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Daleth, He and Waw

Today we continue with our study of Psalm 119, the longest chapter, from the longest book in the Bible.  This week we will look at the next three sections, which are the 4th, 5th and 6th letters in Hebrew.  Daleth, He and Waw (or Vav). Again, the beginning of each stanza begins with the the same letter of the heading—-Daleth, He or Waw.

ד Daleth

“I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.

I gave an account of my ways and you answered me;  teach me your decrees.

Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.

Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me and teach me your law.

I have chosen the way of faithfulness;  I have set my heart on your laws.

I hold fast to your statutes, Lord;  do not let me be put to shame.

I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.”

Here’s the prayer of a man that’s been humbled…he’s been crawling in the dust.  He recognizes his personal limitations,  his need for outside help, and the hopelessness of his situation unless God has pity upon him.  You see,  the author of this verse is keenly aware of his limitations….his lack of comprehension….the temptation to look at, touch and think of the wrong things….and the dangers of trying to live a faithful and righteous life on his own. He knows it hopeless. He knows that he needs God and some source of direction.  Oh that every teenager would read read these verses today.

This is a man’s earnest, sincere, humble prayer to God. And I am certain God heard and answered—because that’s how God is. He sees the tears and hears the whispers of those of us who have been brought low and look to Him, their heavenly Father, and Him alone, for deliverance.

One of my sons came to be recently, and tearfully, about how he has been embarrassed and humiliated. It boils my blood, not because he was disciplined or punished-he needs and deserves it.  But no child should be humiliated, laughed at or denigrated —particularly in front of his classmates.  So if I want to make things right, and elevate my son when he has been “laid low in the dust”…how much more so will God come to our side if we humble and seek His face?

The psalmist praises God, worships Him, sets His heart upon God’s word—all good things.

But I want to put this truth forward, at the beginning of this devotion:  God does not need us to worship Him… adore Him…obey Him….admit that He is right and we are wrong….  or humble ourselves before Him.   Quite frankly He does not need  anything from us.  I once heard a preacher tell his congregation  that God created mankind because He was lonely and needed to be loved!  That’s absurd!   He will be no less holy, not a bit less divine, loving, creative and “God” regardless of how we treat Him.  But how we obey and love Him directly impacts, blesses, puts on the proper footing  and restores our lives. And that’s the point: We need to admit who He is and allow Him to teach us His ways for our good.  And teaches  us through the written word, the divine incarnation—i.e. Jesus Christ and the divine Comforter—the Holy Spirit.

Worshipping God is all about us getting the benefits—not God. You can’t give Him anything He does not already possess— except confession of your sins.  Seeing God for who He is….studying His Word….mediating upon His great deeds in your life and the lives of others…. is pleasing to Him—but also of immediate and long lasting benefit to you!

ה He

“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.

Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.

Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.

Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.

Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared.

Take away the disgrace I dread,  for your laws are good.

How I long for your precepts!  In your righteousness preserve my life.”

Friends, this man eloquently explains just how frail all men are and how easily we can be brought down! There’s reason and good opportunity to worry, if you are one that does not know the Lord. But if you do know Him, don’t use your energy to worry…use that energy to believe!  And you believe by starting your day doing two things, this day: Study God’s Word and pray.  Spurgeon was once asked, “Which is more important? To pray or to study your Bible?  To which he quipped,  “What’s more important, breathing out or breaking in!”  We need both!

You see, by studying the Word, praying for the Holy Spirit to give us light and understanding as we read, we become lamps for others that are lost. But we aren’t called upon to shine our own light, but reflect His.  So ask yourself: “Are you shining for Jesus?”   And as bright as you might think you are, you are not as bright and clear as you could if you were reading the Bible and praying more than you do now.  I’ve never, ever, come across a man or woman who has told me that they pray too much or spend too much time in God’s Word.

ו Waw

 May your unfailing love come to me, Lord, your salvation, according to your promise;

 then I can answer anyone who taunts me, for I trust in your word.

 Never take your word of truth from my mouth,  for I have put my hope in your laws.

 I will always obey your law, for ever and ever.

 I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.

 I will speak of your statutes before kings  and will not be put to shame,

 for I delight in your commands because I love them.

 I reach out for your commands, which I love,  that I may meditate on your decrees.

This was a man that witnessed pride and arrogance, and was aware of his need to remain humble in heart.  Are you arrogant?  Do you consider the needs of others more important than your needs?  You know,  pride is like bad breath. Everyone knows you have it— but you.

This man saw the freedom that comes from knowing that he was in God’s favor. How to we show that we know the love of God?  Your courage, to stand before a King and speak the truth. Obedience to God lends itself to confidence and bravery when attacked.  In my heart, the proof of God’s love in the manner in which I treat those that annoy me!  And I have come the sober conclusion that I am annoying to some people.  I make calls every day to people I know and care about, in this church, or my family, or the camp.  But yesterday I got a rather curt email telling  me that my weekly call was annoying.  It’s humbling to be told to stop trying to help or build up another person.

How do you treat people that annoy you or hurt your feelings. And as new people come to visit us, what do you see in them?  I have learned that I  can tell a lot about a person about what they choose to see in me….

Many of us might not be at the spiritual level the man that wrote Psalms 119 was.  This was a very wise man that had seen good and bad. He was tempted, he had tasted the finer things of life, but he had come to an epiphany, or an encounter with the God that left him in awe.  You and I can experience that same incredible, amazing, jaw-dropping “awe of God”, by humbling ourselves and removing any sense of spiritual pride and cleaning our glasses and seeing others as God sees them.

I hope for great success on every person reading this devotion—blessings and good things to come your way. But listen to what Saint Augustine said: Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan to build a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.

Consider in closing what a great woman did in Jesus’ ministry.  Jesus went into a Pharisee’s home and a prostitute followed him in, washed His feet with her tears, wiped His toes with her hair and then poured perfume on His feet.

Most of us have read this story many, many times, but what Jesus said to her at the end of the story surprises me: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:50, NIV). Now think about that as you recall what the Psalmist said.  Psalm 119 tells us we need to read and meditate upon God’s word—i.e., what’s right and wrong and pleasing to Him.  But throughout the chapter,  he emphasizes the essential matter of humbling yourself before God and believing that He will protect you and restore you.

So here’s this woman, a Jewish woman who knew right and wrong…who was obviously aware of her sin, and she gets down on her knees and submits herself to God’s Son.   But Jesus did not just say, “Your sins are forgiven,” but “your faith has saved you.” (Luke 7:50, NIV) So, if I read this correctly, a woman of the night, that lived her whole adult life doing something very bad in God’s eyes, simply has to humble herself, cry and pour some oil on Jesus’ feet and everything is fine?   

Well, if the Word is true, evidently yes! And this is where I see Jesus turning all religious thinking upside-down.  But it was never the “right living” souls that Jesus came to save, but the sinners.  Evil men and women,  like this prostitute, that recognized that their lives were messed up and hopeless—-short of Jesus’ compassion and a miracle. That’s where she “placed all her eggs”, so to speak.  Jesus saved her because she believed in the miracle and believed in Him.  She pinned all hope on His love and believed in her heart that if she truly humbled herself (she sat at his feet and wiped His feet with her hair), acknowledged her sins (she never stopped weeping and used the tears to clean His feet!)  recognized Him as the Messiah (she anointed His feet with an expensive perfume) she might be redeemed and saved. And her faith proved right.

What an incredible sense of lightness must come when someone hears Him say, “Your faith has saved you!” (Luke 7:50, NIV)   Friends, that means that “All is well—you are now a redeemed, restored, justified son or daughter in the family of God.”

It’s the sick that seek a physician—the poor that seek a philanthropist. Conversely, those that are well or well off never have need of such intervention. The sad truth is that there are folks in our world that think they are wealthy, clean, pure, healthy—and therefore in no need of a savior. And so Jesus correctly said: “Blessed are the poor” (Luke 6:20, KJV).  It means, blessed are those that know just how poor they are!  The Psalmist did and so did this great woman.

This woman was far wiser and more in touch with God than the Pharisees.  Jesus wants a relationship, Satan wants a religion.  Which do you have?  It’s been said that religion is a guy in church thinking about fishing.  Relationship is guy out fishing thinking about God.

She knew how dirty and in need of cleansing she was. And that is what we are to preach to a world that is so confused about wealth, health, and purity. When any man or woman stands next to Him, then, and perhaps only then, can they really begin to grasp how wretched and crooked they are.

My aim at church, and at our camp this summer,  is to help people seek Him, find Him, kneel before Him and experience the restoration to fullness and holy living that only He can give.

And if you know Him and you are able to share with others that need Him, are you?  Jesus died for you in public—don’t live for Him in private!

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