Day 6: May 8, 2018
Psalm 119:14-16: In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
Just a few days ago a 57-year-old man who lives in Kalamazoo found a three-month old lottery ticket in his wallet. The once-forgotten ticket turned out to be a $250,000.00 winner! The Detroit Free Press reported how timely this sudden windfall was: “I’ve had some hard times over the last several years,” the man told the Michigan Lottery. “I lost my job and house when the economy was bad, and I’ve been working hard to get it all back.”
How excited would you be if you unexpectedly won $250,000.00? Would you jump for joy? Would you cry happy tears? Would you call your friends and family together to have a party? Most of us find it easy to imagine the happiness we would feel if we suddenly won the lottery. Most of us can readily dream about what we would do with the money. Few things delight us as much as riches!
But the psalmist said: “In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches”! We may find that sentiment hard to believe. After all, the Bible can be boring to read and hard to understand. How could it possibly be as exciting as “money, money, money”? The Bible doesn’t pay bills, eliminate debt, make my dream vacation a reality, or put a new truck in the driveway. How could it provide anywhere near the joy that $250,000.00 would give?
The Bible’s own testimony is that riches are not all they are cracked-up to be. In the biblical vision riches are deceitful (Mk. 4:18-29): they promise but cannot deliver security and well-being. Wealth is fleeting – it is here today, gone tomorrow – as the example of Job shows (Job 1). Those who trust in riches will fall (Prov. 11:28). People spend their lives amassing wealth but often fail to find any joy or pleasure in it. They are not able to take it with them when they die, and they therefore leave it to an uncertain future (Ps. 39:6, Eccl. 5:8-6:12, 1 Tim. 6:7). Riches will be of absolutely no value on the day of judgment (Prov. 11:4, Ps. 73:16-19, 2 Cor. 5:10). Coveting the possessions of others is idolatry (Eph. 5:5), and the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10). Jesus said, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).
By contrast, the word of God reveals the living and eternal God to us. Psalm 119 is an extended meditation on the Torah or Law of God given specifically in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The words which pervade this psalm – such as ‘testimonies,’ ‘precepts,’ ‘statutes,’ and ‘commandments’ – are all ways of referring to the Law. The Law was God’s instruction to Israel for how they were to live as his covenant people. The psalmist found God’s instruction in the ways of righteous and holiness to be far more sure, valuable, and blessed than the pleasures of wealth.
As followers of Jesus Christ we are privileged to be able to reflect on and enjoy the fullness of God’s revelation found in both the Old and New Testaments. The apostle Paul wrote that, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Further, Paul said that the “sacred writings” are able to make us “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15), and Jesus said that the Scriptures bear witness about him (John 5:39, Lk. 24:27, 44-47). So, the word of God leads us to Jesus Christ “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3).
So, we may not have a forgotten lottery ticket lying around that will suddenly bring us millions, but we do have Bibles that we often neglect in favor of other, lesser, pursuits. What riches we forfeit when we fail to consistently meditate on God’s words and fix our eyes on his ways! We need to say with the psalmist ‘I will not forget your word’ for the Scriptures open up to us the delight of life lived with and for the Triune God who made and owns all things.
Take time now to seek God. This brief prayer can help you get started: “Heavenly Father, I confess to you that sometimes I think what matters most is how much money or possessions I have. I confess that I worry about money, and that sometimes I spend more time and energy pursuing stuff that I do pursuing You. Please forgive me, Lord. Please help me to forsake this idolatry and to find my delight and joy in the Lord Jesus, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Help me each day to meditate on your word and fix my eyes on your ways, that I might be rich towards You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”