I am a Moxie drinker. For those of you not from Maine, it is a soda uniquely made and sold in Maine for many years. It is an acquired taste, so I am told. I acquired it the first time I tried it. However, when I am extremely thirsty, there is nothing I like better than a glass of cool water. It seems that when we have been a while without fluid, our body just craves water above anything else.
That idea of thirst is what comes to mind when I read this passage. I challenges me regarding my own need for God’s Word. Let’s look at it together and see what God has for us.
Section 17 (PE)
Psalms 119:129-136 Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.
The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.
Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.
Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts.
Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes.
Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.
The psalmist uses so many descriptive words regarding the Bible. Not only does he use words like law, precept, judgments, statutes, and so on; but he uses words that indicated how he feels about God’s Word. In the first three verses of this passage we find three such words. We could probably have an individual devotional just on each of these words, but I will resist the urge for now. Maybe another series. The words are:
- Wonderful – Could we be guilty of using such a phrase to describe our Bibles? Think about it. When is the last time you used that word to describe your Bible reading, or some passage you were meditating on? Makes you think, doesn’t it?
- Light – Again, we know this, but do we think about it? Is it conscious? When we cannot see the way ahead, to we reach for the lantern of God’s Word? When faced with problems, do we reach for the light? When faced with the darkness of our own ignorance, do we turn to Google, or God’s Word. Of course it needn’t be one or the other, but the point is that so often God’s Word is the last place, instead of the first place we look.
- Panteth – Okay, this is not actually describing the Word, but rather the desire for the Word and its effect. We have the idea of man of a very hot dry day. His mouth hangs open. His tongue is swollen and he pants, and he longs for a single drop of water. Only water can quench his thirst. Then someone hands him a cup. He lifts it to his lips. The water touches his tongue and trickles down his throat. He feels that nothing could ever be so good. Even as I type this, I am ashamed of how long I can go without cracking open my Bible and drinking of its cool waters. God grant that we would have such thirst for God’s Word, that our spirits would pant, as if in great need.
Psalms 42:1 To the chief Musician, Maschil, for the sons of Korah. As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
In the next verses the psalmist repeat a familiar refrain, with one difference. He makes an unusual request in verse 132. He asks God to be merciful to him like He had done for others in the past. This teaches me that it is appropriate for us to look at God’s dealings with people in the past, and request that He shows the same mercy and compassion on us. The psalmist is not demanding, but rather requesting on the basis of God’s mercy and unchanging character. For this reason, I think it is instructive and comforting to read the lives of great Bible characters, as well as biographies of Christians from years ago. As we see how carried them through difficulties and trials, we have hope…because we serve the exact same God as they did. He has not changed. He never changes.
One final thought I would like to draw out of this passage comes from the final verse. While speaking of the those who are oppressing him, the psalmist talks about the tears he has shed on their behalf. He calls it rivers of water! Their disobedience to God causes him to weep! Again, I find my heart cold on this account. It has been a good while since I have wept over the disobedience of a lost and dying world.
Matthew 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Our Saviour was of a similar heart. The psalmist knew the blessings of God’s law. He thirsted for it. He called it wonderful. It lit his path. Because of this belief, he was brokenhearted for those who did not know its benefit, and lived in darkness. He knew this was the very reason they oppressed him so. They were blind. They could not see. Let this instruct us.
Heavenly Father, I know that I should thirst after your Word. I confess that, far too often, I do not. This is my fault, and no fault of yours. You Word is wonderful. Forgive the dullness of my eyes, and hardness of my heart. Forgive me for thirsting after other things more than your word, and place within me a desire for a cool drink from your Word. Grant also, Lord, that I may be brokenhearted over the blindness of the world. They behave as they do because they are blind. They do not know the blessing of your forgiveness, and they have not experienced the blessing of obedience to your Word. Let me see this world, dear Lord, as though I were looking through your eyes. In Jesus name, amen.