The way is hard

I was reading and thinking on Psalm 25 this morning and turned to Boice’s Expositional Commentary on the Psalms for additional insight.  He quoted from P. C. Craigie’s commentary on the Psalms where Craigie is comparing Psalm 25 with Psalm 1:

The prayer of Psalm 25 complements the wisdom of Psalm 1.  The latter, in the more didactic tradition of wisdom, established the two ways, that of the righteous and that of the wicked.  But taken alone the dispassionate wisdom of Psalm 1 could be misleading; it might be taken to imply that the essence of life was simply choosing the right road – once the choice had been made, all would be well.  But in Psalm 25…the prayer is that of a person who has made the choice [presented in Psalm 1] and is walking the road of the righteous; but the dispassionate wisdom has been transformed to passionate petition, for the right road is not an easy one on which to walk.  It is lined with enemies who would like nothing better than to put the walker to shame; and the traveler on the road is also plagued with internal doubts, as he calls to mind previous wanderings from the path and former sins.  The essence of the road of the righteous is this: it is a road too difficult to walk without the companionship and friendship of God.

You may need to read that paragraph several times to get the full effect, but it’s worth doing.  How many people think that once they make the choice to believe in God and follow Jesus Christ (which is one and the same), that the remaining road of life will be easy?  About ten years ago I had a conversation with a friend who said that in his opinion the Christian life became easier as time went on.  Later that summer he confided in me that he had been wrong about his earlier assessment. 

We should not be surprised at the difficulties of the Christian life.  Jesus told us in Matthew 7:13, “Enter by the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

If that is true, and I’m going to believe that it is, then how are we to manage?  How can we make our way on this hard road?  Look again at the last sentence of what Craigie wrote above: “The essence of the road of the righteous is this: it is a road too difficult to walk without the companionship and friendship of God.”  We cannot do this without God.  Not only can we not, it is impossible.

But we can say, and should say, with David in Psalm 25, “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.  Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” 

And let me add that this knowing, leading and learning is not some mystical experience of the privileged few.  It comes through reading, studying, and meditating prayerfully on Scripture, which is how God has revealed himself to us, and how he continues to lead us and teach us.

One comment on “The way is hard

  1. So true. I love how this psalm takes God’s truth and turns it into a conversational relationship with God. My prayer life only tends to grow when I learn to pray the Word of God back to God.

    I often think about the prayers of Psalm 119, such as verses 25-32. I see the internal struggle of the psalmist to walk the path of wisdom, to reject the false paths before him. I see him clinging to the word of God as his only lifeline, and turning to God who is only one who can “enlarge his heart” so that obedience is possible. This is truly passionate prayer.

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