Psalm 119:1-8: Eyes Fixed
June 1, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
We begin a journey through one of the most famous Psalms—as well as the longest chapter—in the Bible. It is well-known for its advocacy for God’s law. This strikes a strange note to many people today because they view law as equivalent to legalism, but the two are not the same.
In the Bible, the law or God’s Word or God’s teaching is the place of blessing and fruition and spiritual life. Legalism, on the other hand, is an arrogant, prideful assumption that we can save ourselves. It is a self-salvation project—in essence, the very opposite to what God teaches in his law or in his Word.
This psalm, then, associates God’s law with ideas that reveal this connection to the blessing of God in ways that are sometimes surprising and always enlivening. Note that the one who seeks God’s law is to be the person who “seeks him with their whole heart” (119:2). This is so different from legalism. This person is seeking God himself. There is a personal relationship with God.
What is more, this is not mere disciplined stoicism; it is a seeking of God himself from the heart. And then at the end of this section of the psalm, note that there is no arrogant presumption, no self-salvation project. The psalmist cries out: “do not utterly forsake me!” (119:8). There is a reliance on God, a dependence on God for revitalization, renewal, and reformation. So it is important as we look at this psalm to distinguish its teaching from legalism.
That said, it is also important to revel in its call for responsibility. We are happy or blessed if our way is “blameless.” We are to “walk in the law of the Lord” (119:1). We are to “keep his testimonies” (119:2). We are even to try to “do no wrong” (119:3). God’s precepts are to be kept “diligently” (119:4).
How are we to do this? Not by a self-salvation project, nor by a belief that we will ever entirely attain that which we aim for in this life. (Remember the final prayer of this section: “do not utterly forsake me!”) No, we make progress in following God and his law by where we look: “my eyes fixed on all your commandments” (119:6).
Today, then, look to God’s Word. Stare at the Bible. Look to God himself. Fill your mind’s eye with the truth to which you are called to obey. Turn your eyes away from evil or impure things. And look to God and his Word!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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