DALETH. My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word. I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes. Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works. My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word. Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me. I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame. I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart. (Psalms 119:25-32)
This fourth stanza of Psalm 119, beginning with the Hebrew letter daleth, teaches us to give up our ways in exchange for God’s ways. This is every man’s calling and duty, but few accept the challenge to grow into the likeness of God.
First the Psalmist admits that his soul (his mind, will, and emotions) cleaves to the dust. This means he remains a man of the world, one bound by his carnal, or fleshly, nature. But he longs to be delivered from this. Thus he asks God to “quicken” him, which means to make him live. By this he admits that his earthly life is merely a sojourning and not his true home.
Second, he “declares his ways” to his God. He does not deny that he remains a man of sin; he admits it and wants to change. This is the pattern of David, the man after God’s own heart. David sinned like all of us, but he did not refuse to acknowledge his sin and repent. Most people believe they have no sin to repent of. They have not declared their ways to their God.
Third, the psalmist understands that the only way to turn away from one’s own ways is to embrace God’s ways. The first step in doing this is to “understand the way of [God’s] precepts.” How many of us ever take the time to study, ponder, and meditate upon the Old Testament, especially the precepts of God? We may have read them once when we raced through the Bible in a year according to some man-made program, but did we understand them? Did we even recognize them as God’s precepts? Do we know why God commanded us to honor the Sabbath, for example?
Do we even know what a “precept” is? According to Wikipedia, the word precept comes “from the Latin: præcipere, to teach [and] is a commandment, instruction, or order intended as an authoritative rule of action.” A “rule of action” is “a way of life.” It is only when we begin to understand the precepts of God that we can begin to walk in his ways. Only then can we move on to talk of God’s “wondrous works.”
But the psalmist knows himself. His soul “melts for heaviness.” This means he “mourns” for his sins and his sinful nature. The writer of this psalm is one of the people Jesus describes in his sermon on the mount, saying,
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:3-4)
The psalmist knows he is poor in spirit and he mourns over his sinful condition. Jesus affirms that the Kingdom of Heaven is his and that he will one day be comforted. But today, before our soul is quickened, there remains but one way to lift our soul from the dust, and that is “to be strengthened according to God’s Word.” At the same time we must repent of our sins and ask God to remove from us “the way of lying,” which is the way of man. In its place we need God’s Law, which is “the way of truth.”
Finally, we must affirm before God, as did this writer, that we too have “chosen the way of truth.” If we truly do this, then our lives will show evidence of change. Rather then walking in all the sinful ways of the world, we will begin to walk in the ways of God’s judgments, testimony, and commandments. The end result will be that we will “run the way of God’s commandments when he enlarges our heart.” This speaks of our glorification, or resurrection from the dead. At that time we will be empowered to fully walk (run) in God’s way. But, the only way to qualify for this event is to first “declare your ways” of sin to God. Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!