Daily Devotional

November 21

Day 325: Psalm 119:129-35

by John Calvin

Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. It is impossible for any man to keep the law of God from the heart, unless he contemplates it with feelings of reverence, for reverence is the beginning of pure and right subjection. Accordingly, many despise God's Word, because they think it inferior to the acuteness of their own understandings. Yes, many are led to break forth more audaciously into this heaven-daring contempt, from the vanity of showing their own ingenuity. But, although worldly men may flatter themselves in that proud disdain of divine law, yet the commendation which the prophet pronounces upon it still holds true, that it comprehends mysteries which far transcend all the conceptions of the human mind.

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. By the simple the Psalmist denotes such as neither excel in ingenuity nor are endued with wisdom, but rather are unskilled in letters, and unrefined by education. Of such he affirms that, as soon as they have learned the first principles of the law of God, they will be endued with understanding. It ought to have a most powerful influence in exciting in us an earnest desire to become acquainted with the law of God, when we are told that even those who, in the estimation of the world, are fools, and contemptible simpletons, provided they apply their minds to the subject, acquire from it wisdom sufficient to lead them to eternal salvation. Although it is not given to all men to attain to the highest degree in this wisdom, yet it is common to all the godly so far as to know the certain and unerring rule by which to regulate their life. Thus no man who surrenders himself to the teaching of God, will loose his labour in his school, for from his first entrance he will reap inestimable fruit. Meanwhile we are warned, that all who follow their own understanding, wander in darkness. By affirming that it gives understanding to the simple, David intimates, that it is only when men, divested of all self-confidence, submit themselves with humble and docile minds to God, that they are in a proper state for becoming proficient scholars in the study of the divine law.


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Unless marked by an asterisk, italic Scripture excerpts preceding Calvin's exposition are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House, all rights reserved. Phrases of Scripture within Calvin's exposition are based on an unidentified older translation, or in rare instances modified to conform to the NIV excerpts preceding Calvin's exposition.

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