Flourishing by Sandra McCracken, 2015.
Teach me, oh God to follow your decrees.
Give me understanding, your word, I wanna keep.
Direct me in the path, of your commands,
For there I find delight, my will is in your hands.
Observe: With 176 verses, Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. It is a massive acrostic, a poem where each line begins with a successive letter of the alphabet. Each verse is written in praise to God for his law, his statutes, his regulations, and his decrees. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your decrees! (Psalm 119:12, ESV).
The psalm begins with the word “blessed” the same word that begins Psalm 1. The contentment expressed in Psalm 119 can be traced to the same source as Psalm 1, the instruction of the Lord.
Blessed is the one (whose) delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1a–2). To delight in the law is to gain an understanding of how to walk in the paths of God’s commands. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. (Direct) me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.” (Psalm 119:34–35).
Turn my heart away from worthless things.
Preserve my life, according to your ways.
Take away disgrace, You hold me in my place—
We are so easily led away to things that have no lasting value. Rosaria Butterfield has rightly said, “One very difficult aspect of sin is that my sin never feels like sin to me. My heart is an idol factory, and my mind is an excuse-making factory.” But central to the gospel promise is that the God who purposed to save us is determined to preserve us. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37).
Fulfill your promise to the ones you love.
Within your ways we walk, for your laws are good.
Temptation loses pow’r, my soul’s revived,
In righteousness, oh God, preserve my life
The psalmist can rightly say, Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. Those born of water and Spirit recognize God’s laws are good. Temptation loses its power because we want to follow his precepts. I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have revived me.” (Psalm 119:76, 93). Peter writes, you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. (1 Peter 1:23). The psalmists 176 verses are the living and abiding Word of which Peter says is imperishable, just as the new life we are given is imperishable.
The word “flourishing” is not found in the psalm. When asked why, Sandra replied. “The word ‘flourishing’ feels like the heart of the psalm, Its commands to love and obey is not intended for the sake of rigidity, but abundant life. Looking back at the idea of ‘shalom’ in Genesis, the word ‘flourish’ to me summarizes, in a fresh way, who and what we were made for, according to the good design of our Maker.”
Flourishing tells us that even in this time of stress and uncertainty, we have been designed by God to flourish. May God’s Spirit and his living word cause you to flourish until we meet again Monday with a new Song for Today. Until then,
Blessings, Pastor Don