Psalm 119:1-8 (NRSV)
Verse 1Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.
Verse 2Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart,
Verse 3who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways.
Verse 4You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
Verse 5O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
Verse 6Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
Verse 7I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous ordinances.
Verse 8I will observe your statutes; do not utterly forsake me.
Someone wise once wrote, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” The opening verses of this psalm seem to be about expectation—God’s expectations and our own. The author describes how happy are those who carry no blame and who do no wrong. Unfortunately, while some of us may be able to attain this kind of happiness for short periods, we know that we all eventually fall short of God’s expectations. We all face times of feeling forsaken and ashamed. This is why the heart of the gospel, as we know it in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, is that we are forgiven and saved by grace through faith. While the commandments of God guide us and shape us as God’s people, we cannot save ourselves by keeping them perfectly. So an important aspect of the freedom we have in Christ is to release the burden of unmet expectations and receive instead the life-giving promise of the gospel.
Gracious God, help us release to you the burdens that we carry. Relieve us of the unrealistic expectations we put upon ourselves, upon others, and upon you. Thank you for your free gift of grace and the promise that you are with us in all circumstances. Amen.