125 I am your servant; give me understanding,
that I may know your testimonies*!
126 It is time for the Lord to act,
for your law has been broken.
127 Therefore I love your commandments
above gold, above fine gold.
128 Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right;
I hate every false way.
* Through these reflections, those phrases that identify God’s word, revelation, or law will be highlighted in the text in the hopes of accentuating the many and varied ways we can visualize what God has given to us for our good.
One of my favorite movies growing up was The Karate Kid. In that movie a young man, Daniel Larusso, moves across the country and has his life turned upside down. He moves to a new town, a different way of doing things, and with no one to help him navigate this new reality. Most people already know the arch of the story, so I won’t rehash it here.
As Daniel meets Mr. Miyagi and begins his training, Daniel is asked to perform routine chores. He does not understand what any of these tasks have to do with learning karate. It is not until Daniel has gotten fed up with being treated like slave labor that the “lessons” are revealed.
What the master knew, the pupil was now going to learn.
In the Christian life, context is key. Without context we will not properly understand what is happening around us. And whoever defines that context for us, will determine how we see what comes next.
In the tension between feeling used and being trained, we see the link between obedience and faith. Daniel thought he was being used and taken advantage of. Daniel thought that he had been lied to! But Mr. Miyagi knew he needed to have new patterns ingrained in his mind.
The repetition of the movements of washing cars, painting fences, and sanding floors were all in preparation for the revelation. And what was that revelation? Than Daniel had learned more karate doing “non karate” things than he could have imagined.
Yes, the movie is an oversimplification of the years it takes for mastery. But, it is a wonderful example of what happens when we obey our teacher and then, in a moment, we are awakened to the truth. We know and understand more than we thought, but we just didn’t see it properly. We couldn’t see it because we wanted it all to look like something else.
This, at its core, is discipleship. We obey those we trust in the faith. We follow and imitate their example. And then, when we are ready, we begin to see what was right in front of us the whole time.
Verse 125: As we surrender to God’s instruction, we embrace a new direction for our lives. In this sense, we become servants of God. Not in an overbearing or hostile manner. But rather as a willing and appreciative response to God’s grace. As we serve, we are invited to grow in our understanding. However, there are times where we reach the end of what we know, and so we ask for greater levels of insight. God desires for our wisdom to grow. Therefore, we should not be shy in asking for more of it.
Verse 126: We do not always understand God’s timing. It can be difficult to see how much is being “overlooked” by God. So, when we have become familiar with God’s law, our sense of indignation can at times get the better of us. We see something that is out of line, or someone that is flaunting their disobedience and we wonder, “Where is God?” The answer is, he is right where he has always been. God will act when he chooses. Not when we think he should.
Verse 127: In this verse, we see another instance where the Psalmist speaks of their love of God’s commandments. While this sentiment would appear counter-intuitive, it is the attitude we should seek to cultivate. To understand what God’s commandments are, and what they do, is to see how they are also expression of God’s affection and grace toward us. They will then become the most precious gifts in our lives. Or at least we may appreciate them more honestly.
Verse 128: To acknowledge the source of God’s precepts, is to also accept that they cannot be wrong. This may be difficult to understand when we begin our journey of faith. However, to trust God is to trust what he has said. Understanding is, in the Christian life, the consequence of obedience. We do what God commands and then we learn why it is true. This is most often the pattern and process of deeper relationship with God.