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Saturday, April 24, 2010

New Mercies

As we continue with our wrap up of Psalm 119, we will now focus on some of David’s prayerful pleas to the Lord. His frequent requests of the Lord express much of what he is dealing with in his heart. More importantly, they express the attitude of a surrendered heart in earnest need of God’s direction for his life.
 
  • Turn my way, look kindly on me, as you always do to those who personally love you. (vs. 132)
  • I called to you, "Save me so I can carry out all your instructions." I was up before sunrise, crying for help, hoping for a word from you. I stayed awake all night, prayerfully pondering your promise. In your love, listen to me; in your justice, GOD, keep me alive. (vs. 146-150)

David asks God to turn his way and look kindly on him. This is based on David’s assurance that God desires personal relationship and responds positively to those whom he loves. God may not respond in the way we expect – often his response is quite different from what we ever imagined possible. David’s assurance is that God will definitely extend both a listening ear to him and an honest response to the issues at hand.  

 
It is apparent from David’s next prayer that he is in some type of personal anguish or trouble and needs God’s definitive direction and intervention so he can understand the situation and respond appropriately. He is seeking with intensity – day and night. His words reflect a heart that is in desperate need of an answer, but it appears that God’s answer is delayed – not coming as quickly as David would like. David expresses strong feeling, even some tension in his plea. He may find himself crying for help because he is out of solutions in his own strength or ability and recognizes the need to cry out to the one with endless strength and unfathomable ability.

 
  • Let my cry come right into your presence, God; provide me with the insight that comes only from your Word. Give my request your personal attention, rescue me on the terms of your promise. (vs. 169-170)

Based on David’s personal relationship with God, he is confident that his words will be ushered into the very presence of God. He is honest with God and in turn, he asks God to give his concerns his personal attention. His confidence is founded on both what he has learned of God from the Word and his personal experience of seeing God intervene in his life over-and-over again. David is seeking insight – he wants God’s perception of the situation he is facing. His own perception may get a little clouded at times because of the difficulties he is facing and how his emotions may want to interpret those difficulties. He knows that God’s perception will bring clarity and assist him in understanding the steps to be taken. 

  •  For those who love what you reveal, everything fits— no stumbling around in the dark for them. (vs. 165)

Everything fits – what an awesome feeling to enjoy – all the pieces of life fitting together in perfect order, not stumbling around in the dark trying to make sense of every new development. David’s confidence is based on his simple trust in what God reveals – through the Word, in biblical teaching, and in times of earnest prayer. He finds hope that his path will be guarded and safe for him. He enjoys enlightened passage as he makes his journey. He receives ample provision and protection regardless of how taxing the journey may be.  

  •  Let praise cascade off my lips; after all, you've taught me the truth about life! And let your promises ring from my tongue; every order you've given is right. Put your hand out and steady me since I've chosen to live by your counsel. I'm homesick, God, for your salvation; I love it when you show yourself! Invigorate my soul so I can praise you well, use your decrees to put iron in my soul. (vs. 171-175)

David’s closing words of this Psalm reflect a lifetime of service and a growing relationship. He has been taught – in turn, he wants to reflect what he has been taught. He wants his words to reflect the truth he has received – not tainted by doubt or worry, but confident and assured of God’s faithfulness. He has made a determination of heart to serve his God – an act of his will to live by the counsel God reveals. In turn, he asks God to invigorate him and to give firmness to his soul. His delight has been God – nothing else has satisfied him like Jesus. He has tried many times to live life on his own terms – always returning to his Lord with pleas of repentance and cries for mercy. His heart has come to the place that it cries out:

  •   Your mercies, GOD, run into the billions; following your guidelines, revive me. (vs. 156)

I find hope in the truth that God’s mercies are innumerable – they really cannot be counted; they are beyond our human comprehension. We come, repeatedly seeking mercy and grace to be extended in our lives, and find mercies new each and every time we come. In each extension of God’s mercy is a revival of our inner being.  

 
We were beat down by our sin, bound by our past failures, instinctively choosing what brought repeated agony and defeat in our lives. When we reached out to God, asking him to enter into our daily existence as the Lord of our lives, we asked for him to become the lifter of our heads. It is impossible to have “lifted heads” when our hearts are burdened down with all kinds of guilt, shame, and painful memories. The faithfulness of our God is expressed in the loving way he lifts that guilt, erases the shame and renews our minds. 

 
David was commended by God as a man after God’s own heart – not because he lived life perfectly or was some “super-saint”. It was because David recognized his need for a Savior, embraced the mercies of God fresh each morning, and chose to submit his life to the truth revealed in God’s Word. It begins one step at a time – one simple step in the right direction – line upon line. Each step takes David (and us) one step farther from a life of sin and one step closer to a life of holy living. Each step brings a new revelation of God’s grace and a new hope in God’s ability to deliver us from our past. As with David, the cry of our heart should be “revive me”. As we close this Psalm today, let’s find comfort in knowing what David penned as the closing words of this Psalm:

  •  And should I wander off like a lost sheep—seek me! I'll recognize the sound of your voice. (vs. 176)

Even in our wandering, God still seeks us. When we take time to really cry out to God, opening ourselves to hear from him, we become acquainted with his voice, just as the smallest of lambs learns the voice of their shepherd. The shepherd is always attentive to the sheep’s wandering. He may allow us to get out on our own a little, but he never loses sight of us. In his mercy, he reaches into our lives, tenderly directing us back to his watchful care. In his grace, he restores us and revives us. May your day be blessed. May you enjoy the mercies that are innumerable. May you be revived in your spirit, renewed in your mind, and uplifted in your soul.