Our psalmist’s words exude self-satisfaction. Somebody is having a very good day!
For people like the writer—who ruminates constantly on the divine commandments—there is never a misstep. They are immersed in God’s ordinances, enjoying the sweetness of these venerable scrolls of wisdom. Surpassing the elders and the educated in insight, wiser than their teachers and any enemies who might set a trap for them, they embody faithfulness and shun evil. The precepts provide understanding so they can avoid paths that would lead them astray.
From the text we have no reason to doubt this self-portrait. From the larger story, we might be a tad skeptical.
It is easy to lean less on divine wisdom and more on our own. We claim, with perhaps a bit too much self-assurance, that we know what the Bible says about this or that. On this teaching or that moral issue or this social justice struggle, we declare emphatically that our interpretation is correct, and all others are wrong.
Giving thanks for our own gifts and talents is a worthy exercise. Confusing them with uncontainable divine wisdom is a huge mistake. Like the land we occupy, the Word of God is less our possession than a gift we continually receive, one that we are called to grasp lightly so that we may deploy it in love and service among neighbors, strangers, and enemies. We seek understanding but not for our own sake. God’s precepts are both guardrails that keep us secure and vehicles through which we can speak good news of assurance, hope, and peace. In this way the honeycomb of sweet truth with which God entices us will be both a delight and nourishment to all with whom we share it.
Lawgiver, we give you thanks for the sweet honey of your Word and pledge our humble obedience to serve those in peril. Amen.
At last Jeremiah is able to bring a message of restoration and hope. God promises a new covenant with the people, and they will internalize the law in their hearts so that they will keep it. The psalmist rejoices in such a reality. He meditates on God’s law all day and has been granted profound understanding. This allows him to walk faithfully in God’s paths. The reading from Second Timothy confirms the ongoing power of God’s law in scripture, which is given by God for our good. Timothy is charged always to be ready to preach it faithfully. Luke hits on a different theme: the importance of persistent prayer. In the parable a heartless judge finally yields to a persistent widow, so we should be similarly tenacious with our prayers to God.
Read Jeremiah 31:27-34. How have you broken your covenant with God? How has God responded?
Read Psalm 119:97-104. The Jewish laws of the Hebrew scriptures are part of our Christian heritage. How can you delight in the law?
Read 2 Timothy 3:14–4:5. How can you learn or teach from scriptures you do not normally read?
Read Luke 18:1-8. Through the familiar call to pray always, the author reminds us that we are called to pray for what God wants. What is at stake when you pray for justice and mercy?
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