Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! (Psa 119:1-3)
“All men naturally aspire after happiness, but instead of searching for it in the right path, they prefer wandering up and down through endless by-paths, to their ruin and destruction.” John Calvin
Like Psalm 1, Psalm 119 begins with how a man might be blessed. And like Psalm 1, this blessing comes from walking in God’s law, keeping his testimonies, and seeking him with our whole heart. Every man, woman, and child on this spinning planet wants to be blessed. Every one of us wants to be happy and enjoy this life and, if we believe in it, the life to come. No one wakes up on Monday and says, “My aim this week is to be as miserable as possible.” No one comes to their wedding day and says, “I hope my marriage fails and my life is filled with grief and despair.” Yet many spend and end their life this way. Our culture is an empty, sad, ugly culture, filled with angry, bitter, unhappy people. There are exceptions of course. But still the point stands. And it stands because of Psalm 119:1-2. Blessing comes only through a love of and obedience to God’s Word. There is no other path of happiness. There is no other door to the promised land. There is no other medicine for what ails us. A society that has rejected God’s Word has rejected happiness. Obedience to God’s Word is the singular path to God’s blessing. Those who seek blessing outside of obedience to God’s Word are blind men looking for water in the desert. Our lives will not be easy if we obey. But they will be blessed by God. And that should be more important to us than ease or comfort.
But what about Jesus, some welling meaning gospel-centered Christian will say? Isn’t he the path to blessing? Isn’t the gospel all about how I don’t have to obey, indeed how I cannot obey? Jesus did it all, all to him I owe? How can obedience be the path to blessing? To which I reply: Jesus and the Word are so intertwined that you cannot separate them. To love the Word, to obey the Word, to trust in the Word is to love, obey, and trust in Jesus. So the psalmist here is not talking about some legalistic, self-righteous attempt to earn his way into God’s favor. He is saying, “God in your grace grant me the desire and ability to obey your commandments and in your grace forgive me where I don’t.” And the difference between us and him is that the psalmist expects God to answer his prayer. There is no wedge between obedience to God’s Word and trust in Christ.
O Lord, keep us from digging a chasm between obedience to your Word and belief in your Son. Help to remember that blessing only comes through keeping your Word. Amen!