Getting It Right

July 26, 2015

Psalm 119:1-8


Intro:  If someone were to ask you what the point of your faith was, how would you answer?  If you were asked to give a reason for not just believing in God but living in a relationship with him, what would that reason be?  The first question and answer in the Westminster Catechism is always a great place to start: The chief end of man is to worship God and enjoy him forever.  Simple words, deep meaning.


How do we worship God?  Is it just an hour on Sunday? For worship of God to be our “chief end” one hour doesn’t seem like it would cover it!  I think that the worship and enjoyment of God is to be a characteristic of all that we do, think, and say.  That’s what the psalmist understood as he penned Psalm 119.  His worship and enjoyment of God grew out of knowing God and his ways:  knowing that his commands were good, that his will was for our well being.


What do you want your relationship with God to be like?  Are you content with keeping God at arms length, perceiving him to be some Santa Claus in the sky or a distant judge ready to condemn you as guilty at every turn or a God who has no standards of holiness and doesn’t care what people do because love is his only attribute?  Holding on to those views does not allow one to know God.


What might happen if we all chose to endeavor to know God better?  And then, what if we committed ourselves to worshipping and enjoying God we were getting to know, in all times and places?  Let’s see what we discover as we give these first 8 verses of Psalm 119 another go after reading through them last week.  The aim would be to strengthen our vertical relationship, with God and the natural outcome would be improved horizontal relationships with others.




For argument’s sake, let us resolve and choose to believe that it was David who wrote this psalm.  Agreed?  And this man, who has made huge mistakes, at the core of his being understands the law of God to be the best and most important revelation of God and his will that exists.  David would have known the Law of God to be all that was contained the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of our Bible).  His oral history would include all that happened in Joshua, Judges, and part of his family history we can read in Ruth.  The accounts given in 1 Samuel began only 45 years before David was born, so would be part of his story in the making. I share all that just to set this psalm in context.  Now let’s dig in.


1 Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.            This whole psalm begins with the word:  “Blessed”. It is the condition in which one who has received God’s favor finds oneself.  Who doesn’t want that?  But in this instance as in the Sermon on the Mount, blessedness comes when a person does something that pleases God.  We are blessed when we obey God’s will. We are transformed when we obey God’s will.  Hey!  There’s a connection!


Think about how broken our world is. We are far from living in a state of blessedness.  Charles Spurgeon suggests in his commentary on Psalm 119, that “if our fallen race is ever to be blessed again, it must find it where it lost it at the beginning, namely, in conformity to the command of the Lord.” (p. 6)  Our rebellious, sinful nature convinces us that to be happy we need to be free from rules and laws.  We should get to govern ourselves and be accountable to no one.  So we break rules and don’t die from it (as Eve discovered when she bit into that sweet juicy apple) and think we are getting away with doing things our own way.  David goes on.


Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.

Blessed are those who are seeking transformative growth by making God and his will the priority in their lives.  Check that.  Are you all in when it comes to seeking God?  Or is it more of a . . . hobby?  Is your relationship with God deep or casual?  To be blessed by God, truly blessed, comes with an investment in the relationship. An investment in the relationship changes us so that we want more of God and less of our own way.  It is not often easy.  It is often painful and requires giving up old ways of being and surrendering things that up to this point in time of been of utmost importance and have defined us.  But God desires all of us. Blessed are those who seek him with all their heart.  Over the years, corruption in the church and in the lives of Christians has occurred because of just this one error, we have not sought to please God with our whole hearts.  I am so guilty.  I want the reward of blessedness, but am not always willing to lay down my will and seek God’s.  How about you?


they do no wrong but follow his ways.

The outcome is a life lived on the straight and narrow.  And you know what happens when you walk that way?  You don’t create consequences for yourself that make life sticky!  When we do things God’s way, it’s not a promise of ease but it really cuts down on the messes we have to dig ourselves out of. Reflect on that for a moment.  How many times could you have avoided a mess if you had been obedient to God?


You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.

The psalmist lays down a truth about God.  God expects to be obeyed.  By you.  By me.  By His church.  Obedience is not really an option.  We serve the living God of the universe, who gave us life, who sustains each breath we take and he is asking us, his created beings to give him our obedience! What do you think?  Does God have that right?  Does the God you were made to worship and enjoy have the right to expect that you will obey him?


5-6 Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.

The yearning of the psalmist here reveals that he does not obey as much as he would like.  He is longing to do a better job.  How about you?  Christian, know that if you are right now feeling a struggle, if you are wanting to push back from this whole idea of total obedience, you are in good company. 


But think about the reason for this steadfast obedience. If we live in obedience to God, we never have to be ashamed.  For me it means that I would never get that sick feeling that comes when I speak poorly of someone or get caught up in gossip.  I would not need to doubt my motives.  I could be sure of the authority I work under and serve.  That sounds like a really good deal to me.  I don’t like guilt or shame.  The way to avoid it is to live in obedience!  Are you in?


I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.

I appreciate the hope that is in this verse.  It reminds me of what Jesus said when he invited his disciples to take his yoke upon them.  Learning to do things Jesus’ way leads to a lightness of the burden and leads one to praise God for who he is.  Our tendency when we hear words like “law” or “obey” is to feel like all our fun will be taken away.  But the psalmist reflects what Jesus told the disciples, obedience leads to praise and praise leads to joy.  There is joy in obeying God!


I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me.

This stanza ends with a commitment, “I will obey” and a plea, “Don’t forget me”.  The writer acknowledges that on his own, he will not be able to carry out all of God’s law.  He is begging God to walk with him on this journey.  As we taught the kids at VBS this week, God is the Good Shepherd who watches after us, his sheep.  He guides and protects and provides.  But to be in the right place to receive the Shepherds care, we have to be sensitive to the sound of his voice and follow where he leads – even through the dark valleys and we have to trust where he is leading even when we can’t see the way ourselves.


Concl.  Where are you at in your relationship with God?  In these first 8 verses, the psalmist is painting a picture of what it means to live out the first and greatest commandment: Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30) The things David writes are not exaggerations or lofty ideas.  They reveal to us the nitty gritty, get down to it, commitment it takes to worship God and enjoy him forever.  What will you do with that?


Prayer:  Father, to live out the desire to live according to Your will requires that we pray for it.  That we diligently seek You out to change us, transform us from what we are now to what you would have us be in your kingdom.  Help us so to live.