The Disciple’s Path

The Disciple’s Path (Psalm 119)

Assured of a personal relationship with God, the psalmist also recognizes the sovereignty of God over his life. He knows God blesses obedience and that his own heart will guide his behavior. Whatever God has planned for him, he knows it is good and right.

The psalmist has an intimate, personal relationship with God, but he knows his place. He does use the personal pronouns “I,” “me” and “my” when talking to God, but twelve times he calls himself “Your servant” (verses 17, 23, 38, 49, 65, 76, 84, 122, 124, 125, 135, 140).  He is God’s possession: “I am Yours, save me; for I have sought Your precepts” (verse 94). “You are bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

The psalmist declares the sovereignty of God over heaven, the earth and all peoples. “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides. They continue this day according to Your ordinances, for all are Your servants” (verses 89-91). Everything belongs to God.

The pronoun “Your” is used over 200 times in this psalm, always of God: Your righteous judgments, Your statutes, Your word, Your commandments, Your testimonies, Your precepts, Your way(s), Your law, Your ordinances, Your salvation, Your favor, Your mercies, Your mouth, Your hand, Your custom, Your name, Your face, Your lovingkindness, Your justice and Your servant(s).

Knowing God’s way is the way of truth (verse 30), the psalmist states that God has revealed Himself through His words, statutes, commandments (law), precepts and testimonies. Determined to live according to God’s plan for his life, he pays attention to what He says.

The same should be true for us. We cannot separate the love of holy God and His commandments. As sinful men, we come short of completely obeying God’s law. Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, fulfilled God’s law for us, paid the price for our sin on His cross, and offered us eternal life as His love gift. There is no way to repay the Giver of our blessings, but we can please Him. What He asks from us is our heart.

To Walk in His Ways 

We please God by loving, trusting and obeying Him. Then He freely blesses us.

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good? (Deuteronomy 10:12-13).

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…”  (Mark 12:30).

Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, has one dominant theme. It is expressed in the first three verses: Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! They also do no iniquity; they walk in His ways. The remaining verses of the psalm are a prayer of the psalmist. He has described the blessed man in verse 1 through 3. In verses 4 through 176, he addresses God.

We each choose whether or not we will follow God and how we will do it. In Psalm 119, we see that the blessed man makes a lifelong choice, delights in the path God provides for him, walks with a wholehearted purpose, stays on the path, watches for obstacles, looks for treasure along the way and invites others to walk with him.

1.    Make a lifelong choice

Richard and I often take walks whenever we can. In our hometown in Texas, there is a walking path we often use, but it is there whether we use it or not. We choose to use it on occasion, but there are days when we do not use it. We can choose to walk on it or not.

The law of the Lord is like that. It is true and righteous whether or not you choose to obey it, but when you do obey it, you are blessed. The blessed man chooses to walk on the path God has set for him – in the law of the Lord (verse 1). “I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I had laid before me” (verse 30).

When you accept Christ as Savior, you become a child of God and cannot lose your salvation. However, you can be a disobedient child. On your daily walk with Him, you must continually choose to follow Him. Satan is lying in wait to make your life miserable and cause you to have a bad testimony.

This psalmist recognizes his life is comprised of a timetable. What he has done in his past has influenced his present and what he does today will influence tomorrow. Blessed is the man who can look in his past and know that he has been mostly obedient. Like this psalmist, though, we “have gone astray like a lost sheep” (verse 176) and need the Lord to seek us out for salvation.

There are over twenty verses that deal with his past; over sixty that deal with his present and over twenty that deal with his future.

His past:

The psalmist has a history with the Lord. He has kept record of His trustworthiness – just as we might keep a journal. One entry was this: “Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction” (verse 92).

His present:

Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is unsure. Today is the day we are given to live for the Lord. “Your testimonies are my delight and my counselors” (verse 24).

His future:

We can make a predetermined choice about serving God. That’s what Joshua did when he said, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). The psalmist has done the same. He knows, like Joshua did, that our truest liberty is in the choices we make. We have the liberty to serve God. Even in the harshest circumstances – such as prison, concentration camps and the like – we can still choose. Our focus in our thoughts can be on God and His will in our lives or we can feel sorry for ourselves and become unproductive.

No one can take that liberty from us. “And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts (verse 45). Liberty is found in Jesus Christ: “If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Upon receiving Christ as Savior, believers should pledge to follow Him as Lord. That decision, made in the past, must be lived out in the present and settled for the future. Some who profess to be Christians say they believe in Christ, are going to heaven when they die, but desire to live without God’s influence in their lives in the meantime. Although only God can judge the sincerity of a believer, those who live that way are not blessed nor can they effectively lead others to Christ.

