Psalm 119: Introduction (5)
Pray Psalm 119.33-35.
Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
Sing Psalm 119.33-35.
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
Teach me, Lord, and help me follow in Your holy righteous way!
I will keep Your statutes gladly, all your holy Law obey.
Give me understanding, Jesus, guide me in Your path today!
Make me walk in Your commandments, let me keep Your holy part.
I will keep Your Law unfailing; from it let me ne’er depart.
For Your Word is my delight, Lord; help me keep it from the heart.
Read and meditate on Psalm 119.65-68.
1. What did the psalmist want God to do?
2. How did He expect to benefit from that?
It stands to reason that anything so wondrous, so important to our salvation, so rich in teaching about justice and righteousness, and so necessary for enjoying full and abundant life would be worth knowing. But we cannot know the Law of God – nor any of His Word – without a disciplined attempt at learning. That should come natural to the followers of Jesus Christ. After all, the root meaning of “disciple” is “learner”. Jesus’ disciples follow His example and learn, teach, and obey the commandments of God (1 Jn. 2.1-6).
Psalm 119 expresses an eager desire to learn the Law of God. Learning God’s Law gives us an upright heart full of praise for God (v. 7). We bless God by seeking to learn His statutes (v. 12). To improve our own ways, we look to God to teach us His (v. 26). We call on God to teach us His statutes so that we might keep them to the end (v. 33). We want to learn God’s Law to tap into His abundant mercy (v. 64) and to have good judgment and knowledge (v. 66). We acknowledge that it is an expression of the mercy of God that He would deign to teach us His Law (v. 124). Learning God’s Law makes us better able to worship Him (v. 171). And so on.
Let’s note three things: First, if we are to learn God’s Law, then we must submit to Him to teach us. That means poring over the Scriptures, comparing them with one another, waiting on the Lord to teach us His Word, and staying at this effort every day of our lives. Second, we will not take up such a discipline unless we truly desire to learn God’s Word. And third, we have only truly learned the Law when we keep it. Continuously. Faithfully. Joyfully.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
God is good, and He always does good. Always. So the psalmist requests that God teach him how to be good. Just like He is: “You are good, and do good, teach me Your statutes” (Ps. 119.68).
Paul, who told us to imitate him just like he imitated Jesus (1 Cor. 11.1), wrote about what being good looks like; and here is the list of practical activities for those of us who want to be good: “But the fruit of the Spirit [what goodness looks like acted out] is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5. 22, 23).
And the really good news is, there is no law against behaving this way! Totally legal.
God has a suggestion for us about how to do this: “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Is. 1.16, 17).
First, we need to accept the gift of salvation. Then we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Then we need to get busy about learning and doing the Law of God.
Somewhat cynically, this reminds us of the comedian Steve Martin’s schtick about how to become a millionaire: “First get a million dollars.” But for us, with the mandate to be holy, God supplies the means (the million dollars), the gift of the Holy Spirit, to get us where we need to be.
We just need to be willing. And we need to desire this above all else. “The works of the LORD are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them” (Ps. 111.2). “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2.15).
The quote today from Matthew Henry bears repeating: “Those who know and love the law of the Lord, desire to know it more, and love it better. The way of serious godliness is the way of truth; the only true way to happiness: we must always have actual regard to it.” Enough said. Now let’s learn to be good.
1. What are you doing to learn the Law and Word of God?
2. How can you help and encourage other believers to learn the Law and Word of God?
3. Whom will you encourage today? Why not share what you’re learning from our study of Psalm 119?
Those who know and love the law of the Lord, desire to know it more, and love it better. The way of serious godliness is the way of truth; the only true way to happiness: we must always have actual regard to it. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Psalm 119.25-32
Pray Psalm 119.25-29, 39, 40.
Pray that God’s Spirit will teach you His Law and all His Word. Call on Him to give you understanding of His ways, to relieve your soul from all heaviness, and to help you walk the path of His judgments and precepts.
Sing Psalm 119.25-29, 39, 40
(All to Christ: Jesus Paid It All)
My soul clings to the dust; grant life, Lord by Your Word!
To You my ways I trust; teach me Your statutes, Lord.
Make me understand; teach me, Lord, Your way.
In Your works I take my stand; Your Word will I obey.
My soul for sorrow wanes; grant strength, Lord, by Your Word!
From false ways let me abstain: teach me Your Law, O Lord.
The reproach that now I dread turn from me, Lord, I pray.
Your Word I seek instead, and long for it all day.
T. M. and Susie Moore
You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in the series on Acts by clicking here.
What is the Law of God and how should we learn and obey it? Two books can help. The Law of God arranges the statutes and precepts of God’s Law under their appropriate number of the Ten Commandments. This book is an excellent tool for meditating on God’s Law and thinking about its application in our time. The Foundation for Christian Ethics, on the other hand, explains why the Law matters and how we are to use it. You can order free copes of each of these here and here.
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.