Strengthened in the Inner Man
We made a good start in 119a in walking in the way of the blessed man. We considered the importance of the word of God to living holy lives, growing strong in faith, ‘in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Pet 3:18).
However, the realities of living in a fallen world are such, that life is never straight forward and growth does not always happen consistently. Difficulties abound, within and without, and this is what the psalmist now addresses showing us the effect of the Word in various situations. As we continue to strengthen the inner man through the Spirit, we will become hopeful, obedient, devoted and faithful.
Daleth – The Hopeful Man
‘My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word … I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame’ (v25,31)
The first problem to be dealt with is that of depression. At the beginning of this section the psalmist’s soul is clinging ‘unto the dust’. However, by the end of the section, the psalmist has found the answer to depression and is now found clinging ‘unto thy testimonies’. His use of the word ‘testimonies’ shows he had found hope in his Bible specifically because it bore witness to the character of an eternal, faithful and gracious God, and he wasn’t going to let go of that.
I find it instructive that this is the first problem to be dealt with. Generally, we spend more time talking about the outward problems we face, but little is said to encourage those fighting inner turmoils. Nevertheless, God knows all we face! He knows that many more saints suffer from depression than we might imagine. Therefore, he allows the psalmist to experience this dark valley, and talk about it openly, placing it as the first problem he addresses in the walk of faith.
This experience begins with days spent pouring out his heart to his God. Let us learn this lesson, that God does not want us to hide our hurt away from Him. He wants us to honestly open our hearts, and the psalmist can testify: ‘I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me’ (v26). The word ‘heardest‘, means to hear and answer; to respond. It’s always a comfort to the anxious soul, ignorant of the future, to know that they are being cared for by one who holds the future, but it’s a greater comfort when the ignorance can be exchanged for knowledge.
‘Teach me thy statutes. Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.’ (v27)
The psalmist wants to know more of the Word of God and to understand His ways, so he can engage his mind positively upon what God has done, talking about it with others. This is a boon to him, especially in the times when his ‘soul melteth for heaviness’ (v28).
In those times, the psalmist recognises that his mind often lingers on false information, so he prays: ‘Remove from me the way of lying’ (v29),and instead, makes his determination clear … ‘I have chosen the way of truth’ (v30). This is a constant mental battle for the psalmist, and at times he has to consciously cling ‘unto thy testimonies’ (v31).
But this section ends on a wonderful note of hope, and the psalmist sets his mind on continuing ‘in the way’ with vigour, fervency and diligence, knowing the hope of certain blessing, ‘for thou shalt enlarge my heart’ (v32).
And so, in the anxieties of life that beset all people to a greater or lesser extent, the man and woman of God is able to face those anxieties with a hopefulness that’s grounded in the Word of God. The more we read it and rest upon it, the more deliverance we will enjoy from the ‘straits and difficulties, from weights and pressures’ (Gill); the more freedom to engage in the ‘noble and holy purposes’ (Barnes) of life.
He – The Obedient Man
These ‘noble and holy purposes’ are found in our engagement with, and obedience to God’s Word, and this is what the psalmist considers next.
‘Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end … I shall observe it with my whole heart’ (v33,34)
Having a willingness to obey is important, but the psalmist realises he cannot do it in his own strength, and neither can we. Showing his dependence upon the Lord, he asks for help:
- For direction – ‘make me to go’ (v35)
- For desire – ‘incline my heart’ (v36)
- For discipline – ‘turn away my eyes from beholding vanity’ (v37)
(This is a very apt prayer for all of us in these days of visual entertainment. So much of what our eyes consume on the screen – big or small – is vain, empty and spiritually unprofitable.)
- For durability – ‘stablish thy word’ (v38)
- For defence – ‘turn away my reproach’ (v39)
And as the psalmist makes progress in these ‘noble and holy purposes’, he is quickened, made alive ‘in thy righteousness’ (v40).
The Lord Jesus would make the same link between life and obedience to God’s Word when he said: ‘if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments’ (Matt 19:17).
Vau – The Devoted Man
The more we see the Lord working in our lives, moulding us to His Word, the more devoted we become to Him.
‘My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.’ (v48)
In this section the psalmist outlines his devotion, from the personal, through the social, to the spiritual, concluding in an attitude of prayerful meditation:
- v42 – ‘I trust’
- v43 – ‘I have hope’
- v44 – ‘I shall keep’
- v45 – ‘I will walk’
- v46 – ‘I will speak’
- v47 – ‘I will delight‘
- v48 – ‘I will lift up my hands‘.
Zain – The Faithful Man
As we come to the concluding section of the first group, it seems fitting that we end with the thought of faithfulness.
The psalmist immediately takes a humble position as ‘servant‘ (v49), and calls out to the LORD to ‘remember‘ him in his ‘affliction‘ (v50).
The affliction on this occasion is outward. The psalmist would speak of ‘the proud’ who ‘have had me greatly in derision’ (v51), and of the ‘horror‘ that ‘hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law’ (v53).
Many times in our Christian walk, we will also, either face a personal attack or feel horrified at the ungodliness around us.
On these occasions, we must follow the psalmist’s example and ‘remember‘.
- v52 – ‘I remembered thy judgments of old’
This brought him comfort and joy, so that ‘the house of (his) pilgrimage’ (v54) would be filled with song.
- v55 – ‘I have remembered thy name, O LORD’
We have mentioned often in past meditations that the name of the LORD reminds us of His everlasting covenant faithfulness. In view of this, the psalmist is motivated to remain faithful despite the social pressure and general ungodliness all around him.
‘This I had, because I kept thy precepts.’ (v56)