The Believer’s Experience – Psalms 118

Today, I read Psalms 119. Contrary to the past few Psalms, this one is quite lengthy, weighing in at a whopping 176 verses! It is similar in style to many previous Psalms.

ten commandments - god\'s law - the believer\'s experience - Psalms 119

However, one thing kept jumping out at me as I read. I seems to me that the writer of this Psalm keeps going back and forth between a statement of his keeping of God’s commands, and a desire to keep them. Take a look…

1 Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. 2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. 3 They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.

In verses 1 – 3, the thesis is established: if you keep God’s statutes, you will be blessed. Now, look at the next three verses:

4 You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. 5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! 6 Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.

Precepts? Decrees? Commands? Which is it? What is the writer talking about here? As a matter of fact there are ten terms by which the writer refers to God’s law:

  1. God’s law
  2. His decrees
  3. His testimonies
  4. His commandments
  5. His precepts
  6. His word, or saying
  7. His judgments
  8. His righteousness
  9. His statutes
  10. His truth or faithfulness

I love what Matthew Henry’s Commentary has to say about this chapter. Mr. Henry uses some big words, but if you can make it through this paragraph, you’ll be glad you did:

This psalm may be considered as the statement of a believer’s experience. As far as our views, desires, and affections agree with what is here expressed, they come from the influences of the Holy Spirit, and no further. The pardoning mercy of God in Christ, is the only source of a sinner’s happiness. And those are most happy, who are preserved most free from the defilement of sin, who simply believe God’s testimonies, and depend on his promises. If the heart be divided between him and the world, it is evil. But the saints carefully avoid all sin; they are conscious of much evil that clogs them in the ways of God, but not of that wickedness which draws them out of those ways. The tempter would make men think they are at them out of those ways. The tempter would make men think they are at liberty to follow the word of God or not, as they please. But the desire and prayer of a good man agree with the will and command of God. If a man expects by obedience in one thing to purchase indulgence for disobedience in others, his hypocrisy will be detected; if he is not ashamed in this world, everlasting shame will be his portion. The psalmist coveted to learn the laws of God, to give God the glory. And believers see that if God forsakes them, the temper will be too hard for them.

Lord, I recognize the need to follow your laws. I also know that the reason you gave “the Law” is for us to realize that we could never be good enough on our own. Your laws point us to You, for without You, we are lost. Keep me from evil – teach me Your ways, Lord. Thank You for Law.

grace & peace,


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