Have you taken the time to read Psalm 119? It is a magnificent Psalm. Without a doubt, it is the longest Psalm as well as the longest chapter in the Bible. In Hebrew it is known by its opening words, “Ashrei temimei derech” (“happy are those whose way is perfect”). It is the prayer of someone who delights in and lives by Torah, the sacred Law (actually Torah does not mean “law;” in an overly simplistic sense, it means “teaching”).
Psalm 119 is 176 verses long and it is divided into 22 stanzas, with each stanza for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet:
א Aleph, ב Beyt, ג Gimal, ד Dalet, ה Hey, ו Vav, ז Zayin, ח Chet, ט Tet, י Yud, כ Kaph, ל Lamed,
מ Mem, נ Nun, ס Samech, ע Ayin, פ Pey, צ Tsade, ק Quph, ר Resh, ש Shin, ת Tav.
Four of these letters you might recognize: יהוה (read it backwards: Yud Hey Vav Hey). It is the name of God! YHWH.
What I found amazing–no, downright shocking–is that after exalting God’s Nature and His Word at length; beyond a shadow of doubt he proved that he knew his God and he was an expert of His Word. Verse after verse David proclaimed the victory in the Scriptures:
Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the LORD.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart . . .
How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands . . .
Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees,
that I may follow it to the end.
Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law
and obey it with all my heart . . .
May your unfailing love be my comfort,
according to your promise to your servant.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight . . .
And on and on it goes. Swearing his allegiance to an awesome loving and powerful God. But then he concludes the Psalm with this verse: “I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands” (Psalm 119:176). Huh? How can a “man-of-God” say anything like that?
In essence, he is saying, “Please, Lord, seek me out, the way a shepherd searches for a lost sheep. In spite of all the Bible verse I know, in spite of all the preaching and long history with you, somehow I have strayed from your love. I have lost the sense of rest I once had in you. All my plans have failed. Now my eyes have been opened and I realize I am totally helpless. Come to me, Father. Seek me out in this awful, dry place. I can’t find you on my own. You must find me. I still believe your Word is true.”
David knew he had strayed from God’s rest. He knew the Lord’s love should have been imprinted on his heart during his previous crises. But now, once again, he had forgotten about God’s love for him. So he cried out to the Lord, begging him to seek out his lost servant.
Maybe I am the only one who can identify with this. I don’t think my experiences are that unique, but if so, please disregard today’s message. However, if you can see yourself in here, take it to heart that the shepherd did come after David again. As David heard his name called, his heart was comforted when he realized, “My shepherd knows me by name.”
David found himself being led down the hill into the green valley. He once again reached the green pasture below, Jehovah Rohi, יהוה רוחי (the Lord my Shepherd) said to him, “Lie down now. Go to sleep, and rest your weary soul. Don’t worry—I will be at work, taking care of everything.”
Oh, one thing I should point out here is that David’s circumstances had not changed. In fact, Scripture says the enemies who troubled David increased (Psalm 3:1). So this isn’t a quick-fix, “Glory Hallelujah, preach it brother,” kind of message.
However, the most important point . . . David had been restored to God’s love—and that is what was most significant! Now he could say, “From the Lord comes deliverance” (Psalm 3:8). He testified, “No more self-made plans. No more sleepless nights, trying to work things out. Regardless of my situation I long to enter into the love of my Shepherd. I welcome his open arms toward me. I am going to lie down in his rest. I am going to sleep peacefully in His unconditional love for me.”
With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.