Tag Archives: Psalm 119

Instruct Me in God’s Laws?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, December 7, 2017

Psa 119-12 teach me, words

Instruct Me in God’s Laws?

When I read this brief comment on Psalm 119:12, I sat back and thought about it for a while. Let’s get the verse in front of us, so we can see what Bonhoeffer is talking about.

Blessed are You, O Lord;

Instruct me in Your statutes.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, “Does the ‘I,’ which is so noticeably repeated in these psalm verses, signify preoccupation with the self in self-criticism and self-justification?” [1] I do not know about that. What I recognize is that the Psalms are one of the most personal and emotional books in the Bible. I always appreciated the fact that the different psalm writers had no problem expressing deep (and sometimes troubling) emotions.

I have never thought of this specific idea before. Does the psalmist have some hyper-sensitive preoccupation with the self? (I mean, unhealthy preoccupation. I am not talking about a normal self-concept here.) That is a fascinating idea, and one that is new to me. I simply cannot answer that right now.

However, I can agree with the psalmist and with Bonhoeffer on his other striking insight. “In blessing God, we confess what we have received. In making our request of God, we confess our poverty.” [2] Oh, my. I know very well how poor I am. I need God’s instruction, God’s wisdom, and especially God’s help. What can I do, but pray?

Gracious God, source of all wisdom, thank You for these words. Thank You for this psalm. Continue to impress these verses on my heart and mind. Please, Lord, help me to follow Your statutes and laws. I thank and praise Your blessed name, Lord. All glory be to You. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 118.

[2] Ibid.

Seeking God with a Whole Heart

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, November 26, 2017

Psa 119-10 all my heart, hillside

Seeking God with a Whole Heart

This verse in Psalm 119 and its accompanying commentary by Dietrich Bonhoeffer really made me think. Of course, many of these from this Psalm strike home, and challenge me to strive to follow God more nearly and love God more dearly. However, this particular verse talks of following God “with my whole heart.” Here’s the whole of Psalm 119:10.

With my whole heart I seek You;

let me not stray from Your commandments.

When I think about following God with my whole heart, then I am striving to commit my life truly to the following of God. As Bonhoeffer says, “For with half a heart we might be seeking an idol, but never God Himself.” [1] If I only give half of myself—or even less of my attention, love, or service—to God, that is an extremely poor excuse of a gift to give to my Creator, my Shepherd, and my Savior. How could I even think to give a shoddy gift like that to my God?

Sadly, I am afraid I give that kind of gift to God on a regular basis…

I am surprised God doesn’t strike me down with a thunderbolt from heaven, for the really awful gifts I do end up giving to God. When I even think of giving gifts at all…

Dear Lord, I am sorry. I know I owe You so much more. As Bonhoeffer says, “If we are responding to God’s Word we will say ‘I seek You with my whole heart.’” [2] Gracious God, help me to seek You every day in such a way. You want nothing else from me but to seek You, to be in Your presence, and to rest in You. Help me to be constant and consistent in seeking You, Lord. So help me, God.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 116.

[2] Ibid.

Keeping Pure through God’s Words

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, November 9, 2017

Psa 119-9 young man, words

Keeping Pure through God’s Words

How to stay clean? Pure? Unblemished? The psalmist of Psalm 119 says it’s by reading God’s words. Paying close attention to what God’s words have to say.

The more Pharisaic part of me says, “Of course! That is what we all need to do. What we all should do!” (Notice the “we” in this statement. Almost as bad as “you.”) That’s the elder-brother part of me, the righteous, goody-two-shoes part. Or—is it the self-righteous, judgmental part?

Let’s look at the verse for today, verse 119:9 –

How does a young man cleanse his way?

By keep to Your words.

The version I am more familiar with talks about the psalmist keeping “his way pure.” Very similar wording. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, this is not “the question of an older person looking at the evils of youth. This question grows out of personal experiences of temptation and personal encounters with the Word of God.” [1] This is certainly from a young man (as evidenced by vv. 99-100 of this same psalm).

Ah, but I am willful and prone to wander. So often, I am determined to do it my way! I know I am a great example of the younger brother from the parable from Luke, the Prodigal. (At least, I was a great example, some years ago. I like to think I’ve cleaned up my act a little bit.) There is a part—an uncomfortably large part—of me that sticks out my lower lip, crosses my arms across my chest, and turns away. Pouting adolescent, much?

Ah, Pastor Bonhoeffer, I admit it. I admit I do not want to learn about life and guilt from personal experience. Yet, how can I not help it when I run off the rails sometimes? Yet, “in asking the question about the cleansing of his way, [our psalmist] acknowledges the sin that dwells within him. Otherwise he would not need to ask.” [2]

Yes, indeed. Like the psalmist, I badly need God’s help to stay clean. Only God can help both of us, me and the psalmist, deal with sin. (Maybe God can help you, too.) God and God’s words can lead us and give us grace, day by day. One day at a time. Thank You, Jesus!

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 114.

[2] Ibid, 115.

Trying to Keep God’s Statutes

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, November 9, 2017

Psa 119-8 keep statutes, bible

Trying to Keep God’s Statutes

As I return to the anthology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s shorter writings, I was drawn up short by his reflections on Psalm 119:8 –

I will keep Your statutes;

do not utterly forsake me.

