Two despondent soul conditions. Seven urgent asks. One unfailing constant. That’s what I’m hovering over this morning as I chew on Psalm 119:25-32.
Love the way Peterson gets to the heart of the songwriter’s desperate soul condition.
I’m feeling terrible—I couldn’t feel worse! . . . My sad life’s dilapidated, a falling-down barn . . .
(Psalm 119:25a, 28a MSG)
That morning when he got up, the psalmist’s soul was down. Though there had been weeping for the night, there was still no joy in the morning.
My soul clings to the dust . . . My soul melts away for sorrow . . .
(Psalm 119:25a, 28a MSG)
But far from wallowing in the dust, he turns his eyes to the heavens. He fights the darkness as he cries to the Light.
When I told of my ways, You answered me . . .
(Psalm 119:26a ESV)
And in telling God of what God already knew was his condition, the soul weary songwriter of Israel makes seven asks:
Give me life. Revive me (NKJV).
Make me understand.
Put false ways far from me.
Graciously teach me.
Enlarge my heart.
He needed a reviving. The cloud lifted, the invisible hand that was pressing on his chest removed. And so he asks the Author of life to infuse him with life. To strengthen the weakness within from a source without.
He didn’t need a pep talk. Platitudes weren’t going to cut it. He needed to learn afresh the things he had come to know. And so, he asks God to teach him. To graciously teach him as he beseeches the Creator to impart something of omniscience to His creation. To give new depths of perception and discernment. To provide an accurate lens through which to process an oppressive situation. Clear the way, he says, by helping me to discern the lies spoken not only by the enemy, but by myself — “barricade the road that goes Nowhere” (MSG).
And so, the songwriter concludes, “Enlarge my heart.” Minister to my soul, by setting free my heart. Prepare it to be taught. Make broad the way for it to receive Your instruction.
And that brings me to the one unfailing constant to which a twice failing soul makes a seven-fold ask. The word of God. The book before me.
. . . give me life according to Your word!
. . . teach me Your statutes!
Make me understand the way of Your precepts . . .
. . . strengthen me according to Your word!
. . . graciously teach me Your law!
I will run in the way of Your commandments when You enlarge my heart!
The Bible is a balm. The Scriptures the salve that can raise the soul from the dust. God’s word the difference between being perpetually haggard and promise-based hopeful.
I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set Your rules before me.
I cling to Your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame!
(Psalm 119:30-31 ESV)
His word, His statutes, His precepts. His law, His commandments, His rules and testimonies. The one unfailing constant. And therein is found the answer for those who seek the LORD with dust covered souls.
Ours is to open the word, read the word, and meditate on the word. His is to illuminate the word and to apply the word.
By His grace. For His glory.