Revive Me! (3)
The way into revival is through God’s Word and power.
My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.
Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way.
I am afflicted very much;
Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word. Psalm 119.25, 37, 107
The way into God’s Word
Psalm 119 is rightly beloved by all believers. The more we read this psalm and meditate on its themes and teaching, the more we feel our own desire growing to know, understand, enjoy, love, and follow God’s Word. For in that Word we find rest for our souls, power for daily progress in God’s Kingdom, peace and joy and righteousness wrought in us by the Spirit, and ourselves being formed more completely into the image of Jesus Christ.
The psalmist wants to make certain he covers all the bases in asking God to increase his oneness with and submission to God’s Word. While each of the different words he uses to refer to the Word of God has its own special nuance, together they suggest a mind roaming over the whole counsel of God as the psalmist prays, beseeching God to open to him every aspect and part of His Word in bringing joy and rejoicing to His servant’s heart (cf. Jer. 15.16)
The psalmist refers to the Word of God as His Law. This typically indicates the five books of Moses and the holy and righteous and good Law of God contained therein. He also pleads for God to explain His precepts to Him. We might prefer to use the word doctrine rather than precepts, or teachings; either way, this indicates a combining from all the Word of God related to various topics. Testimonymay refer to the lives of great saints, or even to expressions of their heart’s desire and their journey with the Lord, as we see in the psalms and other wisdom literature, and in the prophets. God’s justice and judgments refer to the application of His Word in wisdom for every area of life. And all these facets and aspects of the Word of God, which the psalmist so earnestly sought, lead us into the lovingkindness of God, and along the way or path that sees us drawing ever closer to our eternal home with the Lord (cf. Ps. 84).
And, as Jesus reminds us, all this Word and the path it illumines lead us increasingly to Him (Jn. 5.39).
One small problem
The writer of Psalm 119 wanted to possess the Word, and be possessed by it, so that he would understand and delight in it, love and obey it, and turn his feet to walk in the way it indicates (Ps. 119.59, 60). Over and over, for 176 verses, the psalmist appealed to God for more of the life of His Law and all His Word, thus teaching us, in this longest chapter in all of Scripture, how to shape our own souls in relation to God.
There’s just one problem. As Pogo might say, and the psalmist clearly understood, the great obstacle standing in the way of the joy and rejoicing of God’s Word is us. We become mired in the law of sin, still festering in our souls, and we lose zeal for God and His Word, and turn away from His path (Rom. 7.21-23). Only a work of God can lift us beyond our puny, sinful, self-centered aspirations into the joy and rejoicing of life in the Word of God.
The psalmist refers, in rich poetic imagery, to those inclinations of the soul, and those conditions of the world, that rob us of the joy and rejoicing that comes from the Word of God. We prefer too often to wallow in the dust of this material world than to aspire to the heights of Christ in glory (v. 25). We cling to idols of various sorts; we allow our thoughts and desires to drift into unwholesome venues and worthless things (v. 37); we fret and worry over every little matter; and we act like the world should revolve around us and whatever we want. Fear of what others might think makes us inconstant in our testimony (v. 88). And we don’t seem troubled by the fact that knowing the lovingkindness of God is not our constant condition (v. 159).
If we could see ourselves as God does, we would look less like the shining lights we tend to think we are, and more like the PeanutsTM character Pigpen, who emits a cloud of dust everywhere he goes.
Adding to our misery is the fact that we inhabit a world that afflicts us in all manner of ways (v. 107), foisting injustice upon us at work, in our community, and in the gossip of others (v. 149). We tend to want to fight fire with fire in this unjust world, rather than to turn the other cheek and love our enemies; thus, we need the justice, judgments, and righteousness of God to keep us on the right path (vv. 156, 40).
All these matters cloud our vision, distract us from God and His promises, lead us into temptation and sin, and cause us to fail of the blessings of God’s Kingdom for most of our life. We’re not made for this sort of existence; God created us to be upright and good and happy in Him; but we and our schemes keep us from knowing the full and abundant life He has in store for us in His Word (Eccl. 7.29).
A work of God
We cannot extricate ourselves from this mess. We must cry out, like the apostle Paul, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7.24) And then say, “I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 7.25), Who is revealed to us in all of God’s Word, and Who invites us thereby to increase in Him in the full and abundant life (Jn. 10.10; 14.6; 17.3).
We need God to deliver us into the joy and rejoicing of His Word. Only God can revive us so that we live again in the condition and for the aims He intends. Like the writer of Psalm 119, let us focus on the exceeding great and precious promises of God’s Word, and Jesus Christ in Whom all those promises are fulfilled, so that we cry out daily, and throughout the day, “Revive me! Show me the broad scope and rich promises held out for all who believe in You! Enlarge for me the horizons of grace and truth, joy and rejoicing, life and fruitfulness that You have reserved for me in Jesus! Grant me a vision of Jesus increasing in me, and me decreasing, so that it becomes true that for me to live is Christ, and the life I live in the flesh I live by the grace and in the power of the Son and Word of God, Who lives in me! Revive me, O Lord, and do so every day!”
And as you pray, consider with wonder and thanksgiving what the combined effect might be of multitudes of believers, just like you, praying and seeking the Lord for revival. This is the way to a world turned rightside-up for Jesus. And as we shall see, the psalms teach us to pray and work for just such an outcome.
Look to God’s Word for the vision of life He holds out. Accept your inability to get there on your own power. Confess and turn away from every bit of dust and worthlessness that keeps you from the life God intends. Cry out to God for revival!
And see how He will meet you there, at the height of your pleading, to feed you on His Word, and grant you the joy and rejoicing of your heart.
1. How would you explain the idea of revival to a new believer? Who needs revival? Why?
2. Why is it important that we seek daily revival? Will we ever not need to be revived daily? Explain.
3. Are you praying for revival? Do you feel as if your vision of revival is growing?
Next steps – Transformation: Let’s add to our prayers for revival Psalm 119.156 and 159:
Great are Your tender mercies, O Lord;
Revive me according to Your judgments.
Consider how I love Your precepts;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.