Psalm 119 uses about twelve different expressions for the Word of God. There’s been a new one in each of the first three verses; and now here’s another: precepts. This means very specific instructions. The Hebrew for ‘obeyed’ includes the idea of taking great care. ‘Fully’ suggests leaving nothing out. Do you get the picture? The psalmist is saying that God gives specific orders to carefully obeyed down to the last detail.
I find this incredibly challenging. Not only is Scripture full of very explicit commands, but, on top of that, God constantly reveals His specific will for us moment by moment. I find obeying Him at all pretty difficult at times, let alone, down to the last detail.
Just think of some of His precepts: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength’; ‘As I have loved you, so must you love one another’. Yes, these are ‘precepts that are to be fully obeyed’. Maybe we know in our spirit that He wants us to do (or stop doing) something, but we are afraid, or just too busy. So, when it comes to fully obeying His precepts, we all fall short most of the time.
Yet the Bible repeatedly reminds us just how important obedience is. True blessing depends on it. When I’m walking the hills, I need to obey the law of gravity. If I want a safe and trouble-free car-journey, I must obey the rules of the road. And if I’m going to enjoy God’s blessing and protection in my daily walk with Him, I need to obey His precepts.
‘Precepts’ is a word that might be used of army orders. Before the fall of Jericho, Joshua was confronted by the ‘commander of the Lord’s army’ and was given his orders (Joshua 5:13). Would Jericho have fallen if they had walked round the walls for six days instead of seven? Or, supposing the priests carrying the shofars each day had decided to blow them right from the start, instead of waiting until the seventh day?
Like it or not, we’re in a spiritual battle. What gives the enemy a hold on our lives is sin (which is failing to fully obey God). If we are going to have true peace of heart and have the victory over Satan, then we need to fully obey ‘God’s precepts’. Quite a challenge, isn’t it? And what a blessing that, when we fail, His grace and mercy is always available to cover all our sin!
Prayer: Father, I confess that, so often, although I know what You want me to do – or not to do –I sometimes fail to fully obey You. As I seek Your forgiveness for my sin and disobedience, I ask that, more and more, You would give me a heart that delights in doing Your will. Amen.
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