionario Semanal
February 6–12, 2017
Resumen de la Escritura

How are Christians to understand and relate to the Jewish law? The text from Deuteronomy confronts Israel with a sharp choice: Follow the commandments of Yahweh or bow to the gods of the Canaanites. Choosing the law means choosing a way of life. Psalm 119 praises the Torah as God’s gift bestowed on Israel to be the authentic guide as to how life should be lived. Jesus becomes the authoritative interpreter of the Torah, the one who pushes beyond external behavior to a consistency between disposition and deed. Christians are invited by the text to be different and become what Paul describes as “spiritual people.”

Preguntas para la reflexión

• Read Deuteronomy 30:15-20. How do you go about choosing between the call of God and the call of the idols that surround you?
• Read Psalm 119:1-8. How has keeping God’s command- ments been a joyful experience in your life?
• Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9. What do you consider to be the “milk” of the gospel versus the “solid food” of the gospel?
• Read Matthew 5:21-37. Which of the “But I say to you” teachings of Jesus surprise you the most? Why?

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