Monday, August 24, 2015

Joining the Chorus of the Heavens: Learning to Pray Psalm 19 (part 2)

In the previous post, we began our study of Psalm 19 by reflecting on its opening six verses.   

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.

Psalm 19:7–10 marks a return to the theme of the first Psalm: the power of Scripture and the essential role that it serves the people of God. Psalm 19 is the second of three psalms in the Psalter that focus on Scripture: 1, 19, 119. Scholars refer to these three psalms as Torah psalms. Torah refers to the authoritative instruction that God delivered to Moses at Sinai for God’s people. These psalms serve to orient God’s people to their core Scripture.     According to Psalm 1, God’s people can experience a true happy state of existence by allowing God’s Word to permeate and shape their lives. Psalm 

19:7–10 reroots God’s people in the Torah after the heavy dose of lament psalms that precede it. Psalm 19 reflects on the power of Torah to transform people.

Scripture is an essential part of the journey of God’s people through the world as they seek to live as his missional community that reflects his character. As we learn to pray as we follow Jesus into the world on mission, we’ve already felt the power of the laments and experienced the unbridled sense of wonder in Israel’s praise (both within the lament psalms as well as in the hymn of Psalm 8). Psalm 19:7–10 reorients us to the Torah as a source of transforming truth as we seek to live faithfully as God’s missional people.

In vv. 7–9, we find six lines which follow a recurring pattern: (1) 6 synonym for Torah: law, statutes, precepts, commands, fear, and decrees; (2) 6 recurrences of LORD; (3) 6 adjectives that provide an attribute of Torah: perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, and firm; and (4) 6 results or effects of Torah: refreshing the soul, making wise the simple, giving joy to the heart, giving light to the eyes, enduring forever, and all of them are righteous.

These verses reenforce in the us the truth that God’s Word is primarily about transformation. It reveals to us specific teaching about the LORD’s character, mission, and will. Scripture is God’s roadmap for the journey of life. To live faithfully as God’s missional people we need to breathe in and out Scripture on a daily basis. It is our fuel.

The six-fold recurring pattern of vv. 7–9 reminds us of God’s six days of creative activity. The implication is that Scripture is complete. It teaches us the truth about the LORD. Note also that LORD is now used rather that God. With the revelation of the law of the LORD comes specificity and clarity of instruction. Creation witnesses to the existence and glory of the Creator; Scripture provides us with details and direct teaching to shape us into the people whom the LORD created us to be.

Verse 10 emphasizes the value and desirability of the LORD’s teaching. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, it is more valuable than gold and more delicious and savory than the finest honey. This is because it provides us with access to the will and desires of our Creator. It is the LORD’s gift to us.

What role does Scripture serve in the life of faith?

How would you describe or testify to the power of Scripture in your life?

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