“I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have preserved my life.”
Unlike yesterday, this morning I didn’t wake up with a song to inspire some quiet reflection. What did come to me as I sat down was the verse above, as a “Verse of the Day.” So I found myself backing up to the beginning of Psalm 119.
As I read the Psalm, verse 34 is the one that stuck out this morning: “Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.” After all, who doesn’t want for understanding? What made me uncomfortable as I read that verse over multiple times was the “so that”.
Why is it that so much of my life seems to be structured in terms of conditions? Is operating through a system of conditions a bad thing? After all, from the beginning there were conditions. In the Garden, before the fall. When God told Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge (Genesis 2:17) it was definitely an IF you do this, THEN this will happen. And there are so many more “If…then…” statements directly from God and Jesus. Maybe I shouldn’t get hung on the condition in the verse.
So, back to Psalm 119:34. If I have understanding, then I “may” keep God’s laws and be obedient? Aha! (I love how God works when I stop and just ponder His word.) When I first read verse 34 I was uncomfortable with the implication that I could only obey God’s word AFTER I had understanding. And in my apparently (so I thought) random pondering I went to the Garden. Where Adam and Eve broke the law because they did not have understanding of God’s word. That’s why we need understanding before obedience. We can not truly be obedient “with all our heart” until we understand.
Yet to think about “understanding” opens a whole new can of worms for another morning of thought:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.”