Trouble and distress have overtaken me, but your commands are my delight, (Psalm 119:143, CSB.)
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I read Psalm 119 on an ordinary Thursday morning, a latte to my right and a vase holding yellow daisies in front of me. It seemed like a fitting setting for a spiritual ah-ha moment. But I only scratched my head and thought, “God, I don’t understand this verse at all.”
Trouble and distress have overtaken me, but your commands are my delight. (Psalm 119:143)
Maybe you’ve never had this experience but it’s not the first time I’ve encountered a Scripture that makes no sense to me. Thankfully, we serve a God who’s not intimidated by our questions. So I stared off into space, past the yellow daisies to the neat row of blue mugs on a shelf and did a bit of pondering.
I’ve thought of commands as measuring sticks held in the hands of harsh people. I’ve seen them as sources of shame and guilt. I’ve imagined them to be restrictive. But I’ve never thought of them as delightful. As I considered this, I realized I’m thinking of human rules that I’ve been told I must keep to be “good.” What the Psalmist exclaims about instead are the commands that come from God’s heart.
Someone once asked Jesus, “Which command in the law is greatest?” (Matthew 22:36). Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Suddenly my perspective on Psalm 119:143 shifted. The Psalmist wasn’t saying, “Trouble and distress have overtaken me, but your rules are my delight.” No, the meaning is more like, “Trouble and distress have overtaken me, but your ways of love are my delight.”
When I’m in times of stress and pressure one, of the most difficult parts is the uncertainty. I feel afraid, worried and hurried, unsure of what will happen or if I will be able to handle it. I often don’t know what to do. Finding joy in God’s commands means remembering we’re loved by Him no matter our circumstances or struggles. It means choosing to extend that love to those around us regardless of theirs. Even daring to love our messy, complicated selves in the middle of it all.
It’s easy to believe the goal of a command is correction. But instead it’s connection. If God’s commands have felt like a burden to you, a source of condemnation or shame, then perhaps you’re ready for a different perspective too. Let’s look at God’s commands in a new way today, through the eyes of love.
Dear God, when we think of Your commands only in terms of rules, remind us that they are all about love. Your character and heart bring us joy and security. We will build our lives upon who You are and how You care for us.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
What is one way you can look through the eyes of love today?
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Holley Gerth learns something new every day about what it means to be truly loved by God. As a bestselling author she helps other women know how much they’re loved too. She shares encouragement and truth through books like her devotional Strong, Brave, Loved: Empowering Reminders of Who You Really Are. It’s the perfect Valentine’s Day gift!
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