Teach me good discernment and knowledge, for I believe in Your commandments.
It is easy to believe certain things are true without having them impact your life. For instance, you can believe the Bible is the word of God and yet never get serious about studying it. You can believe there is a heaven and hell and never respond to the life-saving gospel. You can believe you have a responsibility to share the gospel and yet never share the gospel. The book of James tells us that the demons believe in God, yet their belief only leads to fear (James 2:19).
Psalm 119 is a beautiful picture of a man whose belief in God and His word has substantially impacted how he thinks and how he lives. His faith is a saving faith, a life-transforming faith!
Because the psalmist believes in God’s commandments, He wants to benefit from them. His prayer is that God would teach him “good discernment and knowledge.” He wants the truth of God’s word to personally impact his life and he realizes that he needs God to make this possible.
Good discernment and knowledge are required for the psalmist to be able to live in light of the truths of God’s word. The emphasis is that the psalmist wants to grow in knowledge and the practical implications of that knowledge. In other words, he wants it to impact his life in the most practical of ways.
Being a Christian is not just knowing biblical truth. There will be many professing Christians at the judgment who will be able to articulate what the Bible says, and they will go to hell (Matthew 7:21). Those who have come to true faith will demonstrate the same heart as the psalmist. They will want God to teach them good discernment and knowledge so they can honor God by living in light of the truth. This is the privilege of those who have biblical faith.
For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.