Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
Mark 15:21-32; Ephesians 2:1-10; Psalm 119:17-24; 1 Kings 11
Psalm 119 is the longest psalm and longest chapter in the Bible. The psalm is about God’s Word, expressing wonder at its insight and praising God its provision. The psalm is an acrostic, where each 8-line section begins with same Hebrew letter until the 22-letter Hebrew alphabet is covered. Such literary devices were used to help people memorise poetry, and may reflect the importance placed on this teaching. Throughout the psalm, eight different words are regularly used for Scripture. While each suggests different aspects of Scripture, they are probably best seen as synonyms contributing to an overall view of Scripture rather than trying to focus on the meaning of their differences.
This early section of the Psalm is a prayer for insight and understanding. The psalmist notes that there are different ways to approach God’s Word. The appropriate way is to ask God to open our eyes and unveil our hearts. The focus is on our attitude, and its influence on our ability to understand Scripture. Those who are arrogant or contemptuous will not gain insight. Those who approach God’s Word with humility and a longing to see God’s wisdom will come to delight in what is revealed.
The other approach mentioned here is obedience. Sometimes we approach the Bible seeking intellectual answers and to know what it teaches. This is important, and we should meditate on what we learn (v. 23). But the psalmist notes that he keeps the statutes that he has learned. Others fail to do so, and this influences their attitudes. Our understanding of God’s ways is influenced by whether we obey what we have learned from him. Jesus regularly connected obedience and love for him (John 14:15), and that through obedience we would come to understand the truth of his teaching (John 7:17). It is often in acting upon what Scripture states that we come to a deeper appreciation of its wisdom.
We see the opposite in Solomon’s life (1 Kings 11). The final chapter of Solomon’s reign stands in stark contrast to the prayer that began his reign where he asked God for wisdom and discernment (1 Kings 3:7-9). While his wisdom lives on forever in his Proverbs, his life followed the fleeting passions of sexual experiences. As he refused to obey the precepts God had revealed to him, he probably lost the sort of love and passion for God’s ways that we see in the psalmist. The sadness of 1 Kings 11 overwhelms the mention of impending doom as we read about the forces gathering to destroy whatever remained of Israel’s unity. The consequences of a wise leader drifting away from dedication to the Lord and his Word can be massive. Rather than delighting in God’s Word and longing for insight, he pursued his passions and ended up destroying everything God had called him to accomplish.