Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,(Ps. 119:1-8 NIV)
who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart –
they do no wrong
but follow his ways.
You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me.
Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm. There are 22 stanzas of eight verses each. The first eight verses all begin with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the eight verses of the second stanza all begin with the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet and right through all 22 stanzas using all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
The Psalmist is interested in God’s law. He is devoted to God’s law because he is devoted to God.
The Psalmist uses eight words for God’s law
- Law (torah) occurs 25 times. There is a general and a technical meaning for Torah. In the general sense it refers to any instruction given by God as a basis for our spiritual life. In a technical sense, it refers to the Torah of Moses. It is used in the general sense in Ps 119 to refer to all divine revelation.
- Word (dabar) occurs 24 times. This is any word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
- Laws (mispatim) occurs 23 times. These refer to the judgements that God has made. They are righteous because God is righteous.
- Statute(s) (edut/edot) occurs 23 times. It occurs only once in the singular. Used in the sense of testimony. The tablets of testimony and the ark of testimony. The tablets and the ark were symbols of the covenant. Being loyal to the statutes means to be loyal to the terms of the covenant.
- Command(s) (miswah/miswot) occurs 22 times. This refers to anything that the Lord has ordered. 6. Decrees (huqqim) occurs 21 times. The Lord reveals His sovereign will through His decrees.
- Precepts (piqqudim) occurs 21 times. This is synonymous with covenant.
- Word or promise (imrah) occurs 19 times. God has promised.
There is an overlap in the meanings of the terms. The impact of the usage of these various terms is to show how the Psalmist is taken up by the law of the Lord.
The blessing of God is upon those who choose the wise way to live. The wise are blameless because they follow God’s law. When there is a discussion about law some people will say ‘legalism’, but the Psalmist shows that he keeps the law and seeks the Lord with all his heart. The law of God does not bind us, it sets us free, it is the way of liberty and wisdom. The Lord sets out in His statues, how He is to be served and loved. The devoted follower of the Lord searches the statutes of the Lord and learns to love what God has said. They do no wrong and walk in the ways of the Lord.
The Psalmist acknowledges that the precepts of the Lord are to be fully obeyed and he prays that he would be steadfast in obeying the Lord’s decrees. The Psalmist prays that he will not be overcome with shame by disobeying the Lord’s commands. Keeping the Lord’s commands will be the chief consideration. His heart will be kept upright as he learns from his study of the Lord’s commands. The Psalmist commits himself to obedience. The Psalmist knows that he cannot perfectly keep the law of the Lord, so mercy is still required. He pleads that the Lord will not forsake him.
Lord help us to love and value all the revelation that You have given. Help us to be people of Your word. Help us to meditate upon Your word that we will grow to love Your ways. Forgive us for ignoring Your word because we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.