Psalm 119:21–24 (NRSV): 21 You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones,
who wander from your commandments;
22 take away from me their scorn and contempt,
for I have kept your decrees.
23 Even though princes sit plotting against me,
your servant will meditate on your statutes.
24 Your decrees are my delight,
they are my counselors.
We’re not told specifically who wrote this psalm, but it indicates this is a person of the ruling class of Israel – perhaps the king or some very highly placed official. Leadership is difficult in my small corner of the world so I can only imagine how much more complex and difficult it would be to rule an entire nation.
I am particularly drawn to v.24 above. In the midst of the constantly changing landscape of leadership, one can easily be overwhelmed. I’ve been a leader for most of my life, with over 20 years of experience as an ordained clergy person. I’ve served in local, regional, and national contexts and yet I am constantly encountering situations I’ve never seen before – especially since this whole pandemic began almost two years ago. How can anyone know what to do from day to day in this kind of changing reality?
“Your decrees are my delight, they are my counselors.”
I think what the writer is saying is that he doesn’t have to know about every situation that comes along in order to lead effectively. The possibilities are endless and any attempt to predict what is coming next is pointless. There will always be situations in which a leader simply does not know what to do. But… then there are the decrees of the Lord.
What the writer is telling us is that he acts on the things he knows (God’s decrees and ordinances) and entrusts to God the things he doesn’t know. And as one called by God to serve as a leader among God’s people Israel, God will step in at the point where the writer’s capacity ends. When we are deficient, our God comes to our aid, bearing us up in our moments of truth. Lord, let it be so. Amen.