In my reading of Psalm 119, what really stuck out to me was the longing with which the Psalmist desired God’s word. His description of continually seeking God with his whole heart made me reflect on my own longing or lack thereof for spending time in God’s word. The difference between my experience and that of the Psalmist cut me to the quick. I want to want God’s word. I know when I spend time in his word, be it reading, meditating, memorizing, or studying, I grow closer to him. But there is the soul wrenching yearning in this Psalm that I do not often feel. I have had seasons before where I felt it, a burning fire in my loins to spend more time in the Scriptures, but it is the exception and not the norm. I have often chided myself for this lack of desire, and though I have read Psalm 119 several times over the past 15 years, not until I meditated on it did it strike me that the Psalmist follows up his cry of wholeheartedly seeking after God with the fact that he has kept the Lord’s statutes. I have been coming at this from the wrong perspective, the cart before the horse so to speak.
I have wanted the longing, the desire, the passion for God’s word to fuel my interactions with it and my pursuit of him. What I learned from thinking through this Psalm is that just the opposite is true, to begin with. My time with God’s word is what will fuel my desire for seeking him through it. Once I have begun spending time with God’s word, my desire for his word will grow resulting in more time spent in it and with him. The Psalmist talks about keeping God’s precepts, about following his commandments and about them being his joy, delight, comfort and hope. The only way for him, and me, to keep God’s precepts is to first know them. It seems a bit counterintuitive, but spending time in his word is what fans the flames of wanting to spend time in his word, which leads to his commandments being my joy, delight, comfort, and hope.
I pray that having this newfound perspective will help me in times when it seems that I don’t desire God. Now that I have realized that I need to spend time in his word before I will want to spend time in his word, I have a new approach to dealing with my spiritual apathy when it comes. This makes quite a bit of sense as I recently started working out again and I was really dreading it at first. Once I got a few weeks in, I actually started looking forward to going to the gym. It’s the breaking down of that initial barrier that seems like drudgery and thus prevents us from taking action in so many areas. If that is true with the physical body and working out, how much more so with my spiritual pursuits.