There are a few men we’ve come to expect and hold to higher standards of behavior because of their exceptional wisdom, like the Apostle Paul, King David and even King Solomon. The price of our esteem is greater accountability. When they fall the collateral damage is devastating. In this sense, the more a person knows of God’s instruction the more that person owes to his/her circle of influence. Yet it was Paul who penned, “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand…Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:21, 24 ESV). No wonder Solomon wrote, “For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow” (Ecclesiastes 1:18).
This portion of Psalm 119 offers a glimpse into David’s heart and exposes the intimacy of his relationship with God. His case before God opens with his chief complaint, “my soul clings to the dust” (v. 25); “My soul melts away for sorrow” (v. 28). In a very real sense David is in agreement with God’s indictment against Adam, “…for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (cf. Genesis 3:19). The heaviness of his heart over personal sin caused his confidence in leadership to melt away like wax from a candle burning at both ends. Likewise, the burden of sin so vexes the soul until it’s effects are manifested in a losing battle to internal fearing and external fighting. The extent to which corruption so permeated one’s being is best described as the inner man “clinging” to the dust of death (v. 24) and his spirit “melting” away like a burning candle. So David’s prayer was that God “quicken” (breathe life into) him by His word.
The providence of God’s word breathes life into our affairs, purpose to our afflictions, healing to spiritual apathy, and quickens our devotion to Him. In our spiritual dullness God bids we come to Him, casting all our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and Life” (John 6:63). Therefore His word is to be our guide in every petition.
David opened his case with a complaint, now he opens his heart with a readiness to learn (v. 26), “I have declared my ways…teach me your statutes!” To declare our ways to God is to live honestly with Him and with one another, nothing hidden from His truth. It is to display our motives, anxieties, desires, and difficulties as well as our sins so that He hears our petitions. “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us” (1 John 5:14). This declaration of our ways prepares our heart to receive His instruction (cf. Hosea 10:12; Matthew 13:23). But it was not enough to simply acknowledge his ways before God, David desired to learn His laws (vv. 26, 27).
Too often we desire a vision or a voice from heaven so we can know God’s will. His will is never separate from His words. David says, “teach me your statutes”(v. 26b); “Make me understand the way of your precepts” (v. 27a). After we acknowledge our ways before Him, He directs our paths (cf. Proverbs 3:6). He abundantly supplies wisdom if we meet the condition (cf. James 1:5-7). If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:6-7). The pathway God intends His children to walk is not illuminated by vision or by voice, but by His Word and Spirit (cf. v. 105; Zechariah 4:6). David asks for a clear, distinct, and methodical knowledge of divine things, so he can talk with assurance of the purpose of God’s wondrous works (v.27b).
God’s word is the spiritual “Bread of Life.” It strengthens (provide confidence and support) His children for leadership in righteousness. The remedy of David’s “clinging” to the dust of death (v.25), and “melting” away like a candle (v. 28) was strength according to His Word (v. 28b) and instruction in His divine law (v. 29). God’s words enable us to resist the temptation to lie in convenient circumstances. David was aware of his susceptibility to lie under certain circumstances (cf. 1 Samuel 21:2, 13; 27:10), thus he prayed for God’s laws to be continually before him and to prevent (guard) him from settling in sinful ways. As king of Israel, David was obliged to transcribe a copy the laws for his personal use (Deuteronomy 17:18). But he prayed that God would write them, not in a book, but on his heart. It’s not enough to have a good Bible, we need to learn and apply His laws to be effective leaders in His wisdom and righteousness. David chose the way of truth (v. 30) and applied His words to his heart (v.31).
Unless we make an overt decision to learn and apply God’s instructions we will continue to “cling” to the dust of death and “melt” away in the face of adversity. The temptations to sin are too strong and the pattern of sinful ways are too broad that we remain susceptible to its subduction. The pathway to righteousness is narrow and filled with obstacles, but Jesus quickens our spirit by giving us His Spirit to lead us in His pathway of truth. He nourishes us with the Bread of Life so that we can lead others with godly confidence and wisdom. But unless we openly choose Him as our Lord and apply His instruction to our heart, we will remain spiritually dull or worse, Spiritually dead. Have you chosen to be Faithful to Truth?