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September 23rd, 2008 at 11:10 am

Psalm 119:2 – Seeking God with An Undivided Heart

Today we look at the second verse of the “Aleph” stanza of Psalm 119, which is also the second verse of the whole Psalm. In order to grasp the flow of things I have included verse one below as well:

1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the Lord!
2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,

Verse two is a continuation of the beatitude of verse one. In these verses the Psalmist extols the happiness and blessedness of those whose lives are characterized by walking in the way of God’s word.

Remember that there are eight words that are used over and over for God’s word. Whereas verse one uses the word “law” or “torah,” verse two uses the word “testimonies.”

The word “testimonies” is often used in a string of words along with “statutes” or “commandments” in the Mosaic covenant. Remember that these statutes and commandments amount to the covenant obligations that Israel had to her covenant Lord. Israel was in covenant with YHWH and the covenant carried with it responsibilities on Israel’s side.

But the meaning of “testimonies” goes beyond that. The idea behind “testimonies” is that of “witness” or “bearing witness.” There are many aspects to this. This is very important to grasp. It gets at the core of the beatitude.

A word in the same word group speaks of the book of the law being placed in the ark of the covenant as a “witness” against Israel (Deuteronomy 31:26). Moses knew that the people of Israel (because they were people) would prove to be stiff necked, and when they violated their covenant with YHWH, the law stored in the ark would remind them of their duty, and would act as a “witness” against them in God’s covenant court.

But there is an even more important positive aspect. The testimonies of God bear witness to Himself. They include not just commandments but also promises and teachings about God, warnings, encouragements, etc. The word of God is His self revelation. It bears witness to who He is. Even the commandments help us to love and worship God. I had the opportunity several years back of teaching a Sunday School class on the Biblical mandate for caring for the poor and needy. I was struck over and over by God’s tender mercies as I read about his care for the poor, the needy, the widow, the orphan, the stranger and the alien. His law bore witness to – it pointed to – His goodness and mercy. It caused me to worship and love Him more deeply.

God’s people also bear witness to Him, the reality of His existence, the goodness of His purposes, the wisdom of His words, the glory of His great name – as they walk in a manner than is pleasing to Him. As we orient our lives around humble and thankful obedience to Him we give cause for others to glorify Him. As we become more and more like him as we mold ourselves to His word we allow people to get a feel for what God is like. On the other hand, when we carry His name but do not order our lives according to His word we drag His name through the mud as it were. We are a negative witness against him.

We are to “keep” his testimonies. This means that we are to know them, remember them, treasure them up in our hearts, and of course walk in them. We are like a living repository of His word. The more we treasure up His testimonies in our hearts and keep them in our lives the more we become the people we were created to be, and the more we know the “blessedness” of these beatitudes.

It is not possible to separate God from His self revelation. They go together. God in His kindness has revealed Himself to us. He has opened up His heart to us. BWe are not to run around hyper focused on the fine points of his law while forgetting Him. No, we are to seek Him.

Every person must make it his or her aim to seek after God in a personal way, that is, through a real person to God relationship. God is not visible and He does not have a body like men, so this relationship is spiritual in nature. It has very real consequences for our daily lives, but we seek after God, we seek His face, we seek to find Him through personal spiritual communion and prayer.

We are to seek Him with our “whole heart.” God loves the undivided heart. We are most healthy and blessed when are hearts are least divided. We know that the world and flesh and devil are vying for our loyalty, and we are tempted to rope off part of our lives to be unhindered by God’s word and testimony. But God wants the whole heart.

We will see soon enough that this is easier said than done. The Psalmist struggles to remain loyal. He is more than aware of his tendency to drift. But at least he has his compass bearings straight to start. He knows the way of blessedness.

There would never be talk about “seeking” if in fact God were always easy to find. Sometimes God seems to be hiding from us. I think He is training us to seek after Him. Sometimes we feel barren, lost, and desperate. We long for God’s presence, His holy presence. We groan inwardly, longing to see Him face to face.

David put it this way in Psalm 63:1-2:

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Paul put it like this in Colossians 3:1:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

If we are trying to keep God’s commandments without also seeking after God we will be self righteous, and little different than anyone who makes a decision to “live a certain way.” Then our law keeping is just a lifestyle choice. If we seek after God personally to know Him, but do not treasure up His words and testimonies, we will not find Him. We may find something however. And that something may be bad.

To talk about a relationship with God while ignoring His testimonies makes us false witnesses, and eventually destroys our consciences.

God and His word go together. We know God personally by seeking Him, yet we seek Him according to who He is as He has revealed Himself. God’s word points us to God Himself. God Himself calls us to follow His word.

Christian, this is the way of blessing, to seek God with your whole and undivided heart, to treasure up His testimonies, to walk in His ways. It is a lifelong full time 24/7 calling. But it is also an adventure. The Christian life is like a lifelong treasure hunt, but this treasure is God Himself, our Maker, our Father in heaven. And in that box of treasure where we find truth and the True One, well, in that box we also find ourselves, the selves we were made to be.

Psalm 119 is like a diary of man on a treasure hunt. He knows for what he seeks, but there are obstacles, including the obstacle of his wandering heart, and he knows that God Himself must help us to seek Him or we will never find Him. This he does, and will do. I’ll see you on the journey.

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3
  • Bob Moore
    7:26 am on September 24th, 2008 1

    Thanks, Joe! I appreciate your writing and encouragement to me on this journey. Blessings to you and the whole Gillespie clan!

    Bob

  • Rainbow
    8:56 am on December 27th, 2014 2

    I like the idea of “reading God’s word to know the heart of God.” I DO want to know him more.Thanks for sharing this tohught.I should probably get off the computer this evening, and go read God’s word. Sometimes I give him the poorest part of the day. The end of it. So when I start reading…I begin to fall asleep!

  • cheap viagra
    1:11 pm on February 23rd, 2015 3

    That addresses several of my concerns actually.

 

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