Something that the Bible is full of is INSTRUCTION. Instruction is an order, a command, a decree, a directive. An instruction is NOT a suggestion which is open for individual preference or tweaking. Whatever the Word instructs is what the Lord means. Some have used B-I-B-L-E as an acronym for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.
If we are reading the instructions for putting together a lamp or a desk or a chair the instructions must be followed. The manual directs that "part A is to be inserted into part B" but we may view the instrictions as 'optional' . In that case we might decide to do something different and so will not achieve the results that the manufacturer intended. What we end up with will not look like the picture on the box. The manufacturerer put the picture on the box so we know what the end result will look like IF we follow the instructions provided.
Looking at a portion of Psalm 34, the writer David offers some biblical instructions. The first part of the psalm has to do primarily with praise. Then there is a section of instruction.
Again, a picture of the final product is helpful. If you have ever tried to put something together with just parts or pieces and written instructions but no picture, you know how frustrating that can be. If we have a picture we can refer to it to see if what we are putting together matches it. If it does we can be confident that we are on the right track.
For this journey of life the picture on the box is Jesus. He is our example. The finished product of this life should look like Him. We should mirror His holiness, His righteousness, His peace and His love.
I John 3:2 AMP
Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory].
As stated earlier, the Bible is full of instruction. It would not make sense for God to expect something of us but not let us know how to achieve it.
II Peter 1:3 AMP
For His divine power has bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
This scripture lets us know that through a full and personal relationship with Jesus we have access to all of the necessary instructions. Access and application of the information requires relationship with Him. Through Him we have all the parts, all the pieces, all the instructions and an image of what the finished product should look like. This does not come through mental understanding alone. There has to be a full and personal involvement with Jesus. Knowledge alone will not produce the results that God intends for His children. God provided it alll through His Son.
Bible readers know that the same information is often provided in more than one passage. The Bible will convey the same message or instruction in different ways. That is like getting the instructions from IKEA for putting together your new dresser or chest of drawers. When you look at the booklet the same instruction is written in English, Danish, Swahili, Arabic and French! That's what the Lord has done. He may say the same thing in Isaiah that He says in Psalms that He says in Acts. We don't all understand the same or process information the same or learn the same. So God has made it so we all can find instructions in His Word that we can understand and apply. We all have the opportunity to receive what He has provided.
Let's look at the instructions that David recorded in Psalm 34.
Psalm 34:11 AMP
Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you to fear the Lord [with awe-inspired reverence and worship Him with obedience].
In this verse David invites his audience to do three things: 1) to come or to draw close as if he is about to share someting very important 2) listen, as in pay close attention to what is about to be shared 3) be taught - which involves active listening. It also implies that they are to listen with the intent of applying the truths and principles that are being taught
David wants the listeners to understand that they are not to simply memorize the information just long enough to pass a test so they can get a good grade. This is about more than looking good in the eyes of the instructor. These are teachings that should become life-long applications.
All of us have been in settings where we heard what was being said but the information had no long-term significance. Our lives were not made better by what we heard. We were not inspired to do anything differently or to strive towards anything greater. David did not want his audience to have this type of empty experience. He wanted to convey to them that this was vital for their spiritual health, spiritual growth and spiritual vitality.
Psalm 34:12 AMP
Who is the man who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?
David asks a question here that he is about to answer. The question is, What can a person do who desires a good life and a long life?
He already gave the basic or overall answer in verse 11.
1. Revere the Lord. Honor, respect and highly regard Him.
2. Have a worshipful and reverential fear or awe of the Lord.
In the following verses David offers detailed instructions. He also tells why some of these commands are beneficial. Giving the reason 'why' is important. Only issuing directives without citing the benefits can yield minimal results. People are much more prone to gladly implement an order when they know that doing so benefits them. In this journey there are some things we do by faith. We don't have all of the information as to 'why' it is necessary. But there are many more biblical instructions where the 'why' is provided. If we know what the outcome of our obedience will be we are more likely to be motivated to comply.
Psalm 34:13 AMP
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.
David doesn't share any explanation here as to why this is vital for the believer. But in the New Testament Matthew records where Jesus explains why this command is so important.
Matthew 15: 10-11, 17-19 AMP
10 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said, “Listen and understand this: 11 It is not what goes into the mouth of a man that defiles and dishonors him, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles and dishonors him.”
17 Do you not understand that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? 18 But whatever [word] comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this is what defiles and dishonors the man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts and plans, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, slanders (verbal abuse, irreverent speech, blaspheming).
Jesus highlights here that changing behavior only is not sufficient. The heart must be changed. According to Matthew 12:34 whatever the heart is full of is what the mouth will speak. This truth is declared again in Proverbs 4:23.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
Proverbs 10:11a also speaks on this subject.
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life and his words of wisdom are a source of blessing...
Psalm 34:14 AMP
Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
Verse 14 offers a four-part instruction.
1. Turn away from evil. The inference here is not only to separate from evil but to treat it like a highly contagious, assuredly deadly disease. Evil is contagious. We are not to pitty-pat with it or flirt with it. We are not to become attracted to evil or allow its deadliness to entice us.
2. Do good. We can't really follow this part until and unless we employ the first part: avoid all evil. Until we depart from evil any positives we do are tainted. God doesn't just look on the outward appearance. He doesn't just observe the deed. He looks at the heart. The heart determines the motive. Many people have been taught that they can erase ungodly acts by doing an equal amount of good. The Bible does not teach that. The heart (the spirit) of a person must be transformed from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. The transformation can only be accomplished by surrendering fully to the Lord.
3. Seek peace. This is not a passive activity. We are to diligently and persistently go after peace. It is required that we put our all into seeking, craving and desiring peace. Peace is not just the absence of chaos. Peace is power. Peace can get things done by making the path smooth. Peace quiets ungodly resistence.
4. Pursue peace. Have you ever chased something that you had a deep yearning for? This means more than just casually looking around for peace. It means going out of your way to attain and maintain peace. The directive here is to hunt it down. Use your energy, creativity and resources to chase and implement peace.
The rest of the chapter of Psalm 34 tells of the Lord's stance or view concerning those who practice wickedness. In contrast, the Lord's care and protection of those who honor Him is also stated.
The Bible speaks of many who will expect a reward on judgment day. But instead of joy and gladness there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth because they failed to heed the given instructions. As the Lord opens our understanding and provides opportunities for learning, let us adopt all of His principles. It is also a blessing to help others to do the same.
Thank you for reading. Please stop by again!