March 3, 2021

by: Gabriel Tseng

With my whole heart, I have sought you; oh let me not wander from your commandments – Psalm 110:10

There are phrases I tell myself all the time. It’s those small voices in my head, some of them imparted and imprinted on me during childhood and others with different experience. The meditation of our hearts are shaping in our inner life, the life whom few see, but many see the outpouring and consequences of. When my “self talk” is condemning, it can help me to be a bit more driven with a bit more competitiveness. It may cause me to become a different person than whom others may know me to be. I’m just a little bit off, more than usual. When those voices are constructive, affirming and warm, I feel that no words can penetrate that shield of invisibility. No amount of criticism can dampen my mood when I know I am loved beyond measure and am convinced by it. 

So I wonder why the Psalmist prays and sings these words to himself and for others. The Psalms are wonderful in that they allow us to fill our own voice into its chorus. As we sing with them, we find ourselves meditating and singing the same words. It sounds like words we cannot articulate, but connects with our deeper affections, some that we may not consciously realize at times. They can form and even reform our hearts, in how we think and how we feel. Unlike the cynical brainwashing, the songs discipline us and they are part of the hand of God to prune and refine us to help us to walk. 

The Psalmist needs to tell himself, to declare out loud that he wants to seek God, with a curious tidbit to ask the Lord not to let him wander. Why does he say sing this to himself? Why does he declare this to himself? The obvious answer may be, he sang this because he knew he was prone to wander and prone to forget even amidst his great desire to seek God with his whole heart. In this profound moment, we find that heartache is not always pleasant, but can be beneficial in drawing us near. When I want my children to chase me and vice versa, I will hide around the corner to tease them come. They will sometimes yell across the house loudly, just to know that I’m within earshot, so that they feel secure. I once, even ran around the block to hide from my parents, just so they would come looking for me, to passive aggressively ask them to come find me. At times, our wandering is our desire that we cannot yet verbalise or understand, that I need a little help. It’s scarier to be vulnerable and courageous, and we see a bit of this dynamic in the Psalmist, like all of us, like Paul, “we do not do what we want to.” And yet, God is faithful to us and comes looking for us. When we cry out, He is never far and as the Psalmist sings and realizes in part, is that I should have never left in the first place. I need help. Do not let me stray. 

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