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O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
~ Psalm 119:5
This verse is a pleading prayer. It is a cry of weakness that seems to acknowledge failure on the part of the Psalmist. This prayer is a call for help. It reveals the true desire to keep God’s statutes and also the admission that he cannot apart from help.
Verse 4 speaks of the command to keep God’s precepts. Verse 5 show the right response to God’s commands—a desire to keep and to do them. This truth tempers the Psalmist’s declaration of love for God’s law. He loves the Word and responds with increased desire for it, to know it, to live it.
The word statute appears first here. It means a decree or ordinance. This is one of the related words used to reference the Word of God. In particular, it appears 22 times in the text of this chapter.
The root of the word in the Hebrew means hewn, cut, engraved, inscribed. It signifies something that is set in stone or some other durable material. The use of this word shows God’s law to be fixed and perpetual. You do not engrave something on a whim. You do not engrave something that will change soon or ever.
There is a contrast between our ways and the statutes. The statutes are fixed and do not need adjustment. It is our ways that must be directed to keep them.