The LORD Will Bend You (A Meditation on Psalm 119:33-35)
Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Psalm 119:33-35
The Psalmist begins this stanza asking for instruction. He acknowledges the Lord as his teacher and the true source of wisdom. In verse 34, the Psalmist again asks for understanding. This word is translated from the Hebrew biyn and is the same understanding that Solomon asked for in 1 Kings 3:9, “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil…” In verse 10 the scripture says that, “It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.” The Lord responded to him, “Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind…” (1 Kings 3:12).
Both the Psalmist and Solomon acknowledge that the Lord is the author of all wisdom. And Scripture confirms that the Lord will gladly grant understanding and discernment to those who ask in faith. James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Job 32:8 asserts that “it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty that makes him understand.” In 2 Timothy 2:7, Paul tells Timothy that “the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” In Psalm 119:130 we read, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.”
In verse 35, the Psalmist asks the Lord to “lead me in the path of your commandments.” The NASB translation says, “make me walk in the path of Your commandments.” At first glance, it might seem like the Psalmist again is asking for understanding. However, the phrase comes from the Hebrew word darak, which means to string a bow by stepping on it, bending it. That is a really nice visual of what the Lord does for us. The Lord will bend us toward His path so we can follow His commandments. The second part of verse 35 says, “for I delight in it.” That delight can also be described as inclination, pleasure, desire, or favor. But the Hebrew word chapets literally means to bend. We aren’t naturally inclined to God’s path (Psalm 14:3 says, “there is none who does good, not even one”). Our sin nature always bends us away (Paul says in Romans 7:18, “For I know nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out”). But like a bow that must be strung, the Lord bends us toward the right path. An unstrung bow is useless, but once strung it is a valuable tool to the one who wields it. And the beauty of it is that a bow that is bent over and over eventually gets broken in. Our bend will eventually be in the path of His commandments. Our delight will eventually be obedience.
Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” The Lord will graciously supply us with the understanding of His Word. He will mercifully bend us toward His path of righteousness. In turn, we must abide in Him, so we can delight in Him, and ultimately obey Him.