The Interplay of Two Wills

Put false ways far from me

    and graciously teach me your law!

Psalm 119:29

Here is an interesting interplay between God’s sovereign will and man’s choice.

First, we see that David understands that without God he will always walk in false ways. His heart is desperately sick and deceitful above all things and though his ways may appear right to him, without God’s intervention the end of all his choices is the way of death. (Jer. 17:9; Pr. 14:12). Therefore, he begs God to act against the natural inclination of his will and put false ways “far from him.”

This is not something he could do on his own. He needs a new nature from God (2 Cor. 5:17) and a new law to follow, one that is not bound to sin and death (Rom. 8:2). Thus, he entreats the Lord to “graciously teach me your law!” David wants freedom from his wicked self and knows his only help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth (Ps. 121:2).

Second, we see David making a choice after this prayer, stating “I have chosen the way of faithfulness. I set your rules before me. I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; let me not be turned to shame!” (v. 30-31). Choosing the way of faithfulness is never an easy choice. It always requires emotional risk (“let me not be put to shame”), physical risk (“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.” – Mt. 24:9) and social risk (“All who desire to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted.” – 2 Tim. 3:12). But we have this promise: “the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mt. 24:13)

Man’s will to follow Christ never usurps God’s will nor is it a prerequisite for God’s will to be accomplished. Rather, the choice to follow God is merely a reflection of God’s choice to call you unto Himself and to have you follow. It is the first in a series of conscious steps we willingly make in our new lives. Like a young woman agreeing to a date, we do not say “yes” because we first chose Him, but because He elected to choose us. And, later, we say “Yes!” to our groom not out of compulsion but because of love. Our response is just that: a response. It is not an initiation. It is a joyful receiving of God’s work and grace in our lives that continually harmonizes with God’s Spirit as we cry out: “Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!”

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