Loving the law in Psalm 119, Mem

This section of Psalm 119 begins with its well-known verse:

Oh how I love your law!
   It is my meditation all the day (97, ESV).

Perhaps for you, as it is for me, this is the most familiar of all the 176 verses in Psalm 119. Do you know what the next verse says?

I admit that I wouldn’t have been able to tell you until this morning. I was surprised to read this:

Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
   for it is ever with me (98, ESV).

In this verse we see the familiar pattern of repeating and extolling God’s word. But we also see a pattern that has surprised me during this look at Psalm 119. That second pattern deals with suffering at the hands of enemies. Psalm 119 assures us that the continued presence of God’s word gives wisdom surpassing the most intelligent enemy–even if that enemy is a teacher or an aged sage.

I have more understanding than all my teachers,
   for your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged,
   for I keep your precepts (99-100, ESV).

The psalmist does more than merely meditate on God’s law; he obeys it!

I hold back my feet from every evil way,
   in order to keep your word.
I do not turn aside from your rules,
   for you have taught me (101-102, ESV).

Notice that obedience requires action. The psalmist makes a conscious decision to “hold back” his feet from every evil path and chooses not to “turn aside” from God’s word. He knows what is right because God has taught him, but he also makes the physical effort to obey.

Verse 103 is another well-known morsel:

How sweet are your words to my taste,
   sweeter than honey to my mouth!

I love this image of licking up God’s law like sweet honey! It reminds me of David’s words in the eighth verse of Psalm 34:

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

This section of Psalm 119 concludes with a reiteration that true wisdom comes from knowing God’s word.

Through your precepts I get understanding;
   therefore I hate every false way (104, ESV).

This knowledge of God’s word shouldn’t remain rattling around uselessly in one’s head. It generates emotional and physical righteousness, which manifest themselves in loving God’s law and hating every evil action.


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