Teach us Your statutes, O Lord!
The Lord is my portion; I promise to keep your words.
The love David had for God’s word was rooted in his love for God. The Lord alone was enough for David. He trusted that God would always be sufficient and that’s what motivated him to make bold promises.
When the Israelites went into the Promised Land, each tribe was given an allotment of land — all except the Levites. The priestly tribe of Levi received no land, but instead, the Lord Himself was their portion. As believers, we are now “a chosen people, a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9) and God gives us Himself as our inheritance, our reward. What more could we want? Our lack of trust implies that we don’t think He’s adequate for our needs or competent to care for us. In contrast, when we take God as our portion, we will love what He has to say and we will want to live by it.
I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.
Entreating someone’s favor (or seeking their face, as in the NIV) is about presence. When a child is trying to get the attention of an adult, the child wants that grownup to put down what they’re doing and look at him or her. In this psalm, David asked God for His gracious presence, perhaps in light of the big promise he made in verse 57. David knew he couldn’t pull off perfection, but because of grace, he didn’t need to.
When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies.
Being in God’s presence caused David to contemplate where he was in life. When David did that, things were revealed that he needed to deal with. He was moved to repent and get back on track with the Lord. We, too, need to stop every once in a while to take account, check priorities, think about our “ways”, and turn our feet if they have taken us in the wrong direction.
I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.
I read a lot of parenting books when we were in the thick of raising children. One basic principle struck me – “Delayed obedience is disobedience.” In other words, when I allowed my kids to put off doing what I asked, I was actually teaching them to be disobedient. Often, I was communicating that they could put off obedience until mom got mad and raised her voice. I didn’t realize I was training them to wait for the blow-up. David had his share of parenting issues, but he seemed eager to be quick to obey God.
The word “delay” means to be hesitant or reluctant. How many times have I dragged my feet in response to God’s nudging, only to have the opportunity pass?
Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law.
David found himself surrounded by people who didn’t care about God and who put concentrated effort into undermining him. Doesn’t it seem like when you’ve made a renewed decision to trust and obey, it’s not long before something comes along to throw you off or pull you away? When we choose to be quick to follow God, we can be fairly certain that the enemy will also be quick to test our resolve. Like David, we need to keep God’s words before us, reminding us of the truth and giving us hope.
At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous rules.
David may have gone to bed with thoughts of being ensnared by those wicked cords, but in the middle of the night, he battled back with praise. He reaffirmed the rightness of God’s ways and refused to succumb to fear. If I’m still awake at midnight, it’s probably because I’m feeling anxious about something. Praise has a way of cutting right through the lies of the enemy and making way for peace.
I am a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts.
So far, the main characters in this psalm have been David, God, and some occasional enemies. In verse 63 we get a glimpse of another group — David was not alone! He had friends! And they shared his love for God and His word! What a relief! A life of faith is never a solitary life, but always a life that includes fellowship, friendship and unified purpose. We need people around us who are also determined to live according to God’s Word — people we can count on to encourage us and spur us on toward love and good deeds. God’s people are meant to be part of our portion of blessing.
The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes!
David began this passage reminding himself of God’s sufficiency for his own life. By the end, he saw the whole planet overflowing with God’s “hesed” love — that steadfast, long-suffering, merciful love. David found God to be more than sufficient, not just for him, but for the whole world.
There is no corner of the universe where His people can possibly be beyond His Covenant faithfulness, steadfast love, and care. Even though it does not always look like it, there is no God-forsaken square meter on earth. Even though the earth contains many wicked who are hostile to those who fear the Lord, it is not possible for a believer to be in any part of the created order which is not full of the Lord’s steadfast love. ~ Christopher Ash
Things I know for sure from this passage:
- God is sufficient — I lack nothing.
- Obeying quickly is a mark of spiritual maturity.
- The Christian life is meant to be lived in community.
- Daily reflection and repentance keeps me on the right track.
- Evidence of God’s steadfast love is all around me.