If you have been reading the psalm from the beginning, you know this is not spoken lightly. The psalmist has been through times of deep trouble. He has suffered reproach and contempt (119:22), he has set his eyes on worthless things (119:37), he has been afflicted and derided by the proud (119:50-51), he has gone astray and was corrected (119:67), he has been lied about (119:69), and has felt like a wineskin in smoke (119:83). The wicked had laid a trap to destroy him, and without God’s law he felt he would have perished in my affliction (119:92, 95). But through all the experiences of his life, the psalmist had found God’s word tried and true. Oh how he loved that Word!
In this 13th stanza, the psalmist reveals to us three specific reasons for loving God’s law:
- it gives wisdom and understanding,
- it restrains you from sin,
- it satisfies your soul.
97 O how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,
For they are ever with me.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
Because I have observed Your precepts.
101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.
102 I have not turned aside from Your ordinances,
For You Yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are Your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 From Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
First, in verses 98-100, the psalmist states that God’s Word makes us wiser than our enemies and gives us more understanding than our teachers and our elders. The psalmist has described his enemies many times in previous verses, and he had lots of them. Although he writes about human enemies, we must remember that we have spiritual enemies as well and we need the full armor of God, revealed in His Word, in order to stand. Do you know the pieces of armor described in God’s Word? Are you careful to put them on every day? Pearl Hamilton, founder of Disciplers Bible Studies, shared that every morning as she got dressed, she pictured herself putting on the full armor of God as described in Ephesians 6:10-18. How can we hope to stand against the enemies that assail us if we do not know what our armor is and faithfully wear it?
Let’s note too that the psalmist isn’t idly boasting in saying he has more understanding than his teachers and elders. His point is that God’s word (His testimonies, 119:99) is always on his mind. He takes it seriously and acts upon it. He doesn’t just have the intellectual knowledge. What he learns from God’s word has become an integral part of his life, directing him in God’s ways. Someone has said that wisdom is not so much about what you know as what you do with what you know.
Secondly, in verses 101-102, the psalmist reveals how God’s Word restrains from sin. By restraining his feet from every evil way (119:101), he has been obedient. By doing what God has taught him in His Word, he has averted sin. Our world today prefers to deny the black and white of good and evil. As in the days of the judges, people enjoy doing what is right in their own eyes. But the Bible teaches a right way and a wrong way. Let me share a short biography written by Portia Nelson. It is five short chapters and I will summarize.
Chapter 1 - While walking down the street, she fell into a deep hole in the sidewalk. She felt lost and helpless and it took her a long time to find her way out.
Chapter 2 - She walks down the same street and the same deep hole is there. She pretends not to see it but falls in again. It takes her a long time to get out.
Chapter 3 - She walks down the same street, sees that same hole, and falls in again. It has become a habit. By now she knows where she is, so she gets out immediately.
Chapter 4 - She walks down the same street and there is that same hole. This time she tiptoes around it.
Chapter 5 - She walks down another street.
God’s Word teaches us how to walk so we don’t fall in the deep holes.
Lastly, in verses 103-104, the psalmist reveals that God’s Word satisfies the soul. Some people have a “sweet tooth” and a meal is never fully satisfying without something sweet. The sweetest most satisfying thing the psalmist can think of is honey, and he says God’s Word is sweeter than honey. What are you craving? It is God’s Word alone that can fulfill that hunger. Will you go to his Word daily to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8)? It will be sweet satisfaction to your soul. In your Bible you will find wisdom to avoid the streets with the deep holes. You will find the understanding to grow to love God’s Word. And you will satisfy the craving of your soul.
Love you all,