“You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones,
who wander from your commandments.” Psalm 119.21
This verse delivers grim and glorious truth. It is glorious, because it extols the virtuous judgement of God. The previous verse featured the psalmist’s longing for the righteous rules (judgements) of God. Here he gives the verdict of God’s righteous judgments. Those who wander from the righteous rules of God receive his holy rebuke.
This is glorious. It’s also grim when we consider our own sin—the ways in which we wander from God’s commandments. This must reinforce our resolve and dependence. This must unite our hearts with the psalmist in praying for the Lord to enable us to see, understand, and obey Scripture. The psalmist has already expressed this multiple times:
“Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!” (5)
“…do not utterly forsake me!” (8)
“…let me not wander from your commandments!” (10)
“…teach me your statutes!” (12)
“Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.” (17)
“Open my eyes…” (18)
…hide not your commandments from me!” (19)
We grasp these petitions more fully when we understand the rebuke awaiting those who wander. May we ever rely on God to guard our paths, keeping us from wandering—and from the wanderer’s rebuke.
Merciful Father, we rejoice in your righteous judgments. And we beg, O Lord, for your protection and care. Keep us from wandering. Guard our steps, that we might live to your praise. Cleanse us from all unrighteousness, for your name’s sake. Amen.