PSALM 119:25-32

The next strophe or (stanza) in our study of Psalm 119 is the daleth (Heb. ד), strophe.  Daleth is the fourth letter in Hebrew alphabet and each of the next eight lines of this strophe begin with the letter daleth (Vv. 25-32).  The theme is the way of God vs. the way of man.  The Psalm begs the question… are we going to walk in God’s way or ours?  If we cleave to His way through His Word, we’ll experience the divine joy and strength that this world could never bring.  If we cling to our ways, we will experience depression, weakness and sorrow – guaranteed.   We cannot sow to the flesh and reap God’s blessing (Gal. 6:7-8). 

  V.25    “My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Thy word.            The word debach – means to cling, cleave, stick, adhere to.  The word is literally used for glue – or to adhere to something.  And fig. used… to be loyal, affectionate or devoted.  This passage is translated in various ways: “I lie prone in the dust” (NEB); “down in the dust I lie prostrate” (JB); “I lie prostrate in the dust” (NAB); “I lie defeated in the dust” (TEV); “My soul cleaves to the dust” (NAS)   What word-picture is painted here?

  • Desperation?
  • Weakness?
  • Frailty?
  • Depravity?
  • Thirst?
  • Spiritual Malnutrition?
  • Spiritual Dehydration?
  • Death – dust
  • Or even a complete recognition of my own spiritual bankruptcy apart from God’s grace?

  Psalm 63:1 says, “O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, In a dry and weary land where there I no water.”   Ask yourself a very telling question: Don’t I turn to God more earnestly when I am hurting?  The answer is often a resounding – Yes.    Where is the Psalmist’s source of life revival?  God’s Word.    Think of the Woman at the well in John 4.  She was driven to her desperate spiritual state of thirst through a frantic search for happiness (in the world and the flesh).  After five husbands and a live-in, she finally met the Word of Life Jesus Christ.  Her thirst was satisfied; her life was revived.  What about the woman caught in adultery in John 8?  Doesn’t it make sense that the Lord will allow us to pursue happiness in the world and the flesh, simply to show us nothing will satisfy the deepest longings of our soul?  Have you noticed that while the Spirit of God might convict us of an inclination to pursue some ambition that will appease our flesh, He won’t reach in and stop us?  Wow!  He’d really let us get to the place where our very soul cleaves to the dust so the thirst and the desire and the desperation is real(ly ours)!  God will allow us to chase after a worldly enterprise, whether a relationship or ambition or lustful passion, only to allow us to come up desperate, empty and back to Him longing for what the wilderness of our flesh could not satisfy.  Our Heavenly Father would take us through a painful and long desert experience to produce in us a longing for Him and Him alone.  We’d all rather skip the desert experiences, and few would subject themselves willingly to trial.  But imagine the possibilities of being famished for the Lord?  Now, saying all that, wouldn’t it be much easier for us to go to His Word first with a heart that’s perfect toward Him and skip those fleshly wilderness and desert experiences?  Yes.  Believer don’t go to the wilderness of the flesh.  You lose precious time and it hurts when it doesn’t need to.  Humble yourself… bring yourself to that place of desperation for God.  If you don’t have it, spend some extended time with the Lord seeking His face only and ask Him to fill your heart with a longing for Him.   About the wilderness experiences…  sometimes the Spirit of God leads us out into the wilderness or we’re out there for reasons beyond our volitional responsibility.  When trials come and it’s not because we’re in the flesh – like Job, Joseph, Moses, Ruth, David, Jesus, Paul etc…  Seize the day and allow those experiences to produce in you that longing, that desperation for Him that circumstantial bliss could not touch.  In the meantime, take the short-cut to blessing through humbling ourselves before His precious Word?      V.26    “I have told of my ways, and Thou hast answered me; Teach me Thy statutes.” The word dereck – means way, path, road; the word used for a pathway or road.  Figuratively, the word is used speaking of a lifestyle, mode of life, an undertaking, a “walk.” – in application, your Christian walk.    “I have told (You) of my ways¼”  This statement could either be a confession of sinfulness or a declaration of intention (my plans/ambition)?  It could be a statement that “I have ordered my way(s) before You… give me direction.”  But I believe it’s speaking of a confession of sinfulness (or possibly just a confession of the limitations/finitude of my own humanity which would lead my life into the proverbial ditch – Read Proverbs 16:1-3).  Then it goes on to say, “¼You answered me; Teach me your statutes.”  So, we could pray this prayer back to the Lord saying, “Lord, Your answer to my ways are – Your ways; so teach me Your ways,” Therefore, I continually need to learn Your ways.  If I were to get my eyes off you for even a part of my journey, way, path¼ I’ll start to go my own way and then I will be lost.  Life gets very confusing when we leave the lighted pathway of God’s word (Ps. 119:105).  In light of my ways… I am in continual need of learning the ways of God.    V.27    “Make me understand the way (dereck) of Thy precepts,”  If God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts, then it stands to reason that we are in a continual need of understanding His ways.  Just like the car is in a continual need of a driver and the plane a pilot.  “So, I will meditate on Thy wonders.”  I cannot meditate on what I do not understand.  Meditation is not a mindless thing.  The concept of meditation on nothing or TM, is evil and is a doctrine of demons concocted so that the enemy can fill your mind with self-medicating, self-absorbed, distorted thinking.  We don’t empty our minds to meditate¼ we focus, we fill our minds with the Word of God and then we have substance to meditate on.  The word meditate שִׂ֫יחַ siach can mean to complain, consider, meditate, muse, sigh, sing, speak or talk.  It’s used in Proverbs 6:22 speaking of the commandment of the father after it is bound to the heart; it talks to you (read Prov. 6:20-23).  It is imperative the believer spend time (lots of time) alone with the Lord meditating on Him, His Word, His wonderous works.        

 

  V.28    “My soul weeps because of grief; strengthen me according to Thy word.” The word delaph – means to drip, drop through, melt or pour out.  “My soul weeps (delaph) because of grief;” The picture here is of my soul dropping, or sinking because of grief.  This could be a perfect word diagnosing clinical depression.  The gravity of sorrow brings the soul down.  The heart grows “heavy” (Prov. 12:25).  This can be because of sin (Ps. 38:1-8), persecution (Ps. 69:20), circumstantial difficulty (Matt. 11:28), loss – even Jesus wept at the loss of His close friend Lazarus (Jn. 11:35).  Depression can also come from allowing our minds to be filled with negative self-absorbing thoughts (Phil. 2:3-4).  Heaviness of heart, or depression is a strength zapper.  Just think how much energy we spend on thinking/worrying/fretting?  Regardless of the cause, heaviness of heart is a very real thing; and because God is LOVE, He cares and wants us to cast all our cares on Him (I Peter 5:7).  Personal contact with God through prayer and the ministry of God’s Word is our only true source of strength. Why?  Because the word of God orients me to the truth of the matter, no matter what the situation is.  God’s word provides God’s perspective; He’s working all things out for the good for those who love Him Rom. 8:28; and we don’t really know what God is doing in a situation behind the scenes (Eccl. 11:5; Isa. 55:8-9.  God’s word speaks and ministers to every nook and cranny of my soul¼ Most importantly, His word leads me into fellowship with Him, my Wonderful Counselor.  Every emotion my soul could possibly encounter, every circumstantial, emotional, social, financial, logistical pressure my soul may ever encounter in 1000 lifetimes; God’s Word speaks directly to it and provides the comfort, stability and strength that I need for the moment.  We know this because God’s Word orients me to Him and His ways; ultimately, He is the Way the Truth and the Life.  He is the solution¼ His word does not provide a formula for us to follow or merely answers to our questions; it isn’t a magical dust we sprinkle on our emotional state and we feel better… God’s word brings us to HimHe is where I find rest for my soul¼ He says to us, “Come to ME¼ all who are weary and heavy laden¼(Mt. 11:28)” and, “I am the God of all comfort and the Father of mercy (II Cor. 1:3)” and, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you, (Heb. 13:5b).   V.29    “Remove the false way from me, and graciously grant me Thy law.”  You know, sometimes it’s hard to push the delete button.  Sometimes it’s just humanly impossible to unlearn some of the false ways that we’ve learned through our life’s experience.  We live in a fallen (and evil infested) world and we’ve often suffered at the hands of depraved men and we can’t erase bad memories.  We not only need to learn of His ways, we need to unlearn our ways.  We need not let those experiences determine who we are or how we think or perceive God.  If anything, the bad thoughts and memories must cause us to spend more and more time before His throne of grace casting and recasting and recasting those cares and anxieties on Him.  Pray.  Ask Him, “Lord, take away the false ways in me and take them far away from me.  Then replace those false ways with Your truth.”  What hope for our learned or experienced dysfunction!  What hope for the person who seems to be stuck in a cycle of self-abasement and depression!  What hope that those ways can be removed!  What do I need?  I need lots of prayer, lots of fellowship with healthy believers and lots of substitution of His grace and truth for all the lies I’ve believed.  Pray to the Lord and ask Him… “Lord, I know I can’t forget some of these haunting experiences I’ve had in life, but please, God, graciously give me some peace; please help me replace these troubling thoughts with Your word.  Heal my troubled soul with the healthy truth of Your Word.  Make me well and whole.  Undo what the enemy has done.” My soul is to be “…nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine…” (I Tim. 4:4c)  

