Action that Leads to Salvation: Psalm 118

In verses 33-35 of Psalm 118 we find outlined the most important elements of a God-pleasing life.

Set before me for a law, O Lord, the way of Thy statutes, and I will seek after it continually. Give me understanding, and I will search out Thy law, and I will keep it with my whole heart.Guide me in the path of Thy commandments for I have desired it.

First there is the law, the commandments of God, that we must continually seek out. They outline the narrow path we are expected to follow.

Second is understanding, is to have our heart filled with the proper understanding of these laws so we know how to put them into our way of living. This understanding must be deep and etched in our heart, not simply an intellectual understanding.

Saint Augustine says

When we gain this deeper spiritual understanding, one “finally attains to those heights of a holy and God-pleasing life at which he loves God with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his thoughts, and his neighbors as himself, for on these two commandments the whole law and the prophets depend.

Our action, while Judged good by the best of societal norms are of little value when “prompted by the outward conscience” says Saint Theophan.  Regarding the rites of the Church he says,

Everything should be performed with utmost reverence of the heart, but not towards external action, but towards God, to Whom we are turning through it.

Everything we do must not be legalistic but spiritual, coming from the spirit that fill our heart, otherwise we become shackled and act out of fear: don’t do this or that. This is not the way of the law taught by Christ. His way is a way of love, love of God. We act out of love when we follow Him.

Third, is desire. David asks God to guide him on His narrow path. Not out of any obligation or coercion, but because it is what his heart desires.
Saint Theophan says,

Divine goodness is ready to reach out to us with all its gifts. If it does not flow upon all, then this is only because not all desire it, and not all are seeking these blessings. Desiring allows entry for them…

The life that brings about salvation has this form of action: “make it a law, make it part of my understanding, guide me.”
Reference: Psalm 118: A Commentary by Saint Theophan the Recluse, pp 88-98
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