On a winter day, my children begged to go sledding. The temperature hovered near zero degrees Fahrenheit. Snowflakes raced by our windows. I thought it over and said yes, but asked them to bundle up, stay together, and come inside after fifteen minutes.
Out of love, I created those rules so my children could play freely without suffering frostbite. I think the author of Psalm 119 recognized the same good intent in God as he penned two consecutive verses that might seem contradictory: “I will always obey your law” and “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts” (vv. 44–45). How is it that the psalmist associated freedom with a spiritually law-abiding life?
Following God’s wise instruction allows us to escape the consequences that come from choices we later wish we could undo. Without the weight of guilt or pain we are freer to enjoy our lives. God doesn’t want to control us with dos and don’ts; rather, His guidelines show that He loves us.
While my kids were sledding, I watched them blast down the hill. I smiled at the sound of their laughter and the sight of their pink cheeks. They were free within the boundaries I’d given them. This compelling paradox is present in our relationship with God—it leads us to say with the psalmist, “Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight” (v. 35).
Dear God, give me a love for Your ways like the psalmist had. I want to worship You with the choices I make every day.
Psalm 119 is the longest psalm in the Bible. Its 176 verses affirm the authority, sufficiency, and power of God’s Word in the believer’s life. Oppressed and persecuted by powerful enemies (vv. 23, 157, 161) who scorned and ridiculed him (vv. 41–42), the unnamed psalmist finds great strength and much comfort by meditating on and obeying the Word of God. In verses 33–48, the psalmist prays specifically for an undivided devotion to God. Writing of how much he longs, delights, loves, trusts, meditates on, and obeys God’s Word, he also identifies two threats to his devotion: selfish gain (v. 36, also translated “covetousness” in the