By Christin Ditchfield Lazo
Reading from Psalm 119:145-176
145 I call with my whole heart;
answer me, O LORD, that I may keep your statutes.
146 I call to you;
oh, that you would save me!
I will keep your decrees.
147 Early in the morning I cry out to you,
for in your word is my trust.
148 My eyes are open in the night watches,
that I may meditate upon your promise.
149 Hear my voice, O LORD, according to your loving-kindness;
according to your judgments, give me life.
150 They draw near who in malice persecute me;
they are very far from your law.
151 You, O LORD, are near at hand,
and all your commandments are true.
152 Long have I known from your decrees
that you have established them for ever.
153 Behold my affliction and deliver me,
for I do not forget your law.
154 Plead my cause and redeem me;
according to your promise, give me life.
155 Deliverance is far from the wicked,
for they do not study your statutes.
156 Great is your compassion, O LORD;
preserve my life, according to your judgments.
157 There are many who persecute and oppress me,
yet I have not swerved from your decrees.
158 I look with loathing at the faithless,
for they have not kept your word.
159 See how I love your commandments!
O LORD, in your mercy, preserve me.
160 The heart of your word is truth;
all your righteous judgments endure for evermore.
161 Rulers have persecuted me without a cause,
but my heart stands in awe of your word.
162 I am as glad because of your promise
as one who finds great spoils.
163 As for lies, I hate and abhor them,
but your law is my love.
164 Seven times a day do I praise you,
because of your righteous judgments.
165 Great peace have they who love your law;
for them there is no stumbling block.
166 I have hoped for your salvation, O LORD,
and have fulfilled your commandments.
167 I have kept your decrees
and I have loved them deeply.
168 I have kept your commandments and decrees,
for all my ways are before you.
169 Let my cry come before you, O LORD;
give me understanding, according to your word.
170 Let my supplication come before you;
deliver me, according to your promise.
171 My lips shall pour forth your praise,
when you teach me your statutes.
172 My tongue shall sing of your promise,
for all your commandments are righteous.
173 Let your hand be ready to help me,
for I have chosen your commandments.
174 I long for your salvation, O LORD,
and your law is my delight.
175 Let me live, and I will praise you,
and let your judgments help me.
176 I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost;
search for your servant,
for I do not forget your commandments.
It sounds a little strange to our ears today…
Who rhapsodizes like this over a lot of rules and regulations? Who gets so excited about a series of “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots”? Why even care?
In our culture, we tend to think of rules as things to rebel against, laws as sometimes unreasonable and burdensome restraints that we begrudgingly learn to live with or find a way to work around. We consider commandments things to be cast off in our quest for freedom.
But the psalmist says God’s law is where freedom is found. God’s Word is our source of wisdom. And his commandments are never arbitrary, meaningless, or burdensome; they always have a purpose. They either protect us from harming ourselves or others, or they provide for us in some significant way. God’s statutes are designed to help us, not to hurt us. They’re meant to lead us and guide us. If only we have eyes to see and ears to hear!
Who would know better how to live than the author of life? Who better understands and cares for creation than the Creator? Who has our best interests more at heart than the one who breathed life into us, loved us, and gave himself for us (Eph. 5:2)?
Ultimately, as Paul reminds us in Romans, the law serves to point us to Christ — to show us just how imperfectly we’re able to keep this law, how desperately we are in need of a mighty savior.
Christin Ditchfield Lazo, Th.M., is a best-selling author, conference speaker, and syndicated radio host, passionate about calling believers to a deeper life of faith.
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