In He, (v. 33-40), we saw that our psalmist wanted more than just knowledge. He wanted understanding, to hear from and experience God for himself. He knew his own intellect could not carry him to purpose and meaning in life, and reconciliation with his Creator. Like the letter ‘he’ in Hebrew that begins this psalm’s octrain, he knew he needed to look up and petition God for knowledge outside himself. In this, our psalmist was far wiser than we often are today. He had it right: when in daily confusion or urgent need, go directly to the Primary Source.
As he did this, the Lord was already revealing hidden thorns in his heart and he confessed them.
“Turn my eyes from looking on worthless things…”, “[incline me] not to covetousness”, “turn away my shame which I fear…” Turn, incline me not–these are repelling terms! He is showing a) an acknowledgement of the presence of these in his heart, and b) that he didn’t want them there. Their existence was in violation of the purity of the God whom he sought. Holiness cannot abide in filth. We are all familiar with them. I am.
- worthless idols– I think of potato chips. Chips are good as a side dish in small amounts every now and then, but when they become the meal, they produce disease. When they become addictions, they produce death. What are your worthless idols? Mine are different than yours, but we all hold them close to our hearts. When they overcome us, we may need extra help to get to the throne of God. Allow the wisest of your loved ones to help. The psalmist asks God to remove these idols. Am I ready to ask this prayer? Or do I love them too much to let them go? And lest we slide past this one thinking that “I’m not a materialist, I’m okay here,” let’s think again on that first word: worthless. What habit or interest do you run to for escape? What are you reading? listening to? What are you spending your time, energy, love and resources on? Is it gossip? Worthless things aren’t harmless; they cause grief and pain in the end. Waste robs Peter to pay Paul. What command of God is left undone in comparison with the care you take for your worthless idol? Who around you is being offered up a sacrifice for your worthless idol?
- covetousness— The eyes are the sense organ that is charged with being the entry gate for lust. The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was pleasing to the eye and Eve took of it. Through her lustful, covetous act we are all condemned to death, for the wages of sin is death (but the gift of God is eternal LIFE!; Romans 6:23). We covet our worthless idols. Of course, we also covet things we cannot see such as power, prestige, approval of others. We can covet good things in a selfish way: freedom, comfort, peace, friends, aspirations of achievement. What am I coveting today? What are my hopes and dreams centered around that I can’t get enough of? What are you wanting that you cannot get, and when you get it, you will spend it on your own pleasure? (James 4:2-3) What am I willing to hate for? You and I — we covet! Am I willing to do a 180 degree turn from it? Leave it behind?
- reproach– The Hebrew word charaph is translated in several recognizable, and horrifying, words: shame, disgrace, scorn, contempt. Why would a decent chap like our psalmist be concerned with reproach? Isn’t he a righteous man? Is he not our Biblical goody-two-shoes? He knows his own heart. He knows that before God, he has not a shred of righteousness in him. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9). The answer, of course, is God and ourselves. We know this truth, though we spend our lives hiding it. The psalmist knows that his shame keeps him from wanting to obey God. We do turn our gun turrets toward the one who holds us accountable, don’t we? I do! And of course, God knows everything. There is nothing hidden from Him.
- The psalmist says, “Lord, take away the shame that I feel for the wrongs that I do and that others have done to me. It is enough to know the truth of my true guilt. It is another thing to wear the shame. There must be a reprieve somewhere! This is making me defeated when you offer victory. It is making me hide, when you call me into the light. It is telling me lies about myself, when you have said I am precious and engraved upon the very palm of your hand in love. Take it away, Lord, for it is static in my ears so that I cannot hear you. I am guilty, Lord, but you have promised a Savior. Cleanse me and give me a clean heart so I can attune my eyes, ears, feet, and hands to you in humble and grateful obedience.” 
Our psalmist has asked God to come down and walk him through the way of obedience. He’s already set his will toward God, he needs help to follow through. He knows there are obstacles that are hindering his love for God and his willingness to obey, so he asks God to clear his heart and mind and make of his heart a heart of flesh rather than stone (Ezekiel 36:26).
Now he is ready to move, but even still he asks for one thing more: for strength.
“Establish thy way…”, “Quicken me in the way of righteousness”.
The Hebrew word translated “establish” in the English Bibles is qum (koom) which means “to arise, to stand, or stand up”. To “quicken” means to give life, as in letting the blood flow back into the veins.
I will be honest, I’m lazy. Because of back problems (along with the laziness) I would rather sit than stand. Once I get started, I love to walk, though! And that physical picture illustrates my spirit as well. I lack vigor in my veins, especially to do the hard things in life.
The psalmist prays against his very mortal nature which cries out for and is addicted to pleasure and comfort and rest. “Now that I know that you will show me the way in answer to my prayer, and you have freed me from me the bondage of sin, shame and suffering that have kept me back from you, I need your strength, your very LIFE to be breathed into my body. Breathe into me, Thou Breath of Life, and make me alive again to live for you.”
We ended where we began, with spire (breath) and our sighing, arms-up-to-God ‘he’. The Holy Spirit will answer this prayer of sighs for me and for you, and here’s how I know:
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we are saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:22-26)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).
Jesus’ disciples were enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit to preach and teach to the known ends of the world and their disciples carried forward even further; they were empowered to follow the Way even to death (and into Life eternal). As their Master had walked, so they also walked.
This is my promise today. It is also my challenge. It is our challenge.
Dear heavenly Father, I am on the spot here. I know the history of your coming, your ministry, death and Resurrection, and your ascending to your throne in Glory with the Father. I know that you have given me all that I need to follow you through the power of your Holy Spirit in me and through me. Though I know it in my head, Lord, would you please make it real to my heart today? Show me and let me experience you all brand new just for the challenges of today. I’m harboring sinful attitudes, Lord: _______________________. I am challenged first by these battles that rage in the privacy of my own heart. You see all. Show me all I cannot see, Lord, and cleanse me of all treason against you and others. Turn me from it, make me see it for what it is and for the thorns that it produces in my life and in others’ lives. Rid me of the shame I bear that satan would have me retain, but that you died to replace. And now fill me, Lord Jesus, with your own power. Add to my faith all the spiritual gifts that will enable me to do your work today. Give me strength to humble myself in joyful obedience. You will bring refreshing streams of living water for my weariness, my branches will spread out from its nourishment to shelter others from their own heat, and good fruit will grow. In your Name, Lord Jesus, I place my trust as I will walk out this prayer today in thanks. Amen.
© 2018 by www.readpsalm119.com
NOTE: This is the second part of a two-part blog post, ref: “Show Me, Pt. I”, Oct 24, 2018
 Love Letters from God to You:
- (Isaiah 49:15-16; Isaiah 43:1-2, 15-16; Jeremiah 31:3; Psalm 139:13-16; Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17; 1 John 3:1a; Zephaniah 3:17)
“Teach Me, O Lord“, “Emerald Hymns – Teach Me, O Lord (Official Lyric Video)”, uploaded by Gospel Song Union, Sep 25, 2017. Music. YouTube.com.
Teach me, O LORD, your way of truth
And from it I will not depart,
That I may steadfastly obey
Give me an understanding heart.
In your commandments make me walk
For in Your law my joy shall be,
Give me a heart that loves Your will,
From discontent and envy free.
Your word sheds light upon my path
A shining light it guides my feet
Your sound judgments to observe
My solemn vow I now repeat
I thirst for your commandments Lord
And for your mercy press my claim
O look on me and show Your grace
Displayed to all who love Your name
–Emerald Hymns, Gospel Song Union
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