And I shall walk in a wide place,
for I have sought your precepts.
Psalm 119:45 ESV
Given that this verse begins with the word and, we would do well to set it within the context of the previous verse: “I will keep your law continually, forever and ever” (v. 44). Having made that his intention, the psalmist now declares the fruit of keeping God’s law: and I shall walk in a wide place.
What does the psalmist mean by walking in a wide place? He means that he will walk freely and unencumbered. We might imagine seeking God’s precepts and keeping His law to be like walking upon the edge of a cliff. With eyes fixed upon the destination, each foot is carefully placed to avoid falling down the mountainside. One misplaced step results in death. And our view of keeping God’s law is similar. Indeed, James warns us that “whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it” (2:10). Yet the psalmist envisions a wide field, free of dangers and snares rather than a narrow cliff. Why?
As we noted in verse 44, the psalmist is not speaking of keeping the law in order to be justified before God, for that is a hopeless and futile endeavor. Because we have each violated the various points of the law, we bear the full curse of the whole law. Thanks be to God that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13)! No, the psalmist is not speaking about being justified through his obedience; instead, he is speaking about the fruits of obedience. The fruit of obedience is freedom.
The world, of course, believes the opposite to be true. Just as Satan did in the garden, it claims that we cannot truly be free until we have broken the limits that God has placed upon us. Yet such rebellion always enslaves rather than liberates. Paul warned the Romans that we are slaves to whomever we obey (6:16). By refusing to obey God, we become slaves to our own longings and desires, to our sin, which is a far less gracious master than God. Indeed, whoever walks in obedience to God is truly free, free in conscience and free from guilt. True freedom is found in submission and obedience to God.