Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
Psalm 119:5 ESV
The blessed, those whom God favors, walk in God’s ways, keeping His testimonies and remaining blameless in all things. Because God desires us to keep to this path of blessedness, the psalmist acknowledged to the LORD, “You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently” (v. 4). Obedience to God means blessedness for us; therefore, we should be diligent to keep His precepts. Our greatest good, after all, is always found in glorifying God supremely.
Yet hear how the psalmist’s prayer continues in our present verse: Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! This is a cry of longing, a plea of deep desire. He knows the blessedness of obeying God’s law, and he yearns to keep His statutes. He longs to be a man of steadfast and resolute obedience to the LORD.
But he is not.
Why indeed would he make this passionate cry if his keeping of God’s statutes were already steadfast? Within this plea of desire, we also find a lamentation. His life does not fully conform to his theology. He knows the goodness of God’s commands, yet he still wanders away from them. He yearns to be steadfast, but he ebbs and flows like the tides.
This verse should capture perfectly the heart of Christ’s followers. Being fully justified through the blood of Christ, we are now indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who gives us deep longing for obedience to our Father; however, we are not yet fully glorified. Our flesh, therefore, wars against the Spirit within us. Like the psalmist, we yearn to keep His statutes steadfastly, while also finding ourselves continuously choosing to rebel against God’s law. This is the great war within the heart of every Christian.
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?Romans 7:22–24
In Christ, we cling by faith to these words: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). And with our hope set firmly upon Christ Jesus our Lord, we lament our present sin, longing for the day when, with glorified bodies, we are finally free to steadfastly keep God’s statutes.