Psalm 119 is a beast–it is 176 verses long and divided into 22 sections (one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet). So I’m going to divide it up, and write about my observations from each section, and see how each can help me continue to walk the road less traveled. Today, the “He” section:
What was the last thing that you obsessed about, that thing you just had to have? You saved up your money (or you were stupid and put it on a credit card), you nearly wet your pants you were so excited, you purchased it, and then… blah. It seemed like the anticipation was much greater than actually getting what you wanted.
For me, it was beef. A lot of beef. About a month ago, the good people of Capital Meats rolled into my driveway. It’s pretty funny–a pickup truck with a freezer strapped to the back that’s full of meat. And it’s good meat, too. I whittled down the price to the “hey, we only have to unload one more box today, so I’ll give you the price I couldn’t give your neighbors” deal (yeah, right), and I got a huge box of steaks and burgers for a pretty good deal (I’m not supposed to tell you what it is… but it averages out to a lot less per cut than you’d get at the grocery store). I was so excited with my box of meat. I dreamed of firing up the grill and eating steak every night for a month. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really good meat… but the feeling of a good deal and good meat only lasts for so long. It certainly doesn’t bring any lasting joy.
We’re all like that. Maybe it’s something small, like a video game or a kitchen appliance. Maybe it’s something big, like a house or a car. No matter what it is, it doesn’t bring lasting joy and contentment. And when life gets crazy, those things certainly don’t bring peace (even steak… and I heart steak).
The author of Psalm 119 is looking for joy and is passionate about God’s law. Look what he writes in Psalm 119:36-38,
Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
Let’s be clear–God created us to enjoy His creation. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying His creation in the way He intended (asceticism–the avoidance of pleasure–and idolatry are both sinful). But we must also realize that the things of creation are temporary, and in comparison to the purpose, plan, and word of God, these things really are worthless.
As we figure out how to walk on the road less traveled–how to become a sold-out follower of Jesus Christ–let’s evaluate the things in our life that we try to derive joy, comfort, and satisfaction from. Do we really find our identity, comfort, hope, and peace in God… or is it simply lip service as we struggle to find our identity in temporary things?