Several years ago we visited a church expecting to hear the pastor preach, only to discover it was Teen Challenge Sunday, and the team would be taking the entire service. At first I was disappointed, but as one of the young men shared his testimony, he said something I will never forget:
I knew about the Bible, but I didn’t understand the ways of the Lord.
That one sentence was a takeaway from that day which was worth all the other minutes at that service. I used it to examine my own relationship with God. Was my standing based on just Bible knowledge? Just on acts of Christian service? Just on coasting on a commitment made many years ago?
If you’re in relationship with someone, you’re going to know how they would act, what they would think, words they might say; all in response to a variety of situations. You know if you do something whether or not they would be pleased or grieved. You can almost hear them audibly speaking.
The phrase “the ways of the Lord” occurs in the NIV seven times. The first six are positive, the last is negative, when Paul tells Elymas, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?” in Acts 13: 10
For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I am not guilty of turning from my God.
– not surprising since David is the author of both; the inclusion in Psalms is very much a ‘copy and paste’ with the next verses in both being:
All his laws are before me;
I have not turned away from his decrees.
I have been blameless before him
and have kept myself from sin.
Psalm 25: 10 continues
All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
and in Psalm 138:5
May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great.
In II Chron. 17: 5b and 6 we read:
…all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honor. 6 His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah.
Hosea 14:9 states:
Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.
Of this last verse, Matthew Henry writes:
The ways of the Lord are right; and therefore it is our wisdom and duty to know and understand them. The way of God’s precepts, in which he requires us to walk, is right, agreeing with the rules of eternal reason and equity and having a direct tendency to our eternal felicity. The ways of God’s providence, in which he walks toward us, are all right; no fault is to be found with any thing that God does, for it is all well done. His judgments upon the impenitent, his favours to the penitent, are all right; however they may be perverted and misinterpreted, God will at last be justified and glorified in them all.
I think the key here is that knowing could easily be inferred to be knowing about. We all know the danger of knowing about God, but not truly knowing Him. But the verse doesn’t give us that option, it speaks of walking in His ways.
The first part of Micah 4:2 says,
2 Many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
R. G. LeTourneau is quoted as saying,
If you know the Lord
You will love the Lord
If you love the Lord
You will serve the Lord
If you’re not serving the Lord
You don’t love the Lord
If you don’t love the Lord
You don’t know the Lord
Today, I offer a paraphrase based on today’s study:
If you know the Lord
You will know the ways of the Lord
If you know the ways of the Lord
You will walk in the ways of the Lord
If you’re not walking in the ways of the Lord
You don’t know the ways of the Lord
If you don’t know the ways of the Lord
You don’t know the Lord.