OK, I know that it is the Sunday before Valentine’s Day, and I was planning on writing one of my old style relationships notes. But on thinking more deeply about it, it did not seem quite appropriate…
And then I thought I could find a Bible passage about love, but once again…hmm.
So instead I bring you Psalm 119, about the wonders of God’s Word! I am sure I have quoted this exact same passage before, but it is beautiful, and I love it, so it is once again my choice for this week!
How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
Blessed are You, O LORD!
Teach me Your statutes.
With my lips I have declared
All the judgements of Your mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies
As much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
I will delight myself in Your statutes.
I will not forget Your word.
Analysis of Psalm 119 added for Sunday 29th May 2011
I love the whole of Psalm 119 because it is a reflection on the power and beauty of the Word of God. It also happens to be not only the longest Psalm, but also the longest chapter in the whole Bible.
I love the thought that meditating on the Word of God brings wisdom, and strength, and clarity for some of life’s biggest decisions. Sometimes when Christians talk about “hearing from God”, I always secretly feel a little anxious, as it can be so subjective. I always ask myself – well how do I know, how can I know for sure that this is absolutely from God? What if it is my own inclination speaking? (For example, where a guy is concerned…) Or sometimes I will beat myself up in the opposite direction, by torturing myelf that something I would truly hate to do, or is totally outlandish, is actually the voice of God speaking to me…
Looking to the Bible as the explicit, written Word of God helps to deal with this. I love the fact that it is written down “in black and white”. I love the fact that if I follow after what the Bible writes, I CAN’T be wrong, and everything that I, or anyone else hears from God has to surrender to the supremacy of the Bible. So if I or anyone else thinks they have heard anything weird or unexpected, I can quickly run to the Bible and check it (and please believe me, I do!)
So then, going to the passage, verse 9 asks “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed to Your word”. This obviously refers to the male gender, but I’m quite sure it stretches to women too! This is possibly the verse that most strongly comes to mind when I think not only of this passage, but even of the whole of Psalm 119 – not that it is my favourite verse in this Psalm – I have so many favourites – but rather it is the one that really catches in my mind. I love the fact that cultivating the word of God in your life – that is submitting yourself to what it says, obeying it, above all putting God first, is here taught to cleanse your way.
10: With my whole heart I have sought You; oh let me not wander from Your commandments!” – “With my whole heart I have sought You” – this is the constant pursuit of my own heart. That is, this is what I am constantly trying to align my own heart with. In sincerity, my heart truly pursues a wide range of other things, some of them shockingly frivolous; if I were to honestly assess my heart at any given time, this is what would be found there. And yet, every so often, I will feel an impetus in my heart that I know must be from God, to re-orient my life with Him truly at the centre. The determination of my life is to TRULY live for God, not just to say it, not just to impress people with my knowledge of the Bible etc, but TRULY to know Him, so that I might say, like the Apostle Paul: “That I may know Him”….
“Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! ” I think that this is a very clever prayer, that I have often copied in my own life. Basically, to pray that God Himself will keep me in His truth – so I make it His responsibility, rather than mine – “Lord, please keep me in Your truth!” Then I can happily go about, knowing that this is a prayer that He will delight to answer positively!
“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You”. Once again, this is another determination of mine, but one I struggle with so much. I think from personal experience that I understand how easy to be surrounded with the “trappings” of a strong faith, and yet to have your mind totally full of other – often contradictory things.
12…”Teach me Your statutes”: Yes Lord, please do – please let them come off the written page and strike me with truth in my heart.
13:” With my lips I have declared all the judgements of Your mouth”: I guess that by declaring them with my own mouth, it is like I am owning them for myself. Again, I am not “whispering” Your judgements, or “suggesting” them. Rather, I am “declaring” them – I am emphatically (and loudly!) asserting their truth, for all to hear.
14: “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches”. This is a common concept in the Bible; the positive comparison between the Word of God and physical wealth. I guess this is because physical riches bring a kind of security, and the Word of God correctly applied brings another kind of security, of peace in interpersonal relationships, or emotional security, or confidence in the future. And whatever may happen; if you lose all your wealth overnight, or if banks fail or if the stockmarkets crash, there is even more security for the Christian in knowing that God ALWAYS remains the same. No circumstance of life that we face could threaten His being God, or could daunt Him, or could outsmart Him. So it makes sense to put your trust in God rather than in money, although this is possibly the hardest aspect of my own life , and the one that I most struggle to trust God with.
15: “I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways”: Until they are absorbed into my subconscious, and unconsciously direct my actions;
16: “I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word”: I will train myself to derive delight from the word of God, I will teach myself to find the Word of God delightful, because it is the Word of God. I will read Your word, I will meditate on Your word, I will smile at the thought of Your excellent word. I will make it my focus day and night, I will not let my Bible gather dust on my desk throughout the week, only to be dusted down for church every Sunday…. 😉
Photo of glasses lying on top of Bible by Foto-Rabe on Pixabay