“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways” (Psalm 119:37).

Turning our eyes towards something is a sign of focus. The psalmist implores us to turn our focus away from “worthless things”. This word “worthless” literally means “vanity” or “emptiness”. The plea literally means, “Shift my focus away from empty thoughts, images and pleaures. Give me life in Jesus.”

What are the empty things we invest so much mental energy, anguish and anxiety pursuing? What’s are your list? Sex? Money? Information? Community? The answer is probably in the context of Psalm 119. Immediately preceeding the words of verse 37 are these words:
“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” (Psalm 119:36)
Empty pursuits are those desires that find their ultimate satisfaction in an empty well. It is not wrong to pursue pleasure. We’re wired for pleasure. But it is wrong to find pleasure and satisfaction in that which cannot ultimately satisfy us. The prophet Jeremiah calls such things “broken cisterns”. The charge laid against Israel was that God’s “people had committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer 2:13). This is why the psalmist declares, “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things, and give me life in your ways.” We can only be satisfied by committing ourselves to the One who made us and made us with the purpose of worshiping and enjoying God as our Creator, and this life can only be found in Jesus.
What is the prescription for a life focused on Jesus?
1) A life that loves God’s Word (Psalm 119:35).
2) A life that sees the foolishness of pursuing pleasure in apart from God. This doesn’t mean we
shouldn’t enjoy God’s gifts (James 1:17). It simply means that in whatever we do, we are doing
it in worship to God (Col 3:17).
3) A life that intentionally focuses on the way of life, Jesus Christ (Psalm 119:15; Heb 12:1-2;
Col 3:2).
What are the empty, vain things of this world, that though they aren’t inherently evil, become stumbling blocks for us when they become our focus? The list is endless. Sex. Money. People. Technology. Prestige. Reputation. Power. Success. Entertainment. Sports.
What things have become “worthless” because they have or are becoming your idol today? Confess it. Receive the forgiveness of God in Jesus. Rejoice that you are not condemned in your sin. And pray that you will find life in Jesus and that He will satisfy you with His unfailing love.
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