In past weeks, as we have looked into Psalm 119, we have seen that God has given us His Word as a guide, we are to obey it, and it is to be a delight to our souls. Now, in the fourth stanza, verses 25-32, we see that we are to totally depend upon God’s Word. In this stanza, the psalmist is mourning the sin that drags him down. But he takes his sin to the Lord, admitting and confessing it. This draws him to God's Word and to prayer and opens his eyes to see that in choosing God’s Word and God’s way, he has chosen the right way. Declaring his dependence on God and living in obedient dependence upon His Word, works changes in the psalmist’s heart.
25. My soul clings to the dust;
Grant me life according to your word.
26. I tell You all I have done and you hear and answer me;
teach me your statutes.
27. Make me to understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on Your wonders.
28. My soul melts from misery;
strengthen me according to your word.
29. Keep me from the way of lying,
and grant me the grace of living by Your law.
30. I have chosen the path of truth
and have set your decrees before me.
31. I hold fast to Your testimonies;
O LORD, let me not be put to shame.
32. I will run the course set out in Your commandments
for they enlarge my heart.
This passage is a Declaration of Dependence upon God. Do you notice the misery of the psalmist in his first words? His soul clings to the dust. In the Bible, dust is a symbol of man’s frailty (Psalm 103:14). To "lie in the dust" or to be "like dust" symbolizes humiliation and affliction. When Job had lost everything -- his children, his flocks and herds, his health, and his wife’s respect -- he said he had become like dust and ashes (Job 30:19). Later, after venting his grief and pain, Job looked up to God and said, “I abhor myself, and I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). The psalmist humbled himself and repented just as Job had done. He told God all that he had done, confessing his sin (119:26). He turned to God and His Word for the answers to his misery. He asked God to make him understand as he meditated on His wonders (119:27), to strengthen him through His Word (119:28), to keep him from lies and give him grace to live by His law (119:29). The psalmist made a choice to turn from his sin to the path of truth (119:30). Instead of focusing on himself, he chose God’s Word (His decrees - 119:30, His testimonies -119:31, His commandments - 119:32). The result prompted a change in his heart. Some versions of the Bible us the word “gladden” instead of “enlarge” in verse 32. The Hebrew word is “rachab” which means “to make room” or “to broaden or increase”. Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies (William Wilson) says, “to open wide by joy”.
The psalmist found that the cure for sin, for clinging to the dust, meant depending upon God to save him and depending on God’s Word to lead him in the way of life. This opened his heart to joy, something he could never do by himself -- nor can we. He depended wholly upon God -- and so must we. Have you declared your dependence upon God by telling Him all that you have done, confessing your sin to Him? Have you turned to Him through His Word? That is the way to joy in this life. The ways of the world are like a magnet pulling us in, but God's Word delivers us. Troubles come and surround us but God's Word lifts us up. Tomorrow is full of uncertainties but God's Word gives us hope. History is His story, and those who depend on God will be triumphant. By declaring our dependence upon God and His Word we learn to live by faith and trust, and our hearts are opened wide by JOY!
As we enter the 2016 holiday season, remembering all we have to be thankful for and honoring and the birth of Christ, may we all celebrate the joy that only comes through dependence upon our Sovereign Creator who holds the world together by His power (Colossians 1:17).
We have taken a look at the first two stanzas of Psalm 119, and seen that we are to always obey God and be delighted in His Word. This week, in stanza 3, we see the importance of being guided by God’s Word. The third stanza of Psalm 119 begins by telling us that God’s Word contains wonderful things (119:18). Perhaps you already know that. I hope you do! But it is also important to know that the wonderful things in His Word are not to be used (or misused) according to one’s own discretion. Growing spiritually and finding delight (and, in fact, life itself) in God’s law, commandments, statutes, and testimonies is found in keeping them (119:17)!
Wandering away from God’s commandments is arrogance and brings a curse (119:21). The psalmist asks God to open his eyes to the wonderful things of God’s law. He longs for God’s ordinances (119:20), observes God’s testimonies (119:22), meditates on His statutes (119:23), and is counseled by His testimonies (119:24). He feeds on all of God’s Word, and his prayer is that he may keep it (119:17). To him, obedience means choosing life. He asks God to deal bountifully with him so he may live and keep Thy word (119:17). To him, living means keeping God’s Word.
17. Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.
18. Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law.
19. I am a stranger in the earth;
Do not hide Your commandments from me.
20. My soul is crushed with longing
After Your ordinances at all times.
21. You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed,
Who wander from Your commandments.
22. Take away reproach and contempt from me,
For I observe Your testimonies.
23. Even though princes sit and talk against me,
Your servant meditates on Your statutes.
24. Your testimonies also are my delight;
They are my counselors.
Our prayer should follow along the lines of the psalmist. God has graciously given us His Word and, if we ask, He will give us a longing for it (119:20) and open our eyes to behold its wonders (119:18). He will make His Word clear to us (119:19), and through it, give us the guidance we need each day (119:24). Christians are strangers and sojourners on this earth (Psalm 119:19; 1 Peter 2:11) and we need guidance, love, and comfort from above. Those who do not know the Lord will not understand our love of the Bible. They may regard us with contempt and openly insult us. We are to leave those people to God. He will rebuke them (119:21). We are to keep our hearts and minds open to God and rely on His Word to lead us every step, every day. That is the real substance and delight of life.
Moses spoke the following words to the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land, “I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you….But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish.…I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live....” (Deuteronomy 30:15-19).
God’s Word is unlike any other book you will ever read. It is not just a book of narrative, prophecy, poetry, history, or human wisdom. It is the book of truth. It is the revelation of the One who is the way, and the truth, and the life (John 14:6). It is the book that offers eternal and abundant life to those who believe and obey. Every day, from the moment we wake up, our lives are full of choices, but the first and foremost choice should be to obey God and His Word in all things. Let us be guided by God's Word. That is the choice of life. Let us choose life!
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.