The Bare Soul -
February 3, 2008
Personal Revival - Psalm 119
I love reading the Psalms. They are truly
eloquent, heartfelt demonstrations of souls crying out to God. Part of my daily
bible reading is the Psalms. I have always thought that Psalm 119 was one of the
most beautiful and poignant examples of a heart crying out to the Lord. I have
read this Psalm probably hundreds of times, but verses 33-40 jumped off the page
to me on this occasion. It occurred to me that I was reading a wonderful
blueprint for personal revival. And of course, personal revival once achieved
can become collective revival as more and more souls cry out for the same things
for their own churches and communities. Here are some of my thoughts about this
passage and how a proper understanding can lead a soul to a revived relationship
with the Lord Jesus:
Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall observe it to the end.
This passage doesn't say "teach me Your statutes" but teach me the "way of Your statutes". It is a much different thing to be tutored to understand every dot and tittle of God's law, but it is quite another to be instructed in the way of His statutes. Once a person understands the "way" of God's thinking, then the law does not need to come down one by one, but there is a deep understanding of His nature and how He would respond to every situation through the law written on a person's heart. Jesus proclaimed in John 5:19 that He could only do those things which He saw His Father in heaven doing. Once we are led in the "way" of His statutes then we will better understand the nature of the One leading us.
Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law
And keep it with all my heart.
Understanding comes in levels. As a child, I understood that I must stop and look both ways when I crossed the street because my mother told me to and I respected her enough to obey her command. As I got older, it became clear that in order to preserve life and limb, that this was a good practice. I may not totally understand God's laws and why I must obey, but it will become clearer and clearer the more I grow in Him and learn to trust that His laws are good.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
Psalm 36:9 states "... In Your light, we see light". Any trail runner can tell you that a good headlamp or handheld flashlight is essential when night running. As those of us who are believers head down life's dark paths, it is good and comforting to know that our Father lights our path so that we turn not to the right or to the left. I don't need the entire area illuminated, for when there is too much around me to "see" (the lust of the eyes) then it is easy to get my sight off the path in front of me. Thank you Lord Jesus for illumining just where I need to go in the next few steps and that I don't need to know where I am going days and weeks down the proverbial path. You make me walk (or run!) in the path of your commandments by illumining my way!
Incline my heart to Your testimonies
And not to dishonest gain.
Webster defines "incline" as "meaning to influence one to have or take an attitude toward something". It is quite easy in our world to give way to relativity and compromise allowing our "gains" to be something other than honest. I believe this verse is talking much more about character than money, although money and how we deal with it is a fruit of our character. What I believe the Lord is saying here through the psalmist is that first I must have a strong inclination toward the testimonies of God. The testimonies of God are all around us. Psalm 19:1 states that "The heavens are telling of the glory of God". This is a testimony of God that he controls nature, the seasons, the stars, the planets, and so on. Testimonies of God regarding marital faithfulness say that it is wrong to commit adultery. Even primitive cultures understand this truth because it has been written on their hearts. So, my desire should be that God would strongly influence my heart toward His testimonies so that I would not gain dishonestly. Dishonest gain is the catalyst for the deeds of the flesh -- anything that comes from selfish ambition (James 3:16) rather than Godly direction. This is will only strengthen the "portfolio of the flesh" and not the Heavenly Kingdom.
Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
And revive me in Your ways.
David stated in Psalm 101:3 that he "... will set no unworthy thing before his eyes". That is a tall order, no doubt. Especially, in this sin-soaked world we live in today. Turning my eyes from vanity is a constant endeavor and something I will never conquer to the point of "graduation". There are things at every turn that would seek us to behold, and through the beholding, to become defiled to the point where we have sacrificed our fellowship with the Lord. The more often that I turn my eyes from the things of this world that would seek to pollute my inner man, the more opportunity the Lord Jesus has to come and to revive His wonderful presence within me. Paul stated in Philippians 4:8 "... whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." The most amazing thing happens when we overcome evil with good. Jesus rejoices with us and revives us!
Establish Your word to Your servant,
As that which produces reverence for You.
It is easy to speed read the bible which allows about as much retention as the effort to understand what's been read. When I look at this scripture, I think about concrete workers and how they make sidewalks and driveways. All the prep work has to be done first -- digging the footings, laying the rebar, and setting the forms. Once the concrete is poured, can the forms be readily taken up and discarded? Not until the concrete has set and cured! That is the way I look at the Word of God and how He wishes to establish it in our hearts. Too often we want God to pour in the blessings of His word without US doing the needed prep work, laboriously preparing for his "spiritual concrete". Once we have laid the ground work, then the Lord God can pour His Word into us. This is the type of revelation that will set firm and sure and cause Godly reverence for our Lord.
Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your ordinances are good.
Through all the above prayers and actions, our reproach and the sin our old nature is evident and glaring. We have come to understand the law of the Lord, have walked in His commandments, inclined our hearts toward Godly ambition and through all this revelation have become uncomfortably aware of our bodies of sin that God so zealously wants to bury once and for all. At this point, we can truly cry out as Paul did in Romans 7:24: "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death?" And in the next verse he gives the glorious answer to his rhetoric question: "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" The turning away of reproach that the psalmist prays for is so much more doable once we have realized that we need a Savior who can truly turn our reproach over with a proverbial shovel and bury it totally, completely!
Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me through Your righteousness.
If we have been thorough regarding the previous prayers and actions, and God has broken through and accomplished a true change of mind and heart then we will be in LOVE with his precepts or commandments. We will know at this point that He only wants good for us and to establish us as sons and daughters of the Most High. Then, the miraculous happens! God takes us and sanctifies us for HIS pleasure and HIS work. For truly when one is revived in God's righteousness, one has been identified with the Righteous Servant who came to lay down His life for the entire world. We will truly be revived to do similar works of love as we lay down our lives for those around us.
Your barefoot servant,
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