The Process: How do you live a text-driven life?
Psalm 119 is beautiful song. Psalm 119 is art. And yet, while I would like to help myself, I just can’t. I am reading this for a strategy, a truth, or a proposition. That, of course, is the wrong way to approach the Psalms. The Psalms, in so much as they are art, are not striving for theological balance or linear argument. In a song, authenticity and beauty are the values, and that is quite enough. They are meditations not formulas.
Yet, again, I can’t help it. I want to know: what is the process by which we know God through His Word? Read the Psalm again and again. Meditate on the Word as it marinates your consciousness. This slow meditation will do more than any formula will do. There is no process here; the secret of a text-driven life is with those who will take the time to read. The secret is with those who will sit and meditate. That’s really it.
Yet there is one text that, while intentional or not, is a sort of summary statement for the process of growing a text-driven life. It’s found in v. 124-127:
Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love,
and teach me your statutes.
I am your servant; give me understanding,
that I may know your testimonies!
It is time for the Lord to act,
for your law has been broken.
Therefore, I love your commandments
above gold, above fine gold. 125-127
In a previous post we noticed the parallels between Psalm 119 and Psalm 1. Psalm 119 is the fuller explanation of what it means to be a tree planted by living waters. Lets press the tree metaphor a bit.
Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love. v. 124
If you look at the chart, you notice that “steadfast love,” God’s loving kindness, or His unfailing love, is mentioned thirteen times. Over and over again the steadfast love is tied to the promise, the Word. The Psalmist is waiting for love that is expressed in a promise. In a larger perspective, God manifests His love to us in that He speaks. He spoke through the OT, and finally in His Son. Scripture is an act of love to us.
Teaching, Understanding, Knowing, and then Delighting
And teach me your statues. 124
We would not know unless God taught us His Word.
Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;
and I will keep it to the end. 33
Some things in the Word can only be learned through suffering.
It was good that I was afflicted
that I might learn your statues. 71
So the presence of the Word is an act of God’s love. Yet, the presence of the Word is not enough. Scripture does not have not self-propagating power. It must be opened and read with the aid of the Holy Spirit who will teach us all things (John 14:26).
I am your servant give me understanding that I may know your testimonies. 125
Teaching is not enough if our eyes are not opened to understand.
Give me understanding that I might keep your law,
and observe it with my whole heart. 34
Notice that understanding is tied to observing. We have mentioned this in an earlier post, but it bears repeating: the line between understanding and obedience is a thin one. The one who understands, obeys, and the one who obeys, understands. Jesus is clear that those who obey will get understanding. This is where we could stop and have a conversation about the life of faith. Faith is simply acting like something is reality even when it is invisible. It’s the substance of things unseen. So the understanding the Psalmist mentioned assumes obedience that is necessary for delighting.
That I might know your testimonies 125
Knowledge is wonderful, but not the immediate goal. The immediate goal is to sit at the feet of Jesus, to be taught and then willfully understand what He is saying. Knowledge is the result. Knowledge is not the immediate goal, and neither is it the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to love God through His Word; to delight in His Word.
Love for the Word
Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold. 127
Delight is a huge theme in Psalm 119. He mentions delight, joy, and love over and over:
Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it. 35
In this way, Psalm 119:124-128 summarize a process:
Based on God’s steadfast love,
- He teaches us the Word
- We obey and therefore understand the Word,
- This gives us knowledge, which leads to
- Love for the Word.
What next? Well, everything really. Based on God’s steadfast love we are taught, we understand/obey, and now find that the Word is our delight; we are living a text-driven life. From delight comes the many results of a text-driven life branching out. From delight comes life.
Gratefully, Psalm 119 is the explanation of how to be the blessed man of Psalm 1. This is the successful tree that is planted in streams of living water. So, pick the Word up and read.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ps 119:124–128). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.