Psalm 119:33-40 Names of God Bible
33 Teach me, O Yahweh, how to live by your laws,
and I will obey them to the end.
34 Help me understand so that I can follow your teachings.
I will guard them with all my heart.
35 Lead me on the path of your commandments,
because I am happy with them.
36 Direct my heart toward your written instructions
rather than getting rich in underhanded ways.
37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things.
Give me a new life in your ways.
38 Keep your promise to me
so that I can fear you.
39 Take away insults, which I dread,
because your regulations are good.
40 I long for your guiding principles.
Give me a new life in your righteousness.
The Word of God for the Children of God. In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
We look to continue to plumb the depths of God’s Word, raising our spiritual awareness and understanding of verses 33-40, we see the continued love for and dependence on God’s Word. The Psalmist is teaching us through song, that God’s Word is completely sufficient for our what we believe and for our lives .
By this I mean that God’s Word always provide the right answer to every question, every problem, every crisis, and every issue we as believers face today. We must understand and believe this, for this is the very teaching of faith, our love of and our sure and certain hope in Jesus Christ unto our eternal salvation.
Today, we focus on eight prayers. That is, these are eight positions to take when dealing with God’s Word.
So often we focus on our own personal study and devotional time. That is, we tend to view God’s Word from a very individualistic perspective. I certainly do not mean to demean that, or to say that these prayers do not address personal Bible consumption. Reading and studying our Bibles is definitely of great value.
However, I definitely believe it is important that we broaden our views of these eight prayers to include corporate worship as well. That is, how can You and I apply these verses to my personal and family life, my church’s life, into my brother’s and sister’s life, in a way that reflects the Psalmist’s desire to bring every single aspect of his life under the direct authority of God’s living Word.
I. Prayer for Practical Understanding- vs. 33
The first prayer the Psalmist offers unto God is his prayer longing for practical understanding. He asks God to “teach me.” He asked God to teach Him, to order God’s Word in a way that he would understand and be able to keep it to the end.
One of our prayers as we approach the private and corporate consumption of Scripture is for practical understanding. Sometimes we have a hard time connecting God’s Word to daily life, do we not? I know that I have to work at it.
I can remember growing up and trying to read through the Bible and thinking to myself, “What does any of this have to do with my life right now?” However, the Psalmist here prays for practical understanding. He does not simply want to know the background, the wording, etc., he longs to know how it applies to any part or portion of his life so he can live it out all the way to the end. He wants to “keep” it, guarding it like walls and towers protect the city. He wanted God’s Word to protect his life and his doctrine all the way to the end, to the reward.
We must pray to the Holy Spirit for practical understanding. Due to our own intellectual limitations, our own struggles and blindness from sin, and the disconnect between life in the Ancient Near East and life today, we desperately need God’s help for understanding the practical applications of God’s Word.
This is the child asking the parent, “Why?” For those of you with children, you know they are incredible at asking questions. “What is that daddy?” “Well, that is a guardrail.” “What does it do?” “Well, it keeps cars from running off the road.” “Why?” The questions will go on and on, but children think in concrete terms, they want to know why things work. They want the practical application. And we should try to follow their example, pray for a practical understanding.
II. Prayer for Discernment in Understanding- vs. 34
The second prayer the Psalmist offers concerns discernment in understanding. The Psalmist here wants to understand the details of God’s Word. This prayer focuses on awareness and perceptiveness, a skill at understanding His Word.
Think about the difference between a mechanic and a do-it-yourself guy. My first car was a Ford Escort. I learned in High School to change my oil, my brake pads, my alternator, and a few other items. I could rotate my tires and I even took apart the stereo system (with the help of the instructor).
However, there is a vast difference between my understanding of cars and my personal mechanics understanding. That guy could listen to the car and tell you in a heartbeat exactly what was wrong with it right down to the nth detail.
The Psalmist here is desiring discernment. He wants his heart and his soul, to, every time it is read and studied, to look deeper at God’s Word and know exactly what is going on, how to apply it. He always connects doctrine (understanding of Scripture) with his life (“Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart”).
One way which we can help further our own discernment in Scripture is simply learning the backgrounds and times of the books, that is the historical context.
Understanding the times in which certain letters were given (or prophecies preached) will greatly enhance your discernment of Scripture. We want greater discernment to know how to apply the Scriptures to our lives as we live them in these contemporary times. Our goal is to observe it with our whole heart. That is, to guard it, a term that is used consistently in connection with God’s Word.
III. Prayer for Desire to Understand- vs. 35
The word translated “make me walk” gives the idea of a pattern of desire. That is, grant me a consistent desire to follow Your Word. This is a prayer for desire.
There are times in which we need increased desire. While we have been changed, we are still being changed. Consider . We are being transformed. That is, there are still vestiges of sin in our lives. We are freed from the power of sin but not the presence of sin. Thus, there are times in which we do not desire to know and follow God’s Word.
