Your hands made me and formed me;
Give me understanding to learn your commands.
From the same hands come creation and training, both acts of love. Initially we are made – and well-made – but spiritually unformed – and then formed by the growth of understanding as we learn to obey God and follow his law. His chosen method of explaining – his Spirit – is required to learn about his laws. That is unavoidable. To know of his commands is only the beginning, since we are designed to relate to them and to relate to him through them.
May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
For I have put my hope in your word.
A ruler or king can be trusted when he hopes in God, which is enacted when he looks for goodness in God’s utterance. People around don’t simply receive pleasure but joy!
I know, O Lord, that your laws are righteous
And in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
We can have factual knowledge and know, without any experience, that God is good, but to be faithful to his promise to teach us, God will judge us in the law – and then in the new law. He couldn’t leave us thinking we knew him and his ways when we had never been tested or had opportunity to depend on him. So Jesus prays in the garden “Your faithfulness to your own plan requires this suffering.”
Let your compassion come to me that I may live
For your law is my delight.
Without his compassion, I would surely die, but I seek your compassion because I love your law – because I love your living word. I know what your compassion is like and look for it where it is likely to be found.
May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause;
But I will meditate on your precepts.
The causeless actions of the arrogant bring more actions – caused ones and reasoned ones. So God repays chaos with order, deceit with truth, evil with good. But meditation is not a reaction to the arrogant. It is separate, quiet, peaceful. Arrogant actions are slander, treating people unjustly and describing them inaccurately. Meditating on God’s precepts stops this in us.
May those who fear you turn to me,
Those who understand your statutes.
Everyone who really knows God’s way of business will be drawn to holy kings, good leaders and true servants of the Gospel. Our fear of God allows us to relate to people who have ordered their life that way.
May my heart be blameless towards your decrees
That I might not be put to shame.
How? My heart must be revived and renewed. I must have learnt your word – not simply know it or know about it, but I must have been taught by it, changed by it. I must be living a new life – I must be redeemed and sealed by the Holy Spirit – for that is the blamelessness promised to us, free of condemnation and living within the law.