I must confess that I used to skip through Psalm 119. It’s so long! And it always seemed so repetitive. But, recently, I’ve been reading it through really slowly, spending time with each verse. And the amazing thing is that no two verses are the same: 176 verses, each saying something different about the word of God! The great Victorian preacher, Charles Spurgeon, said of it: ‘Other psalms have been mere lakes, but this is the main ocean’. There is no title saying who wrote it, but there is a strong tradition that, like many other psalms, it was penned by David – it bears so many marks of his vocabulary and style.
If so, it makes sense that, musician that he was, he should say that God’s laws have become his songs. And yet, when I think about it, this seems a funny thing to say about laws. An act of parliament is hardly something to be set to music!
I love music and one of the wonderful things about it is that, when you know a tune, it goes with you wherever you are – it’s in your head. And, wherever David made his home, there was a song in his head: God’s laws.
He knew that the key to contentment was conforming his life to the pattern, and within the boundaries, set out in God’s word. As long as he remained within that framework, he was secure. It didn’t matter where he was – where he had made his home – he felt safe and had something to sing about. Just think of the places where he had had to ‘make his home’: so many years on the run from Saul, hiding in caves or away from Israel. And, because he carried God’s laws as songs in his heart, his attitudes, behaviour and life were naturally shaped by them.
That’s what made him secure, however scary his circumstances might have seemed. Yes, he trusted God to keep him safe, but he also knew that it is obedience that keeps a person in God’s place of safety. That’s why God’s laws had a permanent place in his heart and why they were such a delight to him. As we still sometimes sing: ‘Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey’.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You have given us laws for our own good and to keep us safe. Help me today to trust You and to honour You with my obedience in all that I think and say and do. Amen.
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