MORE PRECIOUS THAN SILVER
Lord, You are my hope and my comfort.
Read PSALM 119:49–72
49 Remember your word to your servant,
for you have given me hope.
50 My comfort in my suffering is this:
Your promise preserves my life.
51 The arrogant mock me unmercifully,
but I do not turn from your law.
52 I remember, Lord, your ancient laws,
and I find comfort in them.
53 Indignation grips me because of the wicked,
who have forsaken your law.
54 Your decrees are the theme of my song
wherever I lodge.
55 In the night, Lord, I remember your name,
that I may keep your law.
56 This has been my practice:
I obey your precepts.
57 You are my portion, Lord;
I have promised to obey your words.
58 I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 I have considered my ways
and have turned my steps to your statutes.
60 I will hasten and not delay
to obey your commands.
61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
I will not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks
for your righteous laws.
63 I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts.
64 The earth is filled with your love, Lord;
teach me your decrees.
65 Do good to your servant
according to your word, Lord.
66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
for I trust your commands.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I obey your word.
68 You are good, and what you do is good;
teach me your decrees.
69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,
I keep your precepts with all my heart.
70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,
but I delight in your law.
71 It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees.
72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘You are my portion, LORD … I have sought Your face with all my heart’ (57,58).
We continue our Sunday journey through this psalm’s carefully arranged series of meditations on the subject of God’s Law. At the start of a Bible course, I have sometimes asked participants to imagine that the Bible does not exist and has never existed and then to consider what effect this would have on their Christian faith and life. In the book of Judges, there is no mention of Scripture; there have been messages from God through prophets (Judg 4:6,7; 6:7–10) and through the angel of the Lord (Judg 6:11,12,20), which is equivalent to being addressed by the Lord himself (Judg 6:14,16,18b,23 ), but no reference to a written Word of God. I wonder whether the Israelites and their judges would have acted differently if the five books of the Law of Moses, Genesis to Deuteronomy, had been widely available and revered.
This Law, or Torah, is not simply a body of legislation: rather, it is instruction from Israel’s loving, saving God. It gives hope (49) and comfort (50,52), it includes promises (50,58), and it even provides the theme for a song (54). Thus it prompts thanksgiving (62) and delight (70) and is ‘more precious … than thousands of pieces of silver and gold’ (72).
Sometimes those who delight in the Bible are said to be worshipping it rather than God, but this accusation cannot be leveled at this psalm’s celebration of God’s written Word. It is the Lord Himself who is the psalmist’s ‘portion’ (57), and it is the Lord’s face which is sought (58). The Torah is not just a set of rules: it tells us God’s ‘name’, which indicates God’s character (Exod 3:13–15 and NIV footnote) fueling our praises and prayers ‘in the night’ (55). In the words of the hymn, ‘Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord’ (Mary Lathbury, 1841–1913, ‘Break thou the bread of life’)
How have you encountered God through Scripture? What do you think may be preventing you from doing so more often?
Lord, Your statutes, testimonies, law, precepts, and Your Word are more valuable to me than all the riches of the world.
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