After several weeks of reading Psalm 119 in the eight-verse chunks (stanzas?) the way most English Bibles are formatted, I cam to the end tonight. Admittedly, I hovered low over some stanzas for multiple days, and at other times, my reading skipped Psalms entirely. But, never the less, a few phrases stood out tonight that I want to contemplate, even after this post is published.
In verse 162, the Psalmist says, “I rejoice at your word, like one who finds great spoil.” Now, in my generation, in these United States, most people have been shielded from the activities of war. We generally don’t know what armed conflict looks like, nor what to expect when conquering another nation or an enemy of great numbers. For those that do know, and have seen combat, among my friends and acquaintances, I rarely hear about the taking of spoil. For what reason that is, I don’t know. I might speculate, but I won’t. In the ancient world, though, to the conquerors went the spoil. In one account in the Law and the Prophets, we read of where God delivered his people through the infighting and disease of the enemy, and the discovery of the defeat of the enemy was by two or three lepers. Sorry about no citation; I’ll try to look it up. The point is, the discovery of food, and clothing, and weapons, and treasures was enough to make them estatic!
Probably the closest thing to that I can think of in my own experience is when I find a bookseller with prices below a dollar per item, or a garage sale with tools for me, clothes for the kids, and yarn for Sharon, at giveaway prices. As exciting as such a find is, do I rejoice even more at God’s Word? It is convicting to realize that often I do not.
Verse 164 goes even further, I think. “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.” In the first place, how common is it for any of us, I am afraid to admit, to praise God for ANY rule, let alone admit his rules, all his rules, are righteous? Oh, I know, in theory, we would affirm that they are. But then we see the one that makes us squirm. “That applied to saints before the cross” (As a dispensationalist, I recognize differences exist, and my covenant friends likely do, as well. But we still justify ourselves when we ought not.)
The Psalmist praises God for his righteous rules, however, not once, and not just twice. He doesn’t even restrict his praise to the three times of public prayer. No, “seven times” a day he praises God for his righteous rules. Seven is considered a perfect number, so I don’t know if it is literally seven, or if it is a way of saying, he can’t stop praising God for his righteous rules. Like a man can’t stop talking about the grace of God when he finds a Godly woman willing to put up with him. Again, do I praise God even half that much for his righteous rules? I ought to do so.
Finally, in verse 165, “great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” Peace from loving the law seems antithetical to our nature, but the promise is of peace, and the promise is of stability, for those who love his law.
May it be so. May it please thee, O Father, to give me a deeper love for thy law, and for thee, the lawgiver. Amen.