Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart (Psalm 119:34 ESV).
How do you feel when you don’t understand something? Frustrated? Confused? Angry at yourself or perhaps at the person you blame for your lack of understanding? When I don’t understand something, I’m worried I’ll appear stupid or incompetent. This motivates me to strive for understanding.
The psalmist desires understanding, not to avoid confusion, not to appear knowledgeable and not to avoid embarrassment, but to obey God. He wanted to understand how to keep the law and observe it whole-heartedly.
What do you need to understand? That God’s laws are a means of grace. The psalmist certainly understood that God’s laws are meant to bless us. You see this in every verse of Psalm 119 as the psalmist delights in God and God’s laws and repeatedly asks for help to obey because he knows good will result from obedience.
But to paraphrase Gordon Gekko, “Redundancy is good” (better than greed). (And I’m not talking about getting fired.)
The book of Judges is redundant. The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) are redundant. Scripture is redundant in many places. Redundancy is good. It’s good to repeat things that are important. The author of Psalm 119 understood the value of repetition and this psalm is a testament to this principle. The psalmist emphasizes understanding God’s laws by repeating the idea ten times in the psalm (27, 34, 73, 99, 100, 104, 125, 130, 144, 169).
OK, redundancy can be bad, like on college essays (see link for image: college essay redundancy), but I like it on the Pizza Hut sign. I’m sure people called to ask the question. And I like redundancy in the Bible. It makes a point clearly.
At the risk of being redundant–this verse is the 2nd verse in the He (pronounced Hey) section of Psalm 119.
My father, Richard Lamb, helped me understand life, ping-pong, humor, gamma-ray astro-physics, the Bible and the importance of obeying God. Happy Belated Father’s Day, dad.
God, help us understand the mysteries of your word and give us the ability to obey graciously.