“I am Your servant; give me discernment that I may understand Your statutes.” -Psalm 119:125
This verse is a continuation of thought and prayer from the previous. Here the psalmist goes deeper with his request. He reminds the Father for the third and final time that he is His servant. He has given himself totally and completely to Yahweh for service. Therefore, the psalmist desires to go deeper in God given instruction, by adding to his spiritual arsenal discernment and understanding. This is head knowledge practically applied. It is layered wisdom. Just like in elementary school, we begin with the foundation of education and gradually build upon it through years of maturity and discipline. Likewise, all Christians learn the basics of God’s truth through the Gospel. By God’s grace we grow deeper roots as we walk with the Lord, cultivating discerning wisdom through daily decisions. The responses we give even in the little things can sanctify or hardened our hearts.
There are means of grace we have at our disposal to nourish this spiritual muscle as well. Personal study with good commentary from wiser and usually older Christians is helpful. I like to use commentaries from Matthew Henry, John Gill, John MacArthur’s Study Bible, and the ESV Study Bible. You can find some of these resources online such as Biblegateway.com and Biblestudytools.com. Discernment also develops through sitting under Biblically sound preaching and teaching. Do the preacher’s words align with Scripture? Or is your pastor going off course dipping his toe in culture, adopting speech and wrong thinking from the world? These are good questions to consider. I have learned too that surrounding myself with serious, committed Christians encourages me to walk in excellence as well. Godliness, which is understanding lived out, finds suitable conditions to grow when we keep company with other godly men and women. This is a blessing of participating in fellowship with other believers.
The more you and I digest His truth in study, and learn from other Christians, the more we are able to acquire a Biblical worldview while living in Sodom. This is how every pilgrim equips their arsenal with ways of responding to the culture, our enemies, and our flesh. We are able to make godly decisions in what our response will be. Does the situation call for forgiveness, repentance, a gracious reply, overlooking an offense or clarity in speaking the truth? Every action is preceded with prayer. This is the fruit of marinating in God’s statutes.
Understanding God’s Word then is wisdom with feet. We know what the Bible says, we have studied His treasure trove, now our faith takes action in all we say and do. It doesn’t mean we are now perfect, never to sin again in this cursed world. What every Christian does have is a High Priest in Jesus who has justified us through His death and resurrection. The writer of Hebrews underscores this wonderful truth saying, “But when this priest [Jesus Christ] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time He waits for His enemies to be made His footstool, because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:12-14). Every Christian is becoming who he already is in Christ. God is at work conforming the character of every believer into Christlikeness, which will take our entire lifetime.
The desire of the psalmist is to be kept safe from his enemies as the previous verses indicate. Yet he also longs for God to faithfully draw him closer into His circle of fellowship. The only way for us to grow deeper with the Lord is by first dying to self. Self will, self desire, autonomous living is contrary to God’s authority. Even Jesus our Lord, submitting to the Father, learned obedience through suffering. We too must learn the same. A servant is not greater than his master. Right before He went to the cross Jesus said,
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves Me.” (John 12:23-26)
The Lord has promised to draw near to those who seek Him. We are never abandoned. What then is the soil of your soul like? Are you dry and weary? Are you happily planted, enjoying the rich ground right where God has you? Or do you feel stuck? Alive but withering. God is waiting to draw near to this soul. He will lead you then by His mercy today and tomorrow and the next day. God is a generous giver of His wisdom, mercy and grace if we would only ask.
Grace upon grace,
Growing deeper: 1 Corinthians 3:1-8; Philippians 2:1-16
“I Am Thine O Lord” by Fanny Crosby