Is the God of the Old Testament…?
Your decrees are my delight,
they are my counselors (Psalm 119:24 NRSV).
Once again the psalmist “delights” in the commands of God. The word “delight” appears ten times in English versions of Psalm 119 (verses 14, 16, 24, 35, 47, 70, 77, 92, 143, 174; although several different Hebrew words are used for “delight”). Previously, it was a greedy delight in God’s laws, like a rich person over their wealth (119:14; see http://davidtlamb.com/2012/01/08/what-do-you-delight-in-psalm-11914/). Here the delight takes a different form.
Now the psalmist delights in divine decrees because they serve as counselors. Not just telling us how to live, but giving advice and counseling like a real person (“they are my counselors”).
When I teach the Gimel section of 119 (verses 17-24) to the counseling cohort at Biblical, I ask for observations about the text. It usually takes awhile to really notice verse 24, but then one of the students says something like, “God’s law acts as a counselor, and that makes the psalmist happy.” Their choice of a vocation in counseling is given further validation from Scripture.
So, do you need a shrink? Reading Scripture doesn’t cost $100 / hour. Some of us can afford to pay a counselor. All of us can afford a Bible. That sounds delightful.
Don’t get me wrong. If someone needs professional help, naively recommending that they just read their Bible instead could be seriously damaging on a variety of levels. But we underestimate the power of God’s word to help us, to heal us and to guide us.
We’ve now finished the Gimel section of the Psalm. That’s 24 Psalm 119 posts, only 152 left. So, we’re off for April Fools, then start with Dalet in 2 weeks.
Lord, counsel me, advice me as I delight in your decrees.