Psalm 119:131 – “I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.”
It was an epic battle of wills I remember well: a spoonful of green peas on my plate and my mom’s insistence I was not leaving the table until my plate was clean! What began as a loving exhortation, “Eat your peas; they are good for you!” had evolved into an admonition. As the peas were getting colder, my mom was growing hotter and wisely, did not concede to the will of a child. I did eat my peas, every one of them. Amazingly, ringing the bell for “mom knows best”, today I love green peas. I am not sure when or why I acquired a taste for peas, but I have come to understand what is good for you is often an acquired taste.
In our study of Psalm 119 we have observed the psalmist’s passion, obedience and learner’s attitude regarding the Word and Law of God (119:129-130). We find the fourth spiritual quality of a thriving soul in Psalm 119:131: Be thirsty: Open your mind to God’s commandments.
Psalm 119:131 I opened [opened wide] my mouth [i.e. mind], and panted [swallowed; earnestly desired]: for I longed [desired] for thy commandments [Law; precepts].
Two illustrations come to mind as I meditate on verse 131: the deer that longs for the water brook (Psalm 42:1-2) and the newborn hungry for his mother’s milk (1 Peter 2:2-3). Let’s briefly consider those illustrations in the light of the psalmist’s declaration that he “longed for thy [the LORD’s] commandments” and earnestly opened his heart to the LORD.
Remembering fondly the green pastures where he had led sheep in his youth, David reflected on a deer’s longing for fresh running water and identified that same passion in his soul for “the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2).
Psalm 42:1-2 – “As the hart [male deer or ram] panteth [cry or long for] after the water brooks, so panteth [cry or long for] my soul after thee, O God. 2 My soul thirsteth [is athirst] for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?”
What a wonderful challenge and rebuke we find in the words of David and the author of Psalm 119. How many of us look forward to opening our hearts and studying God’s Word? How many Christians reading this devotional “pant” for [earnestly desire] the faithful declaration of God’s Word?
The apostle Peter illustrates the same hunger and passion for the Word of God in his first epistle.
1 Peter 2:2-3 – As newborn babes, desire [to yearn for; intensely crave; earnestly desire] the sincere milk of the word [unadulterated truths], that ye may grow [mature] thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious [favor without merit].”
What are the “sincere”, unadulterated truths of God’s Word? They are the simple, eternal, immutable, fundamental truths of scripture…the Gospel that declares the fact of our sinfulness; the declaration of God’s holiness and judgment of sinners; and the love of God that provides a substitutionary sacrifice of His Own Son, Jesus Christ for the sins of the world.
My friend, the musings of humanists might entertain your intellect, but will leave you hungry and worse off before you heard them. The fables and ponderings of philosophers will only exasperate your poor, tired soul. Like green peas that are an acquired taste, when a sinner first hears the bold and passionate declaration of God’s Word his first response may well be to reject it! However, when you believe the truths of God’s Word and taste the sweetness of His grace, nothing else will satisfy your soul.
Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith