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‘Sheep without a Shepherd’ and the Old Testament Mediatorial Kingdom

December 6, 2013 Comments off

From my daily genre Bible reading, including recent readings in Ezekiel and Numbers, the following observation.  Ezekiel 34 is a well-known text on the subject of the shepherd and the sheep, and the wicked shepherds who did not take care of the sheep; Jesus in John 10 expands on and identifies with this figure as well.   But in also reading through the Pentateuch, comes an interesting “first mention” of the idea of sheep without a shepherd.  Sheep and shepherds are of course introduced generally in Genesis, with Jacob meeting Rachel – and the subsequent chapters of Jacob’s contribution to Genesis.  But Numbers 27:16-17  contains the first mention of the idea of a people needing a shepherd to lead them so that they be not “as sheep that have no shepherd.”

The scene is near the end of Moses’ life, and Moses’ request for someone to succeed him in leading the people that now are a nation – and the request is granted, in Moses’ assistant Joshua. Here I am also reminded of the kingdom concept as brought out in Alva McClain’s “Greatness of the Kingdom,” including his point that the mediatorial kingdom began in history under Moses.  We often think of the Old Testament kingdom as specifically that established under the monarchy (King Saul, then David and Solomon), but the concept began in history with the Exodus from Egypt, the covenant nation established before God,  with God as their king and Moses their leader.  Numbers 27 brings this out, in this first reference to this concept, in the matter of leadership succession within this mediatorial kingdom.

The idea of “sheep without a shepherd” does not appear in the scriptures again until several hundred years later, during the divided kingdom and the early prophets: first in the account of Micaiah’s prophecy of Ahab’s destruction (1 Kings 22:17 and 2 Chronicles 18:16):  I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd.”  Judgment is in view here, that the king (Ahab) is destroyed, and the people are without a leader.  The next time the concept is mentioned is the later prophets associated with the Babylonian exile, the end of the mediatorial kingdom in Old Testament history:  Jeremiah 23:1 and 50:6, followed by this as the topic of Ezekiel 34.  How fitting it is, and brought together in the daily genre reading of different sections of the Bible, to see this unity and overall theme seen throughout the Bible including Old Testament history and prophecy:  the concept of sheep without a shepherd introduced near the beginning of that mediatorial kingdom, then at two points of judgment, earlier in the decline (the time of Ahab) and again at the end of that era of Israel’s mediatorial kingdom, just before the “times of the Gentiles” began.

The Priests that Became Obedient to the Faith (S. Lewis Johnson Speculation)

November 1, 2013 2 comments

My recent Bible genre reading has included several references to lepers and leprosy.  In one day’s reading: the ten lepers healed in Luke 17:11-19, Leviticus 14 (the cleansing for the leper); and the four lepers (who were not healed) in Samaria in 2 Kings 7.  This reminds me of a little-noticed statement (also in my recent readings) in Acts 6:7, “and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”  In the context (Acts 6), the apostles have performed many great miracles of healing, as recorded for instance in Acts 5:12-16 : Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. … And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

S. Lewis Johnson engaged in a little speculation concerning this point: what was it about the priests, that they became obedient to the faith?  Here we consider the significance of the great miracles that took place in Jesus’ gospel ministry and then continued (“what Jesus began to do and teach”) through the apostles’ ministry in the book of Acts.  Dr. Johnson’s observation here:

How is it, do you think, that the priests are especially singled out for faith?  In the Old Testament, in the Levitical prescriptions, two chapters are devoted to the way in which Israel should take care of the lepers.  Now remember, when the preaching of the gospel is to take place, Isaiah said, lepers are going to be healed.  And then, our Lord Jesus, when He comes on the scene, lepers are healed by Him.  It was a Messianic sign; that is, that He was the Messiah.  He was fulfilling what Isaiah set out in the Old Testament.

