Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.
Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. (Psalm 119:33-34)
Have you heard about the two students who were talking about what they wanted to be when they grew up? One said he was going to be an astronaut, and he insisted that he would be the first astronaut to land on the surface of the sun. His friend said, “You can’t do that! The sun is too hot!” To which his friend replied, “I know! That’s why I’m going to land at night!”
Yes, it’s that time of year again – students and teachers are headed back to school. Moms and dads and buses are bringing the students early in the morning and taking them home at night. Why? So that they will learn! So that they will realize you can’t land on the surface of the sun!
Our culture is changing so rapidly, we need good teachers. We need teachers who can help students learn science and math so that they can work in a world of technology. We need teachers who are able to prepare the next generation of attorneys who will face legal challenges never seen before. We need teachers who will train counselors who will be ready to handle the increasing loads of anxiety and mental illness. Teachers are important!
God is described as a teacher in the Bible verses above from Psalm 119. You may have had a very negative experience with a teacher, but for now I want you to think about a teacher who was excellent. She was smart, funny, and made you want to learn. He had a way of encouraging you when you didn’t understand.
This is the kind of teacher God is. He is patient, kind, incredibly intelligent, and encouraging when we don’t understand. That’s why the author of this psalm turns to God with a request. “Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees.” “Give me understanding.” Like a student in the classroom who doesn’t understand, he asks for help.
I love that about Jesus. There are so many times when I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to handle a difficult conversation, or I’m not sure which way to go when I have a very hard decision.
So I ask Jesus for help! Instead of raising my hands, I lift up a prayer. Instead of reading a textbook, I open my Bible. And there I find wisdom and understanding. You see, Jesus really isn’t interested in blind obedience from us. “Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.” He doesn’t want a bunch of programmed robots: “Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.”
When Jesus gives us wisdom and understanding, then we know why He asks us to do certain things, and He gives us the power to do them. Our obedience comes from the heart, not only from a sense of duty. We want to follow Him, rather than feeling that we “are supposed to” follow Him.
Lord Jesus, bless all of students and teachers as they begin another year of classes. Grant them knowledge and understanding, and prepare them to serve you in their vocations. Especially bless your people as we study your Word, the Bible, and give us the understanding and strength that we need to follow you. Amen.