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The Scriptorium

Soul Work

It takes work to know peace. Psalm 119.165, 167

Psalm 119.161-168 (4)

Pray Psalm 119.165, 167.
Great peace have those who love Your law,
And nothing causes them to stumble…
My soul keeps Your testimonies,
And I love them exceedingly.

Sing Psalm 119.163-168.
(Hymn to Joy: Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee)
Lord, I hate all sin and lying but I love Your holy Law.
All throughout the day I praise You, thanking You in joy and awe.
For Your judgments all are righteous; all who love Your Law have peace.
We shall never stumble as our faith and love for You increase.

Lord, I hope for Your salvation and I keep Your holy Word.
All Your precepts and commandments I love as I love You, Lord.
All my ways are spread before You; my soul keeps Your holy Word!
More than life itself I love You and Your Word, O righteous Lord.

Read Psalm 119.161-168; meditate on verses 165, 167.


1. What do they possess who love God’s Law?

2. Where must keeping God’s Word begin?

I’ve pulled these two verses out of their normal order to emphasize again the way Hebrew poetry works. We can see a parallel structure here that is designed to embrace all three of these verses into a single idea. Verse 166, which we will consider in our next installment, makes a bridge between today’s verses.

Verses 165 and 167 have the psalmist committing to love God’s Word to begin and close this passage. Similarly, not “to stumble” is paired with “keeps”. Nothing can cause us to stumble when we keep God’s Word. But we must do so from within, from the depths of our being, our soul (v. 167). Keeping God’s Word is soul work. We must devote our mind to knowing and understanding God’s Law. The focus and desire of our heart must be to delight in His Word. And our conscience must set obedience to God’s Law, testimonies, statutes, precepts – all His Word – as the defining priority for our actions.

If we will set our soul (v. 167) in this way, we will know peace within (v. 165). Set your soul to obey the Word of God, and keep it in all your ways, and you will know shalom, peace. And neither temptation nor trial will cause you to stumble in your path.

Obeying God is soul work in the first instance. Wrap your soul around God’s Word, immerse in and delight in it, and you’ll keep the Word out of and unto the peace that passes all understanding.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Peace is something that most people desire but cannot seem to find. It appears to be in short supply. True tranquility of spirit comes only by the hand of God. As Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn. 14.27).

Except for our salvation, which is a gift, much else of the Christian life comes through the Holy Spirit working diligently in us, and by a sincere effort of the will on our part. “Great peace have those who love Your law” (Ps. 119.165), when we have made it our business to learn God’s Laws and to live by them. “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; he who keeps his way preserves his soul” (Prov. 16.17). We strive to depart from anything evil and keep our way on the path of righteousness, which requires an act of our will to do what is pleasing in God’s sight, to gain peace and to preserve our soul for righteous living.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4.6, 7). Here again we are working out our salvation through prayer, with thanksgiving, as God’s peace guards our heart, mind, and soul and bestows a peace that goes beyond anything we understand peace to be.

When we love and do God’s Law we will have great peace, and nothing will cause us to stumble. “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble” (Prov. 4.18, 19). But we do, and so we avoid it.
“Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on” (Prov. 4.14, 15). Exertion required.

Our reward for the effort? An abundance of peace with God is to be found in that obedience.
“Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
‘I am the LORD your God,
Who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you by the way you should go.
Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
and your righteousness like the waves of the sea” (Is. 48.17, 18).

Peace does come by loving God’s Word exceedingly—heart and soul work.

For reflection
1. What does it mean to “work out” (not “for”) your salvation (Phil. 2.12)?

2. Why does loving the Word of God bring peace to our soul?

3. Does it seem contradictory to you that we should have to work to know the peace of God? Explain.

our love to the word of God must subdue our lusts, and root out carnal affection: we must make heart work of it, or we make nothing of it. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Psalm 119.167

Pray Psalm 119.161, 162.
Set your heart to know and love God’s Word (Ps. 119.112). Commit yourself afresh to Him, to learn Jesus (Eph. 4.17-24) and to live for Him in all your ways.

Sing Psalm 119.161, 162.
(Hymn to Joy: Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee)
Lord, I take my stand with gladness on Your holy, righteous Word.
I rejoice as with great treasure in Your holy Law, O Lord.
Princes persecute me daily; without cause they seek my harm.
Yet I stand on Your Word squarely; hold me with Your mighty arm.

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.

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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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