It’s not the ending you’d expect. After 175 verses scripted to exalt the law of the Lord it’s not the finale you’d think would be written.
Or is it? Maybe after penning such an ode of delight for God’s word, and claiming again and again the deliverance promised in God’s word, and pledging repeatedly a holy desire to obey and walk in the ways of God’s word, it might just be appropriate to humbly seek mercy, grace, and help in time of need from the God of God’s word.
My tongue will sing of Your word, for all Your commandments are right.
Let Your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen Your precepts.
I long for Your salvation, O LORD, and Your law is my delight.
Let my soul live and praise You, and let Your rules help me.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant,
for I do not forget Your commandments.
(Psalm 119:172-176 ESV)
Seek Your servant.
After proclaiming his delight for God’s commandments . . . after declaring His determination to make God’s ways his ways . . . after lifting up his voice, again and again, in praise and adoration to a God who has so spoken into this world . . . the songwriter finishes with, “Seek Your servant because I have a tendency to wander off.”
What does this say about the songwriter? Having penned such an opus around God’s word, he humbly acknowledges his frailty in seeking to walk in God’s way. He recognizes that while the spirit may be willing, the flesh is weak. That often holy determination is hamstrung by worldly distraction. That great declarations of faith are so often broad-sided by unanticipated times of failure. While the psalmist pens a great song, he never loses sight of his need for a great Savior.
And what does this say about a God who is willing to act as a shepherd? A Creator who is willing to pursue His creation? A Sovereign who is willing to draw alongside His servants? Behold our God!
Having revealed Himself through His word . . . having made clear the way that we should walk . . . having enabled us with a new nature and a heaven-sent power, even with all that He has provided, He faithfully concedes to having to leave the ninety-nine to retrieve the one gone astray. Not that He might punish the lost lamb, but that He might rejoice in its found-ness (Matt. 18:12-13).
Seeking His servants is not some burden our God must bear. It is the joy of an infinitely patient, merciful, and grace-abounding God to respond to his children’s cry, “Abba Father, come find me when I get lost.”
Having received the ransom for our sins once and for all, the shed blood of His Son on the cross of Calvary, He adopts those of faith as His children. Our sins–past, present, and future–atoned for, He now promises to complete the work He has begun in us (Php. 1:6). And if that process should require the Great Shepherd to retrieve some wandering sheep, then, for His glory, He will seek His servant when His servant goes astray.
O that I would not stray. But as the hymn-writer reminds me, I’m “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.”
But that I would also know my Shepherd’s heart and His longing to answer my plea, “Seek Your servant.”
Such is the confidence and peace of grace. Such is why He is deserving of all glory.