“Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.” (Psalm 119:33–34, NIV)
In the relationship between us and God’s Word, who is the master? Is the Word of God given to me to research and study, and over time, to master? Is it that I become wise and intuitive enough to properly interpret and explain it? Or, is the Word always my master? Am I reliant upon God to work through His Word to guide me to properly interpret and explain it? This is something I have been wrestling with lately. It is easy for me to become prideful and think that I am the master. But after I read verses like the ones above, it is quite clear to me that the psalmist did not see himself as the master of God’s Word. Having the Word of God open to him, he clearly sought help from the Lord to teach and provide him understanding. The psalmist doesn’t make himself out to be the master of God’s Word. On the contrary, he seems to humble himself and surrender to the Word.
The psalmist wanted to keep and obey God’s Word but readily admitted that he needed the Lord to provide the proper understanding of His precepts. Over the church’s history too many have claimed some kind of superiority over the Word of God and have led others astray. The Apostle Paul tells us in his letters that the Word of God is divinely inspired and Holy Spirit-empowered. We cannot go to the Word of God as though it is a text waiting for our interpretation. More properly understood, it is a text that has been given full meaning by the Holy Spirit and it is our job to seek the meaning provided by the Holy Spirit. We seek the Lord to reveal the Bible’s meaning to us as we surrender ourselves to Him and to it.
The next time you crack your Bible open, imagine you are Moses at the top of Mt. Sinai. Let the Word of God be your master.