Longing for God’s Word
July 25, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
At Oak Hills we say our mission is “longing to know and make known the astonishing grace of God.” Every year I seek to take time to step back and take stock of how we are doing as a church, in light of our mission. We have many reasons to give glory to God for his work among us to fulfill this mission. We also have room to grow, as we always will this side of heaven. This summer, I want to encourage our growth in “longing” by looking at pictures of longing from Scripture, praying that we would be challenged and inspired. This is part seven of a multi-part series.
There are several Psalms that stand out for their high esteem for the Word of God. Psalm 1 commends the one whose “delight is in the law of the Lord” as “blessed.” Psalm 19 celebrates the instructions and rules of the Lord by saying, “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” Of course, Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, hails the law of the Lord in every single verse (all 176 of them). For example, the psalmist exclaims in verse 97, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.”
These Psalms provide for a us a picture of longing. The psalmist not only esteems the educational value of God’s revealed will, but he also delights in and enjoys God’s revelation. This is the key difference between “knowing” (head-knowledge) the astonishing grace of God and “longing to know” the astonishing grace of God (engaging the head and heart). What is it about the Word of God that compels the psalmist to pray, “incline my heart to your testimonies” (119:36)? Why would he exclaim, “Oh how I love your law!”
At the core of the psalmist’s longing for and delight in the Word of God is his understanding of the vital role the Word plays. The Word of God is the key to covenant faithfulness. The psalmist does not seek to replace God with a love for God’s Word. His Word is the means to preserving and enriching a covenant relationship with God. Listen to these well-known words of the psalmist in light of this covenant relationship:
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (119:9, 11). He does not memorize God’s word and guard his way by it merely for his own benefit, to know something new. He desires to preserve his relationship with God. The psalmist understands that a covenant relationship with God is the source of life: “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways” (119:37). God’s Word is his gift to the covenant community to preserve that life.
Why is the one whose “delight is in the law of the Lord” blessed (1:2)? The psalmist answers in verse 6: “the Lord knows the way of the righteous.” The Lord sees and knows everything. This is not a statement about God’s knowledge. It’s a statement about his covenant commitment to his people. The person who delights in the law of God is blessed because he will be shaped by the word and preserved in the covenant relationship with God.
We long to know God’s grace and we long to know God’s word because they are avenues to bring us into the life-giving, joy-filled covenant relationship with God. God is the source of our longings because he is the source of every spiritual blessing.
Do you long for God’s word because it brings you deeper into a covenant relationship with God?