“My soul longs for …”
The Hebrew word (nephesh) sometimes translated into English as ‘soul’ means a ‘a creature’, something alive. Genesis 1:21,24 are examples, thus when man was created (2:7) he was a “living creature”. Thus, when we read today in Psalm 119:81, we see the sense of the words,
“My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word”.
It means our whole attitude of mind is longing for salvation, but our Creator’s word must be accepted, we must not make the mistake of Adam and Eve. And so, as with the Psalmist,
“our soul longs” for God’s “salvation”.
This is the essential attitude of mind, which the Lord (and now His Son) looks to see: it is a repeated theme in the Psalms, especially this one. Verse 114 is a good example,
“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word”.
See also verses 42 and 74. If we do not have this focus in our minds, what is the point in living? Those who lack this focus, simply live “to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25; see also Titus 3:3). There is no middle path – Jesus made that plain.
In our Luke chapter we read of the birth of Jesus and the impact this had on those who became conscious of what was really happening. The shepherds looking after the sheep in the night became dramatically aware – and must have been overwhelmed – when “a multitude of the heavenly host” appeared “praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’”.
That last phrase is the correct translation of the Greek which all modern translations adapt. The popular carol that has them singing ‘and goodwill toward men’ is misleading.
Looking back into our Psalm, may we be among those
“with whom he is pleased, those who say, ‘My soul longs for your salvation’” and who “long for your promise” (verse 82) knowing that God’s “faithfulness endures to all generations” (verse 90).
Those who “long for your salvation” and “love your law (word)” and make it their “meditation all the day” (verse 97) will, as a result say,
“I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word” (verse 101).
The more they read God’s word the more readily they will say,
“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (verse 103)
and live with a positive attitude of mind, telling God and His Son, their Lord,
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (verse 105),
believing that their path is nearing its destination to receive the longed for salvation. Make sure that is true for you.