Now, it was said in the Old Testament that a certain prescribed ritual was to take place, when a leper was cleansed.  He was to bring a certain kind of offering; I cannot go into detail.  The only thing unusual about it, if you want to look at it in chapter 14 of the Book of Leviticus, it had to do with two birds.  He had to bring this prescribed ritual and there was a prescribed ritual for which the priest was to go; and then, the priest was to pronounce the individual clean who had been cleansed of leprosy.   [Now, remember: For fifteen hundred years before the time of our Lord, no leper, so far as the record is concerned, had been healed in Israel.  Naaman had been healed, but he was a Syrian.  Miriam, back in the earliest days, had leprosy.  No other person had been healed.]  Now, here, the apostles come on the scene, our Lord comes on the scene, and the lepers are being healed.  And so, what do they do?  Well, they go to the priests and they say, ‘We’ve been healed.  Isn’t there something in the Law about a ceremony we are to carry out?’   And the priests say, ‘the professors in our theological seminary didn’t tell us anything about that.’  They didn’t know what to do.  So, they had to do what a young preacher has to do when somebody comes and says, ‘Will you marry us next Wednesday?’  And he’s never married anybody before.  He rushes off and asks an older preacher, ‘What in the world shall I do?  What kind of ceremony can I give?’  And he is feverishly preparing for his marriage ceremony, which he’s never carried out.

So these priests — and in the course of these people who are streaming to the priests — they discover this in the Old Testament.  They discover also that the Messiah was said to be one who would heal leprosy.  And, during the course of these lepers coming to the priests, many of those priests are brought to the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  They recognize that this is really the Messianic ministry, and so ‘a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.’

He Said in His Heart: David and Jeroboam

January 15, 2013 4 comments

From recent Bible readings in my Genre reading plan, I’ve noticed certain phrases often mentioned throughout the Bible. One to consider this time:  “Said in his heart” and similar variations such as “say in your heart.”

The phrase occurs first in Genesis 8:21, telling what the Lord said in His heart, in reference to God’s receiving Noah’s offering after the flood.  All other uses of the phrase tell us the human reasoning of certain individuals, indicating the person’s inner, secret thoughts: the thoughts of the spirit within a man, which we cannot know (1 Cor. 2:11) — except that in all these cases through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the writing of scripture, these thoughts are revealed to us.

I notice that whenever the phrase “said in his heart” refers to a person or people, the idea expressed comes from human reasoning not directed by the Lord God, an error in the person’s thinking.  The phrase, or similar wording such as “say in your heart,” is found in many passages including Deuteronomy 7:17, 8:17, 9:4, and 18:21; in Obadiah, about Edom, and Zephaniah 2:15 about the exultant and wicked city; Isaiah 47:8, about the wicked, and Isaiah 49:21 about God’s people when they return to Him; also in Jeremiah 13:22, Ecclesiastes 2:1, 15; and finally in Romans 10:6, quoting an Old Testament passage.

Two such occurrences are especially interesting, in the similar wording yet the great contrasts:  David, and Jeroboam.

“Jeroboam said in his heart” (1 Kings 12:26) — Here we see Jeroboam’s human reasoning, a fear that the people of Israel would go up to Jerusalem to worship and turn against Jeroboam — and the disastrous result, the introduction of idolatry to Israel.  It’s also the same phrase used of David in 1 Samuel 27:1 (Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul.”) which introduced David’s declension and backsliding away from the Lord for the next year and a half in Philistine territory.

Both men faltered, thinking something in their own heart that was contrary to the word of God.  Yet in David’s case, by God’s grace, David was later restored to fellowship with Him:  1 Samuel 30:6, “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God,” indicating David’s return to a right relationship with the Lord.  God did not do that for Jeroboam when Jeroboam said something in his heart.  I’m reminded also of the common contrast between Peter and Judas: they both committed a sin against the Lord, one denying the Lord, the other betraying; and yet one was saved, the Lord interceding for and restoring him to right relationship, and the other (Judas) was not.

