In Hebrew poetry you usually say everything twice. But the second time always adds a new twist. And this is just what the psalmist does here. “I won’t just meditate on Your precepts, I’ll keep my eyes on Your ways”. There will be more than one way. There are times when he’ll have to change direction.
He starts with ‘I will’. He doesn’t mean some time I’ll get around to it. He’s saying, “I’m determined to do it – the sooner the better”. And the word for ‘meditate’ often means to ‘speak out’, to ‘declare’. It’s God’s ‘precepts’, His specific instructions, that he is going to think about and declare. More than that, he will ‘keep his eyes on’ God’s ways. He won’t just think about them quite casually. He’ll keep focussed on them. And it’s not just God’s precepts (instructions), but His ways, the path God is setting before him, that he’ll focus on.
So, what he’s saying is this: “God has put a path before me and has given me the instructions that will enable me to keep to it. I’ve committed myself to pay close attention to the instructions, and to keep my eyes firmly on the path”.
I’ve got an instruction manual for woodcarving. It’s such a help! It tells me how to do things that I’d struggle with if I didn’t have it. When I started my current project, I drew the pattern I wanted on the block of wood I was going to use. As I cut into it, the pencil marks quickly disappeared, and I was guided by the grooves I had already cut out. But I still need to refer from time to time to the manual for help about how to continue correctly.
After a while, I had learned what the manual taught, and doing things correctly had become second nature. Even so, from time to time, I need to refresh my memory by going back to the manual, or just repeating the instructions to myself. And I still need to keep my eyes firmly on the ‘path’ that my chisels are cutting through the wood. I don’t want to spoil the design by chiselling in the wrong direction. I am ‘meditating on the precepts and ‘keeping my eyes on the way’. Like that, I’ll get it right.
In my walk with God, He wants me to keep to the path that He’s set before me, and to ‘meditate’ on His instructions, declaring them over my life and making them my personal guide to godly living.
Prayer: Father, thank You so much for Your instructions for godly living. And thank You that You have set before me the way that You want me to follow. Would You, today, make clear to me the path You want me to tread, and bring to my mind Your laws so that I can truly fulfil Your will. Amen.
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