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Understanding the key to understanding is not understanding (Psalm 119:27)

Make me understand the ways of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wonderous works
(Psalm 119:27 NRSV).

After 27 weeks of blogging, I wonder if I’ll be able to make it through all 176 verses of Psalm 119.  Did the psalmist wonder the same thing, trying to come up with an appropriate initial word starting with the right Hebrew letter  (Dalet for verses 25-32)?  Perhaps, but a hunger for the Word of God kept motivating the psalmist.  That works for me.

The psalmist in this verse requests understanding regarding God’s precepts.  To ask for understanding, one has to acknowledge incomplete understanding.  Sometimes when people are ignorant, they are so ignorant that they don’t even know they’re ignorant.  That’s bad.

Or, they are ignorant, but are unwilling to acknowledge that publicly because of pride.  Still bad.

The psalmist here acknowledges personal ignorance, and then is willing to record that ignorance in a psalm that would have been read publicly.  In fact, it’s still read publicly now.  A sign of wisdom is knowing that you don’t know.  The psalmist understands the key to understanding is not understanding.   And God is the source of understanding.

Confident that God will grant the request, the psalmist promises to meditate on God’s wonderous works, which in the context of Psalm 119 would be God’s laws (see post on Psalm 119:18), which God has just shed light upon.   Meditating on God’s laws are a major theme here, appearing 7 times in Psalm 119 (23, 27, 48, 78. 97, 98, 148).

God help us understand the ways of your laws. 

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