Feb 20, 2014
Let’s say you are devastated with sorrow and discouragement.
Maybe you lost your job, or a loved one. Maybe your teenage son stormed out of the house, shouting cruel words. Maybe you received bad news from the doctor.
If that’s what you are feeling, what can you do?
Learning from the Psalmist
In Psalm 119:25-32 the psalmist is overwhelmed with sorrow and discouragement.
You can see that in verse 25. where he says “my soul clings to the dust.” We all know what it’s like to feel low. But he was so low it was like his soul clung to the dust.
Then there is verse 28, where he says “my soul melts away for sorrow.” Something tragic had happened that caused such sorrow that his soul, his heart, his energy was melting away.
So What Does He Do?
We know that, because Psalm 119:25-32 is the actual prayer he prays when he feels devastated.
Which means that we don’t need to wait until we are feeling more chipper before we pray. We can, and should, pray when we are at our lowest.
So how should we pray? Notice what he does in these eight verses —
He Tells God What’s Going on in His Heart
That’s where he starts, in verse 25 — “My soul clings to the dust.”
He does not act like everything is fine. He does not put on any false piety. He tells God the truth — Father, my soul is clinging to the dust. I’m feeling low; deeply discouraged.
He Asks God to Give Him Life
That’s next, at the end of verse 25 — “Give me life according to your word!”
Because he just talked about his discouragement, give me life means change my heart; change the way I’m feeling.
And he says “give me life according to your word” because he knows God has promised in his word to change our hearts (see Psalm 19:7; Psalm 40:1-3; Psalm 43:2-4).
He Reminds God of God’s Past Faithfulness
That’s the beginning of verse 26 — “When I told you of my ways, you answered me.”
That means: In the past I have come to you and told you what was going on in my heart, and when I have done that you have always answered me, and brought me comfort, encouragement, and hope.
That reminder would strengthen his faith that God will meet him now.
He Asks God to Teach Him the Word
It’s through the word that the Spirit strengthens our faith and changes our hearts (Ephesians 6:17).
But the psalmist knows that his troubles are blinding him to who God is. He is not seeing God clearly.
So he in verse 27 he prays — ” …teach me your statutes! Make me understand the way of your precepts …”
He Commits to Meditating on God’s Wondrous Works
One of the most powerful ways to receive the heart-changing life of God is to meditate on God’s past wonderful works.
So next, in verse 28, the psalmist tells God — “… and I will meditate on your wondrous works.”
He Tells God More of What’s Going on in His Heart
He’s already told God that his soul clings to the dust (verse 25). But even though he’s prayed, asked God for help, and meditated on God’s Word, he has not yet received God’s heart-changing life.
So he again tells God the truth of his heart — “my soul melts away for sorrow.”
Note: we often need to wait on the Lord in order to receive his heart-changing life. So wait , pray, and meditate on God’s Word earnestly. And while you wait, be honest with God about the state of your soul.
He Asks God to Strengthen Him
He knows that God can so reveal himself through the Word that our mourning turns to dancing (Psalm 30:11).
So that’s what he asks God to do, at the end of verse 28 — “strengthen me according to your word.”
He Asks God to Keep the False Way from Him
Sorrow and discouragement make us vulnerable to the false ways of Satan’s lies.
So in verse 29 he asks God to keep these far from him — “Put false ways far from me.”
He Again Asks God to Teach Him the Word
That’s at the end of verse 29 — “graciously teach me your law.”
Why does he ask this again? Maybe it’s because he’s praying, he’s got the Bible open in front of him, but his heart is still sorrowful and discouraged.
But he does not give up. He knows that, in his perfect time, God will change his heart. But he is not passive; he prays persistently (Luke 11:8).
He Asks God to Not Let Him Fall into Sin
That’s the point of verses 30-31 — “I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me. I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame!”
“Let me not be put to shame” probably means “don’t let me sin.” He knows that sadness and discouragement make us sitting ducks for temptation.
So he appeals to God — By your grace I have chosen the way of faithfulness, set your rules before me, and cling to your testimonies. I am here before you, fighting the fight of faith. Father, don’t let me fall into sin!
He Tells God He Knows that God Will Answer
That’s verse 32 — “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!”
He knows God promises that when we seek him, he will change our hearts.
So here he says — Father, I know you will be faithful. You will enlarge my heart with love for you, trust in you, and worship of you. And when that happens I will be running in the way of your commandments — not hobbling, crawling, or limping — but RUNNING.
Think of how that would encourage him as he waits on God.
So let this encourage you. As you continue to bring your heart before the Lord, praying and meditating on God’s Word, God will enlarge your heart.
And you, too, will be running.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- Once Again, God Changed My Heart
- How to Battle when Feeling Discouraged
- My Blow-by-Blow Battle with Discouragement
- How You Can Escape the Giant of Despair (from Pilgrim’s Progress)
(Picture is from everystockphoto by skaletto.)