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The Scriptorium

To Praise and Serve

What's a soul for? Psalm 119.175, 176

Psalm 119.169-176 (6)

Pray Psalm 119.175, 176.
Let my soul live, and it shall praise You;
And let Your judgments help me.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep;
Seek Your servant,
For I do not forget Your commandments.

Sing Psalm 119.174-176.
(Regent Square:
Angels from the Realms of Glory)
For Your saving grace we plead, Lord, and Your Law is our delight.
We to live and praise You need, Lord, all Your help by day and night.
Straying sheep, we do not heed, Lord; come and seek us by Your might!

Psalm 119.169-176; meditate on verses 175, 176.


1. How did the psalmist describe himself in these verses?

2. What did he want God to do for him?

The soul is that spiritual aspect of the human life which animates and directs everything we do. It consists of three immaterial and overlapping components: the heart (affections, feelings), the mind (thoughts and thinking), and the conscience (values, priorities). The overarching purpose of the soul is twofold, to lead us to praise God and to deploy us for His service. Our psalmist understood this very well.

The Word of God tunes our soul for its proper work. Apart from the Word we will neither praise the Lord nor serve Him. Instead, our souls will turn inward, seeking only our own interests, and we will stray from God’s purpose and path. Hence the burden of all of Psalm 119, that we might read, study, delight in, learn, obey, proclaim, and do the Law and Word of God always.

At the end of this glorious and beautiful psalm, the psalmist reminds us of four things: We are sinners, prone to stray from the Lord. “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love!” Yet, second, we remain God’s servants because of His gift of salvation. Because we are saved, we cannot forget His Word, but we will always long to be restored in it. Therefore, third, though we may stray, yet God will not allow us to be lost. He will seek us and He will restore us, so that, fourth, we may praise and serve Him yet again.

Our soul is most alive when, fed by and focused on the Word, we praise and serve Him in all we do.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
At first glance it almost seems as if Psalm 119 ends in defeat: gone badly astray and totally lost. But after meditating on it, we see that it has ended in love, joy and victory. It is a good thing, not bad, that allows God to show us our humanity and His careful, tender, loving care for us His sheep.

We are His sheep, regardless of where we might be on any given day. We are His very own possession to be tended to, cared for, fed, protected, watered, walked, and rested. He is our Shepherd. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (Jn. 10.11).

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Is. 53.6).

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23.1-4).

Jesus spoke this parable about His dear sheep: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’” (Lk. 15.4-6) That’s us!

We are the ones He came to earth to save. We are His very own needy sheep, requiring His continual oversight and guidance. Our souls, helped by Him, will truly live; but only in Him. “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever” (Rom. 11.36). As St. Augustine wrote, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”

Jesus, as our great Shepherd, “bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Pet. 2.24, 25).

“Seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments” (Ps. 119.176). Nor will I ever forget You, O Keeper of my soul, Lover of my life, Shepherd and Guide of my way, and perfect Judge of all the earth. Let my soul live for one reason only: To “Praise and Serve” You forever, to the very end. (Ps. 119.112)

For reflection
1. We are going to stray from time to time. What should we do then?

2. God has called us to be His servants. What does that require of us?

3.What are you doing to make sure you will not forget the Word of God?

Let this psalm be a touchstone by which to try our hearts, and our lives. Do our hearts, cleansed in Christ’s blood, make these prayers, resolutions and confessions our own? Is God’s word the standard of our faith, and the law of our practice? Do we use it as pleas with Christ for what we need? Happy those who live in such delightful exercises. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Psalm 119.175, 176

Pray Psalm 119.171-173.
Spend an extended time in praise to God for His Word, His salvation, your life, and all His many blessings. Call on Him to help you throughout this day and to keep you from straying from His love.

Sing Psalm 119.171-173.
(Regent Square:
Angels from the Realms of Glory)
With our lips we praise You, Jesus, for You teach us, full and free.
Now Your Word will ever please us; Your commandments true shall be.
Let Your hand come forth to ease us; we Your Word choose gratefully!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website,, and clicking the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Psalm 119 by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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