He – Idolatry and the Word of God

The verses that stand out for me in the ‘He’ section (Ps 119:33-40) are the middle two:

36 Turn my heart toward your statutes
   and not toward selfish gain.
37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
   preserve my life according to your word.

Despite it being clear that the Psalmist has a deep passion for both God and his word, here he recognises that he has a tendency to let other things get in the way. In particular, he shares the common human tendency towards “selfish gain” – living simply for my own benefit, and is easily distracted by “worthless things” – those things which may not be ‘sinful’ per se, but idle amusements or trivial preoccupations which can so easily dominate our lives.

Meditating on God’s word reorientates our value system and puts things into proper perspective. It lets us see selfish gain for what it is – selfish; and worthless things for what they are – worthless. Meditating on God’s word will rearrange our priorities, causing us to seek first the kingdom of God. Activities such as worship, serving others, giving, and witness, will become central to our life’s ambition rather than inconvenient interruptions to what we would rather be doing.

When Jesus was asked, “what is the greatest commandment” in Matt 22:34-40, he answered immediately. This was not because he was a really quick thinker.  It was because this was a question he already knew the answer to, and he knew it because his mind had been shaped by a lifetime of meditating on the Scriptures:

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Meditating on the word of God then is a vital weapon in the fight against idolatry. Have you let your gaze turn towards selfish gain? Are your thoughts dominated by worthless things? Then turn to God’s word and get a fresh vision of the beauty of the Lord. Be captivated by something that is worth living for.

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