Photo by Oliver Pacas
Psalm 119 has always been fascinating to me for several reasons. First, it is 176 verses long making it the longest Psalm in the Bible!! Second, it is an incredibly poetic achievement when the writer uses the Hebrew alphabet to begin each stanza as well as the first letter of each line. Last, and for the life of me I can not remember which mother to give credit to, but she had her son memorize Psalm 119 as a child. It would be Psalm 119 that he remembered when he was wayward to bring him back to Christ.
It was a joy to read this Psalm over the weekend. Many of the verses speak directly to a believers love and heart for God’s Word. With my passion for God’s Word and desire for others to enjoy it ever so much more, I cherish this Psalm. One particular section spoke out louder this time through, I believe partially because of the current Bible study we are doing at our church, STEPS: Gospel-centered Recovery. This past week the issues of sexual immorality, guilt, and shame were addressed so when I read Psalm 119:33-40 many things linked together for me.
Teach me, LORD, the meaning of Your statutes, and I will always keep them.
Help me understand Your instruction, and I will obey it and follow it with all my heart.
Help me stay on the path of Your commands, for I take pleasure in it.
Turn my heart to Your decrees and not to material gain.
Turn my eyes from looking at what is worthless; give me life in Your ways.
Confirm what You said to Your servant, for it produces reverence for You.
Turn away the disgrace I dread; indeed, Your judgments are good.
How I long for Your precepts! Give me life through Your righteousness.
The first verses are the heart cries of all of us in recovery. We desire to learn more of who God is and to have the strength to obey. We recognize that we can do nothing in our strength (Philippians 4:13), but through the grace of God and the power of Christ’s resurrection, we can stay on the path God has for us to follow and enjoy it!!
The next verses are the prayers of our hearts to maintain purity before God. While verses 36 and 37 speak of material gain and wealth, we also pray that our hearts do not turn to pleasing others or ourselves. We pray our eyes would remain pure before God and fixed upon Christ as the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) as we maintain God will carry out to completion the work that He has begun in each of us (Philippians 1:6).
We pray God washes away the shame and guilt from our pasts in the blood of Jesus Christ and as the only Judge we stand before (Psalm 51:2, 4, 7), we can hunger and thirst after His righteousness (Matthew 5:6) knowing that He is good (Mark 10:18), and we can live a life of abundance instead of defeat (John 10:10).
What are you struggling with today? Do you have any guilt or shame? God’s desire is for you to meet Him in His Word and allow the truth of the gospel to wash over you and cleanse you and give you the freedom to walk in the paths He has created for you. Take some time today to read and believe the truth of God’s Word for your life.