by Sean Lim
8 August 2010
The Bible in Ps 119:97-104 reads, “O how love I Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You through Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts. I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep Your word. I have not departed from Your judgments: for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste! Sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.”
Here we have a great proclamation from the psalmist about what God’s word is for us. The psalmist here expresses his thoughts about God’s word. It is an expression of joy, and one of great appreciation for the benefits that it has brought him. The psalmist says in vs. 97 that he loves the law of God. The use of the word “love” here conveys a deep sense of desire and interest. He doesn’t just “like” the law, he loves it, and because of his love for God’s law, he meditates on it. His meditation here is done all the day, or in other words, on a regular basis, and not sparingly or occasionally only when “he is free”. He understands that God’s word helps him throughout his life.
Today, what is our attitude toward God’s word? Do we “love” God’s word as the psalmist does, or do we have an attitude of indifference when it comes to the Bible? Do we continually consider the word of God in our lives? The Bible here suggests that we should because God’s word brings us great benefit, not only in the afterlife, but also while we are here on Earth. According to the psalmist here, God’s words are able to make us wise, yes, wiser even than our enemies! But notice that there is a condition – we will be wise only if God’s word is continually with us! Brethren, do we lack wisdom? The psalmist here through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit encourages us to keep God’s word close to our hearts and by doing so we gain wisdom. Yes, James 1:5-8 tells us that we should ask God when we lack wisdom, but Matt 7:7 tells us that we should not only ask, but seek and knock as well, and we do that by considering the word of God, and thereby getting wisdom.
Today many people seek different places for wisdom. Some seek them from self-help gurus and their books, others from parents. Some seek wisdom from their school teachers, or their elderly, or the internet. Brethren, the Bible exhorts us to seek wisdom from the Bible, and not from these worldly people, because the Bible contains wisdom from God – it is heavenly wisdom, one that is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy (Jas 3:17). In contrast, the wisdom of the world is earthly, sensual, and demonic, for where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work (Jas 3:15-16).
The psalmist also tells us that God’s word is able to give us understanding – more than our teachers and our elders! In a world where suffering and confusion and deception are everywhere, people are seeking an understanding. They want to understand what is going on, why is there suffering, what are they doing here in this world, where did they come from, and if there is life after death. People are seeking for answers, and the psalmist here says that through God’s testimonies, we understand what our purpose is here on Earth. Through His precepts, we understand what we have to do, we are able to distinguish right from wrong, what God wants and does not. The psalmist also tells us that with God’s word, we can understand more than our elders and teachers! We can become an example to them and let our light shine, and when people see our wisdom and our conduct, God is glorified (Matt 5:16). One great example we can see is in the 1 Sam 17 the young man David defeated Goliath through his trust in God, when all of Israel was afraid. Jesus Himself, when He was a boy, amazed people with His wisdom in Luke 2.
The psalmist also strives to keep God’s word by restraining his feet from evil ways. The psalmist mentions restraining his feet, and not any other part of the body. Why? It could be because the feet carry us where we want to go. It brings a sense of direction. As a Christian, our direction in life should be focused on Jesus. Yes, sometimes we stray from our goal and go in the wrong direction, but when we realize that we have done wrong, we have to turn back and stay on the strait and narrow. The word restraining here conveys the idea of a struggle. The fact that the psalmist has to exercise restraint implies that it is not an easy task, for even Paul wrote about the struggle between the flesh and the spirit in Rom 7:13-25. He, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, also wrote in 1 Cor 9:27, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” Like Paul, we need also to discipline ourselves so that we continue to keep God’s word. It may be tough at first, but God’s word continues to remind us that our efforts are not fruitless. Gal 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” while 1 Cor 15:58 says, “Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Next, the psalmist also exhorts us not to depart from God’s judgments. In Ps 19:9-11, we read that God’s judgments are “true and righteous altogether. More to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward.” The Bible tells us that there is great reward in keeping God’s judgments. This is a promise from God. In contrast, if we do not keep God’s judgments, there is punishment for us.
Finally, the psalmist sums everything up by praising the word of God, saying that it is sweeter than honey, and through it, the psalmist hates every false way. Do we “hate” every false way? The psalmist here exhorts us to shun evil ways, and not to even have the slightest of desire to walk in them. We are told to hate false ways, not to even meddle with it. 1 Cor 15:33 also carries a similar message, where it says, “Do not be deceived: evil company corrupts good habits.” When we hate a false way, we do not bother to get ourselves involved in it, not to even “try” it out to see how it feels like. The Bible warns us about the influence that it may have on us. God’s commandments are not something which was given to weigh us down, but to guide us into living a better life here while waiting for the coming of Jesus so that we can enter heaven in that last day. The Bible tells us in 1 John 5:3 that God’s commandments are not burdensome.
May the Lord bless us all as we strive to meditate on God’s word and to keep it!