Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.”
Jeremiah 31: 3
The Love of God
“At first I prayed for light; could I but see the way,
How gladly would I walk to everlasting day!
I asked the world’s deep law before my eyes to open,
And let me see my prayer fulfilled, and realize my devotion.
But God was kinder than my prayer,
And darkness veiled me everywhere.
And next I asked for strength, that I might tread the road
With firm, unfaltering pace to heaven’s serene abode;
That I might never know a faltering, failing heart,
But go on and reach the highest part.
But God was kinder than my prayer,
And weakness checked me everywhere.
And then I asked for faith; could I but trust my God,
I’d live in heavenly peace, though foes were all abroad.
His light thus shining round, no faltering should I know;
And faith in heaven above would make a heaven below.
But God was kinder than my prayer
And doubts beset me everywhere.
And now I pray for love, deep love to God and man,
A love that will not fail, however dark His plan;
That sees all life in Him, rejoicing in His power,
And faithful, though the darkest clouds of gloom
and doubt may lower.
And God is kinder than my prayer;
Love fills and blesses everywhere.”
Edward D. Cheney
“But because the Lord loves you and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you out of bondage.
Deuteronomy 7: 8
Today’s Study Text:
“Happy is the person who doesn’t listen to the wicked. He doesn’t go where sinners go. He doesn’t do what bad people do. He loves the Lord’s teachings, He thinks about those teachings day and night.”
Psalm 1: 1, 2,
The Everyday Bible
“The Shaping of One’s Life”
Psalm 1: 2 Part 7
“Moral law is more than a test, it is for (our) own good. Every law that God has given has been for (our) benefit. If (we) break it, (we) are not only rebelling against God, (we) are hurting (ourselves).”
Evangelist Billy Graham
What has been the role of God’s law in shaping my life?
How does obedience to God’s will change the way I relate to the people in my life?
“The law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along and straightens me out.”
Evangelist D. L. Moody
“The glory of the gospel is, not that it destroys the law, but that it makes it cease to be a bondage.”
J. H. Newman
One summer, thinking I’d surprise my family with my amazing memory, while on our annual vacation camping high in the White Mountains at Greer, Arizona, I undertook committing to memory three entire Psalms. Psalm 23rd was the first and easiest. Second was Psalm 1 – my dad’s favorite and the shortest. And finally, my grandma’s favorite, Psalm 91 which was the longest but a passage in Scripture which has meant a great deal to me for the night before my 96-year-old grandma went to her rest in Jesus, I took my Bible to her room and together we repeated the entire Psalm for memory! Yes, grandma’s belief that studying the Bible and memorizing Scripture kept her mind alert certainly paid off for her mind was sharp as could be even at her advanced age.
I share these past times with you for I don’t believe there’s anyone who has really studied God’s word that doesn’t call the Psalms one of their “go to” portions of Scripture in times of trial, challenge, confusion as well as in times of great joy.
As we continue to look closer at Psalm 1, I want to divide Psalm 1: 2 into two sections and today we’ll tackle the first half of verse two which in the King James Version reads: “But (her) delight is in the law of the Lord” (Psalm 1: 2, K.J.V.). Now at the age of 10 when I was trying to show-off my memory feats, when I heard the word “law” I thought about the cop who pulled my dad over on the freeway as we left Los Angeles to head out to my grandparents house and our vacation in Arizona. And even though my dad apologized for crossing too many lanes at once, it was obvious his charming personality and smooth-talking wasn’t going to get him out of a ticket that day. Knowing that my parents didn’t have a lot of money all I could think of was that the heavy hand of the law was going to run down my parent’s bank balance. Frankly, I didn’t think much of the “law” at that moment.
But that wasn’t all that helped shape my opinion of “the law.” It seemed there was a part of the Bible called the Ten Commandments and from my childish viewpoint, if you misbehaved and “broke” one of the commandments you were in big trouble. So imagine what happened in the mind of a ten-year-old who found herself memorizing Psalm 1 where it says that you are to find “delight” in the law of the Lord. Something didn’t fit! What’s more, when the Psalmist said “meditate day and night” on this “law” I’ll admit I didn’t get it. Maybe you can relate to the fact that the law seemed to be something to fear.
