This part of Psalm 119 reads like a prayer to me. The psalmist reaches out to God to bless him so that he might follow God increasingly. Do we seek these things? Do we seek after God’s influence in our lives so that we can respond and be facilitated in our walk with him?
33 Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees,
that I may follow it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law
and obey it with all my heart.
35 Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
36 Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word.
38 Fulfill your promise to your servant,
so that you may be feared.
39 Take away the disgrace I dread,
for your laws are good.
40 How I long for your precepts!
In your righteousness preserve my life.
Teach me. If we want to be able to follow God’s ways, we need to be taught his precepts for living. Will you ask God to be your teacher? The Holy Spirit is present to guide us in these ways if we will let him.
Give me understanding. When God teaches us, we also need understanding hearts. This isn’t in-one-ear-and-out-the-other-boring-Sunday-sermon listening. This is listening to God in order to understand what is going on. That’s how we will obey with all our hearts.
Direct me. Why ask God for all this and seek to ‘obey’ him? “There I find delight.” The psalmist knows something easily forgotten. There is a delightful place in the influence and understanding of God and his ways. It is the state of being sure you are on the right track – in the right place – pleasing the one who created you for the best purposes imaginable.
Turn my heart. We need to be turned in heart toward God and away from self. Turn my eyes. Our eyes must turn away from the meaningless and worthless toward the preserving, reviving power of God’s word.
Fulfill your promise. When God fulfills his intent and his promise, people fear and revere him because they see that he is real. And when God fulfills his promise, our fear and dread of disgrace goes away. There is no risk of disgrace on the path of God.
How we long for this, Lord. How we long for your precepts and your preservation of our lives in your righteousness.