Having given some wise advice about what to avoid to be blessed, the Psalmist then moves on to what to embrace. He says:
Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
So, as well as not compromising with evil, we are to “delight” in God’s law. We are to be lovers of the Word of God in order to find true blessedness or happiness. As we order our lives in this way we become people who are productive and fulfilled as well as giving us clear direction in our lives as we live according to God’s ways.
Some time ago I read a couple of interesting novels written by Chaim Potok, a Jewish Rabbi who is also a professor of Philosophy. The books are called “The Chosen” and “The Promise” and they tell the stories of two Jewish boys and their families and friends in the USA in the 1940-50s. One boy is from a very conservative, orthodox and legalistic Jewish family the other from a more liberal thinking Jewish family. Great reading, but the thing that struck me was the almost fanatical devotion by all of them to the reading, memorization, understanding and preservation of the OT scriptures and in particular their meticulous adherence to their understanding of God’s laws for the Jewish people.
Reading this reminded me again that the Psalms are (as are all the scriptures in reality) a Jewish book.
Eugene Peterson reminds us of this in his introduction to Psalms in the Message Bible when he says that “The Hebrews…provided us with this prayer book that gives us a language adequate for responding to the God who speaks to us.” (Eugene H Peterson. The Message)
To the Hebrew Psalmists the study of and meditation on the Word of God was not “irksome or a burden or an interruption to their day.” Rather it was a daily activity in which they delighted.
The psalmist in Psalm 119:97-104 expresses this beautifully to God:
“O how I love all you’ve revealed, I reverently ponder it all the day long. Your commands give me an edge on my enemies…I’ve even become smarter…I’ve become wiser…simply by doing what you tell me…Your words are so choice, so tasty, I prefer them to the best home cooking. With your instruction, I understand life.” (The Message)
It seems to me that at times, in all the busyness of our lives, maybe we just need to stop and make the effort. I was delighted recently to be talking to one of my sons who related how he was methodically reading through the whole Bible and enthusiastically shared with me some of the new insights he was having. There is no doubt about it, if we allow the Spirit to have his way in us and teach us, the Word of God will be the means of transformation whereby our lives become more in line with who God is and who he has planned us to be.
May God help us to have such a delight in his Word, hanging on every word and responding to our “God who speaks to us.” Then, according to the psalmist, we will be truly happy or blessed.