A devotional of Psalm 119:97-144
97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
God’s word is like a hearty breakfast or a cedar log in the fire. It sticks with us all day long, providing brain fuel for hours of meditation.
98 Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.
100 I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.
Who wouldn’t want to be wiser than their enemies? Who wouldn’t want more insight than all their teachers? Who wouldn’t want more understanding than the elders? There’s a sure-fire way to get it and it’s in God’s commands, statutes, and precepts.
101 I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.
102 I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.
Pursuing and obeying God’s word is all about dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter. We have to develop a taste for it. Our six senses are the gateway to our soul. We train our soul and its appetites so that one thing appeals to it over another. We train it through discipline so that it treasures and appreciates this over that. As we spend slow, deliberate time mulling over God’s precepts, they become sweeter and sweeter to us than the greatest lure of evil. Spending time in the Word means God himself if teaching us. Imagine God as your personal tutor. Jesus was the greatest teacher that every lived. He gave us the Holy Spirit who would continue to instruct us and remind us all things.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26 ESV). “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you,” (John 16:12-14.) Truly, as verse 102 states,I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me.
105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
106 I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.
This light is what my Bible devotion ministry Zahar is all about. Remember that zahar means to admonish. The literal picture the word paints is one of shining a light upon something and therefore illuminating it. This whole ministry exists to partner with Holy Spirit in lighting up shadowy areas of our hearts and keeping them lit up as he abides there. Every day in weighty ways he gives us solid nourishment to digest and ponder. He knows what lies ahead for us and what we need to tackle it successfully.
107 I have suffered much; preserve my life, Lord, according to your word.
108 Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws.
109 Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law.
110 The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts.
111 Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
112 My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.
What determination to possess these words for himself that the psalmist demonstrates. Determination is a construct of the brain’s executive function. He purposes that he will not forget the law – even in the face of adversity – and he states out loud that he has decided to do so. We frequently need to verbalize our resolve, so we hear it just as our listener does. We remember differently what we hear audibly than what we only think.
What a delight to think of these statutes as a heritage. How blessed we are when we consider them as gold. What joy they elicit in the heart and the life through what they bring us and what they prevent us from. They bring good things and show us how to combat and consider any bad that comes.
113 I hate double-minded people, but I love your law.
114 You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
115 Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!
We have very different reactions to various people. As we read verse 74 “May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word. But in the cluster above we see a repulsion to those who despise God’s commands. The former aide and abet us in following the statutes. The latter are a hinderance to our compliance. Not only is the psalmist having to do the arduous work of following the commands, he is additionally having to fend off the evildoers which is no easy task.
116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.
117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees.
118 You reject all who stray from your decrees, for their delusions come to nothing.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross; therefore I love your statutes.
120 My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws.
Earnestness and conviction fill us as we stand in the light of the source of all light and our lowly cells and organ systems respond with trembling. His very presence makes the earth rumble and quake. How much more our bodies. You are fearsome and formidable, God. We fall flat on our faces before you. We are boggled, amazed, overwhelmed at your grandeur. We are boggled further still, at your love and gentle care of us.
121 I have done what is righteous and just; do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Ensure your servant’s well-being; do not let the arrogant oppress me.
123 My eyes fail, looking for your salvation, looking for your righteous promise.
124 Deal with your servant according to your love and teach me your decrees.
If my plight depended on happenstance, I would be lost. If my well-being was a matter of chance, I would have no hope. My only assurance, even when things are bleak is that God will deal with me according to his love.
125 I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.
126 It is time for you to act, Lord; your law is being broken.
127 Because I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold,
128 and because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path.
We have no capacity to comprehend God outside of him. Only as he opens our eyes can we see wonderful things in his law as we saw in verse 18. Only with his discernment can we understand his statutes. Only with his drive can we sense urgency to defend the treasure that is constantly under siege.
129 Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.
Here we see the matter of light again. As we unfold hidden things, we get to participate in the wonder of discovery of his greatness. Always new marvels. Always new curiosities. It is akin to snorkeling in the ocean and seeing new mind-blowing things at every turn, in every direction. And it’s not just for the heady and intelligent. Anyone can comprehend and appreciate. No wonder we constantly see things in scripture we haven’t seen before. It is indeed a sea of delights.
131 I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.
The more we read it, the more we want. Our appetite for it cannot be satiated. Nor can its provisions be depleted. May we hunger and thirst for this bread and water. May we pine for it so much that our bodies crave it.
132 Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name.
The psalmist’s trust is God is unshakable. It is clear that he is in trouble and surrounded by an enemy. The Word galvanizes his resolve and is faith, keeping him steadfast despite the stormy assault to his soul and his very being. As he awaits the deliverance he knows is on the way, he busies himself with the Word. What a worthwhile use of his time and energies. How much more effective than fussing and fretting.
133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
We are delivered from the power and the consequences of sin. God has given us dominion over sin in our lives. Who the son sets free is free indeed, John 8:36. “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master because you are not under law but under grace,” Rom. 6:13, 14. “
134 Redeem me from human oppression, that I may obey your precepts.
135 Make your face shine on your servant and teach me your decrees.
136 Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.
God facing you means favor, approval, and acceptance. He declares you righteous. It is the highlight of your life. Zeal for his good Word pierces our hearts when we see it violated and trampled. Does the blatant contempt for God’s word bring tears our eyes or are we as calloused as the disobeying world? Does thievery, slavery, hatred, murder, and immorality sicken and affront us or have we become desensitized? May our hearts be tenderized by his Word so that what saddens him saddens us.
137 You are righteous, Lord, and your laws are right.
What a beautiful throwback to verse 68, “you are good and what you do is good.” What simple, straightforward phrases that speak rock-solid truths.
138 The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.
139 My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words.
Holy Spirit ignite our emotions and make us zealous for you. May we not be passive and lackluster. Spark passion and fire within our hearts that we may burn for you and your causes.
140 Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.
What confidence this inspires in us. This Word has stood the test of time. Generations over millennia have lived it out and proved it true – all over the world, all cultures, all walks of life. How blessed we are to be a part of this grand army. How blessed we are to be betrothed to the Promise-Keeper.
141 Though I am lowly and despised, I do not forget your precepts.
142 Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true.
143 Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight.
144 Your statutes are always righteous; give me understanding that I may live.
The only right thing about this world is you, O God. You are righteous. Your statutes are righteous. All else is altogether wrong. You are acceptable and all else is not. You are light. All else is darkness.