Today’s reading: Psalm 119:89-176.
You could call this chapter the ABC’s of the law, since in the Hebrew text the letters of the Hebrew alphabet were used in order to begin each stanza of lines. That is lost in translation, but the lessons on the law’s value remain.
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. Psalm 119:98-99
If the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, then the knowledge of God’s word is the fullness of wisdom. In Biblical terms, wisdom is making choices that lead to righteousness and avoid foolishness. It’s a very practical, not theoretical, kind of wisdom. It leads to action. In fact, if you fail to act on God’s word, then you are being foolish.
Righteous are you, O LORD, and your laws are right. The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy. Psalm 119:137-138
The Psalmist isn’t just talking about the rules and regulations that we might normally think of as “the Law.” He means all of God’s word. It is trustworthy, and in its entirety it defines our worldview, our understanding of the most basic questions of life. How did I get here? What went wrong? How do we make it right? When we put our trust in God’s word, we accept God’s answers to these questions, and that gives direction and purpose to our lives. We depend on God’s opinion, not how we feel about an issue emotionally, or what our friends or the latest talk shows say about it.
Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight. Psalm 119:143
We’re bound to face trouble in this life. Devotion to God’s word doesn’t take us out of the ocean of distress, but it is a seaworthy boat that keeps us from drowning and gives direction to our storm-tossed journey. Therefore, like a pioneer in the wilderness we cling to our map, joyful that it accurately shows the way to our new home.
My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises. Psalm 119:148
Truthfully, I don’t stay up through the night studying my Bible, though this year of blogging through the Bible has kept me up later than usual and gotten me started earlier than normal. There’s a bit of exaggeration going on here, but the writer is making a point. God’s word is worth staying up for. God’s word is worth getting up early to study. Why shouldn’t a passage of scripture be on your mind as you fall asleep at night? Try it; it’s definitely better for you than worrying about all the things that keep people up at night. The point is – make Bible study a priority.
Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119:165
We have peace through God’s word because:
- obedience to it gives a clear conscience.
- study of it reveals God’s wonderful faithfulness.
- it supplies us with the spiritual armor to ward off Satan’s attacks.
- it bears the spiritual fruit of peace in our hearts.
- it testifies to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
It is the mark of a true believer that he does not depend upon others for his religion, but drinks water out of his own well, which springs up even when the cisterns of earth are all dried. Our holy poet amid a general depreciation of the law felt his own esteem of it rising so high that gold and silver sank in comparison. Wealth brings with it so many conveniences that men naturally esteem it, and gold as the symbol of it is much set by; and yet, in the judgment of the wise, God’s laws are more enriching, and bring with them more comfort than all the choicest treasures. The Psalmist could not boast that he always kept the commands; but he could declare that he loved them. – Charles Spurgeon
Image by Iryna Yeroshko on Flickr, CC by 2.0