33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.
35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.
36 Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain!
37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
38 Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared.
39 Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good.
40 Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!
As I was studying this passage I kept being reminded of the verse in Mark.
“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’” Mark 9:24
I love that verse because of the reality of it. The father had brought his child to Jesus to be healed and Jesus had asked him do you believe and the father stated “I believe, help my unbelief.” How many times have I had to pray that same thing? How many times have you?
Lord, I believe you are Lord over my finances and you will give me what I need, help my unbelief.
Lord, I believe in your healing, help my unbelief.
Lord, I believe you will deliver my loved one from the grip of addiction, help my unbelief.
Lord, I believe you will restore my family, help my unbelief.
Lord, I believe in ______________ (fill in your blank), help my unbelief.
This passage in Psalm 119 is a prayer, a crying out to God for David to understand and for help to follow, and it is a commitment to do so. I don’t think this is a prayer that David prayed once and put it away. (Of course, I have no way of knowing that.) But to me it reads as something that you might want to pray daily. The first four verses start with words that in a way give off an urgency to God.
Give me understanding
Incline my heart
David is asking God to show him the way that God wants him to live. He wants to know the Word so that he can know the way. And he doesn’t want to just read the Word and go about his life. He is asking the Lord for help in living it out.
In verse 36 he starts with “incline my heart to your testimonies”, he not only is asking God to help him understand the Word, he is asking God to help him to fall in love with the Word. “And not to selfish gain!” He wants to have a pure motive in doing so. In verse 37 he asks God to help him to turn away from the things that don’t matter and to help him to desire the things that do matter.
I wonder how many worthless things do I get caught up in? Oh way too many I am sure than I want to readily admit out loud. How often do I scroll things that don’t matter? How often do I get caught up in talk that doesn’t matter? What am I spending my energies on, that doesn’t matter? David is recognizing that there are things in his life that don’t matter but he is asking the Lord to help him to turn away from those things and to turn to His word.
The last verse of this passage is a full circle plea from David for the Lord to give him revival. David is saying I love your word and it is my path to righteousness. He recognized that it is impossible to stay on the path without a love for God’s word, it was David’s path to righteousness and it is our path to righteousness as well.