Got ordinance lust? (Psalm 119:20)

My soul is consumed with longing
for your ordinances at all times (Psalm 119:20 NRSV).

This is my favorite verse in Psalm 119, and one of my favorites in all Scripture (the 4th verse in the Gimel section of the psalm).

I tell students,

“Fill in the blank in the following phrase (I don’t tell them where it’s from):

My soul is consumed with longing at all times for your what?”

Love?  Kiss?  Body?  (I tell them it’s PG, lest they get any ideas.)  I’ve done this dozens of times and no one has ever filled in the blank with “ordinances”.

“Consumed”, “with longing”, “at all times” – It’s tempting to tell the psalmist, “Get a room!”

What sorts of things cause your soul to be consumed with longing?  On 2nd thought, don’t answer that.  But I’d be willing to bet it’s not God’s commands.

The psalmist is lusting after God’s word.  Actually, not just God’s word, but God’s ordinances.  I discuss this in God Behaving Badly (p. 127-128).  Got ordinance lust?  Probably not.

What could cause this type of obsession with the word of God?  The psalmist understands that God’s commands are designed to connect people to God: “Love God with your whole heart, soul and might” (Deut. 6:5); “You shall love your neighbor.  I am YHWH” (Lev 19:18).  The psalmist desperately desires a deep relationship with God, so that means a wild pursuit of God’s ordinances.

God, deepen my obsession with your commands.

So, got ordinance lust?  Which is your favorite command in the Bible?


  1. This is a bit of sychronicity–during my lunch break I was thinking about how I *want* to have ordinance lust and wondering how to become like that. And then I came back, started going through my inbox, and came across the notification for this post.

    Which makes me wonder whether it can really be termed “syncronicity”. The Spirit at work, perhaps?

  2. Lydia, Although syncronicity is a cool word, I’d prefer to say “Spirit”.

    Michael, Yes, that’s a favorite of my entire family. Particularly, the Eat part.

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