Psalm 119:161-168 | ש Shin

We’re not always patient when it comes to growing in God.

We sometimes want to grow up in the faith and just know everything right away. 

But the closer you get to Him, the more you understand what His timing looks like. You realize and trust He’s not making you wait for this growth, but using everything to grow you through the process. Even though you don’t see it right away, you know you are.

In my last post, I shared how it’s important to trust Him to reveal and lead us into all truth, while fulfilling our part by continuously getting to know Him. As you prioritize your relationship with God (Resh), growth is bound to happen. Actually, no matter what you do in life, you’ll grow somehow. Whether it’s negative or positive, healthy or not, you’ll be growing. 

But growth doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual accumulation of consistent habits. And when you grow in God, you’ll see yourself transition from milk to meat, baby food to adult food, in almost every season because there’s always room to grow. 

We never completely arrive, which is important to remember throughout your process and to embrace circumstances as if they’re happening for you, not to you. 

In this 21st section, the definition of the letter Shin shows us that growth is inevitable, but your consumption will influence your growth. After the definition, the psalmist will help us see how to let God’s Word consume our hearts while we consume His Word for our lives, and through this find that He is always growing us during the process.

Definition of Shin

The 21st Hebrew letter Shin resembles flames of fire and also teeth because of its pictogram (symbol). The meaning behind these representations has to do with consumption. While fire consumes, teeth are used to make food ready for consuming. Interestingly, the Hebrew word shen means tooth. It has the same spelling as the letter, just a slightly different pronunciation. 

While fire consumes anything in its path, taking away what’s good, it can also be helpful. For example, a forest fire helps kill diseases, provides nutrients for fresh growth, and replenishes habitats. But simultaneously, it sets up potential erosion, often brings a form of death, and can pollute air.

As you read God’s Word, His truth consumes what is not good. It’s kind of like a forest fire: helps kill old belief systems, provides nutrients for growth, and replenishes our understanding of God. His truth sets up erosion of our fleshly desires, reminds us that our flesh is dead and we’re alive in Christ, and fills (not pollutes) us with Holy Spirit, who ultimately destroys places of sin in our life. 

Along with this, let’s look at the second part of Shin. Teeth help break down food for digestion. Not only that, but they help our appearance, speech, and even strength when our hands can’t take something apart (like stubborn tags off a shirt). 

As He consumes, purifies, and grows us through His Word, we get to do the chewing.

Whether you intake the ways of the world or the ways of God, you’ll grow from what you chew up.

In this next section, the psalmist helps us see the importance of letting God’s Word consume your heart while you consume it for your life. Ultimately, God grows us (1 Corinthians 3:7), but the process of consumption is simultaneous and coming from both ends.

Consumed by the Word, not the world

161 Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of Your words. 162 I rejoice at Your word, Like one who finds great plunder.

As a consuming fire, God’s truth changes our desires. We begin to desire the Word and the things of the Spirit, not of the world.

But despite how passionate we get, it’s easy to look down on other believers for their revelations. Truth is, the revelations you get will help me in my faith and vice versa. Even if someone shares something out of biblical context, we need to be open-minded enough to learn something from it somehow.

It’s sad when people get defensive and judgmental about others’ understanding of truth. Instead of being quick to judge, we should be quick to try our best to understand, love, and learn something. Because even Jesus’s own people, the Jews, persecuted Him. We often forget that they were waiting and longing for the Messiah, yet when He came, they got offended.

The truth Jesus presented didn’t collide with their traditions. Even though they “believed” there was a Messiah according to the Word, they still missed Him. However, people who believed in Him rejoiced at His word. They marveled and left in awe, as if they found great plunder. 

When you believe something according to the Word, you must remain open-minded and available to hear another perspective on it. Let the Holy Spirit help you sift through the truth to conclude of where you stand on it, and when you confront, you’ll do it out of awe for God’s Word, not a need to defend it.

The persecutors didn’t shake the psalmist up because he was so captivated by God’s truth. It didn’t matter who came against him or the Word because he was ready to rejoice, as one would find plunder. It’s almost as if he sought what truth he could find among his enemies.

Consuming the Word, not the World

163 I hate and loathe falsehood, But I love Your Law. 164 Seven times a day I praise You because of Your righteous judgments. 165 Those who love Your Law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble.

The closer we get to God, the more we love His Word. We recognize truth and distinguish it from falsehood. But if we only love certain parts of His word and become selective, then it’s easier for other lies to seep in unnoticeably.

When we’re used to eating the same thing over and over, it’s sometimes scary to try new foods, especially when the textures seem weird. We need to learn how to cleanse our palates and try new things in the Word, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us. From the hard, meaty truths, to the soft, slurp-able ones.

I’m also sure that by now, as an adult, you know what is food and what’s not. You learn that from a very young age when your “preferences” weigh in on your decisions. What you shoved in your mouth as a toddler doesn’t seem as appealing now. Not only that, it’s probably not even edible. And that’s how it is with God. 

It wasn’t until Saul met Christ did he hate falsehood. When Christ transformed him and called him Paul, there was a new zeal birthed that came from a place of love. Before this, he was zealous for religion and tradition, but not relationship and transformation. He thought his persecuting of the early Christians was the “right thing” to do yet, until he met Truth, he didn’t know he was living in a lie. 

God’s food for us is clear and of the spirit, not the world. And that’s the psalmist’s point here: he hates and loathes falsehood, things that are not of the Lord, and instead loves the Law. You wouldn’t eat inedible things now because you know it’s not, well, edible. 

And when you’re in Christ, you’ll grow in discernment between Truth and lies, and eat that what is of the Father (John 4:34), which will lead you to peace and a firm foundation in Him.

Purposeful Consumption

166 I hope for Your salvation, Lord, And do Your commandments. 167 My soul keeps Your testimonies, And I love them exceedingly. 168 I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies, For all my ways are before You.

As you let the Word consume you, break down God’s truth with purpose. There must be a response of obedience to it for ultimate growth. Just like when you exercise and workout, you need to have food to support your system. You become selective in what you eat, because you know what it will do to your body.

You wouldn’t eat sugar and processed foods if your goal is to lose fat, because you know it’s unhealthy and will do the opposite. But you also wouldn’t limit yourself to just vegetables if you were building muscle. You would include protein and carbs and purposefully consume it to bulk up.

Similarly to God’s Word, when you need wisdom, you read through the wisdom books. When you need to know more about Jesus, you’d look to the gospels and epistles.

In these last 3 verses, the psalmist helps us see that purposeful consumption of God’s Word is vital to our growth. We all face struggles throughout life but cope differently. Instead of just coping, God gave us His Word to find hope in all situations.

Whatever the struggle, you can hope for God’s salvation and do what He commanded. Remind your soul to keep and love God’s testimonies, or in simpler terms, meditate on what God has done for you in the past. And lastly, as you keep His Word, know that your ways are completely before the Lord (Psalm 1139:23-24).

Because all of this leads to growth in your relationship with God, your character, and relationships with others. God’s Word should bring you closer to God and other people, purifying your heart with fire as you make it ready for consumption.

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