This is going to be a lengthy post, even though it will feature just one passage from the Bible. This is because the passage is Psalm 119, covering the Glories of God’s Law. I am going to include the whole Psalm, although I will interrupt it at points to add commentary on noteworthy parts. Anything which I would like to emphasis will be in bold.
Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the Lord!
2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
3 who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!
4 Thou hast commanded thy precepts
to be kept diligently.
5 O that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping thy statutes!
6 Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all thy commandments.
7 I will praise thee with an upright heart,
when I learn thy righteous ordinances.
8 I will observe thy statutes;
O forsake me not utterly!
While I have been fairly good in my life when it comes to doing no wrong, I can’t say that I’ve always been so good about doing right. They are not the same thing, as this Psalm makes clear. Walking in the Way of the Lord requires more than avoiding evil, it requires us to actively do good, to act righteously. Both are essential to following God properly.
9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to thy word.
10 With my whole heart I seek thee;
let me not wander from thy commandments!
11 I have laid up thy word in my heart,
that I might not sin against thee.
12 Blessed be thou, O Lord;
teach me thy statutes!
13 With my lips I declare
all the ordinances of thy mouth.
14 In the way of thy testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on thy precepts,
and fix my eyes on thy ways.
16 I will delight in thy statutes;
I will not forget thy word.
We live in a sinful world where temptation runs rampant. It isn’t easy avoiding sin. The key is to guard your way, the path of your life, according to the word. And what does the word of the Lord say? Avoid temptation, flee immorality, and forsake that which leads you to sin. Better to cut off your hand than burn in fire eternal.
17 Deal bountifully with thy servant,
that I may live and observe thy word.
18 Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of thy law.
19 I am a sojourner on earth;
hide not thy commandments from me!
20 My soul is consumed with longing
for thy ordinances at all times.
21 Thou dost rebuke the insolent, accursed ones,
who wander from thy commandments;
22 take away from me their scorn and contempt,
for I have kept thy testimonies.
23 Even though princes sit plotting against me,
thy servant will meditate on thy statutes.
24 Thy testimonies are my delight,
they are my counselors.
It isn’t easy to focus on God and spiritual matters when the world is out to get you. And the world is out to get every devout worshiper of the Lord. But it is essential all the same. Despite the hardships, the trials and the persecutions we face, we cannot cease meditating on God’s commands.
25 My soul cleaves to the dust;
revive me according to thy word!
26 When I told of my ways, thou didst answer me;
teach me thy statutes!
27 Make me understand the way of thy precepts,
and I will meditate on thy wondrous works.
28 My soul melts away for sorrow;
strengthen me according to thy word!
29 Put false ways far from me;
and graciously teach me thy law!
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness,
I set thy ordinances before me.
31 I cleave to thy testimonies, O Lord;
let me not be put to shame!
32 I will run in the way of thy commandments
when thou enlargest my understanding!
33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes;
and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep thy law
and observe it with my whole heart.
35 Lead me in the path of thy commandments,
for I delight in it.
36 Incline my heart to thy testimonies,
and not to gain!
37 Turn my eyes from looking at vanities;
and give me life in thy ways.
38 Confirm to thy servant thy promise,
which is for those who fear thee.
39 Turn away the reproach which I dread;
for thy ordinances are good.
40 Behold, I long for thy precepts;
in thy righteousness give me life!
We must seek out the Lord, and follow his ways, for the right reasons. Worldly gain shouldn’t be one of them. Rather, we must have our eyes on the prize: eternal life. Furthermore, we can often get caught up in the vain things of life, and lose sight of the goal. This can lead us to deadly peril, so we must strive earnestly to avoid this and to pray to God for the strength to overcome our lesser nature.
41 Let thy steadfast love come to me, O Lord,
thy salvation according to thy promise;
42 then shall I have an answer for those who taunt me,
for I trust in thy word.
43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
for my hope is in thy ordinances.
44 I will keep thy law continually,
for ever and ever;
45 and I shall walk at liberty,
for I have sought thy precepts.
46 I will also speak of thy testimonies before kings,
and shall not be put to shame;
47 for I find my delight in thy commandments,
which I love.
48 I revere thy commandments, which I love,
and I will meditate on thy statutes.
Speaking “truth to power” is a core part of being a Christian. Christ was the exemplar of his, but many of the prophets did the exact same thing. And so did the apostles and disciples as well. No matter where we find ourselves, we must speak truth to those we stand before, and rely upon God to protect us from what may come.
49 Remember thy word to thy servant,
in which thou hast made me hope.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction
that thy promise gives me life.
51 Godless men utterly deride me,
but I do not turn away from thy law.
52 When I think of thy ordinances from of old,
I take comfort, O Lord.
53 Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked,
who forsake thy law.
54 Thy statutes have been my songs
in the house of my pilgrimage.
55 I remember thy name in the night, O Lord,
and keep thy law.
