Psalm 119 is one of those tough ones that has caused me angst. It’s the longest chapter in the Bible (176 verses) and, in almost every verse, talks about the greatness and God’s Rules (laws, precepts, ways etc)…AND how much the Psalmist loves and delights in them.
I gotta admit, that’s usually not me. But then I realized and remembered something about God’s Law. The point of the Gospel isn’t about my behaving properly (though that is an outcome) but that goodness, the Law itself, has been fulfilled already in ther person of Jesus. He not only kept them all on our behalf but the beauty of the Law (love, fidelity, honesty etc) describes and defines Him. And this utterly changes the way I read Psalm 119. So when we hear about the Psalmist’s love of God’s rules, we can read that as as love for Jesus, which makes us appreciate the kind and protective measures of his rules; not a means to confine us as much as point us to Jesus.
Here’s some examples:
I cling to your testimonies (“to Jesus”), O LORD;
let me not be put to shame!
Incline my heart to your testimonies (“to Jesus”),
and not to selfish gain.
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways (“Jesus”).
Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD,
your salvation according to your promise (“Jesus”).
I will also speak of your testimonies (“Jesus”) before kings
and shall not be put to shame,
for I find my delight in your commandments (“Jesus”),
which I love.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise (“Jesus”) gives me life.
Just to be clear, this certainly doesn’t mean that God’s moral code and guidelines are null and void. Quite the opposite. As Paul talks about in Romans, the Law reveals our inability to be pure and our need for Jesus, driving us to humble repentance and reliance upon him. And once in him, the law reveals what it looks like to live as children of a Good Father rather than little feral orphans that live only for themselves.