Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain (Psalm 119:36).Yesterday, we looked at the word "incline," which is vital to our progress toward God away from our stagnation. But toward what do we pray to be inclined? "Your testimonies." And this is accentuated in contrast to ". . . and NOT to selfish gain." So, whatever God's "testimonies" are, they are set over against "selfish" pursuits.
The Psalmist uses this word 23 times in this long chapter. According to Charles Bridge (Psalm 119), the term "testimony" refers to the whole of the biblical revelation, whereas, "testimonies" specifies the "preceptive part of Scripture (v. 138)." So, we are urged to "keep his testimonies" (v. 2), and here (v. 36) that our heart might be "inclined" toward them. Or, Matthew Henry--incline me toward "those things which thy testimonies prescribe; not only make me do my duty" as if I MUST, but "make me desirous to do thy duty as that which is agreeable to the new nature and really advantageous to me." Such a duty might be portrayed in the pastor's closing wedding words to the groom, "Now, you may kiss the bride." The groom finds no hesitation in obeying such an instruction! Oh, no; it is his delight. So, we pray: "May I see your testimonies as such a sweet instruction as to "kiss" the Book. My inclination is to more than a plastic obedience, but a wholehearted delight.
NOT TO SELFISH GAIN
KJV, "covetousness." Man naturally runs after sin, being prone to self-centered thoughts. The heart of man, Thomas Manton offers, "is like a sponge that being thirsty in itself, sucks in moisture from other things; it is a chaos of desires, seeking to be filled with something from without" (Sermons on Psalm 119, 1:345). But, he adds most appropriately, "We were made for another, to be happy in the enjoyment of a being [outside of] us; therefore man must have something to love; for the affections of the soul cannot lie idle and without an object." Oh, that we would grasp this grand truth that all sins foist their way upon us by deceit, duping us into believing that we would be better off sinning that living holy lives. But we would sing with Charles Wesley (Love Divine, All Loves Excelling):
Take away our bent to sinning;And there it is -- liberty! It is for freedom that Christ has set you free (Gal. 5:1). Let us pray this first in the list of IOUS that we may run away from the soul-smoothering grip of sin and turn rather unto the heart-freeing testimonies of our great God and Savior!
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning.
Set our hearts at liberty.