Psalm 119:113-20, “13 With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
14 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.
17 Deal bountifully with your servant,
that I may live and keep your word.
18 Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.
19 I am a sojourner on the earth;
hide not your commandments from me!
20 My soul is consumed with longing
for your rules at all times.”
Those who take the doctrine of sin seriously understand that wickedness has infected every aspect of our being. Our emotions, our physical constitution, our desires—all of it has been corrupted by our transgression. Moreover, sin has tarnished our very minds. Fallen humanity is subject to intellectual frailty. This does not mean that unregenerate people cannot know the truth, but it does mean that the unregenerate will twist the truth that they do know and use it to serve a lie (Romans 1:18-32). But even regenerate people have minds that are tainted by sin. Paul, after all, refers to the Christian Galatians as “foolish Galatians” for their failure to understand the gospel and for succumbing to the temptation to make their good works part of the basis for their righteousness before God (Gal. 3:1-9).
Psalm 119 shows us that one of the effects of sin is to make us double-minded. It does this by setting love for God’s law in opposition to double-minded people (v. 113). Thus, we see that the Word of God is single-minded, that is, it does not speak with a forked tongue. The Lord did not talk out of both sides of His mouth when He revealed His commandments; rather, He spoke consistently and coherently. We can hope in His Word because it is consistent because it tells us only the truth about our Creator and how He is a sure refuge for His people (v. 114).
Our psalmist is also quite realistic about the difficulties of keeping God’s law. When we are surrounded by the enemies of the Lord, we are often distracted from seeking to follow His ways. We are tempted to “stoop to their level,” as it were, and adopt their ways of dealing with conflict. That is why the psalmist prays for deliverance from his enemies so that he might keep the commandments of our Maker (v. 115). We should not pray for deliverance merely for deliverance’s sake. If all that happens is that we are rescued from our foes, and our way of living is not affected, then the rescue has not accomplished all that much for us. But if our deliverance from the hands of our enemies results in a greater resolve to keep God’s commandments, if our rescue leads to greater holiness, then our salvation from our foes has been great indeed.
Finally, the psalmist recognizes his utter dependence on the Lord for keeping His law (vv. 116–120). We cannot obey God in our own power. Instead, we require the Lord to sustain us. Let us pray daily that God would grant this sustenance.
John Calvin comments, “If godliness does not increase in us in proportion to the sense and experience we have of God’s grace, we betray base ingratitude.” The greater the ways in which the Lord rescues us from our foes, the more faithful to His commands we should seek to be. Given the incalculably great redemption purchased by Christ, those who have experienced it will feel such a sense of gratitude that they will seek to obey Him and quickly repent when they fall short.