Saved to Testify

I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame, for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love” (vv. 46-47).

- Psalm 119:41-48

Today we are considering Psalm 119:41–48, which builds upon vv. 33–40 and the psalmist’s confession of his need of the Lord’s work to make him love and obey Scripture (v. 36). That is not the only confession of need in those verses, for the psalmist also calls upon our Creator to teach him the Word, to give him understanding, and to lead him. In sum, vv. 33–40 reveal the sense of absolute dependence that the psalmist had upon God for enabling him to love, understand, and do what the Lord commands.

Verses 41–48 continue this theme of dependence, for the psalmist confesses his need of God’s salvation (v. 41). Specifically, the psalmist pleads for the Lord to rescue him from his enemies, those who mock his faithfulness to God and His law (v. 42). Remarkably, the author does not ask for salvation merely for his own sake. To be sure, he knows that he will benefit when the Lord answers his plea; however, he puts the emphasis on salvation for the sake of the glory of God. One of the primary goals that the psalmist has in seeking redemption is so that he can “speak of [God’s] testimonies before kings” and “not be put to shame” (v. 46). The author is seeking for salvation because it will vindicate his trust in the Creator and His revelation, making it plain to all that the Lord of Israel is the only true God, and that serving Him is the most worthwhile endeavor anyone could ever pursue (see also Isa. 37:14–20).

Psalm 119:41–48 also illustrates quite helpfully the freedom that the regenerate man or woman experiences in keeping God’s law. In v. 45, the psalmist remarks that he will “walk in a wide place” because he has followed after the Lord’s “precepts.” The image here is one of liberty—the author freely seeks after the Almighty’s regulations and does not see keeping them as an arduous task, as something that he is being forced to do even though he really does not want to do it. He sees God’s law as the law of liberty (James 1:25).

Such a view of God’s law is possible only when we understand that we cannot keep it as a means of being declared righteous before God. We must first confess our need for Christ to keep God’s law perfectly for us (Rom. 3:21–26; 5:12–21; 2 Cor. 5:21). Having done that, we receive the Holy Spirit and begin to obey God, truly but imperfectly, in gratitude for our salvation. At that point, we can love the law. Augustine wrote that the psalmist “loved the commandments of God because he walked at liberty; that is, through the Holy Spirit, through whom love itself is shed abroad, and enlargeth the hearts of the faithful.”

Coram Deo

When we are in a right relationship with the Lord, we see His law as a law of freedom. Having been freed from the burden of having to keep the law perfectly for our justification—for Christ has done that in our place—we are able to rejoice in the law as it establishes boundaries that help keep us safe from sin. We find freedom in being able to identify by the law what is truly sin and no longer feel false guilt when we do something that we once wrongly thought that God forbids.

Passages for Further Study

Psalm 119:165
Isaiah 61:1–2
Micah 4:1–5
Galatians 5:1

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