Several of the sections of Psalm 119 (which is an acrostic in Hebrew) seem to have a unifying theme. Psalm 119:57-64 is the “Heth” section, which means that each of the 8 verses in this grouping begins with the Hebrew letter Heth (roughly equivalent to the English letter “H.”) This section is also one of those in Psalm 119 in which one can identify a unifying theme. In this case, it makes several points concerning our obedience to God:
The GROUND of obedience:
(:57) “The LORD is my portion; I promise to keep Your words.”
We obey God because He is our highest good, our “portion” or “inheritance” as Psalm 16:5 says. Our obedience starts with our basic commitment to Him as Lord and God of our lives.
The GRACE of obedience:
:58 “I sought Your favor with all my heart; be GRACIOUS to me according to Your word.”
This verse reminds us that we are able to obey God only by His grace. Human effort alone always fails us. Like the Psalmist, we need to seek His grace to help us obey.
The EVALUATION of obedience:
:59 “When THINK ON MY WAYS I turn my feet to your testimonies.”
Here we see the Psalmist as an example of one who regularly evaluates his own life, to see whether he is obeying God. We need to examine our lives in the same way. Too often we do not even give serious thought as to whether what we are doing in a certain area of our lives is obedient to God or not. Are you glorifying God by your obedient lifestyle? One of the important reasons to have a daily devotional time is that it allows you to compare your life to the standard found in God’s word. Let Him speak to you daily about where you are/are not obeying Him, and evaluate your obedience.
The TIME of obedience:
:60 “I HASTEN and DO NOT DELAY to keep Your commandments.”
Remember the old saying: delayed obedience is disobedience! Our obedience to what God shows us in His word should be instant.
The TRIAL of obedience:
:61 “Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget Your Law.”
Even when he is in difficult times, the Psalmist says he STILL obeys. It is easy to throw morality to the wind in the face of emergencies: “well, I just had to do it because I had no other choice; I had to save myself”, etc. (like when Saul disobeyed God regarding the sacrifices in the face of the hostile Philistines (I Sam. 13:11-13); he made the impending distress an excuse.) But here we see that trials and difficulties are not an excuse to disobey God and to compromise the standards He has given you in His word.
The FELLOWSHIP of obedience:
:63 “I am a COMPANION OF ALL WHO FEAR YOU, of those who keep Your precepts.”
The people you fellowship with will either hinder or support your obedience. How many people have the testimony that their “friends” have helped to drag them back down into drugs, alcohol, crime, etc. For this reason, one of the most important commitments you can make to obedience is to only be close friends with people who are serious about obeying God’s word. If you do not keep a fellowship of obedience like the Psalmist did, it will be virtually impossible for you to consistently obey God.
:64 finishes the section by asking God: “TEACH me Your statutes.”
It is obvious that in order to obey God, you must know what His word says! Therefore one of the basic lessons regarding obedience is that we must be committed to learn His word, that we may obey it. This also reminds us that we should always come to the scriptures with a submissive heart, ready to learn — but not MERELY to learn facts — but to learn in order that we might OBEY!