I have gone astray like a lost sheep…

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Psalm 119: 173 Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. 174 I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight. 175 Let me live that I may praise you, and let your ordinances help me. 176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek out your servant, for I do not forget your commandments. 

This is a really LONG psalm. 176 verses worth, the longest of them all. And through most of this psalm the writer has been emphasizing his total dependence on God. How does he demonstrate his dependence on God? By following God’s laws, statutes, decrees, ordinances, commandments, precepts… etc. In short, by walking the straight and narrow. There are a few things that surprise me in this passage.

First, there is the notion of God’s law as “my delight”. It expresses an emotional attachment to the law, which I find interesting. He doesn’t experience the law as confining or limiting, but as joy.

Then there is “I have chosen your precepts” and “I do not forget your commandments”. He’s all in with God’s law. It is his answer to just about all of life’s questions. What do I do when the way is unclear? I follow the law and I will be well. Simple right? But then there’s the whole of v.176

“I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek out your servant for I do not forget your commandments.”

See the tension there? Here is a person who pledges in-depth knowledge of, and fidelity to the law, yet admits he has not kept it. He has “gone astray”. I totally get that because it sounds like me. I am well versed in the ways of God but fall short of them all the time. It’s not that I don’t try, but my flaws are so many. Seriously. It can get depressing. And if it weren’t for knowing that God’s grace through Jesus is greater than my sin, I would be a “lost sheep” like the psalmist.

Lord today I share the prayer in v.176 asking for you to “seek out your servant”… one who is lost without your grace and mercy through Jesus. Amen.

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