A Servant’s Journey from Despair to Dedication
Your life has hit rock bottom. You’ve run out of options. As a wayward child of God, you reach for your Bible and begin searching for a shred of hope. The Word convicts and you cry out to God confessing your sins. You aim to change and you begin to study again. The more you meditate and grow, the more you recognize your own failures. With this realization comes an even greater reliance on God for strength along the journey. Though stumbling blocks come, having tasted of the sorrow found in the pit, you resolve like never before to keep on the straight and narrow.
This is a picture of Daleth – Psalm 119:25-32. The excellency of God’s word (the overall theme of Psalm 119) is clearly seen as we explore the journey of a man going from despair to dedication. In keeping with the Hebrew letter Daleth, here are four “D’s” as we examine what the Word of God offers along the Psalmist’s journey.
25 My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.
26 I have declared my ways, and You answered me;
Teach me Your statutes.
27 Make me understand the way of Your precepts;
So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works.
28 My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word.
29 Remove from me the way of lying,
And grant me Your law graciously.
30 I have chosen the way of truth;
Your judgments I have laid before me.
31 I cling to Your testimonies;
O Lord, do not put me to shame!
32 I will run the course of Your commandments,
For You shall enlarge my heart.
A Declared Disgust Towards Sin (vs 25-26)
Long before Peter made that great statement in John 6:68, the psalmist, in desperate need of resuscitation knew where to turn for the words of eternal life. (Bible Markers: A reference to God’s word is in every verse!) The psalmist “declared my ways,” that is, (from the Hebrew) he fully recounted his life to God. He told God everything about himself, his concerns, his desires, and his specific sins. When is the last time you did that? He understood his need to learn and grow and he knew where to go for that education. It’s a beautiful picture of the promise given to us in Matthew 7:7-8. When we ask, seek, and knock, God will answer.
A Desired Discernment in God’s Will (vs 27)
With Google always at our fingertips, it’s easy to become a self-made expert in any field of choice. But spiritually speaking, it’s not until we acknowledge our own ineptness that we will seek the true source for instruction and growth. The psalmist not only conceded this, but was willing to put in the effort to mature. (Bible Markers: Find each “I” and notice the corresponding actions taken.) Meditation and study of God’s word takes determination. It’s a life-long process, but it is necessary to faithfully reach the end.
A Discovered Dependence on God (vs 28-29)
Maya Angelou is quoted as saying, “…Now that I know better, I do better.” Often, with knowledge and growth in godliness comes the keen awareness of the failures and sins of the past. As the psalmist grows in his understanding of God’s will, he melts from the heaviness of the knowledge of his sin (his particular struggle seems to be lying). However, he also realizes that the Word of God is able to give him strength and hope to overcome it. (Bible Markers: Note all of the “verb me” phrases.) These requests from the Psalmist are not just optimistic wishes. They are biblical, hope-filled expectations because God, in His graciousness has already proven dependable. When we’re on the right path, even when we falter, God is always ready and willing to offer strength for the journey.
A Determined Devotion to His Glory (vs 30-32)
In the last three verses, there is a noticeable shift in resolve seen in the language of the psalmist. (Bible Markers: Notice the cling in verse 25 compared to the cling in verse 31.) A transformation has taken place. He is no longer making requests of God; rather he is confident in the path he has chosen. When I resolve to follow and continually choose the path of righteousness (vs. 30a), when I aim to align my plans with God’s precepts (vs. 30b), when I cling to His word letting go of the world (vs. 31a), God will make that righteous path possible! He will graciously “enlarge my heart” also translated “broaden my understanding.” I can run with confidence because He will give me strength (vs. 28), knowledge and instruction (vs. 26-27), and ultimately life (vs. 25) all through His excellent word!
Repentance looks differently for each of us because our sins differ (cf. Luke 3:8-14). Still, an integral part of the journey for everyone must be the unyielding resolve to cling to God’s word and follow His path. Whether you’re face down in the dirt or growing and running with confidence, there is no place in this life that we can find ourselves that time spent in God’s word will not aid us in becoming more dedicated servants.
by Kathryn Baker