I know I’ve observed it before. Looking back on my journal, I know that I’ve written of it before (last time was 2017). But I’m captured afresh this morning by the manner in which the songwriter concludes the longest of his songs. The way in which he goes out, and what he leaves his listeners to ponder.
It’s been 175 verses of variegated tributes to the word of God. The songwriter loves the Word. The songwriter stands in awe of the Word. The songwriter has sought the Word. The songwriter has meditated on the Word. The songwriter has clung to the Word. The songwriter, until this closing verse, has expressed repeatedly that he has kept the Word. But check out his final lyrics.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.
(Psalm 119:176 ESV)
I can’t say this for sure, but I’m thinking this may be the first time, thus the only time, the psalmist confesses sin in the psalm. He has declared repeatedly that he hates sin (119:104) and is grieved by sin (119:136). He has called out his enemies’ sin (119:85). He has even acknowledged the propensity to sin (119:11, 37). But, I think this is the first time he confesses sin.
For all that he believes about the Word being truth, for as much he loves the Word and delights in the Word, for as determined as he has been to walk in the way of the Word, this Spirit-filled lyricist concludes his ode to the Word by humbling acknowledging his failure, at times, to keep the Word.
He confesses he is apt to get sidetracked. That he is “prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” To find himself as a sheep gone astray.
Now, while a lost dog can find his way home, a lost sheep just keeps getting more lost apart from a faithful shepherd who seeks the wayward lamb and brings it back. And so, the lowly songwriter pleads to the Mighty God of Creation, “Seek Your servant.”
Ultimately, though striving to walk in obedience, he depends not on his own ability to turn things around, but on the Good Shepherd’s ability to lead him by still waters. His hope is not in his own will and resolve, but in His God’s determination and faithfulness. His confidence not resting in his ability to maintain goodness, but in God’s inexhaustible well of grace. Seek Your servant.
And even in this acknowledgment of failure and need there is tribute paid to the Word.
. . . for I do not forget Your commandments.
It is the word of God which keeps the child of God tethered to the nature and work of God. For in the Word is the promise, the reminder, that a lost sheep can pray to a great God knowing He will leave heaven’s glory to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19:10).
Concluding with confession. Acknowledging our tendency to stray. Petitioning God that He would continue to pursue. All because we trust in His word.
Hmm . . . Kinda’ makes sense.
So we continue to draw on God’s grace, even as we desire to live for God’s glory.