Scripture Reading: Psalm 119:1-32
When we lived in town, I would occasionally notice an uncanny quiet in the house, and then realize that one of my little boys had escaped. Every Thursday was trash pick up, and the siren song of the garbage truck often proves too strong for the will of toddler boys. Racing after a child who is wandering down the street—myself dressed only in my best approximation of “this will do”—is a harrowing experience. Since we’ve moved out to the country, my fellas are still entranced by all classes of trucks, but now they line up at the fence and shout their admiration from a safe distance.
You read what makes all the difference, though, right? It’s the fence. In town, all of Franklin, Tennessee, was open to us; it was just a matter of how far we wanted to walk. There was nothing to stop us. But the kids had to stay close to the house. Out in the country, while we only have two acres (my dream come true), they are allowed to enjoy every inch of those acres. The boundary of the fence gives them huge freedom. As long as they stay inside the fence, they are safe.
There is such a joyful freedom in boundaries. Psalm 119 celebrates the gift of God’s law by extolling the beauty and truth of God’s Word. In fact, that’s the primary focus of this psalm—celebrating God’s law and the boundaries it gives. And it’s given as prayer, which means this psalm is a treasure for teaching us how to pray prayers which delight in surrendering to God’s Word and will. God’s law hems in our lives so that when we are lured by garbage trucks, or whatever delights the world has to offer, we can see exactly how we are to respond. There is such safety in knowing where the lines are, instead of huddling close to the house, unsure of how far we can go.
Throughout this psalm, we encounter a series of refrains—“teach me your decrees,” “I love your law,” “I will not forget your law”—which spill out like shouts of joy. The psalmist is so captivated by the goodness of God’s law, that he cannot help but declare it. He sings of God’s law as if were the very air he breathed. God’s law is the law of love, the law of liberty, the law of life. May we find our delight in his degrees! May it frame our every thought, our every breath.
R.C. Sproul calls the law the “school of righteousness.” Within this school, we learn what pleases God and what offends Him. What a severe joy and a mercy it is to have God’s law, to know where to set our sights, where our boundaries lie, and enjoy the wide freedom within His gates.