A devotional of Psalm 119:33-64
33 Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end.
We saw yesterday that being in the Word learning the way requires discipline and strength. To follow it to the end, we must also grow in endurance. This is not a short stint. It is a marathon. May we determine to start, maintain, and finish no matter what comes our way.
34 Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
King Solomon prayed, “Give therefore your servant a heart of understanding to judge your people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge so great a people?” 1 Kings 3:9. If wise king Solomon needed a heart of understanding, how much more do we? I love that God invites us to understand so that we can obey. He is not just forcing or lording us into obedience. He wants us to understand his laws because in so doing, we understand him more and more.
35 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.
We were created for pleasure. Father, convince my heart that there is ultimate pleasure and delight in your ways. Satan, the world, and the flesh are determined to tell me otherwise. They offer tantalizing alternatives. I must become convinced from my own experiences and those of others that, “The blessing of the LORD enriches, and He adds no sorrow to it,” Pr. 10:22. The problem with the world’s “blessings” is that they are paid for in the currency of sorrow as I show repeatedly in Napping in Delilah’s Lap. Only in God’s pure Word and ways will we have no regrets.
36 Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.
37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.
Heart management takes two parties: us and God. I have to co-labor with him and cooperate with him in training my heart to align with his. He has provided the Word, I am to learn from it. He gives the instruction and the power of the Holy Spirit, I yield to those forces and decision by decision, moment by moment choose his way over mine. I do this repeatedly, immediately, consistently, with passion or muchness, to the end.
So much of the competition of God’s Word and ways is worthless. It is fleeting, it is deceptive, it is hollow, it is consuming, and it is dismally dissatisfying. Like King David, may we determine, “I will set no vile thing before my eyes,” Ps. 101:3a. The eyes and other senses are the gateway to our souls. May I do everything in my power to guard them carefully. And when I fail, Jesus take the wheel and turn my eyes away.
38 Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared.
39 Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good.
40 How I long for your precepts! In your righteousness preserve my life.
41 May your unfailing love come to me, Lord, your salvation, according to your promise;
42 then I can answer anyone who taunts me, for I trust in your word.
43 Never take your word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws.
44 I will always obey your law, for ever and ever.
45 I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.
46 I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame,
47 for I delight in your commands because I love them.
God’s ways are stalwart and competent. We should have to fear of them appearing as foolishness even in the presence of kings. They will not let us down. They will hold their own as we speak them with confidence and passion. May they come to define us as we become increasingly associated with them, like a familiar coat.
48 I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees.
49 Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.
50 My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
What a wonderful verse to remember in difficult times. May we quote it often for ourselves and for others.
51 The arrogant mock me unmercifully, but I do not turn from your law.
52 I remember, Lord, your ancient laws, and I find comfort in them.
53 Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who have forsaken your law.
54 Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.
55 In the night, Lord, I remember your name, that I may keep your law.
56 This has been my practice: I obey your precepts.
As part of the brain’s learning process, practice is indispensable. We have to do things over and over and over. We are to aim for mastery and it only comes through repeated exposure. Moreover, we gain an affinity for what we spend our time and attention on. Ensure that your time and attention are on worthwhile things.
57 You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words.
58 I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.
Here again is the picture of the template. This is true north. May we constantly recalibrate our tools. Where my life doesn’t measure up to God, I need to fix my compass to his.
60 I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.
Note the matter of immediacy in obedience as it is reiterated here. We are training our brains and it is imperative that our responses are swift. This is like training an animal or a child. We must home in on immediacy.
61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.
63 I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.
64 The earth is filled with your love, Lord; teach me your decrees.
May he guard and guide you in the grand adventure of getting to know him more and more in his Word. May he nurture a deep love and appreciation for it. May he help you understand and find new insights every time you are in it. May your heart crave it and drink deeply of it. May he open your eyes that you might see wonderful things in his law.