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Exploring Psalm 119:25-32

25 My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!
26 When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes!
27 Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
28 My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!
29 Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.
31 I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; let me not be put to shame!
32 I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!
Psalm 119:25-32

The fourth stanza of the 119th Psalm is once again centered on the sufficiency of Scripture. The Psalmist is confessing his sin with a penitent heart, making a turn from his transgression to once again walk according to the Word of God. As with every stanza in Psalm 119, the psalmist understands that Scripture is totally sufficient for Justification and Sanctification. We do not need a “fresh word from God,” because “His mercies are new every morning.”

25 My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!

The psalmist rightfully begins with the realization that his soul is unsatisfied with the things of God. This is an internal recognition of the reason for transgressing against God. We sin because we choose to be unsatisfied with His goodness. And therefore, he says that his “soul clings to the dust.” Meaning, he is getting caught up in the things of this world. He is struggling to “put off” the worldly things around him. And here, we can see that he is confessing his sin to God, admitting his failure, and asking that God would revive his soul. Ultimately, when we “cling to the dust” in our own lives, we are committing the sin of idolatry, because we are placing something above God in our lives.

When we acknowledge our sin, confess it to God and repent, our cry to the Lord should include an appeal that our soul would once again find satisfaction in Christ alone. Often, as we are being sanctified, we will “turn to the left and turn to the right,” but the believer cannot and will not remain in that sin. Instead, he will experience conviction in his soul and respond with confession to God and repentance. He will turn away from that sin, leaving it “to the dust,” and he will turn back to Christ. The desperate plea from the soul of the believer is to find joy, delight and satisfaction in the submission to the Word of God. And this is exactly where the psalmist turns.

26 When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes!

There is a conviction of sin in the life of a believer. After we have been “made alive to Christ” (Ephesians 2:4), our “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) is led by the Power of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. When our decisions transgress against the Law of God, the Holy Spirit convicts our heart. At this point, we can resist this conviction, and in doing so, we willfully choose idolatry. When this happens, Leviticus 26 lays out the Blessings and the Curses for our life choices.

God answered the prayer of the psalmist with the gift of repentance. And in our penitent heart, God is gracious and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). When we are convicted of our sin, we must realize that even this conviction is the grace of God. He could leave us in our sin, but He chooses not to. He is willing to discipline our spiritual lives, so that we can be made more into the image of the Son of God. And our desire should be to learn the things of God and apply these precepts to our walk with Christ.

27 Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.

“Make me” is a direct command, which is cried out to God, as if to say, “Do whatever it takes to conform my life into the image of Jesus Christ.” And specifically, the psalmist asks to “make me understand the way.” There is a vast difference in knowing about God’s Law and understanding His Law. Any human being can read the Word of God and know the details and specifics of what it says. But only God can open the eyes of the blind to understand Scripture. For the believer, God opens the eyes of their heart to be enlightened to the Truth. The psalmist is asking for God to enlighten his eyes, which will confirm in his heart that God is good. This is important when we are turning away from sin, because it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance (Acts 2:4).

The psalmist commits to meditate on the Word of God as he understands it more. This is the devotion that we make in our Justification to “love the Lord our God with all of our minds” (Matthew 22:36-40). Instead of focusing on the culture and the world around us, we think on the things of God. We “set our mind” on the Word of God (Colossians 3:2).

28 My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!

When a believer truly repents of his sins, there is an empty and lowly feeling in his heart. His realizes that his sin was cosmic treason against the King of kings. And the proper response is humility. The psalmist describes this brokenness as his “soul melting away for sorrow.” This “melting away” is the worldly desire to be satisfied by anything that is not of God.

Knowing that he is in a state of weakness, in his broken and contrite heart, the psalmist asked for God to strengthen him. Note that the strength comes in accordance with the Word of God. We can be assured that Scripture is so sufficient, that it is able to strengthen the soul of the believer who has been humbled.

29 Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!

The psalmist has a realization that he does not want to go back in the way of his sin. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). The only way to truly overcome sin is by replacing that worldly lust with the satisfying Word of God. For the Christian, this is sufficient. David recalls in Psalm 34:22, “The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.” There is hope for those who will put their trust in the Lord.

The mark of a true Christian is not that they feel bad for their sin, but that they are willing to put it away. Colossians 3:5-10 is very clear on the imperative in this nature: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator."

30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.

The first of three commitments that the believer makes to his God after being forgiven of sin. He says, “I have chosen the way of faithfulness.” This is to choose to turn to the Law of the Lord over his sin. This is to choose righteousness over transgression. This is to willingly and intentionally choose Christ over everything else that this world has to offer.

We must have the Law of the Lord ever before our eyes. There is no other way to ensure that we are walking in His ways, but to consistently be reminded of His precepts. We must trust that the Word of the Lord is totally and completely sufficient for our daily lives.

31 I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; let me not be put to shame!

The second of three commitments that the believers makes to his God after being forgiven of sin. He says, “I cling to your testimonies.” This is to hold fast to the Truth. This is to be unwavering with his faith. This is to treat the Word of God as precious — more precious than silver or gold. He understands the value that the Law of the Lord brings to his life, and therefore holds tightly, so as to not forget.

The cry to the Lord is that he will “not be put to shame.” This is in reference to both his daily choices and his eternal salvation. Each time we transgress against the Law of God, we are in a state of shame, because we have wronged the Lord our God. As Christians, we made the commitment to “Love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength,” but our sin goes against that promise. Therefore, we are “put to shame.” In the same way, the psalmist references Psalm 25 (verses 2, 20) by pleading for deliverance for his eternal soul. The believer can rest assured that his God will “never leave him, not forsake him” (Hebrews 13:5).

32 I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!

The third commitment that the believer makes to his God after being delivered from sin is that he will “run in the way of” the commands of God. This should be our desire all the day. We should desire to fulfill the instruction in Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

As the psalmist concludes the fourth stanza, he petitions that God would “enlarge” his heart. This request is that God would allow his spirit the capacity to find more delight in Christ. He is asking that God would give him the delight of his heart, which should be Christ Himself (Psalm 37:4). This is the only hope that can make your joy complete (John 15:11).
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