2.    Delight in the Path

“And I will delight myself in Your commandments, which I love” (verse 47).

The psalmist loves the Giver and the gift. Ten times the psalmist says he loves God’s word. Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21). If you love Jesus, the Living Word, you will love His words – law, etc. “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble” (verse 165).

3.    Walk with a wholehearted purpose

He is intentional about the path he is taking for the Lord. He knows that if his mind is not filled with the word of God that his heart can go astray. What we treasure in our hearts guides our thoughts and our actions. Like the psalmist, let your heart lead you through the journey of life.  “With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments. Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (verse 10-11).

God made us with a yearning to find a purpose in life. As we seek that purpose, we need to be focused. We can get caught up in the minutiae of living and neglect to accomplish God’s will. We cannot be divided. “Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart” (verse 2).

I will praise You with uprightness of heart, when I learn your righteous judgments (Psalm 119:7). Holy God desires our praise – for His love, for His grace expressed through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ and for His righteousness.

With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments (Psalm 119:10). Even with a commitment to seek and to serve God, the psalmist knows there will always be a temptation to focus on something other than God and His will.

Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You (Psalm 119:11). Perhaps the most well known verse in this psalm, the secret to staying in God’s will is to stay close to Him (or as Jesus put it “abide in Him”), to listen to Him, to know His word intimately.

I will run the course of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart (Psalm 119:32). The longer a believer serves and obeys God, the larger the capacity for loving Him becomes.

Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart (Psalm 119:34). This is not a plea for understanding as the world defines it, but as God does. As Solomon put it in Proverbs 9:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness (Psalm 119:36). Sinful human nature can lead one to covet the things of the world. The psalmist wants to love what is lasting – the things of God.

I entreated Your favor with my whole heart; be merciful to me according to Your word (Psalm 119:58). We do not deserve God’s favor, but He promises it to those who truly love Him.

The proud have forged a lie against me, but I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart (Psalm 119:69). C. H. Spurgeon said: “We must first get a thing before we can keep it. In order to keep it well we must get a firm grip of it: we cannot keep in the heart that which we have not heartily embraced by the affections.” When our affections are set on God, the darts of the wicked fall short of their goal.

Let my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes, that I may not be ashamed (Psalm 119:80). Sin originates in the heart. The psalmist did not want to look back on his life and regret falling short of God’s best for Him. He mentions his desire to be unashamed several times in this psalm (6, 31, 46, 80, 116).  Each of us should have the same goal. If, as a young person, we were determined to never shame the name of Christ, what a difference that would make. – How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word (v.9).

Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart (Psalm 119:111). God’s involvement in our lives is cause for rejoicing. “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches” (v. 14). Our eternal heritage is life forever with God in the place He has prepared for us. No matter the trials here on earth, we can with confidence look forward to that inheritance.

I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, to the very end (Psalm 119:112). In verse 64 of this psalm, the author says, Lord, the earth is filled with your faithful love; teach me Your statutes (HCSB). God has no obligation to anyone except Himself, but even so, He shows His love to us by His faithfulness to His promises. We owe God everything and are obligated to show Him our love by trusting and obeying Him – to the very end.

I cry out with my whole heart; hear me, O Lord! I will keep Your statutes (Psalm 119:145). The psalmist’s decision has been made. He will remain faithful to the God who was faithful to him.

Princes persecute me without a cause, but my heart stands in awe of Your word. I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure (Psalm 119:161-162). The inevitable persecution that Christians encounter cannot be compared to the awesome treasure of knowing God.

To those true disciples who were true believers Jesus said, “Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love Him and manifest Myself to him….If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love (John 14:19-21, 15:10).

Looking forward by faith to the Messiah’s fulfillment of the law and the offer of grace through His sacrifice, the psalmist knew that his love for God would be evident as he kept His commandments.

4.    Stay on the Path

Yes, you’ve made your choice. You’ve determined to love God and obey Him.

You must continue to choose. Stay on the path. The psalmist determines not to wander (verse 10). He does not turn aside (verse 51) nor did he forsake God’s precepts (verse 87).

When I walk on the path in my hometown, I have noticed poison ivy on the side. If I stay on the path, I’m OK. If I get off the path, I can get in trouble.

Jesus has done the hard work for you. He has already set an example of what it is like to walk in God’s ways and do His will.

This psalmist is determined to follow the path of obedience.

