Long Song Study, part D


Today we’re going to look at Psalm 119:25-32,
which is the fourth section of this twenty-two part poem.
Yeah, we’ve got a ways to go.

Verse 25
“My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!”
David was struggling. For a reason we don’t know, he felt like he was going to die. His situation was so grim, he recalled the words of God that cursed Adam, “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Yet from face down in the dirt, he asked God to breath life back into him. He knew the Word could do that. (“All scripture is God-breathed…” 2 Tim. 3:16) He could have asked for comfort or deliverance from trouble, but instead he prayed, “quicken me” (KJV); “revive me” (AMP); “give me new life” (NLV).
“It is a grand thing to see a believer in the dust and yet pleading the promise.” Spurgeon

Verse 26
“When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes!”
While he was down in the dust, David talked to God about his “ways”, or the road he was on. He didn’t go to his advisors or his best friend to rehash his troubles. He went to God. His words might have come in the form of complaint, or request, or confession. Or all three rolled into one. He got an answer and it must have been something like, “There’s something for you to learn in all this” because David responded, “Teach me!”

Verse 27
“Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.”
David asked for clarity to see the difference between his ways and God’s ways. There’s usually a gap there. What a great prayer – “Help me understand Your ways.”
Meditating is sometimes compared to a cow chewing its cud. These animals have four stomaches! They chew a while, swallow, regurgitate it and chew some more, repeating the process until the nutrients have gone through all four chambers. This process is called “rumination” and it’s where we get the word “ruminate” (to ponder or think about). We may need to slow down in order to have time to mull over the truths in God’s Word.

Verse 28
“My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!”
Similar to verse 25, David was feeling all the feelings. The word for “melts” means “to spring a leak.” His tears were draining him of vitality, drop by drop. Like a balloon slowly leaking air, he was becoming deflated and defeated. As he wept, David asked for God to give him strength. I admire him for feeling things deeply, yet not getting stuck in the emotion. Even in desperately trying situations, he seemed to find his way to God, knowing God was the only One who could help.

Verse 29
“Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!”
There was his way (v. 26) and God’s way (v. 27); and then there was a false way. Perhaps David’s sorrow was connected to some kind of deceptive outside influence. Or maybe he came face to face with his own lies. (“The heart is deceitful above all things…” Jere. 17:9) David wanted nothing to do with a fake form of religion that denied his need for grace. Some commentators believe David was confronting his own sin in this section. “Repentance happens when we see our sin without making excuses. We dare not confuse regretting with repenting. Esau regretted. Saul regretted. Ahab regretted. Judas regretted. But none of them ever repented.” (Christopher Ash)

Verse 30
“I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.”
Looking back at his previous words in v. 1-24, David was reminded of his commitments. “I will keep your statutes” (v. 8); “I will fix my eyes on your ways” (v. 15); “I will not forget your word” (v. 16). And here is another “way” — a faithful way in contrast to a false way. His only hope of staying the course was to return to the promises he had made earlier in his life and to put God’s word back in front of his eyes. As long as he had life, he was determined to choose the Lord.

Verse 31
“I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; let me not be put to shame!”
This statement is the pivot point in this passage. David let go of the dust of death he had been clinging to and reached out for the Lord of life. He broke through the sadness and misery by releasing it in the presence of the Lord and then clinging to the truth of God’s word. It’s a great exchange!

Verse 32
“I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!”
No longer face down in the dirt, David vowed to get up and run in the freedom of forgiveness. For the fifth time in eight verses, “the way” was his focus. He finally found the one that gave him room to run and space to grow in love.
David began this section by asking God to revive him according to the word. That renewal happened as he confessed, repented and turned toward God. His heart grew three sizes that day.


Things I know for sure from this passage:

  • On days when I feel down in the dumps, I need to speak to God first about it.
  • When my spirit feels weak, strength is available in God’s Word.
  • I need to pay attention to what I am clinging to for security and significance.
  • Every day I have to choose which way I will go: faithfulness or falseness.
  • Running in freedom is better than lying in dust.

Next: Daleth

Stanza D

How is everybody doing? I’ve heard it said that the whole world is a little depressed right now. Do you feel it? God knows it’s hard to be us. Thankfully, we get a whole range of emotions in the Psalms that give us some insight into how to navigate the ups and downs of life.

David had his share of bad days and he wasn’t afraid to be honest about it. Green pastures and still waters were not on his mind as he composed this fourth stanza. However, in eight verses he went from wallowing in sorrow to a full heart. He started out clinging to dust and ended up clinging to God’s testimonies. How did he do it? Let’s see what we can learn from stanza D this week.


(Here’s a review of my self-imposed rules for re-writing each passage.)

Psalm 119:25-32

Down at the bottom of the heap,
    I need Your word to renew me.

Describing my ways, You answered;
    now teach me what I need to learn.

Drill into me how Your law works,
    so I can chew on it in awe.

Deep inside I’m tired and sad;
    let Your word give me stamina.

Deceit must be put on the shelf;
    tenderly teach me Your precepts.

Determined to walk by Your side,
    I put Your laws front and center.

Deciding to stick with Your word,
    Lord, keep me from messing this up.

Delight comes with going full tilt;
    Your love makes my heart want to burst!


Next: Long Song Study, part D