Breathing Room

The psalm reading today (Psalm 119:97-120) was not a good way to kick off a morning. For me, Psalm 119 is especially trying with its seeming idol-worship of the Law overall, though I know the Spirit can reach and teach me through it. But today’s section? Not so much.

119:97 Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all day long. 98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is always with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your decrees are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. 101 I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. 102 I do not turn away from your ordinances, for you have taught me. 103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.

My first impression when reading this morning? I hear the scribe-writer and not the Spirit. And the writer sounds like a resolute, life-inexperienced zealot – a young person – in their twenties – maybe a seminarian, not someone I’d be enlightened by. The writer sounds self-righteous, not humble, but tight and bound up, a worrier. And finally, I sense from this almost desperate-sounding prayer just no breathing room for life experience, let alone the Holy Spirit.

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1 Response to Breathing Room

  1. Marie says:

    My recollection of the origin of this PS is that it was written after the exile and is basically a reflection on how Israel ended up in exile – ignorance and disobedience to God’s word let to the judgment/exile – so the point of the psalm was to remind Israel of the wonder, glory, joy and truth of God’s word/law and how, through strict obedience, they would never again fall away. Some commentators believe it became the seed bed out of which the Pharisees grew.

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