Crying Out for Spiritual Change (Psalm 119:4-8)

Psalm 119:4-8
4 You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. 5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! 6 Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. 7 I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. 8 I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!
What a heart for the Lord that the author had! He knows what the Lord has asked him to do, and his desire would be that he would be able to do all that was asked of him. He knows that the Lord has given us His Law and that we are responsible for doing what is right. The author realizes that as much as he may want to follow God, it won’t always be easy. He knows that he is a sinner and that he will continue to make mistakes. You can almost hear the heartfelt cry in verse 5. “OH that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!” He is saying, “O Lord, my greatest desire is that I would be like you and walk in your ways but I know that I am no example of perfect obedience!” Charles Spurgeon says of verse 5, “This verse is a sigh of regret because the Psalmist feels that he has not kept the precepts diligently, it is a cry of weakness appealing for help to one who can aid, it is a request of bewilderment from one who has lost his way and would fain be directed in it, and it is a petition of faith from one who loves God and trusts in him for grace.” I know that I am no example of perfect obedience to the Lord. I know that time and time again, I have fallen short of who He has called me to be. On my own, I will never be able to walk steadfast in His ways. None of us can! However, a heart that desires nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified, will always long for something greater than the passions of this world. That is the heart that the Psalmist has. While he knows his imperfections, He is well aware of God’s perfections. While the Psalmist struggles with faith, he knows that God is faithful. In verse 7, the Psalmist says, “I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.” We see the Psalmist go from a prayer of desperation in verse 5 to a shout of praise in verse 7. He is saying, “Lord, as you give me strength and understanding, I will learn to praise you.” Who can make one’s heart upright? Only God can. The only way that we can praise with an upright heart is if the Lord takes away our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh. As we continue on in the faith, God will be faithful and give us understanding so that we may praise Him as we should. Verse 8 ends on almost a somber note. The Psalmist says, “I will keep your statues; do not utterly forsake me!” What is he saying here? He is saying that he is only able to keep the Lord’s statutes if He promises that He will be there with him. On his own, the author is still aware of his utter inability to faithfully carry out God’s law in his own life. He seems aware that salvation cannot be secured by works and that salvation is by faith alone. He is saying, “God if you are to leave me, don’t leave me entirely. If you are to forsake me, don’t give me the full wrath that I deserve because I won’t be able to take it.” The author is right. If the Lord were to utterly forsake us, we would never be able to handle it. As long as we are in Christ, we never have to worry about being utterly forsaken. Remember Christ’s words on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Do you ever feel forsaken? At the cross, Jesus was utterly forsaken! That perfect love that He had experienced with His Father was taken away. As the nails tore through His flesh, the greater pain was being torn out of the presence of His Father. Christ was utterly forsaken on the cross, so that we would never have to be. He took on our sin, so that we wouldn’t have to feel the great weight of it. Our sin is given to Him, and His sinlessness is given to us. Our unrighteousness was given to Him, so that we could put on His righteousness. Do you ever feel like the Lord has left you? Do you ever feel like you can’t handle what life is throwing at you? Know that He is faithful and true. He loves you more than you could possibly imagine. Christ was willing to be utterly forsaken, struck down on the cross, so that you would never have to be. With all that in mind, we can say with the Psalmist, “I will praise you with an upright heart!”