33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.36 Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.38 Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared.39 Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good.40 Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!
Sermon 45 (Psalm 119:40)
- First, In the narrative he expresseth his sincere desire of conforming his heart and ways to the laws of God. Not to know them only, but to do them; not to satisfy curiosity, but to understand and obey the will of God, and to make it the rule of his life and actions. The sincerity of it; that is intimated in the word behold. There is ecce admirantis, the behold of admiration, and ecce demonstrantis, the behold of demonstration. This last is here to be understood.
- Here is his request. There we have—(1.) The thing prayed for, quicken me; he prays for renewing, exciting grace. (2.) The ground of confidence, In thy righteousness.
- Three points:— 1. To love and long for a holy and perfect and entire subjection to the will of God is a good frame of heart. 2. Those that do indeed long for holiness will see a need of new quickening. 3. Those that would have quickening must seek to God, who hath promised to satisfy them that desire grace to walk with him.
- Doct. 1. To love and long for a holy and perfect and entire subjection to the will of God is a good frame of heart.
- There is an instinct in every living thing which leads them towards the sustaining and perfecting of that nature which they have. That which is called inclination in the creatures without life, attraction of nourishment in plants, and appetite in the beasts, is in man desire.
- Desire it is an earnest reaching forth of the soul after good absent and not yet attained. The object of it is something good, and the more truly good it is the more is our desire justified.
- But now in holiness there is no such snare: a man cannot be holy enough, nor like enough to God; and therefore here we may freely let out our affections to the full. When our desires are freely let out to other things, they are like a member out of joint, as when the arms hang backward; but here they are in their proper place; this is that which cannot be loved beyond what it doth deserve.
- A Christian should set no manner of bounds to himself in holiness, for he is to be holy in all manner of conversation,’ 1 Peter 1:15, and to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect,’ Mat. 5:48. And then desire is not only after that which is good, but after a good absent. Desire ariseth from a sense of vacuity and emptiness. Emptiness is the cause of appetite, and therefore it is compared to hunger and thirst: Mat. 5:6, Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness.’ So it is in desiring holiness we have not yet attained, Phil. 3:13 There is an indigence and emptiness; we are not already perfect; we want more than we have, and our enjoyments are little in comparison of our expectations; and therefore we should make a swifter progress towards the mark, and with more earnestness of soul should press after that sinless estate we expect. That little we have doth but quicken us to inquire after more, not cloy but provoke the appetite. As a man hath a better stomach sometimes when he doth begin to eat, so when we begin with God, and have tasted of holiness, and tasted of comfort, being brought into a sense of obedience and subjection to God, we should desire more; for certainly he is not good that doth not desire to be better. So that David might well say, I have longed after thy precepts.’
- The nearer we are to any good thing our hearts are set upon, the more impatient in the want of it;
- So when the soul beats so strongly after God and holiness and larger measures of grace, it is a sign we are ripening apace for heaven.
- Many desire happiness, but not holiness; comfort, without grace; they would be eased of their present smart, and freed from sin, but not subdued to God.
- Mat. 6:33, Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.’ By the kingdom of God’ is meant, the royal privileges and immunities of the gospel state; and by his righteousness’ is meant the subjection, the service God requires of us. Now it is good when we seek both, but we must not seek one without the other; God and the world would sooner agree. If God would bestow the privileges of his kingdom, and dispense with the duties, God might have customers enough for comfort, pardon, heaven, happiness. No man is so senseless as not to desire these things in some measure; but they will not come to God’s price, they do not desire these things upon God’s terms. The hearts of the saints are as earnestly after sanctification when they are acquainted with God, and brought under the power of grace, that holiness may be increased in them; as Rom. 7:24, Oh, that I were delivered from sin! Ps. 119:5, Oh, that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!’ Not only for the happy part of religion, but they are longing how they may please God, and comply with their manifold obligations to God, and brought to a more perfect conformity to God. Thus the hearts of the saints work.
- Quest. What is the difference between a wish and a desire?
- They that have only a wish for holiness, they love holiness in the abstract and in the general notion, which they hate in the effect; they do not know what is included in holiness and close-walking with God; as John 6:34, Evermore give us of this bread of life.’ But when Christ told them what it was to have this bread of life, then they were offended. So the Israelites, when they considered holiness and the service of God in the abstract, Oh! we will serve the Lord, say they, saith Joshua, You cannot serve the Lord, for he is a jealous God,’ Josh. 24:18, 19. Holiness in the abstract and notion is amiable, and is apprehended as a necessary thing; but now, when it comes to the point of entering in at the strait gate, walking in the narrow way of watching and striving against sin, of rowing against the stream of flesh and blood, of constant communion with God, and diligent attendance upon his holy worship, then they will do nothing. When they take up their duty by the lump, they are well pleased with it, and it is easy to give up to God in the general, but particulars we stick at. Therefore here is the fault in these wishes and velleities, that they do not sufficiently poise their duty.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible