I remember as a kid how daunting Psalm 119 was. Weighing in at an impressive 176 verses, it is the longest chapter in the Bible, so you knew it was going to take some time to work through it. Because of this, I remember avoiding it and focusing on the much shorter psalms that surrounded it. My mother, on the other hand, absolutely loved this Psalm. In fact she committed it to memory, which to me (even today) seemed somewhat unfathomable!
However, as I read through the Bible chronologically this year, today was the day that Psalm 119’s number came up. Actually, according to my reading plan, I was only required to read half of it. However, like a tall glass of Pepsi or a mouth watering chocolate chip cookie, you can’t stop half-way through and save the rest for later; you have to devour the whole thing. Psalm 119 is a beautiful reading filled with longing for God. I found myself praying that I would have half the desire of the author to seek after my Creator.
Out of the entire Psalm, verse 131 struck me the most. In it, the Psalmist says, “I pant with open mouth because I long for Your commands.” Can you imagine so longing after God that you pant for His teachings? What would it be like if we were following so hard after Him that we were simply exhausted from the pursuit? What might our lives look like if we drank of all He had to give, yet still we panted for more because we could simply never get enough of His love and His mercy? This is the man I want to be. I want to be known as one who relentlessly chases after the object of my affection: the only God in the universe, the One who created all things. As fellow followers of Jesus, I’m certain you would agree that there could be no higher aspiration.
From a practical standpoint, what would a life spent in desperate pursuit of the commands of God look like? Let’s look again at the teachings of Christ to determine if we are truly living our lives in accordance with His commands. Regular readers will know by now that this includes feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, clothing the poor, caring for the sick and visiting those in prison (Matthew 25:31-46). It means that we need to look after the orphans and widows, and keep ourselves from being corrupted by society (James 1:27). We must love every other person as much as we love ourselves, and love Christ so deeply that we are willing to forsake our own families for the opportunity of serving Him (Matthew 22:36-39; Luke 14:26). Following Jesus means that we give up everything we have ever known because it is all worthless when compared to what He offers. Life on earth is difficult and temporary. Life in Christ is fulfilling and eternal.
I encourage you to take some time to read Psalm 119; it will not take nearly as long as you might expect. Listen to the passion of the author and sense the depth of His desire to follow God in every way. Ask God to grant you a similar burning in your own heart, and then study the Scriptures to unearth the teachings of Christ. Learn the principles of the Old Testament as well. In seeking out His commands and instructions in Scripture, we will deepen our knowledge of Him and our faith in Him. The more we understand about the nature of God, the more we will long to be like Him. Pursue Him with all your strength; exhaust yourself in a relentless hunt for His purity and grace. Run until you pant with an insatiable desire to know Him more. The pursuit will bring its own reward.
Question: How has the pursuit of God brought positive change in your life? Please share your comments below.