Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!
– Psalm 119:27-28

There are two requests in this segment of verses out of Psalm 119.

  1. Make me understand the way of your precepts.
  2. Strengthen me according to your word.

There are two responsibilities the Psalmist assumes:

  1. I will meditate on your wondrous works.
  2. He acknowledged His struggle with sorrow.

One of the struggles when we experience loss or suffering of any sort is to withdraw from others and often from God. We are wounded and hurting so we find a place to collect our thoughts, make sense of our experiences and to understand God and what is happening in our life. Suffering is never our desire but somehow God uses it to get our attention and forge something in us that is virtually impossible when life is comfortable.

But the Psalmist first response is to ask God help him understand the way of His precepts. A precept is a command or principle intended as a rule of action. Sometimes God’s commands direct our paths that may not always make sense to us especially when it involves hardship or conflicts. David desires to understand what may be hard to comprehend at the time. Apparently, he was facing circumstances that might raise questions he would desire to ask God. Rather than questioning God’s love or faithfulness, he asks to understand the way of God’s direction.

The second request is to be strengthened by God’s Word. David seems to acknowledge that God’s guidance has, in part, responsible for what he faces but it will be Gods’ Word that will give him the strength to endure the process. He understands that God is his greatest source of strength when facing the challenges of life.

Thirdly, David commits to seek God and meditate on His works. Some of God’s works are like magnificent sunsets where you step back, pause and marvel at the beauty of his handiwork. Other times, His works are baffling to our finite mind but we have a sense of being amazed that the ingenuity and genius of those things that go beyond our ability to comprehend. Other times His works are very confusing and difficult to grasp His intent or purpose. But all in all, David does not get angry with God, He does not resent or blame God, nor does He reject God because of things he does not understand. He meditates, he contemplates, and he seeks God and waits.

Fourthly, he willingly admits his struggle with his sorrow.  For private individuals, for men in particular and those who are introverts we normally do not admit or acknowledge our inner struggles to others. We know they are there but we often have a hard time admitting that, “our soul melts away for sorrow” even to ourselves. It comes across as weakness, lack of faith, or not facing the challenge like a man. I am convinced that part of understanding God’s ways, and meditating on His word also demands acknowledging our internal struggle with our circumstances and (possibly) with God. Having questions for God is different than questioning God.

Life is complicated and never simple. We live in a broken world that rarely promises we get through life without some challenges and difficult moments. We can hide from God, or blame God or seek His wisdom to understand and meditate on His Word so that we might find strength and help in our time of need.

Pastor Brad Little