33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes*;
and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
35 Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it.
36 Incline my heart to your testimonies,
and not to selfish gain!
* 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 no greater teacher than God. He knows the end from the beginning. He founded the heavens and the earth so that they would sustain life. In his eternal wisdom God has arranged all that we see and all we have yet to see. It is within this context, with this level of access that God offers to lead us. What’s more, God invites us to seek his mind that we might conform our lives to it.
Over the years I have wondered why the Church continues to relitigate some issues and topics. It seems that we never really get ahead of them. Could it be we have not really sought God’s wisdom on these things. The work of theological reflection can become so complicated. I think it is because of pride. We want to be the ones who discover “the key” that gives us the power or influence or insight we all need. This will never happen.
Whether we want to admit it or not, whether we want to accept it or not, God has already given to us the instrument, means, and strategy for addressing all that is wrong with the world. And that includes starting with me.
If we are not satisfied with God’s answers on the subjects that cause us concern, why do we think another flawed, broken, and sinful person’s answer will be any consolation? It will not be. It cannot be. And until we come to terms with this, we will seek other teachers other than God. We will seek other saviors other than Jesus. We will rely on other means of support other than the Holy Spirit.
As a Christian, anyone who offers you a solution that does not begin with, is saturated by, and terminates in Jesus is selling you something that will not last. More to the point, it will fail to accomplish its alleged purpose.
Verse 33: The Psalmist petitions the Lord to teach them God’s statutes. This is an invitation to greater responsibility. We may not always understand instruction in this way, but within the context of our relationship with God, it is precisely this. The greater our knowledge of God, the higher God’s expectation of our obedience. The more we know, the more we become accountable for. And, as a result we understand why there is value in continuing to learn and grow and obey.
Verse 34: Because the law of God originated in the mind of God, there are aspects of it for which we require God’s assistance to understand. This does not mean that we could not figure it out eventually. The problem is that we don’t have the time! What God knows by virtue of his being God, creates an insurmountable obstacle to us, if it were not for God’s gracious intervention. The theological concept that describes this process is: Revelation. God must reveal what we could not discover through our own efforts, but once it has been provided, we can see what was intended.
Verse 35: The commandments of God, in one sense, serve to clear the road in front of us. What this means that as we more clearly understand God’s laws, we grow in wisdom. As we grow in wisdom, our ability to see further down the road of life also increases. Maturity, whether in the natural or the spirit, has a way of bringing peace of mind. And when we are able to rightly determine a course of action, we can enjoy the fruit of those insights. The primary fruit which is delight, according to the writer.
Verse 36: One of the best antidotes to selfishness is surrender to God’s testimonies. Seeing and knowing how God has worked has a way of focusing our attention. When our attention is God, we do not have time to focus on anything else. This distracting living, where we have time to look at what others have or are doing, can lead us down paths of selfishness we never intended or thought possible.