Bonhoeffer is struck by the words “I will.” He does not want to misinterpret them, or especially to try to take or use those words in a perverse way. As he says, “We must first unlearn the way in which we say ‘I will’ before the Holy Spirit can teach us to say it in a new and right way.” [1]

Oh, you and I can twist and manipulate words and phrases in any number of ways. Especially through justifying our actions (either beforehand or after the fact) and making ourselves to look pure and guiltless. “In matters of piety, the ‘I will’ can cause the greatest harm: ‘I will be devout, I will be holy, I will keep the commandments.’” [2]

I know God understands my motives and (even) needs to justify myself, and cause myself to be viewed as the good guy. However, aren’t you—aren’t I fearful of separation from God, even when God might be angry with us? Isn’t using self-righteousness as a defensive weapon hurtful to our own insides? In particular, our spiritual and relational insides?

Plus, I know I am basically sinful. (Remember Romans 3:23—I just gave a mini-series from Romans for my sermons on the “Solas” of the Reformation for the month of October.) I thank God that I am accepted in His sight, and the Scripture is a great resource to assist me to follow God. So, we “pray for a steadfast heart that keeps itself in God’s commandments, and we know that this can only be achieved by grace.” [3]

Yes, following God’s statutes seems, at first glance, all about Law. Unflinching and rigid, Law comes down on the necks of those who attempt to follow it. However, we follow God’s ways because we want to be delivered from this burden and bankruptcy of the Law. Then, by a marvelous gift of God, everything is grace. God’s grace makes it all possible. It’s grace that frees us from the Law, “grace puts us on the way [of God], and it is grace for which we pray from step to step.” [4] Hallelujah, what a Savior.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 112.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 113.

[4] Ibid, 114.

God’s Commandments in Psalm 119

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, October 1, 2017

Psa 119- 4-5 precepts, script

God’s Commandments in Psalm 119

I appreciate Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words so much. His commentary on the beginnings of Psalm 119 hit home to me. We are considering verse 4:

You laid down Your commandments,

that we should fully keep them.

I was particularly intrigued by his description of “the Hebrew word for ‘commandments’ in this verse. It is a word that cannot be translated by a single word of ours.” [1] I am fascinated by these types of words that cannot be translated, word-for-word. Instead, translators are forced to find approximate definitions and translations.

I appreciate the candor of some translators and commentators when they honestly state their difficulties in translation and interpretation. And, sometimes, a word in one language takes a phrase or even a sentence to define it in another language. (Again, I think this is fascinating!) The word translated as “commandments” is one such word, “that cannot be translated by a single word of ours. It derives from the verb for seeking, visiting, paying attention to. Hence, the commandments are what God looks at, pays attention to, and the means by which He seeks and visits the human being.” [2] (The NIV translation is “precepts,” which conveys much similar ideas.)

Bonhoeffer considered God’s commandment to be a permanent thing, in fact, a continual thing. As Bonhoeffer mentions, God’s commands are not just for an instant, or for a short period of time. No, they are for a good long time. What’s more, God “laid them down.” God established the commandments as one lays a cornerstone for a building.

What a marvelous image! God meant the commandments to be permanent, laid as a foundation or cornerstone. Thank You, God, for giving us the gracious gift of Your Scriptures—Your commandments.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 106.

[2] Ibid.

God’s Word Brings Peace.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, September 8, 2016

god-brings-peace

God’s Word Brings Peace.

Psalm 119 is one of my favorite psalms. Hands down. I love so many things about it. First off, every one of its 176 verses mentions God’s word. Or, statutes, or God’s law. In a multitude of ways, this chapter of the Hebrew Scriptures acknowledges the awesomeness of God’s Word, the Bible.

I’d like to focus on one verse: Psalm 119:165. “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.”

This verse comes at the tail end of the psalm. You’d think, after dozens and dozens of verses of description, of how amazing God’s Word is—but, no. The unknown author powers through to the end, extolling the wonders of the Bible.

Back to verse 165. This verse talks about peace. As in, shalom. Not only the cessation of conflict and war, not to mention violence. But, the harmony and wholeness of shalom. How the Bible—and the regular, intentional reading of it—provides peace.

Now, the author does not say, but I see this verse as talking about the inside attitude. The attitude of people who regularly read the Bible and study it.

I am sure the author knows about the various uncertain situations here in this world, because he uses descriptive language concerning the uneasy, unpleasant world in other verses.  I know the author wants to show that God’s Word can help overcome, no matter what the adversary, no matter how unpleasant the situation. Plus, in this particular verse, the author affirms that God’s Word brings peace. God’s Word helps the reader to maintain a firm footing, a firm grip on their road or their way. I don’t know about you, but I sure need that!

Let’s pray. Gracious God, thank You for all of the many varieties of help, encouragement and support we may find in God’s Word—the Bible. Especially, thank You for the certainty the author has in this verse: those who love Your Word will not stumble, and peace will come into their hearts. Not only passing peace, peace on the surface, but great peace. I need great peace right now. Thank You for this good promise. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er