Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. 37 Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way. 38 Establish Your word to Your servant, who is devoted to fearing You. 39 Turn away my reproach which I dread, for Your judgments are good. 40Behold, I long for Your precepts; revive me in Your righteous-ness. —Psalm 119:36-40
ONLY ONE BOOK has the capacity to change the human heart. The verses that you are reading are in that Book. Our first verse says, “Incline my heart.” “Incline” means to bend toward something. The word “bent” can mean a tendency or inclination. For example, “He had a bent for getting into trouble.” The psalmist prays, “Lord, make Your testimonies my inclinations and not the things my flesh desires.”
Next, he asks the Lord to turn his eyes away from worthless things. That warning would refer to things that are vain, evil, or idolatrous. In Genesis, we find Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, pure and innocent. The Bible says that they were “naked . . . and were not ashamed” (Genesis 3:1-7). Then along came Satan in the form of a serpent and seductively engaged Eve in a conversation in which she should never have been involved. He planted doubts in her mind about God’s goodness and honesty, and she fell for it. You know the rest of the story. We’ve heard that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and in this case, Eve saw that the tree was good for food and pleasant to look at. What she saw made its way into her soul. The tree was desirable and could make her wise! She wanted that. And suddenly all that God had given her and had done for them went by the wayside. So she took, and she ate, and from that point, her life took a terrible turn. Remember, the devil doesn’t wrap temptation in ugly packaging. He never tempts anyone with how amazing it would be to become a junkie or a Skid Row drunk. He lies and hides in places where drugs and drunkenness will lead. Otherwise, no one would be tempted. He hides the broken homes, the lost jobs, the ruined health, and the destroyed lives as he seeks to secure one’s soul.
Our psalmist prays, “Lord, revive in me Your way by establishing Your Word, for I am devoted to fearing You. Turn me away from things of disgrace (reproach) for Your judgments have no hidden surprises, and they lead only to good.” What we face is a simple matter of “What you see is what you’ll get,” or, even more, serious to consider, “What we feed on is what we will become.” If we feed our lusts with material things, we’ll live a materialistic life. If we feed on the good things of God in His Word, we’ll live a spiritual life. The story of Abram in the Bible is instructive. God had shown him the land that He had set apart for him. When Abram and his nephew Lot came to a certain place, some issues arose between Abram’s shepherds and Lot’s shepherds. Abram offered Lot whatever land he wanted, and Abram took the “leftovers.” That turned out to be a real blessing, however. Lot saw the land of Sodom, he wanted it; he moved there, and, ultimately, he barely escaped with his life. Sodom grew to be so wicked that it had to be permanently destroyed. Even now, the very name is an idiom for carnality and debauchery! Abram, on the other hand, didn’t look toward what his eye desired but rather what the Lord desired, and we know what God did in that situation: Abram was given a land where God later said that His name would dwell perpetually.
The same is true today. Instead of submitting to the God of heaven, worthy of all respect and honor, people do what they want, chasing after what they desire, and often end up in places like Sodom, surrounded by evil. Don’t follow your eyes. Feed on the good things of the Lord, and your life will be far better as you become what He desires.
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