Your word is a lamp
that gives light
wherever I walk.
Your laws are fair,
and I have given my word
to respect them all.
I am in terrible pain!
Save me, Lord,
as you have promised.
Accept my offerings of praise
and teach me your laws.
I never forget your teachings,
although my life is always
Some merciless people
are trying to trap me,
but I never turn my back
on your teachings.
They will always be
my most prized possession
and my source of joy.
I have made up my mind
to obey your laws forever,
no matter what. (Contemporary English Version)
Attitude. Affection. These are the two qualities that stand out to me in today’s Psalm lesson. The psalmist is a person who is determined to hold onto God’s Law because it is his heart’s delight.
Our attitudes and our affections are meant to fit together like a hand in a glove. Our attitudes help us push through suffering to realize better days. And our affections drive us forward, allowing us to experience joy in the present moment as we await our hope of ultimate deliverance.
Commitments are fluid, always moving – so they need to be continually rehearsed and refreshed. We are constantly either fulfilling our promises or reneging on them. There is really no such thing as a one-time vow.
Vows need reinforcement from our attitudes and our affections. Otherwise, they languish on the trash heap of good intentions. This is one reason why the Psalms are designed for constant use.
Spiritually healthy habits must be embedded in our lives, well before any suffering and hard times roll in.
If our normal daily routines involve regular sustenance of God’s Word, then we have a breadth and a depth of robust theology to draw upon when the going gets rough. Furthermore, the sheer force of habit brings us back again and again to the treasure chest of divine instruction, informing our decisions and illuminating the treacherous road ahead.
The psalter is designed to reframe our difficult situations. Especially when a person’s life hangs in the balance, we can view hard and awkward circumstances through the window of the Psalms. Although circumstances change, and we never quite know what to expect, God’s Law remains our ballast and our rock.
Circumstances may change but divine love and morality are unchanging. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The Spirit is always with us, through each wave of hardship.
Life is a journey, an exploration into the unknown of the future. The path is shadowy and unclear. We are unsure of what is around the bend. God’s instructions and promises are like a forever energized flashlight, helping us navigate forward. Maybe Jesus had today’s Psalm in mind when he said:
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, NRSV)
In Christianity, the Word is embodied in Jesus Christ; he is both the example and fulfillment of all God’s good promises.
A sequence of four metaphors runs through our verses for today:
- My feet. With Jesus as Word and Light, we have a constant companion walking alongside us for the journey.
- My mouth. There is an intercessor who takes our wordy or malformed prayers and presents them before our heavenly Father
- My hands. We do God’s will, despite adverse circumstances, by observing the Master who washed the feet of others.
- My heart. In desiring God’s decrees and commands, our hearts find their rest in the One who loved us and gave himself for us.
Our attitudes and affections are transformed into sustainable faith for the long journey.
Our hope is made sure through the promises of God.
Our love finds a resting place in the person of Jesus.
Faith, hope, and love are the shoes enabling us to walk the long uphill road, as well as absorbing the shock as we run with abandon downhill – into the loving arms of God.
I encourage you to find what works best for you in developing helpful spiritual habits. In reading the Bible, I often take the following approach using the acronym S.O.A.P:
• Open your Bible and slowly, meditatively, read the portion of Scripture in your reading plan for today.
• Write the reference of what you read in a journal along with the date.
• As you read, ask God’s Spirit to highlight the verse(s) that speak to your life and write it in your journal.
• Make observations about what you just read and write them in your journal.
• Think about: What is going on? What is the context? Who are the people being spoken to? What is the background or setting for this verse?
• Paraphrase and write this scripture down in your journal, in your own words.
• What do you think God is saying to you in this scripture?
• Personalize what you have read by asking yourself how it relates to your life right now.
• Ask yourself how you can apply what you just read to your own life and write it in your journal.
• Ask yourself how your life will be different or changed as a result of God speaking to you in this Scripture.
• Write out a prayer to God in your journal.
• Your prayer should relate to the verse that you highlighted. It could be asking for help, thanking God, etc. Write down what your heart desires to say to God in response to his Word.
May the words of your mouth, the meditations of your heart, the work of your hands, and the movement of your feet be to the glory of Jesus Christ. Amen.