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The Scriptorium

All the Way

Two horizons direct our steps. Psalm 119.33

Psalm 119.33-40 (1)

Pray Psalm 119.33.

Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.

Sing Psalm 119.33.
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
Teach me, Lord, and help me follow in Your perfect, righteous way!
From my heart I will observe and all Your holy Law obey.
Give me understanding, Jesus: I will keep Your Law always!

Read Psalm 119.33-40; meditate on verse 33.

1. What did the psalmist want God to do?

2. What did he promise?

The ה (he) stanza returns to themes already broached in Psalm 119, both to reprise important subjects and to remind us of things that can cause us to stray from God’s Law.

The psalmist pleads with God to teach Him the way of His statutes. This is most important for two reasons: First, the teaching of God’s Law is neglected, scorned, and ignored by a great many Christian teachers and writers today. Second, there’s always the danger we might think a favorite preacher, teacher, or writer is the one to rely on for truth.

Nope. Only God ca teach us His Word. We need to go to Him, be with Him, commune with Him in prayer as we read and study His Word, and wait on Him to give us understanding. Of course, preachers, teachers, and writers can help. But they do their best work when they guide you into the Word and turn your soul to the Lord (cf. Acts 8.26-35). Look to the guidance of reliable teachers, but only insofar as they lead you into the Presence of the Lord, where the Spirit of God can show you His glory and transform you into the image of Jesus (2 Cor. 3.12-18).

True learning has two ends: First to “keep” what God has taught us. That is, to grow and improve in loving Him and our neighbors (Matt. 22.34-40). Second, to keep such love to the end of your life. Thus a near horizon (the day before us) and a far horizon (what awaits us in the eternal Presence of the Lord) mark the way of the Lord. And there is always more to learn of Him and His Law all the way on our journey.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The beauty of a sunrise or a sunset, although taking place on different horizons, is still breathtaking. “The heavens declare the glory of God…” (Ps. 19.1).

When I plead with God to “Teach me” (Ps. 119. 33), I am imploring Him to declare His glory to me through His Word and through His creation. And in turn, I am promising to keep what He has taught me “to the end” (vs. 33).

That is a vow. And making a vow, or a promise to God is not something we should do lightly:
“If a man  makes a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth” (Num. 30.2).
“When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you” (Deut. 23.21).
“When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed – better not to vow than to vow and not pay” (Eccl. 5.4, 5).
“Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High” (Ps. 50.14).
“…I will pay You my vows, which…my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble” (Ps. 66.13, 14).

Indeed. We have asked God to do something for us. Maybe we were in trouble when we asked. Maybe we just long to be more like Jesus and so have asked Him to teach us how to do it. Either way, we have made a bit of a bargain with the Lord. You do this, please, and then I will do that. “You teach, I’ll do and obey to the end.”

Jesus encourages us to stay the course of our bargain with these words: “But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations – He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2.25, 26, 29).

Kept to the end. He keeps us, we keep His Word.

As our dear granddaughter, Reagan, said loudly as a little girl at the end of a church service, “That’s all we do!”

For reflection
1. What is a vow? Should we make vows? Why or why not? If we make them, why must we keep them?

2. What do we mean by saying there are “two horizons” in our journey along the Lord’s way? Why is each important?

3. What’s on your “near horizon” for today? How will you stay in the Lord’s way?

Teach me thy statutes, not the mere words, but the way of applying them to myself. God, by his Spirit, gives a right understanding. But the Spirit of revelation in the word will not suffice, unless we have the Spirit of wisdom in the heart. God puts his Spirit within us, causing us to walk in his statutes. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Psalm 119.33

Pray Psalm 119.36, 37.
Pray that God will help you to covet Him and His Word only, and that He will guard your heart from straying into sin as you walk in His way today.

Sing Psalm 119.36. 37.

(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
To Your holy testimonies, turn my heart, O gracious Lord.
Let me covet nothing worthless; my delight is in Your Word.
O revive me! O revive me, in Your way, most holy Lord!

T. M. and Susie Moore

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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.

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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