The Way To Run Psalm 119:32

I will run the way of thy commandments,
When thou shalt enlarge my heart.—Psa_119:32.

What are God’s commandments? Well, He has given us ten of them in the Old Testament and Jesus summed them up as two in the New. You know the ten because you have often learnt them. How many can say them without a mistake? And Jesus’ two commandments, which include all the ten, are first—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength”; and second—“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

But besides these, God gives special commands to each one of us if we will listen. He tells us what He would have each one of us do. Perhaps it is something big and difficult, perhaps it is just some little lowly task that nobody notices, perhaps it is something that costs us a lot of time or pain or trouble. I don’t know what His special command is to you, but I know that He has something for you to do that nobody else can do, and if you listen He will tell you what it is.

Now the psalmist says that he will “run” the way of God’s commandments. What does he mean by “running” the way of God’s commandments? Let us see if we can understand it by something that might happen to you.

You are in the midst of a most exciting game with your chum one day. You have come to the point where you really cannot tell which of you is going to win when Granny comes into the room. “Tom,” she says, “run upstairs for my spectacles. I left them on my dressing-table.” “Oh, bother,” you reply, “won’t it do in a minute? We’ve just about finished.” “No,” says Granny, “I want them now, so go at once.” Well, you go—not at once, but after you’ve played a little longer just to show you have a mind of your own. And you bang the door as you go out just to annoy her a little when she’s bothering you. Then how sulky your feet are on the stair! You would think they had flat irons fastened on to them and that there were a hundred steps instead of twenty. When you return, you fling the spectacle case at its owner with the words— “There’s your old spectacles!”

Presently in walks that happy bachelor uncle who is home on holiday. “Look here, youngster,” says he, “you sprint upstairs to my den. You’ll find a parcel on the table that may interest you. Just find it down, will you?”

The game isn’t finished yet—of course it took longer than that minute—but how you fly! You have a pretty good notion that the parcel contains a tin of that extra-special toffee your uncle always brings with him. So, although Uncle’s den is a whole stair higher up than Granny’s bedroom, you are back in no time.

What is the difference? In the second case you wanted to obey the command, in the first you didn’t. In the first case you crawled, in the second case you ran; and all because in the first case you didn’t like your errand, and in the second case you did. So when the psalmist says he will “run” the way of God’s commandments, he means that he will take pleasure in them, that he will obey them willingly and readily.

And yet I think he means a little more than that. I think he means also that he will be able to keep God’s commandments. You might have all the willingness in the world to run, and yet not be able to do it because your feet were lame or your body deformed. And so I think the psalmist means, “I shall be both willing and able to keep thy commandments.”

But now you will notice something, and it is the most important thing—he doesn’t stop there. If he did we might say, “Oh well, the psalmist was a very good man, but I’m afraid I shall never reach his heights of goodness, for I don’t want to keep all God’s commandments, and I’m not able to do it supposing I did want.” But he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say—“when thou shalt enlarge my heart.”

And what does he mean by that? He means when God will so work on his heart as to make him able and willing to keep His commandments, when God will fill it with love and sympathy, when He will make it strong to do His will, and broad with sympathy for others, and deep with love to Himself.
And we are better off than the psalmist, because we know Jesus. The psalmist didn’t know Jesus, he only knew that some day God would send Him down to earth. But we know Jesus, and the name Jesus really means “the Enlarger” or “He who sets at large.” If we let Jesus into our hearts He will fill them full with Himself; and where Jesus is there is no room for anything that is mean, or narrow, or trivial, or selfish. He will set us free from our unwillingness to keep God’s commandments and He will make us able to keep them.

There are some people who crawl the way of God’s commandments. They seem to obey them with a sort of grudge, and that is almost worse than not obeying them at all. The reason is that they have not opened their hearts’ doors wide enough to let Jesus fill them. They have just opened them a little chink. But Jesus wants the whole of our hearts, and if we let Him in, then He will change them in such a wonderful way that we shall delight to keep God’s law.

But why should we run the way of God’s commandments? Well, first because God never asks us to do anything that isn’t for our good. All His commandments are wise and good, and we are never really safe or happy when we are running the other way. But most of all, we should run that way just because God has asked us to do so, and because He loves us and has done so much for us.