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Friday, February 14, 2014

Scripture Reading: Psalm 119:73–96
Your hands have made and fashioned me;
     give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
     because I have hoped in your word.
I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right,
     and that in faithfulness you have humbled me.
Let your steadfast love become my comfort
     according to your promise to your servant.
Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
     for your law is my delight.
Let the arrogant be put to shame,
     because they have subverted me with guile;
     as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
Let those who fear you turn to me,
     so that they may know your decrees.
May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
     so that I may not be put to shame.

My soul languishes for your salvation;
     I hope in your word.
My eyes fail with watching for your promise;
     I ask, “When will you comfort me?”
For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,
     yet I have not forgotten your statutes.
How long must your servant endure?
     When will you judge those who persecute me?
The arrogant have dug pitfalls for me;
     they flout your law.
All your commandments are enduring;
     I am persecuted without cause; help me!
They have almost made an end of me on earth;
     but I have not forsaken your precepts.
In your steadfast love spare my life,
     so that I may keep the decrees of your mouth.

The Lord exists forever;
     your word is firmly fixed in heaven.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
     you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
By your appointment they stand today,
     for all things are your servants.
If your law had not been my delight,
     I would have perished in my misery.
I will never forget your precepts,
     for by them you have given me life.
I am yours; save me,
     for I have sought your precepts.
The wicked lie in wait to destroy me,
     but I consider your decrees.
I have seen a limit to all perfection,
     but your commandment is exceedingly broad. (NRSV)

Psalm 119 has been called “a love poem to God’s law” It is written in the form of an acrostic, with each of the eight lines in a given stanza beginning with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It begins with A in the first stanza and proceeds through all twenty-two letters. This structure reinforces the idea of the totality of God’s law. The psalmist connected with God by following, meditating on, and observing God’s laws. Line 73 begins “Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn from your commandments.”

Jesus simplified the commandments for us, but unfortunately that doesn’t make them any easier to follow. When asked which commandment was the most important, Jesus replied in Matthew 22:34–40, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second id like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

The psalmist understood that in following the commandments he would find true freedom and not restriction. Throughout Psalm 119 he struggles to understand God’s commandments and to follow them. Think about Jesus’ commands to us—they sound so simple, but are you following them? What does it really mean to put God first and to love God with all your heart, all your being, and all your mind? What would that really look like in your life? How would you act differently?

Loving God, open up space in my heart to truly love and serve you first. Guide me in your commandments so I may find true freedom. Transform me and show me how to practice these truths in my everyday life, especially with those I find so hard to love. Amen.

Written by Liz Nickerson, Family Ministry Coordinator

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