Psalm 119:59

Psalm 119: An Exposition
Charles Bridges

"I thought about my ways,
and turned my feet to your testimonies."

The Psalmist's determination to keep God's word was not a hasty impulse but a deliberate decision, made as the result of much thinking about his former ways of sin and folly (vs. 57, 58). How many, on the other hand, seem to pass through the world into eternity without one serious thought about their ways! Multitudes live for the world, forget God, and die. This is their history. It is written as with a sunbeam in the word of truth--"The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God" (Ps. 9:17).

The character and ruin of an unthinking world is recorded for us: "No man repented of his wickedness, saying, What have I done?" (Jer. 8:6). Perhaps one serious thought might have led to the new birth of the soul to God, the first step on the way to heaven. For we find that when a man is arrested by the power of grace he is as one awaking from sleep. Solemn and serious thoughts begin to flood his mind: What am I? Where am I? What have I been? What have I been doing? I have an eternal soul, yet a soul without a Savior--lost, undone. What prospect is there for its happiness? Behind me is a world of vanity, an empty void; before me a fearful unknown eternity. Within me is an awakened conscience to remind me of an angry God and a devouring hell. If I stay here, I perish. If I go forward, I perish. If I return home to my offended Father, I can but perish.

And so the resolution is formed, "I will arise and fight my way to my Father's house no matter what the difficulties and discouragements."

This first step of return involves the whole work of repentance, and it is in such a manner that every prodigal child of God "comes to himself." He thinks about his ways and turns his feet to the testimonies of his God, witnessing, to his joyful surprise, that every hindrance has been removed, the way is marked with the blood of the Savior, and his return is met by a smiling Father. This is the practical exercise of a genuine faith. "Because he considers, and turns away from all the transgressions which he has committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die" (Ezek. 18:28).

Nevertheless, considerable discipline is needed, not only upon the first entrance into the ways of God but in every successive step of our path. It will form that habit of daily meditation, crucial for staying in the way. So imperceptible is the waywardness of the heart from God that we fail to perceive how far our feet have slipped. Even David did not realize how far his feet had wandered until a serious consideration of his state brought conviction to his soul.

However, do not think that a few transient thoughts or resolutions will effect this turn of heart to God. A man may, in sincerity and earnestness, maintain a fruitless struggle for many years. Yet the simple act of faith in the power and love of Jesus will at once bring him back.

Reader, are you thinking about your ways? Then walk in Christ, and you will walk in the way of God's testimonies with acceptance and delight. It is in this spirit of simplicity that you will hear the first whisper of the voice of the Spirit convicting you of straying from his law. You will thankfully accept the chastening rod as the Lord's appointed instrument for restoring you--his wandering child--to himself. It is because of our sinful nature that we are not only prone to turn away from God but deaf to his calls. In love and tender faithfulness, then, he is often constrained to arrest us in our backsliding by the stroke of his heavy hand. Most suitable for us, then, is the prayer of Basil: "Give me any cross that will bring me into subjection to thy cross, and save me in spite of myself."

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