Understanding: According To God's Word
Let my cry come near before thee, O Jehovah: give me understanding according to thy word.
Understanding can be deceiving. To be of benefit, our understanding needs to be as is stated at the end of the verse above: “According to God’s word.” This was the plea of the author. In this psalm, there are utterances of respect held toward it; reasons why such respect exists; and the many benefits of honoring and obeying God’s word. So also, there are many hymns that we sing which are similar please for understanding “according to thy word.” One such hymn is titled “Loved Ones” (#499 in Hymns For Worship). It mentions four areas in which understanding according to God’s viewpoint is much needed.
An understanding heart is something to be maintained. God’s help is necessary. The wisdom needed comes from the Bible. We must pray for strength in our commitment to follow God’ swill (John 7.17). We must study with an open mind, seeking to apply the will of God to our lives that we may be an example for others to follow. God’s word is clear as to why pain and death exist. The good news is, both can be endured and overcome by faith and obedience to Christ (1 John 5.4-5; Revelation 2.7,11).
“O Lord, help me maintain and understanding heart; so I can overcome the pain, when those I loved depart.”
The “loved ones” in this hymn are referring to brethren in Christ. While there are similarities in the pains experienced in a physical family, the message applies to God’s spiritual family, the church. The “departure” described here is not of physical family relocating. The parting of brethren can be for the sake of the gospel (Acts 20.36-38) or because of differences (Acts 15.37-39). Certainly, it would apply in the dissolution of a marriage as it could be for the right or wrong reasons.
“Lord, help me understand that loved ones move away; but carry into future lands thy word learned yesterday.”
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2.24). What a joy it is when parents have taught their children the fear of the Lord and the children have yielded to their teaching “as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 6.1-4). The blessing and responsibility of a parent is to prepare the child for eternity. Then when the child “leaves and cleaves,” it is a joy, knowing that the gospel will be spread by their lives wherever they move. This follows the example of those in Acts 8.4 who “went everywhere, preaching the word.” Again, when parting is for the sake of spreading the gospel, brethren understand why it is needful and support the sacrifices made by each other.
“Help me remember, Lord, when loved ones fall in sin; with kindness, they can be restored, and feel thy love again.”
We’ve all failed (Romans 3.23). We need to understand that those who come after us will also fail. It is especially hard when family members fail. It must be dealt with. It is hard to be kind when rebuke is needed. We need to realize that the only hope for the transgressor is God. He desires the salvation of all (1 Timothy 2.4; 2 Peter 3.9). When a child fails, the parents often feel that they too failed in their responsibility. It is a severe trial of faith in having to choose between God and the loved one. Jesus has told us, “A man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that liveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that liveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10.36-37). Brethren also fail. Jesus also taught us through the apostle Paul that with kindness, restoration of the joy of salvation is possible (Psalm 51.12; Galatians 6.1).
“And Father, comfort me when loved ones pass away; remind me, Lord, thy children see their love another day.”
The last stanza helps us to see why the “loved ones” are referring to spiritual family rather than physical family. “Precious in the sight of Jehovah is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116.15). Parting is but for a while when a child of God undergoes physical death. God has reminded his children that they will see their love another day. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the close, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4.16-18).