Our worship is a still, quiet, freshwater pond reflecting the affections of our soul. A survey of hymnody throughout Christian history can serve as an analysis of the Christians’ affection during any given time period and/or culture. The Psalms give us the most extensive pong on which we might examine our affections and give us a guide by which we might write our modern songs. Sadly, modish popular worship songs are widely devoid of yearnings commonly seen throughout the 119th Psalm such as, “I delight in your law” (vv. 16, 24, 35, 70, 77, 174), “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction” (v.92), and, “Your testimonies… are the joy of my heart” (v. 111). Although these references to “law” may specifically refer to the Mosaic testimonies, Christians today know the law has changed (Hb. 7:12) and is now more strict (Hb. 10:28f.). How much more should our affection be set upon it!
Not only is this a reflection pool for our society, but also for my own soul. Where are my own affections set? The Psalmist here manifests three particular ways his affections are set on the law: 1) the law consumes his entire style of life/being 2) God’s law if right/good 3) He finds joy/delight in the law. And certainly there are more ways than these enumerated.
The Psalmist begins with a few macarisms which include a “whole of life” perspective. The blessed man does not merely “once walked with God,” but continues to walk in the law of the LORD (v. 1). This marks a continuous style of life and practice. He continues, “who seek him with their whole heart” (v. 2). My early Christian life certainly fell into a dualistic mud pit that muddled the pool of my affection. I believed the lie that I could participate in “secular” activities without giving a thought to God or his precepts. I was setting my affections on worldly things and serving two masters. Regretfully, there is no such thing as secular. Every activity I do either honors God or does the opposite. I must subject the entirety of my life to his law and “fix my eyes on your ways” (v. 15).
The Psalmist shows the goodness about the law of God by both positive affirmation and negative examples. Without understanding the goodness or rightness of the law of the Lord, one cannot have their affections set on them. If someone looks on any of the laws with disgust or disdain, he certainly could not see the law as, “sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (v. 103). He shows negative examples of those who do not keep the law. They “smear with lies” (v. 69), dig pitfalls (v. 85), and lay snares (v. 110). Seeing evil people ignore God’s statutes further proves the goodness of God’s law.
Supremely, we see the Psalmist’s affections on the word through his delight and joy coming from them. Countless times he proclaims how he delights in or loves the law of the Lord! How often do I do the same? He loves God’s commandments over even fine gold (v. 127). He loves the statutes even above his own life. He proclaims about his enemies, “They have almost made an end of me on earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts. In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth” (vv. 87f.) Why does the Psalmist desire for the Lord to give him life? To continue having his best life now, and live it out to the fullest as one “under the sun” (cf. Ecclesiastes). No, but so that he might keep God’s statutes. And may that be my prayer, “Lord give me life, just that I might follow your word and make much of you.”