Do me a favor and please read Psalm 119:97-104
With age comes wisdom – or at least that’s what people say. That the older we get, the more we experience, the more in life we do the more wisdom we gain. Which is true in many ways. When we are younger we don’t know the way the world works. It’s only through experience and growing up that we learn more about us, the world, and how to navigate it. And clearly the more we’ve been through the more our brain grows and the more life experiences we have – thus we have more wisdom. Does the psalmist agree? Maybe – but they write about specific wisdom that isn’t gained by experiences. They write about a wisdom that is only gained through studying and drinking in, God’s Law. But one thing we MUST remember is that while the teaching would have been done by the Rabbi’s and covered the Law the psalmist is clearly stating that the Law, in its purity, is perfect and good. People can corrupt and change the Law (they always have and always will) but the Law, on its own and by God, is perfect.
We put a high value on teachers and what they’ve learned and are able to teach. I personally have an undergrad degree as well as Master’s degree – and rightly so. There is so much to learn not only in this world but in Scripture and in order for me to teach wisely and honestly I, myself, need to learn, study, and grow. But how much extra “truth” do we put on someone who has gobs of degrees and letters after their name? Yes, we need people who have studied more, experienced more, and have wisdom beyond measure. They have a truth to share that we should listen to. But what I appreciate that the psalmist is declaring is that there is a simplicity, truth, and honesty in the Law itself. That one doesn’t need more school, more teachers, more interpretations, more ______ to know God, be led by him, or understand his nature and love. You want to know God? You want to know what you’re supposed to do? You want to be drawn close to him and understand how to live in this world? Spend time in His word.
I personally have tons of commentaries by men and women much much smarter than myself – and I rely heavily on them when doing research for sermons and anything else having to do with the Bible. Why? Because they are smart and they’ve studied God’s word, in original languages, and have done tons of legwork to understand context and meaning. They’ve done word-studies, topic-studies, and all other studies…and they’re really good. Again, I rely heavily on them – but only to a certain extent. What’s even more important than their work? MY work which is why BEFORE I look at what THEY wrote and think I spend time with God, on/in the text, and hear what HE has to tell me. Am I on the same page as the psalmist with thinking that I’m ABOVE my teachers? No. Are they, the psalmist, arrogant in their comments that they have more “insight” and “understanding” than their teachers? Maybe – but it’s their voice speaking and not mine. But there is some pretty big truths in 8 verses. There is a difference between what others say and what God says. There’s a difference between God’s truth and a teacher feeling that THEIR truth is “gospel” (so to speak). Does the psalmist “meditate” on the statues of God more than their teachers as they are suggesting? Maybe – maybe not. We just don’t know. But again, this isn’t about finding truth or trying to pick apart their words. This is about understanding what they are saying and NOT saying. What are they saying? God’s word alone gives you wisdom, truth, and insight into who he is.
Let’s think about the implications here and what WE do to complicate God’s Law/Word:
- God’s word is not complicated – we complicate it.
- God’s word isn’t fuzzy in understanding – we fuzzy it up
- God’s word isn’t hidden – we’re just vailed and need the Holy Spirit to open our mind and heart to its truth.
- God’s truth is timeless. We’re the ones who put it into categories of time and space.
In the end, this psalm encourages us to just spend time in His Word. To know his Law, understand it’s intention and reasons, and realize that the Law and Word of God itself is how we’re going to draw closer to him. Don’t shy away from teachers and really smart people – but don’t neglect the REAL importance of time alone with God and allowing HIM to reveal HIM to you.
3 QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CHEW-ON:
- What in this psalm speaks to you? Where are you drawn? Why?
- I have many teachers that are my “favorites” in life – and all of them for different reasons. What are some of your favorite teachers and WHY are they your favorite? What did they do, teach, or say that made them “favorites” of yours?
- Have you ever RE-read a piece of scripture that you wondered, “Where did THAT come from? Why have I missed that?” or come across a text that now speaks to you differently than it had before? Why is that? Is it because we just were lazy before and missed it – or is God maybe giving us something for us that we need in this moment?