Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statues!”
We sing this verse (Psalm 118:12) often in our worship. It’s the “chorus” of the memorial service and the dramatic evlogitaria of Sunday matins, it appears in the vespers prayer, and in other places.
I think most of us understand the first part—Blessed are you, O Lord. How about the second part? Teach me your statues! Sometimes the word ‘commandment’ is used.
Most of us aren’t really looking for commandments as part of our daily lives. Perhaps they make us feel guilty, or they irritate us by dictating something we don’t want to do. Whatever the reason, I am sure I am right that, in our day, it’s somewhat unusual to be open to commandments from someone else.
Here we are, however, asking over and over to be taught statutes or commandments.
There are a number of reasons for this, but I especially love the one given in James 1:23-24. “Certainly, if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, such a person is like someone looking at his natural face in a mirror. Seeing himself and going away, he immediately forgets what kind of person he was.”
So the statutes in this view are much more than simple commands (although they are that too). They act as a mirror, and if we look in that mirror, we see ourselves! And if we then walk away from the statutes, we may forget who we really are, and we may forget that seeing ourselves in the statutes of God is reality and where we should look for our true identity.
Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes!