Some Christians are taking the Word of God lightly. They hear God’s instructions clearly but are still stubborn in their refusal to follow his leading. They make excuses. They look at some part of the Scriptures as not applicable to them and their situation. They dismiss Jesus’ radical demands about discipleship in the areas of money and care for the lost and poor. They say it is only for the missionaries and those who are called to lead.
But this is not the way the psalmist in Psalm 119 treat God’s Word. He confessed in verse 4:
You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
In Hebrew, verse 4 literally reads, “You, you commanded your precepts…” The psalmist is pointing out that it is God himself who have laid down his commands. It is God himself who demands that his people live according to His ways. Although God’s commands were often mediated through human agents like the prophets, the psalmist was well aware that their words were not mere human words. They came from God the sovereign ruler of the universe.
God did not just give precepts or instructions on how we live in relating to Him and to other people. He has also given us a command or demand on what to do with those commands. He has given us a charge on how to treat His Word. They are “to be kept diligently.” They are God’s precepts and we must treat them as such.
What does it mean to keep God’s Word “diligently”? We must obey God’s rules in a manner acceptable to him. We must obey all of God’s instructions or rules. God is not delighted in half-hearted obedience or selective obedience. We must obey all of it with great care.
God is serious about his Word. God is also serious that we be happy by us being serious about his Word. True happiness (as the psalmist talks about in verses 1-3) is not attained by laxity toward God’s rules. The more diligent we are in obeying the Word, the happier our soul will be. If we obey only haphazardly or with ungodly interests, we will never know what true happiness is.
God has not given us options to choose from or suggestions to think about. He has given demands. If God has given His Word, there is only one acceptable way of responding. Obey!
We are to obey all of his commands by his grace and for his glory. Out of the 10 commands, we are to obey not 5 or 9, but 10. And even if we obey 10, we must do so not in our manner or ways, but according to God’s ways, that is, wholehearted obedience. If we do not murder, we must also not be angry. If we do not commit adultery, we must not also look with lustful intent at a woman. This is Jesus’ intention when he told his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount that they must be perfect as the Father is perfect (Matt. 5:48). God demands perfect obedience, nothing less than that is acceptable to him.
Yes, we are saved by grace. We are not saved by obedience to God’s commands because we know that all of us failed to live up to God’s expectations. His Son Jesus Christ obeyed all of God’s law in our behalf, being obedient to the Father even to death on the cross. His righteousness became our righteousness before the Father when we put our faith in Jesus. But it does not mean that we will no longer be careful about obeying God’s commands. Instead, like a child to his father, we will do his will because we know we are no longer condemned but accepted, loved, forgiven, and secured in his merciful embrace.