13 With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth*.
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.
* Through these reflections, those phrases that identify God’s word, revelation, or law will be highlighted in the text in the hopes of accentuating the many and varied ways we can visualize what God has given to us for our good.
There is a famous phrase attributed to the great St. Francis of Assisi.
“Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”St. Francis of Assisi (attributed)
The problem is, there is no evidence that he actually said this. Well, maybe calling it a problem is a bit much. It would be better to say that this refrain may actually be a summary of his actual thoughts. It is possible that this pithier version was distilled from what St. Francis actually said, namely: “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”
As we learn more of God’s word, we begin to have our thoughts shaped and reshaped by God’s thoughts.
As we spend time with God, we are influenced and directed in ways that actually bring us closer to where God is drawing us.
Whether we know it or not, the manner in which we live our lives does have an impact in how others receive what we say to them. There needs to be a congruency between word and action. However, and this is just as important, we can’t avoid speaking what we know to be true just because are still figuring our how to live in greater consistency!
I find that too often, I don’t speak because of some fear of being seen as a hypocrite. But this happens when what we say is coming from us. When we are the source. But if we are speaking the words of God, it doesn’t matter that I’m saying it or some donkey on the road. The words of God are true even when a notorious liar speaks them. They may be the only true things that person ever says. But that doesn’t make the words any less true.
As we invest time in God’s word, and as we inwardly digest that word in our lives, the greater our assurance of faith with God. And as our we grow in grace we must share what we have learned, even when we haven’t fully implemented what God has said.
Verse 13: There is a sense in which we will never fulfill the charge of this verse. But, that is not its intent. By making this declaration, the Psalmist is displaying the nature of what our commitment should be. There is an intentionality to the work of proclaiming the rules of God. But the breadth of this commitment is to declare “all the rules.” We cannot select which rules we like and then discard the rest. If we take up the mantle of heralding the rules of God, we must faithfully declare them all. From the most glorious to the most convicting. To speak one is to become responsible for speaking them all.
Verse 14: The comparison described here is shocking. The gladness that comes from having the security of riches, of having the stability that material wealth can afford is compared to the delighting in God’s testimonies. What God says can comfort and heal and encourage and instruct. To have God’s testimonies is to be protected. We do not have to shun material blessings. But we must not diminish the purpose and power of what God has spoken in the Scriptures.
Verse 15: We have been reminded several times to develop a focused attention on God’s ways. In this verse we are encouraged to meditate. This is another way of describing the spending of time considering what God has given to us. It is the mulling over of the precept we are considering. To use a culinary idea, to meditate is to marinate in the precept we are contemplating. To allow the truth we are engaging to get inside of us, flavoring us with its attributes. As we meditate we are also to once again look upon God’s example. God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8), but we must strive to conform out lives to them anyway.
Verse 16: This is a second reference to delight. In this case, the delight is directed at the statutes of God themselves. The reality of how God’s words and commands can bring joy to our lives can be somewhat counterintuitive, but it is possible. In order to achieve it, we have to understand God’s commands as gift rather than a restriction; as a key rather than a lock. The Psalmist continues by offering a statement of conviction: “I will not forget your word.” In order to not forget, something must first be known.