Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the instruction of the LORD!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart.
Yes, who do no wrong, but in his ways they walk!
You have commanded your precepts to be kept deeply.
O that they may be firmly fixed, my ways in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn of your righteous judgements.
I will keep your statutes; do not forsake me deeply!
Psalm 119 vs. 1-8 (Literal translation)
Today I post the second quote from ‘Bible Delight’ Christopher Ash’s journey through Psalm 119. It should be read in conjunction with yesterday’s post and tomorrow’s will complete his walk through verses 1-8
‘We do not know who originally wrote and sang this psalm. It is sometimes called ‘an orphan psalm’ because it has no heading. There are hints that the singer may be a leader and teacher of the people of God. In verse 74 God-fearers see his hope and rejoice. And in verse 79 they turn to him for teaching and example. Perhaps he is a priest or prophet. In some ways this singer is a foreshadowing of Christ (the technical word is a ‘type’ of Christ), a leader whose career is fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. It has been suggested that the placing of Psalm 119 (about the word of God) next to Psalm 118 (about God’s Kin, the Messiah) is deliberate, the idea being to support the teaching of Deuteronomy 17:18-20 and Joshua 1:7,8 that the leader of the people of God is to be a lover of the word of God who himself walks the way of the word.
This makes a lot of sense, and it must be right in some ways to see this psalm fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. And yet this psalm is not sung in its entirety by the perfect king, or teacher, or priest. For this singer has gone astray (vv.67, 176). He is penitent and not perfect. Further, to be blameless does not mean to be sinless. Job was blameless)Job 1:1,8;2:3) but he was not sinless. Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, ‘walked blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord’(Luke 1:6, in a striking echo of Psalm 119); but they were not sinless. To be blameless is to have integrity, to be the same on the inside as we appear on the outside. (So L.C. Allen translates verse 1, ‘How fortunate are those whose way is marked by integrity.’) It is (v.2) to have a whole heart and not be like the Roman God Janus with two faces. Blamelessness is about direction rather than achievement.
It is striking to note that the Bible can speak of sinners keeping the law of God. I have had to revise my understanding of this. I had always taken it as read that no human being could keep the law. And yet, in Genesis 26:5 we read that ‘Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes and my laws.’ And yet he was clearly not sinless. And in 1 Kings3:14 Solomon is told that his father David walked in God’s way, ‘keeping my statutes and my commandments’, which is, on the face of it, an extraordinary thing to write in the obituary of a man who committed adultery and complicit in murder. What does it mean? It can only mean that they were believers, that they went where the law pointed, to repentance and faith in the Christ to come. And therefore they knew in anticipation the blessing of justification by faith, of having righteousness accounted to them (cf. Romans 4:1-8). The same must be true of the sinner here.’
But the fact remains that there is no alternative pathway to blessing than this wholehearted direction of life. We must walk this walk. And the logic is simple in verse 2. If we are to seek him we must walk where he walks. The way of the word is the way of the Lord. It is the way he walks. And therefore if I am to walk with him, I must walk this way. If two people agree to go on a walking holiday together, then one says he is going to the Rockies, while the other insists in walking the Cairngorms in Scotland, it does not take a travel agent long to conclude that they will not walk together.
The truth of the absolute need for holiness of life needs to be re-emphasised today. The life of discipleship is not a spectator sport. We do not just watch Jesus walk the walk and thn thank God that because Jesus has done it we do not need to. Discipleship is towalk in his ways, to walk the way he walked(1 John 2:6), to walk in a manner worthy of the calling rto which we have been called (Ephesians 4:1), and to walk in love (Ephesians 5:2).
How are we to respond to this great truth? For this truth is still true under the New Covenant. There has never been and there will never be, any other way of blessing than walking the way of the word. This is not a redundant truth; it is an eternal truth. Verses 5-8 give us the appropriate response.