From Psalms 119.1-88
In today’s reading we continue to look at Psalm 119. At the end of our section the Psalmist asks the LORD to enlarge his heart. He wants to know the LORD more and seeks to obey his law. What does your heart yearn for? Have you ever asked the LORD to enlarge your heart for these things?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The Psalmist has a deep appreciation for the word of the LORD. It is his passion.
17 Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.
18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
19 I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!
20 My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.
21 You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments.
22 Take away from me scorn and contempt, for I have kept your testimonies.
23 Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.
24 Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors. (Ps 119.17-24)
The Psalmist lives to keep the word of the LORD. People in the scriptures believed they can keep the law as the Psalmist does. We must assume he means to keep all of the law.
He mines the depths of the word of the LORD. Knowing there are wondrous treasures to be found by those who continue to ponder and study it.
Have you read the scriptures and had the same experience?
He acknowledges he is a sojourner on the earth. This thought is not often encountered in the OT. But it is in the NT as God’s people await a heavenly kingdom. A new heaven and earth.
The Psalmist hope the LORD will judge the wicked of the earth and bring justice. He is not afraid for himself, believing he will not be judged in a similar manner because of his relationship with the LORD and his desire to keep the law.
25 My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!
26 When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes!
27 Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
28 My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!
29 Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.
31 I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame!
32 I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart! (Ps 119.25-32)
The LORD said of Adam and all humanity in Genesis, ‘to the dust you shall return’ (Gen 3.19). The Psalmist recognises his soul clings to the dust. Death (spiritual and physical) is never far from all men.
But he knows the LORD is creator and giver of all life.
The LORD gives life through his word and his commands. Despite mankind’s relationship with death, God is the one he should ask to give life.
The Psalmist asks again and again to learn more about the law. The law includes the narrative of God’s wondrous works and his precepts. Both encourage the Psalmist and provide him with strength and encouragement.
The Psalmist acknowledges his dependence on the LORD to run in the way of his commandments. The LORD does this first and foremost by working in peoples hearts. The centre of a persons being.
The Psalmist asks the LORD to enlarge his heart.
Exegetes are virtually unanimous in their belief that Psalm 119 dates from the postexilic period. The wisdom character of the psalm, the emphasis placed on the law, and the use of other books of the OT such as Deuteronomy, Proverbs, Job, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah 40–55 would seem to indicate a post-exilic date for Psalm 119. In the preexilic period the temple and the monarchy were the symbols of the LORD’s presence with the people. When these symbols were destroyed during the exile, new symbols for God’s presence had to be created. In the postexilic period the torah became the supreme symbol of God’s presence. (Prinsloo, W.S., 2003. The Psalms. In J. D. G. Dunn & J. W. Rogerson, eds. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, p. 422.)
Our passage in Psalm 119 ends with the Psalmist asking the LORD to enlarge his heart. This is a noble and worthy request because it is obvious he is directing his heart to seek the LORD and obey his word.
In the gospel Jesus draws a comparison between what people treasure most in their lives and their heart.
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mt 6.19-21)
Where is your heart? Do you want the LORD to enlarge you heart for the things that matter most? The LORD and his word?
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.