I think it is fitting that the passage today falls on a Monday. Monday’s are universally despised in the West. It is on Monday’s that we are forced to face another week of work without feeling completely recovered from the last. I confess that I didn’t even want to roll out of bed this morning to work on this devotional.
Our flesh is so weak. The psalmist faced the same dilemma. Let’s see how he dealt with it.
Section 5 – (HE)
Psalms 119:33 HE. Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with mywhole heart.
Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.
Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.
Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.
Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.
I want to draw your attention to the fact that each verse contains a request for God to do something on behalf of the psalmist. With the exception of the last verse, the requesting word is found as the first word of each verse. The words are:
- Turn away
It is almost as if the psalmist is trusting God to do the things he cannot do, but that many of us think we are responsible to do.
Far too often we take upon ourselves the burden of producing in our own lives what the Holy Spirit in us is supposed to do.
It is not laziness to ask God to do what He promised to do, rather than to do it ourselves. God is not hoping we will one day mature to the place of independence from Him, but rather to a place of consistent dependence upon Him! This was the attitude of the psalmist.
The passage this morning follows a progression. It is rather interesting to notice.
First, he asks God to teach him His statutes. He wants to know what God expects of him. However, it is not simply for the sake of knowledge alone. He asks God to teach him, with the promise that he would keep his commandments unto the end. The end of what? The day? The week? His life? Yes. All of that. I wonder if we could go to God with such a request? Is our desire to learn God’s word a desire for the sake of knowing and keeping it till the end?
Secondly, he asks for understand from God. Only the Holy Spirit can help us to understand the Word of God. (1 Corinthians 2:14) The psalmist is not satisfied just to know the words; he also wants to understand the meaning. So many Christians today ares satisfied with knowledge only. “Do you know what the Bible says?” we may ask. “Why yes, I have been in church since I was a child.” they may respond. “Do you understand what it means, and how it relates to your life?”we may ask. The answer would probably surprise us very often. Simply knowing what the Bible says seems somehow academic and safe. Understanding what it means in relation to my life is far more convicting; but so very necessary. Who better to go to for understanding than the one who wrote the book! It was a safe request, because God gives understanding to those who ask. “Proverbs 2:6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”
The next three requests are a little more unusual, because they chafe against our independence. Make, incline, turn. “Oh God, make me do what is right. Incline my heart unto your Word, and turn away my eyes from looking at the empty things of life.” Go back and read those three verses again. Notice that the psalmist is asking for God to direct him physically to do the right. However, he doesn’t say it is because he doesn’t want to do. The psalmist isn’t saying that he needs to be tied up and forced against his will to do right even though he despises it. Not at all. However, he does recognize what the Apostle Paul also recognized, that while he my desires to do right, he naturally tends to do the opposite, as in the famous passage in Romans 7. Read it carefully and compare it with our text.
Romans 7:14-25For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Do you see the connection? Paul had competing desires. His flesh desired one thing, his spirit another. The great struggle is that our spirit is carried in the vehicle of our flesh. Who can help us in this conflict with ourselves? Our Creator and Redeemer.
Dear reader, the conflict you face in relation to the keeping of God’s Word is not an indication of a lack of salvation. It is exactly the opposite. Only a child of God could have such a conflict, because a lost man only has one nature and one desire.
The psalmist comes and asks God to teach him His Word, and to give him understanding so that he could keep it all his days. But, he recognizes that unless God helps him to do so, he is unable. So, he presents his body to God, submitting control to Him. There is a great hymn with this message. Do you remember the words?
Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days;
let them flow in endless praise,
let them flow in endless praise.
2 Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
swift and beautiful for thee,
swift and beautiful for thee.
3 Take my voice and let me sing
always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from thee,
filled with messages from thee.
4 Take my silver and my gold;
not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
every power as thou shalt choose,
every power as thou shalt choose.
5 Take my will and make it thine;
it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart it is thine own;
it shall be thy royal throne,
it shall be thy royal throne.
Do you see the attitude in the song? It is one of surrender. The same attitude is found in our passage this morning. I am Yours, Lord. Take me and make me what you want me to be.
The final three verses are a request for God to both confirm and keep His word to the psalmist, who has devoted his life to keeping it; and for God to deliver him from the reproach of others because he has devoted his life to it. No one likes being reproached, even when we know we have been doing right. The psalmist had great fear of the reproach of man, and the fear of man brings a snare. He knew there was only one way to deal with it. Ask God to handle it. Essentially this passage could be the following prayer. Perhaps you would consider making it your prayer today.
Heavenly Father, You know the conflict in within me. I want to do what is right, and to obey your Word, but I find myself fighting against my own flesh. Please, instruct me and give me Your understanding. I want to obey Your word till the end. I submit my body to you. Cause me to walk in the right way. Don’t let me follow the things which have no meaning. I ask only that You would honor Your Word in my life. Let me not be ashamed. Let not mine enemies triumph over. Take my life. I am yours. Make me to be what you want me to be. In Jesus name, amen