Theme: Seeing How We Should Live
In this week’s lessons, this stanza of Psalm 119 tells us how we can shed light on the darkness of our lives.
Scripture: Psalm 119:105-112
As we discussed in yesterday’s study, there are two answers one can give to the problem of the many differing theologies in the church. One is that we are sinners who may misread and misinterpret the Bible. The other answer is that in spite of our sinful distortions of God’s Word there is far more agreement among Christians on what the Bible teaches than the objection assumes. In spite of our many divisions, some of them hardened by centuries of ecclesiastical disputes and warfare, there is still agreement among true Christians on most essentials of the Bible’s teaching. We believe in a Trinitarian God; the full deity and full humanity of Jesus Christ; our sin; Jesus’ vicarious death in our place for sin so that we might be saved from it; the work of the Holy Spirit in leading us to faith; the church; the moral law of God; the return of Christ; the resurrection of the dead; and the final judgment.
That is only a quick overview of Christian theology, but it is a lot. It is basically what is expressed well in the ecumenical creeds: the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, and others.
Our problem with the Bible’s teaching on these matters is not that they are hard to understand, but that we do not want to understand them or do not take time to. Recently I read a candid article by a theology professor from a major seminary, arguing that to say that the Bible is true is a complex, nearly impossible matter. But he did not want to dispel the complexity. “Complexity,” he said, “is what keep us in our jobs.”
This fourteenth stanza speaks of the clarity of the Word of God, then. But the Bible is not only clear itself; it is clarifying, which means that we see other things clearly by its light. What things do we see? The writer answers: 1) the way we should go (v. 105); 2) righteous behavior (v. 106); 3) suffering (v. 107); 4) right worship (v. 108); 5) the dangers of this life (v. 109); 6) enemies (v. 110); and 7) our heritage (v. 111). Therefore, he says, “My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end” (v. 112).
1. The way we should go (v. 105). The first thing the Word of God clarifies for us is the way we should go or, which is another way of saying the same thing, the way we should live our lives. It is what verse 105 is talking about when it calls God’s Word “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” We do not know how to live our lives, but the Bible shines on the path before us to expose the wrong, dangerous ways we might take and light up the right ones.
On this point many Christians have a wrong idea of how the Bible works. They suppose it exists to give them detailed instructions concerning what job they should take, whom they should marry, where they should live, how they should spend their vacations, and other such details of daily living. This is not how the Word of God functions. It does not offer special or mystical leadings. It unfolds the kind of character a Christian should have and shows the priorities that should govern his or her thinking. This is true light on our path, and it is only the Bible that provides it. Nothing in the world provides us the same illumination. On the contrary, the world always sets the wrong priorities and extols perverted character.
What are the things that all Christians have in common? Why is that significant?
Can we know God’s will? How can it be discovered in the Bible? What doesn’t the Bible provide?
Reflection: Think about differences you may have with other Christians. Now take time to reflect on the similarities listed above. How should that impact how you regard other Christians who are different?
Ecumenical: Pertaining to the whole Christian church.