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.
Psalm 119:33-40 NIV
The requests that the writer makes towards God can be summed up in the following way:
1. Teach me
2. Give me understanding
3. Direct me
4.Turn my heart toward your law
5. Turn my eyes away from worthless things.
The psalmist, or writer of this psalm, realizes that he must completely depend on God. The first step in becoming the man he wants to be is through teaching. How often have we seen someone who needed to be taught but refused any instruction? As a mom I’ve often heard the words, “I can do this myself. I don’t need your help.” This is the way that we often respond to God. We see ourselves as intelligent, capable people who have the potential to handle situations and achieve our goals. We don’t need anyone. Only when life starts falling apart do we ever cry out to God and ask for His help. However, if we walk day by day acknowledging our need for God and asking Him to teach us, then we will accomplish far more with our lives. It’s amazing how much easier it is to put together a complicated piece of furniture if we read the directions first. Wouldn’t it be easier to put our lives together if we read God’s instructions in the Bible? Since God created and ordered the world, shouldn’t we ask Him the best way to live in it? After all, it’s His creation.
God teaches us when we read the Bible. We need to read His words to us every day so that we can be reminded of how He wants us to live. Listening to God’s laws are not the same as listening to the demands of other written laws. God’s words are a letter from God Himself to us. It is a letter sent by someone who loves us more than anyone else on earth. It is a letter from a loving Father to his children, providing instruction and insight on how to live life.
As we read God’s word, some things are difficult to understand. It seems that the psalmist may have had the same problem because he said, “Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law.” (Psalm 119:34) If we have problems understanding a chapter or verse from the Bible, then we should pray the prayer of the psalmist, “Give me understanding.” As we continue to read the Bible and pray, God helps us understand more and more of His word.
The writer realizes that he needs direction from God for his life. As we grow older, we are capable of seeing the painful truth that we are not as perfect as we would like to be. Even our best intentions have sometimes led us astray and caused pain and heartache for us and the ones that we love. The more that we can honestly evaluate ourselves and realize our weaknesses, the more we understand the need for God’s directions. It’s as if we are driving the car of life and at last stop to ask God for directions after ending up several thousand miles away from our intended destination. The most direct route to end up at the correct location in life is to follow God’s path that is found in the Bible. If we allow God to set our GPS, then we will find our way much more quickly.
Part of getting our directions in life is to ask God for help in making turns. We need God to grab the wheel and turn our hearts towards His laws and away from our selfish desires. We all have problems with sin. Different people are tempted by different things. However, when we come to God and confess our weaknesses, He is “faithful and just and will forgive us [of] our sins.” (1 John 1:9) He will help us overcome our problems when we ask Him to turn our hearts towards Him.
It is not only our hearts that cause us to sin. Our eyes can also lead us astray. Worthless things such as lust for people or money or material possessions can also lead us into sin. We need to ask God to “turn [our] eyes from worthless things.” (Psalm 119:37).
God’s directions lead us to a place of delight. Psalm 119:35 tells us, “Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.”
Listen to the song, “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” by Carrie Underwood.