5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes*!
6 Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous rules.
8 I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me!
* Through these reflections, those phrases that identify God’s word, revelation, or law will be highlighted in the text in the hopes of accentuating the many and varied ways we can visualize what God has given to us for our good.
The life of faith is mired with possibilities. It can feel at times that there are too many options for how God may want us to go. The uncomfortable irony is that there are not as many “options” as we may think.
God is only interested in one thing, that we would live a life that is consistent with his character. In our search to live this out, we find that there are so many ways of expressing that singular reality. Each opportunity as unique as our imaginations can create.
What I have found out in the last few years is that by increasing my focus on becoming more like God, I am able to have a wider impact. Not because I am trying to, but because I am available to. The closer I grow in my relationship with God, the easier it is to hear what he wants of me. The clearer I see the world the way he does.
All of this begins with a commitment to keep our “eyes fixed on all [his] commandments.”
Verse 5: The first section of Psalm 119 concludes with a cry for strength in daily obedience. The idea of being “steadfast” points to a firmness of conviction. It carries the implication of resolution and of not being swayed or deterred. The Psalmist calls upon the Lord to fortify them because the tendency will be to not remain steadfast. The precepts of the Lord are contrary to the current of the world around us, therefore it requires an increased commitment to persist in our obedience as God rightly deserves to receive.
Verse 6: How does the Psalmist characterize the effect of remaining steadfast in God’s precepts? We see the answer here in verse 6. When we are steadfast, we are not then “put to shame.” This is not about embarrassment or fear. To be put to shame points more to living according to a lie. To being exposed as frauds and charlatans. The strength of our conviction to obey God’s word, the greater our confidence in God himself. This is an odd relationship. But only when we do not consider God’s commands to be perfect. For God to expect complete obedience, we must believe in the complete and total goodness of God. That he will not call us to an action that will purposely lead us to evil or ruin.
Verse 7: The greater our commitment to learn and apply what God has instructed, the greater its impact on our hearts. We become more like God because we are conforming ourselves to his character. This will inevitably lead to praise. To worship. When we know God better, by living as he lives, we grow in our ability to draw near to him.
Verse 8: The closing verse of the first section is a plea. The Psalmist offers a promise to “keep your statutes”. They then ask for God to remain faithful to them. The sentiment is quite passionate. “Do not utterly forsake me!” (Emphasis added). It is not necessarily that the Psalmist fears being cast off from God, but rather that there is a recognition that in keeping the Lord’s statutes there is a corresponding promise by God to be attentive to their plight.