56 This blessing has fallen to me,
that I have kept thy precepts.
Sin should make us angry. But we shouldn’t lose sight of what we are seeking to accomplish.
57 The Lord is my portion;
I promise to keep thy words.
58 I entreat thy favor with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to thy promise.
59 When I think of thy ways,
I turn my feet to thy testimonies;
60 I hasten and do not delay
to keep thy commandments.
61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget thy law.
62 At midnight I rise to praise thee,
because of thy righteous ordinances.
63 I am a companion of all who fear thee,
of those who keep thy precepts.
64 The earth, O Lord, is full of thy steadfast love;
teach me thy statutes!
Praise to God should be given at all times, even if, perhaps especially if, it isn’t comfortable to us. I am especially weak at this.
65 Thou hast dealt well with thy servant,
O Lord, according to thy word.
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I believe in thy commandments.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray;
but now I keep thy word.
68 Thou art good and doest good;
teach me thy statutes.
69 The godless besmear me with lies,
but with my whole heart I keep thy precepts;
70 their heart is gross like fat,
but I delight in thy law.
71 It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn thy statutes.
72 The law of thy mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
As difficult it might be for us to accept, suffering is often necessary to growth. Perhaps no better example of this exists than child-birth- a painful experience that brings new life into the world. Also, worldly treasure means nothing. No matter how much we accumulate in this life, we bring none of it with us into the next. Instead we should focus on spiritual treasure.
73 Thy hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn thy commandments.
74 Those who fear thee shall see me and rejoice,
because I have hoped in thy word.
75 I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right,
and that in faithfulness thou hast afflicted me.
76 Let thy steadfast love be ready to comfort me
according to thy promise to thy servant.
77 Let thy mercy come to me, that I may live;
for thy law is my delight.
78 Let the godless be put to shame,
because they have subverted me with guile;
as for me, I will meditate on thy precepts.
79 Let those who fear thee turn to me,
that they may know thy testimonies.
80 May my heart be blameless in thy statutes,
that I may not be put to shame!
We should be a shining example to others of the faith. We all should strive to inspire, comfort and encourage everyone who follows the Way of the Lord.
81 My soul languishes for thy salvation;
I hope in thy word.
82 My eyes fail with watching for thy promise;
I ask, “When wilt thou comfort me?”
83 For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,
yet I have not forgotten thy statutes.
84 How long must thy servant endure?
When wilt thou judge those who persecute me?
85 Godless men have dug pitfalls for me,
men who do not conform to thy law.
86 All thy commandments are sure;
they persecute me with falsehood; help me!
87 They have almost made an end of me on earth;
but I have not forsaken thy precepts.
88 In thy steadfast love spare my life,
that I may keep the testimonies of thy mouth.
89 For ever, O Lord, thy word
is firmly fixed in the heavens.
90 Thy faithfulness endures to all generations;
thou hast established the earth, and it stands fast.
91 By thy appointment they stand this day;
for all things are thy servants.
92 If thy law had not been my delight,
I should have perished in my affliction.
93 I will never forget thy precepts;
for by them thou hast given me life.
94 I am thine, save me;
for I have sought thy precepts.
95 The wicked lie in wait to destroy me;
but I consider thy testimonies.
96 I have seen a limit to all perfection,
but thy commandment is exceedingly broad.
We need to love God’s laws for what they are, and because they come from God, not because of anything that they might do for us. Otherwise we will forget them and perish when we encounter true hardship and affliction.
97 Oh, how I love thy law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 Thy commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for thy testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
for I keep thy precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep thy word.
102 I do not turn aside from thy ordinances,
for thou hast taught me.
103 How sweet are thy words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through thy precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.
The best way to avoid falling into the snare of the Evil One is to avoid temptation in the first place. Avoid as much as possible all evil things and places.
105 Thy word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to observe thy righteous ordinances.
107 I am sorely afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to thy word!
108 Accept my offerings of praise, O Lord,
and teach me thy ordinances.
109 I hold my life in my hand continually,
but I do not forget thy law.
110 The wicked have laid a snare for me,
but I do not stray from thy precepts.
111 Thy testimonies are my heritage for ever;
yea, they are the joy of my heart.
112 I incline my heart to perform thy statutes
for ever, to the end.
113 I hate double-minded men,
but I love thy law.
114 Thou art my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in thy word.
115 Depart from me, you evildoers,
that I may keep the commandments of my God.
116 Uphold me according to thy promise, that I may live,
and let me not be put to shame in my hope!
117 Hold me up, that I may be safe
and have regard for thy statutes continually!
118 Thou dost spurn all who go astray from thy statutes;
yea, their cunning is in vain.
119 All the wicked of the earth thou dost count as dross;
therefore I love thy testimonies.
120 My flesh trembles for fear of thee,
and I am afraid of thy judgments.
While it may seem like the wicked get away with whatever they like, they are merely assuring their inevitable doom. Their sins will catch up with them on the End of Days, and they will find all their works to be vain and worthless.