Water from the Rock: Genre Reading Selections

November 24, 2012 4 comments

From my recent readings in a genre style plan, the following passages came up together one day — a few interesting passages to think upon:

  •  John 7:37-39, when Jesus stood up, on the last day, the great day of the Feast, and proclaimed Himself the source of the river of living water
  • Next, Exodus 17:1-7, the story of that event so well remembered thousands of years later at the Feast in John 7: Moses striking the rock, and water coming out for the thirsty people in the desert
  • An unrelated event, one I wouldn’t have thought of except that it was also in the daily genre reading selection:  Judges 15:19, a time when Samson was given special grace, that a “hollow place” in the wilderness split open and provided him water, so that “his spirit returned, and he revived.”
  • Isaiah 48, a great chapter about the suffering servant, including a well-known Old Testament trinity verse (Isaiah 48:16), and in verse 21 another reference to the water from the rock:

They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts;
he made water flow for them from the rock;
he split the rock and the water gushed out.

In God’s word, water is often used as a picture of the Holy Spirit, that which refreshes our soul as physical water refreshes our thirst.  Many other Bible verses also speak of coming to the water, as for instance Isaiah 55:1 and again at the very end of the Bible, Revelation 22:17.  The rock is our God (the first mention in Deuteronomy 32:31), also Christ specifically (1 Corinthians 10:4).  Thus the scriptures also show the importance of the idea of water from the rock, through repetition and remembrance as in the above mentioned texts.

The Genesis Patriarchs: Ages, Years and Arithmetic

November 5, 2012 2 comments

For my Bible reading I’ve been following a genre style approach with 12-14 chapters per day, from Professor Horner’s Ten List idea, for about 3 ½ years now.  Over time, I find that through repeated readings I notice more and more things in the same text: a lot of the wonder of God’s word, that it is always fresh and new and never runs out of depth of material.

I’m now reading through Genesis, a book included in a 109 day cycle through the Pentateuch.  S. Lewis Johnson’s Genesis series is one that I remember more than some series. I learned of the doctrine of first mention from this series; that Sarah is the only woman in the Bible for whom we are given her age at death (127 years); and the biblical-historical rationale and importance concerning the burial of the body as opposed to cremation.  Also, the frequent mentions of Isaac and his love of Esau’s game, such that SLJ observed that Isaac probably had a large pot (belly) from his great love of food, as well as the overall life lessons of Jacob and how God dealt with him, sending him a Laban just as shrewd as himself; and why it was necessary for Jacob and his family to be sent to Egypt, and in the way it was done: to keep the family line secure and separate from the other peoples.

Now to another observation from regular reading through Genesis:  the many numbers and year and age figures provided, and the fact of the very long lives of people during the patriarchal period, with lifespans twice that of now (and even of the lifespans less than a thousand years later).  This especially comes out in the Jacob saga and the people associated with him.  We first meet Laban in Genesis 24, an adult brother of Rebekah.  Esau and Jacob were born twenty years later (Genesis 25:20, 26), were past age 40 (Genesis 26:34) and actually in their 70s (continue reading) — when Jacob stole the blessing from Esau.  Then Jacob — over ninety years after Genesis 24 — meets his uncle Laban, who continues in the story for the next twenty years.  Over a hundred years after Laban’s sister Rebekah left to marry Isaac, Laban is still physically active and able to pursue after Jacob in Genesis 31.

We also learn from Genesis that Joseph was born at the end of the 14 years work for both brides Leah and Rachel (Genesis 30:25).  Benjamin was born at least seven years later. Genesis 31 verses 38 and 41 note that Jacob had been with Laban 20 years at that point: six years after Joseph was born; and other verses indicate that Jacob’s children were still young when Jacob fled from Laban.  Then allow some period of time for the events of Genesis 34, perhaps a year, and then Rachel gave birth to Benjamin while they were journeying from Shechem to Ephrath (Genesis 35:16-18).  This agrees with the fact that Benjamin was not involved in the plot of the older brothers selling Joseph into slavery, when Joseph was 17 but Benjamin was still a young boy perhaps ten years old.

Jacob was 120 years old when his father Isaac died (Genesis 35:27-29): Isaac 180 years old, minus 60 years when Jacob and Esau were born.  If the later time and age sequences are correct, though, Isaac’s death occurred during Joseph’s time in Egypt, after the events of Genesis 37.

