ד – DALETH
25 Dejected, my soul clings to the dust;
revive me according to Your word!
26 Disclosing my ways I spoke; and You answered me;
teach me Your statutes!
27 Discipleship in Your precepts, make me to understand;
and I will meditate on Your wondrous works.
28 Dissolving for sorrow is my soul;
strengthen me according to Your word!
29 Deceitful ways put far from me
and graciously teach me Your law! †
30 Discipleship of faithfulness I have chosen;
Your ordinances I set before me.
31 Devotedly I cling to Your testimonies, O LORD;
let me not be put to shame!
32 Discipleship to Your commandments I will pursue,
when You enlarge my heart!
ד (DALETH) – Part 1
Verses 25-28 “The Struggle of Discipleship”
“Come, follow Me” He says and calls us to turn away from the things of this world. And no matter how glorious is the turning toward, with all the promises, glory, forgiveness, life . . .; still the turning away is hard. It will involve “Thy will be done” and it will include the breaking and hindering of my will – not only the things of this earth; also the heart of this earth. My soul clings to the dust with a love for the dust and trouble letting go of the dust. I am dejected, disappointed, and hoped for better of myself.
Revive me Lord. Give me life again! Give me that life that comes only from You, because that is the only life that endures forever. Give me life by Your living Word.
And so I empty my soul, bringing my confession of who I am and how I am. Taught by Your word I learn the truth about me and I say it to You, no matter how painful it is . . . and You answer! You speak the truth about Yourself as the Savior, the Good Shepherd, the Lamb of God; and about me as Your own, bought with the price of Your own blood.
These are the statutes – the truths that You are writing into the whole creation, making the whole creation new. Teach me these, for as You teach them my soul hungers for them – indeed I find a new hunger for them as I learn them; and the more I learn them the more I hunger for them.
And this is how You call me into discipleship: “Discipleship in Your precepts” (v. 27); “discipleship of faithfulness” (v. 30); and “discipleship to Your commandments” (v. 32).
First is “discipleship in Your precepts” and v. 27 speaks of it with longing – “make me to understand.” God’s precepts are His teachings of what should be in His universe, in the world and in life. They have to do with wondrous things, with the amazing acts of God, creation by His word; and then salvation through His blood! The psalmist calls out in prayer that his soul may meditate on what God does, looking to God’s works and not to the things of dust. We want to have our heart and soul focused on the acts of God and not distracted by the many lures of the world that are nothing by dust and must return to dust.
But we find ourselves wandering and unable to walk as disciples with the dedication and spiritual vision we long for; so in our soul there is sorrow – “dissolving for sorrow,” and then the cry comes forth again, “strengthen me!”
Strengthen how? The only way possible – again and again the same answer – by the Word, in the Word, according to the Word! And the hunger becomes deeper and deeper for the words and promises of God. Without them we have no strength. They are our life because those words and promises are entirely bound up in the person of Jesus and He is our life! He is God’s “Yes” and God’s “Amen” to us.
What is the reason why discipleship in God’s precepts is this – this focus on His works and being given strength from His Word in the path of discipleship? Simply this: It was the path and walk of Jesus. With His eyes set on the plan of God, drawing His strength from the words and promises of God, He is the Great Disciple. He is “the faithful witness” (Revelation 1:5) who speaks what He hears from His Father, and does what He has learned to do from His Father. (Jesus talks about His relationship with His Father and uses words of discipleship in detail in John chapter 5 and then all the way through the rest of John, to Easter)
The prayer life of Jesus is described in Isaiah 50:4-7. He talks about the “instructed tongue” and says “He awakens My ear to hear as those who are taught.” The Savior took His place under the word of God – day by day, as He did in the 40 days of fasting and prayer, saying “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) He took that place of prayer so that He could sustain the weary “with a word”. (Isaiah 50:4) The work and the teachings of Jesus come from that deep relationship with His Father through Scripture and prayer. Therefore His face was set on the path of our salvation.
Lord, call to me. Call to my soul through Your word. Call to my heart through Your promises, and lead me away from the things of dust. As You have walked the road, teach me the path of discipleship – to follow You, to seek and hold to the things of eternity. They are the treasure You have won and earned and given to me; and for them I praise You. Amen.
Rev. Mark Willig
Pastor Willig is pastor emeritus of Friends in Christ Lutheran Church.