Psalm 119

Psalm 119:24-45 (Selected verses) The Message

Yes, your sayings on life are what give me delight; I listen to them as to good neighbors!

When I told my story, you responded; train me well in your deep wisdom.

Barricade the road that goes Nowhere; grace me with your clear revelation.

I choose the true road to Somewhere, I post your road signs at every curve and corner.

God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course.

Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—my whole life one long, obedient response.

Guide me down the road of your commandments; I love traveling this freeway!

See how hungry I am for your counsel; preserve my life through your righteous ways!

Let your love, God, shape my life with salvation, exactly as you promised;

Don’t ever deprive me of truth, not ever—your commandments are what I depend on.

Oh, I’ll guard with my life what you’ve revealed to me, guard it now, guard it ever;

And I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom.

What I love about this Psalm is the balance it holds between a life of love and a life of obedience to the Commandments. There is this sense that we need precepts and laws and “shoulds” to bend our distracted will and follow a right path. But there is also this sense that we need the freedom, the liberty, and the creativity, to find our way in this world. What the great artists teach us is that first we must master the chords, the rules, the basics of the form and then we can allow ourselves to express ourselves in unique and loving ways.

The Apostle Paul wrestles with the law and love throughout most of his writing. He wants his followers to know they still live within the law but that the law is there to serve the love of God, the love expressed in perfection through the life of Jesus. Paul also attempts to find that sweet spot between the form and passion of our lives. But I think the Psalms do it well too, and what I particularly like is the way the joy of living is affirmed here in words like “And I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom.” There is this sense of striding in confidence and certainty that we are on the right path but that the way we stride is both free and expectant, for the spaces are open to our design. How marvellous, how grateful we are for the wisdom, how amazing it is to stride with such passion and grace.