121 I have done what is just and right;
do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Be surety for thy servant for good;
let not the godless oppress me.
123 My eyes fail with watching for thy salvation,
and for the fulfilment of thy righteous promise.
124 Deal with thy servant according to thy steadfast love,
and teach me thy statutes.
125 I am thy servant; give me understanding,
that I may know thy testimonies!
126 It is time for the Lord to act,
for thy law has been broken.
127 Therefore I love thy commandments
above gold, above fine gold.
128 Therefore I direct my steps by all thy precepts;
I hate every false way.
It can be difficult to endure, to wait for the Lord to act. We might never see His judgements come about in our lifetimes. And this tries the soul. So it is important to encourage and comfort one another while we await that final Day of Judgment.
129 Thy testimonies are wonderful;
therefore my soul keeps them.
130 The unfolding of thy words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
131 With open mouth I pant,
because I long for thy commandments.
132 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
as is thy wont toward those who love thy name.
133 Keep steady my steps according to thy promise,
and let no iniquity get dominion over me.
134 Redeem me from man’s oppression,
that I may keep thy precepts.
135 Make thy face shine upon thy servant,
and teach me thy statutes.
136 My eyes shed streams of tears,
because men do not keep thy law.
Sin should also cause us to feel sorrow and pity. We know the price for our redemption has already been paid, which makes it all the worse to see our brothers and sisters fall into inequity and dissolution. So much has been given to us, and yet we squander it. It is enough to weary the soul of anyone.
137 Righteous art thou, O Lord,
and right are thy judgments.
138 Thou hast appointed thy testimonies in righteousness
and in all faithfulness.
139 My zeal consumes me,
because my foes forget thy words.
140 Thy promise is well tried,
and thy servant loves it.
141 I am small and despised,
yet I do not forget thy precepts.
142 Thy righteousness is righteous for ever,
and thy law is true.
143 Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
but thy commandments are my delight.
144 Thy testimonies are righteous for ever;
give me understanding that I may live.
Jesus was unafraid to confront those who desecrated the Temple of the Lord. Are we also unafraid to confront those who pervert the faith? This is a question I think all of us need to ask nowadays.
145 With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!
I will keep thy statutes.
146 I cry to thee; save me,
that I may observe thy testimonies.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I hope in thy words.
148 My eyes are awake before the watches of the night,
that I may meditate upon thy promise.
149 Hear my voice in thy steadfast love;
O Lord, in thy justice preserve my life.
150 They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose;
they are far from thy law.
151 But thou art near, O Lord,
and all thy commandments are true.
152 Long have I known from thy testimonies
that thou hast founded them for ever.
153 Look on my affliction and deliver me,
for I do not forget thy law.
154 Plead my cause and redeem me;
give me life according to thy promise!
155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
for they do not seek thy statutes.
156 Great is thy mercy, O Lord;
give me life according to thy justice.
157 Many are my persecutors and my adversaries,
but I do not swerve from thy testimonies.
158 I look at the faithless with disgust,
because they do not keep thy commands.
159 Consider how I love thy precepts!
Preserve my life according to thy steadfast love.
160 The sum of thy word is truth;
and every one of thy righteous ordinances endures for ever.
All of this has been accomplished. Our Lord and Savior died that we might be redeemed from death. And an Advocate has been sent to aid us, to defend us against The Adversary. Likewise, all of us have been given a new life in Him, through a New Covenant sealed by blood.
161 Princes persecute me without cause,
but my heart stands in awe of thy words.
162 I rejoice at thy word
like one who finds great spoil.
163 I hate and abhor falsehood,
but I love thy law.
164 Seven times a day I praise thee
for thy righteous ordinances.
165 Great peace have those who love thy law;
nothing can make them stumble.
166 I hope for thy salvation, O Lord,
and I do thy commandments.
167 My soul keeps thy testimonies;
I love them exceedingly.
168 I keep thy precepts and testimonies,
for all my ways are before thee.
This I fail at completely. Most of the time I only praise God as I should once a day. We should never fail to thank Him and glorify Him throughout our lives. He has given us so much, it is the least we can do to thank Him for all He has done for us.
169 Let my cry come before thee, O Lord;
give me understanding according to thy word!
170 Let my supplication come before thee;
deliver me according to thy word.
171 My lips will pour forth praise
that thou dost teach me thy statutes.
172 My tongue will sing of thy word,
for all thy commandments are right.
173 Let thy hand be ready to help me,
for I have chosen thy precepts.
174 I long for thy salvation, O Lord,
and thy law is my delight.
175 Let me live, that I may praise thee,
and let thy ordinances help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant,
for I do not forget thy commandments.
Whether we realize it or not, or acknowledge it or not, all of us at times are the single sheep that has gone astray. And He never fails to seek us out to bring us back to the flock. The question is, are we looking for Him that we might find our way back?