Are You Canonically Challenged? (Meditation on Psalm 119:4-6)

You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. 

In keeping with the original context of this wonderful psalm, I want to talk a little bit about the law of God and how we are to apply this text to our lives as new covenant believers.  God’s command to follow his rules diligently is not a new concept, it is repeated multiple times throughout scripture. For example, we see God’s command in these verses, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Another instance in scripture where we see God’s command is when Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Mathew 5:17-19). The law of God, given to Moses, which is summed up in the ten commandments is still applicable and fundamental to us today. Paul says, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).

Now that we have established, through scripture, the validity of the law, and how we are commanded to diligently obey this law, I want to draw your attention to how we are able to accomplish this. The psalmist prays, “Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes” (verse 5). The same God who commands is also the same God who has provided the means and the power to obey his commands, by giving us a heart of flesh. Looking forward to the new covenant, we read “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).  Paul, speaking of the Spirit of Christ who has been given to the believer, tells us that “the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the spirit” (Romans 8:1-4). 

So, brother or sister, you who do not delight in the law of God, or you who may think you have no obligation to it, I beseech you to pray with the psalmist that your ways may be steadfast in the keeping of the Lord’s statutes. To the believer, the commands of the Lord are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).  As we grow in grace and righteousness by the Holy Spirit, having our eyes fixed on his commands, we will not be put to shame before our God. I know in my own life, when I am plagued with sin, it is hard to come to God in prayer; it is hard to be joyful and enjoy God. Now friends, the blessed or happy man is the one who meditates on the law of God day and night and keeps his commandments (Psalm 1). This is how we love God, joyfully obeying his commands.

I encourage you to not be canonically challenged. What I mean by this is to meditate on the law. Read the old testament and know that it is God breathed and able to make you wise unto salvation, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16).  Pray to the Father, who, through his Holy Spirit, has granted us the means and the power to obey his commandments. Ask Him to give you new affections and a desire to be obedient, even in the face of the world that is hostile to His law. We are often misguided in our judgments, but the law of God is holy, righteous, and good. Let it be your standard or rule in all of your decision making. 

Joose Dotson