wisdom in unlikely places

I got my wisdom teeth out last Friday.  All four of them.  Normally, I take pride in the fact that I have a high tolerance for pain and that I can handle things like minor surgeries with no problem.  I’m tough.  And I can handle it.

Well apparently last week I got shot with a Pansy-Dart or something, because this whole wisdom teeth thing has been, quite frankly, kicking my butt.  I’m sure Matt has really been enjoying me lamenting the absence of cheeseburgers in my life for a grand total of five days now.  Just this morning when I asked Matt (in a very whiny voice) why my wisdom teeth had to come out and why they had to hurt so much, he just looked at me and said, “Because of sin.”  Apparently we moved past the “Comforting Words” phase fairly quickly.

All joking aside, my missing teeth have served a significant purpose the past few days – allowing me more time to spend in God’s Word.  The few extra recovery hours at home have allowed me to focus much more on some scripture that normally, with the busy day’s schedule, I just don’t make time for.

A few days ago I came to Psalm 119.  I’ve read this incredibly long chapter multiple times, and, honestly, when I got to it, I considered skipping it for that very reason.  I mean, there wouldn’t be anything new there, right?  (Sometimes my horrible logic is kind of funny).  But no, no, I should read it, because if i didn’t it would mess up my Read-Through-The-Bible-In-A-Year Plan (…but really).

So I began reading through the chapter, and immediately took notice of the underlying theme – a theme which, in all honesty, I had never really given much attention before.

This writer had a strange preoccupation with God’s Word.

I began writing down each specific time that the writer spoke about God’s word in an affectionate way.  Resist the temptation to just scan over the words, because their meaning is mind-blowing:

Psalm 119:1-80

1. Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!

2. Blessed are those who keep his testimonies…

5. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!

6. Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.

8. I will keep your statutes…

9. How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.

10. …let me not wander from your commandments.

11. I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

12…teach me your statutes!

14. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches

15. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.

16. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

17…that I may live and keep your word.

18. Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

19. …Hide not your commandments from me!

20 My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.

23…your servant will meditate on your statutes.

24. Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.

26 …teach me your statues!

27.  Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.

29. …graciously teach me your law!

30…I set your rules before me.

31. I cling to your testimonies, O Lord…

32. I will run in the way of your commandments…

33. teach me , O Lord, the way of your statues; and I will keep it to the end.

34. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.

35. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.

36. Incline my heart to your testimonies…

39. …for your rules are good.

40. Behold, I long for your precepts…

42. …for I trust in your word.

43. …for my hope is in your rules.

44. I will keep your law continuously, forever and ever.

46. I will also speak of your testimonies before kings…

47. For I find my delight in your commandments, which I love.

48. I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.

50. …Your promises give me life.

51. …I do not turn away from your law.

54. Your statutes have been my songs…

56. …I have kept your precepts.

57. …I promise to keep your words.

60. I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.

61. Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law.

64. …teach me your statutes!

66. ..for I believe in your commandments.

67. …but now I keep your word.

68. …teach me your statutes.

69. …but with my whole heart I keep your precepts…

70. …but I delight in your law.

71. It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.

72. the law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

73. …give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.

74. …I have hoped in your word.

77. …for your law is my delight.

78. …as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.

80. May my heart be blameless in your statutes…

After only the first 80 verses, it was like the spiritual truths were literally leaping off the page, jumping up and down, and trying to get my attention.

The first thing about this Psalm that I couldn’t ignore was that the author was obsessed with God’s Word.  Webster’s defines “obsess” as “to dominate or preoccupy the thoughts, feelings, or desires of a person” – and that’s exactly what is happening with the author here.

He talks about storing God’s word in his heart, fixing his eyes upon it, walking in his law, delighting in his commandments, clinging to his rules, meditating  on his testimonies….he even goes so far as to say that his soul is consumed with longing for God’s rules at all times.

Secondly, the author resolved to live by God’s Word.  He set a standard for himself and chose to live by it.  He doesn’t say, “I will do my best to live by your statutes,” but rather, I will keep your statutes.  I will meditate.  I will fix my eyes.  I will delight.  I will not forget.  I will keep your word.

This tells me that following Christ isn’t just about knowing what is true or what is right, but it’s about doing it as well.  This isn’t to say that we won’t experience failure – that’s part of the human experience – but it does mean that our goal should always be to pursue holiness.  Resolving or promising to keep God’s word at the center of our hearts is one of the most practical steps we can take towards godly living.

Next, the author asks for God’s wisdom and understanding to further comprehend and love His word.  Again and again, the author cries out to God, “Teach me your statutes!”  In some ways it almost seems ironic.  One moment he’ll be saying, “I keep your word,” and in the very next verse, he’ll be asking once again for God to teach him his ways.  He wants understanding so that he can continue to follow God with his whole heart.

I found this very interesting, because it shows where the responsibility of man and the sovereignty of God meet.  The author obviously bears responsibility to learn God’s word and commit it to his heart in  order to guard himself against sin.  But then we see how the author is dependent on God for the understanding of His word. Apart from God, His word and His message would be foolishness to us (1 Cor. 1:18).  That is why we must be desperate for His Word and understanding.

Also, the author’s admittance that he doesn’t know everything there is to know about God’s statutes points to his humility.  He recognizes that he has much to learn from God and about God – and this leads him to ask God to “open [his] eyes that [he] may behold wondrous things out of [God’s] law.”

Reading these words showed me the ways in which I often do not value God’s Word.  I do not always treasure it above all else or spend time “obsessing” over it and the truth it contains.  I am thankful for moments of clarity – those moments when I’m sitting on the couch holding icepacks on my cheeks – when I can slow down, be still, and really just enjoy God and His Word.

Sometimes wisdom can be found in the most unlikely places.

Leave it to the Author of Humor to plant new wisdom in my heart after He’d just yanked it out of my mouth.

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