Every one of us has been impacted in some form by the teachers who have come into our lives. The teachers who have had the greatest impact on me were the ones who recognized my strengths and weaknesses, and did their best to patiently guide me in my mental and educational formation in light of those strengths and weaknesses. This is true whether it was a music teacher, or a physics professor. The good ones stay with you, and their words have lasting impressions on your mind.
Eventually, though, you come out from under the mentorship of a teacher. No one remains constantly under the tutelage of a teacher forever. If they did, then it would indicate a stagnancy in learning and development that needs to be addressed. The goal of teaching is to enrich and grow a student to mature in thinking, skills, and knowledge so that the student no longer needs the teacher. This is why we move up grades, eventually graduate high school and college, and advance in careers. There’s forward progress in intellectual development. Education isn’t intended to be a permanent, never-ending part of an individual’s formation. It’s meant to develop the skills necessary to be successful in the workplace and in life.
There’s one exception to this, though.
97 Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
102 I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.
Psalm 119:97–104 presents God’s law as a teacher that you never graduate out from under. Instead, it’s a constant tutor, a necessary companion, and the only teacher that will never fail you, lead you astray, or misguide you in knowledge. Long after the days of schooling and education are behind you, God’s Word continues as a faithful guide. Just consider what this text says is accomplished for the believer by the Word:
- The Word attracts our love and gives us delight, which makes us read and meditate on it (vv. 97, 103)
- The Word instills us with wisdom (v. 98)
- The Word gives insight and understanding (vv. 99–100, 104)
- The Word provides direction, which restrains us from sin (v. 102)
- The Word initiates a personal relationship with God himself (v. 102)
As one writer has put it, “There’s no higher education than what the Word of God imparts.” In fact, amazingly, the promise is that the one who comes under this Teacher will gain more understanding than any human teacher can offer. That’s an amazing reality. Consider the mind power and intellectual prowess represented by such centers of higher learning as Princeton, Harvard, Yale, or any other prestigious academic institution. Some of the brightest minds in all of academia reside at these colleges. Yet the promise of this text is that the one who comes under the instruction of God’s Word may have understanding and insight which surpasses the great minds on the planet!
How can that be? How can a student from a small town in nowhere Alaska have more understanding than the minds of the most elite professors in the country? The reality is that, as much as these individuals have pursued the limits of human knowledge and learning, the simple reality is that if all they’re learning and study leads them to the conclusion that “there is no God,” then they are in fact nothing more than a fool (Ps. 14:1).
But the believer, instructed by the Word, is given wisdom. He’s given insight. He gains knowledge and understanding. He is trained in right thinking which leads to right believing, which results in right living. That is the highest education anyone can receive. Because in the end, when you’re taught by God’s Word, you’re in actuality being taught by God himself. You won’t find a greater teacher than that!
Over the next few weeks, schools across the country will hold graduation ceremonies, and high school and college students will celebrate the completion of a major milestone in academic progress. They leave school to pursue higher education, join the workforce, make a living, and (hopefully) make a beneficial contribution to society. The call of Psalm 119 is for each of us, whether you’re still in school, just finishing up, or have been out for decades, to always remain under the education of the Word of God. You never graduate from this lifelong course of divine instruction.