“Music to God’s Ears”
Preached by Dr. Robert F. Browning
Calvary Baptist Church
“I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.” (Psalm 119:59)
This is one of the most hopeful and powerful statements recorded in scripture. It is simple, succinct and sincere. It reveals a change of heart and direction. It shows what can happen when humility and honesty team up.
I am convinced it is music to God’s ears and brings a smile to God’s face. I am not sure any prayer brings God more delight and joy.
Who voiced this prayer and penned these words? I don’t know. The author of Psalm 119, the longest in this book of Wisdom literature, is unknown.
What I do know, however, is why the writer made this declaration. It was the culmination of his pursuit to know God better and to discover what was important to God.
Last Sunday’s sermon was based upon a previous passage from this same chapter, 119:17-20, 33-40. These verses made it clear the Psalmist was eager to know the hopes, dreams, ways and will of God for all the people of the world, beginning with him.
Repeatedly, the Psalmist pleaded with God to open his eyes, ears, heart and mind and to guide his steps as he made decisions about his future. The number of imperatives in last Sunday’s text, twelve, indicates how serious, focused, determined, dedicated and committed the Psalmist was.
“Open my eyes that I may see the wonderful things in your law.” (119:18)
“Teach me, Lord, to follow your decrees, then I will keep them to the end.” (119:33)
“Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.” (119:34)
“Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.” (119:36)
“Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.” (119:37)
Today’s text reveals this period of reflection and introspection was productive. His eyes were opened and his heart was changed. It was now time for him to make changes in his life, and he was ready to do this.
“I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.”
What does this prayer tell us about the person who voiced it?
He was humble and honest, at least during this stage of life. In all likelihood, he had been a good man and neighbor, but good was not good enough when he discovered what God and others really needed from him. He could do better and knew it.
No longer was he going to settle for mediocrity and ignore his shortcomings. What a waste of his time, talents, skills and influence this would be.
The time had come to make changes and this meant turning his attention to God’s hopes and dreams for him. From this point on, his steps would be ordered by the ways and will of God.
He would begin this journey by confessing his sins and asking for forgiveness. He had said and done things that did not reflect the nature of God and had failed to pursue those things that were most important to God.
Selfishness had marked his life, not self-denial and self-discipline. Far too often he had been cruel not kind, greedy not generous, cold-hearted not compassionate, indifferent not concerned, aloof not engaged, deceptive not truthful, arrogant not humble, vindictive not forgiving, critical not encouraging, divisive not supportive, untruthful not honest and lazy not industrious.
He had also settled for less than his best when it came to achieving his potential. There was so much more he was capable of doing to make the world better, beginning with his family and all the families around him. He had the skills, talents and abilities to address many of his community’s problems and to work with others to solve them, but there were times he chose personal comfort and security over courage and the common good.
His serious study of God’s word, laws, commands and statutes revealed the wide gap between the life he was living and the life he could live. There was no excuse for this, and it was a problem he could do something about.
After the Psalmist wrote, “I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes,” he quickly added, “I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.” (Psalm 119:59-60)
Yes, I believe this prayer was music to God’s ears and brought a smile to God’s face and tears to God’s eyes.
Have you ever voiced the Psalmist’s prayer? What could I say today to motivate you to consider it?
My reflection on this text last week led me to realize that one of the greatest gifts God offers us is the opportunity to make changes in our lives, big and small. God promises forgiveness and guidance for charting a path forward toward a new and better life.
Why would anyone pass up this offer and opportunity? Why would any of us choose to live in a prison without bars, a prison of our own making, when God is ready to take us by the hand and lead us toward this new and better life?
How big is the gap between you and God’s hopes and dreams for you this morning? What changes do you need to make to your values, priorities, attitude, work ethic, lifestyle and relationships to reflect more accurately the nature and heart of God?
What changes do you need to make to be a better mate, parent, student, friend, co-worker, supervisor, neighbor, church member and citizen?
What changes do you need to make to develop and to use dormant skills and abilities?
I don’t know all the changes you need to make to close that gap between you and God, and neither do you, but I know what the first step is. It is a prayer you and I can voice today that has been handed down to us by a pilgrim who decided to quit ignoring his shortcomings and to settle no longer for less than his best.
“I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes. I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.”
Will you utter that prayer this morning?