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The Scriptorium

Discover the Joy

Law and joy? Really? Psalm 119.14

Psalm 119.9-16 (5)

Pray Psalm 119.12-14.
Blessed are You, O LORD!
Teach me Your statutes.
With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.

Sing Psalm 119.12-14.
(Passion Chorale: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
Be blessed, O God our Savior; teach us Your holy Word!
Our lips proclaim with favor the statutes of the Lord.
How great our joy, dear Jesus, to follow in Your ways;
What more than this could please us, or brighten all our days?

Read Psalm 119.9-16; meditate on verse 14.


Preparation

1. How did the psalmist describe the way of God’s testimonies?

2. To what did he compare that experience?

Meditation
Here again the psalmist introduces a new concept relative to the way of life marked out by God’s Law: rejoicing.

I daresay, that’s not the way most of us think about the laws, statutes, judgments, testimonies, and precepts of the Law of God. Sounds constraining. Limiting. Too hard to learn. What about my freedom? What about my happiness? Who wants to be a legalist?

As if anticipating such a view of God’s Law, Jesus likened following Him to oxen, hooked together in a yoke. He called this “My yoke”, that is, the framework that bound Him to the Father and enabled Him to plow the field of the Kingdom for righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Matt. 11.28-30; Rom. 14.17, 18). The world makes us weary. Jesus gives us rest and sets us free into the joy of salvation and the freedom of the children of God. He calls us to take on His yoke, the framework within which He lived and the path of obedience He walked (1 Jn. 2.1-6), and He promises that it is easy, not onerous.

The psalmist rejoiced in living according to the way of God’s testimonies. What did he know that we don’t? The joy that comes from living by God’s Law is greater than the happiness any amount of riches might bring. If you don’t believe that, you’ll never know it. If you believe it, you’ll live it, and then you’ll see that Jesus and the psalmist are right.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Being of Irish descent can sometimes affect my outlook. Perhaps even cause me to see things less than sunny-side-up. William Butler Yeats sums up my meaning nicely. “Being Irish,” Yeats opined, “he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” Ugh.

But God has better plans for us. He wants us to rejoice always (I Thess. 5.16). If we stopped and made a mental list of all the things that bring us joy, albeit temporary, and compared them to living in the way of God’s testimonies, we would see that His way brings us more joy than all of those things combined.

“The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart…” (Ps. 19.8).
“I meditate on You…in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice” (Ps. 63.7).
“This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118.24).
Jesus said, “Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you” (Jn. 16.22).
When “Christ is preached”… “in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice” (Phil. 1.18).

And then we have today’s verse: “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches” (Ps. 119.14). All riches. All peaceful relationships. All health. All security. All career success. All. All of everything. Nothing brings us more happiness than knowing and keeping God’s testimonies.

And Peter echoes this truth: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1.6-9).

Being a Christian turns the world upside-down (Acts 17.6). Even we Irish can discover sustaining and abiding joy in living God’s way!

For reflection
1. How does the Law of God bring joy into your lives?

2. Why do so many people think otherwise? Do you think Christians misunderstand the Law of God? Explain.

3. Why does rejoicing in the Law and Word of God go hand-in-hand with declaring it?

In the way of God’s commandments there is the unsearchable riches of Christ. But we do not meditate on God’s precepts to good purpose, unless our good thoughts produce good works. I will not only think of thy statutes, but do them with delight. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 119.14 

Pray Psalm 119.9-11.
Pray that God will increase your joy at letting His Word dwell in your richly. Pray for the day ahead, that your way through it will be guided and characterized by the joy of God’s Word.

Sing Psalm 119.9-11.
(No Other Plea: My Faith Has Found a Resting Place)
How can a young man cleanse his way, and thus be free of sin?
By keeping God’s Word every day, and storing it within.
With all my heart I seek You, Lord, O let me never stray,
nor let me wander from Your Word, nor stumble in Your way.

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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