Choosing our path
When God says something, it’s best that we pay attention. Sometimes, ideas or commands are even repeated a second time for emphasis. However, when we read the same phrase five times in eight verses…we need to stop and take a closer look.
One of the overarching themes of the Bible, especially found in the wisdom literature of Psalms and Proverbs, is looking at the course of the individual’s life. Our path in life depends greatly on the choices we make – which job we take, where we go to school, which church to attend, where we live, and a multitude of other options available to us help plot a course that affects whom we meet, which friends we make, the spouse we marry, our relationship with God, and on and on.
Sometimes it feels like we’re simply being carried along a particular path, either by being passive or due to the consequences of our choices. However, being passive is still a choice, and the Bible is clear that our choice of action (or in-action) brings either good or bad consequences to our lives.
The author of Psalm 119 was very concerned with the course his life was on. Although two instances of the word are translated slightly different based upon context, he mentions the way or path he sees a total of five times. However, the psalmist’s mile markers didn’t consist of friends, spouse, or even career. When you read the text below, look for the way that he wanted avoid and the way he desired to pursue:
My life is down in the dust; give me life through Your word.
I told You about my [way of] life, and You listened to me; teach me Your statutes.
Help me understand the meaning [and way] of Your precepts so that I can meditate on Your wonders.
I am weary from grief; strengthen me through Your word.
Keep me from the way of deceit, and graciously give me Your instruction.
I have chosen the way of truth; I have set Your ordinances before me.
I cling to Your decrees; Lord, do not put me to shame.
I pursue the way of Your commands, for You broaden my understanding.
When the author talks to God about his way of life up until this time, God actively listens to all of it. However, as the psalmist looks into the future, he can see the paths ahead are different from each other. The distinguishing feature isn’t particular life moments or events; rather the differing paths are identified by how well they line up with God and His characteristics.
The author recognizes that he must choose between the way of deceit and the way of truth. He even asks for help from God – to be kept away from deceitfulness and to be kept within the boundaries of God’s instruction and commands.
The same choice of paths is in front of us each day. I pray that we choose wisely, all the while asking God for the understanding, strength, and grace that comes from walking in the way of the Lord.