and I shall walk in a wide place,
for I have sought your precepts.
Rachab. It’s the Hebrew word mentioned in the first part of v.45, meaning “broad, wide.” Contrast it with stenos, the Greek word found in Matthew 7:13-14, meaning “narrow, strait.”
“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.”
Now ask yourself: Am I walking in a wide place or through a narrow gate?
We often think following rules limits us in some way. Everyone can pretty much agree to that – even all the teachers’ pets out there who never broke the rules in grade school. (Admit it – obeying the rules and NOT going down the swirly slide backwards deprived you of the joys of childhood)
Many of us, as kids, resented being “restricted” by rules. Some of us are young adults and parents now, and although we understand the importance of having rules and guidelines, we still kinda-sorta resent being restricted. #YOLO and #CarpeDiem hashtags flood social media on a daily basis. Why? Because we want full authority and freedom over our lives. We want to do as we please. And many of us do. Because obeying the rules is “boring” and doesn’t allow us to “live life to the fullest” – or so we think.
Take another look at what the Psalmist writes in Psalm 119:45. He states that he walks along a WIDE, BROAD path. To what does he attribute walking this WIDE, BROAD path? To seeking the commands of the Lord.
The Hebrew word darash is used here. It means “to resort to, seek, seek with care, enquire, require.” The Psalmist is saying that he resorted to the precepts of God. He sought His commands with care and with a sincere desire to know what the Lord desired for him. He wanted guidance; He required it. The Psalmist is confident that the path ahead will be WIDE and BROAD because he has sought out the Lord’s desires. This defies society’s reasoning that rules (commandments of God) are joy-leeches which limit and restrict us.
I have seen a limit to all perfection,
but your commandment is exceedingly broad.
The Psalmist has seen a limit to earthly perfection. In fact, there is no such thing. We are incapable of producing anything perfect or being perfect. Thus, we will never experience anything in perfection on this earth. Absolute perfection can only be found in God. In Him, we experience perfect joy, peace, love, and freedom. Apart from Him, none of those things will be perfectly experienced. Again, we see rachab used. The Psalmist reiterates that the commandments of God are exceedingly WIDE and BROAD. How can this be? How is it that following the commands and expectations of God for us as believers could give us such freedom? Because following the wisdom and commands of the Lord gives us sure and stable footing! Because following Him allows us to experience the fullness of life which can only be found in Him!
Friends, we have to stop listening to what society and human culture tell us about obeying the Lord. Freedom isn’t found in simply doing whatever you want. In the end, there’s always a limit to what we can do – we are humans, limited creatures. There is no absolute freedom in and of ourselves. The world offers us an extremely shallow version of freedom, deceptively wrapped in adventure and autonomy. Society doesn’t want us to read the fine print that clearly states we will never experience perfect, soul-satisfying freedom through its devices. That kind of freedom is only found in Christ when we choose to follow Him.
Obeying God doesn’t restrict us, but rather it gives us wisdom to live in such a way that we experience every good thing (Psalm 84:11) and receive every good and perfect blessing of the Lord (James 1:17). Instead of “restricting” us, it opens us up to a FULL life and gives us access to doors which would otherwise remain shut!
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
The abundant life, the life of perfect freedom, is found only in Christ – by obeying the Word of God, by submitting to the will of the Father, by seeking the Lord in all things, by heeding His warnings, by doing the things He asks of us not out of obligation, but out of joy, love, and confidence that it will always be for our good!
The narrow gate. Stenos. The path of freedom which leads to Christ is indeed broad and sure. We don’t have to tip toe or gingerly place one foot directly in front of another in fear of falling. It’s not like we’re walking across the Niagara along a tight rope. The path, although unpopular and rough, is sturdy and sure. The gate, however, is stenos. This small gate is often overlooked and passed by without so much as a second thought. It’s clear, by the look of this gate and the path it leads to, that it’s a lesser walked path. Some turn away from this small, narrow gate, this deserted path, simply because it’s the lesser popular of the two. Many turn away because the trail appears too rough – it would require too much energy, too much time, too much effort, too much sacrifice. Others still walk right past it, refusing to even acknowledge its existence. Little do they know this unassuming little gate and the path it leads to is where ultimate joy and perfect freedom are found. Little do they know this is where all the #YOLO and #CarpeDiem hashtags actually exist. Little do they know this is where adventure awaits, where “living with abandon” finds its source!
So I ask you again. Are you walking through a wide place or through a narrow gate? I pray your answer is one and the same, a resounding “BOTH!” For it is only by obeying Christ, taking up our cross, and following Him that we can enter through the narrow gate and walk upon a broad, sturdy path. Regardless of how dangerous the trail ahead looks, you can confidently say,
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand!
— My Hope is Built on Nothing Less | Edward Mote