"The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy." - Psalm 119:138
In the Hebrew text of Psalm 119, the first word of this section is saddiyq—“righteous”— and the psalmist uses this word three more times in this passage. In each case, the writer praises God for his righteousness.
God is holy—perfect in goodness and righteousness. And since God is righteous, he wants his people to act that way too. God’s main desire in this is that he wants his people to treat others as he would treat them. For example, God would never cheat anyone, so his people must never cheat either (see Leviticus 19:36).
The psalmist also affirms the wisdom of God’s righteous commands for living in the world. They have been thoroughly tested and vetted for everyday living. Moreover, following God is not merely correct; his teachings create healthy relationships for right living. God blesses all who strive to live according to his righteous words. So the psalmist praises God and asks for understanding.
When we live in the light of God’s Word, it illuminates the dark places of our hearts. It shows us the serious flaws in our thinking and our actions, in which we tend to act with selfishness and self-righteousness. It prompts us to ask how we can instead reflect God’s own righteous presence in the world. Then God’s righteousness will become our passion too.