Thirsty For Life?
Psalms 119:25 ESV Daleth. My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!
What is brought to your mind when you read this verse? What does it mean for a soul to “cling to the dust?” I think a good clue is in the second clause: “give me life…” David is confessing the spiritual bankruptcy of his soul and prayerfully requesting that God revive him, that is—give him life.
The soul clinging to the dust is a picture of a nomad in a dry, dry, land. The sojourner on this land (Psalm 119:19) is like a man stranded in a desert, miles from an oasis. A parched land offers no satisfaction to the thirsty man, and this cursed world can do nothing to satisfy the longing of the soul of a child of God. But, like a mirage in the desert (which promises to quench the gut-wrenching thirst of anyone stuck in its hot sun but cannot), this world continually extends its hand to our souls promising to satisfy the desires of our flesh, our eyes, and pride of life (1 John 2:16).
Can we not all agree with David that there is something in us that continues to pull us to the ground? Are you different from Paul who could not wait to be delivered (Romans 7:15,24) from this body of death and finally be able to do what he ought? Dear Christian, drink from the wellspring that is the very words of God—and be revived (Psalm 19:7). God gives life, and He gives it abundantly through His Word! Prayerfully ask him for it and search the scripture like a man digging for a well in the desert!
If You Want Life, Confess
Psalm 119:26 When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes!
Having established the need for God to grant life according to His word, David gives us the following advice we would do well to heed. “When I told of my ways” refers to David’s confession of sin. Notice that after David told of his ways it is God who answered him. David understands an age-old principle: that a thirsty soul will not be satisfied apart from confession.
Although God already knows your standing and your sitting and all your sin (Psalm 139:2,18), part of your relationship with your Father is that you confess your sin. David “told of his ways,” and I trust that meant more than a general “Lord, I know I’m a sinner; please forgive me,” type of prayer. We are to go to our Lord by the blood of the Lamb to the throne of grace and plead for His mercy on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ. And I believe we are to be specific about what we’ve done that has violated His perfect will.
For what is the purpose of being “taught his statutes” if we are not going to use that knowledge to acknowledge our own errors and make corrections in our paths (Proverbs 3:6)? And how do we make corrections if we don’t specifically apply any of God’s law to our own lives? The thirsty soul pants for God as a deer pants for the water, and will not let anything stand in the way of getting his thirst quenched—not even something so great as his pride! Confess to God, dear Christian. Weep and mourn for your sin (Matthew 5:4) and drink of the overflowing cup of grace already granted to you in Christ alone.
Life Is Not Blind Obedience
Psalms 119:27 Make me understand your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
David has now asked twice for God to “teach him” (Psalm 119:12,26) His statutes. But it isn’t enough for brother David to have the statutes of God taught to him. David mourns his sin. David abhors his fleshly tendencies. And David knows a key truth to happiness in the Christian life: that we have nothing good apart from the grace of God. David’s prayer is that God would make him understand God’s precepts. This is, in fact, a statement and an acknowledgment of deep theology: that a creature cannot have anything at all unless it has been granted to him (Psalm 16:2; James 1:17). Deep down inside, all true believers know this.
John 3:27 ESV John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.
Yet, like all theology, David’s theology is the impetus behind his actions. Confession is good for the soul, yes, but so is not sinning. David follows his statement of confession with a proclamation of desire to be taught God’s statutes and be made to understand God’s precepts. It is as if he is saying “Lord, thank you for forgiving me; now give me understanding that I may no longer sin against you!” This is the true heart of every child of God. David knew well that he had committed sins with knowledge (Psalm 19:13), but David also knew that he sinned against God in his ignorance (Psalm 19:12).
In Spurgeon’s Treasury of David we find this sentiment with Psalm 119:27.
To obey the letter of the word is all that the ignorant can hope for; if we wish to keep God’s precepts in their spirit we must come to an understanding of them, and that can be gained nowhere but at the Lord’s hands.
