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The Scriptorium

The Law as Mirror

Have a look...if you're not ashamed. Psalm 119.5, 6

Psalm 119.1-8 (5)

Pray Psalm 119.5-8.
Oh, that my ways were directed
To keep Your statutes!
Then I would not be ashamed,
When I look into all Your commandments.
I will praise You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.
I will keep Your statutes;
Oh, do not forsake me utterly!

Sing Psalm 119.5-8.

(Ode to Joy: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee)
Let my ways steadfastly keep to all the statutes of Your Word.
Then shall I, no shame enduring, fix my eyes on You, O Lord!
With an upright heart I praise You, in Your rules will I abide.
I will keep Your statutes wholly; keep me ever by Your side!

Read Psalm 119.1-8; meditate on verses 5, 6.

Preparation

1. What did the psalmist earnestly desire?

2. Why did he desire that?

Meditation
Twice in the New Testament the Law of God is referred to as mirror. The seeds of that good and useful idea may be right here in these verses.

In 2 Corinthians 3.12-18 Paul says the Law is a mirror that reflects the glory of God, especially as we see that glory in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4.6). It shows us what God intends for us to become – the likeness of Jesus Himself!

James says the Law shows us where corrections are needed, so that we may live in that freedom from sin which is the privilege of the children of God (Jms. 1.22-25). The Law reveals sin (Rom. 7.7) so that, seeing it anywhere in us, we can be cleansed and get on with becoming more like Jesus.

In our passage today, the psalmist expresses the desire not to be ashamed when he looks into all the commandments of God. Note: all the Law, not just a few select passages. Further, the phrase “When I look” is better translated “In my looking”, that is, as often as I look or whenever I look. This implies repeated and consistent activity. We should be in the Law daily (Ps. 1.1-3).

And why does the psalmist look into all the Law of God? That His paths may be directed in the footsteps of God’s statutes – the footsteps of Jesus (Matt. 5.17-19; 1 Jn. 2.1-6) – and that he may not be ashamed as he returns to the mirror of the Law day after day. Notice also how he picks up on “keep” from verse 4 and brings that into his daily walk, that it should be diligent, fervent, and constant.

Had a good look in the mirror lately? Much good can come from doing so.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Where is the conscience of God’s people today? It seems to have evaporated. The lack stems from the fact that “there is no fear of God” before anyone’s eyes anymore (Ps. 36.1; Rom. 3.18). Even in the church. And without this fear there is no shame because, “What have we done to feel bad about?” People are so out of touch with the Law of God and so in tune with the notion that “it’s all about grace” that God’s laws are broken with impunity.

To be ashamed is to be embarrassed or guilty because of one’s actions, characteristics, or associations. When is the last time you heard anything from a pulpit that would cause even a twitter of guilt in your heart? Or how about when we are in the Word of God reading from His Law? Do we even remember how to be embarrassed or ashamed?

The psalmist was expecting that we would feel shame when we look into all God’s commandments because we would see with 20/20 vision all the ways we fail the Lord. He wanted that not to be the case. Jesus upped the ante when He said that sin is found in us even when we are thinking about breaking the commandments (Matt. 5.21-28). “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23.7). “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4.23).

Do we long for our ways to be directed by the Lord Jesus so that we will keep all God’s statutes? Do we also pray that God will convict us of our sin; and that we will know how to be ashamed enough to repent and change our ways?

When we are hardened to God’s Law, when we don’t feel ashamed for displeasing Him, we have a heart of stone. God can change that. In fact, He promises to do just that: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezek. 36.26, 27).

His Holy Spirit will direct our steps. This same Spirit will allow us to feel enough shame in our missteps to cause us to change course, look more fervently into His commandments, and follow His guidance more carefully. Step by step. Day by day. Sensitive to His rebukes. Ashamed. Cognizant of His forgiveness and love.

As we consistently look into the mirror of the Law.

For reflection

1. What is shame? How does it work in our soul? To what ends?

2. How can we keep from feeling ashamed whenever we look into the Word of God?

3. How does the Law of God function as a mirror for you?

The psalmists consistently describe the Law of God as a great blessing, for it was God’s gracious revelation to His people for their own good (Deut. 6:1–3). In the Law, God mercifully pointed out the right path to follow. Earl Radmacher (1931-2014), NKJV Study Bible Notes on Psalm 119.1-8

Pray Psalm 119.1-4.

Meditate on the Ten Commandments (Exod. 20.1-17). How do you see yourself in these? What needs correcting? How do you see Jesus? Pray  this all back to the Father with thanksgiving.

Sing Psalm 119.1-4.
(Ode to Joy: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee)
Blessed are they whose way is blameless, all who walk within God’s Law,
who, His testimonies keeping, seek Him, filled with joy and awe.
These are they who, no wrong doing, ever walk within God’s ways.
Lord, Your precepts You command us; we would keep them all our days.

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 the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Psalm 119 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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