Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe your commandments. — Psalm 119: 66
Let us strive for knowledge in order to keep the commandments of God. The commandments that God gave mankind are an expression of His love for all human beings. The commandments are to help us build a good relationship with God and our fellow human beings.
The will of God in His instruction
The 119th Psalm is a hymn of praise to the law of God. It emphasizes the importance of leading a life in accordance with the instructions derived from the commandments of God. In the old covenant, the Mosaic Law, the Torah, was the instruction of God. People believed that a life lived in accordance with the Mosaic Law would lead them to a life with God, “Then I would not be ashamed, when I look into all your commandments” (verse 6).
The psalmist asks God for “good judgment and knowledge”. In so doing he emphasizes that he believes in the commandments of God, which means that he trusts in them and builds upon them. He does not trust in his own thoughts or interpretations of the commandments, but instead pleads that God may grant him the proper understanding of the commandments. The psalmist’s petition makes it clear that the knowledge which serves to the salvation of the individual does not come from human understanding, but rather only from God.
Knowledge through the Holy Spirit
In the new covenant it becomes clear that the endeavour to fulfill the Mosaic Law in all its facets is doomed to fail. The only one who ever fulfilled the Law of Moses is Jesus Christ. Through Him we gain a new view of the law, “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1: 17).
The recognition that grace and truth come from Jesus Christ has not come about on the basis of any human reflections, but rather through God Himself, namely through the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth (John 16: 13). This is why it is so important for us to focus on the Holy Spirit and to be open to His activity. Only in this manner will we be able to act in accordance with the divine will.
Belief in the commandments of God
Jesus Christ illustrated the divine will in both word and deed. His entire existence was a life in accordance with the commandments of God—as they come to expression in the Ten Commandments, for example.
If we take direction from the commandments, then let us not do so because we believe that we can thereby earn salvation on our own! Faith and knowledge are measured by how seriously and genuinely we model our lives on the divine commandments.
Jesus Christ commanded us to love God and our neighbour. Among other things, we demonstrate our love for God when we align our lives by the divine will. In all situations of life and in all areas of life we are to inquire into this divine will and endeavour to fulfill it.
We show love for our neighbours when we lend them a hand—to the extent we are able to—instead of being indifferent to their needs. This also means, however, that we not only worry about our own salvation, but also about that of our neighbour. Knowledge and faith are therefore nothing theoretical, but have very practical effects. They are not just valid on Sundays, but every day!
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on Sunday, 02 August 2015 at Midrand Congregation.