“Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live.” -Psalm 119:144
The psalmist begins and ends this octave with declaring God’s ways to be right. The Lord is righteous and just in His dealings with us. This is how we know we can trust what God promises in His Word and commands us to obey. God will never give us bad advice. He will never fail you. In our finite wisdom we may not understand His plan, but can still be confident He is working all things for our good (Romans 8:28). We may even make sinful choices and have to bear the consequences, which is why God has specifically given us the Scriptures to obey. He wants the best for His sons and daughters. What is for our good? Himself. It is when we look at the Law, see His holiness and our inability to keep it. We then realize our need for a perfect sacrifice and mediator to stand in our place. We need a Savior. God’s eternal Word leads us to Christ who gives you and me life forever through His shed blood. There is no other way.
The second part of this verse reveals what the psalmist already understands. He cries out for more understanding because the writer knows that abiding in fellowship with the Lord leads to life everlasting. The psalmist isn’t asking for more head knowledge but for heart understanding which comes from belief. The Christian faith is a knowing. The writer of Hebrews describes faith this way: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (11:1). Believers wait in expectation of what God has promised, as we live in the “already and not yet” era of grace.
I sometimes pray for God to become more real and lovely to me. What I mean by this is a desire to behold Him as my greatest treasure. I am asking for His grace to increase my faith in what I profess. Like the father in the Gospel of Mark, who asks Jesus to heal his demon possessed son, he cries out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (9:14-24). There is everything right in praying this ourselves when doubts creep in or we begin to go through the motions in outward legalism. Jesus’ response toward the father is compassion. He healed his son when He didn’t have to. God looks on His sons and daughters with a Father’s heart of compassion. What grieves you grieves Him. Jesus understands our temptations and the hardness of life. He knows what it means to be weary. He sees your God given desire to know Him deeply, relationally. I believe anything asked according to God’s will is honored. Yet before requesting to grow deeper, it is helpful to first examine our hearts. Do I obey what I already understand? Start here and ask God’s Spirit to continue His good work in you. The Lord has promised He would, so little by little, we become more like His Son, Jesus.
Grace upon grace,
Growing deeper: Isaiah 35:3-8; John 17:3; Philippians 1:6