 

V.30    “I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Thine ordinances before me.” The issue of choice now comes to bear on change.  Do I really want change?  Some of our dysfunctional cycles of self-absorption are comfortable.  We like the feeling of being a victim because it relinquishes responsibility.  Our sinful nature enjoys the feeling of resentment and bitterness.  We’re comfortable with the routine of our soul-neglect or self-abuse.  Certain factors that contribute to our depression are even welcome, because it only confirms the fact that I am a victim and not responsible for my thoughts, words or actions.  Often, we’re not willing to take responsibility because taking responsibility for my thought-life means change.  Change is oftentimes scary.  Well… change always means choice.  Tell God: “God, I’m choosing not to think that way anymore.  I am choosing to think the way of Your word.  I am choosing to be comforted by You and not by my narcissistic thought-processes.  I am choosing not to give into my flesh and feed my own selfish sinful nature this time.  I am going to search Your word and make it my own.  I am going to plead with You to remove the false ways from me and replace them with Your thoughts.  I am going to meditate (thoughtfully and scripturally) on You and not my own empty, lost, depressed soul.  My thoughts are not Your thoughts and I confess those as sin.  I’m going to set about learning Your thoughts on this matter!  I am going to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (II Cor. 10:5).”  Pray these things to God considering your area of struggle and ask Him finally, “God, please, by Your grace, please make this a reality in my life!”      V.31    “I cleave to your testimonies; O Lord, do not put me to shame!”  When you’ve come to the place where nothing else works, nothing else will do and there’s no other source of soul-relief other than God alone… then you will cleave to His Word.  Only desperate people cleave.  Only needy people stick to a thing in desperation whether it is good for them or bad for them.  We can place ourselves in this mode of desperately seeking after Him.  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6).  This is a promise.  Paul found fulfillment in want (Phil. 4:11).  But he was a desperate man (Phil. 3:10-14).  Our problem is that we’ve got too many options¼ we’ve got too many other solutions to our problems¼.  We’re so self-absorbed that we won’t let the Lord in.  We must allow the Spirit of God to winnow out the flesh and “our ways.”  Only then will we experience His changing grace.  The Psalmist prays “¼do not put me to shame.”  This is truly the cry of a desperate man.  Whether He was brought to this point of desperation by circumstantial difficulty, or depression, or simply the consequences of sin, he’s desperately clinging to the Lord and that’s a good thing.  Wow, do we really want intimate fellowship with the Lord that bad… enough to be brought this low?  Maybe this is what Paul meant when He said he has “learned the secret of being content in whatever circumstances I am.”  He was brought low through difficulty over and over and over, so He could truly say that God grace is sufficient and experiential IN WEAKNESS (Read II Cor. 11:16-12:10).  That’s not a road we traverse willingly is it?  What we normally want is just enough God to make us feel better, ‘cause it’s really all about me anyway, isn’t it?  We all need to do some soul-searching.  Pour yourself out to the Lord in a self-emptying prayer that results in a self-empty-hearted-life-style that accepts anything, or any trial that would bring us to such a [wonderful] desperate God-cleaving place.  Remember, He’s the Father of mercy and the God of all comfort (II Cor. 1:2).  At the point of cleaving to Him, your soul will be filled with peace.   V.32    “I shall run the way of Thy commandments, for Thou wilt enlarge my heart.” “I will run the way of Thy commandments,” Just like the strophe endings of aleph (Vv. 1-8) and beth (Vv. 9-16) and Gimel (17-24), this one ends with a statement or promise.  P à Believer, it’s good to make commitments to God.  A) Count the cost B) lean in on Him and C) preface all with a plea for His enabling grace.   This is the Psalmists aggressive intention to not walk in the way but run in the way.  I am going to run in the way of the Lord.  All my energies will be focused on the calling of God and His purposes being fulfilled in my life!  