25 My soul clings to the dust;
give me life according to your word*!
26 When I told of my ways, you answered me;
teach me your statutes!
27 Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
28 My soul melts away for sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word!
* Through these reflections, those phrases that identify God’s word, revelation, or law will be highlighted in the text in the hopes of accentuating the many and varied ways we can visualize what God has given to us for our good.
It would be tempting to think we can endure the journey of life with less of God’s word. The terrible irony is this: without God’s word we are wandering an endless desert with no source of water within reach. The word of God is the portable oasis we need. And has been given to us as a heavenly gift.
When we tap into the totality of God’s commands we receive the fullness of its provision. This does not mean we are actualizing all that God has provided. It is better to say we have access to it all, and as we mature and grow in wisdom, we enjoy the benefits more intentionally.
God’s word can be what leads us to safety, or it can feel like a millstone around our next. How we experience it will depend on why we engage with it. If we approach God’s word as a gift, we find security and counsel. If we approach God’s word as a burden, we will feel the weight of all we have been forgiven by Christ’s redemptive work on the Cross.
It took me a long time to see this difference. And now that I know it, I can never go back to how things used to be. Knowing and living in God’s good pleasure is not worth surrendering, for any reason. Under any circumstances.
Verse 25: How did God create all things? In the opening chapter of the Bible, we are told that he spoke them into existence. By the power of his word what never existed came into being. While not to the same degree, the word of God as contained in the Scriptures continue to infuse life in all who embrace God’s word. Why? Because the word of God written come from the same source as the words of God spoken. When we read God’s commandments, their power are not resident on the pages, but in the author. The author is the one who validates and enacts what the words on the page convey.
Verse 26: The God who has spoken (and continues to speak) desires for us to be vocal as well. The apostle Paul captured this idea when he asked, “And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14 ESV). The preacher is the mouthpiece of God, carrying the words of God, to those who need to hear from God. We reflect our heavenly Father best when we imitate him in being verbal communicators. We don’t have to speak to thousands to do this. Something our audience need only be one person. And, in order to speak, the Psalmist asks God to teach them.
Verse 27: The Psalmist makes a link between our understanding of God’s precepts and our desire to consider the “wondrous works” of God. We do not always understand how studying God’s word, how reflecting on what God has revealed helps us to appreciate his labors in the world. The Psalmist in another place tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1 ESV). How? By reminding us that all beautiful things come into being by the hand of an artist.
Verse 28: The struggles of life can fell overwhelming. We are reminded of this. The imagery is that of the soul melting away. Our endurance will be taxed in this world. Adversity will be a companion to everyone at some point in their lives. The question is how to we find the strength to persevere? We are told that it is found in God’s word. There is a property in God’s word that can invigorate us even in the midst of strife. Into this reality we must entrust ourselves. For when we do, we will experience a renewal of courage.