Biblical wisdom insists that life is a classroom. Those who live it best engage life as its students.
The logic of this approach to living life as a learning experience assumes that the way of things is not immediately apparent. Short attention spans need not apply.
Things that are worthwhile require prolonged scrutiny. Circumstances and phenomena do not give up their truth quickly. The best of reality simmers slowly. The patient cook—and his or her loved ones—enjoy the richest meal.
Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. (Psalm 111:2 ESV)
The first half of the psalmist’s verse might have led us to expect a bit of hoopla in the second. The works of YHWH are great. One expects a little bombast, then, some doxological fireworks perhaps, some very loud music. We anticipate that the Lord’s best stuff, so to speak, will lighten the eyes and prick up the ears of even the most distracted and dim. Passersby will hear the thumping bass of our worship, enter, and be astonished.
But this is not the poet’s point.
To the contrary, YHWH’s works are so great that they cry out for further research by those whose passion they awaken, those who want to know more, those who care enough to walk the long walk of understanding. YHWH’s great works are studied by all who delight in them.
Great is not always loud. Great is almost never quick.
Great endures, beguiles, informs, and delights for the lifetime of those who study and pursue the truth which the great works conceal in their folded hand.
Our culture trains us to expect an executive summary. Biblical wisdom asks us to read the entire book. Slowly, going back over some pages for a second and third pass.
In time, early Judaism would coin the word midrash to name that lingering over important things which the psalmist commends to us. The word derives from the verb darash—you can see it in the consonants—the very syllables employed by the poet when he describes the delighted heart studying YHWH’s great works.
Life offers us no substitute for patient learning, for approaching life as a classroom, for refusing fast food in favor of the long, slow meal of consideration.