Day 3

Teach Me the Meaning of Your Statutes

from the Psalm 119 reading plan

Psalm 119:33-56, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, James 1:16-25

BY Jessica Lamb

One of my strongest memories from my sophomore year of high school is of a black, 5-inch thick three-ring binder I carried everywhere. I was part of the not-so-exclusive academic quiz bowl team at my school, and every few weeks, I would compete against other schools to see which team could “buzz in” first to earn points answering trivia questions. My binder was filled with the printed records of previous tournament questions and answers. Though questions were rarely repeated, I poured over that binder every opportunity I could find, hoping that my incessant studying might reveal recurring subject matter or a pattern in how questions are worded for tournaments to give me an edge over the competition. To this day, I’d still choose a trivia night at a local restaurant over almost any other activity.

I used to think taking this same approach to Scripture was proof that I loved God’s Word. Studying the Bible—its words, history, cultural contexts, and languages—has been life-giving to my faith in my undergraduate and postgraduate studies, as well as in my career. But I have to be reminded that life as a follower of Jesus is so much more than just memorizing facts about God or storing up interesting trivia about the Bible. Our reading and study of Scripture should shape us and reorient our hearts as it shows us who He is and who we are in Him.

I come back to the book of James over and over when I find my heart wanting to make a god of knowing about God, rather than truly knowing Him. The book is full of direct one-liners that cut right to the truth: truly delighting in God’s Word means living out what the Word teaches us. In the opening passage of his letter, James sums this up by telling believers that we must be “doers of the word and not hearers only” (James 1:22).

Hearing without acting is more than useless—it’s self-deception, because as believers, we are new people born of the gospel (v.22,18). James writes that God has implanted His Word in us (v.21). We miss the point if we are not willing to let its truth take root, growing and bearing fruit in us as we are changed and made more like Christ.

Essentially, we are living out what the psalmist pleads with God to do: transform him so that he can keep God’s commands. By His Spirit and His Word, we’ve been made into new people. Unlike the person who looks in the mirror and responds, “I forget,” when asked what they look like (vv.23–24), we are called to remember who we are as we walk away from reading the Bible. If we go about our lives without acting on what it teaches, we live as fractured people, at odds with who we now are in Christ. Praise God, because He’s done the hardest work in giving us new hearts already!

Being in the Word of God every day equips us to live out the Word of God every day. It guards against forgetting what is true of our God and of ourselves. Let our prayer echo that of the psalmist as we come to the Bible each day: ”Teach me, LORD, the meaning of your statutes, and I will always keep them” (Psalm 119:33).

Post Comments (73)

73 thoughts on "Teach Me the Meaning of Your Statutes"

  1. Lisa May says:

    The verse that jumped out to me in today’s Scripture is the second half of James 1:21:
    “Humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
    Humbly: we cannot understand the thoughts of God in Scripture without the Spirit of God revealing them to us. We must come to Scripture with this humble attitude in order for Him to teach us. (1 Cor. 2:10-16)
    Receive the implanted word: by the grace of the new covenant, God writes His word on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). What an incredible gift! Yet we have a role to play by receiving it, which involves both intentionally hearing the word (studying Scripture) and doing the word (obeying the Scripture He has written on our hearts).
    Which is able to save your souls: the words of Christ lead us to salvation and sanctify us.
    Oh, the value of God’s Word! Lord, may your word be the theme of my song during my earthly life! (Ps. 119:54)

    1. Alicia Gilbert says:

      Yes, Lisa! I love this insight!

  2. Angela Sutherland says:

    Before I opened to today’s readings, I was praying and asking Jesus to teach me, to help me grow in freedom and confidence and boldness to stand up and speak out when/if needed. And then as I read the portion from Psalm 119, I saw the same prayers echoed in the psalmist’s words and if felt like a direct affirmation. It’s not enough for me to just know about the Word and about my God. I want to KNOW THE WORD and KNOW MY GOD! Not just be one who hears but one who puts it in action. And when I fail (I’m a human on this fallen earth!) His mercy is there. Not as a get out of jail free card, but we will make mistakes as long as we draw breath on this old earth.

  3. Bessie H says:

    Praying for you Pam C and Chappy Beach Girl. Let us know!

  4. Madi Hall says:

    What does the psalmist mean by Gods “statues”?

  5. Chelsey Green says:

    Beautiful! I love the forthright one liners in James. My favorite is also

    “But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

  6. La'Lisa pugh says:


  7. Kaitlyn says:

    My youth pastor preached on this section of James two weeks ago, how we need to be doers in faith as well. He prompted us to think of something God might be calling us to do,pray over it and then take a step in faith. I didn’t have anything come to mind until last night. I was worshipping as I was getting ready for bed and was thinking about how this school year will look so different (I’m going to be a senior in HS). I felt God prompting me to begin praying for each and every person in my grade. So I took out my yearbook and started at the beginning of the alphabet.
    I would appreciate prayers for diligence and perseverance, as I know this will be a task that will take a while, and I might not see a tangible difference from my prayers, but I believe God will work through them anyway.
    I am always so encouraged by the wisdom you sisters have, and I look forward to finishing this study with you all. <3

    1. Kris Wolverton says:

      Praying for you Kaitlyn. This sounds like a wonderful plan for your senior year!

    2. Angela Nelson says:

      Oh, Kaitlyn, this is beautiful! I am a junior high teacher, and this just brings tears to my eyes! I pray for my students and feel like I am fighting back the darkness with the light of Jesus in my school on a daily basis. To know that there are students like you who are praying for your peers? That is just amazing! I will be praying for you – I know the Lord hears your prayers for your classmates, and I know He will move in their lives. ♥️ I’ll be praying for you too. This is going to be a strange year, but God is still good and you still have a purpose!

  8. Joy Loftus says:

    It’s just all too easy to think of God’s commands as rules to follow in order to be ‘good’. I am learning through this study that it is possible to delight in his precepts, in order to both please Him and become closer to Him. I pray that I remember to always delight in His requests and to persevere to fulfill them.

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