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The Scriptorium

With Us Always

The commandments of God, that is. Psalm 119.99

Psalm 119.97-104 (3)

Pray Psalm 119.98.
You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
For they are ever with me.

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.

Read Psalm 119.97-104; meditate on verse 98.

1. How did the psalmist become wise?

2. How wise did he become?

This verse has an interesting construction. It begs the question: To what does “they” refer? The commandments of God? The enemies of the psalmist? Who or what was with the psalmist forever?

We need to digress a bit to answer that question. Hebrew pronouns (“they”) can be masculine, feminine, or neuter in form. They always have an antecedent, and the form of that noun must agree with the gender of the pronoun. The Hebrew word here translated “they” is a bit misleading. The correct translation is “she” and, even though it is singular, it can refer either to “enemies” or “commandments”.

However, only one of these will be with us always.

The psalmist says God makes him wiser than his enemies “from (not through) Your commandments”. Wisdom comes from the commandments of God. We are called to seek wisdom, to desire it above all earthly things. And we may expect to encounter wisdom from the commandments of God, because our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the very Treasury of wisdom and knowledge, meets us and speaks to us there, (Jn. 5.39), showing His glory as in a mirror and transforming us into His own image and likeness (2 Cor. 3.12-18).

The enemy of our soul is always seeking new ways to work his wiles against us. But the commandments of God make us wiser than our enemies, and wiser than all those who would oppose or oppress us. We must study and learn the commandments of God so that they will always be with us, yielding wisdom for all aspects of life. The commandments which yield the wisdom of God are our constant companions, even after all our enemies have been destroyed forever.

Just as the Wisdom of God promised (Matt. 28.20).

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Psalm 119.98 is a verse that would make a great round like Row, Row, Row Your Boat” (disclaimer: does not work with said tune):
Your commandments are ever with me
So I’m wiser than my enemies because
Your commandments are ever with me
So I’m wiser than my enemies (ad infinitum).

When we think of wisdom the name Solomon always comes to mind. God gave Solomon the opportunity to ask for anything to rule his country successfully, and he chose wisdom: “Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil” (1 Kgs. 3.9). Although our scope of needed wisdom is not as broad as Solomon’s we would do well to ask for God’s wisdom to discern between good and evil. Because that is the goal of our walk with the Lord. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4.23).

But of course Jesus is “the very treasury of wisdom and knowledge.” And from Him we learn to follow the commandments of God. He said of Himself, “The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here” (Matt. 12.42). (It is, as an example, so interesting and amusing to see how Jesus worked the wisdom of Proverbs 26.4, 5 into His earthly ministry with some of His enemies).

Only from reading the Word of God will we learn Jesus and see how He followed God’s Law to perfection.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation…For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself…” (Col. 1.15, 19, 20).
“Therefore He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him…who has been perfected forever” (Heb. 8.25, 28).

We see Him in all the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation. We read of His work with the Father and of His prophesied coming to earth in the Old Testament. We read about His earthly life in the Gospels. We see His Spirit’s work throughout the rest of the New Testament. And we read about His imminent return to judge the world and take all His followers to a new heaven and a new earth. And we say with Job, “I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19. 26, 27). Not only to see Him, but to be like Him.

All this wisdom that comes from God, “who gives to all liberally and without reproach” (Jms. 1.5) allows us to overcome our enemies because we use all the Word of God, and His commandments to wage war against them.

We are, after all, wiser than they
because God’s commandments are ever with us!

For reflection
1. The psalmist keeps pointing to God’s Law, which points to God and His wisdom. What should we learn from this?

2. How will you protect yourself today from the wiles and machinations of spiritual enemies?

3. Whom can you encourage today to seek the wisdom of God in His Word?

He surpassed his enemies, because their cunning and artifices availed them nothing when they employed these to the utmost to effect his destruction. The malice of the wicked is always goading them to do mischief; and as they are often artful and deceitful, we are afraid lest our simplicity should be imposed upon by their deceits, unless we use the same crafts and underhand dealings which they practice. Accordingly, the prophet glories, that he found in God's law enough to enable him to escape all their snares. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Psalm 119.98

Pray Psalm 119.99.
Thank God that His Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, is with you always. Commit yourself to following Him today in each of the activities before you.

Psalm 119.99.
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
Your Word is with me ever more; it fills my soul and guides my hand.
More than all those who’ve gone before Your holy Law I understand.

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. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Psalm 119 by clicking here.

The winds of false doctrine are exceedingly strong in our day. If we don’t recognize them, we may become swept up in them and blown off course in our walk with Lord. Our ReVision study on “Winds of Doctrine” can help you keep the sails of your soul in the wind of God’s Spirit. You can download all the studies in this series by clicking here.

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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.
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