Working backward from Genesis 47:9 when Jacob was 130 years old, apparently Jacob was 91 when Joseph was born.  Jacob and sons entered Egypt after two years of famine, with five more years of famine, and so Joseph was then 39 years old: age 30 when he entered Pharoah’s service (Genesis 41:46); then seven years of plenty, plus two years of famine = 39.  Thus Jacob was in his 70s when he entered into service with Laban. So the incident of Jacob stealing Esau’s blessing came when they were in their 70s, after Esau had been married for many years to the Hittite women.  After all, by the time of Genesis 27 Isaac is old and his eyes set so that he cannot see; and he wanted to give the blessing to his son, since “I do not know the day of my death.” When Jacob and Esau were 75, Isaac was 60 years older, 135 (not knowing he would live till age 180).  Perhaps Esau already had children by those wives he married at age 40, a part not relevant to the story, which concerned the two men and the blessing.

Of course the book of Genesis has much more to tell, of which all these numbers and years are merely the background.  Yet we can also learn from these details, as well as the genealogies spread throughout Genesis, that our God is involved in the lives of His people, and that He is even interested in the details of people’s lives and their families and family lines.

Another Horner Bible Reading Variation: 9 Lists Through the Bible in 109 days

June 16, 2012 Comments off

A follow-up from last month’s update concerning Bible genre reading. I recently switched over to the 8 list plan described there, and made slight modifications to make it a 9-list plan.  The main change this time is to have two separate New Testament lists of one chapter each, instead of two chapters going through all of Acts through Revelation.  One list reads through all the non-Paul NT books: Acts, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1-2-3 John, Jude, and Revelation, one chapter per day.  The other list is the Pauline epistles: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon.  The lists for Psalms and Proverbs have slight changes too:  Psalms and Ecclesiastes together, two chapters per day, then five days of Lamentations at one chapter per day, for 86 days through that list.  The Proverbs list, minus Lamentations, is now 85 days.  In the actual plan a few days’ readings are adjusted to one or two chapters in some cases, for handling of shorter or longer chapters along with the “lowest common multiple” list-realignment factor.

I’ve also experimented with different list orders, applying the alternating pattern (between New and Old Testament readings) with the wisdom books in the middle.  The nine list plan, with an extra New Testament list, gives more flexibility in list sequence:  start with the gospels, and end with one of the New Testament lists, but insert the other New Testament list in the middle.  Sequence is of course only a matter of personal preference.  Many people who start the Horner or similar reading plan at first just want to read the lists in actual sequence from Genesis to the end.  But alternating between the different genres, including NT versus OT genres, helps with the overall daily reading flow.

The nine lists:

  • Gospels (1 chapter/day):  89 days
  • Pentateuch (1-2 chapters/day):  109 days
  • Pauline Epistles (1 chapter/day): 87 days
  • History (2 chapters/day):  98 days
  • Prophets (2 chapters/day): 94 days
  • Psalms/Lamentations/Eccles (2 chapters/day):  86 days
  • Proverbs/Job/Song/Ruth (1 chapter/day):  85 days
  • Esther-to-Chronicles (1 chapter/day): 106 days
  • Acts-to-Revelation (non-Paul) (1 chapter/day): 83 days

The PDF reading list

The Horner Bible Reading System: Another Variation

May 5, 2012 2 comments

I’ve often blogged about the Horner Bible Reading Plan and modifications to it. At the core is a genre-based reading system in which one reads one or two chapters from each of several lists each day.  Such a plan usually includes anywhere from 6 to 12 lists, and each list has a certain number of Bible books; each list represents a different genre, such as the Pentateuch, history, prophets, literature, gospel, NT epistles, and so forth.  In this way one is always reading a small portion from each of the different parts of the Bible.  The Horner Ten List plan is the most well-known one, announced a few years ago by Professor Grant Horner.  In such a plan, for the first day one reads the first one or two chapters from list 1, then one or two chapters from list 2, and so forth through all the lists. The next day, read the next chapters for each list, and so on until you reach the end of the list.

For most genre plans, the lists are of different lengths, so that one list will be finished while still reading through the other lists. When you finish the end of one list, you start back at the beginning of that same list. The result is an infinite possibility of different reading “combinations” each day, that you’re never reading the exact same set of Bible chapters from day to day.  Currently I follow an 8-list, 12-13 chapters genre plan, the result of various modifications made to the original Horner 10 List Plan, which I began in early 2009.

