The Psalmist is a peculiar bird. He writes of laws, precepts, and commands and calls each a delight to his soul. That’s not the way that most of us (any of us?) think of such things. Laws, after all, are obligatory boundaries. We may acknowledge that they are for the good of society, but they do not cause delight to rise up within us. When their nature and purpose are properly understood, however, the words of God do bring delight.
Psalm 119 is itself a testimony to the nature and purpose of the Word of God. We are told that the Word of God is a protection for our souls, that it guides us towards flourishing, that it is life-giving. We see that ultimately God’s Words are a means of deepening our relationship with Him. It is for these reasons that he proclaims that the testimonies of God are a delight.
He draws a comparison between God’s words and earthly riches. God’s Word is “better than riches” (v. 14), and even “fine gold” (v. 127). When compared to the most valuable things, material wealth, pure gold, it is God’s Word which rises to the top. Jesus makes it clear that to “gain the whole world” means nothing if one is far from God (Matt. 16:26), and that ultimately the “deceitfulness of riches” will lead to spiritual death (Luke 8:14). The Word of God is greater, of more eternal value, and more significant than all earthly wealth. Ultimately, there are far more “wondrous things to behold” out of God’s Word (v. 18). Wealth could never reveal such wonders.
The Psalmist describes in various poetic words the delight he takes in God’s Word. He says that he “loves” God’s Word (v. 47; 97; 119; 163; and 167), that they are a song in his mouth (v. 54), and they cause him to rise even at midnight to praise God (v. 62). The testimonies of God are called the “joy” of his heart (v. 111), cause his very heart to “stand in awe” of God’s words (v. 161).
In multiple verses he states simply that the law of God is his delight. So we read:
In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches. (v. 14)
Your testimonies are my delight;
they are my counselors. (v. 24
Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it. (v. 35)
for I find my delight in your commandments,
which I love. (v. 47)
We see these sentiments echoed in verses 70, 77, 92, 143, and 174. The psalmist truly does delight in God’s Word. But what exactly does that mean? What does it mean to say that I “delight” in God’s law? For the psalmist, it means that he takes joy, comfort, and hope in God’s testimonies. His law serves as evidence of God’s commitment to Him, of HIs promises of faithfulness, of His nearness, of His dependability. Notably, the Psalmist descries that it is the delight in God’s law that comforts him in affliction (v. 92). In fact, he is so desperate for this word that he actually “longs” for it (v. 20; 82; 131).
God draws near to His people through His Word – therefore it ought to delight us to read and study and pour over God’s Word. As we read we are encountering more and more of the God who authored these Words. God reveals himself to us through the Word, and assures us of His presence and promises through His Word. As we come to understand the nature and purpose of God’s Word it ought to naturally lead to delight.
Consider your own life. Can you sing with the psalmist the words of Scripture? Do you find great joy in reading the Bible? It is an astounding thing that we have the very words of God at our fingertips! We lose the wonder of it, but it is astounding that God speaks to us. He gave us His Word that we might know Him better, that we might draw closer to Him, that we might delight in truth and hope in His promises. Do you take delight in the Word of God?