This lengthy song of praise speaks to our own experience very familiarly. How often have I found myself fallen, covered in the dust of my sins, yet, in faith, crying out for God’s saving word to lift me up.
“I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word. I gave an account of my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees.” Psalm 119:25-26
Psalm 119 is the longest of all of the psalms. It is a beautiful praise poem sung in honor of God’s law and his generosity in giving it to us. It is full of instructions to live by. It is expressed through the full range of human emotions as well, for it laments the cost of obedience, while at the same time it delights in the many consolations that arise from the law. It is also a prayer asking for the wisdom to understand the laws. The psalmist is not ashamed to ask to be rewarded for obeying them either.
This lengthy song of praise speaks to our own experience very familiarly. How often have I found myself fallen, covered in the dust of my sins, yet, in faith, crying out for God’s saving word to lift me up. It is a matter of well learned humility, is it not? To recognize both that we are weak and easily drawn away from what we know to be right, and to know that if humbly called upon, God’s love will sweep away our sins, brush the dust off of us, and wash us clean with his saving word. It is this awakening of humility that drives us to commit to reforming our ways and to try, with God’s graceful aid, to sin no more. It is his grace, through his word and actions in our lives, that gives us the wisdom to more deeply understand his laws, and the strength to do stay the course.
When, in the grace of faith, we become more self-aware of our weaknesses and sins, we also gain the courage to give an honest account of ourselves to God. When we do, he answers our prayers to be healed and he strengthens us for the battles ahead. We do this because we truly believe that God loves us and desires to preserve us from those who wish to do us harm. He is the source of all of our strength, all of our hope. This is why he has given us his law, his precepts, his commands. They are a gift of love toward us.
This is why, like the psalmist, we pray with earnest hearts that God will teach us his decrees. That he will teach us to understand the liberating and empowering truth of his laws offer us. It is in learning to humbly listen to and to obey God, that we find our strength and our salvation. It is he who is the truth and it is he who will preserve us in the truth so that it is always in our mouths.
Lord, we long, like the psalmist, to know and understand your precepts. Help us to listen to and to contemplate your word more intently. Give us the wisdom to desire it above all other words in this world. This is our reason for rejoicing in you. We pray, as always, in the power of the most holy name of Jesus. Amen!
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