Christianity and learning have always gone hand in hand. Wherever the gospel of Jesus Christ has gone in this world, grammar schools, literacy classes, scholarship and schools of higher learning have inevitably followed its advance. This is because the gospel opens the mind not only to matters of the soul, but to the mind itself, to nature, man, history and the marvels of the world God created. In the fifth stanza of Psalm 119 we have this important combination: learning and religion. But the kind of learning the psalmist has in mind is learning God's Word. Moreover, he wants to learn God's Word so he might walk in it or obey it. In order to make progress in this school he asks God to be his teacher. 

As we have already noted, the psalmist prays for four things in order to enable him to live by God's law. In yesterday's study we looked at the prayers to “open my eyes” and to “teach me your decrees.” Today we continue with two more petitions. 

 

In each of the stanzas we have studied thus far we have found the writer's confession that although he was determined to study God's Word and live by it, he nevertheless could not do this by himself. In the first stanza he cried out, “I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me” (v. 8). In the second stanza he prayed, "Teach me your decrees” (v. 12). It is the same in stanzas three and four. Here he is reflecting on his many trials because of wanting to live by God's law. But if he is to live by it, God will have to open it up to him, teach him, give him understanding and keep him from other, false ways. He prays for four things. 

In today's study we continue our discussion of the persecutions that come to those who adhere to God's Word. We have already looked at the trials of alienation and slander. 

As we saw in yesterday's lesson, in stanzas three and four of Psalm 119 the psalmist speaks of the trials that come to one who lives by the law of God. The first trial he mentions, alienation, contains two ideas. The first is that we pass through this world only a short while with little time to know and live by God's Word. The second is the thought of being out of place in this world. Believers are alienated from the world by belonging to God, whom the world does not know or honor. This thought seems to belong to the larger context, for after speaking of his own desire to know God's commands, the poet writes of the “arrogant, who are cursed and who stray from your commands” (v. 21) and the princes" who "sit together and slander me" (v. 23).