I recently read or listened my way through Psalm 119 and found many of the verses particularly encouraging. As a result, I thought it would be good to slow down and meditate on this psalm. There is a richness in it that I never quite realized before. For example, look at the first verse.
How happy are those whose way is blameless,Psalm 119:1 (CSB)
who walk according to the Lord’s instruction!
But wait a minute. My inner Pharisee screams in my ear to remind me that my way is not blameless, I have sinned just like everyone else, and as much as everyone else. I have fallen short of absolute moral perfection.
Am I disqualified from the blessing?
Fortunately, I find that the word that is translated blameless doesn’t carry the connotation of absolute moral perfection. It carries the idea of integrity, of living life without hypocrisy. The Faithlife Study Bible says this:
The Hebrew word used here, tamim, emphasizes a high degree of integrity and honesty rather than absolute perfection.
The second phrase of this verse is another clue. The ones that are happy are those who walk according to God’s instruction. The Psalmist indicates that those who seek to understand and apply Scripture to their lives are blessed.
Let’s summarize. Those who seek to follow God’s instruction in Scripture and do so with integrity and honesty are blessed. Wow, that doesn’t seem so daunting when expressed that way.
Growing up in a legalistic environment where it was all about rule-keeping and making people think you are better than you are, I was always confused by the failures of the Hebrew Patriarchs.
Abraham lied about his wife. Moses murdered an Egyptian and then had to flee for his life. David committed adultery and then committed murder in an attempt to cover up the affair. Jacob tricked his dad to get a blessing. Joseph seemed a bit proud about being the favorite and needed to be taken down a peg. All of the heroes of the Bible display some serious flaws with the possible exception of Daniel who seems to have gotten it right every time.
But I have not gotten it right every time.
It was not until I was pretty far into adulthood that I really began to understand that perfect obedience is not the standard. Jesus came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. That is the gospel, that is the good news. We can’t measure up and we don’t have to, Jesus did it for us.
So, you and I can be blessed because we seek God for the strength and wisdom to follow his commands and do it with honesty and integrity.
That is indeed good news.
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