Can our lives fit the words of v. 3 “they do no wickedness”? It is a question we cannot escape. V. 3 sets the mirror of the perfect law before us and we fall short. We are condemned. But God stoops down with His mercy. The second half of v. 3 says “but walk in His ways.” What are God’s ways?
Look closely at the ways of the One who said, “follow Me.” His ways are mercy, grace, forgiveness and so much more. Jesus said, “Come to Me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls . . .” These are the ways and the works that God loves to do.
The ways of God are the way to Jerusalem and the way to Calvary. They are the path He walked to purchase me; and He calls me there to know that I am His. The ways of God include the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-34) and walking with us in eternal life.
Our psalm called to us and invited us to walk in the “Torah” of the LORD – to have our world filled with the things and the acts of God. Now it calls us to walk in His ways. This means to go through life with God’s ways and His doings all around us, and to follow and have our lives molded and shaped in harmony with His words and His ways..
The next 3 verses (4-6) are prayers voicing desire and longing – to be keeping His precepts (God says how I am to live); and to be steadfast in His statutes (God declares what is to be).
If I could only be in complete harmony with God’s ways, His precepts, and His statutes; why then I would never be put to shame. If only . . .
But again, God stoops down to me. He comes into our lives and into our world. Jesus gives us His words. His words do not tell me what I must do to win eternal life. They point to His mercy. They tell how He has won the victory for me. He has carried the burden, suffered the punishment, won the victory and opened up life. Now I find myself being built on His words; and on His words I am like a house built on the rock. No matter what comes; no matter the
wind, the storm, the floods even – we are built on His words, and they are a firm foundation. They are eternal. (Matthew 7:24-25)
He is the One who said about the Law, “until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away” (Matthew 5:18) He says to us, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) The word of the Lord endures forever. But those words are words of life and words of promise to us. He speaks them to me, into my soul; and when the eternal word of God is in my soul – that is eternal life! We thank and praise and celebrate what Jesus has given us! (How can we do anything else?) So we say with the psalm, “I will” “acclaim You;” and “I will” “attend to Your statutes.” This Word of God truly is our life and salvation!
God sets His Promises, His words and hopes before us in so many ways. He tenderly invites us. He calls to our hearts. But I am a sinner. I know that I am not worthy to have Him stay in my life. The last prayer in Part “Aleph” is “do not forsake me” – specifically “do not forsake me beyond enduring!” (Verse 8) “Beyond enduring” would mean to be left by God, to have an eternity of being without Him. The sinner cries out with this prayer and yet knows: It is actually what I deserve!
But again God is there with His mercy. Jesus came to take what we have deserved, even taking up the very word “forsaken.” If there was ever a thing beyond enduring it was for the sinless Son of God to be forsaken and condemned for others’ sins. He was forsaken so I would never have to be. In this way – the most extreme of all acts of salvation – He has taken us sinners brought us in, given us His own holiness and made us His saints. To God alone be the glory!
Lord, Your word calls, Your word restores, and You surround me with Your words and promises. Help me to treasure the “Yes!”, the “Amen!”, and the promises in Jesus; so the sustaining, strengthening promises I have in Him may fill my hours and moments, my days and nights. Amen.
Rev. Mark Willig
Pastor Willig is pastor emeritus of Friends in Christ Lutheran Church.