In early 2011 I created and read through a “90 day genre reading” plan to complete the Bible in 90 days: not the usual 90 day plan of going straight through from Genesis to Revelation, but a set of 9 lists for the different genres.

The genre plan is easy to follow and modify, and it’s fun to come up with different reading lists.  On the facebook genre Bible reading group, a few others are reading with the 90 day genre plan — and coming up with their own modifications to that, such as to have fewer lists (six total) and more chapters, in some cases three chapters at a time.

Now for another 8 list plan idea, one I plan to switch over to in the next few weeks.  (Here is the link to the plan.) This one incorporates the Jewish Old Testament book sequence (this site shows the Jewish book sequence), which differs from the Christian canon, for a few different reading lists.  Note that the Pentateuch and gospel lists remain unchanged, and List 8, NT books, is the same as that list in the 90 day plan.  Like the 90 day plan, this one is more balanced between Old and New Testaments, for only three chapters per day (two lists) in the NT.  The Psalms list is similar to the one for the current 8 lists, except that I removed “Song of Solomon” and put it with List 6, per the Jewish OT book sequence.  As seen in the PDF, I tweaked the actual readings for a few days, to compensate for lengthier or shorter chapters within the lists, as well as to minimize the frequency of list realignment. (List realignment occurs when, after multiple times through the various lists, two of the lists are “synced” back to the same days as in the first time through.  This reading plan will have its first realignment — lists 2 and 5 — after almost 2 3/4 years of doing this plan.  Other lists would take over 7 years to realign to the original lists.)

List 1: Pentateuch — 1 or 2 chapters per day, 109 days
List 2: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Ezekiel (from “The Prophets”): 2 chapters per day, 98 days
List 3: Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Twelve (minor prophets; from “The Prophets” list): 2 chapters per day, 94 days
List 4: Psalms 2 chapters per day, Ecclesiastes 1 chapter per day: 87 days
List 5: Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, 1 chapter per day: 90 days
List 6: Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles, 1 chapter per day: 106 days
List 7: Gospels, 1 chapter per day: 89 days
List 8: NT Acts through Revelation, 2 chapters per day: 88 days

The PDF reading list

Bible Reading for 2012: 90 Day Modified Horner Bible Reading

December 16, 2011 6 comments

Following is a re-post from December of last year, when I mentioned my 90-Day Modified Horner Reading Plan.   Click here for the PDF for the full 90-day reading.  It was a good reading plan, 14 chapters a day and gradually reducing near the end of the 90 days, to complete and end the reading on March 31.  Since then I’ve been back to an 8-list genre reading plan which completes the Bible every 125 days.

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Update:  New Facebook discussion group for the Horner Bible Reading plan and modifications including this 90-day reading plan.

At the beginning of 2010 I described a 2010 Bible Reading Challenge with several variations on the Horner Bible Reading System, a genre-based reading through each of several different sections of the Bible.  With such plans you read one or two chapters from each list, for a total of 10 to 14 chapters per day, and read completely through the Bible several times per year.

For most of this year I’ve been doing an eight list plan that includes 12 to 14 chapters per day; the longest list is 125 days.  However, beginning January 1, just for the first three months, I’ll be following a 9-list 90 days plan.

List 1:  Gospels  (89 days) — one chapter per day
List 2:  Pentateuch (90 days) — two chapters per day
List 3:  New Testament (Acts through Revelation) — two chapters per day
List 4:  Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Ecclesiastes — one chapter per day
List 5:  Psalms, Song of Solomon — two chapters per day
List 6:  History Joshua thru 2 Kings (except Ruth), and Esther — two chapters per day
List 7:  History 1-2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah — one chapter per day
List 8:  Major Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel — two chapters per day
List 9:  Other Prophets–Lamentations, Daniel thru Malachi — one chapter per day

Since this is not an A-to-Z type plan that breaks the reading in the middle of chapters, the lists do not all end on the last day.  Actually, all the lists except List 1 end before March 31, and so the reading gradually tapers off toward the end.  List 9 ends on March 25, and the others end gradually after that.  I made additional adjustments for some especially long chapters, so that where I would normally read two chapters I only read one for those days.  A few examples of these include Psalm 119 split into two days, as well as 1 Kings 7 and 8, Jeremiah 49 through 52, and Ezekiel 39 and 40

You may notice that I put Ruth in List 4 after Proverbs.  I made this adjustment after learning that, at least at one time, the Jewish scriptures placed Ruth after Proverbs — flowing from the Proverbs 31 woman to the godly woman Ruth.