Yes, saint, we rely on Christ alone for our righteousness before God, but the soul that has been forgiven meditates on the wonders that are God’s works. For it is in our study of the Christ and His works that we gain the understanding that empowers us to really follow him. It is one thing to know “thou shalt not…” It is another thing to see why “thou shalt not …” in relation to the God you love. Children ask parents “why?” and Christians are right to investigate deeply of the fountain of God’s eternally deep revelation that they may proclaim God’s wondrous works! We talk about what we think about. Meditating on God will result in proclaiming the truth about God; may it be so in regard to you and me, dear Christian!
Strength For Life
Psalms 119:28 ESV My souls melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!
The Christian life is not without its own set of difficulties. The soul that thirsts for the pure milk of God will soon find counterfeits on display in full force—sometimes after imbibing of one! The battle between the spirit and the flesh (Gal 5:17) is enough to drain anyone of all strength. Like the parched man in a barren desert under the scorching sun, our soul melts away with sorrow as we daily battle the forces of evil in heavenly places (Eph 6:12). Our soul MELTS like ice cubes on a hot day!
How can a man go from joyfully confessing his sin, commitment to following God more closely, and trusting in the promise of God’s deliverance to such a low point as to compare his sorrows to the very melting of his soul? Be reminded that our hope is in life eternal, not a modification of our temporary circumstances. We are to identify with the man of sorrows (Is 53:4) while sojourning here. And this wicked world will at times bring the pain. Where can we find the strength to endure?
Jesus promised that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). As He hung on the cross, he proclaimed His own earthly thirst, as well (John 19:28), pointing to a greater thirst and a greater quenching that His resurrection would bring to many. Looking ahead to the joy set before Him, he suffered the shame and agony of becoming a man, suffering even to the point of death. I trust that he will carry you and me through our sorrows and difficulties, too, through the strengthening which comes from His Word.
Meditate on these verses and be refreshed by the living water that is Christ through His Word!
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
Psalm 22:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:19-20; John 6:35
See all posts in this series
Psalm 119:1-4 — Blessed!
Psalm 119:5-8 — Blessed!
Psalm 119:9-12 — Purity is the Objective
Psalm 119:13-16 — Declare and Delight!
Psalm 119:17-20 — Open My Eyes!
Psalm 119:21-24 — The Comfort of God
Psalm 119:25-28 — Thirst and Life
Psalm 119:29-32 — Shame Shifting
Psalm 119:33-36 — Seeking The Way
Psalm 119:37-40 — Behold God's Promise
Psalm 119:41-44 — Answering the Taunter
Psalm 119:45-48 — A Wide Place
Psalm 119:49-52 — Comfort Amidst Affliction
Psalm 119:53-56 — Righteous Anger?
Psalm 119:57-60 — What's Your Portion?
Psalm 119:61-64 — Companionship
Psalm 119:65-68 — Afflicted by God
Psalm 119:69-72 — More Affliction?
Psalm 119:73-76 — Sovereign Creator
Psalm 119:77-80 — May God Supply!
Psalm 119:81-84 — Our Whole Being Longs for God
Psalm 119:85-88 — They Have Dug Pitfalls
Psalm 119:89-92 — Established
Psalm 119:93-96 — Limited Perfection
Psalm 119:97-100 — Elevated Wisdom
Psalm 119:101-104 — Sweeter Than Honey
Psalm 119:105-108 — Freewill, Oaths, and More Affliction
Psalm 119:109-112 — Sorrows, Snares, Sons, and a Savior
Psalm 119:113-116 — My Hiding Place and My Shield
Psalm 119:117-120 — God Discards the Dross
Psalm 119:121-124— Deliverance
Psalm 119:125-128— God's Law > Everything on Earth
Psalm 119:129-132 — Into The Light
Psalm 119:133-136 — Does Your Love Bring You To Tears?
Psalm 119:137-140 — Zeal + Ignorance = Worthless Religion
Psalm 119:141-144 — Assurance of Perseverance
Psalm 119:145-148— Meditate on the PROMISE
Psalm 119:149-152 — Be Comforted For God Is Near
Psalm 119:153-156— Christ Alone Delivers
Psalm 119:157-160 — We Are In A Battle
Psalm 119:161-164— Do You Hate Falsehood?
Psalm 119:165-168 — Cause → Effect
Psalm 119:169-172 — Eruption of Praise
Psalm 119:173-176 — Seek Your Servant Like a Lost Sheep