“Teach me, O Lord, to follow Your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.” -Psalm 119:33
A scholar wants to know all his professor knows; an apprentice studies the ways of the one he works for. Yet in order to be teachable in God’s schoolroom, humility precedes learning. God will not impress His deeper truths on our hearts if we are not seeking, willing to submit no matter the costs. The difference in head knowledge and wisdom by faith is a confident peace which God blesses only His children. Atheists may read the Bible from cover to cover and have the capacity to answer every trivia question. But if the heart is unchanged then sadly the unrepentant merely scratch the surface of God’s storehouse. The psalmist knows this here, praying to learn from God as his Teacher and Master, persevering on the straight and narrow path.
“Give me understanding, and I will keep Your law and obey it with all my heart.” -Psalm 119:34
The same request is given here as in verse 33. Faith is practical and active which is why the psalmist uses language like “keep”, “follow” and “obey”. He also sees the necessity for the Lord to grow his faith with more understanding, asking God to “give” and “teach”. Verses 33 and 34 are similar but different. Verse 34 reaches deeper in asking for understanding. It is one thing to be taught and retain head knowledge. To understand what we’ve been taught shows maturity as we begin to meditate on God’s commands. Finally what we do with the truths we have heard, then studied, is where our faith grow feet. Submitting to God requires a response of obedience that develops into habits of holiness over a lifetime. But it first starts with a heart change or else our actions are nothing more than legalistic/salvation by works. This is a work of grace only God can accomplish which is why the psalmist prays in this specific order. Teach me; bless me with understanding for wisdom and discernment; then help me obey what I have learned. These verses are evidence of God at work in the psalmist. When we can pray for instruction because we desire faithful obedience, rest assured God is cultivating the fruit of your heart.
Grace upon grace,