You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.
Psalm 119:4 ESV
The psalmist has already pronounced to us that a defining quality of the blessed is that keeping the LORD’s testimonies, which are the revelations that He has made regarding Himself. Now after three verses of beatitudes describing the person who walks in the way of the LORD, obeying His commandments, the remainder of this mighty psalm is prayed directly to God.
This prayer begins by affirming to the LORD the command to keep His precepts. The psalmist is certainly not attempting to provide God with new information; rather, He is explicitly acknowledging that He has received the LORD’s command. Any failure, therefore, to uphold God’s command cannot be blamed upon ignorance; the psalmist is repeating His Father’s decree back to Him.
You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. What are God’s precepts? They are one of the many words used for the Scriptures within this psalm. Precepts are God’s good rules for our conduct. They are how the LORD commands us to behave, and we are to keep them. The life of the godly is not dictated upon our own resolutions of personal development; instead, we submit to and keep diligently God’s precepts. Or, placing verses 1-4 together, we can say that the blessed life is not found in self-actualization but in obedience to the Creator.
And this is not a secondary matter or an add-on to our ordinary lives. He has commanded His precepts to be kept diligently. We will not stumble into obedience; we must pursue it. As Paul told the Ephesians, we must look carefully how we walk. Like an athlete practices to compete or a soldier trains for war, we must devote ourselves to keeping the commands of our God. Diligence should mark the life of God’s people.