Psalm 119:4-6 - You have commanded Your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping Your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all Your commandments.
The psalmist loves God's commandments and wants to be steadfast in keeping them because God was faithful and steadfast to His chosen people. God gave His commandments to Israel, but before He told them what they were to do, He reminded Israel of what He had done for them. The commandments begin with God's proclamation: "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery" (Exodus 20:2). Upon hearing God's commands, the people of Israel declared, "All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do" (Exodus 24:3b).
God's people did not always do all that the Lord had spoken. Even the psalmist, for all his good intentions, was not steadfast in keeping the precepts of God. We share the same guilt and shame. We do not keep the commandments; we do not walk in the Lord's ways as we should. God decreed death as the just penalty for sin and, according to God's command, the people of Israel offered sacrifices to atone for their sins. Those sacrifices pointed forward to the new covenant God would make with His people and to the final, perfect Sacrifice. The new covenant would not be like the covenant shattered by sin. It would be a covenant of God's steadfast love. He would write His laws on the hearts of His people, and He would build His covenant on forgiveness: "For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more" (Jeremiah 31:34b).
The new covenant was sealed in blood, but not the blood of bulls and goats. The new covenant was established with the blood of God's own Son. On the night He was betrayed, Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples, remembering God's mighty acts in setting His people free from slavery in Egypt. After the meal, Jesus gave His disciples the bread and wine, saying, "This is My body, which is given for you ... This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood" (Luke 22:19b, 20b). His blood, shed on the cross, atoned for the sins of the world. Through faith in Jesus, in this covenant of steadfast love, our sins are forgiven and God remembers our sin no more.
God said of His new covenant, "No longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me" (Jeremiah 31:34b). Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we pray with the psalmist that we too might be steadfast in keeping the commandments because we know the steadfast love of God.
WE PRAY: Lord God, help me to keep my eyes fixed on Your commandments and on Your steadfast love. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.
1. What value is there in following God's commandments?
2. Though mankind sinned against God, what did He do to make forgiveness possible?
3. If you're rusty on the Ten Commandments and their importance, go to Luther's Large Catechism and check them out. Do his comments help clarify things?
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