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The Scriptorium

Sweet and Sour

Love the Word, hate evil. Psalm 119.103, 104

Psalm 119.97-104 (2)

Pray Psalm 119.103, 104.
How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.

Psalm 119.103, 104.
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
Your words are sweet unto my taste, the sweetest taste that e’er could be!
I hate and loathe all evil ways; give understanding, Lord, to me.

Read Psalm 119.97-104; meditate on verses 103, 104.

1. How does the psalmist express his attitude toward God’s Word?

2. What is his attitude toward false teaching?

I thought we should “skip to the end” of this stanza to pick up on the inclusio which organizes verses 97-104. It begins in love – for God’s Word – and ends in hatred – for false ways. These affections are two sides of the same coin: Love God and His Word and you will hate all forms of evil (Ps. 97.10).

But don’t miss the brilliant way the psalmist reprises verse 97 in verse 103. Here, instead of just telling us he loves God’s words, he uses a “sticky” trope to run-up to verse 104. “Sticky” because, well, honey is not only sweet, it’s also sticky to the touch. And “sticky” because this is the kind of comparison that will stick with you. Meditate on the taste of honey as you pray through the Ten Commandments. The next time you eat honey, recall God’s words, and delight in them.

After the sweet comes the sour. Or rather, the downright bitter. Love God’s precepts and they will give you understanding into all knowledge, wisdom, and discernment. Then you’ll see wickedness and false ways for what they really are – bitter, even poisonous to the taste. Thus, in the sweetness of God’s Word and the understanding it brings, you will hate what God hates (Rev. 2.6).

Love God’s Word. Meditate on it throughout the day (v. 97) until it is sweet to your soul (v. 103) and yields true understanding for your path (v. 104). If you truly savor God’s Word in this manner, you will hate false ways (v. 104), so that you will not so much as “taste” of them, but rather, turn away from them all.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently” (Ps. 119.4).

We have been told from the very beginning of this psalm how to get understanding. Through His precepts.
We have also been warned from the beginning that “the proud have [us] in great derision” (Ps. 119.51), and that there will be wicked people in our lives who forsake God’s law (Ps. 119.53).
We are allowed to hate the false ways that rear up to take us down (Ps. 119.104).

While working diligently in her Personal Mission Field, our daughter Kristy realized that some of those in it might respond better with a different mode of learning. Some that she had been handing the Word of God to on a silver platter, she felt, might need the tactile experience of searching the Word out for themselves. Thus, she started teaching a wonderful study in the book of John and sends it out daily via text. She is a great Bible teacher and so I asked to be included.

John 10.9, 10 is a glorious overlay to Psalm 119.104. Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Here are Kristy’s study questions that so vividly bring to life both passages:
1. Who will be saved?
2. What do you think it means to find pasture?
3. What pasture has been provided in your life?
4. What three things does the thief do to the sheep?
5. Is there a personal thief in your life?
6. Who can truly keep you safe from the thief?
7. What does it mean to you that not only will Jesus give you life, but that He came to give you a full life?
8. What does a full life in Jesus look like to you?
Kristy summed it up this way: “A full life happens when we despise the things we should despise, like the thief in our life, and love and follow the truth and protection found in Jesus.”

“Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD!
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart!
They also do no iniquity; they walk in His ways” (Ps. 119.1-3).

Embrace the sweet life found within His precepts and pasture.
Exclude the sour of the thief’s false way.

“Love God’s Word.”

For reflection
1. What does it mean for you to hate sin? What can you do to make sure that continues to be the case?

2. Would you say that God’s Word is “sweeter than honey” to you? Explain.

3. Christians need to help one another resist the temptation to sin. How will you do this today?

The soul has its tastes as well as the body. Our relish for the word of God will be greatest, when that for the world and the flesh is least. The way of sin is a wrong way; and the more understanding we get by the precepts of God, the more rooted will be our hatred of sin; and the more ready we are in the Scriptures, the better furnished we are with answers to temptation. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Psalm 119.103, 104

Pray Psalm 119.97.
Thank the Lord for His Word. Be specific. How many different reasons can you think to thank the Lord for His Word. Call on Him for wisdom for the coming day.

Psalm 119.97, 98.
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
O, how I love Your Law, O Lord! I ponder it throughout the day.
The wisdom of Your holy Word keeps all my fiercest foes at bay.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website,, and clicking the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday.

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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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