February 11

Psalm 119:1-4

“Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.” vs. 1

Psalm 119 is a carefully composed poem of 22 stanzas, each of which begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Its 176 verses are intended to glorify the law and encourage readers to obey its commandments and ordinances. The psalmist begins by observing that the reward for blamelessly walking in the law of the Lord is happiness, and that refrain continues throughout. Our first question is likely to be, “Who in the world can live a blameless life?” Most of us are so ridden by sin and guilt that we can’t even imagine such a thing. And if we can’t walk blamelessly, what are our prospects for happiness? There’s no doubt that the psalmist’s heart was in the right place–he had a deep love for the law and believed that there were blessings that came with obedience. And here we’d have to agree. Good things do come to those who live moral and decent lives–all of us can point to plenty of examples. And certainly we raise our children to believe their lives will be better if they are obedient. There’s a problem though with the psalmist’s reasoning. If God is the great law-giver, it’s a small step then to seeing God as the great sin-punisher. Fortunately, in reality it’s humans who have given us the law, and God’s gift is steadfast love. Happiness does indeed come from God, but it comes through forgiveness, and not obedience. 

Thought for the Day: What is the purpose of law?

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