Love for God and love for His law cannot be separated, and this is one of the most important lessons we can walk away with as we study Psalm 119. In a day of lawlessness, when too many people think they can love the Lord and yet show no concern to learn and do what He commands, our love for God’s law sets us apart from those who believe that we may live as antinomians—those who are against the law.
In today’s passage, the author of Psalm 119 reflects on the way the law of God brings him delight in the core of his being. The Lord’s testimonies, or commandments, are the “joy” of his heart, and that to which he inclines his heart and affections so that he might do these laws forever (vv. 111–112). Such joy, it must be noted, does not mean that the psalmist always achieves his goal of obedience. After all, earlier in the psalm, the author speaks of his need for divine discipline because of his going “astray” (vv. 65–72). This might seem to be something that the psalmist finally overcame on this side of glory, but we know from the testimonies of the other biblical writers that perfection will not be achieved until heaven. John the Apostle, for instance, says that believers deceive themselves if they ever come to a point where they believe that they have no sin (1 John 1:8–9). Paul describes his experience as a believer in relation to God’s law: “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” (Rom. 7:22–23). If these New Testament believers could delight in God’s law and yet still sin from time to time, we know that the same was true for the psalmist.
More importantly, however, we see from the Apostolic testimony that this coexistence of love for God’s law and remaining sin will mark the lives of believers. Our struggle with sin is not a sign that we do not belong to our Creator; rather, it is proof that we have been redeemed by Christ. Unregenerate people have “no fear of God” before their eyes (Rom. 3:18). They have no love of the Lord’s law to speak of, and any conflict they have with sin is motivated merely by a fear of punishment or a desire for self-improvement, not an authentic desire to promote the glory of God and a recognition of what we owe Him as our Maker. Despite our continuing fight against sin, we can be confident that we are safe in the arms of Jesus if we love Him and His law.