Gimel – Learners and Lovers

In Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s introductory notes to his Bible reading plan, he recommends that you pray the words of Ps 119:18 before each day’s reading:

Open my eyes that I may see
   wonderful things in your law.

This is another recurrent theme throughout Psalm 119. The Psalmist approaches’ God’s word as a student, eager to learn. The phrase “teach me” appears 11 times in the Psalm, and he repeatedly reiterates his desire to learn and understand.

A humble, teachable attitude is vital if we are to hear what God is saying through Scripture. Those who come to the Scripture looking only for things that they like or that will confirm what they already think miss out on the chance to be surprised by an encounter with God. There are wonderful things in there.

The Psalmist doesn’t just approach God’s word as a learner, but also as a lover. Some of his statements make him sound obsessed with God’s law:

My soul is consumed with longing
   for your laws at all times.

But this should not be misinterpreted as some kind of idolatry of the Bible at the expense of God. His passion for God’s word flows from his love for God himself. Willem VanGemeren makes this point in his commentary on the Psalms;

the beauty of this psalm lies not only in the recitation of devotion to the law but also in the psalmist’s absolute devotion to the Lord. … This is a psalm not only of law but also of love, not only of statute but also of spiritual strength, not only of devotion to precept but also of loyalty to the way of the Lord. The beauty in this psalm resounds from the relationship of the psalmist and his God.

So approach God’s word as a lover, delighting in it because you love him, and as a learner, eager to know more of it because you are eager to know more of him. There is a synergy between the two because the more you learn about God the more you will grow to love him, and the more you love him the greater your hunger to know him more. The two concepts are juxtaposed nicely in the final verse of this section (Ps 119:24):

Your statutes are my delight;
   they are my counsellors.

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