Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The Scriptorium

Learning God's Word (2)

It's an inward discipline. Psalm 119.9-16

Psalm 119: Introduction (6)

Pray Psalm 119.15, 16.
I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.

Sing Psalm 119.15, 16.
(Passion Chorale: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
We contemplate Your precepts and cherish all Your ways,
delighting in Your statutes, rememb’ring all our days.
With wondrous bounty bless us, Your humble servants, Lord,
that we may live with Jesus and keep His holy Word.

Read and meditate on Psalm 119.9-16.

Preparation

1. What did the psalmist resolve concerning the Word of God?

2. How would you describe his attitude toward the Word?

Meditation
We must not think that learning God’s Law and all His Word is merely an external discipline, something we “patch on” because we think we should or because we want others to see our “righteousness”.

Learning God’s Law so that we obey it faithfully day by day is an inward discipline, reaching and transforming the soul in all its parts – heart, mind, and conscience. We see this even in the few verses we’re meditating on today: “I will…”: a firm priority settled in the conscience. “…in my heart…” and “…delight myself…”: the disposition of the heart toward God’s Law. “I will meditate…contemplate…not forget”: the mind embracing new understanding and perspectives.

The rest of Psalm 119 elaborates on this commitment to learn from the depths of our soul (cf. vv. 20, 28, 81, 129, 135, 175). We must diligently apply our minds to understanding God’s Law and allowing it to shape the way we think about our lives, pleading with God for understanding, so that increasingly the Word of God becomes our permanent vantage point on life (cf. vv. 16, 27, 34, 73, 125, 130). As we see the wisdom, beauty, simplicity, and love embedded in the Law of God, He will shape our hearts to love and delight in it more and more (cf. vv. 24, 34, 36, 47, 69, 70, 97, 112, 140). The more our minds are shaped by God’s Word and our hearts find it truly to be their supreme joy and rejoicing (Jer. 15.16), the more permanently that Word will be fixed in our conscience, to shape and guard God’s values and priorities in our will (cf. 14, 72, 127, 128, 145).

The apostle Paul exhorts us to let the Word of God dwell in us richly (Col. 3.16), in all the chambers and components of the soul. For when we attend carefully and diligently to settling the Word in our mind, heart, and conscience, obeying it and gaining the blessing God promises will be genuine, consistent, and sure.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
In the first pages of the book Hope Against Hope, written by Nadezhda Mandelstam, is a tribute to her, An Obituary (1899-1980), written by Joseph Brodsky. In it he explains about how she committed to memory all her husband’s (the poet Osip Mandelstam) works, and the works of her friend and fellow poet Anna Akhmatova. They were Russian poets, writing against the cruelty of those in power. “Paper, in general, was dangerous. What strengthened the bond of that marriage as well as of that friendship was a technicality: the necessity to commit to memory what could not be committed to paper, i.e., the poems of both authors.”

This is what the psalmist wants us to do with God’s Words. His Words, hidden in our heart, will remind us how not to sin against God. They will keep us from wandering away from our heavenly Father (Ps. 119. 10, 11).

We are blessed beyond measure that these precious Words of God are written on paper, and we can read these words daily, continually, and judiciously. We are still free to do that. We read. We rejoice. We meditate in and contemplate these Words. We delight. We must never forget these Words. Ever. For indeed, they are the joy and rejoicing of our heart. “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jer. 15.16).

At some time in our future we may not have the benefit of reading God’s Word. That freedom may be taken from us as it has been taken from so many during the course of human history. If a woman committed to memory all the works of her husband and her friend so future generations could know and read them, should not we strive to commit as much of God’s Word to memory as we can? For many of the same reasons?

And even if the Word of God is never taken from us, we should whole-heartedly be reading this Word daily, to hide in our hearts these most lovely, and excellent, and beautiful words of God. For how else will we know how to please Him?

For reflection
1. What role does Scripture memory play in your own reading and study of God’s Word?

2. How can memorizing Scripture help you in your walk with and work for the Lord?

3. What can you do to make sure your entire soul – mind, heart, and conscience – is engaged in your reading and study of Scripture?

God’s word is treasure worth laying up, and there is no laying it up safe but in our hearts, that we may oppose God’s precepts to the dominion of sin, his promises to its allurements, and his threatenings to its violence. Let this be our plea with him to teach us his statutes, that, being partakers of his holiness, we may also partake of his blessedness. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Psalm 119.9-16

Pray Psalm 119.171-176
Pray that God will grant you a greater measure of His salvation as you read and study His Word. Give Him praise and thanks for what you read today. Pray for an opportunity to share what you’ve read. Ask the Lord to guide your steps and to keep you from straying into sin.

Sing Psalm 119.171-176.
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
With our lips we praise You, Jesus, for You teach us, full and free.
Now Your Word will ever please us; Your commandments true shall be.
Let Your hand come forth to ease us; we Your Word choose gratefully!

For Your saving grace we plead, Lord, and Your Law is our delight.
We to live and praise You need, Lord, all Your help by day and night.
Straying sheep, we do not heed, Lord; come and seek us by Your might!

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.

If you find Scriptorium helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this daily ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal or Anedot, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

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.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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