This is the longest psalm and it has a message we must NEVER forget. It is a fervent prayer for God to mold the life of the singer in accordance with His word.
I thought about breaking this psalm down into one day with each heading but then I read it in its entirety. There isn’t a different message or direction under each heading. It is taken together as one piece and all the verses point to the same heart’s cry. “Teach me Your ways O Lord.”
We are never told why the author chose the format he did for the construction of this psalm. Maybe he wanted to represent every aspect of his life by likening it to every letter in his alphabet. He didn’t separate out the areas of his life into the sections though. Maybe he used the alphabet to represent the timeline in his life; beginning to end. I felt drawn to this idea as I was reading the whole psalm. It is fully plausible that he had another completely different reason for choosing this structure. Maybe he was just an overly organized individual and he did all things in this fashion. I suppose this is another one of those ‘bench questions’ that we will have to ask when we see Jesus face to face.
I mentioned the fact that I felt the psalm had a progression through life feeling. I am NOT presenting this as some doctrinal truth, but rather a feeling I got in my spirit. Let me share with you a little of what I saw as I went along.
The first stanza speaks to me of someone just recognizing there is a difference between people who live for the Lord and those who live for themselves. It feels as if our author is looking at these people as his example and longing to follow their example. He sees that by walking in the ways of the Lord they are blessed. And he wants this in his life too! “Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping Your statutes!” (verse 5). His focus is forward looking and he has made a determined stand to live this way from then on.
The second verse sounds to me as if he is looking for instruction on how to live this new life he has chosen. He needs guidance and boundaries within which to work on his new heart. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your word” (verse 9). He promises to put these precepts into practice as he learns them, with his WHOLE heart! He also finds in the process that he is falling deeper and deeper in love with God’s words. They are better than riches and he commits to studying them.
In the third stanza he is seeing the benefits of following the Lord. He is seeing the Lord’s bounty and his soul is longing for more even as he takes in what he has been given. But he is also beginning to see that there is a change in how the world perceives him. There are those who are not happy with his changes and seek to deter him. He is committed to their failure for two reasons. First, he believes that God will rebuke him if he strays. “You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from Your commandments” (verse 21). He does NOT want to become one of these men. He doesn’t want anyone laughing at him and calling him a hypocrite. Second, he is in LOVE with the Lord and TRULY desires to please Him. NOTHING matters more to him than this.
The fourth stanza sounds like a man who has endured for some time. His “soul clings to the dust” and cries out for refreshing; life. He still calls out to the Lord for teaching and understanding of His word. And he is COMMITTED to following it. It’s just that life is hard. He can’t do it on his own. He NEEDS the Lord to “enlarge” his heart so he CAN cling to His testimonies.
In the fifth verse he is resolute. He WILL endure to the end! He is asking for a deeper hunger for the word to help him in accomplishing this. “Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” (verse 36). He is asking God to focus his heart on Himself and to make everything else fade away.
I see him sharing what he has received with others in the sixth stanza. He is asking for God to put words into his mouth that he might share God’s truths that he has received. He is also asking God about the promises He made. He KNOWS he can trust all of the promises He has received. He wants to be able to shut the mouths of those who speak against God’s promises.
The sixth stanza has him again going through some hard places. This time it appears that discipline was involved. He holds fast to God’s promises even in the midst of this discipline. He recognizes that it is for his benefit and brings about an even deeper relationship with his Lord.
Our psalmist continues on an up and down cycle of blessings, lessons, and trials from others. But his heart is resolved to follow the Lord NO MATTER WHAT. He KNOWS that his life is nothing without the Lord. He has no fear of what man may do to him. He puts it ALL in the hands of his Lord.
We are no longer under the Laws given to Moses but we are to treat God’s word with the same kind of longing our psalmist had. His word is life. Without it there is no growth or learning more of Him. Get in the word! Did deep and let the Spirit lead you to the treasures He has hidden there, just waiting for you to take the time to look. And EVERY promise He EVER made is STILL true. Hold fast to them for they are our yesterday, today and tomorrow. He holds them all in His hands. Let Him mold your life into the one He has envisioned for you. He is the GREATEST Potter EVER!
This is where I want to be Father God. I want deeper understanding of Your word. I want to be able to tune out all the distractions that keep me from truly focusing on Your word. I don’t want to be afraid of what others might say about me. Give me a deeper longing and more focus during out times together. THANK YOU that ALL Your promises are true and I can trust in them.