God's Well-trodden Path (Meditation on Psalm 119:15-16)
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
Have you ever had to walk a distance in the snow? It is easiest to walk a path that has been heavily tread, one in which the snow has already been compacted. The Psalmist writes that he will fix his eyes on God’s ways. The word “ways” is translated from orach, referring to a well-trodden path. This is a path walked by many and clearly visible; having been taken many times before, the outcome is predictable. God makes His ways clearly known to us through scripture, including the outcome for those who choose His well-trodden path. Think about the flattened snow path: you don’t have to lift your legs as high to walk, and you don’t sink down into the powder with every step. The compressed, well-trodden path will take you to your destination, using less energy. Christ has already done the hard work for you – He has fulfilled the law. His is the path you want to be on.
The phrase “fix my eyes” comes from the root word nabat, meaning to look intently at something, regarding it with pleasure, favor, or care. The Psalmist is determined to fix his eyes on the well-trodden path that God has provided for him. Just as a horse might wear blinders to keep it focused on the path ahead with no peripheral distraction, we should be looking so intently at God’s way, regarding it with so much favor and pleasure, that the cares of the world would disappear from our peripheral. Let our eyes be so fixed that no distraction could pull us off of the well-trodden path.
How can we keep our gaze affixed on God’s ways? First, the Psalmist states that he will mediate on God’s precepts. Meditate is translated from the word siyach and means to ponder or converse with oneself. Scripture calls us to meditate on the word day and night (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2). The Psalmist’s goal (as ours should be) is to fill his thoughts with scripture, with things above (Colossians 3:2), and with all that is good (Philippians 4:8).
Second, the Psalmist determines to delight in God’s statutes. Delight is translated from sha’a’,which means to be fond of, or pleased with. We must renew our minds (Romans 12:2) and not think of scripture as a list of rules that we must follow. Instead, we can delight in the freedom of God’s way – the freedom to sin no more and the freedom to do what is right. His commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).
Lastly, the Psalmist declares that he will not forget God’s word. Forget can also be translated as “mislay” (as in misplacing your car keys) or, “obliviousness due to lack of attention.” When it is time to act, when there is a decision to be made, and even as day to day routines are being lived out, we do not want to be oblivious to God’s ways because we have neglected (given no attention to) His word. We want the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17), ready at our side at all times. When it’s go-time we do not want to be searching for God’s word like misplaced car keys. We want it at the forefront of our mind and on the tip of our tongue. How can we obey the word if we do not know it? Let us be equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17).
I encourage you to examine whether you are on God’s well-trodden path or if you’re trying to forge your own path through the snow, expending needless energy. Either way, you can follow the Psalmist’s example: Fix your eyes on God’s way, mediate on His word, delight in His word, and do not forget His word.