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(Part 24)


November 12, 2009

Today’s reading from Psalm 119:89-175 gives wonderful instruction by which we are to live according to God’s law, and is intimately connected with our theme for 2010. God does lead us in the way we are to go. If we follow, we make it all the way to heaven.

The starting point, as with everything else, is who God is. He is the Almighty, and He is just and righteous. “You are righteous, Lord, and just are your edicts.” (Ps 119:137). Such was also the prayer of that wonderful man Tobit. “You are righteous, O Lord, and all your deeds are just” (Tb 3:2a). Tobit, grief-stricken in spirit, started off his prayer to God with this. In our lamentations, whenever we have nowhere else to turn but God, this too must be our starting point.

We must always have this confidence: “Your justice is forever right” (Ps 119:142a). Righteousness has to do with what is right, as far as God is concerned. We are righteous when we are and we do what is right, that is, when our lives are right with God.

How do we know if we are living in the right? We look to God’s law. “Your justice is forever right, your teaching forever true.” (Ps 119:142).

Psalm 119 gives us various words for teaching. These are word, truth, edict, precept, decree, command, promise, law. The psalmist mentions these words over and over, in every verse. God’s teaching is very important, nay, crucial for our lives.

This points us to the importance of the Bible, which is the primary source of God’s teaching. This is why we have this in our covenant. We are to read the Bible every day. The aim is for God’s teaching in the Bible to permeate our lives. God’s word is what can truly change and transform us. If we do not read, meditate on and study the Bible, then we cannot truly know Christ and the life that he offers us.

“How I love your teaching, Lord! I study it all day long.” (Ps 119:97).

What are the fruits of knowing God’s teaching?

First, it gives us wisdom (Ps 119:98-100). Wisdom is not just knowing a lot of things in our head, but is knowing how to live according to God’s ways. With wisdom, we are able to “keep (our) steps from every evil path” (Ps 119:101a). With insight from God, we are led to recognize and to “hate all false ways” (Ps 119:104).

With wisdom, we recognize evil in the world. Then we hate what is wrong (Ps 119:128b), we hate hypocrisy (Ps 119:113a), we abhor falsehood (Ps 119:163a), we shun the path of the wicked (Ps 119:115a), we reject the ways of those who stray from God’s law and who are deceitful (Ps 119:118), we loath the way of the faithless (Ps 119:158a), we grieve at the disobedience of others (Ps 119:136).

As we live according to God’s ways, given a God who is just, as we look to God who is reliable in all His commands (Ps 119:151), then wisdom brings us life, and life in abundance. “Your decrees are forever just; give me discernment that I may live.” (Ps 119:144).

Second, it brings us to a proper posture before God the Almighty, which is awe or reverential fear. “My flesh shudders with dread of you; I hold your edicts in awe.” (Ps 119:120). Then we realize what is due to such a God, which is worship. “May my lips pour forth your praise, because you teach me your laws.” (Ps 119:171). “Seven times a day I praise you because your edicts are just.” (Ps 119:164). “Let me live to praise you” (Ps 119:175a).

Third, it helps us in our affliction. Trials, crosses and suffering will always be there in life. We cannot avoid them. So what needs to happen is for us to be able to face them and survive, even thrive. This can only happen as we know who God is (just and righteous), and as we look to His ways and promises.

God’s word is life. “I am very much afflicted, Lord; give me life in accord with your word.” (Ps 119:107).

God is our help and refuge. “Look at my affliction and rescue me, for I have not forgotten your teaching.” (Ps 119:153). We can hope in Him. “You are my refuge and shield; in your word I hope.” (Ps 119:114).

God gives us wisdom about suffering, which is discipline and purification for His beloved. “Had your teaching not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” (Ps 119:92). “Though distress and anguish come upon me, your commands are my delight.” (Ps 119:143).

God comforts us whenever we are oppressed. When we are unjustly persecuted, we turn to the One who is just and righteous, and we know that God hears and answers the prayers of His faithful ones. “I have fulfilled your just edict; do not abandon me to my oppressors. Guarantee your servant’s welfare; do not let the arrogant oppress me.” (Ps 119:121-122).

Fourth, it beings peace and joy to our lives. “Lovers of your teaching have much peace; for them there is no stumbling block.” (Ps 119:165). “I rejoice at your promise, as one who has found rich spoil.” (Ps 119:162). The bottom line for an abundant life in God is peace and joy. If we are peaceful and joyful, whatever our circumstances in life, then we have what God desires for us.

Fifth, it assures us of our eternal reward, which we all long for. “My eyes long to see your salvation and the justice of your promise.” (Ps 119:123).

We are made in the image and likeness of God and we belong to Him. He is just and righteous and so too should we be. To live as a Christian is difficult and challenging, but God who called us guides us in the way we are to go.

We look to Jesus, the Word who lives in us. We look to God’s word, the Bible, the enduring fount of wisdom and guidance. “Your word, Lord, stands forever” (Ps 119:89a).

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