“Come on, live a little.”
How many times have you heard that? You were probably being enticed to do something you knew in your heart to be wrong, right?
“But it feels good.”
OK. It’s starting to sound a little like an ABC After School Special, but you get the point, I hope. Sin feels good. It feels like really living. At least, for a while.
But the psalmist knew a better way.
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
He knew that the temptation to sin with his eyes was very great. It was great because looking on those things felt good. It fulfilled something he longed for. It scratched an itch he had.
I sometimes wonder what the psalmist specifically thought about when he wrote about “worthless things.” If he wrote today, I suspect he would have in mind the kinds of worthless things that one can see on much of television, in movies and on the internet. He would probably include a lot of books and magazines. And maybe he would go so far as to suggest that many of the special things we hold dear — like sports, hunting, and entertainment — are in reality “worthless things.”
Why might he suggest that those things are worthless? Later in the psalm he wrote, “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (119:72). Then he wrote, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (119:103). Then again, “Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold” (119:127).
The comparable worth of even the most valuable things in his time wasn’t even worth considering next to God’s Word. If he had that view of wealth and fine foods, surely the lesser things in our time would have to be included.
For the psalmist, though, the alternative to worthless things was clear: “give me life in your ways.” The psalmist knew that real life — genuine, lasting, joy-filled life — was found only in God and his design for our lives.
But he also recognized that life in God’s ways was not something he could do for himself. He knew that turning away from the worthless things of this world was something he would need help to do. That’s why he asked God. It was a prayer: “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”
God desires to give us life in his ways. He is here as the perfect fulfillment for our lives. Like the psalmist, have you come to recognize the many worthless things from which you try to get life? Have you asked God to give you life in his ways?