Your word is a lamp for my feet
and a light for my path.
I’ve promised it once and I’ll promise it again:
I will obey Your wonderful Laws.
I have suffered much, O LORD;
restore my life again, just as You have promised.
LORD, accept my grateful thanks
and teach me Your Laws.
My life constantly hangs in the balance,
but I will not stop obeying Your Law.
The wicked have set their traps for me along Your path,
but I will not turn from your commandments.
Your decrees are my treasure;
they are truly my heart’s delight.
I am determined to keep Your principles,
even forever, to the very end. Psalm 119:105-112 (NLT)
It has been awhile since I wrote on Psalm 119 and that is in part because I had written on the first verse and at the time didn’t have anything else to say at that time (see: “Lamp Unto My Feet!”, posted Oct. 29 , 2009). The power of the first verse is so great that I had to wait upon the LORD to guide me into an understanding that went beyond the opening of this stanza. Even now, I wonder if it is the right message that I should give concerning the remaining verses of the text.
The writer of the Psalm is conveying that even as those who set snares and folly in his path to prevent him from walking safely in the Law, God’s Word is the Light that keeps him safe. It shows him the pitfalls of man and the entanglements of the world so that he might avoid them. He starts with the promise to stay firm in the Word and that he is grateful to have the instruction of Moses to keep his life in order. To him, the Law of God is wonderful! For many years I was taught that as Christians, we were no longer bound to the Law, yet as I matured in the understanding of the Ways of God, I found that I was compelled to regard them with fondness because they kept the Children of God safe.
When the Children of Israel, the remnant of Judea, returned from Babylon they had lost much of their culture, religious practice and their faith as well as their language. Nehemiah had to teach them the Law all over again. The Word of God had to be explained to them in Aramaic because they had forgotten their own language, Hebrew. This is something that I did not know until just a few weeks ago. With this in mind, we can see that Nehemiah was grateful that he had retained the language, customs and history of his people and of his God. The writer tells us that he and the people of Israel have suffered much. In fact they had lost their land and their nationality and had been scattered over the empire. The only thing they have left is their Faith and their God. And with that comes the Law, the Word of God for them.
The question for us is: Does the Law of Christ give us light as we are scattered among the secular ways of the world? Do we retain our love of God’s Ways for our lives? Or have we accepted a watered down version of the Truth that lets us stumble and trip into sin? What Nehemiah wanted for his people was the promise of God restored to them. He was grateful for the blessings that they had received, the freedom to return to Jerusalem and to restore the temple. Now he wants the Faith of the people to be restored as well. This song of love, to be sung in the restored temple, was to give the people the same desire to seek the commandments of God, the Law of God’s Love for mankind. Our lives hang in the balance of God’s mercy. The very Mercy given to us by the Sacrifice of Jesus is the restoration that the psalmist prayed for yet could not conceive.
As the “Oral Law” was the Light of God given to the people, Jesus is the “Living law” given to us. The Light of the Lamp is the promise of the Testament of the Jews and we are told that Jesus is the Lamp of the World. Because we have suffered much, living in the sinful nature, when we turn to Christ, we are shown the Light and our path of righteousness is bathed in the glow of His Light. Our lives are restored in the Promise. We are dead to the ways of the Oppressor, Satan, and made alive and fresh in Christ. In this we give thanks.
Because of Jesus giving us the opportunity to be reconciled with the Father, our lives hang in the balance of His Mercy and Grace. (See Psalm 119:109). If we accept the Way of Christ as our way of life and srtive to live in harmony with the teachings of God’s Word, the balance tips in our favor. If we live outside of the will of God, teh balance it tipped away from His Love. To live as we are taught by the Love of God for us, is to live in harmony with Him. This is shown to us by the Law of Love given to us through the blood of the Lamb of God. Even as teh world sets the traps and snares before us, to trip us up into committing offenses to God, observing the commandments of Christ, given to us with the law of the Covenant of Abraham and Moses. Jesus does not give us something new but gives understanding to the Law that we may serve and obey fully the will of God.
Hosea says for us to; “Bring your petitions, and return to the LORD. Say to Him, “Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us, so that we may offer You the sacrifice of praise.” (Hosea 14:12). In our trials and facing the temptations of the world, we plead to God to restore us to righteousness, to renew in us a clean Heart, a right spirit, that we may be worthy of giving praise to Our King. Through Jesus, we have the forgiveness that the psalmist asks for his people. Because of the Cross we are welcomed back into the family of God. Our lives hang in the balance of God’s Mercy and His Justice. We deserve nothing from God because we have done no good thing with our lives. Yet because of Jesus, the efforts in our lives are considered good. We are able to do good things according to the Spirit of God directing our thoughts. It is because of our Love for God that we are able to accomplish great things. And as the result of the Mercy given to us by Christ, we are never to stop obeying the “Living Law” and the “Light of the World,” Jesus. His commands are the commands of the One who Loves far more than we can.
The Words of Jesus and the lessons from the Law that cause us to live in righteousness are to be held close to our hearts and be the Breath of the Spirit of God be our breath. For like the psalmist, I also am “determined to keep Your principles, even forever, to the end.” One verse that I love and stands alone is; “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men , be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV). Because of the watchfulness of the Spirit of God within us, we are able to stand firm. We can act like true men of Redemption and weather the storms of evil that try and overtake us. We can determine to avoid the traps of men and to walk in right living according to the law that is given to us by the prophets and be the examples of Christ Jesus. And in all this we give thanks to God. We thank Him that we have the trials, the persecutions and the anxieties that confront us daily.
Let the decrees of God’s justice and His desire that we have the delight of His word in our hearts, guide us every day. As we grow in Faith and Love of Jesus, be determined to follow the path of Righteousness to the fullest. Desire only what is pleasing to the Father so that the Son of God may dwell in our every action and thought. Avoid the tricks of the Oppressor and the lies of the flesh that seek to destroy faith and love of God. Even forever to the very end of our days remain faithful and confident in His Word. When Paul wrote, “Don’t you realise how kind, tolerant and patient God is with you?….Can’t you see how kind He has been giving you time to turn from your sin?” (Romans 2:4) he is seeking of those false ideas, concepts and the folly that has led us into sin even as we profess our belief in Him. Gos has been merciful and by Grace has rescued us from our sins. For this reason, we should awaken to the Love of His law and the Love of Christ’s Way. We have what the Exiled Jews did not; the ability to understand the law as it was intended. The instrument of God’s Love to preserve us as His chosen children.
Each day I read of the persecutions of Christians around the world and I read the testimonies of those who have been imprisoned. They do not weep in fear but shout out in joy that they have Christ to live for and to die for. What little do we have to complain about in our sheltered lives, protected by laws and privilege? Nothing. Yet the Children of Israel, coming back to Jerusalem after years of exile, had much to fear. They were strangers in their own land, much as were the people who returned to Palestine after WWII. Today the Christians in Burma, North Korea, Egypt, Pakistan and many other nations face the same troubles as did the Israelites. Unwelcomed in their home lands. To them, the creed of Psalm 119:105-112 is a beacon of hope and of promise. Let it also be the beacon of Promise and of the reality of Salvation for you. Let God speak His Law unto your hearts that you will strive to serve and obey out of thanksgiving and love.