Is it too early for a little bit of music theory? I guess there’s only one way to find out. I promise that this is going somewhere. Theme and variations is a form of musical composition and performance where an initial theme is played and then altered in subsequent repetitions. The melody might change slightly, the rhythm might shift, or the accompaniment might differ to name just a few examples. There is a consistent theme throughout the piece, but each variation serves to highlight or illuminate something different. That seems to me to be a lot like what is going on in Psalm 119. The 22 stanzas offer a number of variations, but each one carries the same theme–the goodness of God’s law as a guide for life.
In Psalm 119:168, that theme takes this form, “I keep your precepts and testimonies, for all my ways are before you.” While continuing to celebrate the goodness of God’s guidance, the psalmist also acknowledges the reality that God knows us fully, a theme expanded upon in Psalm 139. Many have had the idea that God sees all they do used against them as a weapon of fear and control, but David–in Psalm 139–celebrates this idea in verse 3, “You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.” It leads him to wonder at God’s constant presence and continued protection before pleading in verse 24, “And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” In David’s variation on this theme, he not only celebrates God knowing all his ways but invites God even closer.
How is this theme playing out in your life? Are you able to celebrate the goodness of God’s guidance? Does God’s knowledge of your ways lead you toward fear or toward faith? What David had discovered is that God knew him fully and loved him relentlessly. That theme holds true for you, too.