A Jew without a Torah is like a fish without water. – Unknown.Unknown.
How important is the Torah to a Jew?
How important is the Bible to you?
From an early age, Jews indulge in memorization and study as if, without it, they won’t be able to continue living. And though it sounds legalistic and maybe “too religious” for western Christians, I think there’s something we can learn from their dedication. Despite what they feel or don’t feel, they dedicate a huge portion of their life to it. This doesn’t mean we must change our cultures and entire lifestyles, but we can learn and apply a similar principle.
When you dedicate yourself to something, even slightly, your subconscious mind will remind you when it’s time to direct your focus on it. For example, we dedicate time for our chores, meals, social life, social media, and entertainment etc., to where it becomes a standard in our life. Our daily habits and routines are standards we’ve set through constant dedication and commitment.
In the next few paragraphs, I’ll explain the definition of the 14th Hebrew letter and then we’ll look at the verses in this section and how they connect to the letter’s meaning. We’ll see what it takes to commit and dedicate ourselves to God’s Word. Through the psalmist’s perspective, we’ll also learn how to rely on, remain in, and rest in it while doing so.
Definition of Nun
“Let your life reflect the faith you have in God. Fear nothing and pray about everything. Be strong, trust God’s word, and trust the process.”― Germany Kent
The 14th Hebrew letter represents a fish. Some scholars liken it to a snake because of its shape, but as I’ve studied it, the meaning and symbolism of a fish relates to the verses more. The word Nun actually means fish in Aramaic and signifies activity and life.
One of my favorite truths about Christianity is that we become new when we come to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, Colossians 3:9-11, Ephesians 4:24, Romans 6:6). But despite our new life in Him, we can’t forget about the activity, our obedience.
A fish subconsciously relies on the water it lives in, but it also follows an instinctual pattern (life-cycle) to survive in its world. In a similar way, we rely on Christ for our new life in Him, but we must also obey His Word to experience it in fullness. We do this by obeying His commands, studying the Word, and turning to Him by prayer in every season.
In the following verses, the psalmist helps us grasp this truth better. He shows us how to rely on, remain in, and rest in God’s Word by obeying it.
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
106 I have sworn and I will confirm it, That I will keep Your righteous judgments.
107 I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, Lord, according to Your word.
108 Be pleased to accept the voluntary offerings of my mouth, Lord, and teach me Your judgments.
109 My life is continually in my hand, Yet I do not forget Your Law.
110 The wicked have set a trap for me, Yet I have not wandered from Your precepts.
111 I have inherited Your testimonies forever, For they are the joy of my heart.
112 I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes Forever, even to the end.Psalm 119:105-112 NUN
RELY ON GOD’S WORD:
We have many resources available to us to help us study, understand, and learn the Bible today. But it can sometimes get overwhelming or distracting. Though I’m a big advocate for commentaries and cultural context studies, we must learn to rely on the Word for what it is and trust God that He will help us understand it.
Think about the earlier centuries, when they didn’t have the technology advancements and information overload like we do. The limited amount of resources and even vocabulary left them no choice but to go to the Source to understand the Word given to them. Their pursuit to connect with God helped them rely on the Word in all circumstances.
One way to learn how to rely on the Word is to set aside time to read it alone. Without other resources. And while reading it, trust it to be the lamp to your feet and light to your path (verse 105). Let it guide you on your path as you trust God to understand it. Lamps help us see our current steps while also lighting the path for our next few.
Another way to rely on God’s Word is to turn to it when you’re going through harder seasons. In verse 107, the psalmist expresses how bad his situation is, but with trust that only God can revive Him, he turns to the Word because it leads to life (John 6:63). And last, relying on God’s Word makes it easier to incline your heart to obey them no matter what (verse 112).
REMAIN IN THE WORD
To remain in the Word, one must commit to it. But sadly, many people run from it for various reasons. Fear, disagreement, misunderstanding, and other things drive people away. But in order to understand it better, we must commit to all that it brings (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
In verses 106, 108, and 109, the psalmist seems to remind himself that he commits to God’s laws. He’s ready to keep, learn, and remember what it says so that he can live a life that’s pleasing to God.
You’ll never find a fish trying to jump out of the water to get away from it and, like so, you shouldn’t find a Christian running away from the Word and into the world where it’s dry. John Trapp puts it this way:
“We, silly fishes, see one another jerked out of the pond of life by the hand of death; but we see not the frying pan and the fire that they are cast into, that ‘die in their sins,’ and refuse to be reformed.”
We must pursue a life that is worthy of the calling we received. Otherwise, if we remain neutral about God’s Word, we’ll “swim” in unhealthy ways and remain underdeveloped, unfruitful, and unwilling to embrace the full will of God. When you read the word and get familiar with God’s will and His way, your decisions reflect Him.
Challenge yourself to study the word intentionally, ask questions, and get familiar with the truth. So that when you have to make decisions (do life from your hand) you remain in God’s Word and ultimately, His will.
REST IN THE WORD
Life in Christ doesn’t mean we won’t go through trials and storms. A fish will go through the weathers that stirs up the waters, too. Not only that, but there are predators in the water and outside. People, circumstances, and situations life brings will come against you as well.
But it’s up to you where you find strength, healing, and guidance to keep going. In verses 110 and 111, the psalmist finds these in the Word. Despite his situations, he seeks rest in the Word. He does not wander from God’s precepts and makes them the joy of his heart. He holds on to the truth of his inheritance, which heals and soothes him. When you inherit something, you’re protected by a will set in place. We can find God’s will in His word and trust its protection for our life and get rest in all situations.
Though there are external trials and storms that we weather through life, there are also internal areas of strife and affliction caused by our fellow-Christians. Just like Jesus had pharisees and Sadducees against him, we will come across people that are in the same faith but against us. And sometimes the tables turn and you’re against someone. Here’s the trick though: not wandering from His precepts.
If a fish wanders from its “school” it will come across other fish who are bigger, smaller, meaner, and different from them. We also come across people who differ from us. From different upbringings, cultures, and beliefs, to political, social, and economic views, we’re all different. But despite potential conflicts, we can find ways to resolve and mend relationships by not wandering from God’s Word.
There will be traps, but it’s your duty to not wander. To stay close to the word, God’s will, and your “school of fish” (trustworthy relationships where you can get wisdom, council, and help).
Ultimately, relying on, remaining in, and resting in God’s Word results in your obedience to God. When you take the time to read it for what it is, study it to know the truth, and find protection in it when you face hard times, you build a foundational layer of trust in God to live your life for His glory. Just like a fish subconsciously trusts in the water to live its life, trust the Word to become more like Christ.
God took us into His ocean of love, giving the inheritance of life in Him to those who believe. In this life, hidden in Christ, there is joy within the Word. But this joy is a byproduct of our obedience. Revelation after revelation, grace after grace, wave after wave, we get washed by the Word and receive the ultimate joy of being found in Him.
BUT, our inheritance comes with responsibility, stewardship, humility, and work (along with faith). Faith in Him is the first part of it, but we must respond and also put this faith into action through obedience.
Jesus said, if you love me, you’ll obey my commands. And what better way to respond than to “swim” in obedience towards the life He called us to.