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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, October 21, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 119:97–104

Oh, how I love your law!
   It is my meditation all day long.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
  for it is always with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
   for your decrees are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged,
  for I keep your precepts.
I hold back my feet from every evil way,
   in order to keep your word.
I do not turn away from your ordinances,
   for you have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
   sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding;
   therefore I hate every false way. (NRSV)

Whenever I hear of those who delight in laws or rules, my mind conjures up images of friends who are game aficionados, capable of arguing endlessly and joyfully over the finer points of baseball, role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, or board games like Monopoly. We tend to think the only people who could ever love rules and regulations are those who revel in minutiae. So for many of us the psalmist’s delight in the reading of law seems so anathema to us.

But Torah, often referred to as laws and precepts in biblical translations, is more than regulations. The Torah threads law into stories. Together they succeed in describing the relationship between God, all peoples, and a particular people. There are mighty acts of redemption and triumph. There are crushing defeats, bitter betrayals, heartache, and wonders. The stories of the Torah give emotional weight to commandments that ask us to love our neighbor, honor the Sabbath, and welcome the stranger, for each of these rules relates to important experiences in the life of a covenantal people.

So like honey from the rock, there is sweetness to procure from even the seemingly rote pages of law, statutes, and commandments. The psalmist knows it. And if we look at the whole Torah, and the fullness of the Hebrew scriptures, we can taste it too.

Holy God, shaper of words and giver of wisdom, we thank you for your sacred story, the drama unfolded that turned into law. Help us to receive these life-giving words, listening for how your Spirit calls us to embody them. Amen.

Written by Joseph L. Morrow, Minister for Evangelism

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