BIBLE MEDITATION: "....I am GOD, your God, who teaches you how to live right and well. I show you what to do, where to go." Isaiah 48:17 (The Message Bible)
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT: What is your idea of the good life? Each person has his own idea about what it means to live the good life. In the 1880’s James Whitcomb Riley wrote a series of poems about the ideal life. He described it as a life that is humble, safe, care-free and filled with hope. Riley’s poems depicted a life where dreams were created, promoted and supported; where the home is happy, problems are few and comforts are freely available even without riches. The life depicted in these poems became known as the “Life of Riley.” Living the “Life of Riley” became a popular phrase for living the good life. Living the life of Riley for some means living a life where they are not required to do much, get more and are protected from loss by various means that may border on the illegal if necessary. Maintaining such a good life becomes their goal and consumes all of their energy, time and focus. It determines their friends, activities, politics and sometimes, even their religion.
In this text the prophet Isaiah reminds Israel that God has been its teacher, leader, provider and protector; if they follow him He will show them how to live well. Despite the fact that God brought Israel so far on its journey the nation often strayed away from Him. They experienced many periods of trouble, war, and loss when they moved away from Him. In this text God, speaking through Isaiah, reminds them that He has been their life teacher throughout all times and that if they follow what He instructs they will live well.
The King James Version uses the phrase, “thy God which teacheth thee to profit.” Many have taken that phrase and others like it to mean that God places an emphasis on making money, earning a profit and gaining physical prosperity. A closer look however, shows that the phrase actually means to “Live well” or to live profitably for His purpose.
God promised Israel not only to teach them the principles of living well, but that He would “lead thee by the way thou shouldest go.” The Message paraphrase of this same text says, "....I am GOD, your God, who teaches you how to live right and well. I show you what to do, where to go.” The thought is clear: If God’s people listen to Him and follow his direction He will, as Matthew Henry declares, “Open their eyes and direct their steps. By his grace, He will lead us in the way of duty and by his providence he will lead us in the way of deliverance.
To live well before God is to be obedient to Him. In verse 19, He notes that if the people had been obedient, their lives would have been peaceful, happy, and productive like peaceful river, with joys rebounding frequently like the waves on a sea.
To live well before God is to love Him, praise Him and acknowledge Him. That’s why the word says in Proverbs 3:6, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and he shall direct thy paths.” The path to living large is obtaining money, but the path to truly living well is to live a life rooted in the word of God. As believers, our goal in life is to not just to live well, but to live well before God. We want to do His will and to live our life’s purpose. Then and only then can we say we are “living well.”