Well – if you haven’t completely understood what the Psalmist was saying don’t think you are alone. For years people have discussed the “law” and have found themselves in theological discussions over what the “law” is all about. This is why I’ve found myself thoroughly enjoying the past few months as I’ve undertaken to uncover the gems of truth buried in Psalm 1. Truths which a youngster skipped over (as do many adults as well) when I took to memorizing only the words and not thinking for a minute about their true meaning.
I’d like to begin our more complete look at Psalm 1: 2 by sharing the words of Senior Minister Susan Johnson who at the time of her commentary on Psalm 1, served at the Hyde Park Union Church. As she pens: “Gently but persuasively, Psalm 1 exposes not only two attitudes, but two incremental and yet slippery paths. The ideas, the projects, and the rationalizations of the wicked are to be avoided.” I found this thought to be very interesting for it got me to thinking there was more to the “law” than a traffic ticket. And so I proceeded through the “door” of Psalm 1 to explore its intricate nooks and crannies. Another Pastor Ruth Boling who also penned a commentary on Psalm 1 brought me even more enlightenment when she stated “God is genuinely concerned about the way real people spend their precious God-given years on this earth. God cares. God provides. We can choose to take to heart God’s gracious will for humanity and allow God to use us in the grand unfolding of God’s opus. Or we can choose to live as if God were not actively caring and providing for God’s people – which is to say, we can opt out.” And then comes the finale from Pastor Boling: “God’s blessing belongs to those who opt in, centering their lives on God’s law (Torah).”
All of a sudden, the “law” we read about appears to be related to our life-long blessedness and happiness – our delight and joy, not something to make us fear our heavenly Father or His preventative instructions for a whole and happy life. As Carol Dempsey points out, Psalm 1: 2 “describes why the righteous are ‘happy’: They delight in the law of the Lord…Here the law is ‘instruction’ and reveals the ways of God. The law’s core and central focus is love. Those who are righteous ponder unceasingly God’s law – the way of love – in order to embrace, embody and live out (Torah).”
If you have ever found yourself in a “law rut” where you think the Psalmist, who I might add used the word “law” 38 times in the Psalms, was referring to a list of “do’s and don’ts” or as Richard Simpson describes the law as a “list of rules and prohibitions that cannot save us but, rather exists solely to convict us of our sins, then we will be unable to grasp the joy and gift that the Psalmist perceives ‘law” to be.” In what I consider to be some of the most perceptive words I’ve uncovered about the ‘law’ or ‘Torah’, Richard Simpson’s thoughts contain this cherry on top: “The poet’s insight is that those who are oriented toward this wisdom find purpose and meaning in their lives, and ultimately true happiness and blessing…this poem encapsulates the wisdom that parents and grandparents of every generation want to teach their children and children’s children. It is wisdom around which we can orient our lives – even when we know that there will be seasons of disorientation through which we will struggle. The way we live our lives does matter, and a life lived in relationship with a good and loving God is a life that bears fruit.”
“Man is not answerable to an abstract law, but to God. Behind the law is the Lawgiver. Therefore, to find fault with the law is to find fault with the Lawgiver. The law is not the arbitrary edicts of a capricious despot, but the wise, holy, loving precepts of one who is jealous for His glory and the good of His people.”
“Almighty God, in whom we live and move and have our being, who hast made us for Thyself, so that our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee; Grant us purity of heart and strength of purpose, that no selfish passion may hinder us from knowing Thy will, no weakness from doing it; but that in Thy light we may see light clearly, and in Thy service find perfect freedom through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Augustine of Hippo
“Oh my God, forgive what I have been, correct what I am, and direct what I shall be.”
“Teach us, dear Lord, frequently and attentively to consider this truth: that if I gain the whole world and lose You, in the end I have lost everything; whereas if I lose the world and gain You, in the end I have lost nothing.”
John Henry Newman
“For what is a person profited if they gain the whole world, and lose their own soul? Or what will you give in exchange for your soul?”
Matthew 16: 26
“Follow Me and I’ll show you how, self-help is no help at all. Self sacrifice is the way, My way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself?”
Matthew 16: 25, 26
The Message Bible
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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