What are my personal responsibilities before Him?  Now?  Today?  Hebrews 12:1,2 comes after Hebrews 11!  The faith “hall of fame” credits those who ran the way of the Lord.  Nothing stood in the way of their following hard after God by faith.  No matter how difficult the circumstances were, no matter how good the other options were, they kept their eyes focused on the Lord.  No compromise.  A few of His children will keep their eyes on God’s calling for them.  A few of His children will cling to God no matter what.  “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…” (Col. 3:17).  This is the faith that’s rewarded in a huge way at the Judgment seat of Jesus Christ.  Could they write the following on our grave stone?       “No matter what, he ran the way of the Lord, he held fast to the Lord.” But this person’s life will not be without lots of difficulty, because of the world we pilgrim through is not ours, it’s under Satan’s dominion, authority (I Jn. 5:19).  Opposition will come to the God seeker! That opposition will mean weakness, weakness will demand the strength of endurance.  The final statement (not a request, but a definitive statement) is for Thou wilt enlarge my heart.  This passage makes me think of the famous thoroughbred Secretariat I’ll include an excerpt from Wikipedia on Secretariat’s heart.  “In the fall of 1989, Secretariat was afflicted with laminitis—a painful and often incurable hoof condition. When his condition failed to improve after a month of treatment, he was euthanized on October 4 at the age of 19.[38] Secretariat was buried at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky, given the rare honor of being buried whole (usually only the head, heart, and hooves of a winning race horse are buried, and the rest of the body is cremated). A necropsy revealed his heart was significantly larger than that of an ordinary horse.[37] An extremely large heart is a trait that occasionally occurs in Thoroughbreds, linked to a genetic condition passed down via the dam line, known as the “x-factor”.[37][39][40][41] The x-factor can be traced to the historic racehorse Eclipse, which was necropsied after his death in 1789. Because Eclipse’s heart appeared to be much larger than other horses, it was weighed, and found to be 14 pounds (6.4 kg), almost twice the normal weight. Eclipse is believed to have passed the trait on via his daughters, and pedigree research verified that Secretariat traces in his dam line to a daughter of Eclipse.[37] In the 20th century, the heart of Phar Lap was weighed and also documented to be 6.35 kilograms (14.0 lb.),[42] or essentially the same size as that of Eclipse. At the time of Secretariat’s death, the veterinarian who performed the necropsy, Dr. Thomas Swerczek, head pathologist at the University of Kentucky, did not weigh Secretariat’s heart, but stated, “We just stood there in stunned silence. We couldn’t believe it. The heart was perfect. There were no problems with it. It was just this huge engine.”[38] Later, Swerczek also performed a necropsy on Sham, who died in 1993. Swerczek did weigh Sham’s heart, and it was 18 pounds (8.2 kg). Based on Sham’s measurement, and having necropsied both horses, he estimated Secretariat’s heart probably weighed 22 pounds (10.0 kg),[37] or about two-and-three-quarters times as large as that of the average horse. Secretariat swept the Belmont Stakes in 1973 by 31 links and beat the fastest time by over two seconds; that race was forever memorialized in history and described as supernatural.  An interesting fact is Sham held a tie with Secretariat for the lead half way through that fateful Belmont race, but Secretariat with amazing endurance and speed pulled away the last half of the race like it just started.  A large heart moves more blood to the body faster.  A large heart provides life when weak hearts die.  A large heart endures.  Believer, no matter what the trial or desert or suffering, He will enlarge your spiritual heart – He’ll provide everything you need to endure whatever the race marked out before you requires (II Cor. 12:9,10; Heb. 12:1-2); so you may win the “prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14b).  What’s the upward call?  “that [you] may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that [you] may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:10-11).  Run the way of His Word, hard.  He will enlarge your heart.