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The Scriptorium

Good Teachers?

Ultimately, it depends on you. Psalm 119.99

Psalm 119.97-104 (4)

Pray Psalm 119.99.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.

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.

Read Psalm 119.97-104; meditate on verse 99.


Preparation

1. How good a student was the psalmist?

2. What did learn, and how?

Meditation
The psalmist, it appears, had good teachers. Not only did he receive from them the essential content of the Word of God, but also, they instilled in him such a hunger, desire, longing, and taste for the Word that he continued in it and surpassed in understanding all he’d learned from them, and even all they knew to teach him.

Don’t you wish you had some teachers like that?

Good teachers don’t just teach. They equip. They furnish learners with the desire to learn, the reasons why they should learn, a conviction for ongoing learning, and the basic equipment to persist in it. The psalmist’s teachers had done this for him. Especially, it seems, he learned the value of meditating in the precepts and teachings of the Lord. Reading them slowly. Asking questions. Thinking deeply. Listening for the Spirit to cue up other Scriptures, point out some area of needed change in his life, suggest a new approach to journeying on the pathway of God. Meditating.

“Understanding” here means more than intellectual agreement. It indicates the complete involvement of soul and life in the object of study. Other words to translate the Hebrew here are prudence, wisdom, attending to, and having skill. Understanding that only affects the mind is not true understanding; it’s just memory. True understanding enlightens the mind, engages the heart, sinks into the conscience, and works out in a transformed life.

Seek understanding of God’s Word. And look for good teachers to help you learn.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
All of that is indeed true and is a very positive way to interpret this verse.  But it seems to me there could be another way to look at it. Well, maybe just the flipside of how it could be.

What if a person was under the tutelage of teachers who were not engaged fully in the Word of God? What if a person’s pastor was not truly preaching the whole gospel of the Kingdom of God? Or what if a Christian student was sitting in the classroom of a rank unbeliever who was trying to foist upon them things antithetical to God and His Word?

Wouldn’t it be possible that this person, who in immersed in God’s teaching, might have more understanding of the truth than these teachers/preachers?

Those who do not meditate on the Word lack in understanding:
“They do not know, nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are unstable” (Ps. 82.5).

Those who do meditate in God’s Word are more adept at understanding:
“A scoffer seeks wisdom and does not find it,
but knowledge is easy to him who understands” (Prov. 14.6).
“The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way,
but the folly of fools is deceit” (Prov. 14.8).
“He who is slow to wrath has great understanding,
but he who is impulsive exalts folly” (Prov. 14.29).
“Wisdom rests in the heart of him who has understanding,
but what is in the heart of fools is made known” (Prov. 14.33).

Jesus, even as a twelve year old, had more understanding than the teachers in the temple: “Now it was that after three days [his parents] found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking the questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers” (Lk. 2.46, 47).

This understanding will only come to us when we are meditating day and night (Ps. 1.2) in God’s Word. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3.16, 17).

And into our Personal Mission Fields we humbly go with more understanding than some, but bearing this mandate: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom” (Jms. 3.13).

Even this flip-side version demands love for, and obedience to, God’s Law.

For reflection
1. How would you describe your attitude toward learning the Law and Word of God?

2. Who cares about wisdom these days? Why do we need wisdom? Why do we need the Word of God to lead us to wisdom?

3. What are some of your goals for learning the Word of God?

By meditation on God’s testimonies we understand more than our teachers, when we understand our own hearts. The written word is a more sure guide to heaven, than all the fathers, the teachers, and ancients of the church. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Psalm 119.97-104

Pray Psalm 119.103, 104.
Pray that God would increase your delight in His Word. That you would hunger for it increasingly, savor it more deeply, and share it more enthusiastically.

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.

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.

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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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