Not Forgetting God’s Law

Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law” (v. 61).

- Psalm 119:57-64

Psalm 119:49–56 emphasizes the role of the Word of God in the day of trouble, stressing the inherent power of Scripture to bring life and assurance to God’s people, and to comfort them in affliction. This power exists by virtue of the fact that it is the very speech of the Lord Himself, who is present when His Word is read or spoken to confirm its truth to His elect and assure us of His presence (Rom. 8:15–17; 10:17).

In vv. 57–64, the psalmist expresses the resolve of those to whom God has confirmed His Word. Throughout this text, we see a deep, unshakable resolve on the part of the author to seek out the Lord’s commandments and to do them. This is not an expectation on the author’s part that He will be sinlessly perfect; after all, in v. 11, he expresses the possibility of his committing sin, which transgression can be avoided only as he consistently hides the Word of God in his heart. Nevertheless, those to whom our Creator confirms His special revelation cannot help but have a desire to keep His statutes even if absolute perfection on our part is unattainable on this side of glory (1 John 1:8–9). Such a desire can only come from the Holy Spirit, who is the Lord’s gift to His people to enable our sanctification (growth in holiness), a sanctification that is possible only if we are first justified by faith alone in Christ alone. The desire to do good works of obedience, in fact, is proof that we have justifying faith, though our works do not merit for us a declaration of righteousness before God (James 2:14–26). Through love, we fulfill the law, but this love is the result of the Spirit’s sovereign work in our hearts (Rom. 5:5; 13:8–10).

We see the depth of the psalmist’s commitment to what God has spoken in Psalm 119:61, where he says that even when the wicked have him ensnared, he does not forget the law of the Lord. No amount of suffering or persecution at the hands of evil men can shake his faithfulness to the God who has redeemed him. Though it might make him more comfortable or put him in a better estate physically if he were to forsake the Lord’s commandments, he will not do it. He is not willing to sacrifice eternal reward for the sake of present peace and comfort.

His faithfulness to God is so great that he counts as his closest companions those who are likewise committed to the Word of the Lord (v. 63). When the Spirit works through His Word to save His people, a desire to be with God’s children and to lovingly serve them in the context of the covenant community—the church—results (1 John 3:10).

Coram Deo

Today, the church is in desperate need of recovering its confidence in the Word of God. Special programs, popular music, and other such things alone, as well-intentioned as they might be, are not the means by which God saves His people. Christ builds His church through the preaching of the gospel, and so we must make faithful preaching and teaching of the Word of the Lord a clear priority in our local congregations.

Passages for Further Study

Psalm 68:11–12a
Luke 16:16–17
1 Corinthians 1:21
2 Timothy 3:13–17

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