Vs. 176 — I have gone astray like a lost sheep; Seek Your servant, For I do not forget Your commandments.
Charles H. Spurgeon:
This is the finale, the conclusion of the whole matter: “I have gone astray like a lost sheep”—often, wilfully, wantonly, and even hopelessly, but for thine interposing grace. In times gone by, before I was afflicted, and before thou hadst fully taught me thy statutes, “I went astray” from the practical precepts, from the instructive doctrines, and from the heavenly experiences which thou hadst set before me. I lost my road, and I lost myself. Even now I am apt to wander, and, in fact, have roamed already; therefore, Lord, restore me. “Seek thy servant.” He was not like a dog, that somehow or other can find its way back; but he was like a lost sheep, which goes further and further away from home; yet still he was a sheep, and the Lord’s sheep, his property, and precious in his sight, and therefore he hoped to be sought in order to be restored. However far he might have wandered he was still not only a sheep, but God’s “servant,” and therefore he desired to be in his Master’s house again, and once more honoured with commissions for his Lord. Had he been only a lost sheep he would not have prayed to be sought; but being also a “servant” he had the power to pray. He cries, “Seek thy servant,” and he hopes to be not only sought, but forgiven, accepted, and taken into work again by his gracious Master.
Notice this confession; many times in the Psalm David has defended his own innocence against foul-mouthed accusers, but when he comes into the presence of the Lord his God he is ready enough to confess his transgressions. He here sums up, not only his past, but even his present life, under the image of a sheep which has broken from its pasture, forsaken the flock, left the shepherd, and brought itself into the wild wilderness, where it has become as a lost thing. The sheep bleats, and David prays, “Seek thy servant.” His argument is a forcible one,—“for I do not forget thy commandments.” I know the right, I approve and admire the right, what is more, I love the right, and long for it. I cannot be satisfied to continue in sin, I must be restored to the ways of righteousness. I have a homesickness after my God, I pine after the ways of peace; I do not and I cannot forget thy commandments, nor cease to know that I am always happiest and safest when I scrupulously obey them, and find all my joy in doing so. Now, if the grace of God enables us to maintain in our hearts the loving memory of God’s commandments it will surely yet restore us to practical holiness. That man cannot be utterly lost whose heart is still with God. If he be gone astray in many respects, yet still, if he be true in his soul’s inmost desires, he will be found again, and fully restored. Yet let the reader remember the first verse of the Psalm while he reads the last: the major blessedness lies not in being restored from wandering, but in being upheld in a blameless way even to the end. Be it ours to keep the crown of the causeway, never leaving the King’s highway for By-path Meadow, or any other flowery path of sin. May the Lord uphold us even to the end. Yet even then we shall not be able to boast with the Pharisee, but shall still pray with the publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner;” and with the Psalmist, “Seek thy servant.” (Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). The treasury of David: Psalms 111-119 (Vol. 5, p. 435). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.)
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments. I confess that I am prone to wander, and too often my mind is distracted away from You. I find myself off the path of righteousness and giving in to my sin nature. But You, as the perfect Shepherd, keep me near to Thee. Your grace is abundant and sufficient in every situation and for every day. By the Spirit of Truth do not let Your words or Your testimonies depart from my heart. I am wholly dependent upon You. Be my shepherd; be my God. Amen.