A life of repentance is clearly depicted, not only throughout Psalm 119, but also in the present stanza. “I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes,” the psalmist declared (v. 59). A repentant life is a self-examined one in which a person takes rigorous inventory of his or her ambitions and priorities and consequently opts to align with God’s purposes. A person has encountered or experienced God at the divine initiative and is wooed by the grace, truth, love, and knowledge revealed in Jesus. The repentance is an ‘about-face’, a ‘U-turn’ – a life-changing re-orientation centered in the countercultural laws and norms of God’s governance and the society of his familial fellowship (i.e. the Church).
Repentance is both a moment’s – and momentous – decision. It occurs in a moment but with life-altering (i.e. momentous) consequences. The one who has turned to God has become confident of discovering a better life, like someone who has found a hidden treasure in a field and has divested himself of everything in order to acquire the property (Matthew 13:44). Similarly, the psalmist is not hesitant to add that “I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands” (v. 60). What is there possibly to think about it? God’s ways are invaluable!
Persecution and trouble can neither deter nor dissuade the psalmist from holding steadfast to God: “Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law” (v. 61). During ancient times when the cult of the Roman Emperor demanded sworn disavowal to Jesus, and to contemporary sword-wielding Islamic terrorists executing Christians, followers of Jesus have willingly endured death rather than deny the Lord they love. To abandon Christ is unthinkable because we are convinced he is the Supreme and Beautiful One – the Fount of Truth, the Deliverer of the human race, the Conqueror of Death, and returning King of the Universe.
A penitent (i.e. a repentant person) is motivated by profound gratitude such that he rouses himself from slumber and interrupts his routines to express thankfulness to God: “At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws” (v. 62). The life which he has in God is a deep-welling fountain that gushes forth in love, joy, and peace and that cannot be contained.
The psalmist has a new identity and attachment to a different community: “I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts” (v. 63). But he is indignant at those who turn their backs on God and his precepts (cf. v. 53). Genuine repentance in a God-centered life invariably leads to division among one’s family and friends (Matthew 10:34-39). One’s family becomes those who who do God’s will and follow Jesus (Mark 3:34; 10:28-30).
Finally, a wholly-given life to God, impelled by gratitude, enables one to perceive that God’s love is ever-present, and his or her life becomes increasingly secure in that knowledge, regardless of what seems to the contrary. Entrusting oneself to God opens our insight into his presence and motivates us to deeper obedience from greater clarity into his ways.