The verse that stands out for me in the ‘Yodh’ section of Psalm 119 (verses 73-80) is the first one:
73 Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding to learn your commands.
Maybe I’m a bit of a nerd but I find learning to be one of the most fulfilling things in life. Readers of this site will know my passion for studying theology, particularly reading commentaries. I am also in the fortunate position where my day job, programming, is something I also enjoy doing as a hobby. I love learning about new programming technologies and trying them out. Just because school was boring sometimes doesn’t mean that learning needs to be. In fact, my philosophy of education is that school should be about teaching you how to learn, and inspiring you to love learning, rather than trying to cram your head full of facts.
We are born knowing nothing at all. This is not a result of the fall. It is the way God designed us. We’re created to be learners. It’s not surprising that learning can be so fulfilling – it is what we were made to do.
But the Psalmist here prioritises one type of learning above all others. And that is learning about God, through his word. As is his habit throughout this Psalm, the author makes little distinction between God and his word. We get to know God as we know his word better. Yes, it is possible to become an expert in the Scriptures without knowing God (the Pharisees demonstrated that pretty effectively); but don’t expect to grow in your knowledge of God if you are not willing to spend time meditating on his word.
The phrase “give me understanding” should not be overlooked. It is not learning Greek and Hebrew or reading commentaries that is the secret to discovering what God has to say in his word (though those things are undoubtedly very helpful). Ultimately, we need the Spirit to open our eyes and give us understanding. It’s the same observation the Psalmist has already made earlier:
18 Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.