“{Blessed are those who] walk in HIs ways (verse 3)

“Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes! (verse 5)

“With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments” (verse 10)

“I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches” (verse 14)

“I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me” (verse 30)

“I will run the course of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart” (verse 32)

He asks the Lord to “make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it” (verse 35)

“And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts” (verse 45)

“I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies” (verse 59)

“Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path” (verse 105)

He asks the Lord to “direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me” (verse 133)

5.    Watch for Obstacles

When I walk through the woods or my footpath in Texas, there are many times when I have to deal with obstacles in the path. Maybe there was a storm that caused a large branch or tree to fall into the pathway. Maybe there was so much rain the path was not safe. Sometimes there are animals in the path. Obstacles and trials are inevitable.

The psalmist was determined not to wander, but had to deal with obstacles nonetheless. Satan will always try to get us to stray. We need to work our way through keeping our eyes on Jesus.

“You rebuke the proud-the cursed, who stray from Your commandments” (verse 21)

“Princes also sit and speak against me, but Your servant meditates on Your statutes (verse 23)

“So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Your word (verse 42)

“The proud have me in great derision, yet I do not turn aside from Your law (verse 51)

“The cords of the wicked have bound me, but I have not forgotten Your law” (verse 61)

“The proud have forged a lie against me, but I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart (verse 69)

“Let the proud be ashamed, for they treated me wrongfully with falsehood; but I will meditate on Your precepts (verse 78)

“The proud have dug pits for me, which is not according to Your law. All Your commandments are faithful; they persecute me wrongfully; help me! They almost made an end of me on earth, but I did not forsake Your precepts (verses 85-87 see also 81-84)

“The wicked wait for me to destroy me, but I will consider Your testimonies (verse 95)

“The wicked have laid a snare for me, yet I have not strayed from Your precepts (verse 110)

“I hate the double-minded, but I love Your law” (verse 113)

“You reject all those who stray from Your statutes, for their deceit is falsehood. You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross; therefore I love Your testimonies. My flesh trembles for fear of You, and I am afraid of Your judgments” (verses 118-120)

“Redeem me from the oppression of man, that I may keep Your precepts” (verse 134)

“Rivers of water run down my eyes, because men do not keep Your law” (verse 136)

“My zeal has consumed me, because my enemies have forgotten Your words” (verse 139)

“Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, yet Your commandments are my delights (verse 143)

“They draw near who follow after wickedness; they are far from Your law” (verse 150)

“Consider my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget Your law. Plead my cause and redeem me; revive me according to Your word. Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek Your statutes” (verses 153-155)

“Many are my persecutors and my enemies, yet I do not turn from Your testimonies. I see the treacherous and am disgusted, because they do not keep Your word (verses 157, 158)

“Princes persecute me without a cause, but my heart stands in awe of Your word (verse 161)

Some of the obstacles are of our own making.

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word” (verse 67)

“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes (verse 71)

“I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me (verse 75)

“Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction (verse 92)

6.    Look for Treasure

As I take walks, I look down as I am walking and have on occasion found some treasures (money someone has dropped, a beautiful flower, pecans, etc). I would not notice these things if I wasn’t looking.

I get great joy when I study God’s word and find treasures I have never seen before. I would not find them if I was not looking. “I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure” (verse 162).

God’s words serve as a map for the path He wants you to take. The psalmist does not separate the law of the Lord from the Lord Himself. If you love God’s law, you love God. Jesus made this clear as well. The God who loves you wants to bless you, but you must choose to evidence your love for him through your obedience.

Distinguish between the treasures of God and the treasures of the world. “The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver (verse 72)

Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your heart is, there your treasure will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

We store our treasures in our hearts. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Matthew 12:35).

7.    Invite Others to Walk with You

This psalmist has a personal relationship with God, seeks His will with his whole heart, but knows that God’s purpose for his life includes bringing others to that understanding.

He knows he is part of a larger family of God and that others are brought into the family just as he was – by discovering God’s love.

As he benefits from the richness of God’s love, he also wants others to know Him as well. “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble” (verse 165).

“You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently” (verse 4).

“With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth”  (verse 13).

“I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed” (verse 46).

“I am a companion of all who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts” (verse 63).

“Those who fear You will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in Your word (verse 74).

“Let those who fear You turn to me, those who know Your testimonies (verse 79).

“My lips shall utter praise, for You teach me Your statutes. My tongue shall speak of Your word, for all Your commandments are righteousness” (verses 171-172).

Personal Reflection

Did any of the descriptions of the blessed man speak to you personally? If so, which one impacted you the most:

  1. Make a lifelong choice
  2. Delight in the path God has provided
  3. Walk with a wholehearted purpose
  4. Stay on the path
  5. Watch for obstacles
  6. Look for treasure
  7. Invite others to walk with you

© Stephanie B. Blake

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