Think of the song Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. The third verse gives us the Psalmist’s desire, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love, Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above.” As we approach God’s Word, we need to continuously, consistently pray God will increase our desire to know and follow His Word. And as God answers that prayer, we will delight in it. That is, we will find great pleasure, delight, and satisfaction in it.
IV. Prayer for Direction toward God’s Truth- vs. 36
The next prayer focuses on direction. He says, “Incline my heart.” That is, change the direction of my heart. Now, this is very similar to the idea found in the last verse. The Psalmist prays for a pattern of desire. Now, he is asking God to turn his path to God’s testimonies.
The second phrase helps us understand the prayer better, because the Psalmist connects a turning to God’s Word as a turning away from covetousness. There is always a remove the old and put on the new idea found in the Scriptures. In the Old Testament it was always forsake the false idols and worship the true God.
In the New Testament, particularly the epistles, we see steady encouragement to remove the ways of the flesh and to put on the ways of the Spirit. This desire involves a change in direction. I don’t know if many of you remember the cheap dollar store toys with the little marble and the goal is to get it from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’. Though the marble was enclosed in a small glass or plastic case, you could still move it by tilting the toy. That is the idea behind this prayer. God, tilt me toward Your testimonies and away from covetousness, away from sin.
V. Prayer for Priority in Values- vs. 37
I say this is a prayer for priority because, the Psalmist calls for God’s help in avoiding looking at worthless things. He wanted his priorities to change, to be kept according to God’s Word.
We all have things we genuinely enjoy, that we focus on. Perhaps it is a sports team, a hobby, a genre of literature. However, there are some pointless things we get involved in that are not directly related to sin but are, as the Scriptures state, worthless. They are vain – Read, Study and Pray through Ecclesiastes.
For what I believe are obvious reasons, I will not attempt to make assertions from this specifically, however, the Psalmist prayers are directed towards the proper assessment and evaluation of his priority in that which he highly values.
He wants to continuously make sure that his life is not focused on worthless, vain things. Christians today desperately need this prayer for priority. I look at my own priorities in life, the use of my time and I wonder at the grace of God!!!
VI. Prayer for a Foundation in God’s Word- vs. 38
The word used for ‘establish’ gives us the impression of completeness, of a foundation, something upon which structures or people can stand. It is solid, unwavering. We need to pray for a solid foundation in God’s Word. That is, God’s Word needs to shape how we think, how we speak, and how we live. That is all connected with the phrase “who is devoted to fearing you.” When you fear God you believe the right things, say the right things, and do the right things. It is a solid foundation from which the believer can live a God-glorifying life.
VII. Prayer for Sovereign Protection- vs. 39
The seventh prayer from the Psalmist concerns His concern about how his lifestyle will affect the testimony of God.
I love the way Theologian and Biblical Commentator Matthew Henry puts it when he writes, “David prays against reproach, as before, v. 22. David was conscious to himself that he had done that which might give occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, which would blemish his own reputation and turn to the dishonour of his family; now he prays that God, would has all men’s hearts and tongues in his hands, would be pleased to prevent this…” [Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary On the Whole Bible Volume 3: Job to Song of Solomon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991), 567.]
As we read Scripture and seek to apply it to our lives, we know we will fail. We have already mentioned that. However, one prayer we can say together is that God would sovereign protect us. This is no different than the Lord’s Prayer when Christ prays, “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:5-15 and Luke 11:1-13)
VIII. Prayer for Revival- vs. 40
This verse is different than the rest. Up to this point, all the prayers are at the beginning of the verse. However, as we come to a close on this section, we find the prayer at the second half of the verse.
The psalmist is basing his prayer for revival on his love for God’s precepts. The word for long is only used twice in the Bible, and it gives the idea for an ever increasing love. I think one of the best ways to picture this is the love between a husband and wife. It grows throughout the years. Or the love between a child and parents. It increases as the child grows into maturity. And as the love increases, it intensifies.
Returning to Matthew Henry, he says “Tastes of the sweetness of God’s precepts will but set us a longing after a more intimate acquaintance with them.” That is, the more we long for an increased awareness, understanding of God’s truth, the sweeter and more desirable it will be (Psalm 34:8-10). Because the Psalmist has an ever-longing, maturing desire, he prays for revival, for life.
These eight prayers are excellent prayers to pray routinely, not only for our own private time with God, but also in our corporate time together.
That is, we can pray for our families, our neighbors and those in our church who, by the knowledge, understanding of the Holy Spirit, need these prayers.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Let us now Pray,
God, teach me lessons for living
so I can stay the course.
Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—
my whole life one long, obedient response.
Guide me down the road of your commandments;
I love traveling this freeway!
Give me an appetite for your words of wisdom,
and not for piling up loot.
Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets,
invigorate me on the pilgrim way.
Affirm your promises to me—
promises made to all who fear you.
Deflect the harsh words of my critics—
but what you say is always so good.
See how hungry I am for your counsel;
preserve my life through your righteous ways!
In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen