Psalm 119 Part 2 (verses 41-80)
Do you ever think about just how amazing this blog is?
First, humans have languages all across the world. Then, in some places, human societies developed in such a way that business transactions needed to be written down. Then, they decided they could write about more than business transactions and began to codify spoken word into written words, then those words develop for centuries. New technologies like the printing press and then the internet allow those words that express the concepts of all language to reach wider and then near global audiences. The reason human society was able to be where it is now is not just because humans are smart, but because we are able to take the best of the best ideas and pass them on in written format. That’s what allows our massive growth of collective knowledge to be used by and benefit future generations.
In around 1400 BC, a community of slaves, leaving behind literate, powerful, imperial Egypt, write down, in words and letters, their story of the beginning of all things, how they got out of the mess their people were in, and what they were going to do about it. These people write “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” It was at this point that the Jewish people, an enslaved community, became a community focused around words. They were not just focusing on what their hands could produce, but on what these words said. Because the words were not simply words.
How can we know the mind of another person?
We can know their actions, know what they say. In legal proceedings, the prosecution and defense will try and show both the action a person took but also the state of mind behind the action. But we can’t know, we can only deduce and guess.
Unless, we can trust someone and they tell us exactly what they were thinking.
I don’t trust people to guess the mind of God. Too many people through the years have said “God wants it to be this way” to me in the midst of pain, and their words rang hollow. Too many people said “This is the judgement of God” and their words feel cruel.
I only trust what is going on in the mind of God if God tells me.
THAT is the beauty of the words of the Torah. A bunch of slaves leave Egypt, taking the money, the power, the labor force that made Egypt a superpower of it’s day. Moses writes about the experience in the Torah, and the Jews believed and believe that it is the word of God given to know his mind, his heart, who God is.
Reason shows that God is probable.
Intuitions about justice and beauty shows God makes sense.
History shows that God is powerful.
But the Torah gave the Jews something beyond general truths about God. It showed the Jews the best way to live. The way to live in accord with the God of the universe, to keep themselves pure and holy. All in words written down on a page so that generations upon generations could read them.
We will talk more about the way that the author of psalm 119 writes about the Torah tomorrow, but I want you to realize that God did not have to reveal Godself. God reveals his desires as one trustworthy and tells us exactly what he means. We don’t have to guess, because we wouldn’t get him right. The Jews experienced the fire of God on the mountain, and trusted that what Moses received was the word of God. David believed that, as did the prophets, as did John the Baptist, as did Jesus.
As amazing as this blog is, isn’t it even more amazing that God in his goodness and grace would reveal himself to humans. What a gracious gift to know the mind of the Lord. May we continually remember that as we read Psalm 119 this week.