Psalm 119:25

Psalm 119: An Exposition
Charles Bridges

"My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to your word."

Sin is no trifle to a child of God. It is his heaviest sorrow. David and the Great Apostle found it so. And where is the believer who has not full sympathy with their complaints? To have a soul clinging to the dust and yet not feel the trouble, that is the black mark of a sinner dead in sins--dead to God. To know the plague of our own heart, to feel our misery, and to believe and apply the remedy is the satisfactory evidence of a child of God.

Dust is the portion of the world, and they wish for no better. But that the soul of a Christian should continually cling to the dust is most strange and humbling. And yet this is the influence of his evil nature, the power of self-will and self-indulgence, the regard to human praise and cherishing of self-admiration. Were it not that he abhors himself for the very dust that clings to him, he would question the existence of a renewing change.

The Christian knows what he ought to be. He has tasted the blessedness of mounting upward on eagles' wings. Yet his every attempt to rise is hindered by the clogging weight that seeks to keep him down. But it is the clinging of his soul that is so painful--not occasional, but constant. Not like the bird of the morning that descends for a moment and then soars upward in his flight. Rather it seems as if, like the serpent, dust was to be his food; as if the spiritual, heaven-born soul was to sink and grovel below. Like the dust of the summer road blinding the eye and obscuring the view, this earthliness of soul darkens the view of the Savior, dims the eye of faith, and hides the glorious prospects which, when beheld in the clear horizon, enliven the weary pilgrim on his way!

This complaint, however, is not the language of despondency but that of conflict and humiliation. Take note of the believer carrying it to the Lord in prayer: "Here I lie in the dust, without life or power. Oh, thou Savior, who came that I might have life and that I might have it more abundantly, revive me. Breathe into me thine own life, that I may rise from the dust and cling to thee." This cry for quickening grace is the exercise of faith. We have a covenant to plead. Faith is the hand that takes hold of the promise--"according to your word." Can this word fail? Sooner shall heaven and earth pass away than one jot or one tittle pass from the engagements of a covenant-keeping God. "He is faithful who has promised." The man who takes hold of this plea is a prince who has power with God, and prevails (Gen. 32:28).

How different is the character of the mere professor! He is in all likelihood ready to make the same confession, but he makes it without humiliation, without prayer, without faith. Nothing is more common than to hear the complaint, "My soul clings to the dust." The world has such power over us, we are so cold, so dead to spiritual things. But the complaint of the mere professor is never once brought with wrestling supplication. Instead it is urged in lazy self-satisfaction as evidence of the good state of the heart before God.

It is not the complaint of sickness but the appeal to the physician that advances the recovery of the patient. We do not usually expect to better our condition simply by mourning over its badness or merely wishing for its improvement. In the same way it is not the confession of sin but the application to the Great Physician that marks genuine contrition before God. That confession which evaporates in heartless complaints does not belong to the tenderness of a renewed heart. The utterance of genuine prayer is the voice of God's own Spirit making intercession for us. How cheering is the encouragement that "he who searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God!"

Some are ready to give up or delay their duty when they have been unable to bring their heart to it. Thus does Satan get the advantage by our ignorance of his devices. Reluctance to pray is not our weakness but our sin. It is not to be indulged but resisted. We must mourn over the dullness that hinders us and diligently wait for the help we need. God keeps the grace in his own hands and gives it at his pleasure, to exercise our daily dependence upon him. Praying helps to pray. If the door is closed, "knock, and it shall be opened." Assuredly it will not be closed long to the one who has faith and patience to wait until it be opened.

Now let me sift the character of my profession. Is it a habitual, persevering, overcoming struggle with sin, or do I indulge in fruitless bemoaning of my condition? If I find my soul clinging to the dust, is it not because I am sometimes lying on my face when I ought to be taking heaven by violence, by importunate petitions for quickening grace? Are my prayers invigorated by confidence in the word of God? Oh, let me remember that they who wait upon the Lord shall shake off the dust and shall mount with wings like eagles to take possession of their heavenly home.

O Lord, make me more deeply ashamed that my soul should cling to the dust. Breathe upon me fresh influence from your quickening Spirit. Help me to plead your word of promise. And may every fresh view of my sinfulness, even though it prostrates me in self-abasement before you, be overruled to make the Savior daily and hourly more precious to my soul. For I am defiled in myself, in every service of my heart. What but the unceasing application of Christ's blood and the uninterrupted prevalence of his intercession can give me a moment's confidence before you, or prevent the very sins that mingle with my prayers from sealing my condemnation? Blessed Savior! It is nothing but your everlasting merit, covering my person and honoring my sacrifice that satisfies the justice of an offended God, and restrains it from breaking forth as a devouring fire to consume me upon my very knees.

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