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of Bible Study Notes
"A Whole-Souled Reason for Living"
Wednesday AM Bible Study of Psalm 119
March 5, 2003
"Let my soul live, and it shall praise You; and let Your judgments
help me" (NKJV).
"Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help
"Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me" (NIV).
"Let me live so I can praise you, and may your laws sustain me" (NLT).
"Let my soul live that it may praise You, and let Your ordinances help
What is your purpose for living? The apostle Paul once expressed his
own reason for living in these words: "For to me, to live is Christ ..."
- that is, to love and serve Him. But he also stated his own confidence
in dying in these words: "... and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21). To live
was Christ, and to die simply meant more of Christ. Paul was not afraid
to die, because he knew were he was going; but he wasn't in a hurry to
die either, because he knew why he was living - "But if I live on in the
flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor ..." (v. 22). "Nevertheless
to remain in the flesh is more needful for you" (v. 24).
So again, what is your purpose for living? For many people, it's nothing
more than to avoid dying and facing God. But for the psalmist, it was
in order to keep on praising God in the land of the living. It was for
this reason that he dared to ask God to preserve his life and let him
live on. And his confidence in being able to fulfill this purpose was
found in the sovereign providence of God as expressed in His judgments.
He does great honor to God in this request: He acknowledges that he cannot
live apart from God's grace; he submits his life to the service of God's
purpose; and he affirms that his help in fulfilling this purpose for life
is in God's judgments.
Notice, then ...
I. THE PSALMIST'S REQUEST: "Let my soul live ..."
A. The psalmist makes his request to God in the form of a prayer. Every
living creature has a natural will to live; every creature is dependent
upon God for that life (Psalm 145:15-16). But only mankind is able to
acknowledge this dependency and ask God for life and the extension of
it (Isaiah 38:15-19).
B. He says, "Let me live"; but the Hebrew allows for a deeper idea
than merely "me". As the NJKV has it, "Let my soul live". (This is supported
by the "it" of the next clause.) These words almost have the sound of
a sinner's prayer. Who could live spiritually unless we first acknowledge
our sin as a soul, which having sinned, should die; and then make our
appeal to God for the grace of life? And if God would give us life as
salvation through the sacrifice of His Son, "how shall He not with Him
also give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32).
II. THE PURPOSE FOR HIS REQUEST: "... and it shall praise You ..."
A. The psalmist requests to live, not so that he could continue to
pursue those things that were of interest to him, but so that he might
devote himself to God's interest. Specifically, he asks to be allowed
to live that he might fulfill his resolve to praise God. To praise God,
in this case, would mean much more than to simply express thanks with
the mouth, but rather to employ the whole of his soul ("it") in the
act of praise. It would mean that his "soul" be allowed to live, that
"it" might live to God's praise.
B. In the Bible, God's work of salvation on our behalf is intended
to result in our living a life of whole-souled praise to Him. Our salvation
is not only to result in our literal praise (1 Peter 2:9-10), but also
in our living a life of praise (Titus 2:11-14).
III. THE TRUST BEHIND HIS REQUEST: "... and let Your judgments help
A. So; the psalmist requests God that his soul live; and he expresses
the reason for this request as that he might live a whole-souled life
of praise in response. But how, objectively, does he live such a life?
This, again, is where the word of God becomes so crucial. In resolving
himself to this great, life-long venture of praise, he says, "... and
let Your judgments help me." He will not seek to live a life of praise
on the basis of his own leading, but rather on the clear leading of
God through the Scriptures (Isaiah 26:7-9).
B. There is also a sense of confidence in this statement. The psalmist
is not only resolved to trust God's word to be his guide in a whole-souled
life of praise, but he is also confident that it will, indeed, guide
and help him (v. 75).
What is your reason for living? We all have one - stated or not; and
yet, recognize it or not, we sinners don't have a right to live. We live
only by God's grace. May God, by His grace, allow us - whom He has saved
- to henceforth live for the purpose of His praise; and may we carefully
subject ourselves to His word as our help in doing so.