“Purity of heart is to will one thing.” –Soren Kierkegaard
The alternate Psalm for this Fifth Sunday of Lent is from Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible (176 verses), the whole of which is a paean of praise to God’s law. I read this psalm last week as part of my church’s challenge to read through the Psalms during Lent, and I was struck by the psalmist’s passionate love—I can’t call it anything else—for the Law of God.
I don’t think much about the law of God, to be honest. I’m too busy thinking about myself—or maybe my kids. So I found it shocking that the psalmist wrote 176 verses—352 lines—about how much he (or she) loves God’s law. In today’s excerpt alone, there are eight active verbs that describe the psalmist’s relationship (this is love, remember?) with the law:
And the psalmist engages his whole person in this love relationship with God’s law—legs, heart, lips, eyes, mind, memory.
Reading these verses again, I am stunned by the intensity of them, the intensity of the psalmist’s desire to be close to God, to walk in God’s ways, to live in God’s law. The man has passion and singleness of purpose. He has a pure heart (vs 9) because he wills one thing: to follow the law of the Lord.
Jesus willed one thing, too: to do the will of the Father, no matter the cost. And it cost Him dearly. As we descend deeper into the darkness of Lent and come nearer and nearer to our Lord’s death, I wonder, what’s my one thing? What’s yours?
Read it yourself.
The lectionary readings for the fifth Sunday of Lent:
Psalm 51:1-12 or Psalm 119:9-16