Sweet Promises

In the way of your decrees I rejoice,
as much as in all riches.

Yes, your decrees are my delight;
they are my counselors.

The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

How sweet to my palate are your promises,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Your decrees are my inheritance forever;
the joy of my heart they are.

I gasp with open mouth
in my yearning for your commands.

(Psalm 119:14,24,72,103.111)

 

Scripture Study

119:9–16. To be able to keep the Law, one needs to know it and to want to delight in it.

119:17–24. Contempt for the Law is a feature of the proud (vv. 21–22); the psalmist, on the contrary, is guided by the Lord’s precepts (v. 24).

119:65–72. Although he has experienced moments of crisis (“I went astray”: v. 67), caused by the “godless”, the proud (v. 69), and was “afflicted”, humbled (vv. 67, 71), it was all a lesson, to help him appreciate the priceless value of the Law of God (vv. 71–72).

119:97–104. The Law, which he loves so much, has made him a wise man. True wisdom (and the maturity that comes with it) does not depend on a person’s age (v. 100); it comes from doing the will of God: “Such wisdom of the heart, such prudence, will never become the prudence of the flesh that St Paul speaks of (cf. Rom 8:6), the prudence of those who are intelligent but try not to use their intelligence to seek and love our Lord. A truly prudent person is ever attentive to God’s promptings and, through this vigilant listening, he receives in his soul the promise and reality of salvation” (St J. Escrivá, Friends of God, 87).

119:105–112. Because the Law lights his way, he does not fail to remember it even when he is ill. He knows that the Law is his “heritage” from the Lord.[1]

Reflection

How sweet to my palate are your promises, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

According to what I’ve read this morning, the eighth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Heth (or Cheth) stands for the chesed (loving-kindness) of the Lord. It’s a concept often translated as “steadfast love” in the ESV (English Standard Version). It appears frequently in the psalms, including the conclusion of this section of Psalm 119. 

The psalmist promises to keep God’s words while asking God to be gracious according to his promise. God promises to love and care for his people; we promise to love and obey him. He steadfastly fulfills his promise; we frequently fail. But God always remains faithful.

Recognition and repentance must be followed by action. We must quickly convert our actions to comply with God’s commands. His law shows us our failings and guides us in our return to righteousness.

May God reveal to you his covenantal promises, fulfilled in Christ, as you study his statutes and experience his steadfast love!

– Glenda Faye Mathes

 

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

 

[1] James Gavigan, Brian McCarthy, and Thomas McGovern, eds., Psalms and the Song of Solomon, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2003), 397-404.