One of my favorite Psalms is named “Mem” in my Bibles. Psalm 119: 97-104
97 Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
102 I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.
I remember when I first memorized this passage. Ventura, California. 1981. I’ve quoted it to myself over the years, but recently I reread it in the ESV. I decided to take it step-by-step, line by line, here a little… ok, ok.
Oh how I love your law– Do I? I say I do. I “feel” I do. I WANT to, but do my actions show it? Probably not. I mean, yeah, I know, that law was fulfilled for us by Jesus at the cross. I know that. However, the law is till the Word of God. It is still beneficial for me for my own growth and happiness. The law is the Word… all of it… old and new. It’s all profitable for instruction in righteousness! Do I love it? Well, I say I do, but I need to ACT like I love it a little more often.
It is my meditation all the day– Is it? Actually, often it is. This was one line that really made me smile. I examined my heart and while it’s not ENOUGH (can it ever be enough?) it is one of my first thoughts in any situation, while just “thinking,” when writing… that was encouraging to me.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me– This is another verse that the KJV was so different! In the KJV, it says :”Thou through thy commandmentS hat made me wiser than mine enemies, for THEY are ever with me.” (Emphases mine). Singular vs. plural made a big difference in how the second part of that verse reads. I’ve always assumed David was saying that his ENEMIES were always with him. However, when commandment becomes singular and enemies are plural, it’s clear WHICH are with him… the Commandment of the Lord. Wow.
I have more understanding than all my teachers– I remember forcing myself not to pay attention to this verse. I was already enough of an insufferable know-it-all like a certain Miss Granger in modern children’s literature. Thunderpuppy at my finest. UGH. I remember thinking that I needed to remember that if I knew anything more than anyone it would only be because the Lord did it through me– HE was my knowledge.
For your testimonies are my meditation– This explains how I can have that understanding. Meditate on those words and deeds of the Lord. Simple, but do I do it? I need to make sure that I do.
I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts– Um… another one of those, “gulp” ones. I need to read this and just thank the Lord that if I do know anything more than anyone, it is only Him through His Word that makes it so.
I hold my feet back from every evil way in order to keep your Word– Do I? It is my heart to do that. My deepest desire, my constant prayer, is that this is true of me. I can’t honestly say it is so. When I see that word “evil,” I immediately balk. I don’t do “evil!” However, that isn’t true. If it isn’t 100% true, lovely, of good report etc… then it’s evil. If it doesn’t stand up to the purity of the Word, it’s evil. I don’t hold my feet back from EVERY evil way. I let myself become irritated, selfish, lazy, wasteful, and so many other ugly things. I need to make sure I DO keep my feet back from EVERY evil way.
I do not turn aside from your rules for you have taught me– Again, this isn’t true. I’d day it’s more true than it isn’t… but 1% contaminated is still contaminated and I’d be a huge liar if I tried to pretend I’m “only” 1% contaminated. I need to embrace the rules in the Word. To love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength– to love my neighbor as my self. I need to make it a key goal for this year.
How sweet are your words to my taste– This is usually true. I don’t usually find the Word of the Lord bland or bitter. I’m usually quite fond of the Bible.
Sweeter than honey to my mouth– Um. No. Honestly, how often do I grab fiction (candy reading) rather than the Bible. I haven’t grown to that point where the Bible is chocolate rather than steak. That’s ok. Someday it’ll be both. I want that and there are times I feel it, but it’s another area to grow.
Through your precepts I get understanding- YES!! This is one that is almost an unequivocal yes! Almost without exception, my first thought when trying to decide or understand something is, “What does the Word say?” I loved realizing that. It was encouraging that I have one part of my persona trained enough that the other areas where I need to grow will grow much more easily BECAUSE of this. Thank you, Lord!
Therefore I hate every false way– I started to pump my fist and say “YES!” again, but not quite. I mean, in emotion and in my mind, I can truthfully say yes, but if it was absolutely true, I wouldn’t DO anything that could be called a “false way.” May the Lord purify and refine me further. (Oh, how it SCARES me to say that.)
So, it was fun to take another trip through a favorite passage with new “eyes” on the scripture. I wonder where the Lord will take me next.