My heart was fashioned by thy hand;
My service is thy due:
O make thy servant understand
The duties he must do.
Since I’m a stranger here below,
Let not thy path be hid;
But mark the road my feet should go,
And be my constant guide.
If God to me his statutes show,
And heav’nly truth impart,
His work for ever I’ll pursue,
His law shall rule my heart.
- The first verse of this hymn is based on Psalm 119:9 – “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” ESV In the imagery of the hymn, what power shapes the path and guards the choices of the writer?
- The second verse is inspired by Psalm 119:26 – “When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes!” ESV How does the hymn writer express God’s discovery of “my ways?” Do you feel comfortable in leaving your path completely visible to God? What does the hymn writer believe is an advantage when God knows what you are doing?
- Verse 3 is shaped by Psalm 119:50 – “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life,”ESV and Psalm 119:71 – “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” ESV The hymn writer avoids mentioning affliction, but jumps directly to the good outcome. Think of a painful experience from which you learned a heavenly truth. How did affliction work a good outcome in your life?
- Read Psalm 119:65-72. Are there people in your life who behave like the people who scorned the psalmist? How do you cope with conversations like this?
Psalm 119 is entirely devoted to the beauty and value of God’s teachings. Isaac Watts wrote eighteen long hymns based on this psalm. Secular thinkers call God’s teachings “outdated.” They say that history has moved past the “old rules” of religion. Why did the psalmist and Isaac Watts place so much value on God’s teachings? Do you agree with Isaac Watts or do you think the Bible is outdated? Why?