Torah, testimonies, ways, precepts – and now Psalm 119 adds another word for the Word of God: ‘statutes’. It means things that are prescribed. It can also mean boundaries – the prescribed limits to things.
I heard a story a while ago. Back in the nineteenth century, when travel was by horse and carriage, a wealthy lord was looking for a new coachman. He had three candidates. He called the first one in and said to him, ‘Imagine you are driving me in my carriage along a narrow road and down on one side is a precipice; how close to the precipice do you think you could safely drive me?
“Well, sir”, he replied, “I’ve had plenty of experience. Three feet from the edge, and you’d be safe as houses”.
The lord called the second man in and asked the same question.
“Bless you, sir,” he replied, “I’ve driven in the mountains. With my experience, you’d be totally safe just one foot from the edge.”
The third applicant came in, and this was his answer: “I’ll tell you what, sir; I’d keep as far from that precipice as I possibly could – that’s the only way to be safe!”
He got the job.
You see, God’s Word sets boundaries. He warns us that some things, some situations just aren’t safe. He wants us to keep a safe distance from the edge. He wants us to be safe in spirit, soul and body. The enemy would love us to go as close to ‘the precipice’ as we dare. And, you know what? He’ll stand right there to give us a little push when we’ve got too close for safety.
All those ‘statutes’, that tell us what we shouldn’t think, do or say, are there because, if we ignore them, we’re heading for danger. And the ones that tell us what we should think, do and say are there because if we obey them, we’ll enjoy safety and blessing.
When I was first learning to drive, I kept a very careful watch on the kerb and on the white lines down the middle of the road. I must have seemed very cautious! But once I’d become more experienced, I didn’t need to concentrate so hard on the sides and the middle of the road – maintaining the right course had become second nature.
God’s heart for us is that his statutes should become so imprinted in our hearts and minds that we steer a safe course through each day of our journey through life. That’s how our ‘ways will be steadfast’, because our ways will be His.
Thank You, Father, that You have put down boundaries so I can live in safety. Please reveal Your boundaries to me, moment by moment, and give me a conscience that’s sensitive to Your voice when You say, “This is the way; walk in it”. Amen.
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