By Dr. Kevin Jackson
Honesty is the best policy
Editor’s note: Grenada pastor Kevin Jackson is writing a monthly Bible study through Psalm 119. Find the other installments at MSChristianLiving.com.
Have you ever felt spiritually dead? Have you ever felt a million miles away from God? Do you ever wonder how you could come back to God? Have you ever prayed and wondered if God was even listening?
Personally, I like the book of Psalms. The individual psalms are verbal expressions of faith from real believers. Within the book of Psalms, the various writers do not pretend, are not hypocrites and do not cover up their real feelings. The psalms are expressions of truth, vulnerability, honesty and a dependence on God.
In Psalm 119:25–32, the psalmist explained his situation with these words: “My soul clings to the dust…” (verse 25) and “My soul melts away for sorrow…” (verse 28). The psalmist knew what it was like to feel far away from God. He wondered if he could ever come back. He sympathized with praying and wondering if God even listened.
Within these eight verses, the psalmist once again described how a person could possess a happy life. According to him, happiness comes from an honest evaluation of oneself, an eager plea to God to give life and a fidelity to God’s promises.
In Psalm 119:25–32, the psalmist described his plea and his choice. In verse 29, the psalmist wanted God to put “false ways” far from him. Left to his own ways, the psalmist knew he would disobey God’s law. The desire for self-directed love is so strong that we need the intervening touch of God to redirect our love. In light of this ever-present reality, the psalmist prayed for God graciously to teach him His law.
When the psalmist said, “give me life…” in verse 25, he demonstrated his belief that God was the source of his life. The psalmist was not merely a rule follower or rule keeper; he was not content with a list of do’s and do nots.
He prayed for something much deeper — the vitalizing touch of God. Otherwise, he knew his religion would be dead behaviorism. Something had shaken him.
Something had made him feel insecure or unstable. The specific circumstance in his life is still unknown but it rocked his faith and life.
In verse 28 he said, “Strengthen me according to your word.” Apparently, he felt weak in his life and in his faith. What did the psalmist do when he felt weak? He prayed, “Graciously teach me your law” (verse 29). He needed God to remind him of His promises so he could trust in the Lord with all of his heart and not lean on his own understanding.
In verses 30–32, the reader can see the psalmist’s choice in three separate ways.
In verse 30, he said, “I have chosen…” That is, I will be consciously aware of Your promises; I will rehearse Your promises to myself; I will replay Your truths in my mind because they are my food.
In verse 31, he said, “I cling…” That is, I will value Your promise and Your perspective on the world because left to myself, I will do shameful things.
And in verse 32, he said, “I will run…” This implies learning, practicing and persevering while I live this believing life.
He desperately desired for God to enlarge his heart. This means God would intervene, touch him and set his heart free. God, in the psalmist’s mind, must break sin’s power that held him prisoner. God must stretch his mind so the psalmist could see his selfish vision for his own life. Indeed, this is the work of God in the soul of the psalmist.
According to the psalmist, happiness comes from an honest evaluation of oneself, from an eager plea for God to give life and from a fidelity to God’s promises.
Circumstances happen to us that are out of our control too, and God uses those times to draw us close to Him. Do not misuse the difficult times in your life. Do not allow those times to take you from God, but use them to take you to God.
Honesty is the best policy with God. Go to Him.
Dr. Kevin Jackson became the senior pastor at Grace Baptist Church in 2009. He and his wife, Mary Ann, have two daughters, Perrin and Mary Pinson, and one son, Seth.