“All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.” Psalm 25:10
More from Psalm 25. Right away, maybe it feels like two very different messages separated by a comma. The first thought is so hopeful, grace-filled, and promising: it’s just ongoing love and faithfulness with God. Jesus’ followers need to have a deep understanding of that, and take it to heart, personally. But, then, it’s a message for the rest of the earth, too. A movement called “the People of the Second Chance” is trying to make God’s deep grace well-known to all. I just posted this graphic of theirs yesterday:
Then there’s the second thought, and it seems to fly in the face of unconditional grace a little. After the comma, there’s suddenly talk about covenant and decrees. It’s as if the love/faithfulness in part 1 is reserved only for a select group, those who are obedient. Some of us shout, “Yeah! This is no cheap grace! God wouldn’t have us running around doing whatever we want, however we want, whenever we want, and then just call it ‘all good’ and wave it away.” The cynics among us say, “I knew there was more to it” because the first half of verse 10 sounded a little too squeaky clean, too easy, too full of gum-drops and daisies. And, then, those of us who prefer to punish ourselves are almost relieved to hear this and declare that we, the disobedient, deserve nothing good so we can expect nothing good; it only seems right for God to withhold God’s love and faithfulness.
But let’s not take David where I assume he doesn’t want to go. Rather, let him take us somewhere. Reading the whole psalm, I hear someone who is in touch with both of the thoughts in verse 10. Here is a man who has felt and known the Lord’s love, who has been delivered through peril and wrongdoing, and who has no room to doubt that God forgives relentlessly; it’s also a man who hints at a dire need for forgiveness, who is bold to confess at God’s feet, and in the same breath praises God for the grace he knows he’ll find.
He decides that all the paths of the Lord are truly good, even those that are still undiscovered, and even those that put us in harm’s way. So the question becomes, are we going to run after the LORD’s path, or one of our making? Are we going to truly covenant with God in intimate relationship; or pick our own bearings, head in our own directions, and run after fleeting side-tracks? Or maybe just sit down right here?
Today, keep together any tension you might feel in Psalm 25:10, and let the Spirit of God guide you in it. And may God hold us each to the high standard of obedience, and lead us in paths of life.