The Power and Desire to Obey

I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” (v. 32).

- Psalm 119:25–32

Depending on our response, adversity can push us away from the Lord or it can be a means by which we are encouraged to draw nearer to Him. We can grow resentful so that we end up fleeing from God, or we can recognize our own poverty of insight, turning to our Creator instead. as the psalmist continues his look at the Word of God in Psalm 119, he shows us in today’s passage to turn to the Lord and His revelation in times of trouble.

We do not know the kind of trouble that has forced the psalmist to cling “to the dust” (v. 25). It is possible that he speaks of being laid low in sorrow for sin, especially since he prays for the Lord to “put false ways far” from him (v. 29). The resolve he shows to keep God’s law in verses 30–32 also accords well with the renewed purpose of obedience that follows heartfelt repentance (see, for example, Ps. 51:10–13). However, it may also be that the psalmist is not being brought down by any specific sin but that in his adversity, he is looking over his life and being reminded that he still falls short of the Lord’s perfect standard.

Although the exact background of today’s passage remains unknown, Psalm 119:25–32 illustrates the importance of divine illumination as we read God’s Word and the kind of comprehension and obedience that the Lord desires from us. C.H. Spurgeon considers comprehension and obedience in relation to this passage, telling us that the psalmist is praying, “Give me a deep insight into the practical meaning of thy word; let me get a clear idea of the tone and tenor of thy law.” This is commendable because, as Spurgeon continues, “blind obedience has but small beauty; God would have us follow him with our eyes open. To obey the letter of the word is all that the ignorant can hope for; if we wish to keep God’s precepts in their spirit we must come to an understanding of them, and that can be gained nowhere but at the Lord’s hands.” We are to take our Creator at His Word and follow Him even when we do not understand why He has commanded us to do what He has commanded us to do. Still, God does not want us to be content with blind obedience, but He wants us to do the work of digging deep to understand His law that we might be able to explain and apply it in every circumstance (ezra 7:10; 2 Tim. 2:15).

Such understanding is insufficient if we do not have the power to follow it through. Thus, the psalmist asks for God to enlarge his heart (Ps. 119:32), to give him the full desire and ability to keep the Lord’s good commandments.

Coram Deo

John Calvin comments, “This passage tells us, when God has once enlarged our hearts, there will be no lack of power, because, along with proper affection, he will furnish ability, so that our feet will be ready to run.” We cannot serve the Lord through simple resolve; rather, He must empower us by His Spirit and strengthen our desire to keep His commandments. reading God’s Word is not enough. We must also ask Him to enable us to obey it.

Passages for Further Study

Jeremiah 31:31–34
Ezekiel 36:26–27
Mark 9:24
Romans 8:1–4

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