“Those who guard God’s laws are truly happy! They seek God with all their hearts. I keep your word close, in my heart, so that I won’t sin against you.” Psalms 119:2,11
Psalm 119 is special. It hits different. I love the practical wisdom it offers, and it comes from someone who is aware of the ebbs and flows of life. I remember reading this psalm in my teens and twenties, often praying that I’d be like this person, inspired to meditate on the sacred book and be influenced by it.
John Goldingay, in his brilliant Psalms for Everyone Commentary, says:
First, the psalm teaches, adhering to God’s rules is the way of blessing. Things go well in your life. You can hold your head high. You can expect God to be with you and not finally abandon you…
Sometimes you have to live in light of the way you believe things will work out in the long run.
The psalm can speak of people who have done no wrong in relation to these laws, which shows that they are not setting an impossibly high standard. The Ten Commandments illustrate the point. It’s not so esoteric, though it may be difficult in that other people are worshiping other gods and making images and working 24/7 and having affairs. The question is whether we want to do so. The psalm encourages us to keep reminding ourselves that being desirous of living by God’s rules is worthwhile.Goldingay, John. Psalms for Everyone, Part 2: Psalms 73-15 (Old Testament for Everyone) (p. 144).
I’ve had a good life so far and I believe it’s in part because I’ve made a commitment to follow Christ the King. I’ve wanted to. I’ve seen the payoff to living by God’s decrees and wisdom. I love how Goldingay says that it’s not so impossible to live by the 10 commandments. It may become difficult when others don’t live by them. I’ve seen the pain and hurt of affairs, murder, and stealing. All it takes is one person to act out and it’s felt in the community.
And I love how the Psalmist pronounces a blessing as we seek God with all our heart. While we may have difficulties in our life and journey, seeking God and doing his will come with a blessing that as we keep God’s decrees, we will experience an unspeakable joy and peace. We also never be left to fend for ourselves. It’s a lie and distortion of God’s wisdom that we’re something happy accidents, living this life completely on our own and by our own efforts. There is a God who loves this world and every single aspect of it, moving hearts and minds. He is an Involved God, not distant or disinterested.
Lord, grant us the heart and willingness to listen and to obey your decrees, which are nothing more than expressions of the purest form of love for you and for others.