Ps 119:59-60 When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; (NLT when I ponder the direction of my life) I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments
What is the motivation for obedience? The reality is, obedience is an intentional choice. When our kids were young, it was easy to spot half-hearted obedience. We could see it in their face, we heard it in their attitude, we saw in the quality of their work. When our kids were only obeying because they felt they didn’t have a choice, and they either didn’t want to do what we asked them to do, or they didn’t think they should have to, they would obey, but we would see half-hearted obedience.
I wonder if that’s how God feels about our obedience? What would it be like if we lived like David did when he wrote Psalm 119? Listen to what he said; (Ps 119:59-60) When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.”
Did you know that God’s covenant (his promise to his people) had 2 sides to it? (1) God’s commitment to his people, and (2)the people’s commitment to God. Too often when we think about the covenant, all we think of is the law, or the people’s commitment to God. While the law is a big part of God’s covenant, without the other side of the covenant the law becomes a burden and will only produce half hearted obedience at best. The covenant was first of all a promise from God to love, protect, provide and be their God! And God made his covenant/ promise to, not only the generation that was present at the time, but to all future generations as well. (Deut 29:14-15) God demonstrated his commitment and love for his people by delivering his people from slavery in Egypt and completely demolishing their captors in the process. Because of all that He did for them, and based on his promise to them, he gave the law. The law was not just something a mean God gave them to obey in order to hold some sort of sick control over his people. The law was intended to be their response to God’s incredible love, protection, provision and claiming them as His very own!
In Psalm 119 David shows that he did not see the law as something to grudgingly obey, endure or just put up with. Psalm 119:1-11 declares how he is pursuing and seeking the blessing of God, and he knows that blessing from God only comes from obedience. “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!… Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!” (Ps 119:1,3) David recognized that God’s blessing was tied to keeping his ways “steadfast” in following God’s statutes. David goes on in Psalm 119:1-11 to explain how he was striving to do that:
- v3 blessed are those who seek him with their whole heart
- v5 oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes
- v6 having my eyes fixed on all your commandments
- v10 with my whole heart I seek you
- v11 I have stored up your word in my heart that I may not sin against you
- v11 I delight in the way of your testimonies as much as in all riches
David did not see the pursuit of obedience as just a box to check off, or a hoop to jump through to be a good Hebrew. He also did not see the law as something that earned God’s favor. It was more than just getting God to smile at him He recognized that a life of peace, rest and freedom would be found in living within the boundary of what God had said. Here’s some other things David says in Psalm 119:
- Ps 119:35-37 David again says that following the path of God’s commandants is where he delighted (NLV).
- He said in Ps 119:36 that he is eager to keep God’s laws.
- In Psalm 119:37 David asks God to turn his eyes from worthless things. What would be considered worthless? If David’s delight was God’s law, and obedience to it, than the worthless things he is picturing is anything that turns his eyes from God’s law!
- Ps 119:45 David recognizes that when he chooses to devote himself to God’s commands, he will walk in freedom.
Is this your concept of obedience? There is a fine line between legalism and obedience like this. The outside actions often are not much different. But, there is a huge difference in the motivation, the quality of what we do, as well as the quality of life. If obedience is like my kids chores, then you will not experience the blessing David promised in Psalm 119:3. It will only be a chore to endure. But when we see obedience as a delight, because we are doing it in response to God’s love, provision, protection, and because He claims us as His very own, we will be eager to do what he says. We will long for our eyes to be turned away from anything that distracts us from his love for us. We will want to devote our lives to Him, because we know how much he loves us!
- I don’t want to be like Isreal who failed to be motivated by God’s love enough to live for him. I want to live for God with my whole heart. Teach me, O Lord, show me, where my heart is not fully yours. (Ps 139:23-24)
- Like David, teach me to delight in your law. Help me to see that your law / your Word, is better to me than earthly riches, earthly fame, or any kind of selfish gain!
- When I face trials and hardships, may they be opportunities for me to trust you more deeply. Instead of highlighting my weaknesses, may these trials draw out the scriptural truths that I need to declare, so that I will become stronger through them.