Mem–True Wisdom

97 Oh, how I love your law!
   I meditate on it all day long.

A key theme of the “Mem” section of Psalm 119 (Ps 119:97-104) is the wisdom the Psalmist gets from his continual meditation on the word of God:

98 Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
100 I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.

This might comes across as a bit arrogant. Reading the Bible has turned him him a know-it-all. He thinks himself wiser than his enemies, his teachers and the elders. Shouldn’t reading the word result in humility not pride?

But, we shouldn’t misread the Psalmist’s motives here. He is not claiming to be inherently wiser or better than others. He simply wants to say that the wisdom he gets from the word of God is the best kind of wisdom there is. It’s the wisdom that really matters. The nature of true wisdom is intensely practical. It is not abstract knowledge or philosophical ideas. It is not even about having smart business sense or clever people management skills. True wisdom has a moral dimension. The wise love righteousness and hate evil:

104 I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.

The truly wise therefore move beyond simply knowing what is true and what is false to knowing what is right and what is wrong. They go further; they move from knowing what is right to loving what is right. It’s not just our opinions that need changing, it is our desires.

I’ll save the concept of “hating” every wrong path for a future post, as that is another phrase in this section that could easily be taken the wrong way.

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