*** Added on 1/3/2011:   A good variation on the reading sequence — instead of reading the lists in the order above, read as follows:

List 2 (Pentateuch)
Lists 6-7 (History)
Lists 8-9 (Prophets)
Lists 4 and 5 (wisdom books)
List 1 (Gospels)
List 3 (New Testament)

Click here to see the actual day-by-day list, in PDF format for printing.

PDF of the 125-day 8 list plan.  (Note: with the eight list plan, after you complete a list you return to the beginning of that list.)

Horner Bible Reading: The Benefits of Genre-Style Reading

November 30, 2011 Comments off

As I’ve mentioned before, I appreciate the genre Bible reading format (as with the Horner Bible Reading System) and its benefits. Some of the day’s readings will often relate to what I’m listening to in sermons, or a devotional text.  Recently, for instance, the “Days of Praise” devotional considered the topic of rest for God’s people, as contrasted with the devil. The main text was Job 1:7, about Satan going about and never resting.  The devotional cited two texts, which I read shortly afterwards, in Matthew 11 and 1 Peter 5, providing a contrast between “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” and the warning in 1 Peter 5 about our enemy prowling about (the same restlessness as in Job 1:7) as a roaring lion.

Then, the endings to each of Isaiah’s 9-chapter sets comes to mind, related to this and what I’ve been listening to, S. Lewis Johnson’s “Messianic Prophecies in Isaiah”.  Isaiah 40 through 66 consists of three sets of nine chapters, different segments concerning the Suffering Servant.  The first two sections end with the identical phrase, “There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.” (Isaiah 48:22, 57:21). The third one, the last verse in Isaiah 66, contains the same idea.  Just as the devil prowls around, characterized by restless activity, so too the ungodly do not have rest or peace.

Other recent reading parallels include a day the readings included the theme of both Israel’s rejections as well as good times:  the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 33, as a contrast with the great time of revival in Hezekiah’s day (2 Chron. 29-30), then judgment in Amos 6-7.  That day’s “Days of Praise” also related to some of the readings:  James 2-3 and Amos 6-7, about the evil rich.

Psalm 119: The Psalm of the Word

June 13, 2011 Comments off

In my genre-based Bible reading plan, I often come back around to Psalm 119 — every 85 days now, and the latest round came this last week.  For many using the Horner Bible Reading plan, this psalm is often cited as a very daunting one:  the plan involves reading a psalm a day, and the day for psalm 119 means a very large amount of reading compared to any other psalm.

Psalm 119 does require more reading that day, either in sequence with the other chapters, or separately during the day.  But this “psalm of the word” is a great treasure I’ve come to appreciate all the more through regular readings — the psalm that extols the importance of God’s word, the importance of actually reading and studying the things in God’s word.

A recent devotional from ICR.org’s “Days of Praise” provided interesting thoughts concerning Psalm 119, noting these key verses that mention “the whole  heart”:

  1. “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart” (v. 2).
  2. “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments” (v. 10).
  3. “Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart” (v. 34).
  4. “I entreated thy favor with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word” (v. 58).
  5. “The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart” (v. 69).
  6. “I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O Lord: I will keep thy statutes” (v. 145).

From my recent reading of it, a few more important themes:  following God’s precepts, and facing persecution from the godless, yet trusting in God for deliverance.  The verses about the wicked remind me of similar thoughts from the Proverbs: those who mock and are insolent, in contrast to those who patiently wait upon God.

We are to keep God’s testimonies, law, precepts, and statutes — and praise Him who has given us His eternal Word to us!  That means truly reading it — not just superficial glancing through a few parts here and there, but diligent regular study, pondering it and probing the depths of the riches, even unto greater appreciation for this Psalm which discusses that very attitude of heart.