PSALM 119 MEDITATION: WEEK FOURTEEN Your word is a lamp to my feet...
WEEK: I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII XIII
September 14: Verse 105--"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." This week I end where I begin, though in a different sort of place. As I read this morning, looking again at the famous verse 105, I realized something. Now, maybe it's just an afterglow of the M.Div. inclusio, but I don't think so. What I have begun to realize--not in that usual intellectual sense, but in reality--is that becoming intimately familiar with the Word of God is the only way I will ever know why it is that I am here. I have lived life as a very odd sort of duck. Brainy. Artsy. Thinker. Musician. I know how to do many things. I have had many jobs--preschool teacher, forklift operator, warehouse worker, production control clerk, institutional research analyst--and in all this my purpose still lies before me. What that is turns out not to be a profession but a passion: a passion for proclaiming who we are as church, for discovering who we are as church, and for keeping the focus on 'we' and trying desparately to get the focus off me (not an easy task). The only way we will be able to see our path is by the Word. All other light is actually darkness.
September 13: Verse 112--"I incline my heart..." This is such a crucial point. Following God does not merely consist in our behaviors. Following God consists first in our intentions. The very same actvities can be God-following or not God-following. In Zechariah 7, God asks, "...was it for me...?" Were your religious ceremonies and offerings for me or for yourself? It is not in the activities, but in the inclination of the heart that one finds the true meaning of the righteous act. Jesus' dealings with the religious leaders shows us the same thing. In Matthew 23, he tells them, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness." For all the beautiful exterior, the reality of the heart tells the true story of wickedness. So, how's my inclination? That is indeed the question.
September 12: Verse 111--"Your testimonies are my heritage forever..." God's testimonies explain who we are by giving us the context in which we must interpret ourselves. So, not only are our circumstances interpreted according to God's Word, but we ourselves are also interpreted thusly... kinda like looking in a mirror...
September 11: Verses 109-110--"I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law. The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts." In two parallel strophes, the psalmist describes his situation: a) I'm constantly in trouble from enemies BUT b) I trust what you say. We must never interpret our faith by our circumstances, but always interpret our circumstances by our faith. When we get this backwards, we start to remake God and God's truth to fit our needs, and then when the stuff hits the fan, we have no standing in real truth. When this happens we are undercut, just like the house on sand. Note also, that the truth is only truly understood when it is obeyed. Hearers don't really get it.
September 10: Verse 108--"Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O LORD, and teach me your rules." Interesting two-way communication here. The psalmist sends his offerings of praise to God and in exchange, God teaches him God's rules. This reminds me of what Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Obedience is not mere duty; it is the joyful, loving response of a God-follower.
September 9: Verse 106--"I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules." There is both a connection and a difference between the decision to obey and actual obedience. Without the decision to obey, obedience itself is unlikely. Without the actual obedience, the decision is meaningless. Here, in the midst of affliction and suffering at the hands of others, the psalmist makes the decision and follows through.
September 8: Verse 105--"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Setting Aside the usual just-enough-light interpretations, let's just say God's word lights the path and without his Word the path is insufficiently lit. That is enough
All verses are quoted from the ESV.