The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Some Notes on Today’s Psalm Verses (Ps 119)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 21, 2011

165 Great peace have those who love thy law; nothing can make them stumble. RSV

The Psalmist states this from experience, for he is being persecuted by powerful people to force him (apparently) to do something against the law, thus verse 161 states: Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of thy words (RSV).

A reverential fear of God’s word-the revelation of his will- is essential for peace: “Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the sons of God (Matt 5:9) .” This blessedness, beloved, belongs not to any and every kind of agreement and harmony, but to that of which the Apostle speaks: “have peace towards God” (Rom 5:1) and of which the Prophet David speaks: “Much peace have they that love Thy law, and they have no cause of offences” (Ps 119:165) This peace even the closest ties of friendship and the exactest likeness of mind do not really gain, if they do not agree with God’s will. (Pope Leo)

The Law was given as a revelation of wisdom so that the people might know the will of God and be wise in this regard: 1 “And now, O Israel, give heed to the statutes and the ordinances which I teach you, and do them; that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, gives you. 2 You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it; that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. 3 Your eyes have seen what the LORD did at Baalpeor; for the LORD your God destroyed from among you all the men who followed the Baal of Peor; 4 but you who held fast to the LORD your God are all alive this day. 5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and ordinances, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land which you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Keep them and do them; for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, `Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law which I set before you this day? 9 “Only take heed, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life (Deut 4:1-9 RSV).

There are many professions that demand wisdom but the one who studies the law is wisest of all. See the comparison between the wisdom of various craftsmen (Sirach 38:24-34) and that of those who study the Law (Sirach 39:1-11).  Since the path of wisdom is peace (Prov 3:17), those who love the law have great peace.

168 I keep thy precepts and testimonies, for all my ways are before thee. RSV

The fact that nothing can be hidden from God is a great motive for obeying His will.  The Lord beholdeth the ways of man, and considereth all his steps (Prov 5:21).   What would be my portion from God above, and my heritage from the Almighty on high? Does not calamity befall the unrighteous, and disaster the workers of iniquity? Does not he see my ways, and number all my steps? (Job 31:2-4 RSV).

But Jesus is the full revelation of the Father, of which the Law and the Prophets were a shadow: God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners,  hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son (Heb 1:1-2). For this reason the Son is called the Word of God (John 1:1; Heb 4:12). He both reveals the Father’s will-as the Law in its limited fashion did-and knows the hearts of those whom he will one day judge: For the Word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.  And there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do (Heb 4:12-13).  All the churches shall know that I am he that searcheth the reins and hearts. And I will give to every one of you according to your works (Rev 2:23).

171 My lips will pour forth praise that thou dost teach me thy statutes. RSV

The thought here is similar to that expressed earlier in this Psalm, verse 7: I will praise thee with an upright heart, when I learn thy righteous ordinances (RSV)  The revelation of God’s will is a motive for praising him: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ: As he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted in his sight in charity.  Who hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto himself: according to the purpose of his will: Unto the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he hath graced us, in his beloved son. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins, according to the riches of his, grace, Which hath superabounded in us, in all wisdom and prudence, That he might make known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in him, In the dispensation of the fulness of times, to re-establish all things in Christ, that are in heaven and on earth, in him (see Eph 1:3-10).

172 My tongue will sing of thy word, for all thy commandments are right. RSV

Concerning this and the previous verse St Augustine writes:  “My lips shall burst forth praise: when Thou hast taught me Thy righteousnesses” (verse 171). We know how God teacheth those who are docile unto God. For every one who hath heard from the Father and hath learned, comes unto Him “who justifieth the ungodly:” so that he may keep the righteousnesses of God not only by retaining them in his memory, but also by doing them. Thus doth he who glorieth, glory not in himself, but in the Lord, and burst forth praise.

But as he hath now learned, and praised God his Teacher, he next wisheth to teach. “Yea, my tongue shall declare (sing) Thy word: for all Thy commandments are righteousness” (verse 172). When he saith that he will declare these things, he becometh a minister of the word. For though God teach within, nevertheless “faith cometh from hearing: and how do they hear without a preacher?” For, because “God giveth the increase,” is no reason why we need not plant and water.

See Col 3:14-17~But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly: in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God. All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

174 I long for thy salvation, O LORD, and thy law is my delight. RSV

Delight in the Law was a theme that opened the Psalter: Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night (Ps 1:1-2 RSV).

175 Let me live, that I may praise thee, and let thy ordinances help me. RSV

Spoken in spite of his persecutors, the princes mentioned in 119:161. The expression and context here (verses 174-175) are similar to what is found in 119:77~Let thy mercy come to me, that I may live; for thy law is my delight (RSV). These words too were spoken in the face of enemies (119:69).

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One Response to “Some Notes on Today’s Psalm Verses (Ps 119)”

  1. […] Some Notes on Today’s Psalm Verses. […]

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