Run hard, He’s worth the effort

Before you engage this devotion, pause for a moment in humility; pray and ask the Lord to open your heart to His Word.

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, failure 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?

 

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?

 

And where is the Psalmist’s source of revival? God’s Word.

 

Think with me about the Woman at the well in John 4:5-26.  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.  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?  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.  I believe it’s worth it to God to allow us to go through a painful desert experience in order to produce in us a longing for Him and Him alone.  If that’s true believer, then don’t you believe that it would be better to simply go to His Word first and skip all the drama of the fleshly wilderness and desert experiences?  When will we learn to take the short-cut to blessing through God’s 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 ways”  This statement could either be a confession of sinfulness or a declaration of intention (my plans/ambition)?  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, “You 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, path, 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 the word of God (Ps. 119:105).  As sheep, we’re all in continual need of learning the ways of God (Ps. 23:3).

 

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.

So I will meditate on Thy wonders.”  I cannot meditate on what I do not understand.  Believer, 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 in order to meditate… we fill our minds with the Word of God and then we have substance to meditate on.

 

V.28    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 is the 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), because of persecution (Ps. 69:20), because of circumstantial difficulty (Matt. 11:28) or simply because of allowing our minds to be filled with negative self-absorbing thoughts (Phil. 2:3-4).

Heaviness of heart, or depression is a huge strength zapper.  Just think how much needless energy we spend on thinking/worrying/fretting?  Regardless of the cause, heaviness of heart is a very real thing; and God’s Word is the only source of true strength and healing.

  • 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 (which is Rom. 8:28) for those that love Him.
  • God’s word speaks to and ministers to every nook and cranny of my soul.
  • Most importantly, God’s word leads me into fellowship with Him, my Wonderful Counselor.

Every emotion that my soul could possibly encounter, every circumstantial, emotional, social, financial, logistical pressure that my soul may ever encounter in 1000 lifetimes — God’s Word speaks 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; and ultimately, He is the Way the Truth and the Life.

He is the solution… His word does not provide a formula for us to follow or just answers to our questions and problems… It brings us to Him. He is where I find rest for my soul… He says to us, “Come to ME all who are weary and heavy laden (Mt. 11:28).” He is “the God of all comfort and the Father of mercy (II Cor. 1:3)” and, He says, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you, (Heb. 13:5b).  He created you for relationship with Him and He will stop at no lengths to bring you into this intimacy… even if that means testing (refining your faith) through trial, in circumstances that you think you can’t stand.  He’s going to give you Joy.

 

V.29    “Remove the false way from me.”  You know, sometimes it’s hard to push the delete button.  Sometimes it is humanly impossible to unlearn some of the false ways that we have learned throughout life.  We not only need to learn of His ways, we need to unlearn our ways.  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 dysfunction!  What hope for the person that seems to be in a sick 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 Gracious Law.  Pray to the Lord and ask Him… “Lord, I know I cannot forget some of these haunting experiences I’ve had in life, but please, God, graciously grant me a substitute thought process.  Heal my troubled soul with the healthy truth of Your Word.  Make me well and whole.  Undo what the enemy has done.”

 
V.30    “I have chosen the faithful way”  The issue of choice now comes to bear on change.  Do I really want to change?  Some of our dysfunctional cycles of self-absorption are comfortable.  We like the feeling of being a victim.  We enjoy 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.  Often times, 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’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 thoughts to God in light of your area of struggle,  “God, by Your grace, please make this a reality in my life!

 

V.31    “I cleave to your testimonies.”  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 its fulfillment (Phil. 4:11).  But he was a desperate man (Phil. 3:10-14).  Our problem is that we’ve got too many options… we’ve got too many other solutions to our problems… 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 says “do 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] place.

 

V.32    “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.  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 plan and purposes of God in my life!  Believer,  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.  A few of His children will cling to God no matter what.  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 won’t be without lots of difficulty, because of the world we pilgrim through is not ours, it’s under Satan’s dominion (I Jn. 5:19).  Opposition will come and will mean weakness, weakness will mean we need the strength of endurance.  The final statement (not a request, but a definitive statement) in this passage is that the Lord will “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.” (Wikipedia)

 A large heart means more blood gets to the body faster.  Believer, God will enlarge your spiritual heart – He will provide everything you need to endure whatever the race marked out before you requires (II Cor. 12:9,10; Heb. 12:1-2)… in order that you may win the “prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14b).  What, you say is that 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 I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:10-11).
Run hard.  He’s worth the effort.