I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous rules!
Psalm 119:7 ESV
The overall pattern of this first stanza of the psalm continues to unfold before us. Verses 1-4 form a unit wherein the psalmist first utter two beatitudes describing the person who walks according to the law of the LORD and then began his lengthy prayer by explicitly acknowledging to God that he understands his duty to keep God’s commandments. Verses 5-6 then formed a cry of longing to God that the psalmist’s ways would steadfast in keeping God’s Word that he would not be put to shame. Finally, verses 7-8 are a twofold pledge to praise and obey the LORD.
Within this verse, the psalmist declares his commitment to praise God. C. S. Lewis is correct to point out that “enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise.” Praise, in other words, is what naturally comes out of the mouth about something that we love. Praise is the fruit of love. Thus, his commitment to praise the LORD is also a commitment to love Him, which of course is what Jesus called the greatest commandment. But this should be no burden to us because the God who is love is also infinitely lovely. No one or thing is good as God is good, is holy as God is holy, is gracious as God is gracious, is merciful as God is merciful, is faithful and God is faithful. Our praise to Him, therefore, is not undeserving; rather, He is of all things most worthy of our praise.
Yet the psalmist knows that true praise must be in tantum with an upright heart, a heart that is zealous to keep all of God’s commandments. Yet this is not an unjust limitation from the LORD. As the psalmist already noted in verses 1-3, blessedness is bound to uprightness. God demands our obedience for His glory ultimately, yet our good follows closely behind. Walking upright, therefore, is not merely a dictatorial edict from God; instead, it is an invitation to walk in His blessing, to cling to the promise of Psalm 84:11: “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
The psalmist then concludes our verse by explaining the condition of his praise to God: he will praise God with an upright heart when I learn your righteous rules! Few people feel inclined to praise whenever they learn rules. Yet the psalmist describes God’s rules as righteous, just as God Himself is righteous. The rules of God elicit praise from the psalmist because His rules are good! Not one commandment of the LORD is unjust or unloving in anyway. Each one of them is altogether true and right. Therefore, we should praise God with an upright heart whenever we learn of His righteous rules through His holy Scriptures.