Limited perfection in Psalm 119, Lamedh

“I have seen a limit to all perfection,” says the psalmist, “but your commandment is exceedingly broad” (Psalm 119:96, ESV).

Those words remind me of the oft-repeated Ecclesiastes refrain that “all is vanity…under the sun” (Eccl. 1:2-3, ESV).

Our finite minds and physical vision limit our ability to see perfection. We plod through life with the back of our bowed heads feeling the sun’s warmth, but we focus on the dirty earth.

Although the psalmist has witnessed the limits of all perfection, he acknowledges that God’s word pushes the boundaries of our earthly experience. And even though all is vanity when considered only in the light of a dying sun, meaning materializes when life is viewed in the light of the living Son.

The things of this life can quickly disappear, but God’s word remains forever.

Forever, O LORD, your word
   is firmly fixed in the heavens (Psalm 119:89, ESV).

God’s faithfulness continues through all generations, as the earth whirls on its axis and the planets spin in their places.

Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
   you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
By your appointment they stand this day,
   for all things are your servants (90-91, ESV).

Those two verses do not fit the usual pattern of Psalm 119; neither includes a specific mention of God’s law. But the “they” seems to indicate that all things, including the heavenly bodies and every word of God, perform his will and are firmly fixed by his decree. When Christ returns the earth and all planets will be completely recreated, but God’s word will never change or fade.

That unchanging word is our only sure foundation when the waves of tribulation crash against us and threaten to drown us in the sea of despair.

If your law had not been my delight,
   I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts,
   for by them you have given me life.
I am yours; save me,
    for I have sought your precepts.
The wicked lie in wait to destroy me,
   but I consider your testimonies (92-95, ESV).

As we have seen repeatedly through Psalm 119, when the wicked threaten the psalmist he finds life and strength in God’s word. His focus is not on revenge, but on God’s law in which he delights.

I have seen a limit to all perfection,
   but your commandment is exceedingly broad (96, ESV).

People and possessions disappoint. We will never find perfection in a person or in pleasure on this earth. But we can continually explore the vast perfections of God’s word.

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