Meditations on Psalm 119:33-40
Is God Getting Our Attention?
Verse by Verse, 33-40
Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.
I call this seeking teaching with a bias. The bias is that we intend to practice what we are taught.
How does such a bias affect our ability to learn?
Why do we need to be taught such things?
Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
Now he prays for understanding so that he can take obedience to the next level – namely heart engagement.
Have you ever been reluctantly compliant with God or anyone else? What was that like? How is this way better?
What does this teach us about how we teach and lead people?
Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.
Consider the idea of God’s commands as a path rather than merely a set of codes. David found great delight in them and in the path itself. But he needs help and seeks it.
What is the path like?
What are the delights?
In what ways do we need direction and why if there is such delight?
How can we help other people experience the sheer delight of walking in the path of His commands?
Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.
The psalmist knows that these are two entirely different sets of motivation. We can be highly motivated by a desire for selfish gain. It is viscerally satisfying. One is the path of delight and the other is the path of “covetousness” (KJV).
How does God turn our hearts?
What difference does it make in our approach toward scripture?
Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.
Now he gets specific. The things we covet are worthless and life-draining. The things of God are worthwhile and life-enhancing.
When and how did you realize the truth of this?
Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared.
Two possible translations exist: One is that fear is the cause and the other that it is the effect.
In what ways are God’s promises related to fear of God?
Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good.
What do you dread? How do the fear of God and promises of God take it away?.
How I long for your precepts! Preserve my life in your righteousness
The Power of a Prior Commitment - 33-37
“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 my whole 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.” -Psalm 119:33-37
If you want to see God’s Word, come alive in your heart, decide ahead of time to obey whatever it says, prior to even knowing what that is.
It will be like approaching a tree filled with gifts on Christmas, knowing that there is something for you there, but not knowing exactly what it is. Your heart is filled with excitement and wonder. You know you will love it. You can’t wait to find out what it is.
It is like waiting for the birth of a child. You already love him having never laid eyes on him. You are absolutely committed to years of child rearing without seeing his face or knowing his disposition. It is a prior commitment, and it empowers your seeking and inflames your heart.
“Teach me,” is the great prayer here. “I shall keep,” is the promise of prior commitment.
It is followed by a heartfelt petition that could be paraphrased this way, “Now that I have promised to keep your Word, observe it with my whole heart, and delight in all of your commands, HELP ME!”
He prays for a heart that is inclined toward God’s will, eyes that do not focus on vanity, and quickening energy to keep on keeping on.
Prior commitment does not mean that you have all the resources already to do what you are promising. It means that you intend to do so, without even knowing what God will require, and that you trust Him for the ability to keep your promise.
Read the Bible that way and see what a difference it makes.
How do we help create and encourage this longing in ourselves and others?
Here is another great insight: