I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.
I shall keep Your statutes;
Do not forsake me utterly! Psalm 119:7-8
As you remember, David opened Psalm 119 with “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.” David then established who the ‘they’ are. ‘They’ are those who walk in God’s ways.
We also learned that God’s ways were ordained that we should walk in them (v. 4) and that we need to be established in order to do so (v. 5). I believe this extends to all image bearers (Psalm 105:8), but what we do know for sure is that within the pivot point of verse four, David personally inserted himself into the story.
Make Me ‘They’
David declared his desire to be counted among the ‘they,’ and he called out to God, asking to be taught God’s statutes and petitioning God’s empowerment to walk in them. Here is where we find two essential components: David knew that he had to be established by God (the declaration of righteousness, which we talked about last week) and that he needed God to instruct him. (We will zoom in on this instruction component in the next two blog posts.)
To sum it up, the genuinely blessed walk in God’s ways, God’s ways are found in His Word, and David humbly looked to God for the knowledge and ability to walk in them all the days of his life.
What is True Worship?
But verses seven and eight show us two more critical principles that we don’t want to miss. In verse seven, David said, “I shall give thanks to you with uprightness of heart when I learn your righteous judgments.” Within one single verse, David taught us an unbelievable amount about worship. David worshiped and gave thanks with an upright heart when he learned God’s righteous judgments. Notice the order: we learn God’s word, and then worship comes. Or, step one: learn God’s ways. Step two: obey. The result? True worship.Notice the order of true worship: we learn God's word, and then worship comes. Or, step one: learn God’s ways. Step two: obey. The result? True worship. Click To Tweet
This principle is why we need songs that are rich in Biblical truth. I’m not suggesting we merely need to “sing” the right words, but we do need to “start” with the right words (God’s words). Living a worshipful life with an upright heart means we learn and sing God’s truth and then, in joy, walk it out. This is having an upright heart, according to Scripture. This is worshiping in “spirit and in truth” or “presenting our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice.” And this kind of heart-worship is both “holy and pleasing to God.”
But we should keep in mind what the Bible teaches us about our hearts. First, we learn that whatever is in it comes out (Matthew 12:34)! This is why we have to guard it. We also learn that “out of the heart flows the issues of life.” We must fill our hearts with truth, and then relentlessly pursue it!
I believe it was Tim Keller who said:
Everyone worships something. The only choice we get is what to worship.
The connection between this and the heart is that what comes out of your life reveals what you truly worship.
Please remember this; we do not come to church to “get our Jesus on” or experience an emotional frenzy and then obtain some supernatural obedience guarantee. It does not work that way! The order is wrong.We don't come to church to “get our Jesus on” or experience an emotional frenzy and then obtain a supernatural obedience guarantee. It does not work that way! Click To Tweet
What does work is learning God’s word and then keeping it. In learning God’s word, we understand the goodness of it. When we understand the goodness of it AND walk it out, we are truly worshiping.
Do Not Forsake Me
The second principle is found in the latter half of verse eight, “…do not forsake me utterly.”
This is an interesting bit of language. Crying out that God would not forsake him seems to be a strange statement for a man “after God’s heart.” And I don’t believe for one second that this was because David expected the “shoe to drop” as we say. David was not under the impression that God was going to write him off flippantly.
Instead, I believe David understood that God loved him and would never forsake him. But I also think David, for his part, wanted to remain faithful. In other words, David wanted to live up to God’s call on his life.
We read similar language from David in other places. Psalm 71:9 “Do not cast me off in the time of old age. Do not forsake me when my strength fails.” Psalm 71:18 “Even when I am old and gray, Oh God, do not forsake me until I declare Your strength to this generation, your power to all who are to come.”
It appears as though David was saying he wanted God to keep him in service, and not to lay him aside from the “doing” or the work of His Kingdom. Far before the book of James was penned, David knew that faith without works was dead and so he wanted to work. He wanted God to restore and revive him so that he could always obey. After all, there was work to be done, and that work was explicitly declaring God’s strength to generations.Far before the book of James was penned, David knew that faith without works was dead and so he wanted to work. He wanted God to restore and revive him so that he could always obey. Click To Tweet
This may be how you feel at times. But please remember, God is not fickle. He is not going to simply write us off one dreadful day when we are no longer useful. We should always humbly approach our King. We should seek his sustaining power in the mission to which we are called. We, like King David, should declare God to every generation.
In the next post, we will move on to verses nine through sixteen. I hope you come ready because we are going to glean a lot of practical truth from that section of Psalm 119.
Have you ever struggled with understanding what real worship is? What verses or teachings have helped you gain a firmer grasp on Biblical truth in this area. I’d love to hear from you. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.