Psalm 119.36 Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
Again, David's prayer shows great insight into human nature. He knows himself so well that he asks for God's help. He knows that hearts and minds are a battle ground where strong forces fight for power. Therefore, he prays that God will stir the heart and bend it towards the word of God, that he may enjoy and delight to live after the testimonies of God. He prays, "God, make me willing to obey what you say! Make me want to stick to your law! ”
The alternative is to motivated by selfish gain. Because David is realistic and knows that it is easy to get caught up in the desire for worldly wealth, he is asking for God's help to resist this tendency. Paul urges the Galatians to live a life in the Spirit, because then they will not follow the evil desires of their own flesh and blood. The Spirit and the flesh stand against each other. They pull us in the opposite direction.
Jesus told the well-known parable of the farmer who sowed the word of God. The grain fell into four kinds of soils, and only one of them yielded good crops. He cautioned the teachers against hearing the word and allow the worries of this life and the deceitful wealth stifled it, so that it did not yield a good harvest. That's what David was afraid of when he prayed this prayer: "Bend my heart to your law and not to selfish gain!" Concern for this life may cause the word from the mouth of God not to bear good fruit. Becoming a prisoner of wealth does not produce a good harvest in our lives.
You do not need to be rich to become a prisoner of wealth. Poor people can also be lovers of money. Both the poor and the rich can be guided by the urge to always own more, and it is the same as idolatry (Col. 3.5). May God save us from falling into the materialistic trap. The love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:10).
Bend my heart to your testimonies, David prays. He prays that God must touch his heart so that he will find joy in obeying God's word and not in selfish gain. May the Spirit rule in the heart and direct the mind and thought to obey the law of the Lord. Selfish gain need not be wealth. It can be comfort or popularity. It can be personal benefits that we share when we follow friends in their wordly lifestyle. It may be to give in to peer pressure to be accepted and to be honoured. Selfish gain is everything that serves my own interest.
If we are to use Jesus' words, the prayer in Psalm 119:36 is a prayer to have the grace to deny ourselves and to take up the cross to follow Jesus. Therefore, it is an important prayer for us to pray.
"Cause my heart to bow before your words of wisdom and not to the wealth of this world."