Day 10 – Obedience Breeds Peace
Great shalom have those who love your law,
and there is for them no stumbling-block.
– Psalm 119:165
Jesus compared the kingdom of God to a treasure hidden in a field, for which the man who found it joyfully sold all he had and bought that field (Matt 13:44). Psalm 119 is the meditation of a joyful man who has found his treasure: who has found, to be precise, the joys of a well-ordered life under the good governance of God’s word. This well-ordered psalm—an acrostic poem, proceeding through each letter of the Hebrew alphabet with eight lines per letter—celebrates God’s decrees, judgments, ordinances, testimonies, regulations…: in short, everything that would allow Jesus, when tested, to say “It is written” and avoid the snares of the tempter (cf. Matt 4:1–11).
The Hebrew word that encompasses all this is torah. Commonly translated as law, and often referring specifically to the covenant received through Moses, its basic meaning applies to every word of instruction God has given. (Indeed, the distinction between instruction and law, when coming from the all-knowing, all-wise Creator and Ruler of the universe, may be moot: whatever He instructs us to do, we will be wise to do it, or foolish to ignore it.) And our psalm begins by declaring how good it is to be someone whose life is defined by integrity in the way of life God has thus marked out (v 1). Those who keep the testimonies of the living God and seek Him wholeheartedly are blessed: walking in His ways, they do not do wrong (vv 2–3).
So now the blessed psalmist, having pondered the exceedingly practical goodness of God’s rules for a hundred and sixty verses already (more than double the length of any other psalm), considers once again the theme with which he began. Those who treasure the instructions and regulations God has given His people—and who, as a consequence, do as He has instructed (cf. John 14:15)—avoid whatever stumbling-blocks might otherwise have tripped them up. They have great shalom—that is, peace of mind and heart, the assurance that all shall be well.
Now, we know that godliness does not mean that everything in this life will come up roses—or rather it does, in the sense that we shall encounter both exquisite beauty and painful thorns, such as crowned the Prince of Peace in an ungrateful and unknowing world. But to those who walk after Him, our Prince gives a peace such as the world does not, and cannot, give (John 14:27). His peace marks the life of faith that presses on through suffering, undaunted, confident of reaching its goal even if death must be passed through on the way. We do not say that everything is already as it should be, but that everything has already been provided for; that all shall be well for those who stay the course. We say that Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Heb 12:2), and, at His beckoning and by His grace, so shall we.
Father, thank You for Your good and wise ordinances. Thank You for keeping our feet from stumbling, and for giving us insight and understanding as we ruminate on Your word. Subdue and cast out what rebellion remains at work in us, and grant us the gift of faith. You are good, and You deserve our trust. Blessed be Your Name forever.
Writer, Christian Union
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