God’s Life-giving Word

Psalm 119:25-32
My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to your word.
I have declared my ways, and you answered me;
Teach me your statutes.
Make me understand the way of your precepts;
So shall I meditate on your wonderful works.
My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to your word.
Remove from me the way of lying,
And grant me your law graciously.
I have chosen the way of truth;
Your judgments I have laid before me.
I cling to your testimonies;
O LORD, do not put me to shame!
I will run the course of your commandments,
For you shall enlarge my heart.

Have you ever felt exhausted by the constant battle over sin that wages within? The Apostle Paul described it this way, “…I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members (Rom. 7:22-23).” The Psalmist finds himself collapsing to the dust, his soul melting under the weight of the struggle within. The very real threat of shame towers over him, and the awareness of his deceitful heart and lips is almost too much for him to bear. When the power of sin looms large before our eyes, we may be tempted to despair of ever finding the strength to obey God’s commands, but the Psalmist directs our attention to the grace of God which empowers believers to walk worthy of our calling, pleasing the Lord and bearing the fruit of good works.

For the Psalmist, God’s word is not a magic talisman, granting supernatural powers to the one who wields it, but a powerful instrument in the hand of God himself to breath life into a fainting soul. He pursues, not just hearing Scripture, but understanding it and molding his thoughts after it. Only when his mind is renewed can his heart be lifted from the depths of despair. This changing of the mind and heart will result in a changed lifestyle as God graciously removes his feet from the paths of deceit and places him firmly in the way of righteousness. It is the word of God in the hand of God which teaches us just how weak and impotent we are, then wonderfully brings about in us the necessary change that we might become what we ought in spite of ourselves.

And so the Psalmist closes this stanza proclaiming his desperation in clinging to God’s word and declaring his confidence in the Lord’s gracious provision to live a life pleasing to him. The beauty of these words is the utter dependence on God which characterizes them. Without the word of God by which he has so graciously revealed himself, we would be eternally lost and destitute of hope, and so we, like the Psalmist, take hold of it like a drowning man grasping a life preserver, trusting that God will not fail to keep his promise. And we do not hope for nothing, because the God who has given us his word also empowers us to keep it, that we might say with the Psalmist, “I will run the course of your commandments, for you shall enlarge my heart.”

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