There are moments in reading the Scriptures that something grabs my attention. Time does not always allow for digging deeper but when I do it is always beneficial. I would also add that the extra time spent soaking in a particular text doesn’t have to take that long. Even brief meditation makes a difference. That was the case this morn!
As I read through the Bible each year, I use that time to wash me with the Word while I am also doing sermon prep on a particular text to which I am giving much attention. I am in the beloved Psalm 119 right now and it us full of “wonderful things” to quote verse 18.
This morning verse 17 struck me wrong because of my culture and how words are taken. Let me quote the text: Psalm 119:17 Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.” I thought there’s something wrong with this translation so I checked the Hebrew in BibleWorks along with other translations.
I thought something was wrong because what I heard commanded in this verse was give me lots of stuff…deal bountifully with your servant! I asked myself how that would help me do what was supposed to result from the bounty, namely, “that I may live and keep your word.” I could only think of how the bounty would keep me from obeying the word.
As I dug into that command, the optional nuances were striking. Initially, I began to get of feel for why they chose “deal bountifully” because the word means to ripen. As I considered how “ripen” would fit I could see how that idea would cause me to live and keep his word.
But as I thought about the ripening of fruit it struck me that that was on the end of its life. Then I noticed the most frequent use of the word was to wean, which is at the beginning of life. I needed to familiarize myself with the definition of wean, which means:
accustom (an infant or other young mammal) to food other than its mother’s milk.
- accustom (someone) to managing without something on which they have become dependent or of which they have become excessively fond.
- be strongly influenced by (something), especially from an early age.
Now the idea was forming the right ideas of how this command would result in living and keeping God’s word. It made me think of Paul addressing the saints in Corinth in (1 Cor. 3:1-2) “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,”
Or in (1 Pet. 2:2-3) “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation–if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” It seems the psalmist is longing for God to mature him so that he might live and keep His Word. Now I understand. But it took digging deeper into the Word (a word) to see it. I hope you will too!