David relied heavily on God and His word during his period of suffering. Study, meditation and obedience while under duress produced something in the psalmist — wisdom, understanding and insight. And a great love for God’s word.
“No man ever loved his Bible too much.”
William Swan Plumer
Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.
It’s possible to study the Bible, obey the Bible and even teach the Bible, but not love the Bible. David’s love for the law came as a result of meditating on it. Remember, we’re not talking about some Eastern form of meditating — a kind of passive emptying of the mind. Christian meditation is active. It is thinking over and dwelling on the purposes and promises of God, “consciously performed in the presence of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God.” (James Packer) “David meditated on God’s word because he loved it, and loved it the more because he meditated on it.” (Spurgeon) He couldn’t get enough of it.
“This love for God’s word is a great proof of love for God. If a man says he loves God, but neglects His word, that love must be called into question.” (Christopher Ash)
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.
David credited the law for giving him wisdom, beyond that of his enemies. We live in a difficult world and trying to navigate all the posts and tweets and opinions is nearly impossible on our own. The Bible gives us absolute access to the Architect and Creator. When we need to know how to think about an issue, we need to run to our Bibles where we can connect to God’s wisdom without limit.
How did David keep the commandments near him? Probably by memorizing portions of scripture. But it was also his duty, as the law stated, “When the king takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life.” (Deut. 17:18-19) So King David had copied the entire Torah by hand and was charged with keeping it with him. That’s a good law. Maybe we should bring it back.
I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
It’s good to learn from human teachers. I can name many that have impacted me over the years. (And they’re not all old dead guys.) David recognized he had an understanding that went beyond knowledge and again, he traced it back to his untiring commitment to soak in God’s word.
I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.
Usually, older people are considered to be wiser, having learned from their life experiences. Usually. However, very smart, experienced people can still lack wisdom. It seems there is always a connection between understanding and obedience. David wasn’t just a hearer of the word, but also a doer. “He that excels in practice has the best understanding.” (Thomas Manton) Far from bragging about his great insight, David was extolling the wonder of God’s great wisdom and His ability to put it in a person’s head and heart.
I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word.
David gets practical here. There are just some things that don’t mix with godly wisdom, like evil. Not that it’s easy. He had to make a conscious effort to hold back those feet of his from taking him the wrong way. The choice was before him: keep the word he had grown to love or chase after lies. “If we keep the good word, we must let go the evil.” (Spurgeon)
I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.
Compared to walking down evil paths, a little turning aside doesn’t seem like a big deal. That is what makes it such a subtle temptation. Turning aside from reading the Bible, praying, and fellowship can begin a slow slide away from the Lord. David wouldn’t do it.
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
When Jewish boys were six years old, they entered school at the local synagogue. On the first day of school, the rabbi would take a generous amount of honey and put it on each of the boys’ slates. Then the rabbi would tell the boys to lick it off as he quoted from Psalm 119, “May the words of God be sweet to your taste, sweeter than honey to your mouth.” The students’ first association with scripture was sweet, helping them understand that nothing was more enjoyable than receiving and tasting the Word of God. Many people are introduced to the Bible as a set of rules and commands, a list of dos and don’ts. Let’s add a bit of sweetness as we share the Word.
Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
The better we understand the heart of God in His law, the easier it is to see religion that’s fake. Hate is a strong word, but there’s a time and place for it. “It is well to be a good hater. Not a hater of living beings, but a hater of every false way. The way of self-will, of self-righteousness, of self-seeking, of worldliness, of pride, of unbelief, of hypocrisy — these are all false ways, and therefore not only to be shunned, but to be abhorred.” (Spurgeon)
Things I know for sure from this passage:
- Knowing a lot does not equal wisdom.
- God’s Word has the power to make us wise people.
- When we study the Bible, God Himself is our Teacher.
- Meditating on God’s Word helps us keep His commands.
- Wisdom is knowledge put to practical use, usually through obedience.