G’day! Welcome to Partake and our continuing series “Scriptural Delights!” going through the wonder that is Psalm 119! Here is our nineteenth podcast of the series! Today we look at the seventeenth of its twenty-two letters, Pe, and its verses 129 to 136. The bible reading is done by Sharona.
129 Your statutes are wonderful;
therefore I obey them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.
132 Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
133 Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.
134 Redeem me from the oppression of men,
that I may obey your precepts.
135 Make your face shine upon your servant
and teach me your decrees.
136 Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
for your law is not obeyed.
Thanks Sharona! The study tonight was written and recorded by my mentor and friend, Jim Harris. This is 3rd in this series and he has one more to do.
Greetings! This study in the section associated with the Hebrew letter ‘PE’ makes us consider the role of the word of God in bringing understanding to our minds, moral and spiritual direction to our lives, and heart satisfaction in our relationship with the Lord. To ease us into this, we look elsewhere in Scripture first. In Numbers 6:24-26, we read of the Aaronic Blessing. As the High Priest of the people of Israel, Aaron was instructed to bless them in the Name of the Lord.
‘The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face towards you and give you peace.’
It’s my feeling that this priestly blessing was in the psalmist’s mind when he wrote this stanza, PE. ‘Turn to me and be gracious to me’ (132). The NIV reads ‘have mercy on me.’ Older translations use ‘be gracious’ but it amounts to the same, as both words imply acceptance, forgiveness and peace with God. Then, in verse 135, he says, ‘Make your face shine upon your servant’. So, asking God to turn towards him, to be gracious to him, to make his face shine upon him? I’m sure you can see the connection between this Psalm and that Blessing.
How is the Christian equivalent of that blessing conferred upon us today? It’s done by the Holy Spirit through the word of God, the words of Scripture. Many church services include or conclude with these very words of Scripture, spoken as a ‘benediction’ or ‘announcement of blessing from the Lord’ upon his people. It also happens in our personal lives. As we read, believe, and respond to the wonderful words of God, we receive a rich blessing upon ourselves. The very first verse picks this up, ‘Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.’ The last verse takes a different but related line, ‘Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.’ Here’s a man who really does understand the way in which the Lord confers his blessing upon his believing people, and grieves that there are those who profess to belong to the Lord but refuse to obey his word. Let’s make sure that isn’t true of any of us!
Now let’s see how God’s word brings his blessing, as we explore these verses.
It begins by bringing understanding. Verse 130, ‘The unfolding of you words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.’ By ‘simple’ he is not describing those with what we would call ‘learning difficulties’, but those whose understanding has not yet matured enough for them to be fully aware of God’s will and ways. Where there’s a willingness to learn about spiritual matters, the word of God will bring what the psalmist calls ‘light’. This is a process which combines insight and wisdom. We gain further insight into the Lord and his ways with humankind; into the realm of spiritual realities and experience; into the whole meaning of Jesus and his work of redemption; into what it means to live by the Spirit, and so on. We also receive the gift of wisdom, which enables us to apply what we know through insight to our lives in this world. That way we can live to the praise and glory of God.
Scripture also gives us direction. It shows us the right way to live, morally and spiritually. That affects our attitudes towards other people and our relationships with them. We live by the combination of the grace and truth that was evident in the Lord Jesus. God’s word also helps us pick our way through the moral maze life of the 21st – what to avoid and what to be involved with. Verse 133, ‘Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.’
Finally, Scripture also enables us to enjoy heart-satisfaction in our relationship with the Lord. In verse 131 he is ‘longing for (the Lord’s) commands’ and describes himself ‘panting’ like a thirsty animal. In 134 he wishes to be free from the force of human opinions and pressure, so that he can respond fully to the Lord. In 135 he is looking for a shining sense of God’s presence, as he responds to what the Lord shows him in his word. This is the language of a truly devotional life; a servant of God who wants to walk closely with the Lord and to enjoy his presence.
To see a New Testament example of how all this fits together, read Luke 24:13-35 when you can, and see how what’s written there can be true for us, as we walk through life in close fellowship with our risen Lord Jesus. Take note of verse 32, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’
The LORD bless you and keep you!