Thursday, December 14, 2017
Psalms 119:97 – 104 (NIV) Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.
We can learn a lot about a person’s life by listening to their last words. Here are some famous last words of people who were obviously not very wise.
- Don’t unplug it. This will only take a minute to fix.
- Don’t worry, it’s not loaded.
- You can make it. That’s a slow-moving train.
- Watch me dive from that bridge.
These people all had one thing in common – they impulsively set aside wisdom for the sake of immediate gratification. I do that too. So do you. We get wrapped up in the excitement of a moment and make decisions to do or say things that are very unwise and sometimes deadly. We hurt ourselves and we hurt others.
The cause of this inconsistency is addressed in today’s passage of Scripture. In it we have a three-fold description of people who are unwise and a comparative description of the person who is consistently wise.
First, unwise people live by a double standard. They have decided that personal gratification is their highest goal, so any “truth” that accomplishes their goal is acceptable. Their behavior is unpredictable because they have no consistent standard of moral choice. One moment they appear to be obedient to God’s word, and the next moment they are doing something sinful. Whatever standard allows for the greatest immediate pleasure or value is the standard by which they live.
In contrast, the wise person has chosen one moral standard of truth – God’s commands – and lets them govern every part of their life. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me.
Second, unwise people have a lot of knowledge but don’t seem to be able to apply it to everyday life. They may even be the teachers of others, but their teaching is shallow and unhelpful because it is not applicable to bringing fulfillment in life. Their pride in what they know has become the goal of their life, rather than the application to their life of what they know.
On the other hand, the wise person learns God’s statutes and then meditates on them so he knows how they apply to his life. He is then able to give insight to others rather than just facts. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.
Third, the unwise person is always grumbling and complaining about what’s going on in life. They become cynical. They lose hope. They cannot lie down in peace at night and get a good night’s sleep. Nothing is ever right. Nothing is ever good enough. They have long ago moved off the proverbial home on the range where seldom is heard a discouraging word. It’s all because they don’t understand life, nor do they understand the God who controls life. They don’t understand because they don’t obey.
Freedom is perfected in obedience. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” By comparison, the wise person has understanding and is at peace because they have chosen to obey God’s precepts. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.
We all have a choice – to live unwisely or wisely. As for me, I choose with the Psalmist and proclaim, Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long…I will keep my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I will not depart from your laws, for you yourself will teach me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!