Psalm 119: I incline my heart…

flickering candle

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.

I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.

I am severely afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to your word!

Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord,
and teach me your rules.

I hold my life in my hand continually,
but I do not forget your law.

The wicked have laid a snare for me,
but I do not stray from your precepts.

Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.

I incline my heart to perform your statutes
forever, to the end.

Psalm 119:105-112, ESV

OK, so if you’ve been a Christian since the 80’s you read this and immediately Amy Grant’s voice singing “Thy-y-y word is a lamp unto my feet…” Right? Well, I’m looking at this section of the Psalm from another angle this morning. Oddly enough, there is another song Amy Grant sang in the same time period that comes to mind, too, but I’ll get to that later. I want to share the following snippet from Tony Campolo’s Let Me Tell You A Story:

Becoming a Christian is a decision-making process. It involves a decision to believe what the Bible says is true. It requires a decision to commit yourself, without reservation, to what Christ wants you to be and do. And it is also a decision to surrender to being taken over by Jesus and yielding to the changes He wants to make in your life.

I was a guest speaker at an Ivy league university. The students that crowded into the lecture hall were intensely interested in the Bible and the gospel message. It was as though they wanted to believe and were hoping to hear some good reasons that would enable them to do so.

At the end of the lecture there was a question time, and the very first question was asked by a young man who stood and inquired, “How can you possibly believe that the Bible is true? You seem like an intelligent person, and you seem to be well-credentialed. How could anybody with your academic background possibly accept those Bible stories as though they were true?”

“Because I decided to!” I answered. “Many years ago, I considered the various options of truth that were available in the intellectual marketplace, and I made a decision to believe the Bible. Having made that decision, I spent the ensuing years constructing arguments and gathering information that would buttress my beliefs. But to be honest, I believed first. All my thinking and all my philosophizing and theologizing since then has been designed to support my a priori faith commitment.”

The young man was taken aback by my forthrightness. He smiled and said, “I thought so.”

“Before you sit down,” I said to him, “I have a question to ask of you. Why don’t you believe the Bible? Isn’t it because you decided not to? Please, don’t tell me you’ve read it from cover to cover, tested out what it has to say, and gained empirical evidence to contradict it. Please don’t tell me that it’s full of contradictions, because I don’t think you can name five. I think, that what you did was to decide a while back that the Bible was not true, and having made that decision you’ve been constructing arguments and gathering information to support your a priori commitment to nonbelief. Let’s be honest. I have as much basis for believing the Bible as you have for not believing.”

Then I pulled out Blaise Pascal’s argument called The Great Wager. I said to him, “If my faith commitment to what I believe to be true is erroneous, and there is no God and the Bible is false, I will never know it. When I die, all consciousness will cease to exist. On the other hand, if your atheism proves false, you will know it!”

Campolo, Tony; Let Me Tell You A Story, Word Publishing, Nashville, 2000, p. 76-77

The Psalmist made just that decision. Inclining his ear to the wisdom of God, he committed his life to following His word and godly faithful living.

What have you decided?

Oh yes, that song that’s now stuck in my head…it’s this one:

I have decided,
I’m gonna live like a believer,
Turn my back on the deceiver,
I’m gonna live what I believe…

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One Response to Psalm 119: I incline my heart…

  1. Bill says:

    I am not one of those who remember either song/artist, but I really enjoyed the psalm. It is good to be reminded of the responsibilities I promised God when I was baptised.

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