You Are What You Love

Psalm 119:33-40

You are what you eat; what you google; what you think; what you do, not what you say you’ll do; what you settle for; what you share; what you repeatedly do; what you hear; what you give. Is somewhat true on creature level – blues taste like mackerel!

E (he) is a truism: the result of these trials is that you are what you love. The worth of a man is seen in the worth of the object of his affections. Do you want to be a worthy person? Then love the worthy Word!

When life gets tough, people tend to move closer to what they desire and depend on the most. For the Christian, that should be God and his Word.

As it has been said, the man who wrote this psalm knew two things first, that there was something he must and would learn, for all his well-being depended upon it; and this something was the Word of God, which he calls now by one name and now by another. But he knew a second thing, and that was he could never teach himself; God must teach him. Pulpit Commentary

If we are to love the right things so we do the right things, then this must be true: thoughts, desires, actions and affections must be rightly guided. That will only be possible when we know the Word of God having been taught by the Spirit of God.

“The first seven verses of this stanza use causative verbs as the first word in each verse. These verbs reveal the psalmist’s main prayers:

Teach me” (v. 33). “Give me understanding” (v. 34). “Make me walk” (v. 35). “Incline my heart” (v. 36). “Turn away my eyes” (v. 37). “Establish Your word” (v. 38). “Turn away my reproach” (v. 39). William Barrick

Perhaps foreshadowing a later giant of the faith, Nehemiah, and his short prayer outbursts. David’s are petitions that have spiritual improvement of the pray-er as the goal. Starts with love for God and his word, pleads with God for help: “do all these things for me that I may love and please you more/better.”

A. thoughts (intellectual)

two-fold request: for knowledge and understanding, but not simply for their own sake; not wrong to desire more of each, if for right reason/end – 1 Cor. 8:1b “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.” Knowledge puffs up, love builds up.

teach me (33)

can learn much from natural revelation – much about God’s works of creation, some about God himself, enough that all are without excuse

beginnings of spiritual concepts present in creation: there is a God with certain characteristics; man by nature worships, etc

God’s word, special revelation, explains some about and continues on from natural revelation; each by design requires a teacher for more than “entry-level” understanding; particularly true of the Bible

“I say, though we have the word, and many pastors and teachers better gifted than in the Old Testatment, yet God must be our teacher still, if we mean to profit. …we ministers must not rest upon our work, but pray much for success, so you hearers must not rest in the fruit of our studies, but still beg God to teach you every truth.” Thomas Manton

give understanding (34)

Joe Friday wanted “just the facts”; however, knowledge without understanding never makes it past the head

request is for God to supply what is needed for proper use of knowledge; this understanding is the “power of judgment and perceptive insight demonstrated in the use of knowledge.” TWOT

which principle from God’s Word applies to this particular situation, how should it be applied so result pleases God

A businessman well known for his ruthlessness (like Mr. Potter, It’s A Wonderful Life) once announced to writer Mark Twain, “Before I die I mean to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read the 10 Commandments aloud at the top.” “I have a better idea,” replied Twain. “You could stay in Boston and keep them.”

B. desires (emotional)

two issues at stake: instability of desires and their inclination; not a problem for Adam and Eve pre-Fall, sin changed everything

now, desires often go in different and conflicting directions; continual struggle for believer between desire to please God and desire to satisfy self – hence request of Psalm 86:11 “Unite my heart to fear your name.”

whole-hearted (34)

commits to whole-hearted obedience – no division of purpose, conflicting desires, distractions that would hinder focus

knows God’s help is indispensable to accomplishing this, pray-er’s efforts to do right also indispensable – both God’s sovereign grace and man’s work carrying out responsibility required for growth in Christlikeness

important note: with understanding comes responsibility; more we understand God and his requirements, greater our duty to follow them – if it is true understanding, will have increasing desire to obey

not covetousness (36)

dealing with wrong desires an issue from the beginning – remember Eve: Gen. 3:6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”

requires diligent effort to desire God’s word – principles, instruction, correction – more than what can see and hold

natural inclination is toward what will satisfy now – redeemed and sanctified inclination toward what has eternal good

side note: is God who must change inclinations and affections; more on that in a few moments

revive me in your way (37)

give real life to desires – make them lively and responsive to the right things: God’s way and God’s righteousness

renew the vigor of our life of grace – if pendulum swings between duty and delight with respect to spiritual duties, move us over to delight side

spiritual duties: prayer, Bible reading/study and meditation, corporate worship and fellowship (mutual encouragement)

C. actions (behavioral)

lifestyle (33)

request has scope far beyond memorizing list of do’s and don’t’s – teach me the way of life established by commands

desire is for increase in knowledge that is life-changing, that becomes automatic because we “just know it” -followed by commitment to live that way in all of life for all of life

know the way to: store, camp, kid’s place, etc. – don’t have to check the map before leaving, just get in car and go

common parts of day-to-day life should be same for believer; usually only needing to check map when in new/unfamiliar/difficult place

make me walk (35)

“make me walk” “guide me” “lead me” “help me stay” on the path – yes, individual is responsible for own actions, but God-pleasing behavior requires God’s help

“When we look at the believer’s experience we find three stages. First, a sense of danger, when fear rouses him to flee from the wrath to come; then a sense of duty, when conscience urges him to do what he feels to be right; and last, a sense of delight, when choice impels him to do and bear God’s will. Then it is that perfect love casts out fear as a motive to obedience, and we obey, not because we are in terror of penalty, but rather because we love and choose to do it. Duty has become a delight. This last stage of experience is the highest, and heaven only is higher.” — A. T. Pierson

revive me in your righteousness (40)

“Christ came into the world that we might not only “have life, but have it more abundantly” (John 10:10); that is, that we might not only be living, but lively.” Thomas Manton

just like desires, our obedience needs constantly renewed vigor and vitality – Psa. 100:2 “Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!”

should be true not only in worship, also in all of life – joyful rewarding obedience with emphasis on delight found in pleasing gracious loving Father

“When we have a fresh and warm sense of the love of God upon our souls, we are quickened to do for him answerably to such a love; and our souls reason, What, hath God done so great things for us in Christ, and we do nothing for God again? Then we see we cannot do anything too much. Love has a law upon the soul that stirs up lively and zealous motions towards God.” Manton

D. affections

I delight (35)

answered prayer for accompanying requests increases desire to please Heavenly Father and delight in doing so: “my yoke is easy, my burden is light”

yes, are difficult times/challenges with Christian life – in big picture, it’s a good life with much joy and delight

incline my heart (36)

unregenerate cannot change his heart at all; regenerate can only change it with God’s help – must do our part while depending on God to do what he must

will not naturally have a lasting affection for God’s word, especially when it “pinches”; God must keep our heart inclined toward him and his word

turn away my eyes (37)

one of first lessons taught to beginning driver: look where you want to go; if you look at the tree, you’ll probably hit it!

to maintain and grow a love for God’s word, must not be constantly looking at, giving thought to what doesn’t last

devoted to fearing (38)

answered prayer, confirmed and kept promises increase devotion to God, affection for God, worship of God

I long for (40)

true child of God has more than simple appreciation for Bible – has a longing for understanding and conformity that grows

Augustine, Confessions, X.29, “Give me the grace to do as you command, and command me to do what you will.”

If we are what we love, make sure you love the right thing: the written Word and living Word of God.

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