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September 25th, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Psalm 119:4: Diligently Keeping His Precepts

Today we move from the general statements about “those who” (see Psalm 119 Intro, Psalm 119:1, Psalm 119:2, and Psalm 119:3), to direct conversation between the Psalmist and God.

Here are the first three verses (for reminder)

(1) Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!
(2) Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,
(3) who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!

And here is the fourth:

(4) You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.

And it might be worth seeing the verse that follows:

(5) Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!

Those who walk in the torah of YHWH are blessed. One reason to walk in the torah of YHWH is to receive the blessedness of so doing. The Lord never chides us for seeking Him out of our self interest, i.e., since we are made by Him and for Him it is to our good that we seek Him.

But lest we get too caught up in thinking this way we are reminded: YHWH has commanded that his precepts be diligently kept. It’s not a suggestion.

The potter determines what the clay is to look like. The artist determines the colors on the canvass. The king issues edicts that they be followed. The father commands his young child not to run into the road and not to speak with disrespect towards his mother.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth….
So God created mankind in His own image…

The God who creates is the God who speaks. He could hide Himself and let us wander aimlessly about not knowing who we are, whose we are, or why we are. He could remove himself and let us sin ourselves into destruction. He could throw up His hands and give up on us entirely. Such is His right and prerogative. But He has not done so. He has spoken. He has opened up the veil between the seen and the unseen and has come to us. He has stooped down to communicate to us in ways that we can understand.

The God who has created us has right to command us. He created us out of love that we would share in His glory. He communicates to us out of love and to help us find our peace and joy in His glory.

His commandments are not arbitrary, though they may challenge the status quo of our lives. His commandments are not burdensome, though they may be difficult.

Jesus invites us to “take His yoke upon us and learn from him” The yoke represents His prerogative to steer us and guide us. In taking that yoke we find rest because we find Him and we find ourselves.

The holy God of glory has shown us how it is He wants us to live. Yes, these are commands given by the Creator to the created, by the Master to the servant, and by the King to the subject. We don’t get to have a conference call and offer our opinion as to how He could or should have commanded us differently. The holy transcendent God over all is also the loving and merciful Father in heaven. He knows our needs, even before we ask. He knows what way of life will reflect His glory and give us joy.

And He expects that we listen and follow his precepts diligently.

To do that we must know His precepts. To do that we must try with all our might to follow his precepts. To do that we must be focused, committed, submitted, and determined to attend to His word.

Are we? Do we check in on his word off and on when we’re depressed or when things are going badly? Do we attend to His word when we want something from Him?

We cannot diligently attend to His precepts unless it is the intentional focus of our lives to do so.

I love the way Moses puts it in the Shema and the V’ahavta that immediately follows, Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

The word Shema is based on the Hebrew of the first two words of this passage – “Hear, O Israel.” It speaks thus to the revelation of God to His people, and the necessity of His people attending to it. This passage reminds us that we cannot love God with all of our hearts if we do not diligently listen to and act upon His words. And we see such diligence in what follows.

The words he has commanded are to be upon our hearts. We are to teach them diligently. We are to talk of them all through the day. We are to surround our lives with them.

There is a passage in the New Testament which reflects the same urgency and importance of attending to God’s word, Colossians 3:16:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

As Christians we believe that Jesus spoke with the authority of God and with the authority of his own person as the Son of God. We attend to His words as we believe them to be the fulfillment of the revelation of God to Israel.

Psalm 119 is all about diligently keeping of the statues of God. His word is life. His word is light. His word is home.

If you have been evading God’s word due to a troubled conscience, repent and turn to Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins. If the busyness of life has edged the word of God out then your life is too busy, period. Maybe you have to give something up to be diligent to His word. Nothing you may give up compares to the rich value of God’s word. Don’t let anxiety or the troubles of life or seeking after riches crowd it out. Don’t let fear of being abused or slandered cause you to ignore it. Don’t let anything get in the way of you and the Word of God – anything.

Every day is a new day. Decide today to walk in His ways and follow after Him. Structure your life around this priority. Plan your week around this priority. You will be glad you did.


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