Your testimonies are wonderful;
Therefore my soul keeps them.
The entrance of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
I opened my mouth and panted,
For I longed for Your commandments.
Look upon me and be merciful to me,
As Your custom is toward those
who love Your name.
Direct my steps by Your word,
And let no iniquity have dominion
Redeem me from the oppression of man,
That I may keep Your precepts.
Make Your face shine upon Your servant,
And teach me Your statutes.
Rivers of water run down from my eyes,
Because men do not keep Your law.
The word “wonderful” has become, like many words in the English language, overused and watered down to the point where it no longer says much of anything to anyone. We say that something is wonderful when it is merely nice, or good, or sufficient. In order to avoid hurting other people’s feelings we describe meals and songs and funny stories as “wonderful,” when they are certainly not miraculous, astonishing, phenomenal, or even unique – all synonyms of the word “wonderful.” And so I fear that we do not adequately appreciate what the Psalmist is saying when he describes God’s testimonies as “wonderful,” but a few moments of careful consideration can help us see exactly what he means and maybe even recapture to a small degree the meaning of the word.
The word of God is awe-inspiring, creating in the one who hears it both a great sense of wonder and a desire to obey its commands. To one who is young and immature, it provides discernment between right and wrong, like a light which gives sight to one who is trapped in darkness. For the one who tastes it, one sip is never enough. Instead, he opens his mouth wide, seeking to be filled with God’s word, which both inspires and satisfies this intense longing. Have you ever personally experienced the soul-thrilling power and immeasurable majesty of God through His word?
To pursue God’s word with such hunger and thirst is a mark of a true follower of God, one on whom He looks with favor, and all who truly love God long to be treated with His grace. He directs their steps, delivering them from the power of sin, guiding them to do right, and freeing them to worship God without constraint. All of these things are graciously provided by God to His servants, and so the Psalmist asks to receive them by God’s wonderful word. Have you ever asked God to graciously provide you with wisdom and direction through His word? Have you ever sought God’s help to free you from the power of sin and the tyranny of evil?
In this day when the Scriptures are so readily available, our problem is not that we have become too familiar with God’s word, but that it has become devalued and neglected in our eyes. We have begun to believe that God’s pleasure can be had apart from a faithful commitment to His word, yet here we see that His smile is on those whom He instructs in His law. If we truly love His wonderful word, may our hearts grieve over the failure of so many to obey it, even among those who claim to love it as we do.