God’s Word for You
Psalm 119:34 Without faith…
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Sunday, May 28, 2023
34 Give me understanding, and I will guard your law.
I will keep it with all my heart.
To be given understanding in the Word of God was David’s prayer and blessing for Solomon when he conferred the crown to him (1 Chronicles 22:12). Gabriel announced to Daniel that he was bringing him “insight and understanding” (Daniel 9:22). Leaders with knowledge and understanding were promised to Jeremiah and the exiles if they would only repent of their sinful ways (Jeremiah 3:15).
True understanding of the Word of God comes by the grace of God with the blessing of faith. Apart from faith, faith that our sins are forgiven in Christ’s blood, there is no true understanding of the Word. Apart from faith the account of creation can only be seen as a kind of mythology, an explanation (perhaps) of a theological truth rather than the truth itself. Apart from faith the account of the tragedies that happened to Israel in the days of the prophets can be seen only as the beginning of global anti-Semitism rather than God’s chastisement of his people to turn from the sin of unbelief.
Without faith the Bible is a piece of ancient literature to be analyzed, criticized, to perhaps be fascinated by, and probably sometimes to be shocked by. But faith is the corrective lens that displays my own sins in the sins of others, from Adam, Eve, and Abraham to David, Daniel, Peter and Paul. Faith is the grasping organ, or rather the organ God’s grasps, more passive than a hand and less prominent than a leg, that receives the grace and blessings that God gives. Faith is the channel through which the medicine of grace is transported to man’s heart. “It is faith alone that apprehends grace and forgiveness of sins” (Augsburg Confession).
In what way do we keep God’s law, gospel, word and promises in our hearts? It is not merely a matter of memorization. There is a good place for memorized passages in the life of a Christian, not all Christians or even all pastors and teachers have a good capacity to memorize. While Luther said that a good goal for every Christian would be to learn the Epistles of Romans or Galatians by heart, few today would be able to do it. But to understand these books and the rest of the Scriptures is a greater feat. For while one man might memorize great volumes, and be able like Paladin to quote Shakespeare or Scripture at any given moment, the child who knows and loves Jesus and who knows the basics of the Catechism has enough to have a joyful faith, a deep understanding of the word of God, and be able to explain even the more difficult passages in a way that young and old alike would understand. For if I know the commandments, and if say and consider each petition of the Lord’s Prayer, and if I can easily explain what baptism is and gives, and the Lord’s Supper as well, and can identify what it means to forgive sins and to be forgiven, and if I know God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, I know forgiveness, I know grace, I know peace, and with love and compassion I can share these things as a treasure I will never surrender, and keep it with all my heart.
Pastor Timothy Smith