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The Scriptorium

Inside and Out

Gotta work at it. Psalm 119.9-16

Psalm 119.9-16

Pray Psalm 119.9-11.
How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.

Sing Psalm 119.9-11.
(No Other Plea: My Faith Has Found a Resting Place)
How can a young man cleanse his way, and thus be free of sin?
By keeping God’s Word every day, and storing it within.
With all my heart I seek You, Lord, O let me never stray,
nor let me wander from Your Word, nor stumble in Your way.

Read Psalm 119.9-16; meditate on verses 10, 13, 16.

1. How did the psalmist seek God in His Law and Word?

2. What was the result of that seeking?

Stanza 2 of Psalm 119, the Beth stanza, picks up on the theme of the heart introduced in stanza 1 (vv. 2, 7) and deepens that theme with words of intentionality (“sought”, “hidden”). It takes effort on our part, the psalmist explains, to get to the point where the Law of God – His statutes, precepts, judgments, and all His Word – is so much a part of us that we delight in it, express that delight in rejoicing (v. 14), and live that delight consistently, guarding against sin (v. 11).

To get the Law of God so firmly embedded within our heart requires serious and ongoing effort on the part of our mind – to read, meditate in, and contemplate the perfections and glories of the precepts, commandments, and ways of God (vv. 15, 16). So the mind discovers the beauty of God’s Law, and the heart engages that beauty with delight. The more we devote ourselves to this ongoing process, the more the Law becomes foundational to what we will and how we live. We declare it to the people in our Personal Mission Field (v. 13) and it accompanies and guides us in all our ways, for we do not forget the Word of God, but delight to live it (v. 16).

Only God can teach us like this (v. 12), and He does so out of the majesty of His blessedness, working by His Spirit within us to will and do of His good pleasure, exceedingly and abundantly more than we will ever dare to ask or think (Phil. 2.12, 13; Ezek. 36.26, 27; Eph. 3.20).

This is the beauty, the delight, and the transforming power of the Law of God, which works both within us and through us to declare the greatness and glory of God, and to provide a glimpse of the perfect righteousness of Jesus.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
It all comes down to what we seek in life, what we love, and what we value most. God desires to give us of His Spirit to enable us to please Him and to experience His joy and delight in being obedient to Him. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8.32).

Paul instructed us not to trust in uncertain riches “but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1Tim.6.17).

“I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches” (Ps. 119.14).

Solomon wrote that if we seek wisdom “as silver”, and search for it as for “hidden treasure”, then we will “understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God” (Prov. 2.4, 5). The Word of God is more valuable than all riches, silver, and hidden treasures. More valuable than anything.

And Jesus told us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6.33). Seek His Kingdom first, best, always. Before anything else we are to seek to know the King of this Kingdom – Jesus Christ. No One is more important. No One else even comes close. “Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints!” (Ps. 31.23).

John wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1Jn. 2.15-17).

When we don’t love the world, and we do love the LORD, and we seek Him and value His Word more than anything else – that is when God begins to change our perspective, our heart, our mind, and our life.

“This is the beauty, the delight, and the transforming power of the Law of God, which works both within us and through us to declare the greatness and glory of God, and to provide a glimpse of the perfect righteousness of Jesus.” Inside and out!

For reflection
1. What does it mean for you to hide the Word of God in your heart?

2. How does the Word of God – His Law, statutes, precepts, and so forth – help you in fighting the battle against sin?

3. How can you improve the time you spend meditating on and contemplating the Law and Word of God?

In our natural state, what is more agreeable to us than that which is sinful? This will be the constant tendency of our minds, unless the delight which we feel in the law carry us in the opposite direction. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Psalm 119.9-16

Pray Psalm 119.12-16.
Pray that God will give you clear understanding of His Word, and that He will plant it deep in your heart, that you may delight in it and walk in its paths throughout this day.

Sing Psalm 119.12-16.

(Passion Chorale: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
Be blessed, O God our Savior; teach us Your holy Word!
Our lips proclaim with favor the statutes of the Lord.
How great our joy, dear Jesus, to follow in Your ways;
What more than this could please us, or brighten all our days?

We contemplate Your precepts and cherish all Your ways,
Delighting in Your statutes, rememb’ring all our days.
With wondrous bounty bless us, Your humble servants, Lord,
that we may live with Jesus and keep His holy Word.

T. M. and Susie Moore

What is the Law of God and how should we learn and obey it? Two books can help. The Law of God arranges the statutes and precepts of God’s Law under their appropriate number of the Ten Commandments. This book is an excellent tool for meditating on God’s Law and thinking about its application in our time. The Foundation for Christian Ethics, on the other hand, explains why the Law matters and how we are to use it. You can order free copes of each of these here and 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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