33 Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees,
that I may follow it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law
and obey it with all my heart.
35 Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
36 Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word.
38 Fulfill your promise to your servant,
so that you may be feared.
39 Take away the disgrace I dread,
for your laws are good.
40 How I long for your precepts!
In your righteousness preserve my life.
“Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.” (v. 37) These “worthless things” may be any one of a thousand different devices we use for comfort, pleasure or the advancement of our personal goals. God created us to enjoy these things; the issue is our stepping around Him and taking what we want for ourselves. Human beings were not created with an innate source of wisdom and restraint; only God possesses these things in Himself. Separated from His counsel, we lose discernment and self-control. In time, we wind up being controlled by the things we desire.
God addressed this issue directly through the prophet Jeremiah: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jer. 2:13) There is much more compassion than judgment in this indictment. It isn’t as though God gains anything from our obedience (although He is pleased by it). We are the ones who stand to gain ― or lose. The choice is ours.