Psalm 1 presents the blessed man as one who delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on his law, day and night (Ps 1:2). As we study and keep God’s law we will come to delight in God’s law. In Psalm 19:7-9, David gives us reason to obey and delight in the law of the LORD. He identifies various characteristics and effects of God’s Word. In this note, I continue our series of reflections on Psalm 19:7-9 by considering verse 8a:
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart.
“The precepts of the LORD are right.” The precepts of the LORD are his appointed actions or obligations. They define and direct what we should do. The precepts of the LORD are right or straight. Our hearts are crooked and when we follow our own wisdom and wants, the path we walk is crooked. The precepts of the LORD are straight and they direct us down the straight path. When we follow the precepts of the LORD, our hearts are set right and the path we walk is straight.
“The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart.” Following the precepts of the LORD rejoices the heart for two reasons. First, an upright heart is a rejoicing heart. A heart set aright in obedience to the precepts of the LORD is a heart turned towards him in faith and a heart open to receive his love. A heart set aright in obedience to the precepts of the LORD is a heart resting in the presence of the LORD and in his presence “there is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11). Second, the precepts of the LORD bring joy because they direct us down the right path. “The way of transgressors is hard” (Prov. 13:15), but “all the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies” (Psalm 25:10). As we obey the precepts of the LORD, he is leading us in the path of his steadfast love and faithfulness. As we walk in his faithfulness and love, our faith is strengthened and our joy increases: “I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”(Psalm 13:5-6) The precepts of the LORD are right. In keeping them, our heart is set right and rejoices. In keeping them, our way is set straight and set to song.