Why do so many of us try to stop the aging process? I mean, what is a life, really? We live; we die. Game over. All the pieces go back in the box. What difference did our lives make? Did having no wrinkles or a perfect tan make a difference in the end? Did having the best cars, furniture, clothing, or electronics make us better people? What is the secret to a fulfilling life that matters?
Psalm 119:105-112 – Nun
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws. I have suffered much; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word. Accept, O LORD, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws. Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law. The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts. Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end (NIV).
This Psalm is an acrostic of the Hebrew alphabet with eight verses for each letter. The verses in this passage each begin with the letter nun (pronounced noon). Links to my posts on the previous thirteen letters can be found at the end of this post.
The ancient pictograph for nun looks like a sprouted seed or a sperm, both indicating the meaning of this letter, which is life, continuity, or heir. This letter is one of my favorites because I love the connection the Psalmist and the Hebrew people made between God’s Word and a seed that brings life.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus clearly tells His listeners that the seed represents the Word of God (Matthew 13:1-23). Right after that, He tells them that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, that although it is tiny, will produce a large plant (Matthew 13:31-32). Likewise, our faith, though it is small, when placed in Jesus, can move a mountain (Matthew 17:20).
Are you getting this picture? A seed is something small that has the potential to produce something beautiful and life-giving under the right conditions. Just as a sperm cell guided by the hand of God will find an ovule and create life in the womb, so God’s Word will find its place in our hearts and create meaningful life for us.
In order for a seed to sprout, the right conditions must be present: soil, light, and water. In the same way, God’s Word must find fertile soil in our hearts in order to take root and produce a harvest of righteousness in us. That’s what the parable of the sower is all about. You can read my post on that parable here.
According to the Psalmist, that is the secret to meaningful life–having a heart set on following and keeping God’s Word to the very end of our lives. Because when life on this earth ends, eternal life begins. The only thing that will matter on that day, is what we have done with God’s Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All men are like grass, and all of their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you (1 Peter 1:23-25).
It’s 100 degrees today here in South Carolina. My grass and flowers aren’t only withered, some of them are dead. But the Word preached to me–the Gospel of Jesus Christ–lives forever. That’s what I’m taking with me when I pack it up here. Like the Psalmist, I am constantly suffering because I keep trying to take my life in my own hands. But God keeps watering and fertilizing and pruning me, because His Word is living and enduring and changing me to be more like Him every day.
Why? Why would the God of the universe keep wasting time on me when I don’t even have the power to stop a single wrinkle or gray hair on my head?
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:23-25).
Oh, how I love these words! Jesus didn’t mean that we would hate life, but that we would hate our life apart from Him, so we could LOVE our life with Him. A seed in the heart of a beautiful fruit will not reproduce until that fruit has died and the seed has fallen to the ground. Likewise, the Son of our beautiful Father had to die to pay the price for our sins, but oh, the magnificent miracle of the seed!
That Seed in the form of the Word of the Gospel, when met with the right conditions in a believer’s heart, becomes a tree of life in which others can come and find shade. Then when that person believes, the Seed is reproduced, and what a mighty harvest comes forth! Through the continuity of His Word, we are heirs to His Kingdom.
And that, my friends, is what life is all about.
Previous posts of Hebrew alphabet: