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The Scriptorium

Proem (3)

All tied together. Psalm 119.3

Psalm 119.1-8 (3)

Pray Psalm 119.1-4.

Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the LORD!
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart!
They also do no iniquity;
They walk in His ways.
You have commanded us
To keep Your precepts diligently.

Sing Psalm 119.1-4.
(Ode to Joy: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee)
Blessed are they whose way is blameless, all who walk within God’s Law,
who, His testimonies keeping, seek Him, filled with joy and awe.
These are they who, no wrong doing, ever walk within God’s ways.
Lord, Your precepts You command us; we would keep them all our days.

Read Psalm 119.1-8; meditate on verse 3.

1. Who walks in the ways of the Lord?

2. To what are the “ways of the Lord” equal (v. 1)?

Our formula for happiness can be more precisely stated: 

Happiness = walkingattentively, diligently, carefully without iniquity in God’s Lawtestimonies, ways
                                               with the whole heart.

Verse 3 of our proem brings the prelude back to its beginning with a type of parallelism called inclusio. This verse restates verse one, with some elaboration as it completes a literary circle back to the beginning. Along the way, the “law of the LORD” (v. 1) is enlarged to “His ways” (v. 3) – how He thinks and desires, what His priorities are, what He does, and where His company (Presence) may be found. We walk (vv. 1, 3) those ways as we keep God’s Word and ourselves “undefiled” (v. 1) – doing “no iniquity” (v. 3) – and seek the Lord, and when this whole process is defined and ruled by “the whole heart”.

When we set the proem out as a whole, with emphases to indicate parallel ideas, we see how tightly-knit its features are, as if tied like and pulled tight to bundle up the single, consistent message of Psalm 119:

Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the LORD!
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
They also do no iniquity;
They walk in His ways.

As we walk those ways, whole-heartedly invested in knowing Him, we find the happiness for which we have been created and which we so earnestly desire. Psalm 119 will be shaped, guided, and unpacked by this framework and focus.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Family relationships are one of the ways that God exemplifies our relationship with Him.

When we have been charged with the weighty responsibility of being a parent, one of our main goals is to teach our children to obey our voice, not a screaming voice, but just a normal voice. And when that normal voice says, “Don’t step out in the street”, that is exactly what we mean, right then, and don’t perhaps have the time to share lengthy explanations of why we would like that to be obeyed. “It is for your life; it is for your safety.”

God, of course, is so much wiser, so much more loving, so totally perfect; and He has a few warnings He speaks to us, in His still, small voice (1 Kgs. 19.12). He says to us, His beloved, “I AM God, don’t worship anyone other than Me. And don’t bother with making carved images as they are pointless. Don’t say you’re a Christian and then behave abominably. Remember that one day out of seven is special for Me and for you. Worship Me, get some rest. You have a big week ahead. Be respectful to your earthly parents. Don’t intentionally kill anyone. Don’t be unfaithful to your spouse. Don’t steal anything from anyone. Don’t tell lies. Don’t covet what other people have” (Ex. 20.1-17).

My goodness. How hard should that be? We don’t want anyone to do those awful things to us, why should we ever contemplate doing that to them? Of course. Wait. We are fallible human beings, and we struggle to be good. But. There is an intentionality, a matter of the heart, that we must be mindful of. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4.23).

And that is where our verse today rears its head. “They also do no iniquity; they walk in His ways” (Ps. 119.3).

Boom! Intentionally, no less. We intend to not do anything displeasing to our heavenly Father. We intentionally walk in the way He has told us to go. And we hear His still, small, voice shouting loud and clear. “My children do this. Because I tell them to. I have trained them to do this. Just look at them! I’m so happy they are behaving this way for their own good!” “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (Jn. 10.27, 28).

Blessed. Abundantly, fully, completely, and eternally. But we must intend to do no iniquity and walk in His ways to be pleasing to Him; and to show Him how thankful we are to be blessed.
For reflection

1. What can you do to make sure you walk in God’s ways every day?

2. How can prayer help you to make sure your heart is fully committed to God and His Law?

3. Summarize the teaching of the proem of Psalm 119.

The Law was never designed as a means of salvation; no one could be saved by keeping it. The Lord gave His law to a people with whom He had already graciously established a covenantal relationship (Ex. 20:2). Instead, the Law was the means for the Israelites to learn how to live as God’s holy people. The psalmists consistently describe the Law of God as a great blessing, for it was God’s gracious revelation to His people for their own good (Deut. 6:1–3). Earl Radmacher (1931-2014), NKJV Study Bible Notes on Psalm 119.1-8

Pray Psalm 119.5-8.

Ask the Lord to lead you more deeply into His happiness today by teaching you from His Word, filling you with His Spirit, showing you Jesus in His Word, and leading you in the upright path.

Sing Psalm 119.5-8.
(Ode to Joy: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee)
Let my ways steadfastly keep to all the statutes of Your Word.
Then shall I, no shame enduring, fix my eyes on You, O Lord!
With an upright heart I praise You, in Your rules will I abide.
I will keep Your statutes wholly; keep me ever by Your side!

T. M. and Susie Moore

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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