I Will Delight In Your Statutes (Psalm 119:14-16)
In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. —Psalm 119:14-16
When you hear words like “testimonies,” “precepts,” and “statutes,” what type of thoughts come to your mind? The more common terms in our day would be “rules,” “regulations,” and “laws.” For many of us, the thoughts associated with such terms are mostly negative. Rules are constraining. Regulations limit us. Laws are a burden. Wouldn’t it be better to have no rules so we could be free to do whatever we might choose? Isn’t Christianity a joy-stealing straightjacket?
The Psalmist declares that his experience is precisely the opposite with regard to the testimonies, precepts, and statutes that the Lord gives to his people. Rather than destroying our freedom and joy, obedience to God’s commands brings liberation and delight. Indeed, this delight is far greater than all we could discover in the riches of this world. Can this really be true in our experience today?
The deceitfulness of worldly desire is that it fools us into thinking we will find lasting joy by casting off the authority of God and refusing to live according to his righteous ways. It is true that the pursuit of sin may bring fleeting tastes of pleasure. However, these momentary pleasures are imposters of true, godly delight. It will not be long before we realize that seeking joy from such imposters is like grasping at the wind. Not only does such joy evaporate in our hands, we find them filled with guilt, shame, and sorrow. In the end we are led like an ox to the slaughter (Proverbs 7:22).
Christ died for our sins so that we might be freed from such foolish, sinful pursuits. The miracle of the Christian life is that the gospel not only forgives our sins, but also actually transforms our desires. The grace of Christ gives us a heart to want the truly satisfying ways of God. This is the promise of the new covenant: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33).
As we seek to live out this new life in Christ on a daily basis, we are not passive. We must meditate on the ways of the Lord. Even as the Psalmist declares that he already does delight in God’s ways, he also commits himself to an ongoing devotion to them. “I will meditate on your precepts. I will fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes. I will not forget your word.” As we learn from his example, we will not find ourselves confined to the miserable straightjacket of sinful desire. We will experience the freedom of righteousness. We will declare joyfully with him, “I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts” (Psalm 119:45).
Can you think of a time when choosing to disobey God’s commands brought you misery?
Can you think of a time when choosing to obey God’s commands brought you greater joy and freedom?
When is the best time for you to regularly meditate on the words of God in Scripture?